Friday, 29 February 2008

Cell swingers in Cambodia

Mar 1, 2008
Asia Times Online

By William Sparrow

BANGKOK - Considering the glacial pace of legal wrangling, domestic indifference and rampant allegations of corruption and mismanagement, some might say it's about time some sex came up at the Khmer Rouge tribunal now under way in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The ultra-Maoist group's former supremo and "Brother No 1", Pol Pot, died in 1998 in a hidden jungle redoubt along the Thai border. His infamous military doyen Ta Mok, dubbed "The Butcher" by the Western press, passed away suspiciously in a Phnom Penh military hospital in 2006. With the most atrocious and eye-catching suspects out of the picture, and the rest of the leadership clique enjoying decades of leisure and, in one case, even a royal pardon, the United Nations-sponsored tribunal has been a stop-start, anticlimactic affair of official rhetoric and obtuse legalese.

For journalists embedded in the turgid trial process it's been a long, boring slog.

And so it was on February 25 that local media reported former Khmer Rouge "Brother No 3" 82-year-old Ieng Sary's request that the court grant conjugal visits with his wife - and fellow court detainee - Khieu Thirith. In the history of international justice dating back to the Nuremberg Trials of the late 1940s, this must surely be the only time two suspects both charged with atrocity crimes and in custody have asked for a little tete-a-tete together. Remember, too, the elderly couples' autumn incarceration, and any potential jail-cell rendezvous, are all courtesy of the UN, the taxpayers of its contributing member states, and the millions of Cambodians victimized by the murderous regime.

In explanation for the plaintive plea, The Cambodia Daily, a Phnom Penh-based media NGO, reported Ieng Sary's lawyer Ang Udom as saying the octogenarian "misses his wife". "He wants to see her, she wants to see him ... why does the tribunal prevent them from seeing each other?" the paper quoted Ang Udom as saying.

To add irony to insult, Sary and Thirith, who was the Khmer Rouge's social affairs minister, both worked setting policy for the Khmer Rouge, a significant plank of which was to dismantle the traditional family structure. Husbands, wives and children were separated into separate gender-based work collectives. Marriages were routinely forced on individuals simply for reproduction to support a productive workforce.

Kalyanee Mam wrote in The Endurance of the Cambodian Family Under the Khmer Rouge Regime: An Oral History that "Marriages were usually forced upon individuals for reproductive purposes only, since most couples who were married were soon after separated from each other and rarely met afterwards. After reproduction was achieved, it was not important for couples to remain together, since their time and energy were required on the work field."

Almost 30 years have passed since the end of the Khmer Rouge's horrific rule from 1975-1979 during which as many one in five Cambodians were killed. Many more were tortured or died of disease or starvation in the forced labor camps of agriculture collectives in which the entire population was enslaved.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, established by a 2001 law and convened in 2006, was initially scheduled to last three years and cost $56.3 million, with the UN providing $43 million and Cambodia's government $13.3 million. But money problems have plagued the court, and Agence France Presse reported recently that the court was seeking another $114 million from international donors to keep it running until 2011. The majority of Cambodians live on less than $1 per day.

Former foreign minister Ieng Sary, and former social affairs minister Thirith, 75, are in custody alongside Khieu Samphan, 76, the former head of state, "Brother No 2" Nuon Chea and Duch, the warden of the notorious torture center known as S-21, or Tuol Sleng. They are being held separately in eight privately housed single-room cells in a detention facility on the same property as the courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. They all deny charges of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Sary is suspected of undertaking and facilitating murders as well as planning and coordinating Khmer Rouge policies of forcible transfer, forced labor and illegal killings. Thirith was allegedly one of the planners who directed the widespread purges and the killings of members within the Ministry of Social Affairs. Both have claimed they are innocent.

The mere thought of a request for conjugal visits between Sary and Thirith is a shocking insult to Cambodians. However, in another universe it might be touching. The couple met during their university days in Phnom Penh where they surely double-dated with fellow classmates Pol Pot and his future wife Khieu Ponnary, Thirith's sister. They were married in the summer of 1951 in Paris, where Sary had a flat in the Latin Quarter and a coterie of radical student friends, many of whom were ex-patriot Cambodian communists. According to historian Ben Kiernan, Thirith was a "Shakespeare studies major".

Sary rose to power alongside his chum Pol Pot and was ultimately deputy prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea, as the Khmer Rouge named the country. After their 1979 ouster, and a Hanoi-backed tribunal of that year which sentenced Sary to death in absentia, the Khmer Rouge fought a guerrilla war against the government into the 1990s. Sary became the first senior Khmer Rouge leader to defect to the government in 1996. At the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen, King Norodom Sihanouk issued a royal pardon to Sary later that year and granted him semi-autonomous status in the gem and timber rich municipality of Pailin, where his son is now governor. Sary and Thirith have lived in an opulent Phnom Penh villa for many years.

Sary's amnesty was a stumbling block in the lengthy negotiations between the Cambodian government and the UN and served to stall its progress.

Even with recent progress, decades of delays have created apathy among the Cambodian populace. As Khmer Rouge survivor and famous painter Vann Nath told an Asia Times Online staffer in November 2007, "It has taken too long for the trial. It has dragged on for years and now as the delays of the trial keep going there will be more ways to defend the suspects - and more delays."

Nath, who was one of only a handful of survivors of S-21, points out that the leaders in custody certainly have better living conditions than those who suffered at their hands. "They're secure, they have mattresses, any food they want, special doctors," he said. "They have better luck than most Cambodians."

If Sary's luck continues he might just get his conjugal visits. But he's has been hospitalized three times with heart problems since his arrest in December 2007, and it's doubtful the tender reunion of these two war crimes suspects would be exceedingly risque (although Americans may remember the Sienfeld episode in which character George Costanza reckoned conjugal visits to be the best sex possible).

Or, perhaps, the scales of justice are tipping in mysterious ways. As far-fetched a scenario as it may be, should Sary go out with a bang in some Khmer Rouge tribunal jail cell it would certainly spark interest in what has been an otherwise impotent process.

A Tour of a Killing Field

By Stephen Brown Friday, February 29, 2008

“They all had to be eliminated.” A stunning and macabre tour of the Cambodian killing fields took place this week when one of Pol Pot’s chief executioners and author of the above quote re-enacted his crimes for the United Nations-backed tribunal judges currently trying five former Khmer Rouge leaders for their crimes against humanity. Almost two million people perished in a communist holocaust of class hatred in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, under one of the most savage regimes of the last century.

Kang Khek Ieu, 66, also known by his revolutionary name of "Duch" (pronounced Doik), oversaw the torture and murder of an estimated 17,000 people as head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. This week, the former math teacher, who also headed Pol Pot’s secret police, led about eighty judges, witnesses and court officials back to the Cheong Ek killing field outside of Phnom Penh where the helpless and terrorized victims of S-21 (Tuol Sleng’s code name) were sadistically executed at night after being tortured. During their executions, Doik would sit on a mat and calmly smoke cigarettes. The kneeling prisoners were clubbed to death at the edge of mass graves to save bullets.

According to one report, Duch, whom American missionaries later converted to Christianity, wept twice in guilt and remorse for his victims at the Cheong Ek execution site. Cheong Ek, like Auschwitz, has been turned into a memorial visited by tourists. During the four-hour tour the former Khmer Rouge executioner, who was accompanied by four former S-21 guards, knelt and prayed before a tree, against the trunk of which, Duch explained, babies’ heads were bashed. Duch prayed once more before a large, glass-walled stupa (a round, Buddhist shrine) containing the skulls dug out of the Cheong Ek killing field.

Only six people slipped through Duch’s hands and escaped the pure terror and evil of S-21 alive. Many of its 17,000 victims were members of Cambodia’s educated class, whom the Khmer Rouge were determined to exterminate to bring about their radical, agrarian, Marxist revolution that saw Cambodia isolated from the world, all her towns and cities emptied of their inhabitants overnight, and a brutal, killing, slave labor system institutionalized for the former city dwellers. Other victims were party members caught up in purges. S-21, a former high school whose classes were turned into torture chambers, is now a museum and memorial, obscene proof to the world what the Khmer Rouge communists were.

“There was a widespread and tacit understanding…No answer could avoid death,” Duch said in a recent interview. “Nobody who came to us had any chance of saving himself.”

