Sunday, 4 May 2008

Ek Phnom

One of the colourful paintings showing scenes from the life of Buddha that decorate the ceiling of Wat Ek Phnom, the pagoda next to the ancient prasat

A giant Buddha sits outside Ek Phnom but is unfinished because there's a dispute as it's higher than the original prasat

An inscription on the east doorway indicates the date of construction as 1027

The inside gallery/mandapa that leads to the central sanctuary

An excellent example of a balustered window at Ek Phnom

Close up detail of the lintel showing Krishna fighting with two rearing horses above a fearsome looking kala

This pediment directly above the Sea of Milk lintel shows Sita (left) receiving the visit of Hanuman who is bearing Rama's ring and an offer of passage to safety

This lintel from the central tower shows Krishna with one arm raised lifting Mount Govardhana and fighting a snake, whilst standing on a kala eating a small elephant

This lintel shows Shiva and his consort Uma riding the bull Nandin on top of the ever-present kala - another of the popular depictions on lintels to be found in Cambodia

Above: This lintel depicts Krishna fighting two rearing horses above the north door, whilst standing on kala

The lintel above the east access to the central tower shows a common scene of Indra on the three-headed Airavata elephant, atop a fearsome kala

This lintel, inside the central sanctuaryat Ek Phnom, depicts the Churning of the Sea of Milk with Vishnu holding onto the pole. Some of the devas and asuras have been badly defaced

Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia:

Last weekend we arrived at Ek Phnom just as a thunderstorm broke overhead, drenching us and the temple in a cloudburst accompanied by ear-splitting thunder and bolts of lightning that sent my Khmer colleagues cowering into the corners of the temple's inner sanctum. In fact we spent the majority of our 45-minute stop at the site sheltering from the downpour. Its 13kms from Battambang and is usually a nice peaceful place to visit, unless like us, you get caught in a spot of bad weather which sent the vendors running for cover, but strangely didn't stop the tourist policeman collecting my $2 foreigner entrance fee. The photos here show some of the main lintels to be found at the 11th century site alongwith suitable descriptions.

Osborne on Phnom Penh

Milton Osborne on stage at ACE as he introduces his new book on Phnom Penh

[RtoL] Milton Osborne alongside Margaret Adamson, the Australian Ambassador and Margaret Bywater from RUPP (holding the sole copy of the book at the launch)

Courtesy of Andy's Cambodia:

Milton Osborne, one of the most respected historians on Cambodia and the Mekong region, was in town tonight to preside over what he tagged as "a post-modern book launch" of his latest offering, as frustratingly for all concerned, the books themselves were not available since they were stuck on the dock at Sihanoukville. Undaunted, Dr Osborne delivered a series of anecdotes and quotes from his new book - Phnom Penh: A Cultural and Literary History - as well as his own experiences in Cambodia, at the well-attended gathering at ACE. A veteran of no less than nine books on Southeast Asian history and politics, the Canberra professor first lived in the city in 1959 and certainly knows his stuff. He puts into context the birth of the capital in the 15th century and on through to the Sihanouk years when Phnom Penh deserved its reputation as the most attractive city in Southeast Asia, though all that was to change during the Pol Pot years. Now the city is recapturing its vibrancy and Osborne has been here often enough to be the johnny on the spot to encapsulate that into the 256 pages of his new book, published by Signal. A fitting introduction came from the Australian Ambassador, Margaret Adamson as Osborne himself was previously on the embassy staff here in Phnom Penh. The author's previous titles on Cambodia include: Politics and Power in Cambodia: The Sihanouk Years (1973); Before Kampuchea: Preludes to Tragedy (1979); Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness (1994).

U.S. parks keep sister ties in other nations

Chomg Chom dancers, from left, Tina Phla, 11, Sopheap Thet, 14, Polly Thet, 18, and Salina Thor, 11, perform at a ceremony marking Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as sister parks to Cambodia's Samlaut Protected Area in 2006. U.S. parks often use private funds to keep up sister park ties in other countries.

Relations with parks overseas mutually helpful, officials say.

By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Four years after the National Park Service curtailed international travel when Congress complained about foreign junkets, semi-grounded park officials are improvising to maintain ties with colleagues abroad.

The move saved money and political heartache, but it also complicated park diplomacy.

Now, officials at parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon must find other ways to keep up meaningful relations with sister parks in other countries.

"Hopefully, we're not so arrogant to think that we in the United States know everything there is to know about the protection of natural resources," said Craig Axtell, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

In theory, sister parks help each other out. Parks trade tips, swap rangers and find common ground. They are becoming more popular.

In October 2006, for instance, Cambodian and U.S. officials convened at Giant Forest to sign an agreement linking Sequoia and Kings Canyon with Cambodia's Samlaut Protected Area.

The five-page agreement calls for park managers to share law enforcement "methods and techniques," environmental education ideas, fire management tactics and more.

The agreement further anticipates "short-term personnel exchanges" between the U.S. parks and Samlaut, a 148,263-acre mountainous area in northwestern Cambodia.

In late January, Axtell and five other U.S. representatives traveled to Samlaut. Axtell said the Cambodian affiliation could help Sequoia and Kings Canyon to reach out to the San Joaquin Valley's sizable Asian population.

Last year, Yosemite officials signed similar sister park agreements with parks in Chile and China. Nationwide, about three dozen cross-border sister park deals exist.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco is tied to parks in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez is linked to the one-time United Kingdom home of the Scottish-born conservationist.

"There are a lot of benefits," Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said.

"It provides us with different perspective. It offers an exchange of ideas."

Yosemite Superintendent Mike Tollefson traveled to China's Huangshan National Park and Chile's Parques Nacional Torres del Paine in mountainous Patagonia to endorse the respective sister park deals.

The National Park Service would not pay for Tollefson's overseas trips.

Instead, Tollefson had to rely on corporate contributions donated through the nonprofit Yosemite Fund.

"We've been fortunate, here in Yosemite, to have private funding for those kinds of trips," Gediman said.

Axtell's National Park Service team had its way to Cambodia paid for by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which helps manage Samlaut. The foundation is supported by Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

The foundation paid for two teams of Cambodian park rangers to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and more Cambodian rangers will be coming this summer.

"Had it not been for that funding, it would have been very, very difficult" to travel, Axtell said.
In fact, the agreement linking Samlaut, Sequoia and Kings Canyon specifies that "all travel costs" for National Park Service employees "will be sought from funds" outside of the federal government. Other sister park agreements face identical travel constraints.

