Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Vietnam, Cambodia Discuss Expressway Project

Wednesday February 27

PHNOM PENH, Feb 27 Asia Pulse - An expressway linking the southern Can Tho city of Viet Nam to Phnom Penh capital city of Cambodia will be built to facilitate the economic development in the two cities.

To this end, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities met in Phnom Penh on February 26.

The future 230km highway is estimated to cost US$20 million per km in the form of BOT (Build-Operate-Transform). It will have 110km running on the Vietnamese land from Can Tho city via An Giang province to Phnom Penh .

The road is designed to be 35 m wide and have 6 lanes, with two more lanes likely to be added in the second phase.

The section on the Viet Nam territory has been approved by the government for construction.
The Can Tho-Phnom Penh Expressway, once completed, will link the Mekong delta rice bowl of Viet Nam with Cambodia and go over to Bangkok of Thailand, promoting the socio-economic development for the Mekong delta region in the countries.

Cambodian Secretary of State Tram Iv Tek said the project is big and important to his countrys socio-economic development so it will be proposed soon to the Prime Minister for instruction.


Specialized training needed for potential jobs

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Bangladeshi Seafarers
Staff Reporter

The Bangladeshi seafarers after attaining skills through undertaking specialised training can capture the potential jobs in the ocean going vessels run by foreign operators.

Speakers made the observation at a function organised on Monday to mark the certificate giving ceremony of the first batch of the pre-sea cadets of Bangladesh Maritime Training Institute, a private one, at Agrabad commercial hub in the Chittagong city. Director general of the Shipping department, AKM Shafiullah, attended the function as chief guest.

The function was also addressed, among others, by Koji Yamada, managing director of the Unix Line Ltd, Kenji Arima, executive director of the Tokyo Marine Co Ltd, M Nishizumi, general manager of the First Marine Services Co Ltd, Jaki Ahad, principal of the Bangladesh Maritime Training Institute, and Rumanna Haque Chowdhury, director of the Haque and Sons Ltd.

AKM Shafiullah in his address stressed the need of specialised training for the Bangladeshi seafarers to build up their bright career in foreign shipping sector.

'We are a traditional seafaring nation with long background. Our seafarers can do very well in the ocean going vessels,' he said. 'Such a training programme can develop our human resources to secure employments in foreign shipping lines,' he added.

He called for maintaining the safety procedure strictly at the time of working inside the vessels. 'Most of the ship accidents occurred due to human errors. So safety measures should be the first priority for seafarers,' he also said.

From the first batch of the institute, 16 cadets were employed by Japanese shipping companies, officials said.

Govt lenders to wait for private banks' response

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

The government-owned commercial banks will take a decision about reducing the gap between lending and deposit rates after seeing how the private sector banks deal with the issue, said Suhel Ahmed, chairman of Janata Bank.

The interest rate spreads [gap between deposit and lending rates of individual banks] in state-owned lenders are still lower than that of private banks and they would wait to see what steps the PCBs take in this regard, he said.

Before coming up with a decision, policymakers of the three corporatised state-owned lenders—Sonali, Janata and Agrani banks— would sit together to see how the gaps could be narrowed further and to what extent, said Suhel, a retired commerce secretary.

At present, the spread is 5.88 per cent in state-owned banks, 6.17 per cent in private commercial banks and the highest 8.91 per cent in foreign commercial banks. The finance adviser at a meeting with bankers warned that the private banks could not do whatever they liked in the name of free market economy.

Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed conveyed the message to both public and private sector banks that they would have to raise their efficiency levels to lower cost of fund and lending rates.

The bankers also agreed in principle to the need of narrowing the interest rate gaps, but any timeframe has not yet been given. 'Private sector banks are giving better services to clients than we do and if we charge higher interest rates, no customer will come to us,' Suhel Ahmed explained.

The government-owned banks also need to lower the spreads to stay competitive, he said. For the last one year, the banks are working and investing more on improvement of services, he informed.

Pressures have been mounting on the country's banking sector since chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed in a recent letter asked the central bank governor to find out a way to reduce the interest rate gaps to a level between 4 and 5 per cent.

Pov Panhapich paralyzed, attackers remain at large

Pov Panhapich
Pov Panhapich opened her eyes as she regains consciousness (Photo: Bunry, Koh Santepheap newspaper)

One year passed quickly but perpetrators are still at large. Popular singer with her soft and sweet voice, Pov Pahnapich, 23 remains seeking medical treatment in Vietnam ever since she was shot in broad daylight and she cannot walk by herself. Probably, she is half-paralyzed forever because her body from chest to her foot cannot move.

Currently, according to the Daily, she and her family felt afraid of returning to Cambodia since the attackers have yet to be arrested and punished by law and they think that murderers will come back to attempt her life once again. So far, her health is recovering but cannot sing, or walk by herself.

Pov Pahnapich, singer, Karaoke performer and television host, was shot on February 23, 2007 early morning in the heart of Phnom Penh two bullets at close range in the neck and hip. The gunmen, aged mid-20s, shot her from the back of a motorcycle from a distance of around one meter while she had parked her car and was walking to the ELT School near Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy along Norodom Boulevard.

Immediately, she was taken to Calmette Hospital, but it was because of serious injury. And then she was transferred quickly by ambulance to Cha Roy hospital in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
For the government authorities, they claim that they still continue searching for perpetrators to be punished. But they blame the victim’s family for not cooperating with investigation into shooting.

Cambodian torture chief in tears for victims

Crimes revisited: Duch

February 27, 2008

KHMER Rouge jailer Duch wept yesterday for the victims of Cambodia's 1970s genocide as he revisited his alleged crimes at the regime's most notorious killing field.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been charged by a UN-backed tribunal with crimes against humanity for his role as Khmer Rouge prison commandant.

The reconstruction of his actions before tribunal judges was a normal part of the genocide tribunal's ongoing investigation, officials said.

Duch walked court officials through the Choeung Ek execution site, "explaining what happened when he was in power", said tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath.

"I cannot tell the details of what they said, but it was very significant," Reach Sambath said, adding that Duch broke down twice in tears during the almost four hours that he was at Choeung Ek.

At one point Duch knelt to pray before a tree whose trunk was reportedly used to bash out the brains of infants.

At the end of the session, Duch - a born-again Christian - also prayed before a towering glass-walled stupa containing thousands of skulls dug out of Choeung Ek's burial pits, many of which are still littered with human remains.

