Friday, 25 January 2008

CPP bodyguards - The sequel No. 1

Hun Sen's Envoy Sok An Inaugurates Bodyguard Unit's report on Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister of the Council of Ministers Office, presiding over a ceremony in Kandal Province's Ta Khmau District on 24 January

Sacravatoons: Bad Bat-Man & His Skyscraper

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatoons: Two Bans

Courtesy of Sacravatoon:

Skyscraper to change city skyline

Phnom Penh Post,
Issue 17 / 02,
January 24 - February 7, 2008

By Vong Sokheng

Another South Korean company announced plans to build a city skyscraper, this one to begin construction next week at the heavily trafficked corner of Sihanouk and Monivong Blvds.

The South Korean Yon Woo Co., Ltd developer said it is investing $240 million in a glitzy high tech 42-story building Gold Tower, which will have apartments and office and commercial space.

The building is expected to be completed by 2011.

The company received its approvals from the government in May 2007.

The news comes on top of the announcement by Korea's GS Engineering and Construction Company, that it will start construction in June on a 53-story building near the Russian Embassy in the Tonle Bassac riverfront area. It is supposed to be finished in 2012.

"We see that the skyscraper market is getting interest from Cambodian people because the price of the land is very expensive now,"" said Sry Thamarong, personal advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He said the prime minister is encouraging more skyscrapers.

"The 53-story is the tallest, but in the future there will be taller ones." The Yon Woo Co. Ltd. held a ceremony to launch construction January 24.

The architectural drawings for Gold Tower were done in Korea. Yon Woo is the developer and was in charge of searching for the right site. It has hired a separate contractor.

Company officials said the contractor will employ about 300 Cambodian workers and Korean engineers during the construction period.

Yon Woo official Kim Tea Yon said the company is committed to contributing to the success of the Cambodian economy as well as to its stakeholders, who expect profits.

Collaborators in the project are DaeHan Real Estate Trust, a fund management firm, and Hanil Engineering & Construction Co Ltd, which initiated the construction of the first phase of the large Camko City planned development on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the officials said.

Korean investment is involved there also.In a statement, the company said: "The Yon Woo Co.,Ltd will become the project for the image of the international capital by making a new skyline in the city of Phnom Penh ."

Investment from Korea in the past year has been picking up fast, according to Sangkwang Lee, Commercial Attache of the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Phnom Penh.

He told the Post that Korean total investment in Cambodia since 1992 totaled $897 million, but in just nine months of 2007, it had already reached $502 million.

He said that Korea's total foreign investment worldwide last year was $15.3 billion. The investment went to: China $4.9 billion; US $2 billion; Vietnam $1.1 billion; Hong Kong $752 million. Cambodia was its fifth largest investment target.

He said Korean businessmen are beginning to see Cambodia as an alternative to the higher prices in Vietnam.

"They have many possibilities in Vietnam, but they have been looking for another destination for investment," Lee said.

Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planing and Construction, said in his speech at the launch that the government received more than 1,500 requests for construction projects worth $1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2007.

Chea Vichea murder case remains a bitter pill

Phnom Penh Post,
Issue 17 / 02,
January 24 - February 7, 2008

Four years after union leader Chea Vichea's assassination, a ceremony drew more than 100 people to the spot where he died near Wat Lanka, and seven international rights groups demanded the two men convicted in the killing be exonerated and released.

Vichea, president of the Free Trade Union, the organization he co-founded in 1996, was gunned down in broad daylight on January 22, 2004 at a newsstand near the pagoda. The key witness in the case-Va Sothy, owner of the newsstand-was meters from Vichea when he was shot and gave a notorized statement that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were not the shooters.

Six days after the killing, on January 28, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun-who apparently were unknown to one another until the trial-were arrested in Neak Leung, Prey Veng province and Phnom Penh respectively. The trial attracted widespread condemnation from local and international rights groups who said the case was flawed by political interference in an attempt to find a scapegoat for the murder. Both men are serving 20-year prison sentences for murder.

Vichea was an outspoken Trade Union leader and supporter of the Sam Rainsy Party.

"I consider Chea Vichea to be a national hero," said Vuon Phon, 64, father of Sok Sam Oeun, who attended the commemoration on January 22. "He advocated to increase workers salaries and aimed to help them improve their living standards. He was working to protect workers' rights and their interests. I am sure my son did not kill him."

He said he hoped the demonstration marking the anniversary of Chea Vichea's killing would serve as a warning to the courts - the Phnom Penh Court and the Appeal Court have both upheld the convictions - of their failure to bring justice in the case.

"The court convicted my son and Born Samnang unfairly," he said. "Even the King Father said that the two men are not the real killers. I have many times appealed to the Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Sihamoni to intervene. In constitutional law the King has the right to give amnesty, but it depends on the will of the Prime Minister as well. I hope we can free my son this way."

In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and four other regional and international rights groups, said the continued imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun without credible evidence against them was of grave concern.

"Any objective examination of all the available evidence shows that these two men never should have been arrested, much less imprisoned for four years already," Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, said in the statement.

The statement calls the trial "grossly unfair" and said the police and court investigations were marred by "numerous irregularities."