Axtell said the private funding makes sense, given the other pressing needs facing his parks. It would be difficult, he said, to justify using limited public funds for travel to Asia.

Such concerns prompted the curtailment in international travel.

In the 2003 fiscal year, National Park Service employees made 194 trips to foreign locations at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $324,231, an Interior Department Office of Inspector General audit found.

Headquarters staff accounted for many of the trips, traveling to China, France, South Africa and Japan, among other countries.

Officials further noted a "steadily increasing number of trips" overseas starting in the late 1990s, according to the Government Accountability Office. Auditors warned that poor accounting and oversight made it difficult to accurately monitor the foreign travel, and lawmakers quickly amplified the message.

"It doesn't help to have a herd of bureaucrats spending goodness-knows-how-much public money for a junket," then-Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., told reporters at the time.

Facing bipartisan congressional ire, the park service's then-director Fran Mainella essentially banned foreign travel for agency employees.

In recent weeks some park advocates have quietly broached on Capitol Hill the possibility of allowing more foreign travel for sister parks. Stephan D. Bognar, a Canadian who oversees Cambodian programs for the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, helped make the pitch for liberalizing park service travel policies.

"The United States has something to offer to the world," Bognar said.

"We can actually bring park management experience to other countries."

Pupils glimpse Cambodian life

The Republican
Sunday, May 04, 2008

NORTHAMPTON - Jasmine Chea stood before her fellow first-graders and proudly made the introduction: "This is my Dad and his name is Roeun Chea."
The firsthand lesson on Cambodian culture had formally begun at the Robert K. Finn Ryan Road School.

Born in Cambodia, the elder Chea came to the United States as a 14-year-old orphan in 1982 and was raised by a family in Amherst. He was at the school recently as it prepared to celebrate the Cambodian New Year with food and dance.

Chea began his computer presentation with a few images - the flag of Cambodia, street scenes - and some basic facts. The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh. Its neighbors include Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Ninety percent of the country's people are called Khmer; 95 percent are Buddhist.

Chea did not talk in detail about his own story, but he did confess to some dietary changes after moving to the U.S. Primarily, he eats more meat.

"We don't eat that much meat in Cambodia because we don't have that much meat," he said.

Instead, the diet consists mainly of rice, fish and vegetables. In one of the highlights of his presentation, Chea had students oohing and aahing as he displayed photographs of some of the exotic fruit in Cambodia. He explained that the Cambodian New Year, April 13-15, coincides with the completion of the hardest farm work.

"People travel from town-to-town to celebrate," he said.

The Robert K. Finn Ryan Road School's celebration sought to imitate that festival as closely as possible. First-graders Cherilyn K. Strader and Jay G. Duffie said they planned to join Chea's daughter Jasmine in full costume for a traditional dance. They all said they enjoyed her father's presentation.

"It's a very beautiful country," said Strader.

Duffie said he liked the fruit, and fellow first-grader Marissa L. Badorin agreed.

"I thought the fruit looked really good," she said.

Jasmine Chea said her father left out some of the culinary delights of Cambodia: insects.

"I don't eat bugs," she said. "But some people do."

From cartels to export curbs: gov'ts act on rice prices

HONG KONG (AFP) — As the price of rice soars, some governments -- notably in Asia -- are becoming wary of the political risk of millions of hungry people on their doorstep.

In response, governments are trying it out every technique possible to shield their populations, including introducing rationing, subsidies, price-fixing cartels and export curbs.

But there appears to be no magic one-size-fits-all formula, partly because of national factors and partly because of the nature of the market.

"In Asia, most rice import and export is carried out by countries rather than by companies," according to Jonathan Pincus, chief economist for the UN Development Programme in Vietnam.
"Producing countries are restricting exports because they're concerned about the domestic market," he told AFP. That in turn "means things just get tougher for consuming countries, which have to pay higher and higher prices."

Last week Thailand said it had agreed in principle to form a rice price-fixing cartel -- similar to the oil industry's OPEC -- with neighbours Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as well as Vietnam.
Thailand, the world's top rice exporter which last year shipped around 9.5 million tonnes overseas, insists it has no plans to curb supplies.

It has said it will gradually sell off its 2.1 million tonnes of stockpiled rice at 20 percent below current prices to relieve shortages.

In contrast Vietnam, the world's second biggest rice exporter, has reduced this year's cap on exports from four million to 3.5 million tonnes to secure domestic supplies and reduce prices fuelling double-digit inflation.

Hanoi has also banned new export contracts until the end of June, although existing contracts -- including shipments to the Philippines at record prices of 1,200 dollars per tonne -- are being honoured.

Cambodia in late March banned rice exports to ease pressure on the domestic market after prices reached nearly a dollar a kilogramme, deepening poverty in a nation where one-third of the population lives on less than 50 cents a day.

But Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that the government was mulling exporting rice again, to find markets -- and revenue -- for its farmers.

India has banned export of non-basmati rice and last month withdrew export incentives relating to premium basmati, although existing contracts are being honoured, notably to needy countries such as Bangladesh and Sierra Leone.

Brazil, which consumes virtually all of the 11 million tonnes it produces every year, did hint at an export ban but decided against it, preferring instead to urge producers to be cautious about supplies.

Even in the United States, worries about supplies have seen panic-buying in some stores, and two big chains, Costco and Sam's Club, took measures last week to ration sales due to price hikes and uncertain deliveries.

The UN's Pincus said the price of rice was more volatile than that of maize and wheat as much less of it is traded.

"Rice is mostly consumed in the countries where it's produced, and for that reason the world market is very thin. There are not a lot of buyers and not a lot of sellers," he said.

"So what happens is that if there are some buyers who find themselves short, the international prices spike, and that's what we're seeing right now."

Japan, which imports more than half its food, wants to raise the issue of spiralling food prices when it hosts the Group of Eight summit in July.

Still, it heavily protects its own rice industry -- the government strictly controls the production and price of rice and imposes high taxes on exports -- and instead of curbing shipments has been trying to step up exports.

In the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice importers, President Gloria Arroyo has ordered steps to prevent hoarding and price gouging, and to ensure supplies.

The government sells subsidised rice in poor neighbourhoods and is crafting a new scheme of rationing.

