Thursday, 28 February 2008

Davik faces surgery delay

Davik Teng's long and dramatic journey to heart surgery has hit a hopefully small bump in the road a wait of two to four weeks for treatment of dental disease.(Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

LOCAL: Decision to treat her dental problems first is prudent but hard for girl and family.

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

After a sleepless night, Dr. Mark Sklansky had to make a hard call.

A day earlier, perhaps a bit caught up in the excitement of the moment, Sklansky had decided to immediately go forward with open heart surgery for Davik Teng, a 9-year-old girl from a remote village in Cambodia brought to the U.S. for life-altering surgery.

In the sobering light of new information and with time to consider the options, Sklansky realized he really needed to take the more cautious route.

Because of extensive dental disease that could lead to heart infection, Sklansky decided it was more prudent to have a dentist treat Davik's dental issues before performing the heart procedure.

That means Davik, who suffers from a ventricular septal defect, must wait between two and four weeks before having the surgery she and her mom, Sin Chhon, have so eagerly awaited.

"I was really stressed trying to do the right thing," Sklansky said. "I decided the safest way to take care of Davik was to take the more traditional route and the more standard care."

On Tuesday, Davik will receive dental care from Dr. Jose Poledo at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which agreed to pay for the procedure.

Sklansky said the decision to delay the heart surgery was not only difficult emotionally but medically as well.

"There's risk either way," Sklansky said.

"We had momentum going and everyone was excited," Sklansky said. "It would be nice to close the defect in her heart, but on the other hand this is probably the safer approach."

Sklansky said because the mouth always has extensive bacteria, the fear is that the bacteria could enter the blood stream and infect the surgical patch used to close the defect in Davik's heart.

However, by waiting there is an ongoing risk for heart infection that could strike at any time. Also, by waiting, the chances that Davik could contract some other ailment from her new surroundings increase. That could complicate matters.

Peter Chhun, executive director for Long Beach-based Hearts Without Boundaries, which is sponsoring Davik's trip, said the news was particularly hard on Chhon.

Over the years, Chhon and her daughter have been turned away three times in efforts to have Davik's heart repaired. Their biggest fear is that they will have traveled this far only to be denied yet again.

"As I've said all along `Who would want to wait?"' Chhun said. "But I think this decision is correct. Why take added risk? I think this story takes its own course."

Cambodian leader slams UN for giving asylum to refugees without consulting government

The Associated Press
February 28, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodia's prime minister slammed the U.N.'s refugee agency Thursday for using Cambodian territory to grant political asylum to foreign refugees without first consulting his government.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Cambodian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has granted asylum to refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

"What right does it (UNHCR) have to use Cambodian territory to provide foreign nationals with political asylum without seeking permission from the Cambodian authorities," Hun Sen said in a speech at a development conference.

He did not say how many refugees were in Cambodia or how long they had been there. He said he ordered the foreign affairs and interior ministries to look into the issue with the UNHCR.

Toshi Kawauchi, a UNHCR protection officer, declined to comment on the issue, saying in an e-mail his office is "not in a position to discuss the numbers and other details of the refugees."

The relationship between Cambodia and the U.N. agency has been rocky in recent years, especially over the issue of refugees fleeing neighboring Vietnam.

Thousands of Vietnamese hill tribe people known as Montagnards have fled to Cambodia since 2001, when Vietnam's communist government cracked down on protests against land confiscation and restrictions on religious freedom. Many have been resettled in the United States, and a small number have voluntarily returned to Vietnam.

The problem with Cambodia?

Details are Sketchy
February 28, 2008

“Mr. Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] lawmaker from Phnom Penh, and a leader of the SRP lawmakers, said on 25 February 2008 through the Candlelight radio program [Sam Rainsy’s radio program], that it is the politics in our society and the mistakes of the leaders of the country that lead neighboring countries to influence Khmer people very easily.


He added that after Cambodia was invaded by Yuon troops [in 1979], the influx of the way of ruling and training in the new society made Khmer citizens forget about their national interests by thinking only about seeking pleasure - for example television and radio stations broadcast only dancing and singing programs. The society is full of gambling, drugs, sex, and alcohol, which drive Khmer young people crazy.

Got that? The problems started in 1979 — before that everything was cool, and singing and dancing was outlawed, and violators were tortured until they went insane and confessed their allegiance to the Hanoi masters and then had their faces bashed in with the butt of a rifle. Yeah, my friend, those were the good ol’ days.

Crusing Comes to Cambodia

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cambodia is booming, as two 50-storey office towers have been announced for Phnom Penh, and hotel rooms continue to soar in once sleepy Siem Reap. And for better or worse, Sihanoukville is rapidly changing as five-star resorts open on deserted beaches and tourism officials eye greater use of the recently refurbished and expanded airport.

But nothing symbolizes the changing nature of tourism in Cambodia as strongly as the arrival of cruise ships to Sihanoukville, opening up the coastline and allowing tourists to quickly fly to Siem Reap via Phnom Penh. If there's one country in Southeast Asia you might want to visit now, and years later be able to say "I saw it when," Cambodia is the place.

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.

Source: EarthTimes

Cambodian court delays verdict in diplomat case

ABC Radio Australia

The Cambodian Supreme Court in Phnom Penh has delayed a verdict in the case of three men charged with attempting to murder western diplomats.

Haji Chiming Abdulazi and Muhammady Alaludim Mading, from Thailand, and Cambodian Sman Esma El have already been sentenced to life by the Municipal Court and the Appeals Court.

The men appealed to the Supreme Court, which has decided to withhold its verdict until March 13.

The men were charged with planning to murder diplomats through suicide bombings and explosions against western embassies in Phnom Penh.

The US, British and Canadian embassies were among those targeted.

The court heard the men had links with the regional terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah.

The group's leader, Hambali, was arrested by the Thai authorities in February 2004, after reportedly staying in Cambodia for six months.

