Saturday, 7 May 2011

'Art As Witness' Aims to Heal Khmer Rouge Survivors' Trauma Cambodia news in Khmer)

Mekong Dam Hurts Villagers Along The River (Cambodia news in Khmer)

សិប្បកម្ម​សូន​រូប

ផលវិបាក​នៃ​ជម្លោះ​ព្រំដែន​ខ្មែរ-ថៃ

RFA Khmer Webcast-KHM-050611

Khmer Rouge victims urge transparency from court

Skulls of Khmer Rouge victims are displayed at the Choeung Ek killing fields memorial (AFP/File, Tang Chhin Sothy)

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH — Survivors of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime have urged Cambodia's UN-backed court to be more transparent about two politically sensitive new cases against war crimes suspects.

The court, dogged by allegations of political interference and strapped for cash, has yet to announce whether it will go ahead with a third and fourth case against five unnamed members of the brutal 1975-1979 regime.

Despite 20 months of investigations, the court "remains weak in providing meaningful information to the victims" about these two cases, prominent Khmer Rouge survivor Youk Chhang told AFP.

"The millions of Cambodian survivors of the regime deserve to know what the (court) is doing in their name," said Youk, the head of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Frustrated with the lack of transparency at the court, another regime survivor took the unusual step of publicly naming all five suspects in a press release on Thursday.

The move puts author and human rights activist Theary Seng at risk of being in contempt of court, legal experts said.

Tribunal monitors have in recent weeks said they expect both cases to be dropped though the court has remained tight-lipped about any new developments.

"The court is being too secretive in relation with these cases," Clair Duffy from the rights group Open Society Justice Initiative told AFP.

"I think the judges are worried that the more information is in the public domain the more difficult that will make it to dismiss these cases on a legitimate basis."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen -- himself a mid-level Khmer Rouge cadre before turning against the movement -- has repeatedly voiced opposition to further trials, saying they could plunge the country back into civil war.

Late last year, the premier even told visiting United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon that new cases were "not allowed".

A terse statement by the court last week announcing the closure of initial investigations into the third case -- without providing details of the crimes -- adding to speculation these suspects will never see the inside of a courtroom.

A tribunal spokesman re-iterated that the investigations were confidential.

"When no one has been arrested or formally charged it's impossible to give information about the scope of the investigations," said Lars Olsen.

In its landmark first case, the tribunal sentenced former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav to 30 years in jail in July for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people. The case is now under appeal.

A second trial involving four of the regime's most senior surviving leaders is due to start in the middle of the year.

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Marxist Khmer Rouge regime emptied cities in the late 1970s in a bid to create an agrarian utopia, killing up to two million through starvation, overwork and genocide.

The call of Cambodia: Where nature's beauty and mankind's cruelty combine

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

via CAAI

By Michael Buerk
6th May 2011

Nature's been kind to Cambodia, but man hasn't. That's the fascination of the place - it's what makes it more than just another edgy tropical paradise on the backpacker trail.

In fact, this is the most compelling tourist destination in South-East Asia. You can go just to unwind.

The scenery is rich, the food - with its French colonial overtones - exotic. Park by the pool, order the beers and soak up the old Indochina, free of Thailand's rampant commercialism or Vietnam's frenetic crowds.

From glory to ruin: Angkor Wat reminds you of the feats humans can attain, and how quickly the jungle can claim it all back
But this would be missing the point. The history of Cambodia adds up to a short course in human futility.

Successive rulers have tried to impose their own ideas of earthly heaven, which have all ended in varying kinds of ruin. And it is all there; awful, in every sense.

Monuments to ancient grandeur and modern cruelty, both probably unequalled anywhere in the world.

I came away half-haunted by three faces. First, King Jayavarman's is carved over and over again in stone 15ft high, staring down on what he helped to create. In the 12th century, Angkor was the greatest city on Earth. A million people lived in it - at a time when London could only count 20,000.
Now, half overgrown by tropical forest, it is arguably the greatest wonder of the old world. It is the centre of a sprawl of vast temple cities, spreading across 80 square miles, monumental in their magnificence, many covered in acres of intricate allegorical carving.

Second, there is Chan Kim Srun, who stares at you from a black-and-white photograph in the former Khmer Rouge interrogation centre, her newborn baby in her arms and an unfathomable sadness in her eyes.

Her husband was high in the ranks of those mass murdering madmen before, in their paranoia, they turned on their own. You can tell she knows they're both about to be murdered.

They were taken to the killing fields the night that photograph was taken.

Dark history: Cambodia's stunning architecture is contrasted by its black history

And, third, Hun Sen, the current prime minister, a former Khmer Rouge commander before he ratted on them and was put into power by the Vietnamese, who brought the insanity to an end.

He's been in charge of Cambodia for a quarter of century, a former ultra-Maoist who now encourages capitalism so he and his cronies can rip it off.

He heads what is widel y acknowledged as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, a kleptocratic elite that has made itself fabulously wealthy through seizing public assets and illegal logging, leading to repeated complaints of corruption from the World Bank.

The U.S. ambassador publicly accused government officials of stealing $500 million a year. All this when one in three Cambodians live on less than $1 a day.

This is more than a holiday. It's an education. Start in Phnom Penh, an attractive riverside city, tatty but game after the years of war and extermination. They call it Lexus City these days because of all the gleaming 4x4s the officials buy with their graft money.

Fascinated foreign correspondent: Michael Buerk and his wife Christine

Stay, if you can, in Le Royal, the grandest of French colonial hotels, now done up by the Raffles Group. It has sweeping hardwood staircases, scents of cinnamon, oozing luxury and Jeeves-like service.

The ghosts of Somerset Maugham and Andre Malraux slink down the corridors in their silk dressing gowns.

Go for a drink in the Foreign Correspondents Club. I was the only real foreign correspondent they'd had in the place for years - it's now a lively gathering place for gap-year girls.

Eat at Friends - a non-profit Jamie Oliver-type place that teaches street youths catering skills; a good, cheap, philanthropic feed.

There's plenty to see here. The Royal Palace complex is a relatively modern masterpiece of distinctive Cambodian architecture. The Silver Pagoda within it has a floor made up of six tons of ill-fitting solid silver tiles.