The irregularities include the torture of Born Samnang to extract a confession and that the first judge in the case-Hing Thirith -was removed from his position and transferred to Stung Treng in the remote north of Cambodia after he dropped charges for lack of evidence. The charges were reinstated.

"The subsequent trial of the two men was conducted in a manner that flagrantly violated Cambodian law and international fair trial standards," the statement said. "In April 2007, the country's Appeal Court upheld their convictions despite its own prosecutor acknowledging that there was insufficient evidence."

Having previously kept silent for fear of retribution against her, witness Va Sothy fled to a neighboring country under protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Her statement saying the men arrested were not the men she saw, was ruled inadmissible by the Appeal Court last year.

Chea Vichea's family members also believe Born Samnang, now 27, and Sok Sam Oeun, 40, are innocent.

"I went to Chea Vichea's funeral when he was shot," said Nuon Kimsry, 49, mother of Born Samnang. "I didn't imagine that his case would end up involving my family."

She visits him every month. "He has lost hope of release, he has appealed so many times and nothing has changed," she said. "I feel the same but for his sake I always try to stay positive."

"Sok Sam Oeun's father Phon, clad in old mustard colored flip flops, explained that he borrowed 50,000 riel to make the trip from Takeo to Phnom Penh for the ceremony."I want to see my son, but now I have no money," he said.

He said his son is in a cell with 17 people -not including Born Samnang -at the new police headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Phon holds out hope that the Supreme Court will overturn the guilty verdicts.

"I want the Supreme Court to conduct a hearing very soon, this is my one hope," he said. "But I know the Supreme Court will not release my son because if they do it will be an insult to the police. If the Supreme Court upheld the previous convictions then it means everything is finished."

Chea Mony, brother of Chea Vichea, and the new president of the Free Trade Union, said if the court is just the men will be freed from jail.

"We all know the Cambodian courts have not brought justice for my brother's death," he said.

Born Samnang's defense lawyer, Chum Sovanaly, confirmed that he submitted all the evidence and documents in the case to the Supreme Court in December and has not yet been informed when the case will be heard.

"I hope the Supreme Court will take the case to trial in late February or March," he said. "I think the court is working on the case, but I do not think the decision will be different from the previous courts."

Cambodian fishermen hooking the big ones - on drugs

Phnom Penh - Cambodian fishermen were using bait laced with "an addictive substance" to turn the one that got away into the one that came back for another fix, local media reported Friday.

Fishermen in north-western Banteay Meanchey province on the Thai border, around 450 kilometres from the capital, were luring their prey with fermented fish paste laced with drugs, but their more ethical colleagues were crying foul, the Khmer-language daily Kampuchea Thmey reported.

The bait, which is made in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, instantly turned popular table species such as elephant fish from fighters into ecstatic love junkies that practically jumped into the boat, the paper said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Orn Sum said by telephone that he doubted the veracity of the reports, but if true, anglers caught dealing drugs to the province's fish population could face legal consequences.


Cambodian History Writ Large

January 25, 2008

SIEM REAP, Cambodia -- This country's most famous temple may be 900 years old, but the message it sets out to convey is timeless: Angkor Wat is all about glory. The temple is one of hundreds built by kings of the Khmer Empire to commemorate themselves and their empire, as well as to worship their gods. But Angkor Wat stands out from the rest -- in artistry, in scale and in popular imagery.

One of the largest religious structures in the world, and the only religious monument to appear on a national flag, Angkor Wat has become synonymous with Cambodia at its most powerful -- when it was the seat of the Khmer Empire, stretching from the South China Sea to the Bay of Bengal. The monumental scale of the temple has the same effect on visitors today as when it was first built. Angkor Wat has but a single approach: a wide stone causeway more than a third of a mile long (that's as long as six football fields end-to-end). The entry walkway crosses a moat 600 feet wide (my guide assures me it used to be filled with crocodiles) and ends at a wall and gates leading into the center of the compound. The central compound covers about 400 acres and once supported a town of about 100,000 people.

With one central tower more than 130 feet high surrounded by four shorter towers, the center of the temple imitates the five peaks of Mount Mehru, the mythical mountain at the center of the Hindu universe. The temple walls (three concentric rectangles that demarcate the progressively higher levels of the temple), garden grounds and moat represent the soil and seas of the earth.

Reaching Mount Mehru is no easy chore: The temple's stone steps are dizzyingly steep -- more like a stone ladder than a staircase -- as a reminder of the effort it takes for humans to get closer to heaven. And, as if to drive home the point, the inner sanctuaries of the central tower were accessible only to the king and a select handful of priests.

When Angkor Wat was built, Cambodia was primarily Hindu and Khmer culture drew much of its inspiration from India. Most of the inscriptions at Angkor are in Sanskrit, and the nymph-like apsaras, or celestial dancers, that grace the walls derive from Hindu mythology. Later, however, the Khmer kings became interested in Buddhism, and Angkor Wat was converted into a Buddhist monastery between the 12th and 15th centuries. The central statue of the innermost sanctuary -- likely a statue of Vishnu -- was removed and a Buddhist image erected in its place.

For several centuries, the Khmer empire practiced a syncretic faith that combined Buddhism and Hinduism.

