Sunday, 2 March 2008

Interview Between Ms. Chim Manavy, Director of the Open Institute, and Koh Santepheap

Posted on 2 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549
Question 1:
“On 8 March 2008, what programs will the NGO Open Institute implement to celebrate the International Women’s Day?

“The topic for the Open Institute this year is ‘Women and Independence.’ We intend to widely promote awareness and knowledge about gender equity for Khmer women.

“To improve the situation of Cambodian women, we think that women’s independence is a crucial factor, apart from policies. Nothing new and different can be achieved if we do not begin from ourselves. We want all women to know that changes start from ourselves. We have to develop knowledge to increase self-confidence and to participate in the integration of social development.

“The Open Institute, which is a member of the Cambodian NGO Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW - full text of the Convention], will organize a series of activities to participate in the celebration of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2008. We would like to welcome your participation by all means available, and we also invite you to visit the Women’s Web Portal, our women’s website on the Internet at:

“Our activities include the following:

Network information resources and electronic mail: We use network information resources and a mailing list – - which is a forum for discussions via electronic mail - e-mail - about issues of women and gender, in order for everybody to share opinions and observations about the situation of women. To stimulate communication and discussion, we would like to invite you to share your ideas and opinions about our network information resources, using our mailing list.

Publication of articles about the International Women’s Day: We will extract and publicize information on activities of institutes and organizations working on women’s affairs. We welcome and encourage you to also write articles and news to be posted on the web portal on women’s affairs; or if you can send them to us, we will publish them for you. [see also: ‘International Women’s Day 2007 in Cambodia’]

Editorials: Our editorials will focus on issues about the International Women’s Day.

Participation and cooperation with the Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW, governmental institutions [reference: ‘Cambodia - Combined initial, second and third reports‘ - look up ‘Cambodia’], and local non-governmental organizations [references: ‘Joint Coalition Shadow Report for the CEDAW Committee‘ - look-up ‘34th CEDAW Session, Cambodia - 1′ and [’Women’s anti-discrimination committee considers cambodia’s report‘] to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

Monitoring of various media’s reporting news on the International Women’s Day. We will release a monitor report on examining and monitoring media news to the public after the International Women’s Day.

Question 2:
“Currently, a number of children and women have suffered from being raped, and there has been a steady increase in the cases of rape. What main reasons do you think have led to such rapes, especially fathers raping their own children, older siblings raping their younger siblings, for example?
“This is an important question. To fully respond to the question, I understand that we need to conduct another research [see also: ‘
Rape and Indecent Assault in Cambodia Report‘ by LICADHO]. We see that the cases of raping are reported daily in almost every issue of the newspapers, and sometimes in one issue there are two or three different cases reported. We cannot accept such a serious situation. Newspapers reported the confessions of offenders about the reasons for causing them to do so. Most of them said that it was because of drinking alcohol or watching sex videos, others wanted to have sex only to satisfy their sexual desire. There are questions, but not all who drink alcohol or watch sex videos are rapists.

“There is a succession of increasing cases of rape. The majority of cases occur in rural areas, where most poor people receive little or no education at all. There are many factors that lead to an increase in the cases of rape. Social morality is on the decline, and poverty makes most people unable to receive appropriate education. Therefore, they do not know and understand the law. They do not value social morality. Moreover, people now have the tendency towards materialism rather than valuing morality in their life.

