Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Sacravatoons: January 2008

Courtesy of Sacravatoon,

India training Cambodian soldiers in jungle warfare

Tue, 01/01/
India News


New Delhi : Thirteen soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Special Force (RCSF) are currently undergoing an intensive four-week course at the Indian Army's Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte in Mizoram, Asia's premier institute for imparting such skills.

"The RCSF is keen to learn from the Indian Army's experience in combating insurgency for the past 50 years. There is no better staging ground for this exchange of expertise that our facility at Vairengte," an officer said.

The training will conclude by mid-January.

With its motto of "Fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla", the school trains all ranks of the Indian armed forces, the paramilitary forces and personnel of the Central Police Organisations. The school has been recognised as a centre of excellence for counter insurgency training.

According to school commandant Brigadier R.M. Painuly, "low intensity conflicts are becoming global in scope. It is widely believed that terrorism is becoming less territorially defined, global in reach and more decentralised.

"Indeed, terrorism has now truly become a global phenomenon. They are no longer bound by limits of geography, because of which modern militancy has become a complex phenomenon," Painuly says.

"The globalised world is now matched by a globalised militant ideology. We need to tackle the menace of terrorism globally and hence, joint training is a step in the global war against terrorism," the commandant maintains.

Toward this, the school is now providing training to officers and personnel below officer rank (PBOR) of various friendly foreign countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Botswana, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Mauritius, Singapore, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

"The training facilities at the school are greatly appreciated by the subscribing countries. Many other countries have elicited interest in the training being imparted at the school and the demand (for seats) is on the increase," Painuly says.

German Catholics celebrate 800 years Elisabeth of Thuringia

SINGAPORE – The German-speaking Catholic community in Singapore celebrated the 800th anniversary of their patron saint St. Elisabeth of Thuringia (or Hungary) at the German European School Singapore on Nov 17 with Mass, games and stories for children, music from a Swiss brass band, and food and drinks from from Thuringia and Hungary.

Guests from the Kampong Thom Orphanage in Cambodia, which is supported by the community, performed Cambodian dances, and displayed their skill at Cambodian painting, crochet and basket weaving. Archbishop Nicholas Chia and the Ambassadors of Germany and Switzerland also took part in the festivities.

Laos, Vietnam to provide power to Cambodian border provinces

January 02, 2008

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have signed an energy cooperation agreement, hastening the construction of two World Bank-funded power lines from Vietnam to Kompong Cham province and Laos to Stung Treng province, local media reported Wednesday.

The construction will start in 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2010, the Cambodia Daily newspaper said, citing Tan Kim Vin, direct general of the state-run Electricity du Cambodge.

One power line will stretch from Tay Ninh province in southern Vietnam through Ponhea Krek district to Tbong Khmum district's Suong commune in Kompong Cham, Tan Kim Vin said, adding that the second line from Champasak province in Laos will reach Stung Treng provincial town.

Mohinder Gulati, a World Bank energy specialist, said last year that the lines are expected to greatly reduce the cost of electricity in those areas.

The lines will cost a total of 18 million U.S. dollars, said Ith Praing, Secretary of State for the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

While Vietnam already provides Cambodia with power via more than seven cross-border points, the deals marks the first time resources from Laos will directly benefit Cambodia, he said.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodian garment workers threaten strike over pay

Wed, 02 Jan 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's largest garment workers union would call a strike if its demands for a pay rise to keep pace with inflation were not met, its president said Wednesday. Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said it was demanding a 10-per-cent wage hike and a new minimum wage of 55 dollars a month, up from 50 dollars a month.

In an open letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia president, Van Sou Ieng, Mony cited inflation, particularly for basic goods because of rising world oil prices, for the request.

"We will proceed in three steps," Mony said in a telephone interview. "First, we negotiate.
Second, we demonstrate in the factories, and thirdly, we walk out as a group.

Van Sou Ieng was overseas Wednesday, and officials at his association said they would not consider the proposal until his return. The previous garment worker pay rise was in October 2006.

Cambodia has around 300,000 garment workers, and the trade is a major export earner and a pillar of the economy.

However, some analysts have claimed that factors including high wages compared to rival producers such as China and Bangladesh, high transport costs, erratic power supplies and corruption threaten the sector, which is mainly run from rented premises by Taiwan, Chinese and other overseas owners.

Cambodia excited to be touted as the new trendy cuisine

02 Jan 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodian-based foodies and restaurateurs have gleefully greeted a prediction by top US magazines Bon Appetit and Gourmet that the nation's food will become 2008's new "It" cuisine. The Conde Nast-owned website Epicurious, which displays information from both magazines, posted the bold statement as a New Year prediction, saying the flavours were more subtle than those of neighbouring Thailand.

