Sunday, 20 April 2008

Korea to expand countries eligible for multiple visas

Korea Net
April 20, 2008

Korea will expand the number of countries whose citizens are eligible for multiple visas to promote tourism and help secure overseas bases for natural resources, the Justice Ministry said Sunday (Apr. 20).

Under the new visa rule, the number of countries whose citizens are eligible for multiple visas was increased from three to 26 beginning Monday, the ministry said.Currently, only a limited number of citizens of China, Russia and India can receive multiple visas.

Added to the list were 10 Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka and 13 energy-rich nations such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Ecuador and Nigeria, the ministry said.

Mass tourism swamps Asia's once unique, remote places

File photo
Tourists ride elephants at one of the main shrines at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The News-Press
The Associated Press
April 20, 2008

LUANG PRABANG, Laos - On a chilly pre-dawn in this wondrous and once-secluded place, scruffy European backpackers and well-heeled American tourists have staked out their firing positions.

A fusillade of flashing, jostling cameras and videocams is triggered the moment Buddhist monks pad barefoot out of their monasteries in a serene, timeless ritual. A forward surge breaks into the line of golden-yellow robes, and nearly tramples kneeling Lao women offering food to the monks.

Later that day, a prince of the former royal capital struggling to preserve his town's cultural legacy protests: "For many tourists, coming to Luang Prabang is like going on safari, but our monks are not monkeys or buffaloes."

Nestled deep in a Mekong River valley, cut off from most of the world by the Vietnam War, Luang Prabang was very different when I first saw it in 1974. Fraying at the edges, yes, but still a magic fusion of traditional Lao dwellings, French colonial architecture and more than 30 graceful monasteries, some dating back to the 14th century. It wasn't a museum, but a cohesive, authentic, living community.

Fast forward to 2008: Many of the old families have departed, selling or leasing their homes to rich outsiders who have turned them into guest houses, Internet cafes and pizza parlors. There are fewer monks because the newcomers no longer support the monasteries. And the influx of tourists skyrockets, the fragile town of 25,000 now taking in some 300,000 of them a year. Throughout Laos, tourism was up an astounding 36.5 percent in 2007, compared to 2006, with more than 1.3 million visitors in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

Some time has passed since destinations on the major crossroads of Asia - Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and others - first took on this influx, even, ironically, as they bulldozed and skyscrapered over the very character, atmosphere and history that drew the visitors by the jumbo flight.

Now, it's the turn of places once isolated by conflicts, hostile regimes and "off-road" geography to which only the more intrepid travelers had earlier ventured. And as Asia's last little gems, one after another, succumb to tourism's withering impact, there are truly pangs in my heart - together with a dose of selfish jealousy as for a love one must now share with many.

"Siem Reap may be one of the few spots that still clings to the remnants of the old Cambodia, before the war, before the slaughter," I wrote in my diary in 1980, returning to this northwestern Cambodia town just months after the fall of the murderous Khmer Rouge.

The human toll had been terrible, but Siem Reap itself endured, its small, languid scale, the old
French market, the artistic ambience so befitting a community at the edge of Cambodia's greatest creations - the ancient temples of Angkor.

At Angkor Wat, an old penniless couple offered warm palm sugar juice from a bamboo cup as a few soldiers escorted me, the sole tourist, through the haunting chambers of the most magnificent temple of them all.

On a recent visit to Siem Reap, I encountered a frenzied, dust-blown work site. Multistory hotels with plate glass windows were springing up on the banks of the lazy Siem Reap River, into which raw sewage oozed from legions of guest houses. The market had more bars per block than Las Vegas.

The spiritually traumatized at luxury retreats could now book one-on-one healing sessions with "life coaches" flown in from United States, and "Angkorean" stomach wraps of lotus leaf and warm rice.

Would-be warriors, down with temple fatigue, were throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles for $30 a burst at the Army Shooting Range. The Phokeethra Royal Angkor Golf and Spa Resort, which boasts an 11th century bridge between the 9th and 10th holes, had brought "the gentlemen's game to the Eighth Wonder of the World."

The 3.7-mile road from Siem Reap to that wonder, once a tranquil alley lined with towering trees, formed a troop of hotels and ugly, mall-like shopping centers, most of them in violation of zoning laws.

On my last evening, I thought a Grand Prix was being run. Young travelers were gathering for sundowner parties while buses delivered Chinese tourists to the grand causeway of Angkor Wat, wreathed by rising exhaust fumes.

Maybe the package groups and top-rung vacationists, with their high-maintenance demands, leave a bigger footprint than backpackers. But in Asia, backpackers have served as the industry's reconnaissance teams, penetrating rural hinterlands to colonize idyllic spots and pave the way for upmarket travelers. The banana pancake circuit it's called, after one of their requisite staples.

Take Pai, a village embedded in an expansive, mountain-encircled valley of northern Thailand. It used to be a great escape into an easygoing, exotic world, with tribal settlements scattered in the hills until the global migratory tribe appeared in droves, dragging its own culture along.

Bamboo and thatch tourist huts hug the meandering Pai River as far as the eye can see, gobbling up rice paddies and clambering up hillsides on its left bank. On the right bank, high-priced resorts have begun to mushroom.

The short downtown strip is jammed with Apple Pai and nine other Internet cafes, video and tattoo parlors, bars, yoga and cooking classes, countless trinket shops and an eatery featuring bagels and cream cheese.

There's even an English-language newspaper, published by Joe Cummings, an author of those Bibles of shoestring travel, the Lonely Planet guides, which probably did more than anything to put Pai on the circuit. In a wicked daydream, I condemn Joe to eating nothing but banana pancakes and lugging a 500-pound backpack through all eternity.

Even those who make their living from tourism lament the growth. "It's too developed now. Too much concrete everywhere, too many guest houses," says Watcharee Boonyathammaraksa, who, when I first met her in 1999 had just fled Bangkok's frantic advertising world to start a cafe, All About Coffee, in what is one of the only old wooden houses left in town.

Luang Prabang has done better in not tearing down its past. UNESCO has kept a close watch after declaring it a World Heritage site in 1995. The agency described the urban jewel as "the best preserved city of Southeast Asia."

Still, former UNESCO expert and resident Francis Engelmann says: "We have saved Luang Prabang's buildings, but we have lost its soul."

The traditional community is dissolving in tourism's wake, with those taking over the old residences interested in profits rather than supporting the monasteries, which exist largely on the offerings of the faithful.

One monastery, Engelmann says, has already closed down and abbots of others complain that tourists enter uninvited into their quarters to snap photos "right in their noses" while they study or meditate. The senior clergy report drugs, sex and minor crimes, once virtually unknown, among young novices as imported enticements and titillations swirl around their temple gates.

"Sustainable, ethical, eco-tourism." Tourist officials in Laos and elsewhere in Asia chant these fashionable mantras. But their operational plans push for "more, more, more." Nothing plunges the region's governments and marketers into a deeper funk than a drop in arrivals because of a tsunami or outbreak of bird flu.

