Monday, 7 January 2008

Cambodia's ruling party warns against politicising genocide trials

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) and his wife Bounrany (R) greet supporters at the CCP headquarters in Phnom Penh, 07 January 2008. The CPP marked the 29th anniversary of the fall of the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime with Cambodia's powerful ruling party voicing its support for prosecuting leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, but warning against politicising the country's genocide trials.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia's powerful ruling party Monday warned against politicising the country's genocide trials, while voicing its support for prosecuting leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 29th anniversary of the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, Chea Sim, president of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), said he believed the trials had international backing.

But he also lashed out at "absent-minded elements" and "ill-willed political circles" who oppose efforts by Cambodia to reconcile after years of civil strife, which include trying those behind the Khmer Rouge killing fields.

"We condemn any acts to use the courts with the aim of creating instability or disrupting society," he said.

The five top surviving leaders of the regime, blamed for the deaths of up to two million people through overwork, execution or starvation between 1975 and 1979, were arrested last year by Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal.

The first public trials are expected to be held this year, but the tribunal has been plagued over the last decade by delays amid concerns over political interference.Rights groups and some opposition politicians have accused the government of trying to derail the trials for fear of exposing atrocities committed by former regime cadres currently serving in Prime Minister Hun Sen's administration.

Hun Sen himself was a former Khmer Rouge military commander who later fled to Vietnam and returned as part of a Hanoi-backed military force that helped overthrow the regime in January 1979.

Newly appointed secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Newly appointed secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan addresses a press conference after a ceremony in Jakarta. Thailand's former foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan was formally appointed as new secretary general of the ASEAN which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.(AFP/Ahmad Zamroni)

Pol Pot overthrown on this day in 1979

January 2008 02:12 FOCUS News Agency

Pol Pot overthrown on this day in 1979. Vietnamese troops seize the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, toppling the brutal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge.

The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. In 1970, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, Khmer Rouge guerrillas began a large-scale insurgency against Cambodian government forces, soon gaining control of nearly a third of the country.

By 1973, secret U.S. bombings of Cambodian territory controlled by the Vietnamese Communists forced the Vietnamese out of the country, creating a power vacuum that was soon filled by Pol Pot's rapidly growing Khmer Rouge movement. In April 1975, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, overthrew the pro-U.S. regime, and established a new government, the Kampuchean People's Republic.

As the new ruler of Cambodia, Pol Pot set about transforming the country into his vision of an agrarian utopia. The cities were evacuated, factories and schools were closed, and currency and private property was abolished. Anyone believed to be an intellectual, such as someone who spoke a foreign language, was immediately killed. Skilled workers were also killed, in addition to anyone caught in possession of eyeglasses, a wristwatch, or any other modern technology. In forced marches punctuated with atrocities from the Khmer Rouge, the millions who failed to escape Cambodia were herded onto rural collective farms.

Between 1975 and 1978, an estimated two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor, and famine. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh in early 1979. A moderate Communist government was established, and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge retreated back into the jungle.

In 1985, Pol Pot officially retired but remained the effective head of the Khmer Rouge, which continued its guerrilla actions against the government in Phnom Penh. In 1997, however, he was put on trial by the organization after an internal power struggle ousted him from his leadership position. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a "people's tribunal," which critics derided as a show trial, Pol Pot later declared in an interview, "My conscience is clear." Much of the international community hoped that his captors would extradite him to stand trial for his crimes against humanity, but he died of apparently natural causes while under house arrest in 1998.

7 January

’The Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, was captured today, Vietnam and the insurgent front it is backing in Cambodia announced tonight.

The regime of dictatorial, militarist domination of the Pol Pot-Ieng Sary clique has completely collapsed, the radio announcement declared. Nothing was said about the whereabouts of Prime Minister Pol Pot and Deputy Prime Minister Ieng Sary.’ New York Times, 7 January 1979
Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot or Brother Number One, along with his Khmer Rouge regime was responsble for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979 (other estimates put it at some 25 per cent of the population). His ‘Year Zero’ vision of an agrarian economy was partly inspired by China’s Cultural Revolution.