Over 200,000 children die in water-borne diseases in East Asia

BALI, Indonesia, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Over 200,000 children died in East Asia per year and a half of them were in Indonesia, due to water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, the World Bank said here Tuesday.

Almud Weitz, regional team Leader of WB's Water and Sanitation Program in East Asia and the Pacific, said that the diseases were caused by poor sanitation.

"The number of children die per year is about 200,000 in east Asia. That is a lot. Over 100,000 of them are in Indonesia," she said at a Media Workshop here.

The leader said that the fatality related with the lack of access to sanitation, which affects 800 million to one billion people in the region.

The countries which signed the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have agreed to halve the number of people who do not get access to sanitation by 2015, according to Weitz.

However, Weitz said that basically the sanitation statistic in East Asia including Indonesia, was not so bad to start for improvement, compared with other region.

The United Nations has declared that this year is as the year of sanitation. Indonesia is one the four most populated countries in the world, with over 240 million population.
Editor: An Lu

ASEAN countries suffer huge economic loss from poor sanitation

BALI, Indonesia, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Four countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have suffered 9 billion U.S. dollars economic loss annually due to poor implementation of sanitation, about 2 percent of their combined GDP, a recent study conducted by the World Bank has said.

The study said that Indonesia, the biggest Southeast Asia economy, had suffered the most losses of 6.3 billion U.S. dollar per year.

Indonesia has struggled to save its state budget from the impact of the global economic slowdown, soaring oil price and commodities, as well as high inflation pressure. The government has planned to widen the budget deficit from 1.7 percent of the GDP or 73.3 trillion rupiah (about 7.97 billion U.S. dollars) to 2percent of the GDP or 83.7 trillion rupiah (some 9.1 billion U.S. dollars).

"Should sanitation be improved, the losses can be reduced and it can help reduce the deficit," an expert of the World Bank who goes with single name Saputra told Xinhua at a workshop on sanitation here.

Health and water impacts are the largest contributors to overall costs, said the study. The health costs were dominated by premature death, especially in youngsters, while water-related costs were dominated by access to clean drinking water, it said.

Overall 4.8 billion U.S. dollars were lost annually to sanitation-related diseases, of which 3.35 billion U.S. dollars lost in Indonesia, one billion U.S. dollars in the Philippines, 260 million U.S. dollars in Vietnam, and 187 million U.S. dollars in Cambodia, it said.

Diseases resulted from poor sanitation impact expenditure patterns, productivity and the income of household, government and enterprises, it said. On water, countries which have abundant internal freshwater resources, suffered significant freshwater pollution from human activities.

ASEAN countries have a combined population of 580 million with a gross domestic product of 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars.

Editor: Yao Siyan

Cambodia bans songs deemed to incite marital infidelity
Thu, 28 Feb 2008 05:32:04 GMT
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The titles of the three songs banned from public broadcast for inciting infidelity say it all, according to Cambodian government and cultural officials, local media reported Thursday. The offending songs, If I Can't Be First Can I Be Second?, Love Another's Husband and May I Have a Piece of Your Heart Too? have been banished from the nation's thousands of karaoke restaurants, Khmer-language Koh Santepheap reported.

"We are searching for other songs which affect people's honour, especially that of women," the paper quoted Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema as saying.

The three songs are all written to be sung by women, but pop music analysts said Thursday they are relatively obscure tunes.

The ban is a further step by the government to crack down on unfaithfulness and "uphold cultural values."

Cambodia passed a controversial monogamy law in September 2006 which would see adulterers punished by up to 250 dollars in fines and a year in jail, though only one case has so far gone to court.

Although an outwardly conservative culture, the practice of keeping second wives, or mistresses, remains common, and many karaoke girls seek out "sweethearts" to supplement their earnings.

"People can still play the songs in private - this is only a public ban," one official said on condition of anonymity. "I don't think music has much to do with it, but it's an official request."

Back to hell: Khmer chief revisits jail where just 14 out of 16,000 survived

28 February 2008
Source: The Scotsman

By Ker Munthit
in Phnom Penh

A FORMER Khmer Rouge prison chief accused of crimes against humanity recounted his grim "duties" during a visit yesterday to the place he once commanded, giving his account of ordeals that only a handful of inmates survived.

Kaing Guek Eav, also called Duch, was taken to the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison by Cambodia's genocide tribunal, which is supported by the United Nations. The tribunal is investigating atrocities committed under the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime.

Duch is one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials being held pending trial.

Duch, 65, commanded the prison – the Khmer Rouge's largest torture facility – in the capital, Phnom Penh.About 16,000 men, women and children were believed to have been held there.
Only 14 are thought to have survived.

Duch walked judges, prosecutors, his defence lawyers and several former inmates through the prison compound, said tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath.

On events that took place at the site, Sambath would say only that Duch "clarified what happened when he was the chief of the S-21 prison".

The site is now called the Tuol Sleng genocide museum.

An estimated 1.7 million people died under the Khmer Rouge in executions and through policies that led to starvation, overwork and lack of medical care.

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

He has been detained by the tribunal since last July, awaiting long-delayed trials, expected to start this year.

"He is revisiting his past atrocities although he is not going to see bloodstains or hear the scream of prisoners any more," said Youk Chhang, director of Documentation Centre of Cambodia, a group researching atrocities. "

Tuol Sleng is a living nightmare for us."Duch was participating in a so-called re-enactment that involves taking the accused to the crime scene for questioning.Three of the prison's survivors joined Duch in the visit but declined to comment afterwards.

Beforehand, they said that if given an opportunity to face him during the visit, they would ask him why they had been imprisoned and tortured.

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

"I just want to ask him what she may have done wrong that they had to kill her."Mr Meng was spared because he was a painter who produced portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who died in 1998.

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

Reach Sambath said Duch was especially moved when he stood before a tree with a sign saying executioners disposed of their child victims by smashing their heads against its trunk.

