Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Khmer Rouge chief prison S-21 (Duch), re-enacted his alleged crimes for a UN-backed tribunal at the regime's most notorious killing field

Former Khmer Rouge chief prison S-21 Kaing Guek Eav (Duch), stands at the Extraodinary Chambers of the courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, in December 2007. Duch wept Tuesday for the victims of Cambodia's 1970s genocide as he re-enacted his alleged crimes for a UN-backed tribunal at the regime's most notorious killing field, a court official said.(AFP/Pool/File/Chor Sokounthea)
A mass grave site containing some thousand human skulls is seen behind a stupa, or religious monument, at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to Choeung Ek, the scene of his alleged crimes, a mass grave site that was one of the country's notorious 'killing fields.' (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
A Westerner tourist man takes picture of human skulls at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2008. The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to the scene of his alleged crimes, a mass grave site that was one of the country's notorious 'killing fields.' (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Tourists look at a mass grave for Khmer Rouge victims at Choeung Ek, 17 km (11 miles) south of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2008. Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, who has confessed in interviews with Western reporters that he committed multiple atrocities as head of Phnom Penh's infamous Tuol Sleng, or S-21, interrogation centre, toured the site on Tuesday to re-enact his crimes for a UN-backed court.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
A convoy escorts Kaing Guek Eav, the former Khmer Rouge prison chief at Choeung Ek killing field, to the scene of his alleged crimes, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
A UN convoy takes Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, to Choeung Ek, 17 km (11 miles) south of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2008. Duch, who has confessed in interviews with Western reporters that he committed multiple atrocities as head of Phnom Penh's infamous Tuol Sleng, or S-21, interrogation centre, toured the site on Tuesday to re-enact his crimes for a UN-backed court.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
Cambodian police officers block a road at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to the scene of his alleged crimes, a mass grave site at Choeung Ek, one of the country's notorious 'killing fields.' (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Riot police stand guard while awaiting the arrival of a UN convoy carrying Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, in Choeung Ek, 17 km (11 miles) south of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2008. Duch, who has confessed in interviews with Western reporters that he committed multiple atrocities as head of Phnom Penh's infamous Tuol Sleng, or S-21, interrogation centre, toured the site on Tuesday to re-enact his crimes for a UN-backed court.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

South Korea's new President Lee Myung-bak shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister

South Korea's new President Lee Myung-bak (R) shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen during their meeting at President House in Seoul February 26, 2008.REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool (SOUTH KOREA)
South Korea's new President Lee Myung-bak (R) talks with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen during their meeting at President House in Seoul February 26, 2008.REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool (SOUTH KOREA)
South Korea's new President Lee Myung-bak (2nd R) and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd L) pose for photographers with Lee's wife, Kim Yoon-ok (L), and Hun Sen's wife, Bun Rany, before their meeting at President House in Seoul February 26, 2008.REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool (SOUTH KOREA)

Phnom Penh Post Goes Daily; Job Opening as Managing Editor

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cambodia's only English language newspaper has been sold to Australian investors and will soon go daily. And for reasons unknown to this blogger, they're advertising for a managing editor. Thomas Crampton has details and is the owner of the Phnom Penh Post newspaper above. Oh, that big gold building will be their world headquarters.

For those not familiar, the Phnom Penh Post is one of Southeast Asia’s legendary publications and Michael Hayes its legendary founding editor. It was the first English-language newspaper in Cambodia when launched in 1992. Australian investors have ponied up to turn the fortnightly into a daily.

Scoop from New Zealand has more details:

MediaBlab's report said that that Hayes has been saying he wants to sell for the last couple of years, and it seems the potential new buyers are keen to transform the paper into a serious daily to cash in on Cambodia's booming economy and thriving media market.

Hayes is a typically colourful expat character and landed a cameo role in the 2002 drama movie, City of Ghosts, co-written, directed by and starring Matt Dillon, about a con artist who goes to Cambodia to collect his share in money collected from an insurance scam. Hayes plays the part of Harry an American expat who frequents a bar.

Michael Hayes first visited Cambodia in October 1974, one year before the Khmer Rouge came to power. In October 1991, after working for an aid foundation in Thailand for several years, Michael returned to Phnom Penh looking for work and instead decided to set up the country's only independent newspaper.

Hayes and his then wife Kathleen moved into the Phnom Penh Post office, a three-story colonial villa, in May 1992. They slept on the floor, rewired the whole building and enlisted friends to bring computer equipment in with their hand luggage on trips from America.

All the printing houses were government-run and not permitted to do private print jobs, so at first the paper was printed in Bangkok and brought to Cambodia as 20 boxes of extra luggage. The paper then forged a relationship with Wellington's Dominion newspaper in New Zealand, and the Wellington Polytechnic, now Massey University, journalism program.

Several Kiwi graduates of the university worked at the newspaper and Matthew Grainger, Jason Barber and Peter Sainsbury were to become three successive editors over seven years at the Phnom Penh Post, making up what Jason Barber called the kiwi mafia in Phnom Penh. The paper reported, and survived, the 1997 coup. The airports closed, foreigners and volunteers were shipped out and the country was devastated, but the Post found a printer in Phnom Penh, covered the story and the paper got out on time.

The paper has continued to follow controversial stories about the human rights atrocities, poverty and corruption that are part of Cambodian society.

"All kinds of people are pissed off about our stories. Death threats are more common than Christmas cards here. People use them all the time," Michael Hayes told the Massey University Magazine.

And finally, the details about that juicy job offer as managing editor, surveying all of Phnom Penh from the penthouse suite in that golden building pictured above. Yea, I'm sending in my resume.

Job available: Managing Editor, Phnom Penh Post

In conjunction with Editor-in-Chief, oversee the operations of an English-language newspaper published five times a week. The Post is currently published fortnightly. Move to daily is expected to take place in May.