In many ways Angkor Wat is so much larger than life that the details of the temple get overlooked amid the legends that surround it. It's easy to forget that it contains nearly 2,000 feet of the finest Khmer bas reliefs in the world. Its nearly 2,000 celestial apsaras represent the apogee of Cambodia's apsara-carving tradition and provide a detailed account of court dress and female fashions during the period of its creation, the elaborate headdresses, heavy jewelry worn on the arms and neck, and flowing skirts. Traditional Cambodian dance to this day imitates the apsaras' poses and costumes.

One of the most intricate reliefs decorating the walls of the temple's first gallery depicts the Churning of the Sea of Milk, a key event in Hindu cosmology in which the world was created by an epic tug-of-war between gods and demons. Each side pulled on a giant five-headed snake wrapped around Mount Mehru, and the subsequent twisting of the mountain and churning of the seas gave birth to the apsaras that grace the walls of Angkor Wat, as well as an elixir of immortality over which the gods and demons subsequently dueled. In this story, Mount Mehru is not only the center of the universe, but also the birthplace of the known world.

The Khmer empire included modern-day Burma, Thailand and Vietnam -- the largest area ever covered by Cambodia -- and laid the foundations for Cambodian culture and art for centuries to come. In a sign of the temple's importance, the king's palace was most likely on the temple grounds, although nothing of it remains today. About one million men, women and children populated the Angkor area, according to an estimate by French archaeologist Bernard-Philippe Groslier, making it the largest settlement in the preindustrial world.

All this manpower was necessary to build the temples, which were painstakingly erected from giant sandstone monoliths hewed out of a quarry more than 37 miles away. Rather than having foundations that sink into the ground, most Angkorean temples are built on huge mounds of earth that give them their pyramid shape, the soil excavated from a moat or from one of the lakes. Some historians theorize that the blitz of building during the Khmer Empire could have been accomplished only through a mandatory labor requirement levied on all citizens, or perhaps even through slavery.

The grandeur that marked the Khmer Empire was not to last, however. The royal city of Angkor was repeatedly sacked by the Thai army during the 14th century, and in 1431 the capital was relocated farther away from Thailand. Angkor Wat itself -- by that time converted to a Buddhist temple -- continued to function, and for centuries it was home to a flourishing monastery that attracted pilgrims from as far away as Japan, even while the former capital city nearby was gradually overtaken by the jungle. Although the Buddhists occupying the temple removed most of the original Hindu art, Angkor Wat's habitation and its continuous maintenance helped the temple remain relatively intact while many other Angkorean temples now lie in ruins.

Even after surviving the removal of its Hindu art, Angkor Wat did not entirely escape the turbulence of Cambodia's recent history. The Western part of Cambodia in which Angkor Wat is located was a Khmer Rouge stronghold through the 1990s (the Khmer Rouge were ousted from the capital city, Phnom Penh, in 1979). Restoration work on the temples took a forced, decades-long hiatus during the wars that wracked Cambodia through the later half of the 20th century.

The area was unsafe for tourists until about 10 years ago, when the Khmer Rouge signed a peace treaty that formally ended Cambodia's civil war. There was relatively little physical damage to the temple as a result of the wars, but they did irreparable damage by destroying almost all of the remaining written records pertaining to the Angkorean period. Khmer archaeology scholar Christophe Pottier of the French Research School of the Far East estimates that 95% of the relevant documents have been destroyed in the past three decades, an irreplaceable loss.
In the years since peace has come to Cambodia the opportunities for looting have also increased, and many of the finest sculptures have been spirited out of the country and sold to buyers abroad. Tourism also poses its own set of dangers, with some temples suffering from overexposure to footsteps or curious hands. But despite this -- even as the physical structures of the temples inevitably decay -- Angkor will continue to symbolize something greater than itself.

The memory of the Khmer Empire, and with it Cambodia's full potential, is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

Ms. Hook is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Asia

WA man sentenced in fatal shooting that killed three

Associated Press

A man who was tried twice on charges related to the 2006 fatal shooting of three men in front of his Skyway home was sentenced Thursday to two years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to reduced charges.

Just before his third trial was to begin last month, Dmitri Sidorchuk pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault.

With credit for time already served awaiting trial, the sentence allowed Sidorchuk to be freed.

Jurors acquitted Sidorchuk of murder at his first trial, in August. They could not reach a verdict on manslaughter and assault charges. In November, a different jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of first-degree manslaughter and three counts of assault.

The case involved five young, unarmed men who were trying to act tough when they pulled their car into a strange driveway and were met with a barrage of gunfire that left two of them dead and three wounded, a sheriff's detective wrote in court papers at the time.

Killed in the shootings were Sovintha Nhem, 23; Sophea Sun, 20, and William Belk, 28. Evidence indicated the bullets that caused their deaths came from Sidorchuk's machine pistol. Belk was a friend of Sidorchuk, hit by one of Sidorchuk's stray bullets, prosecutors said.

Wounded were Sun's younger brother, Sopheak, Vykol Leng and Sovanchams Bunt.

The shootings came after an angry confrontation when a group of friends scattered after police asked them to leave Skyway Bowl and Casino.