Khmer Rouge survivors to face tormentor
Thursday, February 28, 2008

PHNOM PENH: The Khmer Rouge leader who ran the regime’s notorious Tuol Sleng prison returned there Wednesday for the first time in nearly 30 years, where he was to confront some of the very few who survived.

Only around a dozen of the estimated 16,000 people who were blindfolded, bound and herded into one of the Khmer Rouge’s most horrific killing machines are known to have lived through the ordeal.

One of them, Chum Mey, said he was ready to face his chief tormentor, prison boss Duch, who returned to the former school turned torture center, which he ran with brutal efficiency during Cambodia’s genocide in the 1970s.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders facing UN-backed trials for atrocities allegedly committed under the communists’ rule.

Judges were to ask Duch, a 65-year-old former math teacher, to walk them through Tuol Sleng’s dilapidated classrooms, re-enacting for them the daily routine that helped shape his alleged crimes, officials said.

“This is to clarify the situation,” tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath told Agence France-Presse, adding that a number of survivors and former guards would also be present at the proceeding, held under heavy security and closed to the public.

Police patrolled the streets around Tuol Sleng, now a museum in the middle of a cramped residential neighborhood in the capital Phnom Penh, ordering people to close their windows and stay inside, according to witnesses.

“An on-site investigation or ‘reconstruction’ is a normal investigative action,” the tribunal said in a statement.

But it will be anything but normal for Chum Mey, a mechanic who like other Tuol Sleng survivors was spared only because he possessed a skill that was useful to his captors. For decades, the terror of the Khmer Rouge years has invaded his quiet life on the outskirts of the capital. On Wednesday, that bitter black shadow was to take form again.

“I want to talk to him. I want the judges and prosecutors to see where I was tortured,” he told AFP late Tuesday, anticipating his meeting with Duch. “If they do not see that this place is real, then anything I say to them is meaningless.”

Duch, a Christian who was seized by Cambodian authorities in 1999 and held at a military prison until his transfer to the tribunal on July 31, is charged with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the brutal upheaval that engulfed Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed by the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.--AFP

Cambodian soldiers to join military exercise in Bangladesh

February 28, 2008

The Cambodian government will send its soldiers to join international military exercise in Bangladesh at the end of this year, National Television TVK reported on Wednesday.

The troops have started their training course with the support from the U.S. Command Fleet for the Asia Pacific region, Sem Sovanny, senior official at the National Defense Ministry, was quoted as saying.

He made these remarks at the opening ceremony of the training course, named the Universal Peace Cooperation for Pacific, in Udong district of Kampong Speu province.

"The Cambodian soldiers are trying to strengthen its capacity for joining the international mission," said TVK.

Last year, some Cambodian soldiers joined an international military exercise in Mongolia and some other went to Sudan to undertake humanitarian affairs such as mine clearance.

Source: Xinhua

Dengue Fever combines the indie and the Cambodian to create sounds enigmatic and modern

Photograph by Max S. Gerber, Chhom nimol, Ethan Holtzman, Zac Holtzman, Senon Williams and Paul Smith
By Matt Diehl

“World” has often proven a dirty word for music fans – just ask the members of Dengue Fever. Sure, this sextet, hailing from Los Angeles’ hipster Eastside, formed around an interest in ’60s-vintage Cambodian psychedelic rock, and features Cambodian singer Chhom Nimol frequently singing in her native language. Still, that doesn’t mean they fit any particular pigeonhole.

“Starting in the ’80s, world music clichés turned off a lot of people,” Dengue Fever bassist Senon Williams explains. “It was repulsive to those who were into something more rootsy and raw.”
Indeed, much of what was available as world music seemed to embody unfortunate stereotypes – the noble savage, the docile, uneducated native. “So much so-called ‘world music’ seemed frozen in time, trying to preserve tradition rather than move things forward,” Dengue guitarist and songwriter Zac Holtzman explains. “We’re not just like, you know, the Guatemalan hat band,” adds Holtzman’s brother, Ethan, who plays organ in the band. “We need to pick up one of those pan flutes,” Williams groans. “Or maybe stick a bone through our noses.”

For Dengue Fever, however, the world-music tag has ultimately proven more blessing than curse, especially in the wake of new interest in non-Western sounds from maverick musicians capturing attention of late. Gogol Bordello draws huge crowds for their blend of Ukrainian gypsy sounds and urban punk rave-up; Beirut blew up the blogosphere with their Brooklyn-meets-Balkan hybrid grooves; Extra Golden and Vampire Weekend, meanwhile, combine indie-rock stylings with the indestructible beat of Africa, resulting in significant artistic dividends. Having formed in 2001, Dengue Fever – which also includes David Ralicke on brass and Paul Smith on drums/percussion – found themselves at the head of the pack. “It’s like a new little movement,” Williams explains. “It’s happened in the past with people like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, and David Byrne, but in my eyes that was different; they were grabbing things and using them for themselves. It wasn’t a band. Now it’s like, ‘This is just music.’ We’re not trying to do something ‘authentic.’” “If you’re in your dorm room with a drum machine and listening to Fela, then whatever,” adds Smith. “Yeah, but I never thought I’d see Gogol Bordello on David Letterman!” adds Zac, causing the whole band to crack up.

Don’t be surprised if you find Dengue Fever showing up on your idiot box, either. According to Dave Neupert, who heads up the Silver Lake-based digital marketing company, M80, that also serves as Dengue Fever’s indie record company, the band’s latest album, Venus on Earth, has transcended all expectations since its release in late January. “We’ve sold 4,000 units, and the campaign is just beginning,” Neupert claims, adding that everyone from major media outlets like NPR and Spin magazine to influential bloggers are supporting the band. “45 percent of that is digital sales,” he adds, “when the industry standard is under 10 percent. It’s blowing my mind.”
It’s refreshing to see such adventurous, border-crossing music growing in acceptance. Decidedly trippy, infused with an eerie, infectious melodicism, Dengue Fever’s music resembles a radio transmission from another dimension, oozing atmospheric nostalgia for a time and place that never existed. Onstage, the band’s front line cuts a decidedly odd yet intriguing persona: Zac Holtzman’s looming beanstalk frame and long, dark beard contrasts with petite, gorgeous Nimol outfitted in elaborately colorful Cambodian traditional dress, swaying alluringly to the unpredictable rhythms. No, this isn’t your mother’s indie rock – unless your mother grew up in Angkor Wat.