Marriages to Korea Are Not Human Trafficking

Posted on 20 April 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 556

Press Release – Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Phnom Penh

“Recently, the Royal Government of Cambodia has suspended the processing of all marriage documents of its citizens who want to marry a foreigner. A senior official of Cambodia was quoted in a newspaper, saying, ‘There are some cases of human trafficking, found in the activities of the marriage industry in Cambodia.’ Another senior official of Cambodia was also quoted, saying, ‘The temporary suspension aims to put a stop to human trafficking under the pretext of marriages.’ The official continued, ‘Seven women returned from South Korea because they could not bear what had happened to them there.’

“The Royal Government of Cambodia reacted immediately on international marriages, after there had been a report by the International Organization for Migration [IOM] related to cases of emergency, as a result of the system of selecting partners for international marriages, which is practiced in Cambodia and in Korea, and there had as well reports in local and international newspapers on these issues, with the key words of ‘human trafficking.’

“The UN definition of ‘human trafficking’ says: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.

“However, I have so far never heard those words of threats, kidnapping, deception, and abuse by using force, or taking a chance when the victims are weak, or by providing or taking benefits to make the weaker agree with others whom to accept as manager or boss, in an attempt of exploitation in marriages between Cambodians and Koreans. They all married of their own free will, according the procedures of both countries. If the Royal Government of Cambodia believes those brides were sold to Korea, the businesspeople who run marriage companies – both Korean and Cambodian – must be criminals, and they should be caught by the police without delay. But if this is not true, it is completely regrettable that Cambodian officials used the words of ‘human trafficking’ for international marriages between Cambodians and Koreans.

“In fact, it is reported that there are seven women who returned form South Korea, because they could not bear what had happened to them there. If we compare the total number of about 2,500 brides who married Korean men during the period of the last four years, there are only seven women reported to have come back; this is an extremely small number (of less than 0.3 percent). If compared to the increase and the high rate of divorces in modern societies of other countries, it is a shame that the IOM ignores the other 2,493 successful marriages, but it focuses only on a small number of cases that should be treated with extreme care.

“It is also unfortunate that a famous international newspaper had reported, based on the IOM reports, that the grooms have paid up to US$20,000 to matchmakers; while the brides’ families received US$1,000 at the most, and the rest went into the pockets of the matchmakers.

“This is not so. The IOM report said that the Korean men paid between US$5,000 to US$20,000 for the total package tourist service of agents; the grooms paid the brides’ families for traveling and for staying in Phnom Penh, as well as for the wedding gift, from US$300 to US$1,000.

“I would like to express my own view by absolutely rejecting the words ‘human trafficking’ in this context. Truly, there are some aspects of the system of international marriages of selecting partners which need to be improved and corrected. Vast commissions paid, and the limited time for future husbands and wives to understand each other, are among those elements to be changed.

“Moreover, different governments and civil institutions must use their own ideas to help husbands and wives from different ethnic cultures to settle in their target countries well, and to bring with them happiness into their married life in the era of globalization. Efforts to overcome the differences of cultures and to solve misunderstandings in communication are to be of the highest priority.

“Shin Hyun-Suk [ 신현석 ]“Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Royal Government of Cambodia”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4567, 19.4.2008

Holiday beckons Khmer faithful in San Bernardino

Ed Crisostomo / The Press-Enterprise
Buddhist monk Sokha Chan, right, accepts offerings from the crowd during the Khmer Buddhist Society's new year celebration.

Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Press-Enterprise

Worshippers began arriving at the Khmer Buddhist Society of San Bernardino at 8 a.m. Saturday with their offerings of fried noodles, beef curry and jackfruit-studded desserts.

By noon, disposable plates of food and drinks covered the raised wooden platform where monks chanted, the bounty spilling onto the adjoining straw mats and rugs on which worshippers sat and put their hands together in prayer.

Saturday was the biggest gathering of the year for Inland Cambodians, a new year's celebration that drew hundreds of people to a nondescript home that in 1991 was converted into a temple.

The traditional Cambodian new year festivities take place April 13-15, which in Cambodia is a national holiday. But because most people in the United States work on at least some of those days, Buddhist temples here typically celebrate on the weekend before or after the actual new year, said Sokha Chan, head monk at the temple.

That means many U.S. Cambodians get to celebrate the new year twice. Chan and the other San Bernardino monks traveled to a Pomona temple's celebration last Sunday.

Other Inland Cambodians went to Long Beach, which has Southern California's largest Cambodian community.

Buddhism has three main branches. Most Cambodians belong to the Theravada branch. Followers of the other two -- Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism -- marked the new year in February.

The San Bernardino festivities were scheduled to stretch well into the night, with traditional Khmer music and dancing.

The Khmer are the main ethnic group in Cambodia.

In the morning, as the orange- and maroon-robed monks sat against a wall chanting prayers in honor of their and others' ancestors, barefoot worshippers brought an endless series of plates of homemade food to the platform. Volunteers periodically carried the plates to other spots in the temple to make room for more offerings.

Many people placed $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills onto silver-colored trays. Some of the money will be used for a planned temple expansion.

The monks then walked outside clutching metal bowls and cloth bags.

Dozens of people gathered in a giant circle around a huge patio. Each worshipper spooned rice into the monks' bowls and placed bills of money into the bags.

When the monks' bowls filled, a temple member emptied the rice into big plastic washing tubs.

The monks then returned inside the temple. After more prayers, they began eating. When they were done, everyone else followed.

"It's like a big potluck," Vouch Kim Lun said with a smile as she held her 2-year-old daughter Savanna, the smell of incense and grilled beef wafting through the air.

Lun, 35, also brought 3-year-old Brianna to the temple, as she does throughout the year. There are few Cambodians in Lun's Colton neighborhood, and she wants to make sure that her daughters grow up with Cambodian traditions.

Kim Sreng moved from Cambodia to Moreno Valley a year and a half ago to live with relatives and to send money to family still in her homeland. Saturday made her feel a little less homesick.

"This is the one time of year I can see so many Cambodians," Sreng, 28 said.

Sokan Hunro, who moved to Long Beach in November after 17 years in Redlands, returned to the temple for the celebration. Unlike in Long Beach, there is no Cambodian neighborhood in the Inland area.

High demand for textile in Cambodia

International, The News
By By our correspondent

KARACHI: Minister of Pakistan Embassy in Cambodia, Naseerullah Baloch has informed that there is a high demand for textile apparels in Cambodia and local businessmen should concentrate on the region to increase bilateral trade.

He said that Cambodia had recently discovered oil in its region, which would be utilised in the coming years, thereby predicting strong economic growth and increased international trade that would help the country to prosper.

During a meeting with the members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he further added that the textile industry should export raw materials and yarn to the country, since it is the strongest industry in both states.

He stated that Pakistani businessmen should also set up warehouse facilities to store the goods they export from here.

Since Cambodia is a poor country whose imports were worth only US$2 billion and had almost insignificant exports.

Baloch said that pharmaceutical is another industry which has high demand there and Pakistan should work to promote local products in single country exhibitions.

He added that they would be also participating in the My Karachi exhibition to be held in June.

Donald Kirk: Vanished in a time of killing

The Providence Journal
Sunday, April 20, 2008

THE YOUNG MAN approached me with a simple enough offer as I strolled through the grounds of the Royal Palace near the banks of the Tonle Sap in Phnom Penh all those years ago. Did I need a guide, maybe an interpreter?