But the real, and awful, fascination is the four-year nightmare rule of the Khmer Rouge at the end of the Seventies. They murdered a million people while a million more starved to death, one in five of the population.

The former school they used as an interrogation centre is now a museum. In its way, it's as chilling as Auschwitz.

The rough bedsteads with their iron shackles surrounded by bloodstains, the classrooms, crudely subdivided into cells like hutches, the children's climbing frame they turned into a gallows, are all still there.
Worst of all are the pictures. The Khmer Rouge photographed their victims just before they were taken off to be murdered. They look at you now, hundreds and hundreds of them, blank, bewildered, doomed.

Human bones and fragments of clothing are still coming out of the ground today. Above, clouds of yellow and white butterflies - the sacred colours of the country's two historic religions - dance in the afternoon sun.

It's a dreadful place, marked now by a stupa with 17 tiers of crushed skulls.

Recovering: Traditional dancers are once again becoming common after they were massacred by the Khmer Rouge

The glories of Cambodia are the magnificent temple cities, just north of the modern town of Siem Reap, itself a short flight from Phnom Penh. The most famous, and best preserved, is Angkor Wat, the world's largest and surely most impressive religious monument.

It is an entire Hindu universe (it became Buddhist in the 13th century) realised entirely in laterite and sandstone.

It's also huge - more than 500 acres - and fantastically rich in sculptural detail. More than half a mile of its walls are covered in narrative bas-reliefs. It is only one of numerous fabulous temple complexes.

Jayavarman's legacy, Angkor Thom, is even bigger in total area and, in places, even more intricately decorated.

But the centuries, and the jungle, have taken a greater toll - soaring tropical trees swell out and up through the ruins. This is a place to dwell on the futility of human ambition while you keep a sharp look out for Indiana Jones.

It is joint first on my list of 1,000 places to see before you die (only Machu Picchu and the Galapagos come close). Go there soon, before the planned international airport opens and the world's most impressive tourist site becomes one of the world's busiest.

The place to stay is the Hotel de la Paix, a well-run modern hotel in the centre of bustling Siem Reap.
The service and the food are exemplary and they lay on traditional Cambodian dancing with all its old grace and control - an art thankfully recovering after the royal dancers, like everyone with any skill, talent or education, were massacred by the Khmer Rouge.

One day, somebody will explain why the most horrible things tend to happen in the nicest places.
Cambodia is utterly beautiful, its people are charming, its heritage unequalled.

Yet, in the lifetime of a single generation, it's been carpet-bombed by the Cold War, partly wiped out by a clique who made an ideology of insanity, and systematically raped by crooks with blood on their hands.

Tourism isn't the best hope. It may be the only hope for Cambodia to have the future it surely deserves.

Travel Facts
Seasons, 01244 202 000, www.seasons.co.uk, offers an 11-night trip through Cambodia and Laos, taking in Bangkok, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh from £3,175pp.

Price includes flights, transfers and B&B accommodation at the Metropolitan Bangkok, Raffles Le Royal Phnom Penh, Hotel de la Paix Siem Reap, Settha Palace Vientiane and The Hotel Luang Prabang.

Stormy Asean summit looms

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Cambodia says it won't pull troops from border

Published: 7/05/2011 at 12:12 AM
Online news: Asia

JAKARTA: A stormy Asean summit looks likely after the Cambodian foreign minister accused Thailand of dragging its feet over their border dispute.

In a statement to a ministerial meeting held Friday ahead of the formal summit launch on Saturday, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong accused Thailand of back-pedalling in implementing border solutions.

His Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya replied that it was inappropriate to discuss the issue, as the Asean chairman, Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, had already raised it.

He said if Cambodia wanted to talk about border problems again, lengthy discussions were likely to result.

Mr Marty, in his capacity as Asean chairman, cut short further debate and no other Asean foreign ministers said anything except for the Lao minister, who called for a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile, Hor Namhong rejected a Thai demand that Cambodia withdraw troops from the disputed area close to the Preah Vihear temple, saying Bangkok was not sincere about peace.

Mr Marty in February proposed posting Indonesian observers along the border.

The Thai cabinet approved the deployment proposal on Tuesday, but set a condition that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from around the Preah Vihear temple first.

Hor Namhong rejected the demand, asking why Cambodia should withdraw its troops from land that it regarded as its own.

"We can never withdraw our troops from our own territory. That should be very clear," Hor Namhong told reporters after a meeting with Mr Marty.

He said Cambodia was still waiting for Thailand's agreement to Jakarta's terms of reference for sending Indonesian observers to monitor the border area.

"Cambodia sent a letter of acceptance to the proposal on May 2 and we hope Thailand will do likewise," said Hor Namhong.

Cambodia had agreed with the three proposed locations for the deployment of Indonesian observers on its side.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday that Cambodian soldiers and villagers must leave the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed border area before Thailand would acquiesce to the deployment.

He said the demand was based on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2000.

Hor Namhong Friday thanked Mr Marty for his efforts to address the border conflict. Mr Marty thanked him in return for Cambodia's formal agreement to the deployment.

Mr Kasit also met Mr Marty Friday.

Mr Kasit said Cambodia had launched aggressive acts at the border and now threatened to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Cambodia last week petitioned the court to clarify its 1962 ruling to determine which country has sovereignty over land near the temple.

The court will hold a hearing on May 30-31.

Mr Abhisit arrived in Jakarta Friday, as did Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Mr Abhisit has said he has no plans for talks with Hun Sen.

Diplomatic sources said Phnom Penh wanted to show goodwill by pushing the possible option of a three-way meeting on the sidelines of the summit, to save Jakarta's face.

Mr Marty said Friday that he hoped such a meeting could be held.

Thailand, Cambodia Agree to Indonesian Observers at Border

Brian Padden
Jakarta May 06, 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Thai women and children walk to a waiting bus to transport them home after sporadic fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops was reported at a refugee camp in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, May 2, 2011

Ahead of a regional summit, Indonesia's foreign minister has said Thailand and Cambodia agreed to allow Indonesian monitors to go to the border between the two countries to help prevent further military clashes.

In his role as the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on Friday said there has been a breakthrough in ASEAN's efforts to mediate an end to the Thai-Cambodia border conflict.