Dengue Fever’s origin is almost as unlikely as their sound. In 1998, Ethan Holtzman, burnt out from his day job as a case manager specializing in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, sold his car and bought a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. Traveling for half a year, he found that nowhere affected him like Cambodia. “It felt so lawless,” he explains of his feelings for the nation torn apart by so many struggles – war, famine, revolution, genocide. “The Khmer Rouge were still present, and people were very cautious. Missiles had exploded near where I was staying weeks before; some French backpackers had recently been killed on a train. There were also still landmines buried around, and I’d seen people maimed from them. But it was such a memorable country, so raw. You could do anything – if you wanted to buy a hand grenade for five dollars and throw it, you could.” Dengue’s distinctive moniker comes from the affliction that beset Ethan’s Scottish travel partner, who fell ill after being bit by a disease-carrying mosquito. “He said it felt like your bones are being crushed from the inside,” Holtzman recalls. “The music, the disease, and the country all blurred together.”

When Holtzman returned, he and his older brother Zac bonded over a shared love for ’60s Cambodian psychedelic rock. In Ethan’s absence, Zac – a musician who’d played for over a decade with Bay Area country-punkers Dieselhed – had been given the compilation Cambodia Rocks!, and quickly fell in love with the music’s exotically strange twists and turns. Together, Ethan and Zac haunted the clubs and restaurants of Long Beach’s Cambodian community known as “Little Phnom Penh,” looking for a singer to complete their unexpected musical odyssey. When they found Chhom Nimol singing at a restaurant called Dragon House, they knew their search was over. Nimol had been a star in Cambodia, but had stayed illegally in the United States after being brought over for a series of Cambodian New Year celebrations at a Rochester, Minnesota, temple. “It was fun to pop into clubs and see her because we had a crush on her: she was so cute, and sang so well,” Ethan explains.

Despite suspicions – and a limited knowledge of the English language – Nimol joined the Holtzman brothers, who recruited Williams (also a member of Radar Bros.), Ralicke (who’s appeared with the likes of Beck, Ozomatli, and Brazzaville) and Smith (a studio engineer who’d briefly played with Ethan in another band). Almost immediately, Dengue Fever captured interest: Matt Dillon put them on the soundtrack of his directorial debut City of Ghosts, and even hung out at numerous band rehearsals. Dillon still regularly attends Dengue shows.
Indie fans, meanwhile, were won over by the band’s raucous first show at Spaceland and the uncanny sounds captured on Dengue Fever’s eponymous first album, largely a collection of vintage covers by revered Cambodian rockers like Sinn Sisamouth. “The old songs the band covers are golden oldies that everyone in Cambodia knows,” explains John Pirozzi. Pirozzi is the director of Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, an acclaimed documentary about the band’s first trip to Cambodia, where they jammed with local musicians and brought Khmer nationals and expats together for the first time on the dance floor, with “songs that represented a better time for those who survived Pol Pot.”

Dengue Fever began exploring original material, however, on their 2005 sophomore effort, Escape from Dragon House; Nimol even began singing in English (Holtzman sends his words to a Khmer translator based in Washington, D.C.). Dengue Fever’s evolution gelled even further on the swirling, evocatively unique sounds on Venus on Earth. “We’re not copying anything,” Williams says. “If that’s what you’re looking for, you might as well hire somebody from … .”
“National Geographic,” interjects Zac, to more laughter.

At the core of Dengue Fever’s appeal is Nimol, who Williams calls the band’s “siren.” Despite her fondness for caked-on makeup and stripper-style high heels – “Those are her comfortable shoes,” jokes Smith pointing at the strappy, spiky stilettos adorning Nimol’s feet. “She hikes in those! – Dengue’s frontwoman exudes alluring innocence. “A lot of singers strut their stuff and lick the mic stand,” Williams explains, “but Nimol is even sexier because she’s composed and secretive.” Nimol indeed proves enigmatic in person, rarely making eye contact and covering her mouth as she speaks in confident, yet still broken, English. “I like the New Wave, and also the hip-hop and the reggae,” she says of her musical inspirations. “I write songs about love only … guy and girl, broken heart. But my heart is not broken. I’m not in love – I’m too picky! I love myself!”

At one point, Nimol’s immigrant status threatened to stop Dengue Fever for good. Returning from a gig in San Diego opening for Jonathan Richman, police stopped Ethan Holtzman’s car at a checkpoint on the 5 Freeway. “They looked at me and thought I was Mexican lady,” Nimol explains. Instead, after checking her identification, authorities discovered Nimol had overstayed her visa. Caught in the wake of post-9/11 hysteria, she was brought into custody, where she entertained her fellow jailbirds with renditions of Celine Dion hits. “Jail was scary,” Nimol recalls. “I was feeling afraid I was going to be sent back to my country. But they said, ‘You have good voice!’” A series of benefits at the Short Stop and the Derby, along with some help from Amnesty International, got her sprung. “Singers have gotten acid thrown in their face in Cambodia for associating with the wrong politicians,” Smith says. “It was an important part of her defense. If she had been sent home, she could’ve been a target.”

Nimol and crew have moved on to greater, more legal successes. Venus on Earth’s sales keep growing, Sleepwalking Through the Mekong has appeared at prestigious film festivals, and Dengue Fever is gearing up for yet another international touring schedule; the band has already played everywhere from Holland and Portugal to Russia, and are now stars in Cambodia, thanks to nonstop media coverage of their tour there. “CTN, the Cambodia Television Network, did a two-hour special on us that aired two to three times a day the entire time we were there,” Williams explains. “I took a break to vacation in Kampot, and when I had to get back to Phnom Penh, I went to grab the bus. The woman selling the tickets was like ‘Why are you taking the bus? You’re famous! Famous people don’t take the bus!’”