"A triangulation between Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai cooking, Cambodian's emphasis on noodle dishes, curries, stir fries and prahok, the strong-flavored fish paste, will grow in popularity," Epicurious wrote.

"Cambodian food has stronger flavors than Vietnamese, slightly more subtle than Thai and is not as heavy as Chinese," it said, indicating it was perfect for figure-conscious celebrities looking for exotic tastes without Thai spice.

A prominent food expert, Australian Phil Lees, posted the link on his website Wednesday, cheekily throwing down a challenge to the huge international popularity of Thai food.

Although allies, Thais and Cambodians are historical rivals, and cultural experts from the two countries are constantly bickering over issues of cultural sovereignty.

In January 2003, rumoured comments by a Thai soap actress that the sacred Angkor Wat temple complex, featured on the Cambodian flag, was rightfully Thai resulted in an angry Cambodian mob burning the Thai embassy and a number of Thai businesses.

Six Union Representative Allegedly Assaulted in Garment Factories

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer Orginal report from Phnom Penh
01 January 2008

Listen Chun Sakada reports in Khmer

President of Cambodia Confederation of Apparel Worker Democratic Unions (CCAWDU) Ath Thum say Tuesday that at least 6 union representatives in Kandal province have been assaulted by unknown assailants, sustaining head injuries, in the last two months.

Ath Thun told VOA the issue is a threat to the union leaders' spirit and a violation of the union representatives' rights.

"This is a serious violation of the workers' rights, and a serious violation of the constitution, and it is a right in the freedom of expression of the people too. It is a very serious violation, and this leads to concerns that are not acceptable."

In a November report, CCAWDU says that its two representatives were assaulted with axes, and 4 others arrested and beaten.

No one has been arrested for the alleged crimes according to CCAWDU.

ADHOC human rights investigator Chan Saveth says that the issue of violating labor union representatives' rights will continue if the police can not arrest the offenders.

"This is the reason why human rights violation is a serious problem in Cambodia. There's no arrest of the perpetrators."

Kandal police commissioner Tom Rai says he has never received any information about the alledged crimes and questions the allegations.

Police Use Force and Brutality, Says Rights Official in Battambang

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
01 January 2008

Listen Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer

Police arrested four people and injured another in a clash between police and vendors at Thmar Kaul, Battambang province on New Year's eve.

Human rights officials and witnesses told VOA Khmer that the clash occured after the vendors had refused to obey police's order to dismantle their stalls.

Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) official, Chhim Savuth says over 30 armed police officers fired two shots in the air to disperse the protesters who set fire on tires Monday evening.

Chhim Savuth calls the police's use of force a violation of human rights.

"This is a violation of human rights, because there should be real principles, even though they are vendors. They have been vendors for a long time, 10-20 years. They have the rights, and if we want to develop something, (we) have to use an agreement for a compromise. There should not be a use of force, of arms like this at all. This affects our country, for a democratic country."

Ham Keung, a vendor at Thmar Kaul says that the vendors do not agree with the authorities who want to dismantle their stalls.

Battambang provincial police commissioner, Kang Sakhan says that the police released the four men after educating them for several hours.

"At night, the tires were set on fire at the market. When the people in charge arrived at the scene, they threw bottle of alcohol and rocks at them. We then tried to stop them. This morning, after the lecture, (we) let them go home."

Battambang governor, Prach Chan says that the authorities dismantle the market because it lacks hygiene and beauty.

"The market is dirty, and lacks beauty. If there should be a fire, people won't be able to escape. This is for the people's health."

Madge Contemplating on Adopting a Cambodian Daughter

Pop diva Madonna is reportedly contemplating adopting a girl from Cambodia.

Sources have revealed that the 49-year-old singer and her husband Guy Ritchie have sent aides to hunt the Asian country for a new daughter.

Madonna’s decision to adopt a Cambodian girl is said to be inspired by Angelina Jolie, who adopted six-year-old Maddox from the poor country in 2002.

A source close to the couple has revealed that the singer originally wanted to adopt a girl child from Malawi, but later changed her decision because of difficult adoption procedures there.

“Malawi is bound up in red tape and she hopes that Cambodia will be easier,” the Sun quoted the source as saying. Madonna had to face a lot of difficulties in Malawi during the adoption of two-year-old David Banda.

The adoption has not formalised as yet. Madonna’s latest adoption decision came after a social worker named Simon Chisale appreciated her for being a model mother to David.