"He asked to pray for those victims who had died and you could see from his eyes that he was very emotional . . . we could see the tears coming down," Reach Sambath said. The media was not allowed to cover the proceedings.

Duch is to visit S-21, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, today. Of the 16,000 people thought to have been jailed there during Khmer Rouge rule, only 14 prisoners are believed to have survived. AP

Tears and prayers as Khmer Rouge 'torturer' is taken back to the Killing Fields

By Andrew Buncombe
Asia Correspondent
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Twice he stopped and twice he fell to his knees, hands clasped in tearful prayer for the terrible crimes committed three decades ago.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, is now 66 and seemingly frail. But 30 years ago he oversaw a Khmer Rouge torture centre whose victims were taken to the notorious Killing Fields, butchered, and buried in mass graves.

Yesterday, when a UN-assisted tribunal took Duch back to those Killing Fields, where up to a third of Cambodia's population was murdered, he broke down. "It was emotional, of course, and very quiet," said Reach Sambath, a spokesman for the tribunal said from the capital, Phnom Penh. "Everyone was very quiet."

Duch is among five senior Khmer Rouge leaders being tried by the so-called extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia for crimes against humanity perpetrated during the group's brutal reign in Cambodia, when up to 1.7 million people were either killed or died from disease and starvation.

During that time, the former maths teacher was head of the Tuol Sleng prison, otherwise known as S-21, through which more than 20,000 people passed on their way to the Killing Fields. Barely a dozen are known to have survived; today, just four are still alive.

The best-known site of mass graves, littered with bones and pieces of ripped clothing, is Choeung Ek, about 10 miles south of Phnom Penh. Duch, a born-again Christian, was taken there in a heavily guarded convoy with up to 80 tribunal staff, judges, lawyers and four witnesses who served as Khmer Rouge guards at Tuol Sleng.

"The four witnesses explained what had happened in front of the accused, Duch," said Mr Sambath, who said he was not permitted to reveal details of the testimony. "He also explained what had happened there as well. Everything was recorded."

After the testimony had been given Duch broke down, first as he passed a tree bearing a sign that said babies' heads were smashed against its trunk, and second, as he made his way back to his car and stopped at a Buddhist stupa that contains the skulls of more than 8,000 of the Khmer Rouge's victims. "He kneeled on the ground and paid his respects and prayed for the souls of those who were killed," said Mr Sambath. "He cried ... When he got to the car he also paid his respects to the skulls behind the glass. He also knelt on the ground and prayed."

Almost 30 years after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power by invading Vietnamese forces, Cambodia remains haunted by the genocide. Many in the country believe the tribunal is the best opportunity for justice to be brought to the handful of senior regime leaders still known to be alive. Pol Pot, or Brother Number One, the regime's chief protagonist, died in 1998. "This re-enactment is important evidence for the trial," Chea Thoy, who lost 13 relatives including her husband, told the Agence France-Presse. "It will also preserve what happened so that it will not be lost. We can keep it for the young people."

The Khmer Rouge surged to power in 1975, riding on a wave of anti-government feeling that some believe was boosted by the secret US bombing campaign, part of the spillover from the war in Vietnam. Merging a mixture of nationalism with Vietnamese, Chinese and French communist ideologies, the Khmer Rouge established a ruthless agrarian revolution purportedly based on the peasants, which involved the execution and suppression of the educated and urban classes.

Duch had been head of a regional college before the Khmer Rouge. When the regime was forced from power he disappeared, but was eventually discovered by a journalist in 1999 working as a volunteer for the charity, World Vision, in the north of the country.

In an interview with The Independent before he was taken into custody, Duch said he had little alternative but to do what he did at Tuol Sleng. "I, and everyone else who worked in that place, knew that anyone who entered had to be psychologically demolished, eliminated by steady work, given no way out.

"No answer could avoid death. Nobody who came to us had any chance of saving himself. All the prisoners had to be eliminated. We saw enemies eveywhere. If I had tried to flee, they were holding my family hostage, and my family would have suffered the same fate as the other prisoners in Tuol Sleng. If I had fled or rebelled it would not have helped anyone."

The trial of Duch and his fellow accused is scheduled to begin in July.

The man who won his freedom

Francois Bizot, a young French ethnologist, was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1971. A fluent Khmer speaker, he was accused of being an American spy, and taken to a Cambodian jungle camp where Duch was in charge. During the next three months, as Bizot tried to convince Duch he was not a spy, he got to know him well. Eventually he succeeded in convincing him and became the only foreigner to leave Khmer captivity alive. In The Gate, the extraordinary memoir he wrote about the experience, Bizot wrote: "Duch was the only card I had to play, and somehow I trusted him. Of course he would have killed me if the order came... but only after genuinely trying to save my life. This terrible man was not duplicitous: all he had were principles and convictions." Bizot writes of Duch's "passionate pursuit of moral rectitude". Duch, he said, "was one of those pure, fervent idealists who yearned above all for truth".

Detained Khmer Rouge chief torturer revisits living nightmare of his past atrocities

The Associated Press
February 27, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A detained Khmer Rouge official faced his past atrocities Wednesday during a return to the prison he directed where thousands were tortured before being sent for execution in the 1970s.

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was taken to the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison by Cambodia's U.N.-assisted tribunal investigating a case against him.

Duch, 65, has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role as commandant of the Khmer Rouge's largest torture facility. He is one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials being held for trial by the tribunal.

Three of the S-21 prison survivors who are still alive said they were invited to join the visit Wednesday. They said they do not harbor anger toward Duch anymore, but, if given an opportunity to face him during the visit, they would ask him why they had been imprisoned and tormented.

Bou Meng, 67, said he and his wife, Ma Yoeun, were both put in S-21 prison in 1977 and that his wife was later executed.

"I just want to ask him what she may have done wrong that they had to kill her. Where is my wife?" said Bou Meng, who was spared because he was a painter and painting Pol Pot's portrait.
Pol Pot, the late Khmer Rouge leader, died in 1998.

Duch has been detained since July last year pending long-delayed trials, which the tribunal says will start this year.

The S-21 prison, also known as Tuol Sleng, is now a genocide museum. Its walls are lined with grim pictures of the prisoners who died there.

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.

Some 16,000 men, women and children were believed to have been held at S-21, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum. Only 14 are thought to have survived.

Duch's return to the S-21 prison was his first in nearly 30 years since the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled from power by an invading Vietnamese army.

He was accompanied by tribunal officials in a so-called reenactment that involves taking the accused to the crime scene to be questioned about what happened in the past. The event was closed to the public and media.