There is no rationing in Indonesia except where the government operates a subsidy scheme for the poor, which allows 15.5 million registered families to purchase 10 to 20 kilogrammes of rice a month at a third of the normal price.

Indonesia has a de facto export ban, stipulating exports are only allowed when there is a domestic surplus of at least three million tonnes.

Bangladesh, which does not export rice due to its own needs, does not plan rationing, said the food ministry's senior information officer Golam Kibria.

However the government is selling subsidised rice to help low-income families as many poor have been forced to go without meals.

Cambodia seeks billions of dollars for 14 hydropower dams

May 4, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia is seeking private investment to build 14 new hydropower dams worth more than 3.2 billion dollars, according to a government report obtained Sunday.

The report entitled Prime Investment Information in Cambodia details potential private investment opportunities around the country, including hydroelectric dam construction.

According to the report, 14 dams of various sizes and capacities are estimated to be able to generate a minimum of 1,850 megawatts.

Four are also earmarked to provide irrigation, although all but two of the 14 are currently only at desk study stage.

Only one of the proposed sites is on the Mekong river at Sambor Falls in eastern Kratie province, according to the report, and the project there is listed in two stages.

But a government source said despite the tremendous potential of the Sambor dam, it may only go ahead if northern neighbour Laos builds controversial dams higher upstream which Cambodia fears will destroy its fisheries and leave it nothing to lose.

The report estimates Kratie, where the Mekong runs strong, is currently producing a capacity of 1,570 kilovolt-amperes but could potentially have a capacity of 2,290 with dams in place.

The rest of the proposed dams are dotted along various tributaries around the country.

Cambodia's rapid economic growth has caused it to outstrip its electricity supply, with rolling brown outs common in the capital, and many rural areas without power altogether.

The country is seeking ways to generate its own power and minimize the amount it has to buy from neighbouring countries.


Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by Theary C. Seng
Friday, 02 May 2008

Is it reasonable in light of totality of circumstances?
At the April 23 Pre-Trial Chamber hearing of appeal by Mr. Khieu Samphan against the Order for Provisional Detention where I sat in as a civil party, defense lawyer Jacques Verges argued that he cannot proceed to defend his client because not all of the Extraordinary Chambers (ECCC)’s documents have been translated into French, one of the three ECCC official languages.

As a civil party, I responded: “Mr. Khieu Samphan, the gentlemen – your Khmer and foreign lawyers – it is of fundamental importance that you do not forget this principle: We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We must be reasonable. We must use common sense.” After stating this in Khmer, I emphasized the principle in English and sat down.

The Pre-Trial Chamber adjourned the closed-door session on this matter and the issue of provisional detention, which the parties did not have time to argue, was postponed for another day.

The perfect as enemy of the good
The demand of Mr. Verges in this regard can be likened to the demand for perfection. There are tens of thousands of pages of documents involved in this Case File No. 2 (which groups all the detained senior Khmer Rouge leaders together, in contrast to Case File No. 1 which relates to Tuol Sleng, effectively the Duch case). Potentially, there are thousands of pages more that will be produced by all the actors and parties involved.

If we are to follow Mr. Verges’ demand to its logical conclusion, countless more translators will need to be hired requiring many more years of waiting while they translate.

Here, we haven’t even addressed the quality of the translations, the Pandora’s Box possibility of having a devious party clogging the process further by overloading it by generating questionable documents and briefs and filings, and the civil party applications that are flowing into the Victims’ Unit by the hundreds.

In this particular situation, the relevant documents relating to provisional detention have been translated into French. Also, the Khmer defense lawyer, Dr. Say Bory, who obtained his law degree in France, is fluent in all three ECCC languages. Related to this, there are translators made available to all parties should they have language problems.

Hence, the rights of the defendant are not at risk of being violated.

We should also keep in mind that all the parties involved are equally handicapped. It is not an issue of fairness whereby the ECCC is targeting the Defendant Khieu Samphan. To the contrary, Mr. Khieu Samphan is afforded all the protections of the law, as he rightly should.

Hence, we must ask ourselves: Is the demand reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances? Well, what are some of the circumstances? A 3-year mandate. Funds limitations.

Defense rights. The reality of the social, political, and legal environment. Capacity and public patience. The public’s participation. National reconciliation (a stated objective of the ECCC, in addition to law and justice objectives). Etc.

Reasonableness Test for Provisional Detention
As a civil party, I have argued the reasonableness test and the need to use common sense at Mr. Nuon Chea’s provisional detention hearing, and will do so again for Mr. Khieu Samphan.

The issue is whether it is necessary to detain provisionally these senior leaders before the public trial? The answer is a resounding YES. These senior KR leaders could be killed, could escape, could destroy evidence, could intimidate witnesses, could create instability in a society of still traumatized people. If we cannot assure their presence in court – after 30 years of waiting, after the time and energy spent on establishing the ECCC, after the arrests – is it reasonable to detain them? To do otherwise would be reckless and negligible; it would be to shut our eyes ostrich-like to the facts of life here in current Cambodia.

In this regard, we find resonance in this excerpt from the Harvard Law Review (1915) by Terry:

It is quite impossible in the business of life to avoid taking risks of injury to one’s self or others, and the law does not forbid doing so; what it requires is that the risk be not unreasonably great.

The essence of negligence is unreasonableness; due care is simply reasonable conduct… precautions need not be taken against every conceivable or foreseeable danger, but only against probable dangers.

Reasonableness more generally
I find it instructive to listen directly to the voices of the sages of the past, whose ideas have withstood the passage of time. One sage is American urist Oliver Wendell Holmes (excerpts from “Common Law”):

- The question is not whether the defendant thought his conduct was that of a prudent man, but whether you think it was. (The “you” here is the jury, a pool of ordinary individuals from society.)

- The standards of the law are standards of general application. The law takes no account of the infinite varieties of temperament, intellect, and education which make the internal character of a given act so different in different men…

- … when men live in society, a certain average of conduct, a sacrifice of individual peculiarities going beyond a certain point, is necessary to the general welfare. If, for instance, a man is born hasty and awkward, is always having accidents and hurting himself or his neighbors, no doubt his congenital defects will be allowed for in the courts of Heaven, but his slips are no less troublesome to his neighbors than if they sprang from guilty neglect. His neighbors accordingly require him, at his proper peril, to come up to their standard, and the courts which they establish decline to take his personal equation into account.