"I can report to all of you that the two sides have agreed to the terms of reference for the observer team, the Indonesian observer team that we have been discussing for several weeks now," said Natalegawa. "That is a done thing in the sense that the negotiations have been concluded. Cambodia has formally acceded or formally agreed to the terms of reference. Thailand has also agreed to it but they are yet to fully conclude the formal exchange of documents."

The terms of reference include how many Indonesian observers will be dispatched and the specific areas along the border where they will operate.

Since February, more than 20 people have died in repeated clashes between the two ASEAN members along their disputed border. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes on both sides of the border.

The heart of the disagreement is a 900-year-old Hindu Khmer temple known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Prah Viharn in Thailand. The temple sits in Cambodia, but Thailand claims adjacent land that includes a key access route to the complex. The countries have fought sporadically over the border since 2008.

Natalegawa met with foreign ministers of the other ASEAN nations Friday. On Saturday, ASEAN national leaders begin a two-day summit in Jakarta.

The Indonesian foreign minister says talks Friday included the question of Burma's request to take over the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014. Human Rights Watch objects to the idea of Burma (also called Myanmar) leading the association, given it says, the country's long record of human rights abuses and its lack of democratic development.

While the ASEAN heads of states will decide if Burma's bid is accepted, Natalegawa said some concerns were expressed at the ministerial level.

"The state of readiness of Myanmar to chair ASEAN in 2014, which is quite a critical year for ASEAN, on the eve of its community in 2015, the state of readiness extends beyond practical arrangements readiness but also other dimensions that we need to ascertain ourselves," added Natalegawa.

Burma passed up its chance to take the rotating chairmanship in 2005, after the United States and European Union threatened to boycott ASEAN events if Burma's government was at the helm.

Natalegawa says the foreign ministers also addressed the issue of the South China Sea where China and some ASEAN countries have competing claims to small islands and areas believed to be rich in oil. He says ASEAN and China are continuing to work together to develop a declaration of conduct to help resolve disputes.

No border talks at Asean

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 6/05/2011 at 04:41 PM
Online news: Local News

JAKARTA - Initial hopes of bilateral talks between Thailand and Cambodia and of trilateral talks with Indonesia as the third party during the Asean Summit have been dashed, with the major obstacle being the issue of troop withdrawal.

However, the Asean chairman, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, on Friday reaffirmed that discussions on the Thai-Cambodian border conflict would continue during the Asean Summit in Jakarta this weekend.

Foreign Ministers Kasit Piromya (right) greets his Cambodia counterpart Hor Namhong (left) shortly after a press conference by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (centre) on the Informal ASEAN Ministrial Meeting at Indonesian Foreign Ministry office in Jakarta on Feb 22, 2011. (Photo by EPA)

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya did not speak a single word after his 45 minute meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, but Mr Natalegawa said there was one development came out of his separate talks with the Thai and Cambodian sides here.

Discussions of the terms of reference (TOR) for deployment of the Indonesian observer team could be considered concluded, he said.

"The TOR is already a done deal as the two sides reaffirmed their agreement, but it remains how to operationalise the assignment on the ground of Indonesian observers. We're looking for the creation of conducive conditions," said the Asean chairman.

He noted that as the country sending the observers, he believed it was essential to create conducive conditions and he would try to redefine what each country would provide.

The Indonesian minister said both Thailand and Cambodia had recognised that the political process and diplomatic negotiations must be continued even though Cambodia had taken the dispute back to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

While acknowledging troop withdrawals as a major stumbling point, he emphasised that the risks inherent in any delay, the very real exchanges of gunfire and artillery bombardment in border areas, continued.

"Delay is not neutral, delay is not without impact. There is greater risk of intentional or inadvertent conflicts," said Mr Natalegawa.

He noted that, modestly but importantly significant, was the fact that observers from the third party could be deployed.

"That's why I'm hesitant to say whether withdrawal or no withdrawal (a conducive condition), but we view that our observers will be well received. In fact, redeployment or withdrawal of troops can be further discussed at the General Border Committee.

"It does not have to be resolved in one go, as long as there is a political will," he said.

Asked if he was disheartened by the apparent impasse, he said he personally he was fine, as he has infinite patience, but as a country and a host of Asean he wanted to see some movement.

"We need some progress as non-development and status quo means shelling and artillery fire is still going on while we're talking about community building — that is not quite right," he said.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said Mr Kasit had told the Asean chairman that Phnom Penh had a well-planned strategy, to begin its invasion and then forward the issue to the ICJ.

Mr Thani confirmed that Thailand had not sent a letter of acknowldgement for the positioning of the Indonesian observer team to Jakarta. Thailand needed first to be confident that Cambodian troops would withdraw from the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple.

The Cambodian military presence inside the perimeter of the cultural hertitage site was in violation of the Hague Convention of 1972, the Thai spokesman said.

He said details of the Indonesian observer team's deployment had already been agreed upon, including the area coverage and timeline.

Cambodia would allow 15 Indonesians at three sites (Ta Sem, Chak Chreng and Pram Makara) while Thailand allow the same number at four sites in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district, at Ban Phumsrol. None of the sites were in the immediate vicinity of the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area around the ancient Hindu temple.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong earlier today said his country would not withdraw its troops from its "own territory".

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gives a press interview at Government House on May 6, 2011

Mr Hor Nam Hong said the problem with the border conflict clearly remained the willingness of Thailand to agree with the deployment of Indonesian observers under the TOR.

"Cambodia has already sent a letter of acceptance to Indonesia's proposed TOR on May 2, and we hope will Thailand do likewise," said the Cambodian minister.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in Bangkok before leaving for Jakarta that he had no plans to meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the Asean Summit to discuss the border dispute.

Mr Abhisit yesterday said Cambodian troops and villagers must vacate the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed border area around Preah Vihear temple before Indonesia observers can be deployed.

Thailand Agrees on Deployment of Indonesian Observers at Border Area

http://english.cri.cn/

via CAAI

2011-05-06
Xinhua
Web Editor: Zhangjin

Thailand on Friday agreed on the deployment of Indonesian observers at its border with Cambodia, said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on the sidelines of the 18th ASEAN Summit.

"Thailand is very clear in stating that not only the discussion has been concluded but agreement has been achieved. Thailand is in full agreement with the terms of reference (TOR) for the assignment of Indonesian observers. There is no more negotiation for that," Marty told reporters after meeting with his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya.