‘There are no schools, faculties or universities in the traditional sense, although they did exist in our country prior to liberation, because we wish to do away with all vestiges of the past. There is no money, no commerce, as the state takes care of provisioning all its citizens. The cities have been resettled as this is the way things had to be.’ Pol Pot 1978

Consistently throughout the 1980s, the United States blocked international efforts to hold the Khmer Rouge guilty of genocide and declare Pol Pot a war criminal. It was only after an internal struggle among the remaining Khmer Rouge that Pol Pot was arrested in July 1997 and charged with treason. Sentenced to life under house arrest he later declared, ‘My conscience is clear.’

Cambodia observes anniversary of fall of Khmer Rouge

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (front R), President of the Senate Chea Sim (front C) and President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin pray at their Cambodian People's Party headquarters in Phnom Penh January 7, 2008, to mark the 29th anniversary of the toppling of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. Some 1.7 million people are believed to have died in the "Killing Fields" of the ultra-Maoist guerrillas, whose four year reign of terror was brought to an end in 1979 by invading troops from neighbouring Vietnam.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Mon, 07 Jan 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia remembered the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime Monday with a celebration at the headquarters of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). "Despite passing a period of 29 years, we all still remember the horrors caused during the period of three years, eight months and 20 days by Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea regime after it took power on April 17, 1975," CPP and Senate President Chea Sim said in a speech to about 5,000 CPP loyalists.

"They reduced the country's social infrastucture to complete ruin while depriving individuals of rights and freedoms and reducing them to slaves living inhumane lives," he added in a speech to mark the 1979 anniversary when Vietnamese-backed troops retook Phnom Penh.

For the second year in a row, Chea Sim reaffirmed the CPP's commitment to a UN-Cambodia tribunal established to try former Khmer Rouge leaders despite allegations by some groups that the CPP had tried to stall the hearings.

Five former Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody awaiting trial on charges of human rights abuses and war crimes. Hearings are hoped to get under way early this year, but those close to the court have already expressed concerns that the tribunal's 56-million-dollar budget would not be enough.

Many prominent CPP members are former Khmer Rouge who became disillusioned with the movement's ultra-Maoist policies, under which up to 2 million Cambodians perished.

Key CPP cadre, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, defected to Vietnam and returned with Vietnamese backing to oust the Khmer Rouge from power.

Other parties have accused the CPP of hijacking the anniversary, but CPP officials maintained many opposition leaders fled the civil war and were not in Cambodia at the time and so do not understand history accurately.

Cambodian leading micro credit bank to operate in Viet Nam

Vietnamese News Agency (VNA), January 6, 2008 Sunday

ACLEDA Bank Plc., Cambodia 's leading microfinance bank, plans to expand its operation to Viet Nam in the next five years, ACLEDA President and CEO In Channy said.

Earlier, the ACLEDA Bank Plc. was licensed by the Lao government to establish a branch in Laos .

The branch named ACLEDA Bank ( Laos ) Ltd. is expected to open in Vientiane in mid-2008, the President said, adding that branches will also be opened in Savannakhet and Pakse provinces of Laos .

ACLEDA Bank Plc. was established in January 1993 to support the development of micro and small enterprises. With 193 branch offices and 4,332 staff, the bank is active in 24 provinces and towns across Cambodia.

He survived "Killing Fields," now he wants to lead Cambodia

Daran Kravanh, center, visits with those attending his fundraiser including Sue Felix, right, of Port Orchard, Sunday January 6, 2008. Kravanh's plans to run for prime minister of Cambodia.(Janet Jensen/ The News Tribune)

By Steve Maynard;
Published: January 6th, 2008

A Tacoma social worker wants to be elected prime minister of Cambodia. Impossible? Don’t mention that word to Daran Kravanh.

Kravanh survived and escaped the Khmer Rouge slaughter in Cambodia that killed his mother, father, six brothers and a sister.

After living in Tacoma since 1991, he wants to lead his homeland, challenging the regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I want to change the Cambodian society from bad to good,” Kravanh said.

His campaign had its first fundraiser Sunday in Tacoma at the Landmark Convention Center. Three young Cambodian women in colorful costumes honored him with traditional folk dances once reserved only for the Cambodian royal court.

About three dozen friends and supporters listened to his wife, Bree Kravanh, read from “Music Through the Dark,” her book about Kravanh’s account of surviving the Communist Killing Fields.