"He is revisiting his past atrocities although he is not going to see blood stains or hear the scream of prisoners any more," said Youk Chhang, the director of Documentation Center of Cambodia, a center researching the Khmer Rouge atrocities.

"Tuol Sleng is a living nightmare for us," Youk Chhang said.

On Tuesday, Duch was moved to tears as he led the officials through the "killing field" at Choeung Ek, a site outside of the capital where most of S-21 prisoners were executed and dumped in shallow mass graves.

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

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

He 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.

Khmer Rouge killer weeps over victims' graves

Duch: ordered mass executions
Remains of some of the thousands of Cambodians who died in the killing fields lie in an abandoned school near Phnom Penh

By Thomas Bell, South East Asia Correspondent

The chief executioner of the Khmer Rouge wept when he returned to the place where thousands died on his orders.

Around 15,000 people are believed to have been taken from the S-21 torture centre in Phnom Penh, where Duch was commandant, to Choeung Ek just outside the city, known as the killing fields.

While Duch sat smoking on a mat under the trees they were made to kneel at the edge of pits and clubbed on the back of the neck to save bullets.

Duch, 65, a born-again Christian whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, wept and prayed before the tree on which his subordinates dashed out the brains of babies and small children.

"He cried and apologised to the victims," said a policeman who was present during the preliminary session of the international tribunal, which is run under the joint auspices of the Cambodian government and the United Nations.

A group of 80 judges, witnesses and court staff took part in the visit. Duch, whose full trial will begin in the summer, intends to plead not guilty to the murders on the grounds that he was following orders. He and four others face life imprisonment if convicted.

The site at Choeung Ek is popular with tourists. At the gate, amputees who were victims of Cambodia's long civil war, sit begging for change.

As visitors pass between pits marked "Mass grave of 166 victims without heads", and "Mass grave of more than 100 victims, children and women whose majority were naked", they step over the ragged clothes of the dead, which are emerging from the ground.The skulls of 8,000 victims have been placed in a monument at the site.

More than 1.7 million people are thought to have been executed or died as a result of torture, disease, starvation and overwork during the Maoist regime of the Khmer Rouge, which lasted from 1975 to 1979.

The five most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge are now in custody, waiting trail. Duch, a former maths teacher, was arrested in 1999 after being tracked down by Nic Dunlop, the Irish journalist and photographer.

"This is just one more piece in building a case file. It can be very useful in court to have a visual representation of the site in question," said Helen Jarvis, a court official.

The proceedings will continue today at Tuol Sleng, the Phnom Penh high school, which was transformed into the S-21 torture centre and is now a genocide museum lined with the photographs of its victims.

Of the 15,000 inmates only a dozen survived. One of them is the painter Van Nath, who was put to work in the jail making portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader. Pol Pot died in 1998.
In an interview he gave to The Daily Telegraph recently, Van Nath recalled that Duch often visited the workshop to check his paintings.

He said: "At the time I didn't know that Duch was killing people. I was scared of Duch not because of the power he had but because of his education and the way he spoke. He was like a professor. Of course if he apologises and regrets what he did that means something.

"I'm not looking for torture like he did to me, or for him to be killed like he killed other people. He should apologise to his victims so they can rest in peace," said Van Nath.

Cambodia Champs Chop Korean Second Tier Winners


Cambodian league champions Naga Corp FC denied Ulsan Mipo Dockyard back to back wins in their tour of Cambodia when they beat the latter 2-0 in a friendly which was played at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

A few days earlier, the club side from South Korea's second division had beaten the Cambodian national team 3-2 and they were looking to beat Naga Corp FC to complete their trip.

But in front of close to 10,000 fans, Naga Corp proved that they are worthy champions of Cambodian football when they staged a fightback to score two goals after the break for the win.

Chin Chum made the score sheet with the first goal in the 67th minute before Ernest Dipita added the winning lustre with the second goal of the afternoon six minutes to the end.
Ulsan finished top of Korea's national league in 2007 but refused to accept promotion

Chinese dams may scupper Mekong water diversion plan

Bangkok Post
Wednesday February 27, 2008


Chinese dams built on the Mekong river upstream could become obstacles to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's plan to divert water from the river to feed northeastern farmland, say Water Resources Department experts. They fear that the dams will lead to a reduction in the amount of water flowing downstream.

Saravut Cheevaprasert, director of the department's water resources policy and planning bureau, said the project could lead to water utilisation conflicts among countries in the lower Mekong basin.

He said members of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) _ Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand _ have not reached agreement on how much water each country can divert to their territory in the dry season.

''If we ignore good practice regarding the Mekong's utilisation, other countries may lodge complaints against us,'' Mr Saravut told a seminar on water diversion plans organised by Kasetsart University.

The idea of water diversion from the Mekong river has been proposed by Mr Samak who said the project was one of five megaprojects his government intended to implement.

Mr Saravut said the government should dust off the Kong-Chi-Moon water diversion project to supply water to farmland. The project, which was suspended years ago as it caused widespread soil salination in the region, is much cheaper than the Mekong river diversion.

Under the Kong-Chi-Moon project, 16 check dams would be built in the Chi and Moon river basins to store and supply water to over 400,000 rai of farmland.

The department also urged the government to consider diverting water from the Ngum river in Laos with some form of bilateral agreement, saying that the river would not be affected by Chinese dam construction and Thailand would not have to consult MRC members since the river is not an international one.

However, Chawee Wongprasittiporn, a senior engineer from the Irrigation Department, played down concerns over the impact of Chinese dams on Mekong water diversion, saying that the dams would be constructed to generate electricity, so water would be discharged from the dams to run turbines.

''Simulations have shown that water levels downstream in the Mekong will rise 20% during the dry season if Xiaowan dam, the largest dam in the series, is operational. So there will be enough water for us all year round,'' she said.

Currently, the department can supply only 10% of 105 million rai of farmland in the Northeast. It is expected that water consumption in Isan will rise from 10 billion cubic metres to over 48 billion cubic metres in 20 years.

Samak asks army for full briefing on Preah Vihear

Wednesday February 27, 2008
Bangkok Post


Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has asked the army to give him a full briefing on Preah Vihear, an issue expected to be raised during his visit to Cambodia next week.

Preah Vihear is not on the agenda for Thailand, but an army source said it would likely be raised by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his first meeting with Mr Samak.

The prime minister is scheduled to visit Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, on Monday and Tuesday after a two-day trip to Laos beginning on Friday.