The response was easy. Sure, why not? The price was right too — less than the equivalent of a dollar for a one-hour look-around as music tinkled from a pavilion and dancers rehearsed a ballet for the entourage of the ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

Those were “the old days” when Cambodia was, as Sihanouk liked to say, “an oasis of peace,” at least as seen by correspondents visiting from the war in Vietnam, seemingly a much more dangerous story to cover.

My guide, named Ith Chhun, had learned some English from Christian missionaries, and he made just enough to support himself by showing people around the palace grounds and gardens.
He was happy to interpret for me on interviews in Phnom Penh and travels around the country.

Cambodia then was on the verge of the war that Sihanouk had hoped to avoid by staying “neutral” while the North Vietnamese set up bases near the Vietnam border. He was traveling from Europe to Moscow and Beijing when he was overthrown in March 1970 by a U.S.-backed group. The Chinese told him the bad news, and he stayed where he was.

As the war spread, Chhun interpreted for an article I did for The New York Times Magazine on the terrible Cambodian Army and for stories for the old Washington Star on battles down deceptively tranquil roads. One morning, after spending the night in a governor’s residence, we drove toward the South Vietnam border and discovered the bodies of 90 Vietnamese, men, women and children, mowed down by Cambodian soldiers as anti-Vietnam hatred ran wild.

Later, after I got back from writing a book on the widening war, I went down roads that seemed serene and secure, turning back when old men and women warned Ith Chhun the Khmer Rouge were nearby. While journalists were getting killed on forays from Phom Penh, I reported for the Chicago Tribune on villages terrorized by Khmer Rouge executions and on high-level corruption in the capital.

These memories flashed by as I read the other week of the passing in New Jersey of Dith Pran, the Cambodian interpreter who became famous from the film The Killing Fields. Pran, as we called him, worked mainly for New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg. When Schanberg was away and Chhun was with his wife and children in some outlying town, Pran worked for me and others. Pran and Chhun were among a small group of interpreters taking the same risks, setting forth with journalists in old Mercedez-Benz cars from the Hotel Royale in Phnom Penh.

I was in New York when the Khmer Rouge completed their takeover of Cambodia in April 1975, nearly two years after the U.S. had stopped the bombing in Cambodia and left U.S.-equipped government soldiers to fend for themselves. I read about the evacuation of Schanberg and others from the French Embassy compound, feared for Pran’s life and was immensely relieved when he showed up in Thailand after four years of survival in a jungle ruled by the Khmer Rouge.

I wondered, though, what had happened to Chhun. Stories of slaughter in the countryside, during the three years, eight months and ten days of Khmer Rouge rule, reminded me of the kidnappings and executions that peasants had told Chhun and me were going on in the early 1970s while scholars were writing that nothing bad would happen when the Khmer Rouge took over in an “agrarian revolt.”

I thought of Chhun concealing any knowledge of English, throwing away his glasses and books and notes, joining the peasantry as their new masters drove them from the cities, into the fields.

As a Christian in a Buddhist society, Chhun would have been more vulnerable than even the Buddhist monks whom the Khmer Rouge killed off as they destroyed pagodas and shrines.

When I returned in May 1985, after covering the 10th anniversary of “the fall” of Vietnam, I ran into people in markets, repair shops and drink stands who remembered me. Some pointed to scars on legs, arms, backs where they had been bound and beaten. They all told of the loss of relatives and friends.

I asked about Chhun, revisited the palace, heard from drivers who thought maybe they had heard about him but weren’t sure. The last time that I was there, six years ago, no one remembered “Ith Chhun.” Chhun was a common name, and no one knew which Chhun I had known.

I wondered if Chhun’s bones might be among those piled up in “the killing field” that visitors see on the outskirts of the capital – a sampling of all the places where people were bludgeoned by bamboo clubs or strangled by guards to whom shooting would be a waste of bullets.

It was as if he had never existed, had vanished in a time of killing when 2 million people like him had died, their images faded in flickering memory, nameless and forgotten.

Donald Kirk, a longtime foreign-affairs editor and foreign correspondent, wrote two books on the Vietnam War, Wider War: the Struggle for Cambodia, Thailand and Laos and Tell it to the Dead: Memories of a War, republished in expanded form as Tell it to the Dead: Stories of a War.

Cambodia to host Miss Landmine amputee beauty pageant says founder

Asia-Pacific News
Apr 20, 2008

Cambodia will play host to Miss Landmine 2009, the controversial beauty pageant's Norwegian organizer said Sunday.

Miss Landmine parades beautiful female amputee landmine victims on the catwalk as they compete to win prosthetic limbs.

Miss Landmine Angola 2008 was crowned the event's inaugural winner this month, and the pageant's founder, artist Morten Traavik, says he has his heart set on Cambodia as Miss Landmine's next stop.

'We are in principle all set up and ready to go, we already have candidates in place,' he said by email.

Despite backing from donors including the European Union, the pageant has drawn howls of protest from rights activists and feminists, who brand it colonialist, racist, sexist and exploitative.

Traavik has admitted that some international aid agencies have also labeled it 'a freak show' but denies the allegations, saying it raises landmine awareness and empowers female amputee participants.

The women receive glamorous photo shoots at resorts and high-end hotels and a Miss Landmine fashion magazine modelled on Vogue is also in the pipeline, according to the organization's website.

Despite a ban on beauty contests invoked by Prime Minister Hun Sen in September, 2006, Traavik said he has Cambodian government support.

State Cambodian Mine Action Authority secretary-general Sam Sotha expressed his 'appreciation and support of Landmine Girl,' in a signed letter.

Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined nations in the world after a 30-year civil war, with more than 6 million mines still peppering the country, according to officials.

But critics remain unimpressed with Traavik's approach.

'If you are wondering just how low some people will sink this is just about it,' respected feminist and online author Sokari Ekine wrote on her website Black Looks.

Bloggers have also had a field day with the idea, with internet satirists caustically suggesting the theme could inspire further tasteless spinoffs from Miss Holocaust to Miss Ebola Virus.

Panic over rice prices hits home in capital

The price for a 50- pound bag has risen from $20 to $40. Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

Sam Liew and his mother, Chan Phan, pass on buying Thai jasmine rice after checking out the price at Goldstar market in Sacramento. Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Fearing shortages, Asian market shoppers in south area buy up supplies.

By Jim Downing -
Saturday, April 19, 2008

The global rice panic has come to south Sacramento.

As word of food riots and export shutdowns in Asia reached California in recent weeks, worried shoppers have been buying up hundreds of pounds of rice at a time from the Asian supermarkets that line Stockton Boulevard, looking for security against rising prices.

"When people saw the price jump $2 or $3, they started buying like crazy – 10 bags, 15 bags," said Cu Van, a floor manager at Goldstar Supermarket. Each bag weighs 50 pounds.

In recent weeks, the retail price for a 50-pound sack of Thai jasmine rice, the prized variety served steamed in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, has risen from roughly $20 to $40, straining budgets for families and restaurants.

The spike in the cost of Thai rice is one of the most extreme examples of a trend that is pushing up prices for all the major globally traded food commodities – rice, wheat, corn, soy and dairy products. Experts say the increases largely have been driven by demand from booming Asian economies combined with poor harvests in key export countries like Australia. The demand for corn and soy to make ethanol and biodiesel also has boosted food prices, though economists disagree on how much.