Work closely with a Cambodian and expatriate staff of about 30 to produce a 24 page (minimum) newspaper that aspires to maintain the highest standards of independent, professional and responsible journalism.

Duties will encompass management and editing: manage deadlines, assign stories, manage staff workload, edit copy as needed. Must have previous experience working for a daily English-language newspaper in an editorial capacity. Must have previous experience working in a multi-cultural environment, preferably in Asia.

Must be willing to learn Khmer and master details of current Cambodian history, politics, economics, business and development-related issues. Must be native English speaker. ME will report to Editor-in-Chief Michael Hayes, who has been running the Post since its inception in 1992.

Salary: negotiable as commensurate with experience

Position based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Send CV, references and contact details by email to:Michael Hayes, Editor-in-Chief: michael.pppost (a t ) online.com.kh

Michel Dauguet, CEO: michel.dauguet (a t ) alumni.insead.edu

Neighbours wary of water plan

Bangkok Post
Tuesday February 26, 2008


At home Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is fighting for some proof that his cabinet ministers are good and credible enough to run the country. Abroad, the premier has to soothe Thailand's neighbours' concerns.

Mr Samak is not happy with criticism from the media and opposition Democrat party regarding his cabinet members. That's understandable, given that not all of them have been picked or approved by him. At 73, he's not young any more. But his time with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is relatively ''young'' compared with other loyalists who are now with the People Power party. That could be why he had little influence when it came to forming this government. The only thing the seasoned politician can do now is show the public that he's the one who calls the shots for his administration, that he aims to complete his four-year mandate.
The prime minister seems to have lots of things to do during his tenure. Some were unveiled the same day his premiership was endorsed by His Majesty the King, others have come up later and he uses his weekly broadcasting show to tell viewers and listeners across the country.

One item on Mr Samak's to-do list which is under very close watch by countries surrounding Thailand is his idea of using water from the Mekong River for northeastern farmers. That plan, in fact, is high on his agenda. The plan looks simple, judging from what he has explained to the public through the media. Water from the mighty Mekong will be diverted to reservoirs in the Northeast through tunnels. Then when people need to use water for farming, this will be released to farmlands. This, according to Mr Samak, is a way to rid the farmers of poverty in the poorest region of Thailand.

But the water diversion plan will definitely not be easy when it comes to carrying it out. Mr Samak's idea sounds very impressive. Instead of watching the river passing us by on its way to the sea in southern Vietnam, why should Thailand not make maximum use of it?

The difficult part is that Thailand cannot use water from the Mekong at will. Unlike the Chao Phraya, Mae Klong and Tha Chin, the Mekong is an international river. It is not the private asset of any country in particular. This, at least, applies to countries in the lower basin of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. China still treats the Mekong as a Chinese river, calling it Lancang and claiming that it simply runs inside China and does not form a border with other countries.

The Mekong's waters are not and cannot be managed by Mr Samak or the Thai government alone. The Mekong River Commission takes care of it, with consent from other countries.
Countries sharing the Mekong and located above Thailand (Burma and China), will not be affected by the plan. But that would not be the case for Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Though their governments are quiet on this idea of Mr Samak's, this cannot be interpreted as meaning they agree with it. Water from the Mekong is more precious for them than it is for Thailand. The river serves as a backbone for agriculture in Laos, like the importance of the Chao Phraya to Thai farmers. In Laos, most of its scarce arable land lies along the bank of the Mekong. The Mekong also helps farmers and water transport in Cambodia and at the same time supplies water to the Vietnamese farmers in the delta, which is Vietnam's most suitable land for farming.

With the importance this river holds for these countries, it is easy to say what they have in mind regarding Mr Samak's plan. Nobody believes that water siphoned off by Thailand will have no effect on other countries sharing the same river and relying heavily on its water too.

Their leaders will be keen to hear from the Thai prime minister how serious he is about pushing this idea, when he soon begins the traditional visit to other countries in Southeast Asia. His trips include Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which stand to be affected by the Thai water project.

Mr Samak has promised he will go there by commercial flight instead of the specially arranged aircraft normally used by Mr Thaksin. This is good news for taxpayers as far as form is concerned. The substance will be Mr Samak's diplomatic skills in convincing them not to protest against his pet plan.

Khmer Rouge Defendant Visits Grave Site

A mass grave site containing some thousand human skulls is seen behind a stupa, or religious monument, at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to Choeung Ek, the scene of his alleged crimes, a mass grave site that was one of the country's notorious "killing fields." (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia (AP) — The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to one of the country's notorious "killing fields" to which he is accused of sending thousands of people to their deaths, an official said.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role three decades ago as commandant of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison. He was taken into custody by the U.N.-assisted tribunal last year pending trial.

An estimated 1.7 million people died during the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime, which cut off contact with the outside world and forced the entire population into agricultural collectives, leading to starvation and disease. The regime tortured and executed untold thousands of people.

Duch, 65, is one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials being held for trial by the joint U.N.-Cambodian tribunal established in 2006 to finally bring aging top Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

Tuesday's so-called re-enactment, closed to the public and media, was part of an investigative process that involves taking the accused to the crime scene to be questioned about what happened in the past.

But Duch wept during the 3 1/2 hour visit as "the accused explained what happened ... when he was the chief of S-21," according to Reach Sambath, a tribunal spokesman.

"We noticed that he was feeling pity, tears were rolling down his face two or three times," Reach Sambath said.

Duch was especially moved when he stood before a tree with a sign describing how executioners disposed of their child victims by bashing their heads against its trunk, the spokesman said.

There are several similar displays among the shallow graves that contain skeletal remains and ragged clothes.

Some 16,000 men, women and children who had been held at S-21 were killed and buried at Choeung Ek, now a memorial site that is a popular tourist attraction.