In between readings, Kravanh played the accordion, the instrument whose forbidden music he played to charm soldiers and somehow avoid death. And pausing often to rub his eyes, he talked of those terrible years when music was the only sanity amid the horror.

He recalled the words of a friend who was killed by the Khmer Rouge: “Play music. Music is powerful. Play until you die.”

Jarret McGill, who works with Kravanh at the state Department of Social and Health Services, was there to support his friend and contribute to his cause. “He’s probably the most giving person I’ve ever met,” he said. “He would be good for Cambodia.”

Chanday Nourn, a former Cambodian general and police officer who fled to America six years ago and now lives in Tacoma, said Kravanh has support locally, in Cambodia and elsewhere in the world.

Added Ted Savun, a former leader of the Cambodian association in Florida and now a community college instructor in Olympia: “Daran is the guy who likes human rights. He likes justice and freedom. He would go to Cambodia to free the country.”

Bringing change to his homeland means fighting poverty, adding jobs and promoting social justice, Kravahn said. And it means defeating Sen in the July 27 election.

Kravanh, 50, said he’s already an official candidate for prime minister, the country’s top elected position. He registered his own political party in Cambodia, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, with himself as its candidate.

On a visit to Cambodia last year, Kravanh said he gained the 6,000 registered supporters required to form the party. He spoke at a conference last April on the Khmer Rouge era.
Leading Buddhist monks told him then, “‘I want you to be a leader of this country,’” Kravanh said.

He’s opened a campaign office in a house in Phnom Penh.

Kravanh said there are at least two other serious candidates competing against Sen.

Kravanh’s trying to raise money to go back to Cambodia in February to have a convention for organizing his supporters and campaign. He plans to return in March for a debate. And then, he plans to go back in June and stay through the election. If he wins, he’ll stay in Cambodia and leave his job as a social worker for the state.

Kravanh has been a leader in Tacoma’s Cambodian community and has helped organized Bon Om Tuk, a water festival that honors Cambodia’s boat racing tradition.

Speaking forcefully during an interview, Kravanh explained why he’s running for prime minister.

He witnessed people suffer during the Khmer Rouge regime before it fell in 1979. More than 2 million Cambodians were killed or died of starvation or illness during the reign of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge tyrant.

But still, Cambodia suffers from poverty. The United Nations says Cambodia is the eighth least-developed country in the world.

“I saw the people suffer,” Kravanh said. “I cannot stay still.”

Bree Kravanh wrote “Music Through the Dark” before she and Daran married a year ago – when her name was Bree Lafreniere. She overcame her own doubts about her husband’s dream of becoming prime minister of his homeland.

“At first, I thought this was impossible,” said Bree Kravanh, 48.

Now, she said, “There’s no other good candidate that’s speaking to what people want and need desperately.”

After Sunday’s event, Kravanh said his supporters will have fundraisers in Oregon and California.

Kravanh concedes his candidacy appears be a longshot.

“I’m not a politician,” Kravanh said. “I’m a peacemaker.”

“A lot of people laugh at me because I don’t have enough money,” he said.

“I have the capacity, I have the ability and I have the energy,” Kravanh said. “I will win.”

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647

News Tribune staffer Mike Archbold contributed to this report.

Stuart back from Cambodia challenge
By Ash Bolton

A HAMPSHIRE businessman has returned from a ten-day trip after helping to build a community centre in Cambodia.
Stuart Maggs, from Southampton, decided to take part in the charitable challenge on behalf of ActionAid with 21 other people from across the UK.

The 56-year-old travelled to the remote province of Banteay Meanchey in the north-west region of the country to help build two health and community centres.

The managing director of an alcohol import company spent his time digging, laying bricks and plastering while living closely with the local community.

Stuart, of Bassett Avenue, said: "I decided to take part in the challenge to give a community in Cambodia a better life. It was very rewarding and very humbling and I'm on top of the list to do it again this year."

ActionAid is now looking for more volunteers to take up the challenge to build vital family homes for the Kamaiya people and also have the chance to experience Nepalese culture and explore Kathmandu.

The charity works with local people in the poorest parts of the world, helping them to help themselves for their future.