He said what remains now is the actual formalization of the agreement between the two sides and that the keyword is to create "conditions conducive" to the deployment of Indonesian observers.

However, he said, Thailand submitted a requirement for the withdrawal of Cambodian troops.

"I am sure Cambodia has its own view on that. Whether it is acceptable or not, from our perspective, we use the term ' conditions conducive' for the assignment of our Indonesian observer team," Marty said.

"We can proceed one step at a time as long as we have the necessary political will," he added.

Before meeting with the Thai foreign minister, Marty also talked with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong over the issue. He said that on Saturday he will have further conversation with the two ministers on defining the "conditions conducive" to the assignment of observers.

Cambodia and Thailand invited Indonesia, the current rotating chair of ASEAN, to send observers to their respective border near Preah Vihear temple on Feb. 22 this year after the deadly clashes between the two sides on Feb. 4-7.

Indonesia agreed to send 15 observers to each border side in order to monitor a ceasefire, but since then the deployment has not been implemented as both sides did not agreed on the TOR.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated. Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, border conflicts arose which has triggered military build-up along the border and caused deaths on both sides.

A Cool House in Cambodia

http://blogs.wsj.com/

via CAAI

By Mike Eckel

John Vink/Magnum Photos
Belgian photographer John Vink and his wife built a two-story home in Kep, Cambodia

Belgian photographer John Vink spent years splitting his time between Europe and Southeast Asia, shooting photographs of refugees in war-torn countries. Since 2000, he’s traveled a little less—going between Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, and the sleepy coastal town of Kep. But in early 2009, he decided to build a permanent place in the hills outside Kep.

The 62-year-old and his wife already owned several properties in the capital city. But he says they wanted to escape Phnom Penh’s incessant noise and pollution.

Mr. Vink bought the 2,000-square-meter lot from a local religious order that was moving its pagoda to a new location, and paid about $5 a square meter for the scrubby, jungly property. The nearby hills obscure the view of Kep’s shoreline over the Gulf of Thailand, which is why he says he paid less than the going rate for Kep property, which he estimates is about $100 a square meter. Instead, the home, which sits on a hillside roughly 60 meters above sea level, has a sweeping view of the Kampot plains to the northwest.

Mr. Vink hired Phnom Penh-based French architect Julien Sellon to build the 160-square-meter, two-level abode set onto the hillside with stilts. He worked with a French-trained Cambodian contractor, and got the bulk of the construction materials locally, with the exception of a few things, such as imported steel and cement.

Building on a hilltop is unusual in Cambodia because of cultural customs and costs, says Mr. Vink, so he faced some challenges in ensuring that he had an experienced contractor and proper permits. At one point a month after construction began, he thought all the permits were in order, until an inspector from the local environmental protection office showed up and ordered a halt to the project. But $300 in “fees” later—a sizeable sum in Cambodia—the necessary permits were obtained and the project moved forward, Mr. Vink says.

Built at a cost of about $170,000, including permits, architecture plans and construction materials, the house is newly completed, but Mr. Vink is still furnishing it and landscaping is a work in progress.

Native grasses, low jungle vegetation, plus the planned addition of various trees—cashew nut, mango, lemon and grapefruit–will eventually create a lush outdoor ambience. Three terraces and other landscaping will link the house to the swimming pool, set about four meters below.

To blunt the effect of the often-piercing sun, the architect, Mr. Sellon, decided to cover the southern-facing side of the house with steel horizontal louvers. They’re set away from the exterior wall by about one meter and function as a sort of Venetian blind, allowing shaded air to circulate along the sunny, south wall. Mr. Vink says he plans to put in greenery to grow up and down alongside the louvers.

The steel louvers also cover the top half-meter of the western and northwestern sides of the building, above the balcony, shading the living area—which has three-meter-high ceilings—from the midday sun.

Building an environmentally efficient house was part of the goal, says Mr. Vink. A rooftop passive solar water heater helps keep monthly electricity costs to about $100 or so (to power some appliances and the pump filter for the pool). He’s looked into wind power, and says he hopes to eventually install photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity. And he’s considered putting a “green” roof on top—growing vegetation on the roof to provide insulation from the sun.

An environmentally friendly cooling system was central to the plan: A chimney-type design is built into the middle of the house, and functions as a wind-driven cooling system. Air rises from ground level after passing over a small, artificial pond (filled with fish, frogs and lily pads) and draws the water-cooled air up to the second-level living area, before moving out through a vented skylight. Mr. Vink says the sea winds that travel to the hills provide a constant breeze moving into, up and out of the house, eliminating any need for air-conditioning.

The home’s three bedrooms all have a three-level, split layout, so that you can see the view from the window while sleeping or standing. The top-most opening is shaded by louvers and is open to the outside. The steady wind circulating through house, according to Mr. Vink, keeps the mosquitoes at bay.

Like all construction projects, there were a few blips: Mr. Vink says thieves have twice swiped the copper wires that run electricity up the one-kilometer hill from the road to the house. But those headaches are a small price to pay for a home and a view that, he says, “Cleans the head and gives a bit of room to contemplate the world.”

Bank of China sets to launch Cambodian branch

http://www.istockanalyst.com/

via CAAI

Friday, May 06, 2011

PHNOM PENH, May 6, 2011 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The Bank of China (OOTC:BACHY) pledges to bridge closer economic ties between the two countries, said the visiting Yue Yi, vice president of Bank of China, on Friday.

"The presence of the Bank of China in Cambodia is to strengthen and expand friendship and economic cooperation between Cambodia and China," Yue Yi said at a meeting with the governor of National Bank of Cambodia, Chea Chanto.

The Bank of China Phnom Penh Branch is scheduled to launch officially on May 7.

He said that with the bank's presence here, it will help facilitate business activities between the two countries. "We will also help to encourage more Chinese investors to Cambodia."

Meanwhile, Chea Chanto expressed his full support for the presence of the bank in Cambodia.

"The operation of the Bank of China in Cambodia reflects the trust of foreign investors on Cambodia," he said, "It's also a sign of progress in Cambodia's banking industry."

The governor said that Cambodia's banking industry, currently, is quite stable.