Mr Samak made his request during a 40-minute meeting with army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda and supreme commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit at Government House on Monday, the source said.

Cambodia has asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to declare the Preah Vihear Khmer temple ruins, called Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, a World Heritage site. Thailand opposes the idea because the border in the area has not been settled.

Unesco's stance is that the two neighbours must first settle their differences.

Mr Samak told Gen Anupong and Gen Boonsrang on Monday his government was still firm on seeing the area demarcated first, the source said.

Preah Vihear straddles the border with Cambodia in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket.

The two countries earlier planned to hold talks on the issue this month when Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok Ann was due to visit Bangkok. However, the trip has been put off.

The Foreign Ministry has made it clear the issue could be settled and would not be allowed to damage Thailand's ties with Cambodia.

Gen Anupong went to Cambodia yesterday to prepare for the prime minister's visit. He is due back today.

After Cambodia, Mr Samak is due to visit Burma on March 6-7.

Mr Samak told the two generals that all cooperation schemes with neighbouring countries initiated by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would continue. He wanted the army and the Foreign Ministry to coordinate on those projects.

Discover Cambodia’s new Nick Faldo Golf Course with Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, Siem Reap

Golfers can discover the new Nick Faldo course in Siem Reap, Cambodia in partnership with the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
Cambodia’s New Nick Faldo Golf Course

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Golfers can discover the new Nick Faldo course in Siem Reap, Cambodia in partnership with the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, with a new three-day, two-night inclusive package priced at just US$251 per person.

The new ‘Nick Faldo Golf Package’ offered by luxury, off-the-beaten-track Indochina hotel group Victoria Hotels & Resorts includes accommodation in a Superior room with daily breakfast, roundtrip airport transfers and a round of golf plus caddy, along with hotel transfers between the hotel and the stunning new course.

The package is available until September 30, 2008 and priced at US$251 based on twin sharing, with a third person charged at US$184, and single supplement of US$123.

Non-golfers can alternatively be pampered with a half-day spa package.

With rates inclusive of 2% accommodation tax and 10% VAT, the package also allows early check-in and late checkout along with upgrade to Deluxe room upon availability.

Nick Faldo says of the new course at Siem Reap: "It’s a beautiful tropical course with generous fairways for leisure golfers, but bold bunkers and subtle greens.”

The golf package also allows plenty of time to visit the great temples of Angkor Wat, famed as one of the great wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Within minutes driving distance of the temple complex and just a short walk to the traditional local market, the graceful 1930’s French colonial style Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa overlooks the Royal Gardens of the King’s Residence in Siem Reap.

Afesip Offers New Start for Abused Girls

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
26 February 2008

Nuch Sarita reports in Khmer (6.38 MB) - Listen (MP3)

As founder and director of the group Afesip, Mam Somaly is actively fighting to bring an end to sexual exploitation.

Her group has rescued scores of women from brothels in Cambodia and has won numerous international awards along the way.

Founded in 1996, Afesip provides psychological counseling to young women rescued from brothels.

It also trains victims in trade skills like sewing and hairdressing to give them employment opportunities when they leave the counseling center.

Afesip has three centers, in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Siem Reap, housing more than 200 women and girls, as well as one health clinic, Mam Somaly said Monday, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

In Cambodia, a girl can be sold by her family to a brothel or trafficker for as little as $150, Mam Somaly said.

"My organization has helped save nearly 4,000 victims and given them normal work," she said.

US Government Launches a Comprehensive Development Assistance Program for ASEAN

Posted on 27 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549

Top Official of the US Embassy and the Secretary-General of ASEAN Point to the Plan to Strengthen the Secretariat and to Achieve the Goal to Establish the ASEAN Community by 2015
“Phnom Penh: The U.S. Department of State and the US Agency for International Development [USAID] announced a development assistance program to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] to achieve its goal of establishing a peaceful, prosperous and stable community of nations, namely the ASEAN Community, by 2015.

“According to a press release of the US embassy in Cambodia on 25 February 2008, the announcement was made by Mr. Scot Marciel, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia and Pacific Bureau, and Mr. Olivier Carduner, the USAID’s Regional Mission Director, and the new Secretary-General of ASEAN Mr. Surin Pitsuwan today.

“The ‘ASEAN Development Vision to Advance National Cooperation and Economic Integration’ program, in short ADVANCE, will be operated for eight years to match ASEAN’s time frame for establishing the ASEAN Community. ADVANCE received $7 million in funding in 2007 and will continue to be funded on an annual basis.

“Mr. Scot Marciel, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia and Pacific Bureau, and Mr. Olivier Carduner, USAID’s Regional Mission Director, made the announcement today with Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, the new Secretary-General of ASEAN.

“Mr. Carduner said, ‘ADVANCE is the cornerstone of USAID’s regional assistance program to ASEAN. This program is designed to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat as an institution which provides assistance to select ASEAN sub-regions and member nations, and facilitates greater economic integration and good governance within the region.’

“Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Marciel underlined the Support of the U.S. government for ASEAN, saying, ‘The Joint Vision Statement of the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership, announced by President George W. Bush and ASEAN leaders in 2005, demonstrates the commitment of the US and our friends and allies in Southeast Asia to work together. We have a strong record of cooperation with ASEAN, and ADVANCE will deepen our engagement in the region.’

“ADVANCE, which stands for ASEAN Development Vision to Advance National Cooperation and Economic Integration, is intended to realize the developmental goals established under the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership Plan of Action signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in July 2006. The program will complement the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) which was signed by Ambassador Ms. Susan Schwab, the US Trade Representative, the following year.

“Mr. Surin said, ‘We welcome ADVANCE, which reflects the strong commitment of the US to a vibrant dialogue between ASEAN and the US.’

“Recently, USAID has launched three regional programs under the ADVANCE program.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4525, 26.2.2008

President Lee Launches Energy Diplomacy

By Kim Yon-seStaff ReporterPresident Lee Myung-bak started his ``energy diplomacy'' by holding a series of summits with leaders from natural resources-rich countries at Cheong Wa Dae Tuesday.

Lee, who took office Monday, met separately with Cambodian President Hun Sen, Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar and Uzbek President Islam Karimov, all of whom attended Lee's inauguration ceremony.

The Cambodian president called on Korea to expand investment in energy development, expressing gratitude for Korea's support in the Cambodian government's establishing a stock exchange.