On trial with Duch are former Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, former minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith, and the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist, Nuon Chea. Pol Pot died under house arrest in 1998. Ieng Sary and Pol Pot both met their wives when students in France where they were radicalized and became communists.

It was these privileged and educated madmen, and women, who were to cause so much murder, devastation and tears back in their own country, leaving behind a desolate and shattered land that is still unhealed today. However, unlike the repentant Duch, the other four defendants either deny any knowledge of the horrifying genocide they perpetrated or that it ever happened.

Incredibly, Ieng Sary, a close confidant of Pol Pot and whose sister-in-law was Pol Pot’s wife, denied any knowledge of the horror he helped create. His wife and fellow defendant, Ieng Thirith, went even further, having once denounced Cambodia’s chief genocide investigator, calling his findings nothing “but lies and defamation.” Nuon Chea, whom many believe was the architect of the Killing Fields, even had the nerve to appeal his detention, calling it an “illegal act.”

Nuon Chea, known as Brother No 2 thirty years ago, also denied his involvement in the atrocities, even telling a Cambodian-American survivor, Theary Seng, that he was not a “cruel” man. Seng, whose parents were murdered in the communist cataclysm, was the first former victim ever to confront a Khmer Rouge leader in a courtroom. The American lawyer and author testified that at age seven she and her four-year-old brother were “shackled and held under inhuman conditions in a Khmer Rouge prison,” adding “the graveyard was our playground.” The former child prisoner asked Chea who was responsible for that “hellish regime” if he wasn’t.

Even the contrite Duch qualified his participation in the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal nightmare when he said in the interview he had no choice but to carry out the monstrosities of S-21, portraying himself as a helpless cog in the Khmer Rouge killing machine, worried for himself and his family if he should dissent. The former communist secret police chief said he was only obeying orders and, according to one report, plans to plead not guilty when his trial properly starts this summer.

The truth, however, is that in the “liberated zones”, during the war against Cambodia’s pre-revolutionary government, Duch was already committing crimes against humanity years before the Khmer Rouge’s assumption of power. It was during this time that, as author Elizabeth Becker wrote in her book When The War Was Over: The Voices Of Cambodia’s Revolution And Its People, the Khmer Rouge’s chosen head executioner perfected “the excessively secret purge system of the Khmer Rouge.” Becker further claims that S-21 under a Duch became “the nerve center for the system of terror.” Showing the exactness of a former math teacher, Becker writes Duch oversaw “a precise department of death” and chronicled some of its hideous details:

“His (Duch’s) guards dutifully photographed the prisoners upon arrival and photographed them at or near death whether their throats were slit, their bodies otherwise mutilated or so thin from torture and near starvation that they were beyond recognition…Duch even set aside specific days for killing various types of prisoners: one day the wives of the “enemies”; another day the children; a different day, factory workers.”

And it was these hundreds of haunting photos of S-21’s frightened and helpless victims, taken upon their arrival, which symbolized for many the savage insanity of the Khmer Rouge. The judges will view the photos, which now line S-21’s walls, as Duch will also take them there. One of those unfortunates the court officials will see was Duch’s close cousin, whom he did not save, although the S-21 commander was, according to Becker, one of the six most powerful Khmer Rouge leaders, taking orders directly from Pol Pot.

“Pol Pot, the No. 1 Brother, said you always had to be suspicious, to fear something,” said Duch in the interview. “And thus the usual request came: interrogate them again, interrogate them better." What Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were so fearful of Duch never explained. The former communist only said the revolutionary leadership saw enemies everywhere.

Negotiations to try the Khmer Rouge leaders began in 1998 between the United Nations and the Cambodian government, whose leader is a former Khmer Rouge member. After years of wrangling, only in 2006 were the judges for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the tribunal’s official name, sworn in. The five Khmer Rouge defendants were taken into custody only last year and are detained in a luxury villa for the duration of the trial.

Some Cambodians are angry that the defendants were not put on trial years earlier, while others are offended at the comfortable conditions of their incarceration where one prisoner even demanded that a western-style toilet be installed for his personal use. Still other Cambodians believe their government is dragging out proceedings in order to get more buildings built and more money for the tribunal from the international community. Already a demand has been made for another $110 million to keep the proceedings going until 2011.

Despite the valid complaints concerning the trial, Theary Sary says the legal proceedings are nevertheless worth it, since they are giving her a chance to honor her parents. Sary had also asked the tribunal not to grant Nuon Chea his appeal and free him from detention, saying she and her brother had no rights when they were arbitrarily arrested, while Nuon Chea enjoys legal protections in both domestic and international law and is defended by both Cambodian and foreign lawyers.

“As victims we have been waiting for 30 years for justice,” she said. “There is a risk the accused will fail to appear in court, and without his presence we will suffer a great loss.” To that, the ghosts of the Cheong Ek killing field would only nod their silent assent.

Kayla Paton wins Cambodian trip

29 February 2008

Regular readers of the Yass Trib may remember Kayla Paton as an outstanding hospitality trainee working at “Schonegg” in Murrumbateman.

She’s in the news again as one of the winners of a trip to Cambodia, where she will both teach and learn elements of cooking.

Kayla was a member of a team of CIT students who competed in the Australia wide “Tasting Australia” Competition held in Adelaide last year. The students had to cook a three course meal for four people and select the wines to accompany the meal. Kayla's team, ACT Northern Districts, won the Gold Medal for Best Region as well as the Gold Medal for Best Desert. The exciting prize was a 12 day visit to Cambodia, where they will be teaching and learning cooking.

(Journey to Cambodia)

As part of their prize the winning team will head to Cambodia on a culinary and cultural tour staying at Raffles Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh, with visits to Angkor Wat, spice and food markets, a hospitality school and Khmer cooking class. Kayla is looking forward to her trip to Cambodia, which will probably take place mid-2008. She hasn’t been outside Australia before, so she’s not sure what to expect. However, she hopes to learn more about the country and how the Cambodians prepare and present meals.

The team consisted of: Stuart Walsh, Dean of City Faculty and Tourism and Hotel Management; Fional Mitchell, CIT's head of department; Dammika Hatharasinghe, a pastry teacher at CIT and apprentice Kayla Paton.

(Recipe for a winning meal)

Entree: Sticky braised duck and truffled foie gras pie which was served with Lark Hill's 2003 Exaltation Pinot Noir
Main: Goldenholm biodynamic beef with sweet potato gnocchi and a jus made from Clonakill Shiraz Viognier which as also served with the meal.
Dessert: Study of Apple with Rhubarb and Raspberry served with Lark Hill's 2006 Auslese Riesling

(Making a chef)

Kayla, a former Yass High School student, completed her Certificate 1 in Hospitality there in 2004. She is now in her final year as Apprentice Chef at the CIT, working in the industry at Government House.

She did Hospitality as part of her HSC at YHS, completing Certificate 1 and part of Certificate 2 there. After leaving school she was employed at Schnoegg as a trainee and undertook the balance of Certificate 2. When she finished Certificate 2 she then started her apprenticeship as a chef.

Thai Prime Minister visits Laos and Cambodia

BANGKOK, Feb 29 (TNA) - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej began a series of visits to introduce himself and his government's policies to ASEAN member countries with a trip to the neighbouring countries of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and the Kingdom of Cambodia from February 29 through March 4.

PM Samak and his entourage left Bangkok Friday morning for Vientiane to visit Laos between February 29-March 1 to strengthen diplomatic relations and cooperation with Thailand's neighbour.

Mr. Samak and his Lao counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh were scheduled to hold bilateral talks regarding road links and energy cooperation.

The prime minister will also discuss with senior Lao officials current concerns in Thai foreign policy to have close links with ASEAN member countries.

He was also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Lao President Choummaly Sayasone.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Samak will meet Thai officials and the locally resident Thai community at the Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane.

The prime minister will return to Bangkok Saturday afternoon and the second leg of his ASEAN neighbour visits starts Monday with a visit to Cambodia.

Mr. Samak and his delegation will leave for Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, early Monday morning.

Thai Prime Minister and Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, will co-chair a bilateral meeting in the late afternoon, and Mr.Samak will fly back to Thailand on Tuesday.

Cambodia's 2008 economy to grow by 7.3%, PM says

Friday, February 29, 2008

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia's economy is expected to expand this year by only 7.3 percent, marking a more than two-point downturn after averaging double-digit growth for the past three years, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday.