By the end of 2010, the customers' deposits grew by 26 percent to 4.16 billion U.S. dollars, while the customer credits increased by 26.7 percent to 3.18 billion U.S. dollars.

Also, the ratio of the non-performing loan in the banking industry has declined to only 3 percent as of April, said the governor.

Including the presence of Bank of China, there are 30 commercial banks in the country so far.

(Source: Quotemedia)

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


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Samdech Heng Samrin Leaves for AIPA Meeting in Indonesia

AKP Phnom Penh, May 6, 2011 – A high-ranking delegation of the National Assembly led by its president Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin departed here on Friday for Jakarta, Indonesia to participate in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) with the ASEAN heads of state/government, taking place from May 6 to 8.

The delegation was seen off at Phnom Penh International Airport by H.E. Nguon Nhel and H.E. Say Chhum, respectively First and Second NA Vice Presidents and other NA members.

At the meeting, Samdech Heng Samrin will deliver a speech related to security, socio-economy and good cooperation between neighboring countries, and urge the ASEAN heads of state/government to fully implement the ASEAN Charter.

The Cambodian delegation is scheduled to return home on May 8.

By SOKMOM Nimul

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PM To Raise Thai Repeated Aggressions at 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta

AKP Phnom Penh, May 6, 2011 – Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, will raise the issue of Thailand’s repeated acts of aggression against Cambodia at the ASEAN Summit to be held on May 7-8.

H.E. Sry Thamrong, Delegate Minister attached to the Prime Minister, told reporters this morning at Phnom Penh International Airport before the departure of the Cambodian delegation led by Premier Techo Hun Sen to Jakarta, Indonesia to attend the 18th ASEAN Summit at the invitation of H.E. Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia.

This issue affects the ASEAN’s image because we are building an ASEAN Community, explained the delegate minister, adding that if the fighting continues, we can not build a harmonized ASEAN Community.

According to a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the meeting will discuss a wide range of issues including the Implementation of the ASEAN Charter and Roadmap for ASEAN Community, the Implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, the ASEAN External Relations, the ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations, and the Exchange of Views on Regional and International Issues, especially the situation at the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

At the end of the meeting, H.E. Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Chairman of the 18th ASEAN Summit will hold a Press Conference, and an Agreement on the Establishment of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center) will be signed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, Samdech Techo Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with President of the Republic of the Philippines.

By SOKMOM Nimul

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Cambodian FM: ICJ To Hold a Session to Solve Preah Vihear Temple Border Issue on May 30

AKP Phnom Penh, May 6, 2011 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague will hold a session from May 30 to 31 to take necessary actions for Preah Vihear Temple border issue raised by Cambodia, said Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hor Namhong.

Before leaving Phnom Penh International Airport on May 5 for the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, H.E. Hor Namhong, also Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters that in the morning of May 30 Cambodia will be asked to present a statement for two hours, while in the afternoon Thailand will be asked to give a clarification for two hours.

“In the morning of May 31, Cambodia will be allowed to present arguments for half an hour, while in the afternoon Thailand will reply back,” he said.

ICJ will decide what urgent necessary actions will be taken to ensure a ceasefire, stability and security along the deputed border, as well as keeping the calmness so that ICJ could clarify the 1962 verdict on Preah Vihear Temple, he said, adding that the interpretation will take a little long time.

The Cambodian foreign minister recalled Cambodia’s petition filed on April 28, saying that Cambodia asked ICJ to take immediate necessary actions for how to make a ceasefire.

Cambodia has not just made a preparation for the resolution at this time, he said, we have prepared this matter for many years, referring to Cambodia’s preparation to enter the meeting to deal with the dispute issue requested by the Cambodian side to ICJ.

Cambodian team comprises lawyers from France, England, the United State and Australia, he said.

By THOU Peou

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Statement of ICAPP Standing Committee on the Situation on the Border between Cambodia and Thailand

AKP Phnom Penh, May 6, 2011 — The International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) has issued a statement, expressing its concern on the situation that has risen on the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

The full statement reads as follows:

“Statement of ICAPP Standing Committee
on the Situation on the Border between Cambodia and Thailand

The Standing Committee of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), the most representative body representing the ruling, opposition and independent parties, at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on May 5, 2011, expresses its serious concern on the situation that has risen on the border between Cambodia and Thailand, particularly the recent clashes, including large-scale artillery operations, the use of cluster ammunitions and ground assaults. The ICAPP Standing Committee endorses the statement of the United Nations Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, urging both countries to take “immediate measures for an effective and verifiable ceasefire”. The ICAPP also urges the parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and resolve the situation peacefully through effective political dialogue.

The ICAPP Standing Committee welcomes the initiative of ASEAN, through its Chairman, Indonesia, for organizing a dialogue between Cambodia and Thailand. As peace-loving members of the international community, the ICAPP, voicing the sentiments of the Asian people, rejects as unacceptable the use of force and sincerely hopes that peace will prevail through dialogue and effective negotiation.

In this regard, the ICAPP Standing Committee expresses its willingness to play any role, that is desirable by both parties, to defuse the situation and to help ensure the return of normalcy on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. We also urge both sides to respect all international treaties and covenants under international law and the United Nations Charter. We ask the ASEAN leaders who will meet in Jakarta on May 7-8, 2011, in the ASEAN Summit to do their utmost to put the process in place for an effective and verifiable ceasefire, with the introduction of the ASEAN-designated Indonesian military observers.”

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DPM Sok An’s Remarks at the 15th Meeting of the ICAPP Standing Committee in Kuala Lumpur

AKP Phnom Penh, May 6, 2011 — The following is the full remarks by H.E. Sok An, Standing Committee Member of the Cambodian People’s Party, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, Member of the ICAPP Standing Committee at the 15th Meeting of the ICAPP Standing Committee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 5, posted on the website of the Council of Ministers



ASEAN adrift in Thai-Cambodian conflict

http://www.atimes.com/

via CAAI

By Ou Virak

PHNOM PENH - Two series of clashes between Thailand and Cambodia over disputed temples and territories along their shared border have left 29 soldiers dead this year while as many as 85,000 civilians have been displaced on either side of the border since hostilities resumed on April 22. The shots and words exchanged over the border and the apparent reluctance of either side to resolve the situation have bankrupted both governments of any moral authority on the issue.