“People do not understand clearly about their rights and so they discriminate against victims. Therefore, we see also that sometimes victims are willing to accept money as compensations and agree not to lodge a legal complaint against offenders. Lax laws, a judicial system without independence, corruption of the judicial system and of the police, and a culture of impunity - these are the factors which do not lead to a decrease in offenses.
Question 3:
“Do you agree with the head of the government’s statement, claiming that good cooperation between the national police and judicial institutions is a crucial factor determining success or failure in bringing offenders to court?
“This is also a factor relating to punishing offenders. It can result in the reduction of the cases of rape. The problem is still linked to the strict implementation of the professional work by the national police and the judicial institutions, without any political influence or corruption. The national police must be a politically neutral force, without affiliation to political parties, and they have to carry out their role based on the principles for their work. The courts must be independent without political influence, they must be clean, be concerned first of all with the law, and seek justice for all citizens. Meanwhile, both institutions also have to strengthen their respective skills.
Question 4:
“Do you support the idea of imposing additional serious punishments upon criminals?
“Additional punishment are not a total solution. Most important is the question what should be done with offenders? Is it the full implementation of existing law, as indicated above? Even though the law states that offenders must be seriously punished, many are still at large, as the law is not effectively implemented. Meanwhile, we have to widely disseminate information about various laws to the people, so that they know that rape is a crime.
Question 5:
“What are your recommendations about the prevention of crimes of rape and the trafficking of children and women?
“To be able to do such work, we have to cooperate with the relevant ministries and institutions, and to provide education to the people. The aim of cooperation with civil society organizations is to make people aware that:

1- Rape is a crime. Therefore, even though victims may be the children or siblings of an offender, offenders will be punished if they commit a crime.
Rape can destroy a women’s future, because some women lose the opportunity to work. The problem will affect not only an individuals but also families and society. The loss of human resources will also affect social development.

2- Offenders must be fined and imprisoned, and they should not be able to pay some money in order to avoid being punished by law.

“Meanwhile, the government must strengthen the capacity of law enforcers by providing those in charge with appropriate training in skills, procedures, and relevant laws.

“In relation with the prevention of trafficking of children and women, local authorities clearly know about some problems related to migration, and the ministries should strengthen the monitoring and supervision of Khmer workers who want to work in foreign countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Khmer embassies abroad must supervise and make it easy for Khmer laborers working abroad to contact their embassy if any problem arises. The Ministry of Tourism has to study about developments in the tourism sector, to make every effort to protect Khmer culture and Khmer people’s dignity, and to prohibit sex tourism and punish sex tourists. The trafficking of children and women must be prohibited, and offenders must be punished by law.
Question 6:
“The day of 8 March is International Women’s Day. What will your Open Institute talk about gender and other issues which Khmer women want to know? And in what way do you expect the participation from people in society?
“We want Khmer women to know that they have the same rights as men to receive education and information, and the freedom to express their ideas to participate in decision making, in allocating and in managing resources. Women have to try their best to build up their capacities, to have more active participation in their work. The society has to encourage and empower women to contribute to the steady reduction of the gender gap. At the International Women’s Day next year, we will talk about the talents of women, and the achievements that women have attained, rather than speaking about women’s issues in general.

“Khmer women need the right to participate in all economic, social, and political activities, and have the right to decide. Women’s rights are human rights. Article 1 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights stipulates, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article 3 provides that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person..”

“Women request to participate in building a society with the basic knowledge to reduce poverty.

“Meanwhile, we all have to jointly implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to promote social morality, by valuing educated persons and not valuing materialism, because materialism causes people to commit wrong acts. We all have to participate in changing social attitudes without any discrimination against victims, and by eliminating the culture of impunity.

“Most importantly, the society has to further promote and strengthen the media sector, which is a reflection of society and works toward a society with a high-level of civilization.
Question 7:
“Currently, some women have positions as leaders in institutions, as members of some government authority bodies, or as politicians. In what way do you urge that women should have more participation?
“We see that, even though Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, pays attention to promoting gender equity and suggesting that the main ideas of gender equity should be included in the government’s and into all the institutions’ policies, the results are still limited. There is still less participation from women in all these sectors.