At the end of the tour, Duch clasped his hands together in prayer and cried again in front of a glass-fronted stupa, or Buddhist reliquary, crammed with 8,985 skulls, some bearing clear evidence of death by hammers, hoes, bamboo sticks and bullets, Reach Sambath said.

Duch had been driven in a heavily guarded convoy from the tribunal's detention center to Choeung Ek, about 6 miles south of Phnom Penh.

About 80 people, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, representatives of the victims and witnesses, were on hand for the re-enactment, Reach Sambath said.

Among the witnesses were four former staff members of S-21, he said.

Duch is to visit S-21, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, on Wednesday. Of the thousands jailed there during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, only 14 are believed to have survived.

The long-delayed genocide trials may start later this year. Many fear the group's surviving leaders could die before being brought to justice. The movement's chief, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

One of Duch's fellow defendants, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, was hospitalized last week with persistent urinary tract problems, Reach Sambath said Monday.

"His illness is not life threatening, but doctors need to follow up on it a bit longer," he said.

With cash prize, Cambodian athletes to win more medals at world events


The Cambodian athletes have won 93 medals in all from various international sports events since 1993 and new achievements can be expected as the government is to award cash prize to winners in the future, local media said today.

The government lately approved a sub-decree to respectively award golden, silver or bronze medal winners at Olympic Games with US$20,000, US$16,000, and US$10,000 , Bun Sok, secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, told English-Khmer language daily newspaper the Mekong Times.

Golden, silver or bronze medal winners at Asian games can respectively get US$10,000, US$6,000 and US$4,000, he said, adding that golden, silver or bronze medal winners at Southeast Asian games can respectively get US$6,000, US$4,000, or US$2,000.

Meanwhile, deputy director of Cambodia's National Olympic Committee (NOC) Em Heang said that the athletes' ability will become greater with the rewards.

The rewards are appropriate as they can help improve players' performance and bring back more medals from world sports tournaments, he added.

According to the sub-decree, coaches with medal-winning athletes as well as disabled competitors with medals can also get cash prize.


Marker plantation with Cambodia prioritised in 2008

February 26, 2008

Vietnam affirmed to place the priority on the planting of border markers at border gates it shared with neighbouring Cambodia this year to facilitate economic exchange and travel of people in border areas.

The task was set at a meeting on the border demarcation and marker planting on the Vietnam-Cambodia border held in Ho Chi Minh City on February 25.

The meeting brought together representatives of concerned ministries and agencies and authorities of provinces sharing the border with Cambodia, including Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An, Dong Thap, An Giang and Kien Giang.

Participants looked at how the demarcation and planting of landmark pillars progressed after the supplementary treaty to the Vietnam-Cambodia Border delimitation treaty was signed on October 10, 2005.

They defined tasks of the demarcation and landmark plantation work and measures to ratchet up the work in 2008. (VNA)

Food inflation hits Cambodia's poor, threatens hunger

Workers mash fish in preparation for making 'prahok' (fermented fish paste) at Chrang Chamres village
Worker cut up fish in preparation for making 'prahok' (fermented fish paste) at Chrang Chamres village
Workers cut up fish in preparation for making 'prahok' (fermented fish paste) at Chrang Chamres village
CHRANG CHAMRES, Cambodia (AFP) — On the long, gently sloping bank of Cambodia's Tonle river, Doem Lao chops half a dozen large fish heads in the early morning for the one meal that her family will eat that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cambodian market to open up?

Asia Property Report
February 25, 2008
by Robert Carry

Nuth Nurang, Secretary of State at Cambodia´s Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has revealed that the government is considering an amendment to Cambodia´s law that would allow foreigners to buy property in the rapidly emerging market freehold.

To date, foreign investors have only been permitted to buy on a leasehold tenure of up to 99 years – an option which has proved popular with buyers seeking to invest in Southeast Asia. Liam Bailey of David Stanley Redfern, a UK-based overseas property specialists, believes a further opening up of the market to overseas investors would be a massive boon for Cambodia´s economy, “Foreigners being able to buy property freehold would blow the Cambodian property market wide open.” He continued, “The economy is regenerating all the time, especially in the world´s main growth hot-spot and a place experts believe will enjoy sustained growth over at least the next five years.”

Jailed former Khmer Rouge leaders seek conjugal visits

Tue, 26 Feb 2008

Phnom Penh - Despite being hospitalized with heart problems three times since his arrest last year, elderly jailed former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary has requested the court grant conjugal visits, local media reported Tuesday. The English-language Cambodia Daily quoted Ieng Sary's lawyer Ang Udom as saying the 82-year-old "misses his wife," fellow detainee Ieng Thirith, also known as Khieu Thirith, the sister-in-law of former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

"He wants to see her, she wants to see him ... why does the tribunal prevent them from seeing each other?" the paper quoted Ang Udom as saying.

The lawyer was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The elderly husband and wife are among five senior former Khmer Rouge leaders currently in detention at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Up to 2 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime, one of the bloodiest reigns of the last century. Pol Pot died at home in 1998.

The paper also reported that Ieng Sary had requested his current stay in hospital to monitor heart problems be extended indefinitely, but court sources said this request was unlikely to be granted as the court provided round-the-clock medical care and his condition was not thought to be life threatening.

Cruising Cambodia has never been so luxurious - Feature

Tue, 26 Feb 2008

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

But all that is changing, says tourism minister Thong Khon.

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

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

The developments appear to be paying off. So far this year five cruises carrying US, Asian and European tourists have docked in Sihanoukville, bringing 4,832 visitors, equal to the entire 2007 total, according to the port's general director Lou Khim Chhun.

The country's only deepwater port, Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is located about 240 kilometres from the capital and Chhun says that although the lack of infrastructure caused cruise ship visitors to dip by half last year, 2008 is already shaping up as a bumper year.
The port, touted to be one of the first companies listed on a Cambodian stock exchange planned for 2009, has already constructed a special dock dedicated to cruise liners.

