Thursday, 8 May 2008

The Mekong Times : In Khmer and English Language

The Mekong Times #63.pdf
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•Qatar to invest US$200 million in agriculture•Cambodia offers Myanmar US$50,000 to help with Cyclone Nargis aftermath

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Fat in hips?

Women sit on specially designed seats at a park in southwest China's Chongqing municipality, April 20, 2007. Fat that accumulates around the hips may provide protection against diabetes, according to media reports Thursday quoting U.S. researchers. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge Tribunal Donors Should Ensure that Prosecutions Not Fall Short

By Sara Colm, Senior Researcher on Cambodia for Human Rights Watch

Published in Asahi Shinbum
May 1, 2008

The long-delayed court process to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice is underway in Cambodia. The hybrid tribunal made of both Cambodian and international judges, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), was established to try those most responsible for the deaths of as many as two million Cambodians during their four-year rule, which ended in 1979.

On a recently held on-site investigation, three remaining prison survivors were brought face-to-face with Kaing Gech Eav (Duch), the former chief of the regime's notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where more than 14,000 people were tortured and executed.

Though the tribunal has started to move forward, for the ECCC to successfully find justice for the victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities, it must overcome several major hurdles.

Cambodia's judiciary is widely known for its lack of independence and corruption, and for most Cambodians, a courthouse is not a place to seek justice.

Often the accused do not have access to a lawyer. Judges have been known to arbitrarily refuse to admit defense evidence and issue verdicts written in advance of trials. In politically sensitive cases, judges receive instructions from senior government figures.

In contrast, the ECCC is expected to meet international standards of justice. However, the majority of its 19 judges are Cambodian. The UN initially opposed the arrangement, fearing that the Cambodian government would try to manipulate the tribunal. The tribunal’s office of administration is split into a Cambodian-administered side and a UN side, with serious allegations of corruption plaguing the Cambodian side including wage kickbacks to the Cambodian government.

In this context, what needs to be done for a fair trial? Chief among the issues yet to be resolved is how far the ECCC will be willing to go in following the evidence and identifying additional individuals to investigate and prosecute. So far, five former Khmer Rouge leaders have been detained including Duch. ECCC budget projections presented to the donors in January indicate that at most three more individuals may be prosecuted.

However, can the ECCC be credible if it only tries a pre-selected handful of individuals? Many former Khmer Rouge government officials and senior military officials continue to live freely.

Donors should insist that the ECCC promptly implement proper witness and victim protection programs, without which prosecutions will be hard to conduct.

Donors should also support the ECCC so that their international investigators can carry out thorough investigations needed to bring additional accused to justice and to enable victims to participate the process.

As Japan and other international donor countries now consider a request for an additional US$170 million, they should insist upon significant reforms including conditioning their pledge on the ECCC improving its transparency and addressing the alleged corruption charges. Japan, which has already made significant contributions to the ECCC’s budget to date, and has one judge sitting in the ECCC’s supreme court chamber, is uniquely position to lead the call for reform.

Only if key donors insist on all possible safeguards will it be possible for the Khmer Rouge tribunal to deliver to Cambodians the justice for which they have long been waiting.

Khmer Children Need a User Friendly Khmer Dictionary

Posted on 8 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 559

“Khmer Literature Represents Khmer National Identity”

“Phnom Penh: During the celebration of Culture Day every year, we always see many banners written in big letters stating that Khmer literature represents the Khmer national identity; in fact, Khmer literature shows disagreements, although there is some progress.

“Khmer children would like the relevant institutions to create a general Khmer dictionary or an encyclopedia which is user friendly, in order to strengthen and preserve Khmer literature to become more easy to comprehend.

“Tep Piseth, 25, has graduated and worked in an organization. He stated that there seems to be not yet a general agreement about the use of Khmer orthography. The knowledge that he gained from school and from the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports is different from that at work, which required to use a Khmer dictionary. When using a Khmer dictionary, he could not find some words, therefore he would like to have a dictionary or an encyclopedia like they are available in other countries that respond to such needs.

“Veng Van, 54, a man who loves Khmer literature, told Khmer Sthapana on 4 May 2008 that the use of Khmer writing seems still to be controversial – there are two groups – the conservatives and the modernizers. Some adhere to the words in the Khmer dictionary created by [the late Supreme Patriarch] Chuon Nat, while some adhere to [the linguist scholar] Keng Vansak’s group, or some use words of their individual creation.

“The president of the Association for Supporting Khmer Literature and Culture Mr. Rey Sreang said that this association was created with the goal to promote the value of the national culture and literature, to preserve and develop them, and to reach an agreement for the correct use of the national literature. He thinks that national literature declined because of changes in existing words, different from their origin, and because of disagreements about the use of words.

“Mr. Rey Sreang, who also used to be a Buddhist monk, added that both volumes of the [Chuon Nat] Khmer dictionary, contain more than 18,000 entries, but they cannot meet the needs of present day use, so new words had to be created in line with the requirements of modern times; however, they too have to be based, for their origin and their root, on correct linguistic rules.

“He continued, ‘If the culture is lost, the nation will dissolve, and if the culture is brilliant, the nation will be prosperous; Khmer literature represents the Khmer national identity and it is the core of the nation, and the Buddhist discipline is the core of Buddhism.’ Therefore, in order to promote the rules of Khmer literature, all of us, as the cell of society and of the national language, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, and the Royal Academy of Cambodia – all have to participate.