At both trials, Sidorchuk's lawyer argued his client fired in self-defense when Nhem tried to hit him with a car.

Thai Airways Jet Tire Bursts

Friday, January 25, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A rear tire on a Thai Airways jet exploded as the plane, which was carrying the head of Cambodia's parliament and 30 lawmakers, landed at the capital's airport Friday, airport officials said.

None of the 147 passengers or 13 crew members were hurt, said Khek Norinda, spokesman of the company that manages the airport.

The tire burst after the Airbus A-300 touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport after a trip from the Thai capital, Bangkok, he said. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

Heng Samrin, the president of Cambodia's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, was aboard the flight with 30 members of parliament, said Chan Ven, the chamber's deputy secretary-general. He said the delegation was returning from an official visit to New Zealand and had transited through Bangkok.

Authorities Request Villages in Anlong Veng

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 January 2008

In Khmer - Listen (MP3)

Officials from the ex-Khmer Rouge region of Anlong Veng said Thursday they are awaiting approval from the national government to build two villages along the Thai border, near the site of Pol Pot’s cremation.

Anglong Veng District Chief Peov Sareoun said the request for the construction of the villages, to serve as landmarks, has been awaiting approval for nearly a year.

The villages could also help establish a “market route,” said Nhem En, the deputy chief of the district, which is in Odar Meanchey province.

The villages could be established in the Cardamom Mountains, about 3 kilometers from the site where, in 1998, Pol Pot’s body was cremated on a pyre of tires, a mattress and wooden furniture.

“It’s good to form villages, because, first, we can mark our border there,” said Khem Sophoan, director of the Cambodia Mines Action Center, whose deminers have worked in the area. “If we have villages, they serve as landmarks that cannot be destroyed.”

Angkor Wat Sandals Prompt Political Jibes

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

In Khmer - Listen (MP3)

The emergence in Vietnam of commercial footwear with the picture of Ankor Wat on the padding has sparked a round of political finger-pointing between provincial authorities and the opposition party.

The sandals, which have an outline of Angkor Wat’s famous spires and Khmer writing, appeared at a market in Tain Ninh, Vietnam, across the border from Svay Rieng province, and Cambodian authorities have blamed the opposition Sam Rainsy Party for their production.

“It’s not Vietnam who marketed the shoes, but it’s probably from the opposition or any group who would raise it up in order to...stir up controversy,” said Leuk Chamreoun, deputy chief of the Svay Rieng provincial police.

Sam Rainsy called the allegations “ridiculous.”

“How can the party be so powerful that it reaches Vietnam?” he said. “No one believes this.”
Angkor Wat, a cultural touchstone for many Cambodians, has in the past stirred nationalistic violence.

In 2003, rumors that a Thai actress made disparaging remarks about Angkor Wat sparked citywide riots in Phnom Penh that left the Thai Embassy burned and gutted and Thai businesses looted and destroyed.

Dengue Fever, the Band, Burns Bright

By Poch Reasey,
VOA Khmer Washington
24 January 2008

In Khmer - Listen (MP3)

With a third album out and many of the songs sung in English, the band Dengue Fever is gaining critical and commercial momentum.

Dengue Fever features Cambodian Chhom Nimol on vocals and recalls the psychodelic rock of Cambodia’s ‘60s.

In “Venus on Earth,” their newest album, Chhom Nimol sings in more English than in the past two albums.

“Compared to the Khmer songs I used to sing, English ones are much harder to sing,” she said, speaking from Long Beach, California.

“So we spent a lot of time working on this third CD because there are new songs and new melodies,” she said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

For this album, Dengue Fever has so far only toured th US. In 2005, the group performed in Cambodia, where, Chhom Nimol said, “Cambodian people still want to listen to my voice.”

Back in Long Beach, she said she has also earned the respect of the largest Cambodian community in the US.

“As a Cambodian woman, I never forget Cambodian culture and traditions,” she said. “And I want to thank the Cambodian people who support my work and the work of Dengue Fever.”

Cambodia Inks Stock Market Deal for 2009

By Mean Veasna,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 January 2008

In Khmer - Listen (MP3)

The government signed a stock market contract with Korea Exchange Monday, paving the way for an exchange starting mid- or late 2009, officials said this week.

Korea Exchange is the fourth largest stock market in Asia.

The government plans to allow at least 10 companies—five state run and five foreign—to be listed on the initial exchange, officials said.

The news was met with mixed feelings. Some analysts warn that the rampant corruption and weak rule of law that continually plague Cambodia will sink stock exchange efforts.

But some officials were optimistic the stock market could provide more sophisticated options to investors.

“The Cambodian stock market provides an additional opportunity for a company to collect capital for investment,” said Hang Chuon Narong, general director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. “Either [the company] deposits money to get interest, or it invests in the stock market.”

The impending stock market, which stems from the signing of a securities law last year, will help strengthen Cambodia’s financial system and will ensure money circulates “smoothly,” said Kang Chan Dararoath, an independent economic analyst.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was once Finance Minister, encouraged Cambodians to buy shares in stocks to increase their income, but warned extreme caution.

“Our current authorities are corrupt and conspiratorial, and if the stock market is created under these circumstances, I worry that some people can be cheated,” he said. “They could lose a lot of money and become much poorer.”