Chisale believes that the child has bonded well with the Ritchies, and that it will not be ‘in the best interest of David’ to be taken away from his new life.


Pakistan Embassy Holds Memorial Service for Benazir Bhutto

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
31 December 2007

Listen Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer

Cambodian government and foreign Embassy officials pay their respects Monday to former Pakistan prime minister, Benazir Bhutto at the Pakistan Embassy in Phnom Penh Monday, according to Pakistan Embassy officials in Phnom Penh.

Ms. Bhutto's picture was displayed with flowers, and the dignitaries sign a book of condolences.
Pakistan flag was flown at half staff at the Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Embassy official, Ms. Chan Leakhena says that the memorial is done in Benazir Bhutto's memory, who is an unforgettable opposition leader:" It is like to share condolences. The former prime minister passes away, and the Embassy is sad about her death. Therefore each ministry is doing something for condolences." Ms. Chan says the memorial will be held again on Wednesday."

Benazir Bhutto was killed by a suicide bomber who shot at her then blew himself up last Thursday, killing about 40 other people as she was leaving a party rally in Rawalpindi near Islamabad.

Cambodian Prime minister Hun Sen joins the mourning, calling the killing an act of cowardice from terrorists.

Pakistan's election commission will decide on Tuesday whether to delay next week's parliamentary elections because of the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is now led by her son, Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, and her husband, Asif Ali Zadari will be the party's co-chairman.

Brief News

Monday, 31 December 2007 Bakong, Vol.10, #241, 31.12.2007-1.1.2008 Hun Sen Government Plans to Limit Officials’ Fuel So Some Officials Do Not Take Their Mistresses in Cars and Use State Fuel Government Orders Transfer of Land to Poor People.

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.1, #25, 31.12.2007-1.1.2008 When Will Om Yentieng [head of the government’s Anti-Corruption Commission] Take Action against Corrupt Nhek Kosal Vithyea [Director of Telecom Cambodia] at Ministry of Post?

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1532, 30-31.12.2007 Nepal Will Officially Abolish the Monarchy Plan to Expropriate Illegally Owned Land; Those Who Are Involved Will Face the Law Cambodian Assembly Opens Way for the Royal Government to Take Action to Combat Toxic Substances on Food and in Production

Khmer Amatak, Vol.8, #540, 31.12.2007 [Director of Telecom Cambodia] Nhek Kosal Vithyea’s Theft from the Nation Is Revealed at Embassies and Civil Society Organizations When Elections Approach, the Cambodian People’s Party Plans to Collect Money from Companies and Its Close Businesspeople

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #82, 31.12.2007 It Is Time Hun Sen Should Take Action against Nhek Kosal Vithyea to Give Value to His Words Cambodian Laws Open Way for Destruction of Environment above and under the Ground [over developments at Cardamom Mountains] Civil Society Organizations Criticize Khmer Rouge Tribunal for Spending the Highest Amount of Money in the World Wait and See Achievement of Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen in Combating Nhek Kosal Vithyea

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6232, 31.12.2007 Forum of Newspaper Editors: Demand for Court System Not to Use Criminal Law against Journalists Samdech Krom Preah Still Vows to Resign as a Prince if He Is Prohibited from Participating in Politics

Meatophum, Vol.52, #672, 1-5.1.2008 Vietnam Plans to Construct a Dam in Laos Ponhea Chakrey Heng Samrin [President of National Assembly] Asks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Check Case of Dr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea Who [corruptly] Took $640,000 State Money Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #589, 30-31.12.2007

Khmer Dignitaries Offer Condolences to Death of Benazir Bhutto and Condemn the Violence

Nepal Will Officially Abolish the Monarchy

1 January 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 541

“Nepali parliamentarians officially adopted an agreement on Friday to abolish the monarchy which had lasted for centuries, and announced that this country will be a republic. However, King Gyanendra still reigns during this time when a resolution is sought between the Maoists and the government in order to make Nepal a republic, which may take effect at the first conference of the new constitutional assembly; a poll for the constitutional assembly will be held in mid April 2008.

“A senior Maoist leader, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, said, ‘This is a historical chance for this country.’ Now we will mainly focus on the holding of a general election and to work with different parties to implement the creation of a republic.’

“The Maoists had rebelled for many decades to overthrow the monarchy, though the rebellion ended late last year with a historical peace agreement between the main political parties.
“During a vote on Friday, 270 among the 321 parliamentarians voted for the abolition of the monarchy, and three voted against it. The rest were absent or abstained.

“This amendment of the constitution was achieved after the government and the Maoists had formulated an agreement of 23 points, which ended a long-term deadlock in the peace process.
“Mr. Rajendra Dahal, an editor of Himal Magazine, told AFP that the government had provided a clear road map to give up the monarchist institutions. They asked the King to give up the throne voluntarily and peacefully.