“According to the Human Development Report of the United Nation Development Program [UNDP] on women’s participation in politics, even though Khmer women were eligible to vote and stand for election since 1955, the 2007 figure indicates that women have only 14.8 percent of seats in the Senate, and account for 7.1 percent of a total of ministerial positions. According to the same document, gender empowerment measures indicate that Cambodia ranks at position 83 among 93 countries, and has a Development Index of 0.377. With regard to the Human Development Index [HDI], Cambodia has an HDI of 0.598, and therefore ranks at position 131 amongst 177 countries. According to the eduction indicators for 2004 and 2005, there were 37 and 44 percent of female students who received high school education.

“The figures above are indicative of the interrelatedness of human resources development, and the promotion of women’s participation in Cambodia. The participation of a few women is shown in pictures of gender pyramids, which means that the roles of decision makers and managers are dominated by men, whereas most women have positions at medium and low levels. This affects the social development, as the women in the labor force of the country account for up to 74.4 percent of the total labor force. Therefore, we have to eliminate the glass ceiling which prevents women from participating in social development by encouraging more girls to go to school.

“We have to work more cooperatively with the government, with civil society organizations, and with the private sector to empower women by mainstreaming gender policies in all activities of work, by formulating policies and making other plans, and by providing quotas for women, so that they have more opportunities to participate actively in all these sectors.”
Koh Santepheap, Vol. 441, #6284, 29.2.08

Bird flu and food

International agencies such as the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) state that it is safe to eat fully cooked poultry and eggs, as high temperatures in cooking destroy the avian influenza virus. - Reuters photo

The Stars on line
Sunday March 2, 2008

Avian influenza and food safety.

AVIAN influenza, or “bird flu”, is an infectious disease of animals caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The virus normally infects only birds and, less commonly, pigs. It sparked worldwide concern when the deadly H5N1 strain of virus crossed the species barrier and claimed human victims in isolated, but nonetheless headline grabbing cases.

Although infected wild migratory water fowl are thought to be primarily responsible for spreading the virus from location to location, experts recognise there are many other potential routes to a global pandemic, such as international travellers, or outbreaks not recognised and contained quickly enough.

Short history

Outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 strain of virus was found among poultry flocks in eight Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam) during the period of late 2003 and early 2004.

At that time, it is estimated that more than 100 million birds in the affected regions either died from the disease or were killed in order to try to contain the outbreaks. By March 2004, the outbreak was reported to be under control.

Since late June 2004, however, new outbreaks of H5N1 influenza among poultry have been reported in several countries in Asia and Eastern Europe (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Russia, Siberia, Tibet, Thailand, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Vietnam). It is believed that these outbreaks are ongoing.

Additionally, outbreaks of influenza H5N1 have been reported among wild migratory birds in China, Croatia, Mongolia, and Romania.

Human cases of influenza A (H5N1) infection have been reported in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and most recently, Turkey.

Its impact on human health

Avian influenza does not usually infect humans, but human outbreaks and some deaths have been reported in a small number of countries in Asia, and additionally now in Europe.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 150 human cases have been reported since 2003, with just over 50% of them proving fatal. To date, all human infections have been linked to people working in or living near poultry, such as farms and animal markets.

Experts believe that human infections can occur because the H5 strain under some circumstances is able to jump the species barrier. As of now, only a few human cases of bird flu have been reported and this suggests that the virus is not easily transmitted from birds to humans.

Nevertheless, international health authorities are spearheading preventive measures to contain the spread of infection and minimise the possibility of the virus strains mutating to a form which could be both highly infectious to humans and highly pathogenic (illness-causing). This could happen, for example, if a person was infected with both human and avian influenza viruses at the same time.


Control measures recommended to contain the spread of the virus include:

- Raising awareness amongst those handling or rearing poultry and encouraging early detection and notification.
- Rapid destruction (“culling” or “stamping out”) of all infected or exposed birds, proper disposal of carcasses, and the quarantining and rigorous disinfection of farms.
- Seasonal influenza vaccines for poultry workers.
- Restrictions on movement of live poultry, both within and between countries.
- International financial support to fund control measures required.
- Creation of country-specific guidelines and regional coordination programmes.

What about eating poultry and eggs?