Launching Ceremony of Textbook for Computer Use in Khmer and Inauguration of Low Cost Computing Research Laboratory for Education Under the Framework

Posted on 25 January 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 544

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, in collaboration with the Open Institute [a Cambodian Non-Government Organization] launched a program to use low cost [and low electricity consumption] computers under the framework of the Information Communication Technology [ICT] Development Master Plan on the afternoon of 22 January 2008 at the National Institute of Education, presided over by Mr. Im Sethy, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports.

“The launch of a computer textbook in Khmer, and the inauguration of the use of low cost computers was conducted under the framework of the ICT development master plan, and as part of the Open School Program, developed in cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the Open Institute, with the goal to promote the quality of education in Cambodia through the use of ICT. The Open School :Program is a three stages project, which develops and applies the ICT Master Plan in Education.

“The first stage of the project is to provide computer training programs in Khmer at schools, Teacher Training Colleges, and other educational institutions. The second stage is to do research and prepare more details towards the elaboration of the ICT Master Plan in Education. The textbook about the use of computers in Khmer is a new reference textbook in Khmer for all schools, training institutions, and the administration of the Ministry of Education.

“Mr. Im Sethy said at the launch ceremony that it is important to have ICT integrated in education in Cambodia in the future.

“He went on to say that this achievement must reach all students in the educational system, in their own language which they understand clearly; it must be used consistently and systematically based on the carefully prepared steps in the Master Plan for ICT in Education.

“Mr. Im Sethy added, ‘No economic development can happen without a policy encouraging the use of technology in the national language, which the citizens can understand and use.’ He continued that more and more younger people absorb the use of new technologies; our children know how to use many modern technologies that we cannot use. This is the reason why we have to make sure that all students, not only those who live in cities, can get new knowledge and new technologies. Mr. Im Sethy said that the mainstreaming of new technologies must ensuree that all can understand it - the only way is the use of such technology in the Khmer language, putting ICT study programs, and providing appropriate ICT structures, into all schools by 2012.

“At that occasion, Mr. Im Sethy expressed also his gratitude to the Open Institute, to the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, to InWEnt [Capacity Building International, Germany], to UNESCO, and to other human resource development partners in line with the policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1553, 24.1.2008

Army warns dispute could have repercussions

Bangkok Post
Friday January 25, 2008

The Defence Ministry is concerned about Cambodia's tough stance on seeking World Heritage listing of Preah Vihear, the ancient Khmer ruins on the Thai-Cambodian border. Defence Ministry spokesman Pichasanu Putchakarn said Cambodia has ignored the government's suggestion the two countries jointly propose the historical site for Unesco listing.

If Cambodia does it alone, it is feared that Thailand may lose its land around the ancient sanctuary, which has yet to be demarcated, he said.

''Thailand has to think of its national interests. We may protest to the Cambodian government through diplomatic channels and try to explain to other countries that Thailand has tried to cooperate with Cambodia in requesting the World Heritage listing of the sanctuary together.

''But Cambodia went ahead with the request unilaterally. We may also have to condemn Cambodia if the country still tries to do it alone,'' he said.

There was a possibility the dispute could affect diplomatic relations between the two nations, he said.

Thailand and Cambodia each assert sovereignty over some areas around Preah Vihear, known as Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand.

The World Court has judged the ancient ruins as being part of Cambodia. However, the two countries have not come to a demarcation agreement on some immediate border areas around the sanctuary.

Lt-Gen Pichasanu said the World Heritage listing could lead to the disputed areas being annexed by Cambodia which, he said, has tried to rally international support for the sanctuary to be given Heritage status.

He said the issue was significant and therefore warranted immediate government attention.
Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas felt the new government should put the issue on the national agenda, he said.

The country should also prepare for unrest which could arise from the dispute, which could provoke military hostilities along the border.

Second Army commander Sujit Sithiprapa said the army has notified Cambodian authorities it would like them to stop paving a road to the entrance of Preah Vihear because it could disturb the disputed area.

Because the sanctuary is perched atop a hill, entry has to be made from a point on the Thai side of the border.

The road's construction should be put off until the two countries have settled the demarcation issue, Lt-Gen Sujit said.

He said Cambodian soldiers had been deployed along the border zones leading to the sanctuary.
He had ordered his troops deployed to police the border as well.

Despite this, soldiers from the two countries retained close ties.

Gen Boonrawd voiced concern over a possible confrontation, saying top-levels discussions were needed to resolve the issue amicably.

Relations sour over Preah Vihear claim

Relations with Cambodia have soured after the Defence Ministry alleged yesterday Phnom Penh had "made up" history to claim the ancient Hindu temple of Preah Vihear and get it listed as a United Nations World Heritage site.

Published on January 25, 2008

The military condemned Cambodia for creating "false evidence" in order to claim the historic site for its unilateral benefit.

The military demanded the Foreign Ministry lodge an official protest with Phnom Penh, its spokesman Lt-General Pichsanu Puchakarn said.

The matter was a topic at a meeting of the Defence Council yesterday.