Even Nimol’s tradition-bound family is coming around. “At first, my sister said to Zac, ‘You never have Nimol sing,” Nimol says. “She is very original Cambodian, so she doesn’t understand. But last time we play Echoplex, she said music is good, but told me I not in Cambodia anymore and need to learn to dance more rock and roll!” It’s this cultural crossroads, in fact, that ultimately gives Dengue Fever its unique place in music today – a fact not lost on the band itself. “We can play both indie-rock and world-music markets now,” Ethan explains. “And when we play the world shows, people are looking at us like we’re this new thing.”
“It’s fun not fitting in anywhere,” Zac adds, “but getting to play everywhere.”

Son Chhay: Social Morality Declines Due to Attitude of Current Leaders and Foreign Culture

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

“The Khmer society has been dominated by the influx of foreign cultures and drugs which cause young people, who will become the future pillars of the nation, to forget taking responsibility for the fate of the country. Khmer culture and Buddhism are trampled down and degraded by a number of opportunists.

“Acts of insulting Buddhism in Khmer society resulted from the violence which many policemen imposed upon about 40 Khmer Krom monks on 17 December 2007, when those monks tried to submit a protest motion to the Yuon [Vietnamese] government through the Yuon embassy in Cambodia.

“Moreover, politicians from the currently ruling party have used money and benefits to persuade monks who follow the teaching of Buddha to become propagandists for their party, and to use pagodas as forums to propagandize for the ruling party, the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP].

“According to a general observation, top-ranking monks and head monks in provinces and cities are all activists who serve the CPP. The top leadership of Buddhism is [the Patriarch] Tep Vong, and he is using Buddhism as a political tool for the CPP, as if he would consider that Buddhism was born on 7 January 1979 [the liberation day from the Khmer Rouge regime by the early leadership of the CPP].

“Mr. Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] lawmaker from Phnom Penh, and a leader of the SRP lawmakers, said on 25 February 2008 through the Candlelight radio program [Sam Rainsy’s radio program], that it is the politics in our society and the mistakes of the leaders of the country that lead neighboring countries to influence Khmer people very easily.

“Mr. Son Chhay referred to the strategy of the attacking Thais in the 16th century [in 1594], throwing Duong silver coins [as bait] for the poor people into the bamboo protection around Lungvek, and the people cut the protecting bamboos around the military outpost, to get the Duong coins – this kind of foreign influence destroyed Lungvek.

He added that after Cambodia was invaded by Yuon troops [in 1979], the influx of the way of ruling and training in the new society made Khmer citizens forget about their national interests by thinking only about seeking pleasure - for example television and radio stations broadcast only dancing and singing programs. The society is full of gambling, drugs, sex, and alcohol, which drive Khmer young people crazy.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that Khmer citizens have to be careful and not to indulge anymore in these things, even though foreigners intoxicated Khmer society with intoxicants, drugs, and gambling. Khmer citizens have to admonish each others to understand what is important and of advantage for Khmer society, by not letting themselves fall into a death pit because of such indulgence and its attractions.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that Khmer leaders should stop letting foreigners make storm and rain [= to stir up turmoil and trouble] according to their wishes, because Cambodia has a citizenship law, and an immigration law to apply.

“Mr. Son Chhay said when the SRP will have won the elections in July 2008, he will create a fund which will be recognized by King Norodom Sihamoni, to offer honorary medals to those who contribute to serving the country, for example, doing social work and doing good deeds to promote the society. He added that government officials will not need to implore the powerful to be promoted. When the SRP wins the elections, it will ensure that citizens have appropriate employment, to live with dignity in the society, appropriate to their living standards. Therefore, when the SRP leads the government, it will help citizens and government officials to have better living standards.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that leaders must not use insulting and immoral words, because such actions can spread to the whole Khmer society.

“So far, Hum Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, often uses inappropriate words, such as ‘…these guys….’ Such expressions have drawn much criticism from some scholars. Having said so, Hun Sen is not suited to be a leader.

“Regarding drug trafficking, Cambodia has become a transit-point for drug export into third countries, and it is also a place of secret drug production, even though there were some crackdowns. But the important ringleaders who produce and traffic drugs could not be arrested.
“If there would not have been a crackdown on the big location of drug production on 1 April 2007 in Phnom Srouch in Kompong Speu, the products from synthetic drugs, using nearly 6 tons of raw materials, would have been put into circulation by criminals across the country.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #117, 27.2.2008

Torture victims meet top Khmer Rouge inquisitor

Tourists look at a portrait of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, the former head of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 prison, at Toul Sleng high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photograph: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters

Rosalind Ryan and agencies
Wednesday February 27 2008

The Khmer Rouge's chief interrogator came face to face with survivors of the former Cambodian regime's notorious S-21 prison today as part of his trial charges of crimes against humanity.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, returned to the prison where he allegedly ordered thousands to be tortured and executed during the 1970s.

His visit to S-21 as part of Cambodia's genocide tribunal is the first since the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled in 1979. The site, known as Tuol Sleng, is now a genocide museum.

Figures suggest that 16,000 men, women and children were held at S-21; only 14 are thought to have survived.

Duch was joined by several witnesses and survivors of S-21 today. Speaking before the visit, three said they did not feel angry towards Duch but wanted answers about why they had been captured and tortured.

Bou Meng, 67, said he and his wife, Ma Yoeun, were both put in S-21 prison in 1977 and 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?" he said.

"Duch 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, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, a group researching atrocities carried out by the Khmer Rouge.

Duch yesterday broke down in tears as he led judges from the tribunal on a tour of the "killing fields" peppered with the mass graves of his alleged victims.