For more information log on to , or call 01460 238047

Sacravatoons: January 7th, Vietnamezation Day

Courtesy of Sacravatoon,

Sacravatoons: 29th Anniversary of January 7th

Courtesy of Sacravatoon,

Sacravatoons: Hun Xen's Evolution

Courtesy of Sacravatoon,

Kirivong District Authorities of Takeo Arrest Officials of Civil Society Organization

6 January 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Four civil society officials, who were seeking support from citizens with thumbprints for the adoption of an anti-corruption law, were arrested and sent by the authorities of Kirivong District, Takeo, to be questioned at the provincial security department.

“The arrest was conducted in Kirivong District, Takeo, while the four officials of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia [NICFEC] were seeking support from citizens for an anti-corruption law.

“Mr. Hang Puthea, the Executive Director of NICFEC, complained about the arrest, saying that it is an abuse, because he had gotten written permission from the Ministry of Interior and from the Takeo Governor for sending his staff members to perform such a mission.

“Mr. Hang Puthea said, ‘We know that this letter is valid for the mission; however, we don’t know why the provincial governor’s letter was not considered to be valid.

“The four agents of NECFEC who were arrested are Ms. Keo Kim Va, Mr. Chan Phanna, Mr. Chan Sovannara, and Mr. Im Vuthy. After the arrest in Kirivong, police sent the four of them to the provincial security office, but then released them only in the evening of the same day.

“Mr. Chrea Chreang, an investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] in Takeo, said that the arrest caused fear to other staff members who are on mission in the province. Moreover, it is an abuse, because the police did not listen to the intervention by human rights officials who were there.

“Mr. Chrea Chreang said, ‘We talk about this issue [of an anti-corruption law], there is nothing wrong with this, they are NGO staff; they are not party activists.’

“Mr. Meas Sophon, Kirivong District Police Inspector, made up an excuse, saying that it was not an arrest – they were just brought to be questioned for trying to persuade citizens to give their thumbprints, and this activity was beyond the permission given by a letter from the provincial governor, which allowed only to ask for support.

“Mr. Meas Sophon said, ‘The governor allowed to promote support, why did they ask for thumbprints?’

“Ms. Keo Kim Va was hesitant to give an interview to journalists after having been held; it seemed that there was hidden fear.”

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #592, 5.1.2008

Foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia to increase by 20% on annual basis


PHNOM PENH, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia will increase by 20 percent on annual basis in the upcoming decade, local Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial News on Monday quoted an industry report as saying.

Cambodia saw some two million foreign tourist arrivals in 2007,a 20 percent rise over 2006, and the expansion rate is expected to maintain, said the report from the Cambodian Association of Travel Agencies.

Most of the tourists were Japanese, Chinese, Americans, South Koreans and French people, said the report, adding that the industry earned some 140 million U.S. dollars in 2007, accounting for almost 10 percent of the kingdom's gross national products.

Meanwhile, another Chinese-language newspaper the Jianhua Dailyon Monday quoted industry official as saying that Cambodia will have three million foreign tourist arrival in 2010 and five million in 2015.

Tourism has been one of Cambodia's triple pillar industries. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beach in Sihanoukville municipality and the Royal Palace in capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.

Cambodia suffers worst dengue epidemic, 407 dead

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia suffered its worst ever outbreak of dengue fever last year and it killed 407 people, most of them children, the highest toll in nearly a decade.

Dengue, which causes fever, headaches and agonising muscle and joint pains, had infected nearly 40,000 people since the first outbreaks last May, Ngan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry's anti-dengue programme, said on Friday.

"It is the worst number of infectious cases ever in Cambodia," he said, noting the disease infected 16,000 people and killed 424 in 1998.

Thousands of sick children sought free treatment at four Swiss-funded hospitals last year, but doctors said they did not have enough resources to treat everyone.

The World Bank, the World Health Organization and the Red Cross have provided pesticides to kill mosquitoes, while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) gave $300,000 to the anti-dengue programme.

Cambodia, whose health care system was devastated in 30 years of civil war, spends about $3 per person on health a year, according to the World Bank.

Plan to save Cambodia's sinking Angkor

ABC Radio Australia

Cambodia is hoping to use a 1000-year-old water system at the country's Angkor temples to prevent the world heritage site from sinking.

Scientists say if unregulated pumping of water from beneath the temples continues, the monuments will be destroyed.