International agencies such as the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) state that it is safe to eat fully cooked poultry and eggs, as high temperatures in cooking destroy the avian influenza virus.

Similarly highly processed chicken and egg products are also safe to consume, according to manufacturers recommendations, because the high temperatures used in processing will destroy the virus and other micro-organisms.

New research confirms that industrial pasteurisation processes of egg products is sufficient to inactivate the heat sensitive Avian influenza virus. The research shows that using temperatures and times of heat application similar to those used in commercial pasteurisation of liquid egg products are sufficient in deactivating the H5N1 strain of virus.

Here are some simple food safety tips to help ensure that the poultry and eggs that reach the table are both free of the avian flu virus and other micro-organisms such as salmonella and campylobacter which can cause other illnesses.

When buying poultry or eggs: Purchase only poultry and poultry products from shops with evident high food hygiene standards or look for those retailers or caterers with national authority certification of good hygiene practices.

Avoid buying live poultry, as bird flu can spread through close contact with infected live poultry.

Select fresh poultry meat and other products that have no signs of damage or infection, such as unusually dark colour, hemorrhage etc.

Select fresh eggs, without faeces staining on the shell. Avoid buying eggs with cracked shells.
Canned poultry products and chicken essence can be safely consumed, as all processed foods undergo a heat treatment process that effectively destroys viruses.

When storing / thawing poultry and eggs: Freeze or clean and cook poultry as soon as you reach home from a shopping trip, as existing viruses multiply rapidly in raw meat at room temperature.

Keep poultry on the bottom shelf of the freezer to prevent drippings from falling on and contaminating other food. To prevent cross-contamination, avoid storing uncooked poultry beside cooked meat.

Store eggs in the refrigerator.

Avoid thawing frozen poultry at room temperature, as this encourages existing viruses to multiply.
Thaw poultry in the refrigerator the night before and place a pan below to catch the drip. If thawing in a microwave, finish cooking in a conventional oven immediately. Poultry can be thawed as part of the cooking process as long as it reaches a safe internal temperature (see below for more details).

When handling uncooked or frozen raw poultry: Avoid touching the nose, eyes, and mouth when handling food and wash hands thoroughly (about 20 to 30 seconds) with soap and hot water before and after contact with any food product, to keep your hands virus-free. Use separate chopping boards for cooked and raw products.

Separate raw meat from cooked and other raw foods to avoid cross-contamination.

If you cut your hand whilst cleaning poultry, wash the wound with an antiseptic, cover the wound with a waterproof plaster and wear clean gloves whilst cleaning poultry.

Scrub and sanitise the draining board, sink, utensils and chopping boards with hot soapy water, as they may become contaminated when poultry is washed, cleaned and cut. Discard worn out boards, as cut marks on them serve as hiding places for viruses.

Wash sponges and towels frequently with 10% bleach solution, as they can serve as a source of cross contamination.

When handling an egg: Wash the outside of eggs and wash hands after handling an egg, as the egg shell may be contaminated with bird faeces.

When cooking poultry and eggs: WHO recommends that poultry should be cooked to reach an internal temperature of 70ºC for 30 minutes or 80ºC for 1 minute. To check that poultry is well-cooked – juices should run clear and meat near the bone should not be pink. A cooking thermometer can also be used to check cooking temperature.

When cooking in the microwave, cover poultry, stir, and rotate either on a turntable or manually for even cooking, as microwave heat can leave cold pockets inside the poultry where harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses can survive.

Never partially cook poultry for final cooking later. Bacteria and viruses can survive and grow in partially cooked meat. Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.

Avoid recipes that require the use of raw or partially cooked eggs (for example, mayonnaise or mousse, soft-boiled eggs or a sunny-side-up). Use pasteurised processed egg products instead.
Don’t handle food more than needed – use forks and tongs. Never dip fingers in food to taste.
When eating: Wash your hands before eating. Heat poultry thoroughly before eating, as micro-organisms grow best in warm temperatures.