Lee asked the Cambodian leader to provide a favorable business environment for Korean companies, which have made inroads in construction and resource development.

The new Korean President also agreed with Uzbek President Karimov, who has special interest in economic ties with Korea, to push joint ventures developing gas fields and to build a gas-chemical complex.

Karimov also participated in a signing ceremony for an agreement between Korea Gas Corp. and Uzbekneftegas on establishing a joint venture and construction of the gas processing plant. He also visited GM Daewoo Auto & Technology's manufacturing plant in Bupyeong, Incheon.

Lee expressed Korea's willingness to share its experience in economic development and expand substantial cooperation with Uzbekistan.

The presidents of Korea and Mongolia agreed that the two countries will expand ties in information technology, biotechnology and energy.

For energy-poor Korea, Mongolia offers stable access to cheap natural resources. Sharing historic, cultural and ethnic similarities, Korea and Mongolia have seen a rapid development in their relations since they established diplomatic ties in 1990. More than 20,400 Mongolians are currently living in Korea.

``Today's summits are focused on strengthening ties in the energy-resources sector,'' presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said. ``President Lee shared Korean companies' experience in resource development with other Asian leaders.''

Lee also exchanged views on bilateral economic cooperation with other Asian countries in his meetings with former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

He also met with Japanese Democratic Party Chairman Kan Naoto; Deputy Prime Minister Umirzak Shukeyev of Kazakhstan; and Harry Jenkins, speaker of the Australian House of Representatives.

Korea has indeed been facing an urgent need to secure wider and larger energy supplies since the foreign exchange crisis in late 1997, when the country's overseas resource development industry began to shrink while oil prices surged.

With energy diplomacy, however, the country has been expanding its investment in overseas developments.

Oddom Van Syvorn - Cambodia

Oddom Van Syvorn - Cambodia
Written on February 26th, 2008 in World People

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Oddom Van Syvorn (born 1962) is a Cambodian woman who has dedicated her life to promoting peace and non-violence through the annual peace walk to war-ravaged areas in Cambodia. She joined the first Dhammayietra, which literally means walking with dharma, in 1992 and has coordinated the pilgrimage since 1999. In her work, she teaches Buddhist precepts to the young, blesses and plants trees to raise awareness about environmental preservation and promotes compassion for people living with HIV/Aids.

She says: “The Dhammayietra is not waiting for the next war to begin but comes to spread information everywhere and to call all to a change of heart, a Khmer heart, a soft, kind, gentle heart”.

She says also: “Before the war, my father wanted us to leave for Thailand, his motherland. He said we will face difficulties in this country (Cambodia) when communists come. My mother refused to leave. They lived separately for three months before they reunited. I remember my father said ‘I would die without you seeing the smoke” (not having a funeral rite).

She works for the Dhammayietra Center for Peace and Non-violence.

Oddom Van Syvorn, a small, quiet and humble Cambodian woman is an engaged Buddhist. She practices dharma in her daily life. She dresses simply – a long-sleeved plain shirt and a sarong.
Her offices are temples, schools, and prisons. The soft-spoken Syvorn can be seen negotiating bad roads, pedaling her way to the villages to teach villagers about meditation. At other times, she meditates with older traditional midwives, visits the sick in her community, and plants trees to raise awareness about the environment.

But Syvorn is not an ordinary woman.

Underneath her smiling face and soft voice is a determined woman who won’t allow any hurdle to get in the way of her quest for peace. In contrast to her humility, Syvorn is fearless in her encounters with powerful figures when she seeks explanations for the delays in the approval of her requests to hold a peace walk.

In the words of one of her admirers, Syvorn is a woman of compassion who tries to ease the sufferings she sees with the wisdom that comes from her own life’s experience. Like many Cambodians, Syvorn has known war and has suffered from its consequences since she was very young.

Syvorn is the second of three children. Her father, a Thai, worked as a Thai language teacher in Cambodia. He later served as a military officer in the governments of Sihanouk and Lon Nol. When the Khmer Rouge’s black-shirt army marched into Phnom Penh in April 1975 and took power, Syvorn’s father was arrested and disappeared. The family never heard from him again.

In 1976 Syvorn, her mother and her younger sister were captured and were to be taken to the local killing fields. But the truck had two flat tires and with the aid of a man she is forever grateful to, they were able to escape. When she looked for him later, she learned that he had been killed by the Khmer Rouge.

Under the brutal rules of the Khmer Rouge, Syvorn had to stop her formal education of five-years. She learned to cope with hunger through breathing exercises. It was called mediation, she learned later.

Her suffering, like the suffering of millions of Cambodians, was deep. But it introduced her to the Dhammayietra peace walk, which was initiated by the Venerable Maha Ghosananda in 1992.
“When I heard of the Dhammayietra, I was very interested to find out what it was all about,” says Syvorn. The peace walk completely changed her life.

Buddha taught that suffering teaches compassion.

Syvorn dedicated herself to alleviating the sufferings of others. She has been joining the peace walk ever since. She also gave up her small merchandising business to dedicate herself fully to peace and Buddhist teaching. “It’s easy to make money. But it is not easy to fully adhere to religion,” she says.

When the Venerable Maha Ghosananda’s failing health prevented him from leading the march in 2000, Syvorn took over, leading the annual peace walk ever since. The Dhammayietra and Syvorn are almost synonymous to each other. A major responsibility is to write letters seeking approval for the walk from authorities.

It is not easy, as she has found out.“Our letters disappeared sometimes and I had to confront the ministers involved”. Syvorn also has to overcome budget shortages. On average, the peace walk needs from US$6,000 to about US$10,500.There was time when she had only US$200 for all the expenses of the walk. However, she and her team managed to get the additional funds on time.

A peaceful mind is what Syvorn herself needs as the XV Dhammayietra approaches. This year’s walk took 21 days covering 257 kilometers from Pursat province to Kampong Chhnang province. It aims to promote compassion, loving kindness, generosity, honesty and tolerance. The pilgrimage also aims to increase awareness of preserving natural resources, promote HIV/Aids prevention and love and compassion for people living with HIV/Aids.

The Dhammayietra peace walk is usually undertaken sometime during the months of February to May. The organizing committee decides on the objectives. Syvorn and her team have to prepare two to three months prior to the event, conducting awareness raising activities to invite possible participants, putting together all education materials, gathering the food, raising funds, collecting medicines and putting together all other needed logistics.