“No comment from the Royal Palace has been given. The King, aged 61, had most of his power including his roles as head of state and as a commander-in-chief removed since the public demonstrations, which had forced an end of his dictatorial rule of 14 months, in April 2006.
“The amendment of the constitution gave the parliamentarians the power to change Nepal to become a republic before a poll, if the King would attempt to interrupt the elections.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1532, 30-31.12.2007

Spanish company proposes game hunting park in Cambodian jungle

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The Cambodian government is studying a Spanish company's proposal to convert a huge tract of jungle in the country's wild northeast into a game hunting park for big-spending tourists, a wildlife protection official said.

The Madrid-based NSOK Safaris company wants to use 247,100 acres in Rattanakiri province, which is home to an abundance of wildlife, including several endangered species, as well as several indigenous tribal minorities. The province is about 200 miles from the capital Phnom Penh.

The project envisages bungalows and luxury lodging built "for high-class, VIP tourists...or professional hunters," said Dany Chheang, deputy director of the Wildlife Protection Office of Cambodia's Agriculture Ministry.

NSOK made the proposal more than two years ago, but it remains unclear how much money it would invest in the project and when it could launch, he said.

Tourism is now one of Cambodia's major foreign exchange earners. But land disputes have become common between the rich and indigenous people, who are under pressure to give up their ancestral land to commercial developers.

Dany Chheang said setting up hunting safaris fits the government's efforts "to diversify options for eco-tourism activity in Cambodia.

"He said about 30 types of animals, including deer, pigs and wild boar as well as reptiles and birds, could be put up for hunting, but shooting tigers would not be allowed.

Chris Greenwood, a spokesman from the World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia, called on the government to release more information about the plan.

"Anything that threatens the survival of already endangered species is not a good thing for conservation in Cambodia," he said.

Tuesday, January 8

The Associated Press
January 1, 2008

Today is Tuesday, Jan. 8, the 8th day of 2008. There are 358 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

-1499 - France's King Louis XII marries Anne, Duchess of Brittany.
-1654 - Ukraine joins Russia.
-1679 - French explorer la Salle reaches Niagara Falls.
-1806 - Britain occupies Cape of Good Hope.
-1815 - The Battle of New Orleans takes place with Andrew Jackson defeating the British army in the closing engagement of the War of 1812.
-1912 - The African National Congress is founded in Bloemfontein.
-1915 - Heavy fighting breaks out in areas of Assee Canal in Belgium and Soissons, France, in World War I.
-1918 - U.S. President Woodrow Wilson outlines his 14 points for peace after World War I.
-1923 - France begins military occupation of Ruhr valley in Germany.
-1926 - Ibn Saud becomes king of Hejaz on King Hussein's expulsion and changes name of kingdom to Saudi Arabia.
-1959 - Charles de Gaulle assumes the presidency in France, inaugurating the Fifth Republic.
-1964 - U.S. President Lyndon Johnson declares an "unconditional war on poverty in America."
-1972 - Bangladesh leader Sheik Mujibur Rahman arrives in London after being released by Pakistan and appeals for recognition of his new nation.
-1973 - Secret peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam resume near Paris.
-1974 - Khmer Rouge in Cambodia intensify pressure on Phnom Penh with strikes north and south of the capital.
-1982 - Settling an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department, the American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) monopoly divests itself of the 22 regional Bell System companies.
-1987 - The Dow Jones industrial average closes above 2,000 for the first time, ending the day at 2,002.25.
-1989 - Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says Kremlin is besieged by financial problems that are sapping his reforms.
-1990 - East German official discloses that 60,000 members of secret police are still on government payroll despite the previous month's pledge that organization would be dismantled.
-1991 - Four Belgians held captive for three years by a Palestinian group in Lebanon are released.
-1992 - U.S. President George H. W. Bush collapses to the floor at a state dinner in Tokyo. The White House says he is suffering from stomach flu.
-1993 - The deputy prime minister of Bosnia is shot to death by Serbian gunmen while Serbian rebel leaders consider an international peace settlement.
-1995 - Russian troops pound Chechnya with rocket and mortar fire.
-1996 - A cargo plane crashes into a crowded market in Kinshasa, Zaire (Congo), killing 255 people by the official count. The unofficial death toll reaches 1,000.
-1998 - Ramzi Yousef, an Arab of uncertain nationality, is sentenced to life in prison plus 240 years for masterminding the World Trade Center Bombing in New York that killed six people in 1993.
-2001 - Lawmakers in Manila say they will decide by Feb. 12 whether to impeach the Philippine president, speeding a trial that has battered the economy and set the country on edge.
-2003 - A U.S. Court of Appeals rules that U.S. citizens detained in combat abroad could be held indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, with only "limited judicial inquiry" into their detention.
-2004 - Britain bans airlines from Albania, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Liberia Tajikistan, Congo and Cameroon from flying in British airspace, citing inadequate safety and security regulations.
-2005 - More than 100 police and security agents backed by five armored personnel carriers surround a house in the restive southern Russian region of Ingushetia and kill five alleged militants in a shootout.
-2006 - A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crashes and kills all 12 Americans believed to be aboard, while five Marines die in weekend attacks in Iraq.
-2007 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announces plans to nationalize the country's electrical and telecommunications companies, one of his boldest moves in trying to transform Venezuela into a socialist state.