Against this background, the meeting this weekend of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) represents an opportunity for that organization to do as the Thai and Cambodian governments have failed and to put people before politics by pushing concrete measures to end the human suffering caused by the ongoing clashes.

Theories abound as to the motivations for these clashes with many commentators concluding that their proximity to elections in Thailand indicate that they serve some internal political end for the Thai government of Abhisit Vejjajiva or some renegade nationalist military generals.

Others argue that the clashes are designed by Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen to rally nationalistic sentiment in an attempt to avert attention from domestic problems such as mass land evictions and recent and forthcoming laws that erode civil liberties or to bolster the military credentials of his son and heir in waiting, Hun Manet, who was recently promoted to two-star general and who is said to be taking charge of troops at the border.

Whatever the cause - and it may be that it is a combination of these factors - both governments appear less inclined to resolve the issue and ease tensions than they are with stoking them. For every ceasefire broken in recent days, either side has offered an explanation as to how the other side is to blame. Of even greater concern are the accusations being leveled by each side as to the other's use of illegal and disproportionately harmful weapons and tactics employed throughout the hostilities.

Thai sources accuse Cambodia of using heavy artillery and rocket launchers, using the temples as military bases and civilians as human shields to escalate the conflict in order to justify international intervention and condemnation of Thailand. Cambodia has claimed that Thai aircraft overflew its territory and that the Thai military has used disproportionately harmful weapons such as shells loaded with poisonous gases and cluster munitions, which leave a lasting legacy by releasing bomblets over a large geographical area. Cluster munitions often fail to explode on impact and are capable of exploding at a later date.

Thailand has not admitted to the use of cluster munitions in the recent conflict. However, based on two separate on-site investigations in Svay Chrum Village, Sen Chey Village and around the Preah Vihear temple after clashes in February 2011, the United Kingdom-based Cluster Munition Coalition concluded, and Thai officials subsequently confirmed, that Thailand used cluster munitions during the earlier conflict.

While there is no current evidence to suggest that Thailand - which provides electricity to much of the western parts of Cambodia - is responsible for three power failures that have occurred during the recent conflict, comments made by Thailand's energy minister and Provincial Electricity Authority governor to date suggest that the decision to cut the electricity supply is still being discussed and has not been discounted.

It is difficult to verify the accusations made by either country, including determining which country is responsible for the continual violation of ceasefires, as third party observers have been unable to access the area. The very fact that these accusations are being made means that this is a dirty war either in deeds or in words - ie in the conduct of the parties to conflict or their characterization of it.

At the very best, both sides are bereft of any bona fides in the manner in which they portray these clashes and the tactics being used by the other side and are looking to mislead audiences at home and abroad. At worst, one or both sides may be guilty of acting in violation of international humanitarian law by using tactics and weapons that cause harm to civilians or which result in damage to cultural property.

The recent application by the Cambodian government for a ruling by the International Court of Justice on the ownership of land adjoining the temple at Preah Vihear may contribute to a final resolution to the issue of ownership of the land in question. In the short term, however, the move is less likely to ease tensions between the countries than it is to stoke them.

Reports in recent days that the Thai and Cambodian governments are allowing civilians to return to border areas before a satisfactory resolution is negotiated underlines the fact that the people along the border are of less concern to both governments that the politics associated with it.

When ASEAN leaders meet in Jakarta this weekend, it is the deaths of the 29 Thai and Cambodian soldiers, the well-being of the 85,000 people displaced on either side of the border and the immediate cessation of hostilities that should be at the top of their agendas.

Whatever the specific motivations behind the conflict, it is clear that actors on both sides have placed politics before the lives and well-being of their people. It is equally clear that these hostilities are unlikely to end for as long as they remain a bilateral issue between Thailand and Cambodia.

The conduct of both countries' militaries and the mendacity of their governments can only be brought into line by the internationalization of the issue. So far international efforts, including a broken agreement to allow Indonesian observers to monitor the situation on both sides of the border, have failed to halt the hostilities. To maintain ASEAN's credibility and relevance, the grouping must take a more assertive lead in mediating the tensions before it spirals into a wider conflict and more severe humanitarian disaster.

Ou Virak is president of the Phnom Penh-based Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Cambodia rejects Thai demands over temple troops

Both countries, Cambodia and Thailand, have accused each other of sparking the violence (AFP/File, Tang Chhin Sothy)

Thailand and Cambodia both claim to own a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) area around the Preah Vihear temple (AFP/File, Tang Chhin Sothy)

via CAAI

By Arlina Arshad (AFP)
JAKARTA — Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday rejected a Thai demand to withdraw troops from an 11th-century Khmer temple at the disputed border, saying Bangkok was not sincere about peace.

"We never can withdraw our troops from our own territory. That should be very clear," Hor Namhong told reporters after a meeting in Jakarta with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

The Indonesians are trying to broker a ceasefire and the deployment of neutral military observers to the flashpoint area on the Thai-Cambodian border where some 18 people have died in fighting in recent months.

The issue is likely to be discussed at a summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in Jakarta starting on Saturday, where plans for a more closely integrated regional community will top the agenda.

"Non-development, non-progress, lack of development, the status quo is not an option," Natalegawa said after meeting his counterparts from both countries.

"We're seeing a status quo meaning exchange of fire and artillery as we talk about ASEAN community. That's not quite right. There's something wrong if we keep on doing this," he said.

Both countries have accused each other of sparking the violence, which centres on territory around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's Angkor.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) surrounding area. The temple was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008.

Cambodia has previously denied it has troops stationed at Preah Vihear itself, although it has soldiers in the contested area.

The neighbours agreed in late February to allow Indonesian observers near Preah Vihear, but Thailand has been dragging its feet on their deployment as fighting continues.

"The problem is the willingness of Thailand to accept the observers or not -- that is the real problem," Hor Namhong said.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya did not speak to reporters after his talks with Natalegawa and did not meet directly with his Cambodian counterpart.

Indonesia currently holds the chair of ASEAN and has been trying to use its position to broker an end to the hostilities, which are undermining ASEAN's ambitions to create a closely integrated community by 2015.

Natalegawa said that both countries had agreed in principle to accept 15 Indonesian observers each, but outstanding issues remained to be resolved before they could be deployed.