A week before the actual walk, participants attend a pre-walk training workshop where all the details are discussed. There are rules and regulations that they must follow. Foremost among these are: being neutral and apolitical, supporting active non-violence, practicing loving kindness, honesty and tolerance, no carrying of deadly weapons or explosives, being healthy enough to have the stamina to walk an average of 10 to 15 kilometers per day for 20-40 days, and not doing anything that would negatively affect the beliefs, traditions and culture of the communities that the walk would go through. Walkers are prohibited from taking money along the route or using any political logo and symbol in the walk.

The peace walkers chant and meditate daily starting at 4 AM. Along the route of the Dhammayietra, monks perform water blessings for the people and the walkers distribute leaflets and books concerning Buddhism’s five precepts (to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, and taking intoxicants), care of the environment, and knowledge about HIV/AIDS. There are also the blessing and ordination of trees in some temples, schools, villages, communes and provinces that the walk will pass through. Trees are planted in every wat the Dhammayietra rests in.

Every evening, there is a sermon from the Dhammayietra monks for the local population and lay people, about the walk and the five Buddhist precepts, the preservation and conservation of the environment, and awareness raising about HIV/AIDS. Leaflets and books are distributed to the people and a video showing on various topics in the temple where the walkers sleep. Every two days, the Dhammayietra walkers participate in study classes about conflict mediation, conflict resolution facilitation skills and meditation.

Altogether, the previous marches have covered over 5,000 kilometers, passing through almost all provinces of Cambodia. In the earlier years of the pilgrimage, the walks were sometime caught in the crossfire, causing death among peace walkers. Re-routing is common in most walks, and road conditions and bad weather sometimes prevent further walking. The number of participants has ranged from 150 to 700. The numbers at the end of the walk could decline or swell depending on the social and political context of each peace walk, as well as the condition of the peace walkers. Foreigners had participated in some marches.

In 1997 on a trip in Thailand, SyVorn was deeply touched by the suffering caused by HIV/AIDS in children and adults. She met Thai monks who were committed to easing the suffering.

“At that time, I knew that Cambodia would have many people dying of Aids in the future. I didn’t have any health training so I could not help on that level but I could begin to teach the youth about the five precepts to prevent HIV/Aids from being a big problem,” she explains.

Syvorn carries themes of the Dhammayietra in her daily work. She teaches meditation and the Buddhist five precepts to students, older nuns in the temples, midwives and traditional birth attendants, among others. She planted trees in schools to teach the youth the importance of the environment. Preferring to keep a low profile, Syvorn’s work might be quiet. However, relief workers and peace advocates believe that the impact of the peace walks and the role that she plays are very deep, extensive, decisive and impressive.

Syvorn’s vision for the Dhammayietra is to walk on and carry its message of the five precepts to the youth in the countryside. “When I teach old people they cannot remember. If we teach the young, they will carry the message further,” she explains.

“She lives by her daily example the words of the Venerable Maha Ghosananda: ‘Peace begins in one’s heart, then in one’s family, then in one’s community and then throughout the world’. She is one in ten million and the world needs more people like her. It is because of her that I believe Cambodia has a better future,” says Mary Dunbar, senior officer of the Project for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH).

Perhaps the peace walk has now started to bear fruit in a country where the levels of trust at the political and community levels are low, and where people assess political or group affiliations before speaking openly to each other. Syvorn says in some villages, parents have become more open to their children marrying people coming from a different political and ideological background. She has also seen fewer cases of domestic violence and fighting among villagers.
“People believe that when the Dhammayietra comes, it brings peace.

They are no longer afraid of war. Some even say when the peace walk comes, it brings the rains so they can farm. When the peace walk comes, all violence ceases. They call all of the men who beat their wives, anyone who has committed violence, to come forward for the water blessing from the monks in order to stop the violence,” she says.

The annual Dhammayietra peace walk is supported by individuals and international non-governmental organizations. “If there were enough funding, we would walk all year round. Or when crucial events happen, we want to organize a walk as well,” Syvorn says. (1000peacewomen).

The Dhammayietra is an annual peace walk in Cambodia that originated at the historic repatriation of refugees in the Thai border camps at the U.N.-monitored transition to democracy in 1992. It situates itself within the discourse and practice of “socially engaged Buddhism” that has gained visibility in Asia and American Buddhism during the last two decades. As Cambodia’s particular form of socially engaged Buddhism is marked by refugee return, I will argue that the Dhammayietra’s revival of Buddhism in postsocialist Cambodia is only possible because of its transnational formation. Represented as a quintessential Khmer Buddhist response to Cambodia’s entrenched conflicts, the networks forged beyond the border of Cambodia have been instrumental in fashioning the face of the Dhammayietra. Though it forges its discursive identity vis a vis the “local” space of the nation, this local space is mobile. Maha Ghosananda’s instruction to move “step by step” toward peace reappropriates dangerous mobility—the massive relocations during the Khmer Rouge era, refugee flight, the danger of treading on land fed with mines—and turns walking into a religious act. It is this discursive “move” that loosens the Dhammayietra’s ties to the nation and allows it to slip across political and religious borders and ally itself with a diverse network of interfaith peace groups that are its transnational public forum. (Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion).

Though a formal peace treaty was signed in 1991, conflict in Cambodia continued and the Cambodian people continued to suffer. In 1992, a number of local and foreign peace activists initiated the first Dhammayietra peace walk—literally, a “Pilgrimage of Truth.” It has taken place around the time of the Cambodian New Year ever since. Villagers along the way see the walk and the gradual return of Buddhism and Buddhist monks as a sign that peace is real, despite the continued hardships that are a result of the war. (Step by Step on the Way to Peace, the Dhammayietra Peace Walk in Cambodia).

SCG Logistics to expand network

The Nation
February 27, 2008

After entering Cambodia seven years ago, SCG Distribution plans to expand into Vietnam and Indonesia as part of the "Go Regional" policy of the country's largest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement Group

In Cambodia, the multimodal system was applied to support SCG Cement's plant in Kampot province. The logistics network in Vietnam was developed to support both SCG and non-SCG customers.

SCG Logistics Management re-cently changed its name from Cementhai Logistics to be in line with the rest of the group.

The overall logistics cost of Bt1.6 trillion in Thailand is about 20 per cent of the country's GDP.
About 30 per cent of the cost is for transport and the rest for inventory and warehousing.

Now that transport costs are on the rise due mainly to surging oil prices, cost management is imperative, Kajohndet Sangsuban, president of SCG Distribution, said yesterday.