Cambodia by the book

Sue Taylor, library supervisor at Mark Twain Library in Long Beach, above left, and Lyda Thanh, a library homework helper who speaks, reads and writes Khmer, prepare for their January trip to Cambodia to purchase books for the library s large Khmer collection. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

COMMUNITY: Grants to finance library's search for, purchase of Khmer-language works.

By Kelly Puente, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - Mark Twain Library staff members Susan Taylor and Lyda Thanh were on a mission to buy more than 1,000 books in the Khmer language.

They scoured Long Beach's Cambodian markets, searched through Khmer Web sites and even called a publishing company in Cambodia.

"We tried everything," said Taylor, a library supervisor who began planning the project two years ago. "But all the Cambodian shops in Long Beach hadn't gotten anything new in the last five years. We'd exercised all our resources."

The women discovered that the only way to find such a large quantity and variety of material was to travel to Cambodia and buy the books themselves.

On Wednesday, Taylor and Thanh will fly to Cambodia with a $20,000 grant to replenish the library's aging collection of books in Khmer, the country's official language.

Over the next two weeks, they will visit more than two dozen bookstores in the cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Thanh, a homework helper in the library, speaks, reads and writes Khmer and will act as the purchaser. For the past seven years, she has been responsible for cataloging all the Cambodian books at Mark Twain.

Thanh plans to have the new books cataloged and ready by Cambodian New Year in April.
"It's going to be a lot of work but it will be so rewarding," said Thanh, 26, whose father was a Cambodian monk and scholar.

'A mega display'

Long Beach is home to one of the world's largest populations of Cambodians outside of Cambodia.

Mark Twain, at 1401 Anaheim St., sits in the heart of the city's newly designated "Cambodia Town," a stretch of restaurants and shops along Anaheim between Junipero and Atlantic Avenues.

"With the new Cambodia Town, the spotlight is going to be on us," said Taylor, an employee of the Long Beach Public Library system for 40 years. "Why can't Long Beach be the premier place for Cambodian books in the U.S.?"

Mark Twain, with 1,094 Khmer books, already has one of the largest collections of Cambodian material in the state. The library is hoping to double that collection.

"We want to have a mega display," Taylor said.

The trip was made possible through grant money set aside five years ago when the city was planning the new Mark Twain Library, Taylor said. The Helen Fuller Cultural Carrousel, a committee of the Friends of Long Beach Public Library, will cover all the travel expenses.

Interest surges

Since its grand opening in August, Mark Twain, the city's first new library in more than three decades, has had 2,222 new library card holders, Taylor said.

The library has also seen a surge in circulation of Cambodian material.

But many of the books are damaged after years of use, she said. The library has not purchased any new Cambodian books in the last five years.

Taylor and Thanh said they've carefully researched what books are in demand by looking through the library's computer system.

Cambodian history, customs, culture, folklore and children's stories are top on the list, Taylor said. "But we'd also love to get books like Anne Frank and Harry Potter, if they have it," she said.

Although they plan to buy mostly new material, they also hope to get some extra copies of old favorites.

One of the library's most popular Cambodian books is a fairy tale called, "The Beast of BongBot Forest," which has been checked out 53 times over the last five years.

Heavy load

Lugging more than 1,000 books back to the U.S. will be a challenge, Taylor admits. The women plan to carry some on the plane and will possibly FedEx the rest.

The women said the reaction from the Cambodian community has been that of pride and excitement.

"People keep coming in and asking, 'Have you gone yet?"' Taylor said.

Thanh said the surge of books can help new Cambodian immigrants and will encourage young adults to get back in touch with their culture.

Parents will now have more options to read to their children in Khmer, she said.

"It really bridges the gap between generations."