Rice markets in particular have been jolted as a number of rice-exporting countries have restricted international sales in order to reduce prices for their own citizens.

State rice farmers thriving

For California rice farmers, though, the high rice prices are a boon. Even though the short- and medium-grain varieties grown here are sold into different markets than Thai jasmine rice, which has seen the steepest increases, spot-market prices for bulk California rice are up 50 percent since February, to about $20 for 100 pounds.

"We're kind of riding the coattails," said Pat Daddow, who runs the California Rice Exchange in Yuba City.

Domestic varieties of rice – long-grain from Texas, for instance – sell in some of the Stockton Boulevard markets for less than half the price of Thai jasmine rice. But grocers, shoppers and restaurateurs said the cheaper domestic long-grain varieties are suitable only for fried rice: Only Thai jasmine delivers the softness and aroma for proper steamed rice.

Still, Van said, some of her customers have begun to try other varieties. One morning last week,she pointed to a single bag of California medium-grain rice – typically used for sushi – lying askew on a pallet. It was all that was left of a one-ton shipment that arrived two days earlier.

But Paula Duong, manager at King Palace Seafood Restaurant on Stockton Boulevard, which goes through more than 300 pounds of dry rice a week, is still buying Thai rice. Her customers would notice any change, she said. She hasn't stockpiled, but is instead buying sacks as needed and hoping the cost will drop within a few months. She hasn't raised menu prices, citing the need to stay competitive.

Duong said that as soon as prices of Thai rice began to climb, she bought 10 sacks for her home. That 500-pound order will last her extended family of seven about eight months, she said.
"Every meal, there's rice," she said.

Importers in bidding wars

Nathan Childs, an expert on global rice markets with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tied the jump in the price of Thai rice to a cascade of events touched off by attempts by several rice-growing nations to combat food inflation within their own borders.

Last fall India and Vietnam, both of which typically export several million tons of rice annually, announced they would be reducing rice exports in order to drive down domestic prices. China, Egypt and Cambodia followed suit, further restricting the amount of rice on the global market.

Rice-importing nations around the world then began scrambling to secure supplies, driving up the price for what rice remained available on global markets.

Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, is reporting record harvests this year. But the increase in supply hasn't been nearly enough to offset global demand, Childs said, and the price of bulk Thai jasmine rice has nearly doubled since December.

$8 and three chooks

The Manly Daily

19 April 2008

TEN minutes in a tuk-tuk along a straight, flat, very dusty and very bumpy road and I reached the home of Khem Set's family.

Mother and a crowd of about 30 assorted women and children had assembled to meet the invited Australian guest, surely a rarity in these poorer parts of Siem Reap, Cambodia's third-largest city.

Khem Set's family of seven comprises a hearty, strong and hard-working mother, a weakening, non-working father and five children from seven to 16. I have known them for three years.

On some days they are hungry. Shortly after I arrived I asked if the mother was still earning $1.50 per day as a builder's labourer and did they need a little extra support. The answer was ``no'', because the total current cash situation was adequate ... $8 in the mother's pocket and 25 cents with the eldest sister.

People in this area do not have bank accounts, of course. To put this money in perspective, the seven family members exist each day on about one quarter of my daily expenditure for coffee and a muffin at my local cafe.

Three years ago a sponsor bought them five chickens, which in good times they breed up and in bad times they eat. The current stock of three chooks was scratching underneath the grass house raised seemingly precariously on flimsy poles.

Tonight, especially for me, they had roasted one. I had arrived at 5:30pm and Mother had already prepared what was described by Set's sister, Sour, with the widest grin, as ``best ever!'' dinner. There were in total 10 plates of assorted Cambodian fare.

Now, I am very careful not to eat anything that has not been peeled or boiled. I do not eat anything simply washed in the local water such as green-leaf vegetables. But what could I do? As I write this days later, there were no problems.

I was dreading the prospect of sleeping on the hard wooden floor (they do not have one stick of furniture in their single-room grass house), but the thoughtful Mother had arranged for a foam mattress for me worry number one solved. When we all lay down just after nightfall, there was little floor space left.

Then worry number two was also solved ... I am paranoid about mosquitoes, but Mother had already hung a huge net that Khem Set fastidiously tucked under the mattress. They couldn't do much to alleviate worry number three: it is not uncommon, while sleeping on wooden floors, for tiny ants to crawl into an ear but ``no worries ... to get it out, just block the other ear with a thumb, put a finger in your navel and then spit''. (I kid you not!)

In Cambodian children's early years, mothers are very strict and I see many whacks on the behind. Probably this, plus a lack of toys and having only a few material possessions, leads to people-focused children who respect their elders.

So, typically, Khem Set's mother is very much the one to set the children's targets and priorities, and in most fine families such as this one the children study hard.

They start school at 7am and, each afternoon after coming home from a government school (six days a week), do their homework on the floor. It looks so uncomfortable, but for them it's just routine.

Then, for one extra hour between 6pm and 7pm, a sponsor has made it possible for the children to take extra classes in English at Siem Reap's private Best Future Centre. The childrenare very well-mannered and are perpetually cheerful, finding many opportunities for laughing. This, in my opinion, is a class family.

The downside for me was the pervasive dust. Their house is right on the roadside and in peak times it is choking. The family probably doesn't notice it. And there was no toilet other than a group of banana palms over the back fence.AFTER the first half-hour by bus from Nepal's capital, Kathmandu a stop-start, depressing experience in traffic jams on the heavily potholed main arterial road the environment changes instantly, dramatically and wonderfully as we crest through the rim of mountains circling the valley into awesome scenic vistas.

Traditional mud and stone family homes cling precipitously to the sides of dramatically steep mountains. These houses, except for the rare cluster that forms a mountain village, are quite well separated by luxuriously green plenty to smile about
forest growth interspersed with each family's tiny, clearly hard-won fields for growing rice, cereal and vegetable crops. The truly majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks stand proud as final backdrops.

Surely the lives in the traditional homes in this paradise could only be tranquil and contented? I was about to find out.

The invitation for me to sleep over with Samjhana's family was eagerly accepted, being my first opportunity to experience a traditional Nepali family's mountain lifestyle. Samjhana is a 17-year-old girl whose education is being ensured by one of Nepcam's sponsors. She and another sponsored child, Ashmita, who is 11 years old, met me at the bus stop.

``What can I buy for your family?'' I asked.

``Fruit and cookies if you want.''

The girls led me 4km up a side road to the start of a very narrow path that struck off towards the sky. After about an hour we reached the delightful mud-and-stone home in the most idyllic location I have ever seen, or could even imagine ... noiseless, crisp clean air, and nestled on a cliff edge amongst very thick forest.

The girls had been very sure-footed and had made light of the treacherous path, but I had been super-careful and puffingly slow. We were regularly being overtaken by groups of children heading home from school, and they had obviously forewarned a large section of the mountainside of this strange visitor coming because upon arrival there were 24 people of all sizes clustered around Samjhana's home to greet me.

Soon the group dispersed, leaving just the family: Mother widowed for 10 years and three daughters, 11, 13 and 17. They are an exceptionally good-looking family and the children are very intelligent. I know this because I get the school reports for all Nepcam's sponsored children every six months.

We immediately sat down beside their cooking fire while Nepali tea was prepared. I asked the mother directly: ``You have three fine daughters living with you in this traditional home, in such a beautiful environment, you surely must be so happy?'' To this she replied: ``Life is difficult.''