Last year, Thailand disputed Cambodia's wish to have the Hindu temple listed as a heritage site on the grounds the two kingdoms should jointly benefit from the ancient attraction. Access to the site is mainly via Thailand, although the temple itself is in Cambodia.

Cambodia created a new boundary to claim sovereignty of the entire area, and was campaigning for international support for this, Pichsanu claimed.

The new government should take the issue seriously, the military said. Phnom Penh could generate anti-Thai sentiment among people living along the border, and this could pose a threat to security on the Thailand side, he said.

"The military, notably the Second Army Region, will be on alert to protect our people and sovereignty," Pichsanu said.

Defence Minister General Boonrawd Somtas was worried and had encouraged everyone to seek a settlement.

"We shall not quarrel over a small piece of land, but let's talk for mutual benefit," the minister said.

The International Court of Justice ruled in June 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the site has been the core of conflict between the two countries since then.

Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram and his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, discussed greater cooperation in developing the historic temple when Nitya was in Phnom Penh in December.

The two ministers said then there was no dispute, and Thailand agreed to provide technical assistance to train Cambodian workers to restore the ancient site prior to the proposal to list the temple.

The Nation

Fleeing the Khmer Rouge, ages of violence

By Robert Lowell
American Journal

BUXTON (Jan 24, 2008): Navan Leng came from Cambodia to the United States in 1991 seeking freedom and an escape from the violence and repression that had plagued his native country in recent decades.

“The night I escaped there was a big battle,” said Leng, who lives in Westbrook with his wife, Chantha Doeur, and four children.

Leng is president of the Watt Samaki Cambodian Buddhist Temple, which is seeking permission from the Buxton Planning Board to hold celebrations and gatherings at the temple on Back Nippen Road. Leng's story is similar to many of the Cambodian refugees who have relocated in Maine.

Many of them have fled to the United States since the reign of Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge movement and the prime minister of Cambodia 1976-1979. An estimated 1.7 million to 3 million people died in Cambodia during the reign, and violence and war have plagued the country since that time.

“Most of the professional class was wiped was an effort to eradicate western influence and institute a radical agrarian communist project throughout the country," said Harry Schnur, a senior at Bowdoin College who has been spending time at the temple to do research for his senior thesis.

U.S. Census figures from 2000 put the Cambodian population in Maine at 1,162. Many of the Cambodian refugees living in Maine now have lost at least one member of their family to the violence in their native country.

Sunny Brown Mao of Augusta is the treasurer at the Watt Samaki Cambodian Buddhist Temple. He lost his parents, five brothers and a friend.

Mao, 62, who came to Maine in 1981, said he was in charge of a factory in Cambodia, but told persecutors he was a sugar cane worker. Still, he marveled that he wasn’t killed.

Agoura, Oak Park alumni raise funds for orphanage

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE- Children at the Lighthouse Orphanage in Cambodia will benefit from the funds raised by Aaron Horwitz and Bryan Wiedenheft's holiday dinner party. The $1,011 donated can provide the children with fruit for over a year, vegetables for 126 days, medication for a year or 10 months' worth of electricity.

High school buddies host dinner
By Stephanie Bertholdo

Two former local students found an ingenious way to raise funds for charity. Simply host a dinner party, charge guests for the feast and channel the money raised to worthy causes.

Aaron Horwitz, an Agoura High School alum, and Bryan Wiedenheft, who attended Oak Park High, have been putting a twist on traditional dinner parties for two years running. They hope their idea will catch on with local residents so that yearround feasts will generate big bucks for a variety of charities.

The dinners, held in November, are framed around a holiday theme, said Horwitz. According to his blog, the feast is a "post- Thanksgiving, mid-Hanukkah, pre-Christmas feast-of-the-year extravaganza."

In 2006, the 25-year-olds raised money for School on Wheels, a Malibubased nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged children. But after reimbursing their parents for the cost of food, what was left of the donations didn't add up to as much as they had hoped.

More than twice as many people attended the 2007 feast at Wiedenheft's parents' Oak Park home. The turnout was so unexpectedly large that Horwitz and Wiedenheft plan to rent a banquet hall when the time arrives for their third annual end-of-the-year feast.

Horwitz said he learned about the Lighthouse Orphanage while backpacking in Southeast Asia. During his travels he met people from Canada and England who had volunteered at the orphanage. "We decided this year we wanted to (help) a charity where the money would go further," Horwitz said.

Indeed, the $1,011 raised at the last feast will go a long way in Cambodia. According to a financial breakdown provided by Lighthouse Orphanage, the money will provide the entire orphanage with fruit for 366 days, vegetables for 126 days, or medication for all the children for a full year, or could pay the orphanage's electricity bill for 10 months. Four children could attend school for a year on $1,000, or the money could clothe 25 children for 18 months.

"Lighthouse Orphanage traditionally averages about $5,000 in donations per year, total," Horwitz said. "And we just raised more than 20 percent of that."

Wiedenheft said traveling made him much more aware of the plight of the poor in other parts of the world.

Jeremy Goldberg, a friend of the dinner party masterminds, said the paid feasts were not intended simply to raise awareness and money for the orphanage, but to show citizens "just how easy it is to change the world.