The situation last year was that the logistics market remained steady while global oil prices continued to go up despite the sluggish local economy, he said.

SCG Logistics has responded by developing a strategy to increase the efficiency of logistics management by integrating logistics networks to support SCG's businesses and other customers in Asean.

"We believe that cutting-edge network technology, efficient system management and the infrastructure network in Asean will help boost our revenue by 20 per cent to more than Bt10 billion this year," Kajohndet said. About 15 per cent of revenue will come from sales of logistics services in Asean, he said.

The company has cross-border warehouses in Cambodia's Poipet and Nong Khai for easy and efficient management of routing between Thailand and its neighbouring countries. Shipments are carried by truck owners belonging to the group's transport network.

The integrated network will allow SCG Logistics to connect logistics networks and systems with SCG customers to save costs. For instance, SCG Cement's output will be delivered to various destinations, while kraft paper will be brought to paper mills on the return trip.

The integrated network will also connect SCG's customers and their customers. For instance, goods from paper and container mills will be delivered to plants producing packaged consumer goods.

This will help reduce the numbers of empty trucks on return trips and cut the overall cost of production.

"We can help our customers reduce costs by 4 to 5 per cent," Kajohndet said.

About 30 per cent of SCG Logistics' revenue comes from non-SCG customers and that share is expected to rise to 40 per cent, he said. The major non-SCG accounts are Red Bull, Dutch Mill and Mitr Phol Group.

SCG Logistics plans to open a Bt150-million bonded warehouse next to Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri this year. The 20,000-square-metre facility will have a yard with a carrying capacity of 3,000 containers per month.

Sasithorn Ongdee

The Nation

Khmer Rouge jailer to return to infamous prison

The Cambodian and UN court investigating the Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s will see the accused jailer return to the notorious prison he ran in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Officials say reconstruction of his actions before tribunal judges is a normal part of the tribunal's ongoing investigation.

As South East Asia Correspondent Karen Percy reports Kaing Guek Eav otherwise known as Comrade Duch will visit Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng prison.

He will join two co-investigating judges from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the tribunal which is investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the Khmer Rough genocide.

An estimated 16-thousand Cambodians were detained and tortured at the prison, and then taken to fields where they were murdered.

The Khmer Rouge ran Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 under the model of an agrarian cooperative.
During that time, one-point-seven million people were killed or died of starvation.

Telekom Malaysia posts small rise in fourth-quarter profit

The Associated Press
February 26, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: State-owned Telekom Malaysia reported Tuesday a marginal rise in fourth-quarter net profit as foreign exchange losses and other charges offset improvements in its overseas cellular businesses.

Net profit in the quarter through December rose 0.3 percent from a year earlier to 592.5 million ringgit (US$185 million; €124 million), it said in a statement. This brought full-year profit to 2.55 billion ringgit (US$726 million; €486 million), up 23 percent from 2006.

Telekom said higher contributions from its overseas businesses — particularly from India's Spice Communications — were offset by higher impairment charges on its property, plant, equipment and investments.

The company said it posted a foreign exchange loss of 24 million ringgit (US$7.5 million; €5 million) in the fourth quarter, compared to a gain of 179.1 million ringgit (US$56 million; €37 million) in the same period in 2006.

Besides India, Telekom also has international investments in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

The national telecommunications company is in the process of splitting itself into two separate listed entities to boost performance. One unit will own the fixed-line and broadband assets and the other the cellular businesses.

Head of notorious Khmer Rouge torture center taken by court to mass grave site

Associated Press Writer AP
Tuesday, February 26

CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia - The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was taken Tuesday by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to one of the country's notorious "killing fields," mass graves to which he is accused of sending thousands of prisoners for execution.

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

An estimated 1.7 million people died during the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime from starvation, overwork, lack of medical care and execution. Duch, 65, is one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials being held for trial.

Duch was driven in a heavily guarded convoy to Choeung Ek, the site of shallow mass graves about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the capital, Phnom Penh, for a re-enactment of his crimes.
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.

Tribunal officials also were on hand for the re-enactment, which was closed to the public and the media. It was believed that relatives of some of the Khmer Rouge's victims were also present, because they are officially part of the tribunal, but no officials were immediately available to confirm their presence.

Marcel Lemonde. a co-investigating judge of the tribunal, had said Friday that Duch would be assisted at the scene by his lawyers, with the prosecutors and a number of witnesses also present.

Choeung Ek houses a dramatic and disturbing memorial to the dead, a soaring glass-fronted stupa, or Buddhist reliquary, crammed with 8,985 skulls, some bearing clear evidence of death by hammers, hoes, bamboo sticks and bullets.

Skeletal remains and ragged clothes lie in surrounding shallow graves. Signs describe how the executioners disposed of their victims, including one on a tree explaining how they bashed the heads of children against its trunk.

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 because of persistent urinary tract problems, a tribunal spokesman said Monday.

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

Duch is to visit S-21, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, on Wednesday. Of the 16,000 people thought to have been jailed there during Khmer Rouge rule, only 14 prisoners are believed to have survived.

Cambodian National Assembly approves ASEAN Charter

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian National Assembly here on Monday unanimously approved the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asia Nations) Charter.

"The ASEAN Charter will bring our country into the economic and social integration with other ASEAN countries and also into the ongoing process of globalization," said Pen Pagna, chairman of the legislation and justice committee of the parliament.

"It can help us rule by law and walk to democracy and development, too," he added.

The charter has 13 chapters with 55 articles. All ASEAN member countries have to ratify it.

The ASEAN Charter aims to transform ASEAN into a rules-based legal entity like the European Union and paves the way for closer integration within the group.

Under the charter, all ASEAN member states will have equal rights and obligations. They will also be legally entitled to sue one another.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia joined ASEAN in 1999.

Editor: Du Guodong

S Korean President to visit Cambodia this year

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Lee Myung Bak will visit Cambodia sometime this year, at the invitation by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during their Monday meeting in Seoul, a senior official said here Tuesday.

Lee will visit Cambodia to strengthen the cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, economy and personal relations, Hor Namhong, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, told a press conference.

The press conference was held upon the return of a senior Cambodian delegation led by Hun Sen from the swearing-in ceremony of Lee Myung Bak in Seoul.

"The visit will bring about closer economic ties between the two sides to help develop Cambodia," Hor said.

Since Lee was former economic advisor for Hun Sen, the two men have had deep personal relations, Hor said, adding that this year is also the 11th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

As the No. 1 foreign investor in Cambodia, South Korea is contributing large amount of money in the construction field in Cambodia, Hor said.