It was revealed that their total wealth that evening was $3.50, with little prospect of income until next season's rice, maize and grain crops were harvested from their tiny fields (which produce mostly for home consumption).

Their cow was not giving milk, normally a stable daily source of at least some income by providing milk for the calf ``and a little for us''; and the two goats had just produced a boy and girl the previous day, so they had to grow somewhat before being ready for sale. So, no livestock or livestock products for sale. The mother was about to add to her borrowings (at 20 per cent interest).

Their daily menu is unchanging black tea for breakfast, no lunch and a dhal bhat dinner (rice with greens chopped up and spiced).

I asked if they had local people who would help with some money or food. ``My mother will not ask,'' replied Samjhana.

``Well, what will you do then?'' I followed.

``Mother will provide,'' she said.

They had last eaten meat (goat) about two months ago, and since then they had no change whatsoever to their most economical of diets. Needless to say, Ashmita, at a later time, told me the family were frequently without food and ``a little'' hungry.

I would like to emphasise that this family, like so many Nepali, are some of the most humble, uncomplaining and gentle people that one could ever meet.

Dinner was simple, but very tasty with quite a few added spices. Nothing at all was left in the cooking pot or on the plates as, eating with their right hands, the family swooped up every last grain of rice. Sitting around the fire, eating and drinking Nepali sweet tea, the family engaged in continuous chit-chat and laughter, and at 8.30pm we bedded down on the floor in their one room on the first floor above the goats.

As I fall asleep back home in Sydney, there are many nights when I think of the families I know wonderful families such as Khem Set's and Samjhana's whose hospitality has given me an insight into the local customs and culture. The experience has been far more absorbing, rewarding and enriching than seeing yet another pagoda or wat. And much more humbling.

Can you spare $24 per month to help another family? Every cent goes to provide a child's education because other sponsors pay Nepcam Trust's administration expenses. Six-monthly feedback (letter, photo, school report) is provided on each sponsored child. Email: or see for more detailed information

‘Cambodian Cowboy' to visit Pampa on July 4

Pampa News photo by David Bower Sichan Siv having lunch at The Cattle Exchange in Canadian, 2003.

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008
The Pampa News

The story starts in Cambodia and ends on the Fourth of July at the Canadian rodeo.

Sichan Siv, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and husband of Martha Pattillo, a Pampa native, is the author of a new book, “Golden Bones,” the story of his journey from the killing fields of Cambodia to the White House and the halls of the United Nations and his relation to the Texas Panhandle.

It was in 1970, when Prince Sihanouk was deposed in Cambodia and Lon Nol took power that the North Vietnamese Army broke out of their sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia and attacked Cambodian forces. While a 1973 agreement in Paris ended the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge began their battle to take over Cambodia.

By 1975, the Khmer Rouge had taken over the country and nearly two million people had died of exhaustion, starvation and summary execution.

Siv escaped Phnom Penh with his family in 1975, but he is the only survivor. His mother, brother, sister and their families were clubbed to death by the Khmer Rouge.

Siv made it to Thailand only to be held as an illegal alien. Eventually, he made his way to the U.S., arriving in Connecticut in June, 1976. He had two dollars in his pocket.

The name of his book comes from his return to his father's village in Cambodia in 1992.

“Cambodians call someone who is very blessed or lucky a ‘person with golden bones,'” Siv said.

The villagers knew he had survived the Khmer Rouge massacre, had gone to America and was working in the White House for the President of the United States.

“They called me the ‘man with golden bones,'” Siv said.

The book is due to be released in early July.

Siv is expected to be in Pampa and Canadian for the Fourth of July celebrations.

“For us, the most exotic thing in the world would be to go to Paris or to the pyramids or to Cambodia and Angkor Wat,” Siv's wife said.

For her husband, she said the most exotic experience of a lifetime is to come to the Texas Panhandle and ride on a real ranch.

“He just thinks the panhandle is THE place,” she said.

When Siv was growing up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, he used to watch John Wayne films in French at the movie theaters.

“Here, the heavens and earth hug each other,” Siv said on a visit to the Brainard Ranch in 2003.

K.H Promotions Withdrew Law Suit Against Actress/Singer Sok Pisey

Saturday, 19th April 2008
ranslated from Khmer by Khmerization
Read report about her car accident here

The owner of K.H Promotions Records Company said that he had decided to withdraw law suit against actress/singer Sok Pisey (pictured) after she and her family had a serious car accident on the 14th of April in which she had a broken thigh and her two grandmothers, her mother and her niece were killed.

Mr Kim Heng, the owner of K.H Promotions, has told the Rasmy Kampuchea newspaper that, as a human being, we must have morality and humanity, even though Miss Sok Pisey has caused his company to lose a lot of money, he still has sympathetic feelings toward her. He wished her speedy recovery so she could return to the music stage.

He said: “The law suit between K.H Promotions and Miss Sok Pisey is finished. I will go to the court to withdraw the law suit.”He said that Miss Sok Pisey has a serious accident and it would be inappropriate for him to continue the law suit against her.

Sok Pisey had originally signed a contract with K.H Promotions but decided to walk off the contract halfway which led the owner, Mr. Kim Heng, to lodge a law suit against her for breach of contract.

Roof-top views

Roof-top view of Kandal market, taken from the Castle Hotel

Looking out over Kandal market and the rooftops of Phnom Penh
Here's a few roof-top views I took recently, two of the pictures showing a birds-eye view of Kandal market from above, just a block from the riverside at Sisowath Quay. The bottom picture looks towards Wat Ounalom - headquarters of the Cambodian Buddhist top rank and file - whilst the building blocking out the riverview on the left is the Amanjaya hotel.
Amanjaya and Sisowath Quay on the left, Wat Ounalom on the right
Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia at

Behind the green fence

Building work on the flooding relief system continues behind the green fence

A look behind the green fence on Sisowath Quay

Did you want to know what's behind that corrugated green fence that blocks off most of the riverside view along Sisowath Quay these days in Phnom Penh? It isn't particularly interesting but worth a quick posting, just so you can see the progress they are making in their attempts to alleviate the capital's flooding problems during the rainy season. I don't get down to the riverside area much so I was pleased that they have covered large sections of the green fence with billboards and posters, some of which are proclaiming the delights to be found in Cambodia's other provinces. I'm not sure of the timelines regarding the construction work as it stands, it was a ridiculously long period at the beginning but they seem to be making progress.

The riverside view is changing forever with landscaping on both sides of the Tonle Sap River

Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia at

A look at The Quay

A panoramic bedroom and sitting area at brand-new The Quay

The view from inside the panoramic room and overlooking the balcony at The Quay

Saturday mornings have become hotel inspection time for the sales team at Hanuman Tourism. Its a good opportunity for our young team to visit the hotels in Phnom Penh and to get first-hand experience of the hotels they recommend to our clients. On this morning's visiting list was the brand-new The Quay and Raffles Hotel Le Royal. I've posted a few photos here of The Quay as it really is very new, opening for business on 10 April with panoramic rooms facing the riverfront costing $185. The hotel has eight such rooms and another 8 smaller standard suites at $130. The sixteen rooms are spread over five floors. The design is modern, intimate and environmentally-friendly. You enter through the Chow restaurant and there's a rooftop terrace with bar, pool and jacuzzi, and of course views over the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. The Quay is part of the ever-expanding FCC chain and a welcome addition to the capital's accommodation listings.