"It sounds naive and a bit fanciful, but this one dinner instigated by two local youths has made a vast difference in the lives of many children halfway around the world," Goldberg said. "Their efforts are admirable, altruistic, and increasingly rare in today's society."

Horwitz and Wiedenheft charged each guest $15 for a culturally diverse feast of ham, turkey, pasta, latkes and a variety of other delectable dishes cooked by the hosts and their helpers.

After dinner, the crowd of more than 50 moved on to attend a party in the Hollywood Hills, where the cans and bottles used were recycled to generate even more money for the orphanage, Goldberg said.

Wiedenheft, who works in the film industry, said he and Horwitz, who's completing classes in fire protection, technology and administration at Cal State University Los Angeles, plan to continue their support of the orphanage.

To donate money to Lighthouse Orphanage, or for advice on hosting a similar fundraiser, contact Horwitz by e-mail at

Cambodia to get first skyscraper

BBC News
Thursday, 24 January 2008

(Picture: Officials linked the building to Cambodia's economic success)

Cambodian officials have attended the official sales launch of the first-ever skyscraper in the capital, Phnom Penh.

The twin towers are to be 42 storeys high - almost three times higher than the current tallest building.

It is the first of three skyscrapers planned in the capital, where the skyline has been kept low - in part to avoid overshadowing royal palaces.

But the government has encouraged the new buildings as symbols of Cambodia's development after decades of conflict.

Although Gold Tower 42 is some way from completion, the launch of its show apartment and sales office attracted government ministers and overseas ambassadors.

The BBC's Guy De Launey, in Phnom Penh, said the launch gave a taste of the shape of things to come.

He said the solid, imposing, gold-faced structure would stand out from its neighbours on Norodom Boulevard - an area of yellow-washed, wooden-shuttered French colonial-era buildings.

But Phnom Penh is in the middle of a real-estate boom - and some residents hope that building up will bring the price of homes down.

"It's more affordable for people wanting to stay in town, and I think it's good. It's secure and they have all the facilities," one resident said.

But other locals worry about the effect tall buildings will have on the city's character
"The original Phnom Penh city [was developed to] be horizontal, not vertical," one resident said.

South Korean companies are building Gold Tower 42 and another even taller skyscraper near the Mekong River.

Cargo ship with 17 Russians on board reported missing in Pacific

24/ 01/ 2008

VLADIVOSTOK, January 24 (RIA Novosti) - A rescue center in Russia's Far East said on Thursday a cargo vessel with 17 Russian crew on board was missing in the East China Sea.

The Cambodia-registered ship transporting over 4,500 metric tons of rolled metal to Hong Kong last had radio contact on Sunday, the center said. The vessel left Russia's Far East port of Nakhodka on January 15 and failed to arrive in China's special administrative region on January 24 as planned.

Rescue officials said they had informed colleagues in Japan, China and South Korea, which are connected to the sea by straits, of the Kapitan Uskov's disappearance.

"All vessels currently in the East China Sea have also been informed of the disappearance of the Cambodian-registered ship with a Russia crew on board," the center said.

Japan said it would send searchers to an area 221 miles (355 km) west of Shanghai, from where the ship last contacted the ground services, the Far East center said.

The center said there is not yet sufficient information to explain the ship's disappearance.

The boat, with cargo capacity of 5,200 metric tons, was built in Japan in 1982. It flew a Soviet flag and was later sold to a private shipping company and registered in Cambodia.

Ships are often registered in a foreign country to cut operating costs, avoid government regulations or simply to take advantage of a country's infrastructure or diplomatic support.

Cambodia Threatens To Close UN Representative Office

PHNOM PENH, Jan 24 (Bernama) -- The Cambodian government on Wednesday stated that it will shut down the United Nations representative office in the country if the office's head, Pe Suv, doesn't change his ways of working, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported Thursday.

Earlier, the government's spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, who is also Information Minister, said that recently the UN office did nothing to help the government, but focusing on criticising it like an opposition party.

There is already an opposition party in Cambodia, the spokesman said, adding that the government is in need of assistance from the UN office, not of criticism.

I Knew Pol Pot

Pol Pot

Saloth Nhep, Pol Pot's brother


Continung the "I knew..." series of programmes, which bring first hand accounts of famous people to the screen, Al Jazeera hears from some of the key people in the Cambodian's leader's life, with interviews with senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Pol Pot's brother and other members of the regime and his family.

Pol Pot was one of the 20th century's most destructive individuals, with his Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia killing upto two million people in less than 4 years in power.

Pol Pot ruled Cambodia for less than four years, from 1975 to 1979. In that short period between 750,000 and two million people died, most from overwork or starvation, others directly murdered by the Pol Pot's fanatical Khmer Rouge.

Gaining startling insights into one of the 20th century’s most brutal dictators, Al Jazeera has been speaking to those who knew him best, including his last remaining close relative, his brother, Khmer Rouge officials who knew him for decades and others who, shockingly, still sympathize with the man and his policies.Inside the mind of the man behind Year Zero.

I Knew Pol Pot will air Monday, January 28, 2008.

A place to pray : Buddhist temple faces opposition on rural Buxton road

By Robert Lowell
American Journal

BUXTON (Jan 24, 2008): To view an audio slideshow, click here.