"We're ready (to send observers) but Thailand is saying that before the deployment of observers can be made, they require the redeployment of Cambodian troops out of the temple," he said.

"This issue is not governed in the terms of reference. It's outside the terms of reference proper. This is where we are now."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a ceasefire and said the neighbours should launch "serious dialogue" to resolve the dispute, which temporarily displaced about 85,000 people.

Indonesian observers on Thai-Cambodian border a "done deal"

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

May 6, 2011

Jakarta - A proposal to station 30 Indonesian observers along the contentious Thai-Cambodian border in a bid to reduce fighting between the two neighbours is a 'done deal,' Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Friday.

But he acknowledged that more work was needed to implement the deal.

'As far as the terms of reference are concerned (on the agreement), it's a done deal,' Natalegawa said after holding separate talks with his Cambodian and Thai counterparts in Jakarta.

'What remains now is how to operationalize the assignment of the Indonesian observer teams on the ground,' Natalegawa said. 'The big issue is to create conducive conditions.'

Creating those conditions is expected to prove contentious, observers said.

Thai and Cambodian troops have been engaging in skirmishes since mid-2008 over conflicting claims to a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land that is adjacent to the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple perched on a cliff that defines their common border.

Fighting flared up again last month near two other temples 140 kilometres west of Preah Vihear, leaving eight soldiers dead on each side.

The conflict has turned into a hot topic at this weekend's summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), held in Jakarta, capital of the group's current chair Indonesia. ASEAN now holds two summits a year.

In an effort to facilitate a ceasefire between Cambodia and Thailand, Natalegawa in February proposed posting Indonesian observers along the border. That proposal has now been agreed to by both sides, he said.

The Thai Cabinet approved the proposal on Tuesday, but set the condition that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from Preah Vihear temple first.

'We never can withdraw our troops from our own territory. That should be very clear,' Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said in Jakarta.

Although the two countries have overlapping claims to land near Preah Vihear, the temple itself was judged to belong to Cambodian by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962.

Cambodia last week petitioned the court to clarify its 1962 ruling to determine which country has sovereignty over land near the temple.

The appeal to the ICJ could undermine the role ASEAN is attempting to play as a peace-maker in its own region, a role that Natalegawa has been pushing during the Indonesian chairmanship.

'The risk of delay is very real,' Natalegawa warned. 'As a person I have infinite patience, but as the chair of ASEAN we all need to see some progress.'

He said that the issue over troop withdrawal from Preah Vihear is an issue that might be resolved through bilateral talks between Cambodia and Thailand, which have set up two joint commissions to handle the issue.

Cambodia FM reaffirms support for RI observers

http://www.thejakartapost.com/

via CAAI

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Fri, 05/06/2011

Friday arrival: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, talks with Indonesian Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, right, upon arrival at Halim Perdanakusumah airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday. Hun Sen is in the country to attend the 18th ASEAN SUmmit that will be held on May 7-8. (AP/Irwin Fedriansyah)

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa held bilateral talks with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday, with the latter reaffirming his country’s support for the presence of the Indonesian observer team.

“What I want to mention is that Cambodia has formally accepted terms of reference for the Indonesian observer team,” Marty said after the meeting.

Marty said he also planned to meet with Thailand’s foreign minister later that afternoon.

The meetings with Cambodia’s and Thailand’s ministers were aimed at seeking a solution to the long-standing border dispute between the two countries.

The Bangkok Post reported that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva had indicated he had no intention of holding talks regarding the border clashes with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Jakarta.

Condition conducive needed in Thailand-Cambodia clash reconciliation: Indonesian minister

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/

via CAAI

May 06, 2011

A condition conducive is needed before deployment of observer team from Indonesia to the border of Thailand and Cambodia, as a part of the efforts to solve the strife between both countries, an Indonesian minister said on Friday.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters that he has met Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister of Cambodia Hor Namhong and Foreign Minister of Thailand Kasit Piromya to find solutions of the conflict. Natalegawa said that Thailand and Cambodia have agreed terms of reference (TOR) of the observation team. "One positive thing is that the TOR of the observer team is agreed by both countries. Cambodia has officially agreed by sending a diplomatic note while Thailand agreed on principle but has not yet sent any note," said Natalegawa. In other words, he said, as far as TOR concern, it is done deal.

What remains now, he said, is how we operate the assignment of the Indonesian observer team on the ground, and key word is to create condition conducive for the assign of the Indonesian observer team. "You are aware, of course, through previous communication that Thailand has its own view about what needs to happen before such observer team is sent. Cambodia has its own view as well. Thailand has submitted a kind of condition before the deployment, which is a withdrawal of Cambodian troops from certain area," he said.

He added that in the next one or two days, the foreign ministers will sit together, trying to define what kind of condition conducive before the deployment.

On top of that, he said, both Thailand and Cambodia recognize that political process, diplomatic negotiation must continue.

"I hope that general border commission (GBC) can reconvene sooner rather than later. Because it is important to have political process kept alive and continued. The risk of delay of is very rear. We have seen in the past two weeks what has been happening in the border area between the two countries. They have exchanged artillery. Delay is not neutral. Delay is not without impact. Delay means greater risk. This is what we wish to avoid," he said.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia: Our troops will not leave

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 6/05/2011 at 01:58 PM
Online news:

JAKARTA - Cambodia would not withdraw its troops from its own territory and was still waiting for Thailand's agreement on the Jakarta terms of reference (TOR) for the stationing of Indonesian observers near Preah Vihear, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong said on Friday.

He was speaking after emerging from 30-minute talks with the Asean chairman, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, at the Jakarta Convention Centre.

Mr Hor Nam Hong said the problem with the border conflict clearly remained on the willingness of Thailand to agree with the deployment of Indonesian observers under the terms of reference.

"Cambodia has already sent a letter of acceptance to Indonesia's proposed TOR on May 2, and we hope will Thailand do likewise," said the Cambodian minister.

He thanked Mr Natalegawa on his efforts to address the border conflict and looked forward to seeing the deployment of observers.

Mr Natalegawa thanked Cambodia for the formal agreement to the terma of reference which Indonesia proposed at the special foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta, right after the meeting at the United Nations in New York.