If fully cooked poultry is purchased, it should be picked up hot and brought home for immediate consumption.

Do not allow any cooked poultry to sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. Refrigerate leftover poultry as soon as it cools slightly and eat it within three or four days.
Never taste leftover poultry that looks or smells strange. When in doubt, throw it out. Reheat leftover poultry until steaming hot.

Coming to America

Executive director of Hearts Without Boundaries Peter Chhun helps Davik and her mother, Sin Chhon, pick out fruit at a Ralphs Grocery Store in Long Beach on Friday, a far cry from markets in Cambodia.(Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)
Dr. Mark Sklansky examines Davik in preparation for surgery at Childrens Hospital L.A. (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)
Davik Teng, 9, and her mother Sin Chhon enjoy their first hamburger at a Long Beach McDonalds. The Cambodian pair, visiting the U.S. for the first time, has been amused and bemused by supermarkets, freeways and the Goodyear blimp.(Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

Nine-year-old Davik Teng is full of wonder at American culture as she awaits life-altering heart surgery.

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - "Where are all the motorbikes and bicycles? And what is that?"
These were two of the first questions Davik Teng and her mother, Sin Chhon, had shortly after arriving in Los Angeles.

Freeway traffic in Southern California was something neither Davik nor Sin had ever seen and was vastly different from the pell-mell profusion of scooters and tuk-tuks that define much of the traffic in their homeland Cambodia.

Davik asked if there were any "ko youns," referring to an open-wheeled Cambodian tractor. Now she jokingly refers to cars as American "ko youns."

The odd object Davik spotted in the sky was the Goodyear blimp. That took some explaining.
Since then, the mother and daughter have been receiving a crash course in American culture 101 in their first trip out of their native country.

Davik is the 9-year-old girl from a remote village in Western Cambodia who was brought to the United States by a Long Beach nonprofit for open heart surgery.

Since arriving in Long Beach, the mother and daughter have been at the center of a whirlwind of activity. They have made several visits to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which is donating facilities and cardiac and dental teams for several surgeries.

They have also had encounters with things iconically American such as supermarkets, McDonalds, Jay Leno and Los Angeles traffic. The pair has been paraded around town to meet members and groups from Long Beach's Cambodian community, seen hours of cartoons on television and become minor celebrities at Sophy's Restaurant, 3720 Anaheim St., which has become an unofficial Davik and Sin central.

And this is just the first week.

Beginning Tuesday, the serious work begins. Although Davik was initially scheduled for the heart surgery last Thursday, the procedure was postponed after doctors found significant dental decay and disease that could complicate surgery.

Instead Davik will have oral surgery to remove infected teeth and minimize the chances of bacteria from the mouth getting into the blood system and affecting the heart. Doctors expect she should be ready for surgery in two to four weeks.

Davik suffers from a heart defect known as a ventricular septal defect, or what is commonly called a hole in the heart.

The defect pushes blood through the hole, which stresses the lungs, causes fatigue and shortness of breath and leads eventually to irreparable lung disease.

Luckily for Davik, a battery of tests showed the child had surprisingly little lung disease, making her a good candidate for the surgery.

Supermarket surprises

So far, much of the week has been about discovering America, although doctors have cautioned Davik and her mom to slow down and limit their exposure to locals and the risk of contracting disease.

Still the two have had some eye-opening experiences. Their first trip to a supermarket was one. Davik and Sin had never seen so much food in a single place.

Davik would later say that her favorite thing in America thus far is milk, which is virtually unknown and unavailable to the poor in Cambodia.

On a second trip to the market, Davik and her mom limited themselves to produce, picking oranges, grapes and apples, which are rare in Cambodia.

Then Davik's eyes alit on something she recognized. She ran over and pointed at the familiar fruit - mangoes.

McDonalds was another cultural experience for Davik and Sin. After spending about 10 minutes pointing at pictures and menu items, Davik and Sin settled on an Angus burger with French fries and Hi-C orange drink.