Chhun admits he is rubbing its hands at the prospect of wealthy tourists entering the country by sea, taking advantage of the newly refurbished airport at Sihanoukville to fly to the ancient Angkor Wat temples, and returning to wine, dine and enjoy the several plush casinos.

"We have the capacity for four to five cruises to pass through per week, which equates to 4-5,000 visitors. I believe Sihanoukville is ready to extend its services as a cruise port. We certainly plan to host more and more," Chhun says.

Opportunities for day trips abound. The area's mushrooming dive companies speak of whale sharks, rare pink dolphins and untouched coral reefs.

Dugongs are known to inhabit areas near the municipality. Nearby Ream National Park's virgin forests teems with wildlife.

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

Cambodia has won over some powerful allies. Royal Caribbean Cruises has named Sihanoukville as a prime layover for its flagship Rhapsody of the Seas and is enthusiastic about it on its website.

"Cambodia is best known as the occasional side trip to Angkor Wat ... on your way to or from Thailand. But all that is changing with the revitalization of Sihanoukville, Cambodia's one and only beach resort," the cruise giant gushes.

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

As people rediscover the charm of cruise holidays, the 10-member Association of South-east Asian nations of which Cambodia is a member continues to push itself as a major player.

ASEAN Cruise Working Group chairman, Kevin Leong, estimates the sector in the Asia-Pacific is expected to grow by more than 40 per cent from 1.07 million in 2005, to 1.5 million by 2010, reaching 2 million in 2015.

Cambodia's ambitions are slightly more modest, but no less integral to its plans for its already booming tourism industry.

"This year is the first time we will attract more than 5,000 cruise visitors. It's a big step forward and we are very optimistic about our future," Thong Khon says.

Lee meets Cambodian, Mongolian, Uzbek leaders


By Yoo Cheong-mo

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak held a string of summit talks Tuesday with his counterparts from Cambodia, Mongolia and Uzbekistan, who all came to Seoul earlier this week to attend Lee's inauguration ceremony, for discussions on strengthening bilateral relations.

Meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lee stressed the need to enhance bilateral ties and asked for greater support of South Korean firms wishing to enter Cambodia's resource and construction markets.

Lee served as an economic advisor to the Cambodian government in 2000.

In his summit with Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, Lee stressed the need for closer bilateral cooperation in the resource and energy sectors and offered to share South Korea's experience in urban development.

In response, Enkhbayar asked for closer cooperation with South Korea in the fields of bioengineering, IT and climate change.

Lee also held a summit with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in which they reconfirmed a bilateral strategic partnership signed in March 2006.

They also evaluated visible outcomes in two-way cooperation in the exploitation of petroleum and natural gas.

All of the three visiting foreign heads of state asked Lee to visit their countries in the near future to follow up on bilateral cooperation projects.

The new South Korean president responded favorably to the invitations.

Deportation taken a step too far

by Charles Lim

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The attraction people have to public office baffles me. You must will yourself to work every day and enact policies while keeping in mind that someone, somewhere is going to get royally screwed.

Often, administrators can rush to make seemingly uncontroversial mandates while being completely disengaged from the very real human ramifications they have, hundreds of miles away from Capitol Hill.

One example of these seemingly “safe” decrees would be the deportation agreement recently made between the United States and Vietnam. As with similar agreements with Laos and Cambodia, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will accept U.S. deportations of illegal immigrants who came on or after July 12, 1995 and have formal deportation orders. Reasons for deportation orders include criminal offenses such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, etc. Sounds totally reasonable — get dangerous criminals out of the country. Vietnam is doing us true Americans a favor by taking back these ungrateful immigrants, right?

I hope none of you took me seriously — Rush Limbaugh excluded — since the situation is far more complex than that. Not only are many immigrants South Vietnamese who served with the United States in the Vietnam War or their direct relatives, but many other hundreds if not thousands of immigrants face deportation for countless insignificant crimes. Deportation is usually the result of conviction for an aggravated felony, which sounds like such a heinous term that deference to the authorities is given right away.

In reality, that term has been expanded to many non-violent crimes and now can be applied to any crime that carries a sentence of two years or longer. For example, among the cases for deportation, one involved a man deported to Cambodia after he was convicted of indecent exposure. Problem is, he was nabbed not for shaking it a playground, but for urinating at a construction site.

Aggravated felonies also involve crimes related to child abuse, which sounds perfectly reasonable. Tell that to the woman deported to Cambodia for spanking her kids with un-lit incense sticks. That’s right — separation from her children for the rest of their lives, just for disciplining her kids with thin pieces of scented wood. Even a bad check is grounds for forced exit from the country.

This also underscores another major issue. Judges are not allowed to exercise any sort of discretion on a case-by-case basis when determining deportation. The fact the crime happened, not the degree of the crime committed, is the sole determinant of deportation. The immigrant could have served all of the jail time for a minor offense, started a family and lived the life of a complete model citizen and still stand to be torn from his wife and children and never see them again. He will be transplanted back to a country he may have never been to since he was a child, or even remember, not knowing the language or anyone living there. How can he be expected to survive? How will his family go on without a father?

This is all without saying how deportees will be treated outside of the United States. When the deal between Cambodia and the United States went through, the Cambodian prime minister immediately followed with the statement that deportees would all be relocated to the country’s largest and most dangerous prison immediately upon arrival into the country. Vietnam is still haunted by a spotty human rights record, and its authoritarian communist regime is criticized by the U.S. State Department.

And we are telling people to go back? Would you knowingly return a runaway child to his or her abusive parents? Isn’t that what the United States is doing here? Some may say “it’s not our business how they are treated over there,” but to that I will rip out my hair and ask what the hell do you call “Operation Iraqi Freedom?” Hasn’t it been the unstated foreign policy of the United States for the last six years to make it our business? Or is that just because we didn’t find any WMDs?