The UN General Assembly has tasked Indonesia will helping facilitate a solution to the border conflict between the regional partners of Asean, because Jakarta is the chairman this year. Cambodia is due to take up the rotating chairmanship next year.

Thailand has lobbied for a bilateral meeting during the 18th Asean summit, however, Cambodia was not interested in either meetings between foreign ministers or prime ministers, diplomatic sources said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in Bangkok, said before leaving for Jakarta that he has no plans to meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the Asean Summit to discuss the border dispute.

Hun Sen is also due to arrive today. Possibly, he would speak about the border dispute when the summit begins tomorrow, sources said.

Diplomatic sources said Phnom Penh was taking a beyond-Asean strategy, however, they wanted to show goodwill about possible options for a trilateral meeting on the sideline of the summit here, as a face-saver for Indonesia, which was embarrassed by the refusal of Thailand's military to attend last month's meeting in Jakarta.

Cambodia, sources said, was looking forward to the May 30-31 hearing at the International Court of Justice in the Hague on the Preah Vihear dispute.

The Asean chairman said before meeting with Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at 12.30pm that he hoped a trilateral meeting could be held later today.

Cambodia has agreed with the three proposed locations -- Ta Sem, Chak Chreng and Pram Makara -- for the deployment of Indonesian observers on its side, while the Thai cabinet agreed on Wednesday to accept Indonesian observers on condition that there would be no foreign troops (including Cambodian troops) in the disputed territory.

Effective mechanism needed for ASEAN to settle Cambodian, Thai border row: academics

http://english.people.com.cn/

via CAAI

May 06, 2011

The credibility and prestige of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may be downgraded if it has no effective mechanism to settle Cambodian and Thai border row, academics warned on Thursday.

Pou Sothirak, Cambodian senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said Cambodian and Thai border row is not only damaging bilateral relations in a critical way, but also threatening regional peace and stability.

"If no effective mediation is pursued to contain it, it will undoubtedly affect the credibility and reputation of ASEAN," he said during a two-day conference on strengthening the ASEAN political-security community through preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution mechanism.

The conference brought together representatives from the Network of ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies and members of Cambodian parliament and decision makers from various Cambodian ministries.

Pou Sothirak said that the main challenges to security community are the ASEAN principles of non-interference and the norm of not putting bilateral dispute between members on the ASEAN agenda.

"The principles of non-interference and consensus are the obstacles in the realization of the security community by 2015," he said.

"ASEAN must do something right where failure would mean that the region return to the past of using force to settle disputes," he said. "This in turn will send ASEAN straight into a danger zone of losing its role as driver of the regional security architecture. "

Nem Sowath, a board member of Cambodian Institute of Cooperation and Peace, said ASEAN has played a significant role in coping with regional security issues and threat; however, it does not have appropriate and effective regional mechanism in place when it comes to territorial disputes among its member states.

"Cambodian-Thai border conflict is a case in point. It is a testing ground for ASEAN's ability to solve issues for its member states," he said.

"It is a warning signal to ASEAN to get reformed as soon as possible, otherwise ASEAN can be divided and ASEAN credibility will be downgraded." he said.

The leaders of ASEAN countries will meet on May 7-8 in the 18th summit in Jakarta, Indonesia and the border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand will be included in the agenda.

"In my own opinion, ASEAN should establish a special working group or a conflict resolution mechanism in order to settle Cambodian-Thai border row," he said.

"We wish to see ASEAN to be stronger, more united and more relevant particularly in security issues in order to serve the interests of everyone."

Yeo Lay Hwee, senior research fellow of Singapore Institute of International Affairs said "frankly speaking, ASEAN has really not moved much progress towards confidence building, preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution mechanism."

Suchit Bunbongkam, president of the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific (Thailand), said the measures or conflict resolution mechanism should be established in order to settle issues for its member states and to prevent conflicts in the future.

"The principle of internal sovereignty and non-interference in ASEAN must be observed," he said. "For Cambodia and Thailand border conflict, we wish to see the issue be settled peacefully, not by armed forces."

Cambodian and Thai border has never been completely demarcated. Conflict has happened just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

The latest flare-up had occurred from April 22 until May 3 at the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province, leaving 19 people on both sides killed and nearly 100,000 civilians fled homes for safe shelters.

Both sides always blamed each other for firstly triggering the attacks.

ASEAN countries consist of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia rejects Thai demands over temple troops


Cambodian soldiers gather in a military camp in Banteay Ampil district of Oddar Meanchey province, Cambodia (AP Photo/Xinhua, Sovannara)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/

via CAAI

Posted: 06 May 2011

JAKARTA: Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday rejected a Thai demand to withdraw troops from an 11th-century Khmer temple at the disputed border, saying Bangkok was not sincere about peace.

"We never can withdraw our troops from our own territory. That should be very clear," Hor Namhong told reporters after a meeting in Jakarta with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

The Indonesians are trying to broker a ceasefire and the deployment of neutral military observers to the flashpoint area on the Thai-Cambodia border where some 18 people have died in fighting in recent months.

The issue is likely to be discussed at a summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in Jakarta starting on Saturday.

Both countries have accused each other of sparking the violence, which centres on territory surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside Cambodia's Angkor.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) surrounding area.

The temple was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008.

Cambodia has previously denied it has troops stationed at Preah Vihear itself, although it has soldiers in the contested area.

The neighbours agreed in late February to allow Indonesian observers near Preah Vihear, but Thailand has been dragging its heals on their deployment as fighting continues.

"The problem is the willingness of Thailand to accept the observers or not, that is the real problem," Hor Namhong said.

Indonesia holds the current chair of ASEAN and has been trying to use its position to broker an end to the hostilities, which are undermining ASEAN's ambitions to create a closely integrated community by 2015.

Natalegawa said Cambodia had agreed to the terms of the observer mission but Thailand was insisting on the withdrawal of Cambodia's troops from the temple.

"We're ready (to send observers) but Thailand is saying that before the deployment of observers can be made, they require the redeployment of Cambodian troops out of the temple," he said.

"This issue is not governed in the terms of reference. It's outside the terms of reference proper. This is where we are now."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a ceasefire and said the neighbours should launch "serious dialogue" to resolve the dispute, which temporarily displaced about 85,000 people.

- AFP/cc