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

An estimated 1.7 million people died during the 1975-79 communist regime as a result of policies that caused starvation, overwork, lack of medical care and execution.

Cambodia tribunal visits Khmer Rouge torture rooms

Malaysia Sun
Wednesday 27th February, 2008

A notorious Khmer Rouge torture centre in Cambodia has been visited by tribunal judges.A chief suspect in the trial against the former communist regime was also taken through the centre.

Duch, one of the chief interrogators at the centre, was taken along in the hope he could give the judges a better picture of the atrocities committed between 1975 and 1979, when approximately 15,000 Cambodians were imprisoned.

Only a handful of people left the prison alive.A few years ago, Duch expressed his regret for the actions in which he collaborated.

He is now acting a witness for the prosecution.

Deputy PM attends Vietnam-Cambodia meeting on border co-operation

February 28, 2008

Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung arrived in Cambodia on February 27 to attend and co-chair the fourth Vietnam-Cambodia meeting on development cooperation in border provinces held in Sihanoukville from Feb. 27-28.

After an official welcome ceremony, Deputy PM Hung exchanged views at a closed session with Cambodian Deputy PM and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Vietnam-Cambodia bilateral ties and cooperation between border sharing provinces.

In the evening, Deputy PM Sar Kheng hosted a banquet for Deputy PM Hung his delegation.

At a senior officials meeting (SOM) held the same day, the two sides reviewed their cooperation in implementing agreements reached at the third meeting, which was held in Vietnam ’s An Giang province in 2006. They discussed measures to promote cooperation between border provinces in security, economy, culture, education, vocational training and health care.

The two sides approved contents of documents which will be presented at a plenary session on February 28. (VNA)

Cambodia suspends to release alleged terrorists

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian Supreme Court here on Wednesday delayed to release verdict for three men charged with attempted murders of diplomats by suicide bombing and explosion against western countries' embassies in Phnom Penh.

Haji Chiming Abdulazi, 42, and Muhammady Alaludim Mading, 46, both Muslim from Thailand, as well as Cambodian Muslim Sman Esma El, 30, were already sentenced to life in jail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the Appeal Court.

"We delayed to release verdict for the case and we will declare it on March 13," said Khim Pon, president of the Council of Judgment, after over four hours of hearing.

The trio were charged with planning to murder diplomats through suicide bombing and explosion against western countries' embassies in Phnom Penh, including those of United States, Britain and Canada, said prosecutor Chhoun Chantha in the courtroom.

"They were also linked with regional terrorist group the Jemaah Islamiyah," he added.

The group's leader, Hambali, was arrested by the Thai authorities in February 2004, after reportedly staying for six months in Cambodia, he said.

They were connected with international terrorism group the Al-Queda and their acts were of international terrorism, he said.

The Cambodian police authorities arrested the three men in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Chhoun added.

Editor: Yan Liang

Khmer Rouge top interrogator apologises to regime's victim: witness

An estimated 16,000 people died at the Tuol Sleng prison which was run by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979
Police escort the convoy transporting Duch as it leaves Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh
The Choeung Ek killing fields memorial on the outskirts of Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The Khmer Rouge's top interrogator returned Wednesday to the former school turned torture centre which he ran during Cambodia's 1970s genocide, apologising to his victims for blindly following orders, a witness said.

It was the first time in nearly 30 years that prison boss Duch, who oversaw the regime's Tuol Sleng prison with brutal efficiency, had set foot in what was one of the Khmer Rouge's most horrific killing machines.

The 65-year-old former maths teacher whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders facing UN-backed trials for atrocities committed under the communists' rule.

During a day-long session with officials from Cambodia's genocide tribunal, Duch walked through Tuol Sleng's dilapidated classrooms, re-enacting for them the daily routine that helped shape his alleged crimes, officials said.

"At the end he stood at the gate and clasped his hands in prayer, apologising to his victims for what he did and saying he had blindly followed his superior's orders to kill his own people," said one witness to the proceedings, which were conducted in private.

Only around a dozen of the estimated 16,000 men, women and children who were herded, blindfolded and bound, into Tuol Sleng during the regime's repeated purges are known to have lived through the ordeal.

Some of those survivors were on hand Wednesday to confront Duch directly for the first time since the Khmer Rouge regime fell, although tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath declined to comment on what was said.

"They talked to each other, but through the judges. The judges, lawyers and co-prosecutors asked questions and the witnesses and Duch answered," he told AFP.

"All the parties, including the charged person and the witnesses, have explained what happened here 30 years ago," he added.

He said that more meetings between Duch, survivors and former prison guards would be mediated Thursday by court officials as part of their ongoing investigation into the brutal upheaval that engulfed Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Tuol Sleng survivor Chum Mey, who according to witnesses was present Wednesday, told AFP earlier that he wanted to speak to Duch and convince him to acknowledge his crimes.

"The re-enactment is good, it means he (Duch) cannot say he did not do anything. I want him to show the judges ... where he gave the orders to bring people to be executed," Chum Mey said.
"I want him to recall the stories and answer everything," he added.

Duch, a born-again Christian who was seized by Cambodian authorities in 1999 and held at a military prison until his transfer to the tribunal in July, is charged with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the regime's inner circle.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed by the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.

Cities were emptied and their populations exiled to vast collective farms, while schools were closed, religion banned and the educated classes targeted for extermination.

Duch, who has not denied his Tuol Sleng role, also took court officials Tuesday through the Choeung Ek killing fields, where as many as 20,000 people -- most of them prisoners at Tuol Sleng -- were murdered.

There he knelt and prayed several times, weeping for the regime's victims, Reach Sambath said, calling the visit a significant step towards justice.

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal was established in July 2006 after nearly a decade of contentious negotiations between the government and United Nations over the shape of the court.

The first public trials are expected later this year.

Cambodian athletes face difficulties such as bad meals, low subsidy


The Cambodian athletes are facing many difficulties such as bad meals, low subsidy and few coaches, which lead to poor achievements in international sports events, local media reported today.