High global oil prices and an uncertain future for Cambodia's garment industry, a key economic driver in this impoverished country, are the reasons for the expected dip, he told an investors' conference in the capital Phnom Penh. The economy is estimated to have grown by 9.6 percent last year, driven by a galloping tourism sector and construction boom.

Cambodia deports former US Marine for allegedly making threat to US Embassy security

AP - 29.02.2008

Cambodia has deported and permanently banned an American man for allegedly making threats against the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, a senior police official said Friday. Gerald Forbes, 63, from Hawaii, was deported Thursday night, said Lt. Gen. Sok Phal, a deputy chief of the national police. Immigration police put Forbes, a former U.S. Marine, on a plane bound for Singapore, Sok Phal said, adding that the government also banned him from re-entering Cambodia. Police arrested Forbes Feb. 19 after he allegedly made a threatening remark against the U.S. Embassy in venting his anger over insufficient support he has received from the American government.

Pacific Delight Tours Offers Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok
February 29, 2008

Pacific Delight Tours has designed a 16-day deluxe package that offers in-depth exploration of many of the most famous sites in Southeast Asia -- including Vietnam, Bangkok and Cambodia -- as well as cultural experiences including the following: dinner at a variety of local restaurants and while cruising along Bangkok's Chao Phraya River; excursions to local markets; a Water Puppet Theater performance in Hanoi, and a cruise along the country's Halong Bay in a traditional Chinese junk, exploring caves along the way. The 16-day Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok Luxury Vistas itinerary is limited to 16 participants and utilizes deluxe hotels throughout, including the Sofitel Phokeethra Royal Angkor Golf & Spa Resort, The Oriental Bangkok and the Furama Resort Danang . The tour, fully escorted in Vietnam by Pacific Delight's bi-lingual tour personnel and locally guided in Cambodia and Bangkok, is $6,382 to $6,862 per person, double. Four-day Hong Kong tour extensions are available for $1,118 to $1,328 per person, double. Government-imposed taxes and fees, including the Sept. 11 Security Fee of up to $155, are additional. Prices are subject to change.

The air-inclusive itinerary, offered in conjunction with Cathay Pacific, includes year-round departures from San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York, all meals, pre-confirmed hotel accommodations, all Asia air/land transportation, sightseeing, entertainment and performances, tour escort, transfers, fuel surcharges, hotel taxes, service charges and baggage handling. Land-only prices, single supplements and business class air upgrades are available as are add-on fares from dozens of North American gateways ranging from $130 to $440. Travelers receive $100,000 flight insurance when Pacific Delight tickets the tour. For more information, call 800-221-7179 or visit

The Killing Fields of Cambodia


A tour of the Toul Sleng Torture Prison and one of many Cambodia Killing Fields.

Tear Gas and Gunfire During Latest Violent Eviction In Cambodia's Capital

An Intervention Police officer at latest Russey Keo's eviction site armed with tear gas gun
Military Police officers supervising the destruction of 23 houses in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh

February 28, 2008

Early on the morning of 22 February, 2008, more than 100 heavily-armed military police, intervention police and district police officers violently and forcibly evicted 23 households in Banla S'et village, Khmuonh commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh. As a result, four villagers were injured and eight were detained, leaving behind a dismantled community with nowhere to go.

The eviction was carried out less than 24 hours after the community received notice of eviction. Military and police forces arrived shortly after 7.30am, and less than five minutes later, fired two tear gas canisters at residents while simultaneously shooting dozens of AK-47 bullets into the air, in a blatant attempt to intimidate and force the community to leave. Many bullets were also fired directly at a nearby vehicle, which subsequently exploded.

Authorities then used two mechanical excavators to quickly tear down the community's 23 concrete and wooden houses. A small number of families were allowed to enter their homes to collect their belongings before they were demolished. None of the affected families have been given compensation for the loss of their houses and possessions, nor have they been provided with alternative housing.

During the incident, four villagers were injured from beatings by the police, including one woman who sustained a serious head injury. A further eight people were detained by the authorities. Following negotiations by NGOs at the scene, four detainees were released later that day, and the remaining four were released the following day.

All 23 families maintain that they built their houses and settled their community around 1994 and have been living peacefully on the site since then. Local authorities have recognised their occupation of the land and granted family books and other relevant documents. In 2005, two businessmen claimed ownership of the land and went to court seeking the residents' eviction. Eventually, the Supreme Court upheld the businessmen's claim and decided to authorise the eviction.

Unlawful use of weapons

Despite the Supreme Court's authorization, this was an illegal forced eviction because of the excessive use of force, the lack of compensation paid in advance to the victims for their demolished homes and belongings, and the fact that they have been rendered homeless. Each of these acts is a violation of international law.

The excessive use of force by the authorities, and in particular the dozens of bullets fired by them, violated Cambodian and international law1. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states that "Law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result." In this eviction, the police and military police involved did not attempt to use non-violent means before resorting to the shooting of bullets and tear gas.

This eviction is just one of many in Cambodia in recent years in which excessive violence is used, sometimes with deadly consequences.

"The deaths of two unarmed civilians during a brutal eviction in Preah Vihear province in November 2007 shows what can happen in these situations," said Naly Pilorge, director of LICADHO. "Unless the government wants the same thing to happen again, in other provinces and in the middle of Phnom Penh, it needs to radically change the way that it deals with land disputes."

LICADHO reiterates its call for the Royal Government of Cambodia to immediately impose a moratorium on all involuntary evictions until a legal framework that respects human rights is in place. LICADHO also calls for the Royal Government of Cambodia to stop denying that forced evictions are occurring in Cambodia – when cases such as the one in Banla S'et village show they clearly are – and instead to take concrete actions to address these human rights violations.

(1) UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990. Cambodian law (Art. 6, Provisions related to the Judiciary and Criminal Law and Procedure Applicable in Cambodia During the Transitional Period) states that " police shall observe the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and, to the extent possible, Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials".

VN, Cambodia to boost border-area co-operation

Deputy PM Nguyen Sinh Hung attends the Viet Nam-Cambodia border province co-operation and development conference. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhan Sang


The two sides vow to work together to develop their border provinces.

Phnom Penh — Viet Nam Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung amd Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister SarKheng reiterated the importance of the border talks between their two countries in a joint communique issued yesterday.

The deputy prime ministers had just co-chaired the fourth meeting to enhance co-operation and development of the Viet Nam-Cambodia border provinces.

The talks had been held in an atmosphere of friendship, solidarity and mutual understanding, their communique says.

The meeting had been attended by senior provincial representatives of Viet Nam and Cambodia as well as ministries and institutions of both countries.

The following is an edited version of the communique.

1. The meeting was to implement the provisions of the Joint Communique issued after the third meeting for Co-operation and Development of Cambodia – Viet Nam’s border provinces in Long Xuyen, An Giang Province, Viet Nam on December 25, 2006.

2. It was conducted in an atmosphere of friendship, solidarity, and mutual understanding and had reiterated the necessity and importance of the meeting as a key mechanism in co-operation that had progressed from day-to-day security maintenance and socio-economic development to strengthening and deepening the friendship and multi-sided co-operation of common interest for both countries.

3. Both Viet Nam and Cambodia had warmly welcomed and highly valued the State visit by Viet Nam President Nguyen Minh Triet to Cambodia in February 2007 and other official visits by senior representatives of both countries.

4. Both teams of negotiators expressed their satisfaction with and said they highly valued the outcomes of the 9th Cambodia-Viet Nam Joint Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technical Co-operation Commission meeting held in Phnom Penh on August 21 last year.

Both considered the meeting had contributed to strengthening friendship and co-operation in all areas of common interest including the relations between the border provinces of both countries.

5. The negotiators welcomed the outcome of the second Ministerial Meeting to promote trade and investment in the Cambodia-Lao-Viet Nam Development Triangle on February 16-17, 2008. They also welcomed the results of the Commerce Ministerial Committee Meeting in Preah Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia, on February 18-19, 2008 and the First Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Mekong-Japan held in Tokyo from January 16-17, 2008.

6. The negotiators reviewed the implementation of points agreed at the 3rd Co-operation and Development Meeting between their border provinces and expressed satisfaction with and highly valued the outcomes of excellent co-operation that had followed. The negotiators considered this fruitful co-operation as an important contribution to strengthening friendship and co-operation between the two countries.