There is hope, however. Twelve congressmen, including one on the House subcommittee on immigration, are calling for the delay of this action and urging the government to give a closer look to how such an act will affect real human lives.

For too long, America has touted its superiority over other nations because of its purported acceptance of all people and its claim that all people can achieve the “American Dream” with hard work and perseverance. So I ask, who deserves the “dream” more: some well-off college kid born with rights of a citizen or an immigrant who came from a war-ravaged country with almost nothing and worked themselves to the bone all his or her life, all the while never experiencing such rights?

Charles Lim (celim@wisc.edu) is a junior with no declared major.

Food Inflation Worries Hit Cambodia's Poor - Report


The persistent increase in food costs is causing more misery to Cambodia's poor, the AFP reported said Tuesday.

The cost of food is rising across Asia, driven by reasons ranging from higher demand and surging global oil prices to environmental factors such as global warming, hurting the normal agricultural cycles, the report said.

The picture has been turning bleaker for nearly 2.6 million people living in extreme poverty, over the last several years, which witnessed poor harvests due to natural disasters such as flood and drought.

The AFP quoted the World Food Program as saying that too many Cambodians still suffer from hunger and malnutrition for some or most of the time. The WFP is very concerned about the general increase of the cost of the staples, in Cambodia as well as in other regions, an official reportedly said.

According to the AFP report, the Cambodian government seems reluctant to intervene and check the relentless rise in food costs. Meanwhile, other governments in the region responded by lowering import tariffs or establishing national food stockpiles.

Former Khmer Rouge jailer returns to Cambodian 'killing fields'

Tue, 26 Feb 2008

Phnom Penh - The jailed former commandant of one of the Khmer Rouge's most notorious torture facilities returned to the "killing fields" Tuesday to walk court officials through his alleged crimes under heavy security. Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role as commandant of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 torture prison, or Toul Sleng, where up to 16,000 people were either tortured to death or transferred to Choueng Ek, the site of his visit Tuesday, to be killed and buried in mass graves.

He has been in military prison since 1999 but was only taken into custody by the joint UN-Cambodian Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) last year pending his as yet unscheduled hearing.

Dressed in the standard blue Cambodian prison uniform, Duch, 65, appeared frail and walked the rough ground scattered with mass graves with the assistance of a guard.

Court officials said he was accompanied by witnesses and co-investigating judges, but the investigation remains confidential and only one representative of the court was present. No journalists were allowed to follow and film the historic re-enactment.

The normally bustling tourist site was closed and up to 300 plain clothes and uniformed police blocked access to the area as the elderly man, who has reportedly expressed remorse for what happened, led the group around Choeung Ek, which translates as "champions."

Up to 2 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 failed drive to turn the nation into an agrarian utopia.

Five former senior leaders are currently in ECCC custody charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Hearings are expected to start later this year.

The court said in a statement last week that Duch will also return to Toul Sleng, which means "hill of poison fruit" in Khmer, Wednesday to complete the re-enactments.

Khmer Rouge leader 'enacts role'

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been taken to one of Cambodia's killing fields to re-enact his alleged actions.

- Maoist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979
- Founded and led by Pol Pot, (above) who died in 1998
- Abolished religion, schools and currency in a bid to create agrarian utopia
- Brutal regime that did not tolerate dissent
- More than a million people thought to have died from starvation, overwork or execution

The visit to Choeung Ek, where some 16,000 people were buried after being tortured, is part of investigations by the UN-backed genocide tribunal.

Duch is the first of five senior Khmer Rouge officials to be charged.
The Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 and is blamed for more than one million deaths.

Duch, who is now in his 60s, ran the notorious Tuol Sleng jail in Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge, and is accused of overseeing the torture and killing of inmates.

He was driven to Choeung Ek, 10km (six miles) south of the capital Phnom Penh, in a heavily guarded convoy.

The re-enactment was closed to the public and the media.

It is not known if any survivors were witnessing Duch's version of what happened.
Duch was due to go through a similar re-enactment at the former Tuol Sleng jail - now a genocide museum - on Wednesday.

He was arrested and detained in July 2007. In December, a court dismissed an appeal for bail by his lawyers who argued that he was held without charge under the jurisdiction of another court for eight years.

A date for the trial has yet to be set.

Five senior Khmer Rouge officials are now in the custody of the tribunal.

Those also facing charges include Nuon Chea, second-in-command of the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, the former foreign and social affairs ministers Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, and former head of state Khieu Samphan.

Pol Pot died in 1998.

Jolie, Pitt expecting second baby: report

Brad Pitt (R) appeared with a pregnant Angelina Jolie.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Hollywood power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are expecting their second child, People magazine reported on its website Sunday citing a source close to the couple.

The report came after a beaming Jolie appeared with Pitt at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday in a black dress that revealed a clear baby bump.

The source told People that Jolie and Pitt were "thrilled to be adding to their brood" and were "very, very happy."

Pitt, 44, and Jolie, 32, also are parents to adopted Cambodian son Maddox, six; four-year-old Vietnamese son Pax; three-year-old Ethiopian daughter Zahara and biological daughter Shiloh, who was born in Namibia in May 2006.

Pitt and Jolie met on the set of their 2005 film "Mr and Mrs Smith" and later began a romantic relationship.

Pitt was previously married to "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston, while Jolie has been married twice before.

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Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda

Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (L) greets Indonesia's vice President Jusuf Kalla (C) and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd R) before the inauguration of new President Lee Myung-bak at parliament in Seoul February 25, 2008.REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA)

Thailand restores Thaksin's diplomatic passport

Monday, February 25, 2008
Oman Time

BANGKOK –– Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been given back his diplomatic passport, which was revoked after a bloodless coup against him in 2006, the foreign minister said Monday.