- There are exceptions to the principle that every man is presumed to possess ordinary capacity to avoid harm to his neighbors, which illustrate the rule, and also the moral basis of liability in general. Judge Holmes goes on to give examples of a man with a distinct defect, i.e., A blind man is not required to see at his peril… an infant of very tender years is only bound to take the precautions of which an infant is capable… Insanity is a more difficult matter to deal with, and no general rule can be laid down about it.

Theary C. SENG
Executive Director

For past VOJ articles, please visit by scrolling down “Voice of Justice Program”.

Police blotter: 02 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 02 May 2008

April 17: Kandal police arrested one of a group of more than 20 men suspected of gang raping four teenagers in the province’s Saang district. Nhik Ratha, 22, was allegedly part of a group who raped local garment factory workers aged 17 to 19. The group divided into four smaller groups, each taking away one woman to rape, police said. The attacks took place at 1am in Kon Chre village in Prek Ambil commune. Police said they have identified the other suspects and are closing in on them.

April 19: A karaoke singer was raped by eight men at 11pm in Sdav village in Se San district, Stung Treng province.

April 20: A 10-year-old girl was strangled to death after being raped at 10pm in Dang Run village, Banteay Neang commune, Mongkul Borey district, Banteay Meanchey province. District police chief Nut Ly said the girl’s body was found dumped in a pond and on April 21 local man Luch Koy, 22, was charged with her rape and murder. Koy told police he and the victim’s older brother, Chham Ra, had been drinking beer before he took Ra’s sister to a rice field to rape her. He also confessed to killing her and dumping in the pond.

April 20: Khat Tongly, 56, was beaten to death by his own son in the culmination of a witchcraft dispute in their village in Kampong Chhnang province. On April 22, police arrested Tob Sileng, 20, who said he fatally bashed his drunken father’s head with a bat because he was disappointed the family was not making friends in their home village, Prey Sampov, in Brasneb commune, Rolea Phaie district. Sileng said villagers did not like his family because they believed his father was involved in sorcery.

April 20: Four armed men on two motorbikes at 4:25pm robbed Sihanoukville gold trader Seng Min, 48, and his wife Kek Y, 45, at their home in the province’s Village 1, Khan Mittapheap. Min was seriously injured after being pistol-whipped, police said. About 500,000 riels, one mobile phone and 262.5 grams of platinum were taken.

April 20: Seventeen people, including three motorbike taxi drivers, were arrested in Phnom Penh by military police at 9:30am as the group prepared to buy drugs on Street 70 in Tuol Kork village, Khan Reussey Keo. Police seized eight motorbikes and 11 small packages of an unidentified drug during the raid. Arrested were: Som Ratha, 22; Uy Ramony, 25; Sok Chan, 21; Mao Sovan Udom, 18; Chhun Vanna, 18; Ath Sina, 19; Khun Narun, 27; Nhem Vidavan, 18; Chuon Chitra, 22; Neam Sokny, 21; Ech Dara, 18; Chhin Phala, 18; Sang Seila, 18; Math Moslim, 25; Dim Vath, 32; Him Ker, 25; and Nuon Channa, 25.

April 21: A 36-year-old Vietnamese woman, Vo Thynga, was arrested at Beong Chhouk Market in Battambang province and charged with drug possession. Police said the drugs – not identified – had been bought by Thynga in Phnom Penh and were for personal use.

April 21: Sin Sang, 38, of Chulsa commune, Takeo province, was arrested for the mid-afternoon rape of a woman in a liquor shop where he had spent the earlier part of the day drinking. Sang, a porter, told police he raped the woman, 40, because he was drunk.

April 24: Banteay Meanchey gold trader Huy Chavy, 47, was shot dead by two robbers who escaped on a motorbike with gold, platinum, and US and Thai currency worth more than $50,000. Police said the crime took place at 5:20pm on National Road 5 at Nimith 2 village, Nimith commune, Ochrov district, Banteay Meanchey province.

April 24: A 28-year-old porter, Bun Gek, found a white sack stuffed with $50,000 in counterfeit US banknotes near Pochentong train station in Phnom Penh. Gek tried to spend some of the money but his nervous behaviour attracted the attention of police who detained him for questioning.

April 25: A woman was shot while making coffee at her shop in Reussey Krok village, Mongkul Borey district, Banteay Meanchey province. Police said the victim, Chhor Sokhom, 31, was seriously injured in the 5:30am attack but would survive. Police noted that Sokhom was divorced and living with her father, Chhor Konghong, 60, who owned the coffee shop.

April 27: Police arrested a man for viciously assaulting a motorbike taxi driver in Krapeuo Ha village, Takhmao district, Kandal province. Police said Chorn Mom, 28, began “sawing” the neck of Chamreuon Ra, 35, during a robbery at 7am but was disturbed by a police patrol.

Italian starts petition to end ban on foreign marriages

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by Sebastian Strangio
Friday, 02 May 2008

An Italian man has launched a petition against the government’s ban on marriages between foreigners and Cambodians, describing the March decision to halt such unions as “unacceptable.”
The petition, advertised in the Cambodia Daily on May 1, was organized by Stefano Magistretti after the ban left eight months of planning for his wedding in disarray.

“I flew to Bangkok to get permission from the Italian embassy on March 26 and my wife gave everything to her sangkat on the 27th , and on the 29th the bloody government shut the door,” Magistretti told the Post.

“At that point I decided to raise a little hell,” added the social researcher from Milan who met his bride-to-be a year after settling in Cambodia in 2003.

The advertisement urges Khmer-foreign couples to sign the petition, which will be sent to government agencies and Western embassies.

“We’ve had enough of faceless officials’ whims and diplomatic inaction,” reads the advertisement. “But there is something we can do.”

The ban was introduced after a report by the International Organization for Migration revealed a massive rise in the number of poor, uneducated Khmer women marrying foreign men – especially South Koreans.

The government’s anti-trafficking task force met April 29 to discuss the issue but did not indicate what action it will take.

Magistretti said he recognizes marriages with foreigners must be regulated to guard against exploitation, but argues that a blanket ban is unnecessary.

Judge drops probe into Ratanakkiri land dispute

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by Cheang Sokha
Friday, 02 May 2008

A land grab investigation into Keat Kolney, the sister of Finance Minister Keat Chhon, has stalled after the lead judge abandoned the case, saying that members of the Jarai ethnic minority who claim their property was stolen were refusing to cooperate with his probe.