7. The negotiators agreed that they highly valued the yearly growth of trade between their countries and this would be strengthening to enhance the efforts made by their governments to promote bilateral trade of US$2 billion by 2010. All agreements, agreed minutes and MoUs signed by two countries to facilitate trade and investment along the borders of both countries would continue to be monitored. This would include the exchange of goods and services, the establishment of markets and economic zones along the borders, the organisation of trade exhibitions and advertising of products.

The negotiators also agreed to continue strengthening measures to prevent and suppress contraband and fake goods crossing their borders.

8. The negotiators agreed to promote further co-operation to develop transport infrastructure to link the border zones of both countries and encourage border authorities to use their respective resources for mutual co-operation. They also agreed to promote implementation of cross-border transport services at the key international checkpoints identified in the Agreement on Road Transport Protocol.

The negotiators agreed to accelerate construction of Road 78 from Ban Lung to O Yadav, Rattanakiri Province, Cambodia, and the feasibility study for the Chrey Thom bridge, Kandal Province, to Khanh Binh, An Giang Province.

9. The negotiators agreed to promote the construction of the 220kV transmission line from the border to Phnom Penh. It was also agreed to encourage Vietnamese companies to invest in electricity generation in Cambodia. Cambodian will facilitate the building of two hydro-electricity stations on the Sesan river by Viet Nam companies after they complete their feasibility studies in June 2009.

The negotiators agreed to facilitate Viet Nam companies to conduct feasibility studies and explore for oil and minerals in Cambodia. Viet Nam will conduct short training course on oil exploration for Cambodia.

10. The negotiators agreed to continue mutual support in developing agriculture and promoting investment industry using agricultural produced in areas along the border.

The promotion of rubber cultivation in border provinces was also agreed with companies of the two countries to work in partnership to secure appropriate concession of land for rubber in accordance with Cambodian law.

Both agreed to continue to protect and take measures against insects that destroy rice and other crops and jointly maintain natural resources, ecosystems and wildlife.

Both agreed to help farmers of both countries to use water from rivers and canals along the border.

11. The negotiators agreed to continue to co-operate in providing border medical services. Viet Nam will help Cambodian provinces with medical checks for the treatment of eyes disease among Cambodians living on the border by allowing them enter Viet Nam and seek medical treatment at Vietnamese provincial hospitals for the same fees as paid by Vietnamese.

12. The negotiators agreed to continue mutual support in the building of the capacity of personnel for the border provinces. Cultural and sports exchange will be promoted and the young and people on both sides of the border encouraged to jointly organise events.

13. The negotiators agreed to the joint promotion of tourism in the border provinces.

14. The negotiators welcomed the implementation of the demarcation of the border based on the Border Demarcation Supplementary Treaty. It was also agreed to give high priority to border demarcation and quicken the process.

15. The negotiators evaluated co-operation between the two countries and said agreed to effective measures to maintain public order at their border. This would include the further strengthening of security and public order at the border to ensure peace, friendship, co-operation and sustainable development. Both countries would continue to tighten control of illegal migration, illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, particularly women and children and cross-border crime.

The negotiators reiterated their policy of their countries to prevent the use of their territory by hostile forces against the security of both countries. They also agreed to promote co-operation to resolve any border differences in the spirit of friendship, peace, and mutual understanding.
16. The negotiators agreed to ask their Governments, ministries, and institutions to continue their support of local authorities in border provinces so as to promote effective co-operation between their border provinces.

17. The negotiators agreed to establish new border checkpoints, change the names of some and consider the upgrading of others so as to facilitate border crossing by residents and the peoples of both countries to encourage the exchange of goods and services.

18. The negotiators supported the in principle approval of both Governments for the peoples of both countries who hold ordinary passports to be visa exempt.

19. The negotiators expressed great satisfaction with the border events organised to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Viet Nam – June 26, 1967-June 26, 2007.

20. The negotiators agreed to continue regular meetings between border provinces, districts and communes to further promote implementation of the agreed points and draft new plans for co-operation for their Governments to consider.

21. The negotiators agreed to organise the 5th Co-operation and Development Meeting for Cambodia-Viet Nam Border Provinces in Viet Nam in 2009 at a venue and time to be announced. — VNS

Vietnam, Cambodia meet for border provinces’ cooperation


VietNamNet Bridge – The Fourth Meeting on Cooperation and Development among Border Provinces of Vietnam and Cambodia wrapped up in Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia, on February 28।

The two-day meeting, co-chaired by Vietnamese Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, drew representatives from ministries, institutions and border provincial authorities of the two countries.

In an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding, the two sides emphasised the significance and necessity to enhance the mechanism of the meeting on cooperation and development among the countries’ border provinces.

Both sides said they were determined to maintain and increase the efficiency of this cooperation mechanism to build the border area into a region of peace and prosperity, contributing to enhancing and expanding the “good neighbourliness, friendship, cooperation and long-term stability between Vietnam and Cambodia.

At the meeting, the two sides reviewed the implementation of agreements reached at the previous third meeting held in Long Xuyen town of An Giang Province, Vietnam, in December 2006.

The sides spoke of their satisfaction in the outcomes of comprehensive cooperation between ministries, institutions and provinces of the two countries, emphasising that the results have made important contributions to changing the face of the countries’ border localities in socio-economics and consolidating security, stability and order along the common border line.

The two sides discussed measures to continue promoting cooperation in 2008 and agreed to focus on a number of key areas including upgrading infrastructural facilities, particularly traffic infrastructure as it is a key to promote socio-economic development and trade.

The two countries also agreed to promote cooperation in trade, investment, service and tourism in the borders of the two countries, build border economic regions and border markets as well as enhance cooperation in agro-forestry and fisheries, education and training, healthcare and personnel development for the two countries’ border localities.

The two sides will together enhance cultural, artistic and public exchange among border provinces, actively fulfill border demarcation and plantation as scheduled and boost cooperation and collaboration in defending security, stability and order along the common borderline. The two sides agreed to provide preferential treatment in investment, trade and services carried out in border areas.

The Cambodian side then welcomed Vietnamese companies to invest in power plant construction and infrastructure development in Cambodia. The two sides also pledged to beef up construction of Road 78 in Cambodia that links Oyadao with Ban Lung in Rattanakiri Province and said they would speed up a feasibility study on building the Khanh Binh bridge to connect Mekong Delta’s An Giang Province with Chrey Thom in Cambodia’s Kandal Province.

The Cambodian side said it would create conditions for Vietnamese companies to cooperate in the exploration and exploitation of Cambodian oil, gas and minerals as well as in joint projects on growing industrial crops so ensure they can be carried out as soon as possible.

The two sides also decided to continue cooperation in agriculture, healthcare, education, culture, social affairs and tourism. The Vietnamese side pledged to continue working with and aiding Cambodia in preventing and fighting plant and animal epidemics and in human resource training in Cambodian border localities.

Meeting participants applauded the fruitful and effective cooperation in maintaining security and stability in border areas shared by the two countries, in land and on sea.

They noted the need to maintain and maximise communication channels, share information and experience, and train personnel from administration, security and defence agencies in border provinces.

They two sides agreed to collaborate on joint patrols, reinforce inspections to prevent illegal immigration, and cooperate in countering trans-border crimes and terrorist activities in their common border areas.

They reiterated the need to continue the policy of not permitting outside forces to use one’s territory as a base to conduct operations against the other.

The two sides also reached an agreement to raise awareness and understanding among people, officials and soldiers from border areas about the countries’ laws, border-related regulations and signed agreements.

They decided to continue prioritising the demarcation and planting of landmarks on the shared border and strive to complete the task as previously agreed.

The countries also agreed to accelerate the opening of new border gates and upgrade existing border gates to facilitate cross-border travel and transportation as well as deploy negotiations and sign a visa exemption agreement for ordinary passport holders.

During the meeting, the two Deputy PMs signed a security cooperation plan for 2008 between the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security and the Cambodia Ministry of Home Affairs.

In addition, leaders of border provinces and representatives of ministries and sectors of the two countries held separate working sessions and meetings to discuss their cooperative programmes.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides issued a joint communique and agreed to hold the fifth meeting in Vietnam in 2009.

(Source: VNA)

Sacravatoons: " Free Coffins "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon:

Sacravatoons : " Hmong & its Titles "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Thaksin affirms quitting politics

IANS Thursday 28th February, 2008
Bangkok Post

Bangkok, Feb 28 (Xinhua) Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra affirmed he would quit politics at his first press conference in Bangkok after returning to Thailand Thursday morning, ending 17 months of self-exile since a military coup toppled his government.