Noppadon Pattama said his ministry had returned the travel document more than a week ago, and that a date for Thaksin's return from exile was likely to be announced tomorrow.

The army-backed government installed after the coup pulled the diplomatic passport, citing security risks in the wake of deadly bombings on New Year's Eve in 2006.

Noppadon was Thaksin's personal lawyer until allies of the fallen premier swept back into power following a victory in an election in December. He resigned as Thaksin's attorney after being appointed foreign minister.

Noppadon, however, said he had nothing to do with the ministry's decision to restore the diplomatic passport.

"They considered the laws and decided to reinstate the passport," he told reporters.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since the coup, mainly in Britain, where he owns the Manchester City football club. He has continued to jet around the globe on a normal passport, but his new travel document will entitle him to more privileges with Thai embassies overseas, courtesies normally extended to the kingdom's former leaders.

Thaksin has told a court in Bangkok that he will return in May to face corruption charges brought against him by the military regime.

Noppadon said that Thaksin would announce an exact date for his return on Tuesday, but that the ex-premier planned to divide his time between Thailand and Britain, so that he can take care of his football club.

India and Cambodia Plan to Create a Modern Technology and Information Technology Center in Phnom Penh

Posted on 25 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549

“Phnom Penh: A senior official of the Indian Embassy in Cambodia pointed to a plan for cooperation between Cambodia and India through the establishment of a center for modern technology and information technology in Cambodia in the near future.

“Mr. Aloke Sen, the Indian Ambassador to Cambodia, said that India would like to increase and enhance the cooperation with Cambodia by creating a center for modern technology and information technology in Phnom Penh. This is a new project, through which India would like to cooperate with Cambodia in order to provide professional training services and to improve the use of information science in Cambodia.

“Mr. Aloke Sen said so during a discussion with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh in the afternoon of 22 February 2008.

“Furthermore, Mr. Aloke Sen talked about the visit of a big delegation of Indian investors to Cambodia in future. The potential investors include an Indian film production company which is interested in coming to conduct studies and assessments on the market in Cambodia.

“Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, the Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, said also on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, that he would like to welcome the delegation of Indian investors who intend to pay a visit to Cambodia in the future, and he hailed the strengthening of cooperation between Cambodia and India through the creation of a center for modern technology and information technology. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An extended thanks to the Indian government for having assisted in various sectors in Cambodia in the past until the present.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1576, 24-25.2.2008

Regulations for micro-credit on cards

Monday, 25 February 2008
Staff Correspondent

The Micro-credit Regulatory Authority is going to formulate regulations for the micro-financing organisations to monitor their operations properly.

The MRA has formed a sub-committee on Sunday to prepare a draft of the regulations for micro-credit operations and submit it to the MRA by March 15, said a high official of the Bangladesh Bank after a meeting.

'The regulations will provide guidelines for the micro-credit operations, including service charge, term deposit, and liquidity limit, of the micro-financing organisations, he said.

The Micro-credit Reugaloty Authority came into effect in August, 2006. With the MRA chairman and Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed in the chair, the meeting discussed in details the micro-financing operations in the country.

The sub-committee, headed by the executive vice-president of MRA and executive director of Bangladesh Bank, Khondkar Mazharul Hoque, will prepare the draft guidelines and submit it to the MRA for sending to the central bank board seeking approval, said the official.

Some 200 micro-credit organisations have received licences from the MRA and around 450 more organisations are waiting for licences, he informed. 'The central bank will provide licences to them after conducting field level survey on their organisational activities,' he said.

No polls to DSE directorships

Monday, 25 February 2008
All candidatures withdrawn
Staff Correspondent

The DSE directorships polls scheduled for March 9 will not be held as all candidates have withdrawn their candidature, said officials.

'No election will be held on the scheduled date as there is no candidate to contest for the four directorship posts after the withdrawal,' said Salahuddin Ahmed Khan, chief executive officer of the Dhaka Stock Exchange.

On Sunday, the last date for candidature withdrawal, three candidates — MA Mumin, chairman of Surma Securities Holding Co, Dastagir Md Adil, managing director of Adil Securities, and Mohammad Lutfar Rahman (Badal), managing director of Latif Securities — withdrew their candidature, said DSE officials.

Salahuddin said the candidates did not show any reason for their candidature withdrawal. Earlier on February 20, six candidates out of nine pulled out themselves from the polls race.

They are Md Feroz Khan, managing director of Eminent Securities, Md Rafiqul Islam, managing director of Parkway Securities, Mujibur Rahman, managing director of Prudential Securities, Azizur Rahman, managing director of Globe Securities, Khondker Asadul Islam, chief executive officer of IDLC Securities, and Anwar Hossain, managing director of Anwar Securities.

Salahuddin said, 'We will seek opinions from the legal advisers on holding of the annual general meeting of the bourse scheduled for March 13 in this extraordinary situation.'

'The DSE jury board will also give opinions on the election of the four posts.' There are 12 elected and 12 nominated directors on the board of directors of the DSE.

According to the DSE constitution, four elected directors retire every year and four others replace them through direct voting. The new directors are elected for a three-year term.

Rising food prices hit UN food programme

ABC Radio Australia

The World Food Programme says increasing global commodity prices will force it to scale back food aid within months unless donors dramatically step up contributions.

The U.N. agency will need to raise an extra 500 million Us dollars to carry out scheduled relief operations this year because of a 70 percent rise in food prices since 2002.

Growing demand for food in China and India, a shift toward more meat-oriented diets and the use of crops for biofuels have all helped drive up the cost of food.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation warns that record food prices are unlikely to ease in the foreseeable future.

Praise for China about Darfur

ABC Radio Australia

The British Government has praised China's efforts to help bring about an end to conflict in Darfur.