Cambodia hosted two-million tourists last year - with most visiting the Angkor temples.

That figure is expected to reach three-million this year, heightening concern about the impact on the area's underground reservoir.Cambodia's Minister for Commerce, Cham Prasidh, says his country is looking to the Angkor's ancient water system to alleviate pressure placed on the underground water supply.

More petrol smuggled into Cambodia


VietNamNet Bridge - Petroleum smuggling to Cambodia from southern Viet Nam's Mekong River Delta has been dramatically increasing recently due to the latest rise in world petroleum prices.

It is reported that petroleum has been hidden in 20-30 liter plastic cans and then transported by small boats, carrier tricycles or motorbikes across the border. Some smugglers have even carried cans of petroleum on their backs.

At the Tinh Bien border, it is estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 cans of petroleum are illegally transported from Viet Nam to Cambodia daily while reports from the Tinh Bien Border Anti- Smuggling Forces pointed out that less than 1,500 liters of smuggled petroleum were seized in 2007.

In An Phu District of An Giang Province, plastic cans of petroleum have been transported through the border by carrier tricycles and motorbikes to Binh Di riverside where they were unloaded and then transported on small boats into Cambodia.

At present, a liter of petroleum in Viet Nam is VND4, 000 - 5,000 lower than in Cambodia.
In related news, in response to rumors that petrol prices will soar to VND17,000 a liter within the next few days, Deputy Minister of the Industry and Trade, Nguyen Cam Tu asserted that despite a sharp increase in the world petroleum price in early this year, no local petroleum corporation has recently proposed to hike their petrol price at the pumps.

Mr. Tu added that world petroleum prices climbed to US$100 a barrel on January 3 and stated that this shift was just a temporary fluctuation. He suggested that due to this, petroleum corporations cannot propose a rise in pump prices.

According to market specialists, the rumor may originate from a new proposal which has been recently submitted to the government for consideration. Accordingly, the Government will no longer set the ceiling price to curb prices but will let petroleum corporations set their own rates for the whole year.

If the proposal is approved, the pump petrol price in the country will probably rise VND17.000 per liter soon.

(Source: SGGP)

Lights Festival Extended

By Dewi Mohd Sofri

Brunei-Muara - The Jerudong Park Playground has extended the Dazzling Lights Festival at Jerudong Park Gardens.

Launched three weeks ago, the festival which was scheduled to close yesterday will be open to the public until January 13.

According to the latest record of number of tickets sold, the park has received an impressive 18,000 visitors since the opening, up to New Year's Eve.

"Most likely, the numbers have reached 20,000 this week," said Family Entertainment and events coordinator Wilhelm Albos Bayona, who expected the figures to grow in the following week.

He said that the extended period is a chance for people, especially those who were out of the country during the holidays, to visit the park to witness the amazing sights. Schools are welcomed to organise field trips to the park, said Bayona, who added that there are more events and activities lined up for the rest of the year as they aim to make the park an activity centre for families.

The colourful displays constructed out of silk and metals and decorated with splendid lights include 30:1 replicas of several wonders of the world such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Also strategically arranged around the Musical Fountain at the park are life-sized lanterns in the shape of insects and animals from endangered pandas to rhinos and monkeys and the mythical dragon.

Most are also equipped with mechanical parts for movement and sound effects for a realistic experience.

The exhibition is jointly organised by the Jerudong Park Playground, A Fortune International (Singapore) and Sky Wave Marketing Management Services.

-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times

Worldwide wish list '08

7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Having seen the temples of Borobudur in Java and those at Bagan in Burma, I know the best is at Angkor Wat, one of the world's premier architectural sites. The temple complex, which took 25,000 workers more than 35 years to complete, spreads over 40 miles near Siem Reap in what was once the capital of the Khmer Empire. After the empire's fall in the 15th century, Angkor Wat remained buried in the jungle, unknown to the outside world, until 1860, when a French botanist discovered it. Now a Buddhist site, it originally was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, and its statues and carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology.

In my imagination, I see Angkor Wat alternately as a holy place, oblivious to the passages of time, and the perfect setting for an Indiana Jones movie.

Go to www.tourism, or ask your travel agent about reliable tour operators doing business in Cambodia.