The ex-premier said he had planned to return to Thailand ever since Sep 20, 2006, the second day after the military top brass toppled him in a coup while he was attending a UN meeting in New York.

However, he and his family were forced to live abroad for more than 17 months. A written statement released to reporters listed personal security concerns and worries for the junta's interference with the justice system, as reasons of his self-exile.

He said this was the proper time for him to return to the country. According to him, Thailand is returning to the normal track of democratic rule under a Constitutional Monarchy after the Dec 23, 2007 general election.

He said as a 59-year-old man, he now wished to live quietly and peacefully with his family as a normal Thai citizen.

'I have travelled around the world, but I have found that there is no other place as warm and happy to me as my home country. I want to live the rest of my life here,' he said.

Thaksin arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport by a Thai International Airways flight from Hong Kong Thursday morning.

After meeting thousands of supporters waiting outside the airport, he reported himself to the Supreme Court, which earlier issued arrest warrants for Thaksin and his wife Pojaman on charges of power abuse and corruption.

Rising demand for Cambodian maids

Koun Vannak: Had a good employer during her three
Low: Also supplies Cambodian maids.
Caring for the young: The Cambodian maids learning to take care of babies.
Hands-on: Maids learning how to tend to senior citizens at Sri Nadin Sdn Bhd’s training centre in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng.
Friday February 29, 2008


THERE is a rise in the demand for maids from countries other than Indonesia, like from Cambodia.

Philimore Sdn Bhd managing director Y.S. Liew said the employment of Cambodian maids had increased over the past two years.

He said he anticipated a further increase in the near future.

“Cambodian maids were not that in demand at first due to the language barrier. Now, we fly in more than 200 Cambodian maids a month,” he said.

According to Liew, of about 300,000 maids here, Indonesians make up 90% while Cambodians and Filipinos number 8% and 2% respectively.

“Cambodian maids are getting popular as employers like their attitude.''

“They are also eager to learn and are self disciplined. Many employers prefer them even though communication is rather difficult. In fact, the language barrier is an advantage as others cannot influence them easily.

“The salary scale is almost the same - RM550 for Indonesians and RM590 for Cambodian maids,” he added.

An employer from Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Ng Shih Shing, said the Cambodian maid he had employed in 2006 had become part of the family.

“She speaks very little English but learns very fast. She even follows us to church,” he said.

“I had three Indonesian maids who gave me various problems and the fourth one ran away a day after she arrived. When I reported it to the police, they said there was an average of eight cases a day,” he added.

His maid, Rose, 21, from Siem Reap, had worked in Malaysia for three years before taking up the second contract.

“It's all right working here. I last took home RM13,000 and gave it to my family. I want to earn more to buy a house,” she said.

Another Cambodian maid, Koun Vannak, 25, said she had a good employer during her three years in Malaysia and had come back to earn more money.

Sri Nadin Sdn Bhd is another agency supplying Vietnamese maids and its general manager Fiona Low said employers opted for Vietnamese maids as this was “something new”.

Hun Sen Reiterates That He Is Prepared To Have Coffins Made For Those Who Want To Reclaim Khmer Kampuchea Krom Territory

Posted on 29 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549

“Prime Minister Hun Sen reaffirmed yesterday that regarding those who want to claim back Kampuchea Krom territory to rule it like under the French regime, he is prepared to have coffins made for those strong people. The Prime Minister stated that some people always talk about the loss of the land of hundreds of meters [per day], but it is not true. If it were the truth, the eastern border [with Vietnam] would by now be in the region of Kompong Chhnang, while the western border [with Thailand] would be in the region of Pursat. To say so is misled political demagogy.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen said so in Kandal Province, bordering Vietnam. He also confirmed that he did not want to talk about the issue of Khmer Krom territory. He added that anyone who claims to be strong - “please go ahead.” He is prepared to help to have coffins made for them, and he has sympathy to help to have their corpses buried. It is not the first time that Prime Minister Hun Sen made such statements. The Prime Minister has claimed already many times that there is not any loss of land in relation to Khmer Krom as well as to Khmer territorial integrity. If there is such loss as claimed by some people, the Khmer land would not have remained until now.

“It is noted that this is not the first time that Prime Minister Hun Sen has said so. He also expressed his ‘welcome’ with strong language, such as saying that Prime Minster Hun Sen is sympathetic in helping to have coffins made for those who want to protest and to reclaim Khmer Krom territory.

“For Prime Minister Hun Sen, those who want to protest claiming Khmer Krom territory are ignorant. It is a problem inherited from a previous generation, and Prime Minister Hun Sen claims that he just protects the Khmer territory from being lost.

“In Koh Thom, Kandal, bordering Vietnam, where the Prime Minister conducted demagogy to seek votes yesterday, he said that the people in Koh Thom know whether or not territory was really lost to the Vietnamese who are accused to have occupied some land. According to the Prime Minister, no territory was lost.

“Territorial integrity is a hot topic, and because Prince Norodom Ranariddh raised the territorial issue, he resigned from the position of president of the National Assembly. Until now, Prince Norodom Ranariddh has continued to raise the territorial issue, as he understands that it is a vital issue for the nation, and he continues to mention it again and again. Even though an additional agreement [in addition to the border treaty of 1985 with Vietnam] was signed, it remains a problem, as the ruling party did not allow partners in the government to directly supervise the measuring of the border line. The problem was so serious that Prince Norodom Ranariddh decided to resign from his role as president of the National Assembly. Some Cambodian people understand that it is only Prime Minister Hun Sen who still claims that there is not any loss of Khmer territory. However, many Cambodian people, except Prime Minister Hun Sen, know that the Yuon [Vietnamese] and the Siam [Thai] people never give up. But why keeps the Prime Minister claiming that no Khmer land is lost?

“The issue of Khmer territorial integrity made many Khmer people scared, but they thank those who were arrested when they protested against the ratification of the additional border agreement. Mam Sonando, the director of Sambok Khmum Radio, Kem Sokha, the former president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, had been arrested and were imprisoned, because they talked about these complementary border agreements, claiming that they result in the cutting off of a piece of land to give it to Yuon. Now, those who formerly had shown a strong attitude turned around and softened their attitude toward Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“However, an unidentified official from the Norodom Ranariddh Party claimed that the issue, which has been raised in the past, is not to send troops to protest and reclaim Kampuchea Krom territory, but to insist that Yuon respects human rights, universally declared values, and the Yuon government is also a signatory to human rights conventions.”

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3258, 28.2.2008

Preah Vihear to top the agenda of Samak's visit to Cambodia

Bangkok Post
Friday February 29, 2008


Preah Vihear will top the agenda of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's official visit to Cambodia, starting Monday. A military source said the prime minister would talk to his Cambodian counterpart about jointly proposing the Preah Vihear Khmer temple ruins, called Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, as a World Heritage site since the two countries have yet to settle the border demarcation in that area which is located in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket.

Moreover, the Thai side believes the area that covers about 7.2 sq km should not be included in the area to be designated a World Heritage site.

Last year, Cambodia tried to register the site with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) alone. But the UN agency delayed its decision, urging the two countries to resolve the issue together.

''Due to the unsettled border, Cambodia cannot register the ruins alone. If Cambodia wants to apply for World Heritage status, the proposal should be jointly submitted with Thailand because the area is supervised by two countries.

''If Cambodia pushes on with its idea, it should not include the 7.2 sq km disputed area because it means Thailand might lose its sovereignty over the area in question,'' the source said.

Mr Samak's trip will follow a two-day official visit to Laos which begins today.

A meeting of the World Heritage committee will be convened from July 4 to 12 in Canada.

Cambodia in midst of building boom

Feb 28 - High-rise buildings are set to change Phnom Penh's skyline and the lives of its residents forever.

With the country's economy growing 10 percent every year, Cambodia is enjoying prosperity for the first time in decades. Capital Phnom Penh is in the midst of a property boom with wealthy Khmers and foreign investors snapping up prime locales.

But the ambitious skyscraper plans are causing eviction of poor residents and the destruction of French colonial buildings which have given the city a distinct character for decades.

Masako Iijima reports.

Songs inciting infidelity? Cambodia bans them in public

February 29th, 2008

Phnom Penh, Feb 28 (DPA) The titles of the three songs banned from public broadcast for inciting infidelity say it all, according to Cambodian government and cultural officials, local media reported Thursday. The offending songs, “If I Can’t Be First Can I Be Second?”, “Love Another’s Husband” and “May I Have a Piece of Your Heart Too?” have been banished from the nation’s thousands of karaoke restaurants, Khmer-language Koh Santepheap reported.