As she split a hamburger with her daughter, Sin said, through a translator, that the amount of meat in American cuisine was particularly surprising to her.

While munching on her hamburger, Davik would often fall into fits of giggles.

When asked what they thought of the food, Sin said it was wonderful and tasted like nothing they had ever had in Cambodia.

While Davik was munching on her portion of the hamburger, two women who recognized her from the newspaper came over. They patted Davik on the head.

"We just want you to know we're praying for you," one said. "And welcome to our country."
Davik and Sin smiled broadly when the message was translated.

Vast differences

Earlier in the day, the two had been at NBC Studios, the workplace of Peter Chhun, the executive director of Hearts Without Boundaries, the local nonprofit that brought Davik to the U.S. It was there they spotted Leno.

To Sin, the differences between Cambodia and the U.S. seem endless.

"Just name it," she said through translation. "It's much more clean. There are no dirty bumpy roads and the roads are clean and wide. There's no stink. The buildings are bigger and the lights are brighter."

Sin and Davik live in a compound with no electricity, no running water and no sewage. They share a 6-by-9-foot hut with Davik's sister and great aunt.

Gradually, though, the two are settling in.

When asked if she thought much about her village, Davik said through translation, "When I first got here, I think about my village and family a lot. Now I think about them a little bit."

Then she laughed.

Davik and her mom have been staying with a Cambodian family in Central Long Beach. When not going to the hospital, Davik watches cartoons on television and draws, while her mom helps their hosts with cooking.

At nights, they often visit Sophy's where "Uncle Bobby" works. That's Chantha Bob, a waiter who first brought Davik to the attention of Chhun and Hearts Without Boundaries.

When introduced to new people, Davik and her mom invariably steeple their fingers and bow in the traditional Cambodian greeting.

Occasionally, the child will add "Hello, my name is Davik."

On a recent visit, Davik and a Cambodian-American girl she befriended showed how easy it is for the child to blend in.

Wearing a sweatshirt decorated with snowmen and teddy bears, Davik ran around with her new friend shooting pictures with a digital camera.

The children would then look at the photos and dissolve in laughter.

"I like it because I see people in the camera," Davik said.

Summing up the experiences, Chhun said, "They seem to be handling it quite well. At some places they've had a big culture shock, like the supermarket. But after the first time, it just becomes normal to them."

Festival stirs the melting pot

A member of the German-American Club of Cape Cod, Leonard Klein, shows off his lederhosen at the Multicultural Festival of Cape Cod yesterday at Cape Cod Community College.Cape Cod Times/Steve Heaslip

March 02, 2008

WEST BARNSTABLE — As hundreds visited the eighth annual Multicultural Festival of Cape Cod yesterday, one fact became clear: this event isn't so much about the food as hunger.

Musicians and dancers representing 16 ethnic groups transformed Cape Cod Community College's cafeteria and arts center into catacombs of culture yesterday. Along with the Tilden Arts Center being booked from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with performers from all over the map, the International Cafe featured delicacies from Japan, Mexico, Southeast Asia, India, Europe and the Americas.

The different-colored faces sitting at the various booths offered crafts, sweets and the stories of their relatives' or their own migrations. A quick look beyond the Rastafarian album covers and Irish sweaters for sale, and you realized most of these groups or their descendents emigrated to the United States because of hunger and strife in their home country.

This became clear when speaking with Bopha Samms, who lost 14 of her 19 family members in two years during the brutal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Samms, 51, has owned Stir Crazy, a successful restaurant in Bourne, for 18 years.

In 1975, Samms had just finished high school when Pol Pot's Communist regime seized power in the Southeast Asian nation. On April 17, 1975, thousands of residents of her city, Phnom Penh, were driven out by the new leaders.

Soldiers just knocked on doors and told people to grab their belongings and leave, she said.