China Correspondent Stephen McDonell reports from Beijing that China has been criticised for not doing enough to stop widespread killing in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

He says that doesn't seem to be the view of Britain's Foreign Secretary.

According to David Miliband, China's recent diplomatic efforts represent a major contribution to end the war.

Beijing's special envoy to Darfur, Liu Guijin, has called on Sudan to "cooperate better" with international peacekeepers.

The Sudanese Government has been blamed for deliberately slowing the arrival of peacekeepers.

The British Foreign Secretary says this is clearly Sudan's responsibility and that Beijing is making a significant contribution by raising the issue.

Leesburg couple leads efforts to rescue Cambodian children

Rosalind Jennings Special to the Sentinel
February 25, 2008

LEESBURG - Following decades of civil war, Cambodia's internal strife and corruption has hit the country's children the hardest, according to Tim Brown, co-founder of Legacy of Hope International.

The faith-based organization is dedicated to saving Cambodian youths from cruel practices such as sex slavery. It provides shelter, loving adult care, food, education and medical treatment. Brown and his Cambodian-born wife, Lakhina Brown, live in Leesburg and founded Legacy of Hope in 2003. Now they're looking for help in their efforts to save Cambodian children.

Cambodia, a tropical and largely rural, farm-based country, has extreme poverty and Asia's highest prevalence of HIV.

UNICEF statistics report at least 470,000 orphans in Cambodia. Many family members were murdered by the Khmer Rouge communist regime that controlled the country from 1975 to 1978 and did not fully surrender until l999.

The murders of 1 million to 3 million Cambodians occurred during a period of mass genocide. The killings were the subject of a 1984 film, The Killing Fields.

Half the country's population of about 14 million is age 21 or younger, according to the CIA World Factbook.

"One whole generation of Cambodians were slaughtered," Brown said.

Though some peace and political stability took hold during the 1990s, the country's inhabitants continue to suffer.

More than 25 percent of the adult population is illiterate, according to UNICEF. About 60 percent have unsafe drinking water, according to UNICEF.

"The average income is about $1 a day," Brown said. "Cambodia is a country that hasn't changed much since the '70s -- since The Killing Fields."

Legacy of Hope is building a Legacy Children's Village in Battambang, Cambodia. Plans call for three houses to care for 16 children each. Two and a half acres of fruit orchards and a tilapia pond could help fight malnourishment.

"Our kids will be healthy," Lakhina Brown said. "They will eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and they will learn to fish."

"We have property and have started construction," Tim Brown said. "We have compound walls up and the footings and pilings for the school. The overall project costs $500,000 to complete."

Brown said the immediate goal is to raise $280,000 to complete the school and administrative offices.

Legacy of Hope is a nonprofit organization recognized by the Cambodian government as a charity. The group operates a vocational center in Battambang.

"We serve up to 1,000 kids a day and teach English, sewing, computer, Bible and some guitar," Brown said.

But the school is beyond its capacity, so Legacy of Hope members plan on buying property to expand, the Browns said.

However, their first goal is to complete the village. He said most of their children come from Poipet, a dangerous border town.

"This town [Poipet] is like the Las Vegas of Asia," Brown said. "They have five gambling casinos. It's a gateway for child trafficking for Southeast Asians.

"Our goal is to rescue these children before they are sold into child slavery or abducted into child slavery," Brown continued.

Brown said relatives will sell children into slavery or prostitution. Lakhina Brown said they often do it unknowingly.

"It's also done through deception," Lakhina Brown said. "These people are not educated. They come to a poor family and say, 'You have so many children that you can't feed them.' "

She said criminals ask to take one or a few of a family's children and promise that they will get good jobs in the city and send money back home.

"They say that they could work as servers or cooks, but in the end they've conned the family. They are not going to a restaurant to be servers, they are sold to pimps and dealers," she said.

If the children don't obey their captors they are often beaten, electrocuted and murdered, Lakhina Brown said.

Legacy of Hope sponsors medical and sustenance missions to the country.

Tim Brown said the goal is not to westernize the children in their care, but to make them strong Cambodians, so the country's population can begin to fight corruption.

"We want to build them strong from the inside," Lakhina Brown said.

"One of our kids could be the next prime minister of that country," Tim Brown said.

Legacy of Hope would like donations and volunteers. Trips to the country take place at least twice a year.

Surviving the Killing Fields

Rosalind Jennings Special To The Sentinel
February 25, 2008

LEESBURG - At the tender age of 3, Lakhina Brown was running for her life through tropical forests in Cambodia.

Brown, co-founder of Legacy of Hope International in Leesburg, is the daughter of a Cambodian military officer.

"Growing up as a child, I was mesmerized by Daddy's contagious presence," she wrote in her autobiography Through Fields of Grace, published in 2007. "He was nurturing and tender toward me. He loved to have fun, loved to sing and loved to play his flute and banjo. Daddy was full of life."

Her father's position in the military put them in danger, however. When the communist regime, the Khmer Rouge, took power, members began killing entire families of Cambodians who were educated and belonged to the former government.

In 1975, Brown's family was on the top of their hit list. They became fugitives, running from town to town, hiding from the communist killers.

"The Khmer Rouge, like heartless savages, would line up entire families and perform mass executions in broad daylight," she wrote.

Her father was finally captured, and Brown remembers when they took him away.

"One of the men asked Daddy to come down from the tree and verify his name," she wrote.

"When he reached the ground, I ran to him and grabbed on to one of his legs. I began to cry hysterically . . . I began to plead with them for mercy, 'Please don't take my Daddy away from me.'

"They took him away, and she never saw him again. She later was told he died of starvation trying to reach the border. He hoped to go into Thailand, where some refugee camps existed.

Brown's youngest brother also perished after her mother was forced into slave labor in the agricultural fields of the regime and was not allowed to feed her baby.

Once after Brown's father had been taken, the family was rounded up with other families. Brown's mother knew they would be executed. So they escaped, running through the tropical foliage in the night.