“We are searching for other songs which affect people’s honour, especially that of women,” the paper quoted Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema as saying.

The three songs were written to be sung by women, but pop music analysts said Thursday they are relatively obscure tunes.

The ban is a further step by the government to crack down on unfaithfulness and “uphold cultural values”.

Cambodia passed a controversial monogamy law in September 2006 that would see adulterers punished by up to $250 in fines and a year in jail, though only one case has so far gone to court.

Although an outwardly conservative culture, the practice of keeping second wives, or mistresses, remains common, and many karaoke girls seek out “sweethearts” to supplement their earnings.

“People can still play the songs in private - this is only a public ban,” one official said on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think music has much to do with it, but it’s an official request.”

Foreign investment in Cambodia down
Thursday, February 28, 2008

PHNOM PENH — The Cambodian government said Wednesday that total foreign investments in 2007 were $2.7 billion, a figure barely half that of 2006's $4.3 billion.

Sok Chenda, secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, said the decline did not mean that last year's investment climate in Cambodia was worse than the previous year.

Cambodia expects 2008 growth of 7.3 percent - PM

Reuters - Thursday, February 28

PHNOM PENH, Feb 28 - Cambodia's economy is expected to expand by 7.3 percent this year, a slower rate than in 2007 due to the pressure of high world oil prices, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday.

However, a blossoming private sector, overseas aid, sustained foreign investment and continued political stability should ensure healthy growth in the key garment, tourism, construction and agriculture sectors, he said.

"Cambodia needs to sustain this growth to catch up with and keep pace with neighbouring countries," Hun Sen said at a economic conference for international investors.

Cambodia's economy struggled during the 1990s to shake off the legacy of decades of civil war and upheaval, including the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields".

However, it has taken off in the last few years, and expanded at an estimated 9.6 percent last year, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Its gross domestic product is $8.4 billion, giving a per- capita annual income of more than $500.
The garment sector, valued at $3.8 billion last year, represents the lion's share of exports, a government report showed.

The Southeast Asian nation also received 1.7 million tourists last year and expects a 25 percent increase in 2008.

The report said reserves had increased by $600 million last year to $1.7 billion, but said the country ran a trade deficit of $1.5 billion, mainly due to the increase in value of petroleum imports.

Cambodian phnom pens, sings songs with U.S. rock band

Thursday, February 28
By Aaron Beck
The Columbus Dispatch

To find his musical roots, Ethan Holtzman of Dengue Fever had to visit Southeast Asia.

Holtzman, 36, plays the Farfisa organ for the band he co-founded -- which blends early American and British rock with psychedelia and surf music.

Easy reference points include Os Mutantes, the Ventures and every funk-rock group after Parliament-Funkadelic.

On the latest Dengue Fever album, Venus on Earth, the Farfisa organ -- an instrument popular in the 1960s that gives songs a retro vibe -- anchors the music, with the voice of Chhom Nimol delivering the messages.

The band will make its Columbus debut Friday in Skully's Music-Diner.

A short history of Dengue Fever, starting with Holtzman:

During the late 1990s, he quit a day job in Los Angeles and swapped his car for a backpack and a plane ticket to Southeast Asia.

His itinerary included Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Cambodia," he said, "really felt like a lawless society."

Prime Minister Pol Pot, by then the retired leader of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, still held influence.

"It really felt like anything could happen," Holtzman said. "It felt like the kind of place you didn't want to be during an election."

Holtzman -- an accordion player and, since childhood, a guitarist -- sought refuge in the underground nightclubs and was instantly drawn to the cooing voices of the female pop singers.
He didn't understand a word, and he didn't need to.

"The emotion was so strong," he said. "The vocals had this snakiness: The falsettos would crack and then drop to a lower note. It sounded really cool. When you do that (style of singing), it's called 'ghost voice.' "

Back home, Holtzman and brother Zac, with drummer Paul Dreux Smith, set about re-creating the sound -- with Holtzman swapping his guitar for a seat behind a Farfisa organ.

They bode their time as they wrote songs, humming the melodies as they sought the missing link: a Cambodian singer.

Despite the significant Cambodian population in every major city on the West Coast, the search for someone willing to join a rock band posed a challenge.

"We were playing pool in a bar called the Short Stop," Holtzman said. "There was this Cambodian guy who was there all the time, and we were like 'Do you know this (Cambodian pop) music?' He didn't speak much English. He just kept saying: 'La Lune! La Lune! Da girls!' 'La Lune! Long Beach!' "

Holtzman started building the band in the La Lune nightclub, about 20 miles south in Long Beach, Calif.

Through the stranger and his La Lune connections, the musicians met many singers and began to audition them.

When the band, which includes saxophonist David Ralicke and bass player Senon Gaius Williams, met Chhom Nimol at a place called the Dragon House, it had its singer -- if she could be persuaded.

"She was already established as a famous singer among the Cambodians," Holtzman said. "But she showed up one night to practice, and all of the other (auditioning) singers left. They were blown away that she was there. They were like 'Oh, I can't sing,' holding their throats. 'Oh, my voice.' "

On the third full-length Dengue Fever album since 2003, Nimol sings lyrics written in English with Zac Holtzman.

Sometimes she translates into a Cambodian tongue; sometimes she plows ahead in English.
The concerts, packed with upbeat tunes from the record, turn into "parties," Ethan Holtzman said.

"It doesn't matter to us what language she sings them in," he said. "The emotion is always there."

Cambodian prime minister lashes out at UN refugee body

The Nation
February 29, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out angrily at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Thursday, claiming it granted asylum to refugees without government permission.

"Now I think Cambodia belongs to UNHCR. It has given asylum to many from countries from abroad without (cooperation) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior," Hun Sen said in a speech broadcast nationally on state media.

"Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, Nigeria people now ask UNHCR to give political asylum. Why does UNHCR do this without informing the government?"

"Where is the Land of UNHCR? Why does it give Cambodian land ... without asking permission from the government?"

Police sources said people from Cameroon, Sudan and Algeria were also amongst at least 1,000 political refugees resettled in Cambodia, given identity cards and paid a monthly stipend by the UN agency for a limited period until they were on their feet.

"Some have caused the police many headaches. Some get involved in criminal activities, and we are always worried about terrorism if we don't know who they are. UNHCR turns them out into Cambodia like cows into a field," a police source said.

But a UNHCR spokesman in Phnom Penh said the agency was completely bewildered by the allegations as it had previously believed it had maintained very good relations with the government.

"We don't need to review our cooperation because we have excellent cooperation already. We were not aware of any problems," the spokesman said.

"We already share our information with the government. We have always worked well with the ministries concerned."

Canada Announces Election Funding

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
28 February 2008

Sok Khemara reports in Khmer 1.09 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Canadian government pledged $1 million Wednesday to help fund the upcoming national elections.

The money came at the request of the government for donor support of the elections, slated for July 2008.

The money would be channeled through the UNDP and go directly to the National Election Committee, according to a Canadian Embassy statement.

Tribunal Opens Special, Limited Audit

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
28 February 2008

Sok Khemara reports in Khmer (1.36 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Khmer Rouge tribunal will allow an audit for human resources and administration, officials said Wednesday, but the scope is not likely to look into allegations of kickbacks and misspending.

A private consulting company is undertaking the audit, but a tribunal spokesman and a spokesman for the UNDP declined to comment on specifics Wednesday.

The tribunal has been plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, and a UNDP audit last year found concerning hiring practices.

The recent audit comes as foreign donors like the US consider direct funding for the tribunal, which says it needs about $114 million to finish its work.

Food price famine

The temples of Angkor Wat are Cambodia's most famous attraction.

Thu, 28 Feb 2008

On the long, gently sloping bank of Cambodia's Tonle river, Doem Lao chops half a dozen large fish heads in the early morning for the one meal that her family will eat that day.

It is the 45-year-old farmer's fourth unseasonably cold dawn in this quiet Muslim neighbourhood on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, where her extended family has set up camp with others from their village in the southern province of Takeo.

Like tens of thousands of rural Cambodians, they have joined the annual migration to the river to buy enough fish to make a year's worth of prahoc, a pungent fermented paste that is the only source of protein for many in the country's impoverished rural regions.