The April 17 Group, as they were called, was forced to roam a countryside filled with dead and rotting bodies, she said. For five years, her family wandered, unable to find a proper place to live or enough to eat. Samms, the fourth of 11 children, was sometimes so hungry she could not walk.

She said the temptation to eat anything, weeds, even something poisonous, could be overwhelming.

"You think, well, if I only eat a little, it won't kill me," Samms said.

Forced by the Pol Pot regime to grow crops, her family had to choose between starving or being beaten to death for stealing some of the vegetables, she said.

It was only after Samms' mother died that she and four siblings managed to escape to refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. She eventually emigrated to Providence, R.I., and got a job as a live-in nanny on the Cape in 1981.

Samms started her restaurant in 1989.

At her booth yesterday, Samms wore a gold Cambodian dress and her beautiful smile. She sat with her younger sister, younger brother and husband, who also escaped Pol Pot's holocaust.

The intentional starvation and torture of people by their own governments still goes on today, in Darfur, in Haiti, in other places around the world, she said.

"But even my own children don't think it's real," she said.

Samms' three offspring are 24, 22 and 14.

"Everything in this country — with Hollywood — it teaches you to think of yourself only. So we try to teach them to give, to share with others," Samms said of how she has raised her children.

"Because of the small part of the majority that still gives to charity, that's how we've been able to rebuild our lives in this country."

Helping one's neighbor was the theme of a service Thursday night sponsored by the Cape Cod Interfaith Coalition. Organized as part of the multicultural festival, the service was titled "What Do We Owe Our Neighbor?"

The evening included readings from the Quran, poetry by a Zen master and gospel music.

"What do we owe our neighbor?" asked Lawrence Brown, a Hindu, during the service. "To pay attention."

U.S. serviceman remains flown from Cambodia for analysis

Sunday, March 2, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The remains of a U.S. serviceman who died in Cambodia more than three decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for forensic analysis.

The repatriation is the latest effort by the U.S. military to account for personnel who went missing in the Southeast Asian nation during the Vietnam War.

After a brief ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport, a U.S. military transport plane carrying the remains left for Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, where the forensic identification process will begin, a U.S. Embassy statement said.

Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said the remains are believed to be those of a U.S. serviceman who died on Koh Tang, an island several kilometers (miles) off the coast of Cambodia's main port city of Sihanoukville. The embassy did give further details about when the remains were found.

Eighteen U.S. Marines were killed fighting Khmer Rouge forces on Koh Tang in May 1975.

Invading Marines fought for three hours trying to rescue the captured crew of the U.S.
merchant marine vessel Mayaguez without knowing they had already been released by the Cambodian communists.

Mussomeli said cooperation with the Cambodian government has allowed the U.S. to send home and identify the remains of 29 missing American servicemen. Another 55 are still unaccounted for.

NDF Deliver Upset In Cambodia Cup

National Defence Ministry FC delivered an upset in the quarter-finals of the Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Decho Hun Sen Cup 2008 when they beat top flight side Spark FC at the National Olympic Stadium.

Spark FC, who are playing in the upper division of the Cambodian Premier league, were a pale shadow of the side which ended the season with several inspiring results.

And following a first-half deadlock, National Defence Ministry were quick to take the lead in the 54th minute off Sin Dalin before Sok Pheng added the winning touch in the 66th minute.

In the other quarter-final tie, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey FC blasted Kampong Speu FC 12-1 with Lam Haydang scoring six goals (67th,73rd,75th, 81st,86th and 89th minute) in the one-sided exchange.

The other goals for Kirivong were scored by Mam Sophal (2nd and 16th minute), In Vichhika (17th minute), Tuon Phiarum (25th minute) and Mit Attrey (35th and 42nd minute).

The only goal for Kampong Speu was scored by Sok Channa in the 47th minute.