There was a lot of running and hiding throughout Brown's childhood.

She was never safe from death until a Christian missionary group sponsored her family's trip to the United States.

Unfortunately, after her mother went back to Cambodia, the border was closed with Thailand. She was stranded and couldn't get back to her children, who were at a Thailand refugee camp.

Brown was 8. She didn't see her mother for 25 years. They were reunited when Brown visited Cambodia in 2004.

"My mother was still running for her life up until 1997," Brown said.

Brown arrived in the United States at age 9 with grandparents and other relatives; she ended up being adopted by kindly Americans in her teen years.

Meeting her husband, now a pastor and music director at The Father's House Christian Center in Leesburg, was her next saving grace, and the two launched Legacy of Hope together. They serve as its directors.

"Writing was the only way I could express myself well," she said.

"I grew up holding so much inside. I never knew how to communicate with anybody."

Through Fields of Grace can be purchased through Legacy of Hope's Web site or by calling 1-866-902-LOHI. The cost is $13.99, with proceeds supporting the charity.

Senior Chinese leader meets Cambodian official

February 25, 2008

He Guoqiang, a senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), met on Monday with Keo Puth Rasmey, chairman of Cambodia's Funcinpec Party and deputy prime minister.

He, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said that relations between China and Cambodia had maintained smooth development, with fruitful cooperation in various fields.

He said that China treasured the traditional friendship with Cambodia and would always be Cambodia's good neighbor, friend and partner.

He applauded Cambodia's adherence to the one-China policy.

He said that the CPC was ready to increase exchanges with the Funcinpec Party through high-level visits and youth exchanges, in a bid to advance China-Cambodia relations continuously.

He briefed Rasmey about the 17th CPC National Congress, as wellas the upcoming "two sessions", or the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) -- the parliament -- and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body.

He also talked about China's struggle against recent weather disasters and preparations for the Beijing Olympics.

Rasmey said that Cambodia and the Funcinpec Party would firmly stick to the one-China policy and the Funcinpec Party would further promote friendly cooperation with the CPC.

Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the CPC central Committee, also attended the meeting.

Source: Xinhua

Duch to Tour 'Killing Fields' With Judges

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

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch is scheduled to take tribunal judges on a tour of the "killing fields" outside Phnom Penh Tuesday, as part of an investigation of war crimes charges against him.

"He is the key person in the matter of S-21, so if [judges] go to visit those places in order to see the practical situation, they have a right to summon Duch to go along with them," said Hisham Mousar, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Khek Iev, 65, is expected to visit the Choeung Ek site, where executed Cambodians where buried in mass graves during the Khmer Rouge regime, on Tuesday and to visit Tuol Sleng prison, where he was chief, on Wednesday.

The tours of Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng are a regular part of the tribunal system and meant to make matters more clear for the investigating judges.

Group: 'Charade' of Justice Needs Monitor

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

A prominent rights group said Monday the courts in Cambodia had failed and called on the international community to help establish a monitoring body to fix them.

In a special report, "Human Rights in Cambodia: The Charade of Justice," Licadho said that despite Untac intervention and 15 years of aid, the courts remained agents for the protection of the interests of the rich and powerful and for the prosecution of political opponents and government critics.

"The Cambodian government's claims to making progress in reforms need to be judged by the actual actions of the courts on a daily basis," Licadho said in the report .

The group appealed to donors to establish an independent commission of international experts and Cambodians to monitor the court system, including municipal, provincial and military courts.
Licadho founder Kek Galabru said she had not received a response from donors since the report was issued.

"We hope that they will take the recommendations into account, especially when the meeting between the donors and the government comes," she said.

Yoshimatsu Kaori, third secretary at the Japanese Embassy, said she has not yet seen the report.

"Regarding the judicial system in Cambodia, the Japanese government always pays attention to this, because the rule of law is one of the most important aspects of a country," she said. "We hope that the court and judicial system in Cambodia will be strengthened step by step."

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vatana could not be reached for comment Monday.

Ngin Sam An, investigating judge and deputy chief of the military court, and Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Chiv Keng declined to comment Monday.

HRP Condemns Destruction of Party Signs

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
25 February 2008

The Human Rights Party assailed commune authorities nationwide Monday for allowing the destruction of party signs in the provinces.

Forty HRP signs have been destroyed across Cambodia since the founding of the party in July 2007, party officials said.

"The destruction is political discrimination against the Human Rights Party and violates the Cambodian constitution and violates the people's rights and political rights," said Keo Remy, vice president of the party.

"Those destroying the party signs are the commune councils from various parties, not only the ruling party," he said. "They are worried about the party's increasing popularity."

The destruction of signs is one form of intimidation that appears prior to most elections. A party statement requested the Ministry of Interior to take "strong action" to condemn the authorities or anyone else who destroys political signs and to end discrimination against the Human Rights Party.

"We permit the Human Rights Party to set up party signs all over the country, but the party must make a good relation and cooperation with the local authorities, for protection of each sign," Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said.

Sometimes parties set up signs on the private land of people who don't want them, he said.
"We aren't going to allow broken party signs to become a big problem," he said.

High Salt Ups Cancer Risk: Doctor

By Nuch Sarita,
VOA Khmer Washington
25 February 2008

Stomach cancer is the fourth-most leading cancer for Cambodians, thanks to a diet high in salt, a doctor said Thursday.

"An increased risk of stomach cancer is the diet containing large amounts of salt, like salted fish and meat, smoked fish and pickled vegetables," said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

Nitrates found in cured meats, such as those enjoyed at barbecues, can be converted into a bacteria that increases the risk of stomach cancer, he said, adding that people with blood type A have a statistically higher risk of developing the disease.

Red pepper is good for the stomach he said, but liquor was bad for the liver and pancreas.