A bid by Maine's only Cambodian Buddhist temple, located on a rural road in Buxton, to hold celebratory gatherings drew strong opposition from neighbors Monday at a packed Buxton Planning Board meeting.

No decision was made on the request by Watt Samaki Cambodian Buddhist Temple, at 128 Back Nippen Road. Several residents voiced their concerns, citing traffic, noise and the septic system capabilities. This week's public hearing was continued until Feb. 11.

Twenty years ago, the same temple, facing heavy opposition, was unable to establish a house of worship in Buxton.

"It's been an uphill battle all the way," said Beth Sturtevant, a volunteer from North Yarmouth who is lending a hand to the temple.

The Watt Samaki Temple, which began in 1985 in Portland, serves more than 350 families. The temple bought the Buxton house and attached building, which formerly housed a printing business, about three years ago. Two monks, Bak Him and Chantrea Mean, live in the home. The temple holds four large celebrations a year.

According to Harry Schnur, a Bowdoin College senior studying the Watt Samaki Temple for a thesis, lay people support the monks as part of their tradition. Faithful followers take food daily to the monks. He said the temple doesn't have any paid employees.

The town says the temple is allowable in the rural zone, but does require a conditional use permit from the Planning Board. Nearly two years ago, Buxton received a similar request for a permit on March 20, 2006, and the Planning Board considered it on May 14, 2006, but no decision was made because the monk they were working with at the time did not provide paperwork the board had requested, according to Keith Emery, a board member who was chairman at that time. That monk was neither Him nor Mean.

On Oct. 14, 2006, the town accused the temple of holding a gathering without a permit. The town ordered the temple to halt the gatherings, threatening a fine of up to $2,500 for each violation. The temple complied.

Navan Leng, temple president, said last week a few neighbors complained about parking when the temple first moved there. Leng said there was miscommunication between the temple and the town.

Both the town and temple officials agree a communication problem developed. Buxton Code Enforcement Officer Fred Farnham said there was a personality conflict involving the monk seeking the permit. "It got off on the wrong foot," Farnham said in his office before Monday's meeting.

Janice Laughlin and her husband, Al Laughlin, who board horses, live across the street from the monks. They said last week the monks are industrious.

"The monks are always working outside, improving the property," she said. "They're wonderful."

But the Laughlins share concerns with other neighbors about traffic volume in a residential neighborhood, parking, noise and the septic system on temple property.

Alycia Campbell, an abutter at 120 Back Nippen Road, said she has four small children and she moved to her home for the quiet. "The impact of traffic will be enormous," Campbell told the Planning Board.

Jean Harmon, chairwoman of Buxton selectmen who lives on Back Nippen Road, said the temple people aren't from the area and might not be aware of children in the neighborhood. She said the temple didn't regard ordinances in the past, and urged the Planning Board to consider past complaints.

Rusty Miner, 145 Back Nippen Road, has two young children and also moved to the neighborhood for its quiet. He praised the temple for it people, but was concerned about safety on the road.

"I'm so worried about my kids," Miner said at the public hearing.

Answering questions about speeding on the road, Jeremiah Ross, chairman of the board, reminded residents that the panel isn't responsible for enforcement of ordinances and laws. "We have no authority to enforce ordinances," Ross said.

"I'm concerned about safety on the street," said Peter Burns, 164 Back Nippen Road.

Burns said he isn't opposed to the temple per se. He said the temple attracts out-of-state cars and that the large gathering two-and-a-half years ago had 100 cars.

"I challenge the town to enforce the ordinances," Burns said.

The number of big celebrations held at the temple each year also became an issue. The Planning Board is mulling over restricting the number of large gatherings at the temple and wanted to hear a specific number. Sturtevant said it could further define dates and events.

But, Pirun Sen, 56, Portland, chairman of the temple's board of directors, said after the meeting he is concerned about restriction of events at the temple because of the impact on families and future of the temple.

"My concern is how we can keep up with conditions put on us," Sen said following the meeting.
He said he wondered what would happen if, for example, a family lost a member and a funeral became necessary.

Sen, who came from Cambodia in 1981 to flee the dictator Pol Pot, said the temple met opposition in an attempt to locate in Buxton 20 years ago. Sen said the temple had bought an option on a property with a chicken barn on Simpson Road in Buxton. He said the temple lost in a final public hearing, packed by opponents in 1989.

"It was crowded, no place to sit," said Sen, who added that the temple also lost its $3,500 option on the property.

The temple then bought property in Portland as a first step. But it was too small and the temple leased space from churches for its celebrations.

A few neighbors have been supportive of the temple's quest. Yet, though the temple recently distributed fliers door-to-door inviting neighbors to an open house, no one came from the neighborhood.

But Sturtevant is confident that the temple would receive town approval in February, and praised Farnham for his help. "Fred has been great," she said.

The board Monday required the temple to submit revised plans to construct a parking lot for 67 cars on the property. Parking along Back Nippen Road by those attending temple events is forbidden for safety reasons, and the temple Monday agreed not to allow parking on the road.

Based on square footage of the temple building, the Planning Board said the building occupancy would allow only 200 people at a given time. The temple would also need a permit from the state's fire marshal.