Ratanakkiri Provincial Court President Ya Narin was attempting to map the borders of the contested 450 hectares in northeastern Cambodia but the Jarai villagers refused to let him, he said.

“I want to establish the scale of the land involved in this conflict,” he told the Post on April 29.
“I cannot proceed to the hearing stage of the case without evidence … it is quite difficult for me when they pretend to be ignorant.”

The villagers feel that demarcating the land would hinder their traditional slash and burn farming practices, said Romam Fil, speaking for the 70 families in Kong Yu and Kong Thom villages in O’Yadao district involved in the case.

The villagers in January 2007 filed a complaint to Ratanakkiri provincial court demanding back their land, which they say they were duped into signing over to Kolney in August 2004.

The case has since come to highlight Cambodia’s growing problem of land disputes – particularly those involving indigenous land, which under the 2001 land law cannot be privately owned or sold.

Kolney maintains that she has documents proving that she bought the 450 hectares legally.

Since the sale, she has fenced off large portions of the property and planted rubber trees.

At the time of the alleged sale, some families received $400 cash, although others got far less.The villagers’ lawyers at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) say that a bribe of $90,000 was paid to local officials to facilitate the deal.

Mekong nations planning rice cartel

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by AFP
Friday, 02 May 2008

Thailand’s prime minister said April 30 his country had agreed in principle to form a rice price-fixing cartel with Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar as costs of the staple grain rocket.

The grouping of Mekong nations would be similar to the oil cartel OPEC, and would be called the Organization of Rice Exporting Countries (OREC).

“I have talked with Myanmar and invited them to join the rice exporting countries cartel, which will include Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, to fix the price,” Premier Samak Sundaravej told reporters.

He said Myanmar’s Prime Minister General Thein Sein, in Thailand for an official visit, had agreed to join, even though the military-ruled nation was not currently a large rice exporter.

“Thailand will help them in terms of technical support to improve their production for export,” Samak said.

Samak said Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos had also agreed to join, and Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said OREC should begin meeting soon. (AFP)

Fresh market on the move

VANDY RATTANA Vegetable, meat and fruit sellers with stalls adjoining the bustling Russian Market in Phnom Penh are likely to be forced to close shop this month as local authorities push forward with plans to relocate the fresh market to a new site in neighboring Boeung Trabek commune.

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

Written by Mom Kunthear
Friday, 02 May 2008

After more than a decade selling meat and produce alongside Phnom Penh’s sprawling Russian Market, hundreds of vendors at Phsar Kromoun are being forced to move and fear business will plummet as buyers refuse to navigate the crowded, narrow roads to the new site.

Local authorities in Toul Tompoung I commune have told the fresh market’s 380-odd vendors they will be required to relocate to new nearby grounds by mid-May because stalls were spilling onto the street and causing traffic problems.

The move would be the latest in a series of market shifts over the past several years, upsetting commerce in some of the capital’s key commercial districts as vendors are forced into new stalls, often with higher rents.

Work has been underway on a new market site about 200 meters from Russian Market, or Toul Tompoung Market – a popular tourist attraction – since December last year.

But while the shift to the 12,000-square-meter “New Boeung Trabek Market” in neighboring Beoung Trabek commune is unlikely to cause major commuting problems, vendors are still up in arms.

Chea Chang, a 57-year-old fruit seller who set up at Phsar Kromoun about a year ago, told the Post on a recent afternoon that the thought of having to move had upset her stomach.

“Why do I have to move? I don’t want to go to another place,” she said. “I am very worried about my business because I’m always having to move from one place to another.”

Pe Srey, 52, of Kandal province, has been selling vegetables at Phsar Kromoun for more than 10 years and said she resents being told where and when he must move.

“Even though they might kill me or give me a big settlement for leaving here, I still reject the idea of moving to the new marketplace. I will find another market to sell at,” she said.

Srey said it would be difficult to sell vegetables at Boeung Trabek because it was farther from the homes of her regular customers.

Lai Kongsavuth, the manager of New Boeung Trabek Market, insisted that vendors were under no pressure to open stalls at the new center.

“I’m not going to force them…. There are many vendors from other markets who want to sell at this market,” he said.

Toul Tompoung I commune chief Chheng Chheak “requested” in a March 17 letter that vendors at Phsar Kromoun shift to the new marketplace “in order to make … a good social environment.”
“They cannot reject the move because we have never allowed them to sell on the road anyway, and they are doing business on a public road,” Chheak told the Post by phone.

The vice president of Phnom Penh Municipality, Pa Socheatvong, said on April 28 he knew nothing of the proposed relocation of vendors.

Cambodia panned over its policy on foreign marriages

Taiwan Headlines

TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan (TASAT), an organization for immigrant spouses from Southeast Asian countries, is worried that a recent suspension in Cambodia of marriages between Cambodians and foreigners may make life worse for Cambodian women already married to Taiwanese and living in Taiwan.

A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the Cambodian government decided last month to stop issuing marriage certificates to Cambodian nationals who marry foreigners.

"The government has temporarily suspended all [paperwork] for Cambodian women marrying foreigners," You Ay, secretary of state with Cambodia's Women's Affairs Ministry, was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying last month.

"This suspension is to prevent human trafficking through marriage," she said. "Cambodia is working to strengthen its laws on marriage."

After the ban was announced, "a union between a [Taiwanese] national and a Cambodian will no longer be issued a marriage certificate, which makes it impossible to proceed with the process of registering the marriage in Taiwan and granting the Cambodian spouse residency," the ministry's statement said.

TASAT condemned the Cambodian government over its decision.

"Marriage is one of a person's fundamental rights, and the Cambodian government is taking that right away from its citizens," said Chen Hsueh-hui (陳雪彗), a department director at the organization.

Chen also expressed concern that such a suspension may make it worse for Cambodian women who are already married to Taiwanese and living here.

"The Cambodian government is very hostile toward Cambodian women who are married to foreigners," she said.

The Cambodian government has been refusing to issue certificates for people renouncing Cambodian citizenship, which are required if Cambodians wish to obtain Taiwanese citizenship.

To resolve the problem, the ministry has made an exception by lifting the requirement for a certificate for Cambodians married to Taiwanese.

"With the new ban, we're worried that it will become another barrier for Cambodian women who are married to Taiwanese but have yet to be naturalized and obtain [Taiwanese] citizenship," Chen said.