But the rice they brought from home has nearly run out and the fish have yet to appear in the large nets strung across the river in front of their camp.

The crude bamboo and metal mesh processing stalls on the riverbank are silent — and February is the last month of the fishing season.

A sudden drop-off in the numbers of prahoc fish has seen their price more than triple this year, up to as high as 50 US cents a kilogram from around 12 cents, putting this most basic of Cambodian commodities out of reach for many.

While not normally a benchmark by which to measure food security, prahoc prices have highlighted the spiralling costs of staple goods that are threatening Cambodia's poorest with hunger.

"We eat prahoc every day. Last year we made so much that we could sell some or trade it for rice," Doem Lao said, sitting in a tight circle with other village women and a few young children, while their men stood further up the river bank smoking cigarettes in anticipation of another long day spent waiting.

"This year I'm not at all hopeful. Some of us have left already. We're not going to have enough prahoc. We're not even going to have enough rice," she said.

Across Asia the cost of food is rising, for a variety of reasons, from higher demand and spiking global oil prices to environmental factors like global warming which disrupt the normal agricultural cycles.

But while other regional governments have responded by cutting import tariffs or establishing national food stockpiles, Cambodia appears reluctant to step in and halt the continuing upward climb of food costs.

For poor Cambodians, this means that in addition to losing their traditional staples like prahoc, they are not able to supplement their already meagre diets with other foods, particularly meat.

"Everything now is so expensive," said another village woman, Bhum Sap, rattling off the current prices of chicken, pork and beef, which can cost as much as five dollars a kilogram, a fortune for Cambodia's estimated 4.6-million people struggling to live on less than one dollar a day.

A victim of its own economic success

Cambodia, in some ways, has become a victim of its own economic success. The country has recorded economic growth averaging 11 percent over the past three years, spurred on by a galloping tourism sector and strong garment and building industries.

Growing interest by foreign investors and a real estate boom that has helped create more than a few overnight millionaires have resulted in an unprecedented explosion of wealth.

But the sudden influx of cash into the fragile economy has not come without its pitfalls.

Over the past year inflation has spiked at 10.8 percent, compared with 2.8 percent at the end of 2006, driving up the cost of food and other staple goods and pushing the most vulnerable deeper into poverty.

"About 8.5 percentage points of December's inflation rate of 10.8 percent was accounted for by food price inflation," said the International Monetary Fund's Cambodia representative John Nelms.

For as many as 2.6-million people living in extreme poverty, the situation has been worsening over the last several years, which have been marked by poor harvests brought on by natural disasters such as flood or drought.

"Too many Cambodians still suffer from hunger and malnutrition for some or most of the time," the World Food Programme said on its website.

The unrelenting rise in food costs only adds more depth to their misery.

"WFP is very concerned about the general increase of the cost of the staples, in Cambodia as well as elsewhere," the agency's country director for Cambodia, Thomas Keusters, told AFP.

Food inflation has even affected aid efforts at a crucial time, as aid agencies anticipate the need for more handouts in rural areas facing a leaner than normal year ahead.

In January last year, the WFP paid $237 per metric tonne of rice, a cost that has now risen to $367 a tonne, Keusters said.

"For every dollar received from the international and local donor community, we buy 55 percent less rice. With the general increase in the cost of food, the need for food assistance will not decrease," he said.

"On the contrary. As Cambodia faces new challenges such as climate change, changes in food availability, high energy prices, globalization and many more, we all need to strategise better," he said.

3 Sentenced in K'pong Chhnang Land Dispute

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
28 February 2008

Kampong Chhnang provincial court ordered two people to eight months in prison Thursday, and a third in absentia, finding they had ignored a court order to stay off a tract of private land.

The courts sentenced the two, one man, Sar Song, and one woman, Oun Thum, despite the protests of about 150 people outside the court, who demanded their release.

A third man, Yuos To, was sentenced to eight months in absentia.

The sentences stemmed from a lawsuit by a private company that claimed the three refused to stop living on company land.

Protestors told VOA Khmer by phone Thursday they believed the courts and local officials had been paid off by the local company, known by its initials, KDC, to push them off their land.

Srei Aun, daughter of Oun Thum, called the courts "unjust."

"People who have made no mistake are sentenced to jail, and people who have made mistakes are not punished," she said.

She accused Commune Chief Dy Doeurn of colluding with KDC to oust people from the land.

Dy Doeurn said Thursday he had no relationship with the company. KDC could not be reached for comment.

Sao Pheareak, a rights investigator for Licadho, who monitored the hearing and protest this morning, said the court's decision was unfair.

"As I see it, the company never owned that land," he said.

Provincial Judge Veng Huk dismissed accusations of injustice, telling VOA Khmer by phone Thursday he had made his decision based on the law.

"We already examined the case and saw that those three people grabbed the land of the others, who paid for the official letter of property ownership," he said.

The protestors fired stones from slingshots at military police, injuring one officer, Veng Huk added.

The protestors represented about 108 families who lost their land in a dispute with KDC that has lasted since 2006 and where both sides have accused the other of land theft.

US to Send Off Remains of Missing Serviceman

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
28 February 2008

Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer (790 KB) - Listen (MP3)

The US will hold a ceremony Saturday to fly out the remains of an American serviceman missing in action since the Vietnam War and recently recovered, an embassy official said Thursday.

A US team found the remains during searches in Ratanakkiri province and Koh Tang, a US embassy statement said.

They will be flown to Hawaii and analyzed, the statement said.

"At this point, the search teams believe the remains are associated with one US serviceman," US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said.

About 55 Americans remain unrecovered, he said, but Cambodian cooperation had allowed for the repatriation of the remains of 29 Americans.

Duch Confronted by Tribunal Witnesses

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
28 February 2008

Mean Veasna reports in Khmer (914 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, who earlier this week toured by the Choeung Ek "killing fields" and Tuol Sleng prison, was confronted by witnesses against him at the tribunal chambers Thursday, in a further sign that proceedings against him were moving forward.

"This is a very important step," said Helen Jarvis, a tribunal spokeswoman. "The last two days, we held the reconstructions and onsite investigations, and today and tomorrow we move to the confrontation interview."

After the confrontation interviews, the investigating judges will conclude the judicial investigation and forward decisions to prosecutors, she said. "And then after that, we will be able to move to the trial phase."

Duch, who is charged with crimes against humanity, spent Tuesday and Wednesday undertaking reconstructions with witnesses and judges and others at Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he hoped the proceedings so far were pertinent to Duch's upcoming trial.


Missing sons and daughters

My name is Kvet Nik and I am a 79 year old female. My husband's name was Em Aun (died in 1979). I wasborn in Kampot province, Kampong Trach district, Angromeas commune, Krang Lieve village. I had a total of eight children: two sons and six daughters. Their names are as follows: 1) Ouch Eoun, female, 2) Ouch Lao, male (worked in a 17th April Hospital at the end of 1979), 3) Ouch Ang, male (died at Chamkar Doung, Kep City due to malaria), 4) Ouch Mom, female, 5) Oung Eeoun, female, 6) Ouch Or, female, 7) Ouch On, female, 8) Ouch Ern, female. I am searching for information about my second child, Ouch Lao, who disappeared. He was last
seen in Pursat province in 1979. My present address is Trapaing Chuk village, Mean Rith commune, Dorng Tung district, Kampot province. If anyone knows about Ouch Lao, please contact me through the above address or via the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Their phone number is: (855) 23 211 875. Thank you.
Missing mother and younger brother

My name is Min Kim Arng. I am a 52 year old female. My place of birth was Kampot province, Kampot district, Koun Satt commune, Bos Jhenh village. My mother, Pov Soun and father, Min Mang (died in 1979 in Pursat province). I have five siblings, 3 males and 2 females. Their names are: 1) Min Kim Ang, female, 2) Min Ly, male (disappeared), 3) Min Phan, male (deceased), 4) Min Phal, male (deceased), and 5) Min Eng, female (deceased). I would like to make an announcement that I am seeking information about my mother (she was 55 years old when we were separated) and my second youngest brother, Min Ly. I lost them after we stayed in Pursat province for a month in 1979. My present address is Trapaing Chuk village, Mean Rith commune, Dorng Tung district, Kampot province. If anyone knows where they are or has information about them, please contact me through the above address or through the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Their phone number is (855) 23 211 875. Thanks.
Missing brother

I am Ouy Seap, a female aged 51 years old. My place of birth was Kampot province, Chuk district, Angromeas commune, Krang Lieve village. I currently live in Anntung Bekok village, Angromeas commune, Dornd Tung district, Kampot province. My father was Ouy Butt (died in 1978). He was killed during the Pol Pot regime. He used to work in a hospital in Angromeas commune. My mother was Leing Sien; she died in 1974 because of an unknown illness. I am searching for my younger brother, Ouy Cheoung, whom I lost when he was 13 years old. During the Pol Pot regime he was assigned to study technology in Kampot Town and was then ordered to drive a salt truck. He disappeared shortly after his assignment. If anyone knows what happened to Ouy Cheoung, please contact me through the above address or through the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Their phone number is (855) 23 211 875. Thank you.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Davik faces surgery delay

Davik Teng's long and dramatic journey to heart surgery has hit a hopefully small bump in the road a wait of two to four weeks for treatment of dental disease.(Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

LOCAL: Decision to treat her dental problems first is prudent but hard for girl and family.