Cambodian athletes mainly come from poor families, so they were underfed from a child, the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily newspaper said, citing sports analysts.

An athlete of the national team has only 15,000 riels (about US$3.75) per day as meal fees, some analysts said, adding that it should be increased to 25,000 riels (about US$6.25).

Many athletes have to do part-time jobs because the subsidy of 120,000 riels (about US$30) a month is not enough for them to make a living, they said.

As a result, the Cambodian athletes can not concentrate on their trainings therefore they are not able to get good scores in games, they added.

In addition, Cambodian national teams can not afford to employ good coaches because of lack of money, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Thong Khon, Cambodian Tourism Minister and President of the Cambodian Olympic Committee, said that the government will try to improve the training condition of athletes and help them to have better performance.

Cambodia will be well prepared for the Southeast Asian Games in 2009 and the Asian Games in 2010 to win more medals, Thong Khon said.

The Cambodian athletes have won 93 medals in all from various international sports events since 1993, including 18 medals in the Southeast Asian Games in 2007.


Director Poeuv '02 Screens 'New Year Baby' at Smith

Media Credit: Courtesy of
Socheata Poeuv '02 will hold a question-and-answer session tonight after the Southeast Asian Alliance's screening of her award-winning film, "New Year Baby."
Hannah Leung

In the post Academy Awards rush - Cynthia Wade, a Smith alumna, snagged an impressive looking statuette for her film, "Freehold," - there should be another director on the buzz list-Socheata Poeuv, '02. Pouev is the director of "New Year Baby," a documentary that has already won numerous awards, including Amnesty International's "Movies That Matter" Human Rights Award and the Best Documentary at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Poeuv herself will be coming to Smith this Thursday, Feb. 28, for a question-and-and answer session after the screening of "New Year Baby."

"New Year Baby" details Poeuv's journey to Cambodia to learn about her parents' life under the Khmer Rouge. Lasting from 1975-1979, an estimated 1.5 million people were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. Born on New Year's Day in a refugee camp in Thailand, Poeuv's family immigrated to the United States, where she spent her childhood. "New Year Baby" tells the story of Poeuv's family and their struggles in becoming "Americans."

Socheata Poeuv, who received a B.A. in English in 2002, loved watching documentaries and PBS as a child-staple pastimes for many American children. Growing up in Texas, however, Poeuv lacked resources to contextualize her status as a Cambodian immigrant. Books and documentaries thus played a significant role in her search for roots.

"I grew up in a place where Asian Americans didn't have much public space…One of my biggest influences was this documentary I saw when I was 16, called 'A.K.A. Don Bonus.' It was the only other documentary I've ever seen that was about a Cambodian immigrant living in America. It really influenced me, and made me think that maybe I could possibly make a film like this," Poeuv said.

Another influence of Poeuv's is Art Spiegelman's "Maus," a comic book based on Spiegelman's parents' survival of the Holocaust.

Poeuv said, "Spiegelman used comics to depict something serious. And I use animation in my film. His novel is what really gave me the idea. It reflects on many things, and for me, it really captures my experience of being a child of genocide survivors."

5PAN member and VSA Co-Chair, American studies major, Thuy Le '09 applauds the screening of the film.

Le said, "I [think] that Southeast Asia is the most forgotten or overlooked area of Asia. Smith provides a history course for almost every part of the world, but there's nothing on the history or culture of Southeast Asia. This film [provides an] opportunity to learn more about Cambodia, a country rarely talked about in history or humanities classes."

While addressing larger issues of race, assimilation, and immigration, the film also touches on ubiquitous life issues, such as the sometimes tumultuous relationship between parent and child. In an observation that rings true to many, regardless of generation and culture, Poeuv said, "Young people are so busy all the time, they hardly sit down and ask their parents about family history. I'm really interested in promoting the idea of putting forth the patience and compassion in these relationships."

Originally opposed to the film, her parents are now supportive. Poeuv said, "They travel with me now to present the film!"

When asked if it was unnerving to constantly see herself on the big screen, Poeuv said, "In the beginning, I didn't want myself to be in the film. Eventually I realized that the American audience would really need a conduit. So I just filled that roll. I've been editing the film for so long that I've distanced myself. I talk about myself in third person after a while!"

Having transferred to Smith, (she also spent a year abroad at Oxford), Poeuv notes the uniqueness of her Smith experience. "Smith has a very supportive community-from my professors and friends-there were just expectations that you would go on to go great things," said Poeuv.

Asked about coming back to Smith for the first time since graduation, Poeuv said, "I'm excited! When they told me they were screening [the movie] at Seelye, I thought it was appropriate-I spent so much time there as an undergrad!"

Cambodian woman cries wolf on errant husband
27 February 2008

PHNOM PENH - An abandoned pregnant wife and mother tracked down her errant husband and incited an angry mob to chase and corner him by yelling “Help! Thief,” a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

The Koh Santepheap daily reported Chun Ly, 42, tracked her husband down in the northern tourist town of Siem Reap, more than 400 kilometres from the capital, to take her revenge.

The paper said the man had taken off with the couple’s new motorbike three months earlier, leaving Ly pregnant and caring for three young children alone.

Ly waited until he was cornered by the mob and weeping in terror, before wading through the crowd and revealing he was actually not a thief but just a deadbeat dad, the paper reported.

The trick was a dangerous one for the husband. A lack of faith in the police and judiciary has made mob lynchings and killings of suspected criminals commonplace in Cambodia.

The paper said it was unclear whether Ly’s prank had convinced the man to return home, or at least to return the motorbike.

Asian nations vie to become Cambodia's biggest foreign investors
Wed, 27 Feb 2008

Phnom Penh - China overtook South Korea as Cambodia's largest foreign investor last year, but Japan had shown an increased interest in investment as opposed to aid, a senior Cambodian economist said Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference in the capital, the secretary-general for the government's Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Sok Chenda, gently chided Western nations for lagging behind Asian nations in foreign direct investment.