The rooftop terrace, pool, jacuzzi and relaxation area

The Chow restaurant on the ground floor of The Quay
Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia at

Living history

The swimming pool and part of the original main building at Hotel Le Royal
The second hotel on today's visiting list was Raffles Hotel Le Royal. I won't wax lyrical about Le Royal, but I love old-world charm and elegance and this place oozes all of that and more. It was built in 1929 and fully refurbished in 1997. It offers 170 guest rooms, suites and executive apartments, all beautifully furnished that give you that sense of colonial style. The rooms are spread over three separate low-rise wings, set around the garden courtyard and swimming pools. The main building has been beautifully restored to its original architectural style. Like its sister hotel, Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap, its more than just a hotel, its living history.

Unrefined elegance at Le Royal

The welcoming lobby from the first floor

One of the Personality Suites at Le Royal

Even the corridors reek of old-world charm

A painting of Princess Bopha Devi in the main restaurant at Le Royal

Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia at

Nhoek Bunchhai Said To Be Discarded by Hun Sen in Next Government for Bad Record

Phnom Penh Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer in Cambodian 05 Apr 08 pp 1, 4

The FUNCINPEC [National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, and Peaceful Cambodia] Party of Nhoek Bunchhai and Kev Put Reaksmei is breaking up and, at the last moment that these phony politicians are grasping for their last breath, they still engage in mutual fighting that in Cambodian society is described as the poor men's fight to the grave. This is the nature of the opportunist politicians who smell the stink of death because of their betrayal in the coup de parti that they stupidly waged at the instigation of an outsider to overthrow their own leader and benefactor.

Nhoek Bunchhai, Kev Put Reaksmei, Sisowath Sirirat, and Loe Lay Sreng said that allowing Serei Kosal, Ok Socheat, and Kim Vien to join their FUNCINPEC Party might somehow benefit their populist policy to fool the people. In the end, however, this decision is not different from using these adventurer-cum-politicians to burn their party. In such a snafu, Nhoek Bunchhai should not blame Kev Put Reaksmei in order to show that it is not his fault; and Kev Put Reaksmei, too, should not feel sorry or disappointed because of the seething internal dispute that is plaguing the party, for all of this is an unavoidable retribution because of the coup de parti and betrayal against Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Just as Hun Sen told Nhoek Bunchhai and Kev Put Reaksmei, the Cambodian People's Party [CPP] does not want them to join the next government if they could not help themselves and try only to cling to other people to get high positions and gains. Kev Put Reaksmei, Arun Reaskmei, Nhoek Bunchhai, and their followers need not worry and do not have to go around lying to the Cambodian voters, for even Neou Sovatthero, who kept repeating like a parrot that the in-depth 18 October 2006 reform made the FUNCINPEC Party stronger, could not help but deserting Nhoek Bunchhai's FUNCINPEC Party and defecting to Hun Sen's CPP.

After the 27 July 2008 election if Hun Sen's CPP wins again, which will be a cowardly victory achieved when the people's spirit is weakened, Nhoek Bunchhai and Kev Put Reaksmei should not dream of getting from Hun Sen even the posts of state secretaries, let alone having the posts of deputy prime ministers, senior ministers, or ministers that they used to get from Prince Norodom Ranariddh. The best that could be expected is that Hun Sen would give scraps of positions such as state undersecretaries to Nhoek Bunchhai and Kev Put Reaksmei because this is proportionate to the personal values and knowledge level of Nhoek Bunchhai and to the behaviors of these people who did not hesitate to betray their own leader for the sake of a position as someone else's bootlickers.

To put it more bluntly, Nhoek Bunchhai should learn to control his feelings right now so that he would not be too surprised or too hurt when Hun Sen accepts a fragment of the FUNCINPEC Party after the elections. When this happens, it is not the group of Nhoek Bunchhai but that of Kev Put Reaksmei that will be chosen. At that time, allow us to warn that Nhoek Bunchhai and Serei Kosal should not blurt out that Kev Put Reaksmei betrays the resistance fighters because the term resistance fighters uttered from the mouths of Nhoek Bunchhai and Serei Kosal just belies the real resistance fighters, and Hun Sen does not know the meaning of resistance fighters, who were led by the King Father and later on by Prince Norodom Ranariddh in the fight to drive the Vietnamese aggressor troops out of the country.

Besides, Nhoek Bunchhai and Serei Kosal should never dream that Hun Sen wants to hear the phrase "real FUNCINPEC resistance fighters" who are not the fighters of the current FUNCINPEC Party of Nhoek Bunchhai. Hun Sen's desire to let go of Nhoek Bunchhai and abandon him to his fate has many reasons, including the fact that normally the reputation of the Prime Minister's party is already not very good but it could get worse when there is rumor that he is leading Cambodia into confusion and involvement with the narcotic crime, the trafficking in person, and so on. This is because Nhoek Bunchhai has a bad record. He used to have a close relationship with a Chinese named Chea Chung, who later on was found to be a drug lord together with the late Um Chhay, former adviser to Heng Samrin, concerning the several tons of narcotics in Treng Trayoeng, Kampong Spoe province. With all of this, do you think that Hun Sen wants Nhoek Bunchhai near him? Like it or not, even if you do not like thinking or are not good at thinking, you would not mistake that Hun Sen now has no need for Nhoek Bunchhai. This is reminiscent of the time when this CPP vice president duped the group of Tun Chay, Duong Khem, Ung Phan, Toek Ngoy, and so on before kicking them away. And since Nhoek Bunchhai used to have an adviser who became a major drug criminal in Kampong Spoe, Nhoek Bunchhai's chance of winning Hun Sen's favor and joining the next government is very slim.

Nhoek Bunchhai, Kev Put Reaksmei, Sisowath Sirirat, and Loe Laysreng were of course well aware of all these facts, but they could do nothing because they were fooled. Once they understood that they were duped into toppling Prince Norodom Ranariddh, they tried hard to beg the prince to return and lead the FUNCINPEC Party again. But the prince did not want to save these corrupt opportunists. He wanted to listen to the people and to help the people. When Nhoek Bunchhai, Kev Put Reaksmei, Sisowath Sirirat, and Loe Laysreng went out of their way to beg Prince Norodom Ranariddh to help lead and save the FUNCINPEC Party like in the past, their main concern was to keep the FUNCINPEC Party from dying in their hands, which would earn them condemnation by the people. Besides, they thought that if the prince could help to revive the FUNCINPEC Party, they would have a chance to implore the prince for posts and perks. It is because of this issue that Prince Norodom Ranariddh refused to come to the rescue of the Nhoek Bunchhai-Kev Put Reaksmei FUNCINPEC Party. Now these gentlemen are quarrelling over the last shred of assets left behind by the FUNCINPEC Party on its death bed.

ADRA Provides Food and Shelter for Fire Survivors in Cambodia

After the fire, ADRA distributed emergency food items for the survivors. Satha Sin/ADRA Cambodia

18 Apr 2008
Source: Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International
Ann Marie Stickle

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia—After a fire completely destroyed 450 homes in an impoverished section of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 11, 2008, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) provided emergency food and shelter for 2,400 residents displaced by the disaster.