Editor: Yan Liang

Forced Evictions in Cambodia: time to end impunity

Defenders - Forced evictions

Two international human rights organizations and two Cambodian NGOs called today upon Cambodian authorities to take effective measures to combat the practice of forced evictions which constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international human rights instruments that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified.

The call was made by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) – along with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).

The Observatory is issuing a new report entitled “Defending Economic and Social Rights in Cambodia: A High Risk Activity”, which highlights land-grabbing and forced evictions and the persecution of community activists and others who try to resist them. The report illustrates cases of grave human rights violations resulting from forced evictions including the April 2007 eviction of a community Sihanoukville’s Mittapheap district and the June 2006 eviction of Sambok Chab in Phnom Penh. The report notes that communities affected by evictions are neither consulted nor informed well in advance. Compensation is largely insufficient, the resettlement areas are precarious and the humanitarian conditions of the affected populations are far from being human. Villagers opposing forced evictions are routinely targeted for unfounded criminal charges, while NGOs and journalists reporting on them are threatened. The deaths of some villagers are not properly investigated such as the death of a community activist from Stung Treng in July 2007 and the execution of the two Prey Vihear villagers who resisted an eviction in November 2007.

As well as community activists and others who are active against forced evictions, the report notes that other human rights defenders also face an unacceptably high degree of risk in their work. For example, two community activists from Preah Vihear were killed in 2007. “It’s time for the Cambodian authorities for make a radical shift in their approach to land disputes,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge. “Failure to open honest dialogue with the people, and to find fair solutions for them which respect the law and their land rights, will only worsen the situation and lead to broader civil unrest.”

Thun Saray, President of ADHOC, added: “The authorities’ lack of transparency over ownership of land, and their willingness to conduct violent evictions rather than use peaceful negotiation to try to resolve disputes, are creating a climate of fear, violence and confusion.” “Donors and the international community must do all they can to avoid Cambodia’s land crisis from deteriorating further,” said Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH. “The growing landlessness will create huge economic, social and political problems for the country.

“The international community must insist that the Cambodian Government respect the country’s laws and the international human rights treaties it has ratified,” continued Ms. Belhassen. “The widespread impunity enjoyed by the authorities and by the rich and powerful must be brought to an end.”

Based on the report’s findings, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, ADHOC and LICADHO make the following key recommendations:

Establish an immediate moratorium on all involuntary evictions until the adoption and the proper and vigorous implementation of a strict legislative framework on evictions and resettlement as well on land and housing rights. End judicial proceedings based on groundless and arbitrary charges against community activists and other human rights defenders advocating for the right to land, to adequate housing and against illegal exploitation of natural resources. Ensure that all populations who have been forcibly relocated to date receive land titles for alternative land. The conditions of existing relocation sites should be immediately improved:
communities should have access to medical treatment and health services, education. They should also receive adequate compensation.

American to Be Deported Over Threat

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

Gerald Francis Forbes, the former US Marine who sent a letter describing a potential attack on the US Embassy to a Phnom Penh newspaper, will be deported, officials said.

Forbes has been held since last week, following his confession he sent a letter to the English-language Cambodia Daily warning of an attack on the US Embassy.

Embassy officials have said they did not consider the letter a credible threat.

Lt. Gen. Thong Lim, director of the Ministry of Information's immigration department, said Saturday the government would deport Forbes.

"Because our immigration law also includes deportation, we are implementing our immigration law," he said.

Brothers Charged With Attempted Murder

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

Two brothers detained last week by Battambang provincial officials have formally been charged with attempted murder, following an altercation with a fishing lot owner.

The brothers, Chan Voeut and Chan Rin, who claim to be persecuted Sam Rainsy Party supporters, have been in jail since last Wednesday, when 60 demonstrators gathered in Battambang town on their behalf.

The two men were arrested after a fishing lot owner accused them of trying to kill him and being armed with a knife.

Sam Rainsy Party officials say the two men are being persecuted for their political support of the opposition.

$3 Billion Coastal Economic Zone to Open

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

China's Gainxu Taixu company and Cambodia International Economic Cooperation Investment announced the opening of the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone Saturday, which could employ as many as 80,000 workers.

The investment was seen as a significant step to reduce widespread unemployment and boost economic growth in Cambodia.

"One hundred percent of the products from this special economic zone will have to be exported," Prime Minister Hun Sen said during an opening ceremony. "I am convinced that the Cambodian economy will rise, finally employing more than 80,000 workers, as China has a lot of investments. And with the export, our economic value is high and increasing."

Not all are optimistic Chinese investment will benefit Cambodia in the long run.

"What China cares most about is land, which can be rented or sold to investors from other countries, and such a thing is not going to help our economy," said opposition lawmaker Son Chhay. "Thus, the government has to encourage investment from other countries, with honest investment and that have developed industry, such as Japan or the US."

Women Commune Officials Gather in Capital

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 February 2008

More than 300 female commune council officials started four days of meetings in Phnom Penh Tuesday, in an effort to improve their leadership skills.

The women, who came from four main political parties, are expected to meet with government officials, National Assembly members, foreign diplomats and other non-governmental agencies.

Cambodia has a very low number of women in political positions at all levels, according to the organization Silaka, which is supporting this week's meetings.

And even women in political positions lack the proper training and other capabilities, Silaka says.

Several participants said Tuesday they hoped to do work that would make them proud and would reduce discrimination.

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kunthaphavy said Tuesday a very low percentage of women sat in ministerial posts, and no woman has been placed as the governor of any province or district nationwide.

A Tearful Duch Revisits 'Killing Fields'

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

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch cried several times Tuesday as he toured a notorious site of mass graves on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, a tribunal official said.

Duch, who has been charged with crimes against humanity, toured the Choeung Ek "killing fields," with tribunal judges, witnesses and lawyers, as part of proceedings against him.

"We saw Duch express his regret for the dead victims, and Duch's tears fell two or three times," tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said after the re-enactment. "Before he left, he prayed for the dead victims, at the stupa of skulls, and he cried."

Duch and witnesses exchanged questions and answers in front of prosecutors, investigating judges and lawyers, Reach Sambath said, but he declined to give further details.

Thousands of Cambodians were buried at Choeung Ek after torture and execution, allegedly under the supervision of Duch, whose real name is Kaing Khek Iev, during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Skulls of the dead are piled within a glass-cased stupa at the "killing fields," now a popular tourist site.