Mining group gets go-ahead in foreign partnerships

Nhan Dan
May 3, 2008

The Prime Minister has allowed the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industry Group (TKV) to set up joint stock companies with foreign partners for bauxite-aluminum projects.

Under the scheme, the TKV is allowed to set up a joint stock company with at most 40% of its stake sold to foreign partners and nine other% to the public. The group will keep 51% to hold the control right of a majority share holder.

The permission will enable the mining giant to invite the Alcoa group of the US to buy up to 40% of shares of the Nhan Co aluminum production project in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong , with a capacity of 600,000 tonnes a year.

It will also be able to sell to the Yunnan Metallurgy Group of China at most 20% of the stock of a bauxite-aluminum project in Lam Dong province, also in the Central Highlands.

The Government also asked the TKV to submit detailed explanations for its joint-venture plan with the BHP group, under which the BHP will contribute 49% to a railway project leading from the Central Highlands to the southern central province of Binh Thuan and 10% to a bauxite mining and processing project in Cambodia.

The group will also take part in mining and processing bauxite in Cambodia , contributing 10% to the investment. (VNA)

The mysterious ways of frauds

Author: Hemal Ashar
03 May 2008

Two types of credit card frauds were brought to light recently. In one of the frauds, a South Mumbai resident was on a social visit to Ahmedabad when he received a mobile alert that the available credit limit on his card was lower than his purchase value.

A transaction had taken place in Angkor Vat (Cambodia) for Rs 62,000 (1,500 US dollars) on ‘his’ card.

The gentleman in question had his credit card with him and had never in his life visited Cambodia.

The Barclays Bank, after pressure and the case appearing in the news, agreed to reverse the transaction, but it was only after it appeared in the press that they were moved to do something about the matter. Till then, the customer had been bounced from one executive to another, at the new fangled call centres with their polite, monotonous, robotic answers. The card in question had obviously been duplicated and the computer only recognised the ‘card number’, which seemed to be the same as the one on the original owner’s card.

Some time ago, a city resident was accused of buying a card-duplicating machine from the internet. The gang then befriended a waiter in a Juhu hotel, who would swipe credit cards on this machine. The data was downloaded on to a computer, the owner’s details obtained and fraudulent cards obtained to make transactions. In card fraud parlance this is known as Counterfeit Card Fraud or skimming. In this case, the city police moved in and caught the fraudsters.

A quick google search reveals that credit and debit card frauds seem to escalate every year. Cyber-savvy criminals are finding inventive, new ways to duplicate cards.

Through Internet frauds (the classic one is the e-mail fraud, where e-mails appear usually from Nigeria asking people to reveal their bank details and send money) and mobile phone crimes, calls made from duplicated SIM cards and cell phones used in terrorism, including those used to detonate bombs, criminals have proved that they can easily keep up, outstrip and manipulate evolving technology. It is not just an empty mind, but also a tech-savvy one that can be the devil’s workshop. It makes one yearn for a world, where the telephone was a humungous instrument with its receiver trailing on a wire, the ‘net’ was something associated with fishing and plastic meant plastic buckets in bathrooms and plastic smiles at swish parties, no plastic money. The age of innocence may not have been pristine, but it was less complicated than the age of convenience.

Cambodian garment workers show talent


(Ch. Narendra)

"The car was heard leaving home, heading for Phnom Penh. I sadly said goodbye to my parents, hoping to return home with money for my mother", go the opening words of the song "I am precious" that won first prize at a recent song and dress-making contest here.

But the winner wasn’t a regional song contest entry. Rather, she was Touch Sreynith, a garment worker writing about the journey from her home town to work in Phnom Penh and find a new future.

The contest was organized jointly by the International Labour Organisation''s (ILO’s) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) programme, the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Precious Girl Magazine (whose readership focuses on garment workers), the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the French Development Agency and the Garment Industry Productivity Center.

"The competition successfully brought together key players in the industry", says Tuomo Poutiainen, Chief Technical Advisor for BFC. "This is a good example of effective collaboration showing that by working together we can do something positive and valuable for the Cambodian garment workers."

Indeed, the recent contest was more than just a stage for garment workers to display their hidden talents. It shows how the garment industry has evolved along lines that improve productivity and marketing as well as working conditions.

An International Buyers’ Forum in Phnom Penh last September, convened by BFC and the IFC, underscores these developments. According to Ros Harvey, the Global Programme Manager for the ILO and IFC Better Work programme, the Buyers’ Forum provided a chance for "all stakeholders in the industry to get together and discuss matters concerning the Better Factories initiative as well as broader industry issues.

The Forum is an opportunity for international buyers to meet together with government, suppliers and unions. Together we can work on shared solutions. The Forum also allows Cambodia to promote itself to new buyers".

This year, the Forum saw the attendance of 17 international garment brands, represented by 43 retailers, most of which are members of the Better Factories programme. Buyers came mainly from the US and Europe, including Adidas, Gap, H & M, Wal-Mart, Levi Strauss & Co. and the Walt Disney Company.

Buyers announced that they would continue to source their garments from Cambodia for the upcoming year. This announcement is welcome news for Cambodia’s garment industry, which employs over 340,000 people in around 300 factories.

The industry has been fearful of losing market share in 2008 if the US decides to remove quotas on Chinese imports. This would threaten Cambodia’s 2006 position as the fifth-largest supplier to the US, with a total global export value at $2.6 billion.

At the same time, buyers underlined that the existence of the Better Factories programme and its emphasis on working conditions and productivity were major reasons behind them choosing to work with Cambodia. They affirmed the need for strong support for BFC as it goes through the transition period towards sustainability as an independent entity in the near future.

So far, the hopes of the industry and its workers have not been deceived, or as the author of the winning song puts it: "Mother, stay home and don’t worry. My life is valuable. Factory work is not shameful; it provides benefits to society".

According to Ros Harvey, "this is not surprising. The ILO’s Better Factories programme in Cambodia has led to verified improvements in working conditions across the Cambodian garment industry, the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs and sustained increases in exports to the United States and the European Union".

During a recent address to the ILO Governing Body in Geneva on growing links with the ILO, World Bank President Robert Zoellick expanded this theme, saying that Better Factories Cambodia has helped "to improve labour practices and competitiveness in the global supply chain".

He cited a number of areas of joint concern to the Bank and the ILO, including developing skills, helping workers adjust to change and expanding efforts on gender issues and that the Bank and the ILO were joining forces in such programmes as the Better Work initiative.