Coordinating with the mayor's office, ADRA Cambodia distributed rice, noodles, fish, salt, sugar, and vegetable oil to 520 families, or approximately 2,000 identified fire survivors, on April 12.

On April 15, ADRA expanded its response, distributing shelter and noodles for an additional 80 identified families that were also displaced by the fire, and are currently living in a make-shift internally displaced camp near the site of the tragedy.

According to authorities, the fire began at around 5 a.m. and burned for approximately 5 hours.
Due to the close proximity of the poorly constructed wooden homes, and the crowds of people escaping with their possessions, fire engines were unable to enter the area to extinguish the fire, which caused the complete destruction of all 450 homes located there, leaving behind only concrete poles.

More than 50 families were immediately moved to an open field nearby. However, more survivor families are joining the displaced persons camp each day, swelling the camp's population to more than 250 families. ADRA International, the ADRA Asia Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, and ADRA Cambodia are funding this response. ADRA has worked jointly with the Cambodia Adventist Mission, the Cambodia Adventist School, and Adventist Frontier Missions in packaging and distribution, and is coordinating with the mayor's office, village leaders, and other NGO partners in the relief efforts.

To assist in ADRA's response to the fire in Cambodia, please contact ADRA International at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or donate online to the Emergency Response Fund at

ADRA is present in 125 countries, providing community development and emergency management without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at -END- Author: Ann Stickle, Associate Director for ADRA Cambodia Media Contact: Hearly Mayr ADRA International 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 Phone: 301.680.6357 Mobile: 301.526.2625 E-mail:


Marlboro College

Photography exhibit and public presentation on April 30

MARLBORO, VT – (April 18, 2008) – While some college students spent their 2008 spring break in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale, a delegation of Marlboro College students and faculty visited Cambodia for a range of service-learning activities.

The three-week journey was the highlight of an innovative Marlboro class called Creative Collaboration Service Learning, with a complimentary focus on traditional Cambodian arts, facilitated by photography professor John Willis and art professor Cathy Osman.

“It seems very important for people in this day and age to get out of their comfort zone and become more aware of how our actions affect people throughout the world,” said John Willis.

A free, public presentation about the Cambodia trip will take place in the Apple Tree building on Wednesday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. Photographs will be on display and students will discuss their experiences and answer questions.

The ten students who went on the trip were Kelsey Wolcott of Redding, CT; Garth Sutherland of New York, NY; Paige Martin of Lititz, PA; Amber Schaefer of Bellows Falls, VT; Marguerite Fields of New York, NY; Laura Lancaster of Weston, CT; Michael Hamby of Richmond, VA; Sophia Cleary of High Bridge, NJ; Rafael Kelman of Thetford, VT and Marcus DiSieno of Guilderland, NY.

Although the Southeast Asian nation is now a peaceful place, its people and social institutions remain deeply scarred by the oppressive and genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and many previous years of war in the region. The legacy of poverty and social dislocation continue to affect large segments of the population, especially women and children, and recent political stability has prompted a veritable bloom of development organizations. Marlboro voyagers visited and participated in a range of programs designed to support the education, health care services, and cultural revival of affected communities, programs that desperately need volunteer help of this kind. For Marlboro students, it was a life-changing glimpse of the challenges faced by Cambodians and a golden opportunity to be helpful.

The group spent some time exploring the incomparable Angkor Wat and Ta Prom, another ancient temple overgrown by banyan trees, but the primary focus was on local development projects. Some of the work was arduous, and made more so by the dry season temperatures pushing 100 degrees. At Helping Hands, a school in the village of Prasat Char in Siem Reap province, they helped rebuild a fence of heavy posts around the school in the midday heat. They also had some lighter tasks, like creating a sock-puppet play to teach kids about brushing teeth and washing hands and collaborating with local students to paint decorative murals.

“It was a great experience to see how development organizations work, and how we could help,” said student Michael Hamby, who’s interested in African studies. “Now it falls on our shoulders to do what we can to carry on that work ourselves.”

At Global Children’s Kompang Cham Orphanage, the group repainted latrines that sorely needed it, as well as painting another mural featuring representations of kids reading. They also led a photography project, handing out 50 point-and-shoot cameras to kids and then working with them on a huge photo collage of their images. They worked with the kids on their hygiene and their English, as well as spending time just hanging out and playing soccer. The Marlboro group also taught English to local workers at the monasteries of Wat Bo and Wat Damnak and visited with patients at the Angkor Hospital for Children.

“I think a lot about what we could do in three works versus what we could accomplish ideally,” said art student Rafael Kelman ’09. “We provided a very straightforward resource, hanging out, bringing some supplies, but it’s ephemeral. I realized it takes a lot more time and commitment to change lives.”

Learning about how to make development projects effective was one tangible outcome of the Marlboro travels in Cambodia, but a more intangible outcome had to do with heightened sensitivity to both history and culture. Some of this was not always easy for students to contend with: For instance, history has left Cambodia with more than 40,000 amputees as a result of land mines, not to mention an estimated 6 million landmines still in place, some of which were manufactured in the U.S.

“I was excited constantly during the trip, but also had this lingering dissonance, like, can we talk about what happened here?” said Sophia Cleary ’10. “It’s so hard to determine what the ramifications were of the Khmer Rouge, and what other causes are involved. For example there are thousands of child sex workers in Cambodia, but they are also all over Southeast Asia. It made me feel very uneasy, knowing that the U.S. was somehow responsible for this history, but that the U.S. were now treated as angels.”

Marcus DeSieno ’09 added, “We wondered why this is never talked about back home, that one third of the population died here in the 1970s, when it’s arguably just as tragic as the Holocaust or any other calamity of the 20th century. It was ironic timing that Dith Pran died on the very same day that we came back from Cambodia.” Dith, the renowned Cambodian photojournalist who survived the death camps of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime and coined the term “Killing Fields” for their notorious mass execution sites, died in a New Jersey hospital of pancreatic cancer.

“Now that Cambodia is somewhat in the limelight, maybe we can be a bridge to help enlighten people about what happened there,” continued Marcus. “We can bring it back to the larger community and keep it relevant, whether it’s through volunteering locally or working for NGOs around the world.”

For more information, contact the Marlboro College public relations department at 802-251-7644 or

Celebrating its 60th commencement in 2008, Marlboro College offers undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, graduate study focused on Internet technologies. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 350-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont.

Inflation Hits Cambodia

Cambodia's annualized rate of food inflation hit 24 percent last month, the highest in almost a decade, and one of the highest in Southeast Asia.

Chief Calls Chhun Yasith Conviction a ‘Warning’

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
18 April 2008

Khmer audio aired April 17 (992KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired April 17 (992KB) - Listen (MP3)

National Police Chief Hok Lundy (pictured) welcomed the guilty verdict of Chhun Yasith in US federal court this week, calling it a warning to other groups who might think of attacking the government.

Chhun Yasith was found guilty of leading an armed attack on the government by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters in November 2000, in fighting that left at least seven people dead.

“The conviction against Chhun Yasith is a warning to other individuals, even any Khmer or foreigner, who engage armed forces in attempting to topple the government or engage in terrorism,” Hok Lundy said in a phone interview. Any such person “is to face law enforcement and a legal sentence.”