Selling the largest Hindu temple in the world

2 Mar 2008
Vinay Sitapati

Angkor Wat is celebrated, the world over, as a temple of steroid-induced proportions, buried for centuries in the forests of northern Cambodia before being rediscovered by modernity. Visitors such as I, expect to ‘stumble upon’ a giant temple rising about 700 feet in the air amidst the isolation of an intrusive forest.

In today’s global tourism industry, Angkor Wat is portrayed as that rarity, the last chance to truly discover.

There is some truth to this image. Before it was ‘discovered’ in 1840 by a French adventurer, it had not yet entered European imagination. During much of the late twentieth century, when global tourism really took off, Angkor Wat (means city temple) remained inaccessible due to a catastrophic civil war in Cambodia.

Besides, Angkor Wat is probably the largest Hindu temple in the world.

Built by King Surya Varman in the early 12th century, it is dedicated to lord Vishnu. Even the Creator of the Universe would have gasped at the scale of this creation—one square kilometer in size, and built on multiple levels. The artistry of each panel is intricate.

I spot a horde of Hindu tourists, aggressively explaining to their befuddled Cambodian guide that this is actually ‘their’ culture.

The truth is Hinduism in Cambodia dates back to the first century AD, brought by Indian traders from the kingdoms of Magadha (East Bihar) and Tamil Nadu. By the time of the Angkor era, this influence had flowered into a distinct culture of which Angkor Wat is the most enduring example.

So much for the product. Now the packaging.

Even at the time of its so called discovery, Angkor Wat was being administered by some one thousand Buddhist monks. Today, chattering groups of pliant tourists arrive in chartered planes to the nearby airport, Siem Reap. The scatter of shops around the temple sites—some mom and pop, some more enticing—sell every possible packaged memory. The entire area seems like a giant well run hotel.

This gilt-edged wrapping paper, however, is torn at places, revealing contradictions. In sharp contrast to the booming Asian Tigers that surround it, the Cambodian countryside is stark, famished and numbingly poor. Entirely different is Siem Reap, an artificial city, meant to service the many rich western and Japanese tourists who come to visit the Angkor temples. There are super markets everywhere, and the architecture is Baroque-meets-Surya Varman.

The obvious poverty of Cambodia seems to give way to a bubble of smooth highways and air-conditioned modernity. The economy seems as fissured: I could pay in Riel (the Cambodian currency), Baht or in US dollars.

Even the culture that was peddled as Khmer (the majority ethnic group in Cambodia) seemed hybrid. Like in neighbouring Thailand, the Angkor massages on offer in Siem Reap reflected the specific tastes of our globalised times. Eastern European women offer their white skin for the post-colonial Asian, and Nigerians peddle their bodies, rumoured to be well endowed, to Japanese women.

It may seem petulant to emphasise this lack of ‘authentic’ history here. After all every country packages its attractions in bubble wrap for outside tourists. But Angkor Wat’s history has been repackaged for its own people. For Cambodia has had to wrestle with notions of history like few others.

From 1974 to 1979, a far left Maoist regime controlled Cambodia. Until it was overthrown, the Khmer Rouge had succeeded in killing a tenth of Cambodia, forced the entire urban population to the countryside, and sought to radically reshape Cambodian society. Worse (if at all possible) was to follow.

During their fourteen years of exile and guerrilla warfare from the northern jungles, it laid ten million landmines across north Cambodia—one for each Cambodian.

Today, Cambodia enjoys a tenuous peace, and seeks to put behind its immediate past. The Angkor temples are now packaged for Cambodians, as a symbol of national unification.

Even the current Cambodian national flag carries an etching of Angkor Wat. But the phantoms of a grisly past cannot be wished away. Some temples in the Angkor area are still inaccessible due to landmines, and I saw many amputees hobbling across the temple stones.

The Fire in the early morning
This Saturday morning at around 8:00 am, seven fire-trucks ​parking in front of the flat off Olympic market​ and firefighters. The ground floor of flat have been destroyed by fire but no one was injured, and no source tells the details of this fire.