He said between 1994 to 2003 investment from Western nations made up just 15 per cent of the country's total, with 60 per cent coming from Asian nations such as Malaysia, China and Korea.

"I can't predict foreign investment figures for 2008 but I hope for even more. Prime Minister Hun Sen just returned from a visit to South Korea yesterday and we are hopeful that will generate renewed investment interest there," Chenda said.

"There is also new interest from other quarters, and especially Japan. Japanese investors have certainly now entered the doors of our home."

Approved foreign investments from 1994 to 2007 totalled 14.83 billion dollars, he said, with China accounting for 1.76 billion dollars of that total and South Korea 1.5 billion dollars.

Industrial investments made up 34 per cent of that total, followed by the service industry with 32 per cent.

Agriculture made up just 7 per cent, but Chenda said that was a promising area of growth and with a boom in global bio-fuel demand and the recently launch of several food processing factories in Cambodia it was expected to continue to grow.

However he admitted the less developed nation still faced obstacles, such as Cambodia's terrible balance of trade and lack of secondary industries, which meant container ships arrived full but often left with room to spare.

He also appealed to foreign governments to help Cambodia strengthen its ability to curb money laundering, pointing out that the country lacked an investment board to investigate potential investors thoroughly, such as the boards set up in Thailand and Japan.

"Competing regionally remains less than easy. Trading partners use the words 'friendly' and 'cooperation', but of course they always look after their own interests," he said.

Final Voter List at 8.12 Million, NEC Says

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

The voter registration list for July's national elections has been finalized, with more than 8 million people expected to vote and hundreds of thousands of names dropped or added, officials said Wednesday.

About 587,000 names were cleaned from the registration lists in all 24 municipalities and provinces, and around 911,000 names were added, NEC President Im Suosdey said Wednesday.

"So the voter list for the next election 2008 is now up to 8.12 million," he said, adding that voters will be able to cast ballots at 15,254 stations nationwide.

The NEC made its final decision Tuesday and would move forward with the list, officials said at a press conference.

Opposition lawmaker Kuoy Bunroeun said during the press conference there was still a worry that legitimate voters have been cleaned from the NEC list.

"They will lose their right to vote and chose their representative," he said.

Im Suosdey said the NEC cleared even less names than have been estimated as "ghost names."

Muth Chantha, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, expressed concern that ballots would be positioned in homes of villagers, leading to a loss of privacy, but NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said the boxes were to be set up this election in schools and pagodas.

Comfrel legal officer Kaing Sovanren recommended the NEC facilitate observers and take into consideration the neutrality of government officials, as well as considering complaints and the transmission of election information.

Im Suosdey said schedules were now being established for the recruitment of an election officer that would help concerned voters find their names on the registration list.

The period for political party registration will be from April 28 through May 12, he said.

The NEC is now looking for more than $6 million to help fund the election, which will cost an estimated $17 million.

The Cambodian government is paying at least $10 million.

Voter turnout for last year's commune elections was only about 70 percent of 7.9 million registered voters, and election monitors and other officials hope the national elections will see a better turnout--closer to the 89 percent who cast ballots in 2002.

Court Delays Terrorism Verdict of 3 Men

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

Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer (1.11 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Supreme Court said it will rule March 12 on the life sentences of three suspected terrorists who made their final appeals Wednesday.

Supreme Court Judge Chhim Siphal said the courts needed more time to discuss the cases of Abdul Azi Jaiji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading, who are Thai, and Sman Esma El, who is Cambodian.

Kao Sopha, defense lawyer for all three men, told VOA Khmer he was confident the men would be released.

During their hearing, the men denied they had plotted terrorist acts against the British and US embassies in Phnom Penh.

Sman Esma El said he had been offered money and a position of power for confessing to the charges against him in 2003.

"I was convicted at the order of top senior officials," Muhammad Yalaludin said.

"I didn't come to destroy Cambodia, like what I have been charged for," Abdul Azi said. "May Allah damn me and my seven-distant relatives if I colluded with terrorists. May Allah damn those who have charged me, and may their bloodline meet bad luck."

Art Festival to Run Through Friday

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
27 February 2008

Nuch Sarita reports in Khmer (1.59 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Spotlight, an Asian arts festival that includes performances from a wide array of artists, will wind up eight days of performances in Cambodia Friday, organizers said.

The Spotlight festival includes performances, exhibitions, film, music and visual arts, including work from disabled artists.

Kong Nay, a blind chapei player often compared to US musician Ray Charles, played the opening event, which seeks to showcase the talent and diversity of many Asian artists.

The festival included a parade, with floats, motorcycle taxis and carriages, wheelchairs, cyclos and others.

Duch Shows Judges His Old Prison

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

In the second day of tribunal "re-enactments," jailed Khmer Rouge cadre Duch on Wednesday toured the infamous prison he once supervised under the regime.

Neighbors stood in silence as a convoy, sirens wailing, carried Duch from his tribunal detention cell to the prison, where as many as 16,000 Cambodians were tortured at the center and later executed.

Many of the dead were buried at the Choeung Ek "killing fields," which Duch and tribunal officials visited Tuesday.

Officials said the tours, called "re-enactments," are part of the standard proceedings at the tribunal, where Duch has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role as chief of the prison.

Tight security prevented media coverage near the prison, in the center of Phnom Penh, as tribunal judges questioned Duch and witnesses at the now-popular tourist site.

"This onsite investigation allowed us to clarify the facts in order to describe the location better," tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said at the end of a full day. "The accused and witnesses, they moved with judges to different places in this compound, around the site, and each of them gave an explanation to what happened here 30 years ago."

Bun Thoeun, a 70-year-old with a house near Tuol Sleng, said he appreciated the efforts of the tribunal, especially in bringing Duch to the prison.

"But my suffering with Duch is still the same as before," he said. "Since Duch left Tuol Sleng in 1979, he has never returned to see his crime."