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

After a sleepless night, Dr. Mark Sklansky had to make a hard call.

A day earlier, perhaps a bit caught up in the excitement of the moment, Sklansky had decided to immediately go forward with open heart surgery for Davik Teng, a 9-year-old girl from a remote village in Cambodia brought to the U.S. for life-altering surgery.

In the sobering light of new information and with time to consider the options, Sklansky realized he really needed to take the more cautious route.

Because of extensive dental disease that could lead to heart infection, Sklansky decided it was more prudent to have a dentist treat Davik's dental issues before performing the heart procedure.

That means Davik, who suffers from a ventricular septal defect, must wait between two and four weeks before having the surgery she and her mom, Sin Chhon, have so eagerly awaited.

"I was really stressed trying to do the right thing," Sklansky said. "I decided the safest way to take care of Davik was to take the more traditional route and the more standard care."

On Tuesday, Davik will receive dental care from Dr. Jose Poledo at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which agreed to pay for the procedure.

Sklansky said the decision to delay the heart surgery was not only difficult emotionally but medically as well.

"There's risk either way," Sklansky said.

"We had momentum going and everyone was excited," Sklansky said. "It would be nice to close the defect in her heart, but on the other hand this is probably the safer approach."

Sklansky said because the mouth always has extensive bacteria, the fear is that the bacteria could enter the blood stream and infect the surgical patch used to close the defect in Davik's heart.

However, by waiting there is an ongoing risk for heart infection that could strike at any time. Also, by waiting, the chances that Davik could contract some other ailment from her new surroundings increase. That could complicate matters.

Peter Chhun, executive director for Long Beach-based Hearts Without Boundaries, which is sponsoring Davik's trip, said the news was particularly hard on Chhon.

Over the years, Chhon and her daughter have been turned away three times in efforts to have Davik's heart repaired. Their biggest fear is that they will have traveled this far only to be denied yet again.

"As I've said all along `Who would want to wait?"' Chhun said. "But I think this decision is correct. Why take added risk? I think this story takes its own course."

Cambodian leader slams UN for giving asylum to refugees without consulting government

The Associated Press
February 28, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodia's prime minister slammed the U.N.'s refugee agency Thursday for using Cambodian territory to grant political asylum to foreign refugees without first consulting his government.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Cambodian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has granted asylum to refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

"What right does it (UNHCR) have to use Cambodian territory to provide foreign nationals with political asylum without seeking permission from the Cambodian authorities," Hun Sen said in a speech at a development conference.

He did not say how many refugees were in Cambodia or how long they had been there. He said he ordered the foreign affairs and interior ministries to look into the issue with the UNHCR.

Toshi Kawauchi, a UNHCR protection officer, declined to comment on the issue, saying in an e-mail his office is "not in a position to discuss the numbers and other details of the refugees."

The relationship between Cambodia and the U.N. agency has been rocky in recent years, especially over the issue of refugees fleeing neighboring Vietnam.

Thousands of Vietnamese hill tribe people known as Montagnards have fled to Cambodia since 2001, when Vietnam's communist government cracked down on protests against land confiscation and restrictions on religious freedom. Many have been resettled in the United States, and a small number have voluntarily returned to Vietnam.

The problem with Cambodia?

Details are Sketchy
February 28, 2008

“Mr. Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] lawmaker from Phnom Penh, and a leader of the SRP lawmakers, said on 25 February 2008 through the Candlelight radio program [Sam Rainsy’s radio program], that it is the politics in our society and the mistakes of the leaders of the country that lead neighboring countries to influence Khmer people very easily.


He added that after Cambodia was invaded by Yuon troops [in 1979], the influx of the way of ruling and training in the new society made Khmer citizens forget about their national interests by thinking only about seeking pleasure - for example television and radio stations broadcast only dancing and singing programs. The society is full of gambling, drugs, sex, and alcohol, which drive Khmer young people crazy.

Got that? The problems started in 1979 — before that everything was cool, and singing and dancing was outlawed, and violators were tortured until they went insane and confessed their allegiance to the Hanoi masters and then had their faces bashed in with the butt of a rifle. Yeah, my friend, those were the good ol’ days.

Crusing Comes to Cambodia

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cambodia is booming, as two 50-storey office towers have been announced for Phnom Penh, and hotel rooms continue to soar in once sleepy Siem Reap. And for better or worse, Sihanoukville is rapidly changing as five-star resorts open on deserted beaches and tourism officials eye greater use of the recently refurbished and expanded airport.

But nothing symbolizes the changing nature of tourism in Cambodia as strongly as the arrival of cruise ships to Sihanoukville, opening up the coastline and allowing tourists to quickly fly to Siem Reap via Phnom Penh. If there's one country in Southeast Asia you might want to visit now, and years later be able to say "I saw it when," Cambodia is the place.

Cambodia may not be the first place cruise liner passengers think of as the perfect luxury layover, but Cambodian officials are determined to change all that. With its pristine white sand beaches, some of the best diving in the region, inexpensive seafood delicacies and legalized gambling, Cambodia's main problem in the past has been that its ambitions have outstripped its infrastructure.

But all that is changing, says tourism minister Thong Khon. "So far we have 1,000 rooms in Sihanoukville, but we are planning to have 1,000 more by 2009," he says. "The ministry, the private sector and local authorities are all working hard to improve infrastructure."

Sokha Hotel Group, owner of the 5-star Sokha Beach Resort, has just announced plans for a second 5-star resort just a few beaches away. Like its sister hotel, the resort also plans a private beach.

The developments appear to be paying off. So far this year five cruises carrying US, Asian and European tourists have docked in Sihanoukville, bringing 4,832 visitors, equal to the entire 2007 total, according to the port's general director Lou Khim Chhun. The country's only deepwater port, Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is located about 240 kilometres from the capital and Chhun says that although the lack of infrastructure caused cruise ship visitors to dip by half last year, 2008 is already shaping up as a bumper year.

The port, touted to be one of the first companies listed on a Cambodian stock exchange planned for 2009, has already constructed a special dock dedicated to cruise liners.

Chhun admits he is rubbing its hands at the prospect of wealthy tourists entering the country by sea, taking advantage of the newly refurbished airport at Sihanoukville to fly to the ancient Angkor Wat temples, and returning to wine, dine and enjoy the several plush casinos. "We have the capacity for four to five cruises to pass through per week, which equates to 4-5,000 visitors. I believe Sihanoukville is ready to extend its services as a cruise port. We certainly plan to host more and more," Chhun says.

Opportunities for day trips abound. The area's mushrooming dive companies speak of whale sharks, rare pink dolphins and untouched coral reefs. Dugongs are known to inhabit areas near the municipality. Nearby Ream National Park's virgin forests teems with wildlife.

Sokha Hotel Group just announced yet another luxury resort for the former French hill station of Bokor in nearby Kampot province and with oil from offshore reserves expected to begin flowing within two years, infrastructure looks set to continue to develop rapidly.

Cambodia has won over some powerful allies. Royal Caribbean Cruises has named Sihanoukville as a prime layover for its flagship Rhapsody of the Seas and is enthusiastic about it on its website. "Cambodia is best known as the occasional side trip to Angkor Wat ... on your way to or from Thailand. But all that is changing with the revitalization of Sihanoukville, Cambodia's one and only beach resort," the cruise giant gushes.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Asia-Pacific managing director, Rama Rebbapragada, has predicted Cambodia will also benefit as a port of call from Hong Kong's planned new cruise terminal.

Source: EarthTimes