Based on the positive results of Better Factories Cambodia, Better Work, a joint ILO-IFC initiative is now developing global tools and piloting three country projects, in Jordan, Lesotho and Viet Nam with the full cooperation of workers’ and employers’ organizations.

The project combines enterprise assessments of compliance with labour standards at the factory level, with training and capacity building. The first phase directly benefits 1.2 million working people with the potential for reaching millions more.

Corruption AND Development and lots to marvel at!

Crowning of King Sihamoni

Food stalls at Psar Thimei, Phnom Penh

The Island Online
By Nan

"Most of the people in power are corrupt" said our tour guide in Phnom Penh. "There is such a lot of poverty but there are extremely rich people too."

"Corruption remains a way of life in Cambodia. It is the leadership that must set an example but right now that example is take, take, take, and it goes on from the highest government official to the lowest paid civil servant. Sometimes it is overt, but it is increasingly covert with ministers signing off government land to private companies for a steal and contracts being awarded to shadowy business figures with close connections to the leadership. At its worst, it has seen the partial privatization of Cambodia’s heritage, with new private roads being bulldozed through to ancient temple sites and hefty tolls levied …But it is not only the locals who know how to play the game." This from the Lonely Planet Guide, 5th edition (undated but very recent). Nick Ray mentions the parallel state that is the NGO world, which has helped in poverty alleviation but NGO and multinational individuals and foreign consultants "are riding the gravy train to Geneva, stashing six figure, tax-free annual salaries, driving the latest 4WDs and renting houses with seven bathrooms."

"The depressing reality of politics in Cambodia is that the political elite have consistently and wholeheartedly betrayed the long-term interests of their people for short-term personal gain. Entering politics is not about national service but self-service."

Is the Lonely Planet Guide (LPG) and we talking here of Cambodia or Sri Lanka? Listened to and read about, Sri Lanka was invariably substituted for the name Cambodia. Is rampant corruption in the midst of stark poverty a disease of developing countries? Corruption there all over the world, but not to the extent it exists in the poorest of poor nations where, staring at malnourished children and poverty burdened women, the well-heeled, well-fed cheat, steal and grab and live it up. This is so in Sri Lanka too.

A Lankan businessman resident in Siem Reep had this to say: "We had a minister coming over to talk tourism, and trade probably. He did no business talking, no meetings. Stayed in the best hotel with a number of people brought along, ate, drank and had a wonderful time and went back." Such a one exists no longer to parasite on the taxpayer of the country, which means everyone, since all pay in one way or another to keep our government going and ministers having a jolly good time.

The LPG introduction to the country ends thus: "That Cambodia has made progress in spite of its government and not because of it comes down to the Cambodian people: their tenacity, good humour and instinct for survival. Most Cambodians are hardworking and honest." Sadly, this cannot be said of us Sri Lankans, in general.

PM Hun Sen has proved himself a survivor, personally and politically, having lost an eye in the battle for Phnom Penh in 1975. He defected to Vietnam in 1977 and was elected PM in 1997. He’s been in power since then.


The highest forex earner is tourism. Trippers pour into Cambodia. This month is not the high season since it’s very hot but streams of tourists were everywhere and like a flood in Siem Reep. South Koreans head the list of tourists, our travel guides said, with Japanese coming a close second and then the Europeans. Sri Lankans too straggle along, but most do the three country tour – Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Too expensive for yours truly!

It’s hot with intermittent showers just now. The monsoon will start around July/August and that means floods and rice growing.

Naturally tourism is encouraged and visas seem to be given freely. Trouble getting one is that Cambodia is not dpl represented in Sri Lanka. You need to send your passport and application to New Delhi and twiddle your thumbs for two weeks, or get it at Bangkok. Some apply for their visas at the immigration counter in Phnom Penh and we witnessed success - three women. Both Bangkok and Cambodia seem to be more careful with men applicants.

The route we followed was: go to Bangkok, visit the Sri Lankan embassy, get a letter and go to the Cambodian embassy. We were told we’d have to submit applications in the morning and go for the passports with visas stamped in the evening. Not us six women. The Sri Lankan embassy had already sent our application and we were positively treated with courtesy at the Cambodian Embassy and so within an hour or so our visas were in hand.

A word here about the Sri Lankan Embassy and Ambassador. Prof. J B Dissanayake seems the ideal choice for this neighbouring Buddhist country with much through traffic (hopefully of only the tourist kind). Here is an excellent choice of a non-career diplomat.

He invited us in to meet him when we went to the embassy, chatted for quite a long while, offered tea and gifted a book of his to each of us, and assured us that his embassy had done all in double quick time to see that we were able to keep to our tour schedule.

Four years of hell

1974 -1979 was the Khmer Rouge regime, implementing as it did the most radical and brutal restructuring of a society ever attempted: its goal to transform this Theravada Buddhist country into a Maoist, peasant dominated agrarian cooperative. Within days of Blood Brother No I – Paris educated Pol Pot taking power, the entire population of the capital and provincial towns, including children, the sick and elderly, was forced to march out to the countryside to undertake slave labour in mobile work teams for 12 to 15 hours per day. All intellectuals and the educated were brutally tortured and murdered.

Reminded us of the strategy to uproot tea from estates and grow manioc and the most foul murder of persons like Prof Stanley Wijesundera. Most mercifully the JVP uprising was nipped in the bud though thousands of youth made red the streams that ran through JVP dominated areas.

Visits to the War Museum and the Killing Fields were emotionally searing, to say the least.
In 1975, Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot’s security forces and made a detention and torture camp with classrooms divided into small cells where inmates were chained to their beds. Much smaller rooms had prisoners thrown in after torture sessions and chained as they writhed on the ground. Pictures were taken of the prisoners which are now bulletin boarded and left to stare at with tears of deep sorrow, and anger in the viewer, at the extent of such senseless brutality.

Corruption AND

The Killing Fields are by a tranquil lake and one hoped the dead rested in peace. One large square was where women and children were dumped in a shallow mass grave, often battered to death to save ammunition. Exact figures of those killed is still debated. The figure given us by our tour guide was 2.5 million, one fourth the population at the time.

To bring some peace to the disturbed mind we were then taken to the Royal Palace with the so tranquil Silver Pagoda on the same grounds.