Chhun Yasith, a US citizen from Cambodia living in Long Beach, Calif., was convicted of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy to damage or destroy property in a foreign country, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, and engaging in a military expedition against a nation with which the United States is at peace.

He faces up to life in prison and is set to be sentenced Sept. 8.

One witness of 13 who testified in front of a US jury this month said Chhun Yasith had denied the charges.

Chhun Yasith claimed “what he did was try to change the country from what he described as a dictatorial regime, and he also accused key witnesses of cheating and exaggerating in court,” the witness said.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation called two former lieutenants of the CFF, Thong Samean and Gilbert Sao, to testify to activities of Chhun Yasith as their leader.

The nighttime raid on government buildings left 13 people wounded and led to a round-up of CFF suspects, some of whom are now serving sentences in Cambodian prison.

Sacravartoons : " The two ex Khmer Rouge "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

re: Sacravatoons : " Xia Xia Kampuchea "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sok Kong Boasts that He Is Proud to Be Born as a Yuon

Posted on 19 April 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 556

“Previously, many people said that Sok Kong, the president of the Sokimex Company, is a Yuon [Vietnamese] and a former Yuon expert, but Sok Kong had always denied this. However, recently readers of a Yuon newspaper found that Sok Kong told Viet Bao [Việt Báo], published on the Internet, that he is very proud to be born as a Yuon. The Yuon newspaper Viet Bao, is published on the Internet since 2004, but not many people here knew it. Just recently, readers of this Yuon newspaper, who can read and write Yuon, translated an article into Khmer and English, and posted it on the Internet worldwide.

“Khmer nationals who can read and write Yuon, if they want to read the newspaper which published that Sok Kong is proud to be born as a Yuon, can go to this web site:

However, for those Khmer people who cannot read Yuon, to know what Sok Kong said, we translated this Yuon newspaper article:

“These are Sok Kong’s words which the Yuon newspaper Viet Bao published on the Internet, saying, ‘I was born in Prey Veng. My Parents are Vietnamese and I was born in Cambodia. In 1975, I went to Vietnam and did rice farming in Dong Thab [Đồng Tháp] province until I was 23 years old. In 1979, I came back to Cambodia.’

“Viet Bao went on with Sok Kong’s words, ‘I have many children, six children – three sons and three daughters. My eldest son works in Ho Chi Minh City, my second son is a hotel manager and the manager of the first garment factory, and my third son is the manager of the second garment factory; all my three daughters are studying in Australia.’

“Viet Bao continued, ‘Previously, I didn’t want anyone to know that I am Vietnamese for some reasons, but now it is different – I am proud to be born as a Vietnamese.’

“In Cambodia, though Khmers are not racially discriminating, Khmer people are always touchy about the presence of Yuons in Cambodia. Based on the history, the loss of Kampuchea Krom [a region in the South of present day Vietnam] happened also because of the presence of Yuons resettling there. Because of this reason, Khmer people are always worried about the presence of more and more Yuons from year to year. Moreover, after Yuon troops invaded Cambodia in 1979 [to topple the Khmer Rouge regime] and after Yuon [Vietnam] declared to withdraw its troops from Cambodia [in 1989], it left experts and spies all over Cambodia making Khmer people increasingly worried.

“Now some people say that Yuon nationals known as Yuon experts, and Yuon troops are interfering strongly both in the Khmer economy and in politics. Especially when a Yuon like Sok Kong has become a tycoon and an oknha, some Khmer people get more concerned. What makes some Khmer nationals become more touchy about Yuons is that the Hun Sen government has contracted the Angkor Wat Temples to the Sokimex Company, whose president is the Yuon Sok Kong, to collect money by selling tickets to the visitors; many Khmers said that it is not different from giving the Khmer soul to Yuon.

“It should be stated that besides the management of [tourism at the] Angkor Wat Temple, which is the Khmer soul, the Yuon Sok Kong also has many other important businesses in Cambodia, like the Sokimex Company which imports, supplies, and sells fuel in Cambodia, and runs garment factories and hotels in Sihanoukville and in Siem Reap.

“Now the Yuon Sok Kong got also the right from the Hun Sen government to manage the Bokor Mountain as a tourist site. In addition, the Yuon Sok Kong has contracted thousands of hectares of concession land from the Hun Sen government. We don’t know which other exploitation rights the Yuon Sok Kong will get in the future from the Hun Sen government of the Cambodian People’s Party, which is a Yuon tool.

“Besides Sok Kong, who has received all kinds of rights to exploit and to benefit from Khmer resources, now the government of the Cambodian People’s Party, with Hun Sen as prime minister, provides Khmer economic resources openly to Yuon. For instance at present, it provides tens of thousands of hectares of land in Kompong Thom, Kratie, and in other northeastern provinces to Yuon companies. The provision of tens of thousands of hectares of land leads to the eviction of citizens from their homes and their farmland, like in the Tumring commune, in Sandant, Kompong Thom.

“Independent analysts said they think that the current trend of providing Khmer land to Yuon by the Hun Sen government will continue under the model of economic concessions, if the Cambodian People’s Party wins the fourth term elections. Previously, the Yuon Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung [Nguyễn Tấn Dũng] said that Yuon needs one million hectares of land in Cambodia and Laos to grow industrial crops. Thus, there will be a current of continuing evictions of citizens from farmland, in order to get the land for Yuon companies. Similarly, analysts have expressed concerns over the long-term land concessions of 70 to 90 years. The concessions of Khmer land to Yuon companies for dozens of years like this cannot avoid to lead to the loss of Khmer land.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3437, 18.4.2008

Cambodian king to attend opening of Beijing Olympics

Macau Daily Times
Saturday, 19 April 2008

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a Chinese diplomat said yesterday, thanking the government for its support of the troubled Games.

"King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing," Chinese ambassador Zhang Jin Feng said during a press conference for local media.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the government for supporting China ... and the government's (efforts) earlier this year to bar non-governmental organisations from using Cambodia to oppose the Olympic Games in China."

In January, Cambodian police blocked American actress Mia Farrow and her group, Dream for Darfur, from holding a ceremony at Phnom Penh's genocide museum as part of a campaign to highlight China's links to Sudan.

Zhang said she wished that the protest-hit Olympic torch, which arrived in Thailand earlier Friday, was making a stop-over in Cambodia.

"I feel regret that the torch will not come to Cambodia," she said adding that the flame would have proceeded "successfully in Cambodia.

"The torch has been dogged by protesters since it was lit in Greece last month, with a Chinese crackdown in Tibet in March igniting demonstrations at many of the torch's previous stops, notably London and Paris.

The latest crackdown has increased attention on China in the run-up to the Games, which begin in the Chinese capital on August 8.

China's close ties to the government of Sudan, blamed for years of strife in Darfur, and its treatment of domestic critics and activists have also been fodder for demonstrators.

Farrow, who is pushing China to help stop the violence in Sudan, will speak in Hong Kong as the torch passes through the city on May 2.

Beijing has recently emerged as Cambodia's biggest donor, giving at least 800 million dollars in aid over the past two years.China's growing ties with Cambodia have caused unease among some Western countries, which are wary of the Asian giant's increasing economic and military influence in the region.