When Pol Pot died a miserable lonely death in Khmer Rouge captivity on 15 April 1998, people would not celebrate until they actually saw pictures of his corpse on TV. They could not believe the monster was no more. The trial of the Khmer Rouge is still going on, 25 years too late. Pol Pot escaped rightful punishment.

Bites of info

One guide claimed that Cambodia is the world’s number one rice exporter, but a Thai claimed his country held this place. Whatever it is, Cambodia has only one harvest of rice per year, after the monsoon rains. Much of the land is covered with jungle within which people have their leaf walled and roofed houses, specially in the outskirts of Siem Reep. Forest cover from more than 50 percent has dwindled to 30 percent. The rest of the land is covered with grass and small bushes – these being rice fields.

Every Cambodian we spoke to had been affected by the Khmer Regime. Our two guides had both grown up in refugee camps after their parents fled Phnom Penh and Siem Reep respectively. Within ten years however, their lives are much more normal and they strive hard over education, earning and helping their families.

The Vietnamese it was who defeated the Khmer Rouge regime and the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) that steered the country to sanity and democracy, however circumscribed, with two years of supervision of the administration of the country with the goal of free elections. On May 25. 1993 elections were held. Even today, UNTAC’s activity is heralded as one of the UN’s success stories. But the LPG says, "it was an ill-conceived and poorly executed peace because so many of the powers involved in brokering the deal had their own agendas in advance." As of now, King Norodom Sihanouk is in retirement in Siem Reep having brought back his ballet dancing younger son from Prague and installed him as King Sihamoni who is unmarried. His elder brother is a power in the government.


Much of it is seen around. Kids with (self imposed) miserable faces and uncombed malnourished hair sell you stuff at the ancient sites or even beg, but not whiny. They look lovely. The boat people seen on the boat-ride on Tomle Sap Lake in their floating village of Chong Kneas were very interesting. You see women cooking; infants in cloth strung cradles; small kids swirling around in flat metal saucers of diameter around one foot, often getting overturned and soon rising to the surface; a shop with a crocodile and gecko farm, also shopping! Children gaily defecate from their boat homes to the canal and lake. Most huts have TVs, though no electricity.

When the monsoon arrives and the water level rises, they transfer themselves to land houses; at other times too so that this transfer is sometimes 15 times per year. Fresh water is brought in huge barrels and sold to the lake dwellers. Fishing is their industry. The lake is huge and at dry season two metres deep. Once the rains come the depth increases to 15 metres.

Progress but child labour

Material improvement – definitely. You can sail to Siem Reep from Phnom Penh, the journey taking around 5 hours, or drive down. We opted to fly Bangkok Airways to save time. A huge canal connects the land to the lake and is crowded with motorized boats. Ours had a boy of around 11 being the pilot to the teenaged driver/sailor. He would take down a huge oar and disentangle his boat from others. This canal is being extended so that soon it would be right at the doorstep of Siem Reep.

Within ten years there has been so much progress in buildings and infrastructure. For example eight years ago in Siem Reep there were just a handful of hotels, now hundreds of them, all new and clean with guest houses crowding in.

The life of the ordinary man, needless to say, has improved from what it was in the past, though there remains so much more to be done to bring some quality of life, especially for women and children.

More on Siem Reep next Sunday and, hold your breath, Angkor Wat!

Australian found dead in Cambodian jail

The Australian
By staff writers and wires
May 03, 2008

AN Australian man has been found dead in his Cambodian jail cell, according to a report by wire agency DPA.

Bart Lauwaert, a former teacher, was serving a 20-year sentence in a Siem Reap prison for child sex offences. His last avenue of appeal was closed last month.

A prison official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told DPA Lauwaert had not been on suicide watch and no formal cause of death had been established, although heart failure had not been ruled out.

Lauwaert, 41, was arrested with fellow Australian Clinton Rex Betterridge in 2002 and charged with molesting more than a dozen girls aged under the age of 15. Betteridge jumped bail and fled Cambodia, but was jailed in Australia.

In 2006 girls who had testified against the men at their original trial recanted their statement during a hearing at the Cambodian Court of Appeal. The girls claimed they had been offered money by the local rights group Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre if they testified against the men.

The mens' sentences were upheld by the Cambodian court, but Betteridge was released from jail in Australia the same day. DPA said then-Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison also ordered a full investigation into any Australian aid supplied to the CWCC. The CWCC has strenuously denies any wrongdoing.

New Zealand national Graham Robert Cleghorn is also in a Cambodian jail as a result of a CWCC-led complaint.

US-Asean Business Council Meets With Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 (Bernama) -- Fifteen business executives from ten United States-based companies met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and other leaders in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh Friday as part of a delegation sponsored by the US ASEAN Business Council.

The mission was led by its president Matthew Daley and William Lafferandre, ConocoPhillips Manager of Asia Pacific Business Development, the council said in a statement here Friday.

Lafferandre said compared to 2006, the number of participating companies almost doubled for the current mission, reflecting the increased interest in Cambodia by the American business community.

"Our delegation is here to deepen existing economic ties between the US and Cambodia and to explore new opportunities.

We know Cambodia is experiencing unprecedented growth.We believe our corporations bring the wherewithal to help sustain the growth in ways that will strengthen Cambodia," he said.

Other companies participating in the mission include Boeing, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Ford Motor company, GE and UPS.


Local kid raises money for Cambodian orphans

Austin Zappia set a goal to raise $1,200 by the end of the year

By Scott Leamon
WSLS10 Reporter
Published: May 2, 2008

Spurred by a goal to raise $1,200 for Cambodian orphans by the end of the year, 8 year old Austin Zappia set out to meet his mark one cup of lemonade at a time.

Austin will be selling lemonade and ginger ale for $1 at Claire V. near downtown Roanoke.
He will set up shop Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM.

The Wasena Elementary School student recently returned from visiting a Cambodian orphanage with his mother last week.

“I made a lot of friends,” Austin said Friday afternoon from his lemonade stand at Claire V., 309 Campbell Avenue.

Austin’s mother, Kelly, started raising money after making business trips to Cambodia with several Claire V. colleagues.

“I really hope that Austin will take away a greater sense of what our world as a whole is like,” Kelly Zappia said.

Many of the kids at the orphanage once scavenged through a city dump, Kelly Zappia said.
The orphans would make items out of recyclables to sell at city markets, Austin Zappia said.
Austin hopes his $1,200 will fund three orphans into the program, the Center For Children’s Happiness.

Austin and his mother plan to go back to Cambodia this October.