“Mr. Rey Sreang and many other students support for the creation of an encyclopedia that can be used in general, because the traditional Khmer dictionaries lacks many words, and the spellings of Khmer words have also many mistakes.

“A circular about the spellings in official letters, Letter Number 3, dated 19 July 2006, signed by the Senior Minister and Minister of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports Dr. Kol Pheng, stated that the Ministry had found that some offices, departments, town and provincial Departments of Education, Youth, and Sport, as well as private and public educational institutions, still do not correctly use the orthography according to the set principles.

“Dr. Kol Pheng stated that to participate in preserving and developing the national language correctly and clearly, according to the rules, the Ministry instructs all relevant departments that from now on, all studies and textbooks at all levels – primary, secondary, and higher education – must adhere to the spellings of the Khmer dictionary of Samdech Supreme Patriarch Chuon Nat, according to the fifth edition of 1967, published by the Buddhist Institute.

“Dr. Klairong Amratisa [phonetic – can any reader help to clarify?], a famous Thai writer, said that Thai writers in the Ayutthaya Period (1350 – 1767) compared literature to bouquets from paradise; writers always used high-level words which originally came from Pali, Sanskrit, or Khmer, as they were considered as superior words in Thailand.

“Referring to this, Khmer literature used to have a rich history, and it was admired by other countries; that is why many Khmer children ask for the creation of a Khmer dictionary or an encyclopedia to respond to their present needs and to serve for further development.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #17, 7.5.2008

Beg the question

Fresh change ... in Cambodia, where begging children are a common site, youngsters are being helped by charities such as Sunrise Angkor Children's Village /Lonely Planet Images
By Christine Retschlag
May 08, 2008

THERE'S hardly a corner of the world where travellers can avoid poverty.

Many of us, with just a few short days to experience a destination, grapple with ways in which to address the issue without making situations, such as begging, even worse.

At best, many travellers feel ineffectual and embarrassed and, at worst, some transform into the uncaring ugly Westerner.

But there are many practical and positive ways to make a difference.

Kristie Kellahan, a writer who regularly volunteers at an orphanage in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, suggests contacting aid organisations, such as the Red Cross, to assess the needs before you visit a country.

She advises travellers to think about what they are giving and avoid pushing Western values on to different cultures.

"People come to visit the orphanage and want to give the children toys, lollies, soft drinks and ice cream," she says. " But what would be useful is nappies for the babies, blank exercise books, pencils, sharpeners and things like that for the older ones."

Kellahan says while it is important not to judge the actions of fellow tourists, there are often more constructive ways to make a difference than handing money to beggars.

"By supporting kids selling postcards and chewing gum, it encourages families to send them to the city and they may be missing out on going to school. It's damaging for kids who make money when they are cute and young, but when they get older they can't make money any more."

In countries such as Laos, many children have never owned a book, let alone read one. In June 2006, in Luang Prabang, the Big Brother Mouse program opened its doors, publishing colourful and educational books in English and Lao.

Travellers to this charming town can visit two centres – recognisable by the cut-out mouse outside – and read or speak in English with local children.

Outside the town centre, tourists can purchase packs of educational books that come with a set of useful instructions, such as not to give the books to the most forward children on arrival in a village but consider the shy child in the corner who is likelier to share. Or, where possible, present the books to a local teacher.

In Cambodia's Siem Reap, the gateway town to Angkor Wat, the La Noria hotel has dedicated two massage rooms by the pool where blind masseuses offer massages to guests priced from about $US5 ($5.35). All money goes directly to the masseuses, for whom extreme poverty would otherwise be a certainty.

Also in Siem Reap, Raffles Hotel d'Angkor supports the Sunrise Angkor Children's Village, a local orphanage that opened in 1979 after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and is managed by the Australia Cambodia Foundation. Every Sunday, between 2pm and 3pm, children at the orphanage dress in exquisite costumes and perform traditional Cambodian dance and music. Entry is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

Kerin Ord, World Vision team leader for southern Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, warns travellers to be aware of scams that exploit children.

"Be wary of giving money to young children begging, they could belong to a Fagan-like organisation in which children are exploited. The children don't get to keep the money but have to pass it on to the leaders," Ord says.

"If you want to give something, consider small gifts such as pens or clip-on koalas or offer to buy them a meal or some water. While you may want to buy a soccer ball for the children to play with, what they may really need is food.

"People who are moved by their experiences shouldn't forget about it as soon as they get home. Harness that passion and become engaged in global issues; maybe join the Make Poverty History campaign or volunteer for a reputable charity."

In Code Green: Experiences of a Lifetime (Lonely Planet, $29.95), editor Kerry Lorimer cites "indiscriminate giving by tourists" as a contributing factor behind a "begging culture that undermines traditional culture and social structures" in many countries.

"As a traveller, you're seen less as a human being and more as a piggy bank," she writes.

"Alternatively, you could choose not to give to anyone, but to refuse someone genuinely suffering can border on inhumane.

"The best approach probably lies somewhere in the middle and where that middle is, is up to you. You might decide that someone (who) performs a small service should be rewarded with a tip, or that mothers with children, entertainers, holy men and women and-or the disabled may deserve a contribution.

"Perhaps best of all, try to give of yourself, rather than your wealth. Share a joke or a meal, start a conversation, pull out photos of your kids or home town or play a game."

Travel wholesaler Peregrine and Geckos Asia destination manager Becky Last advises travellers to try to see beyond the beggar to the person. "It's really hard for us to identify with the people who are tugging at us demanding money, but try to retain your sense of compassion, and playfulness with the kids," she says.

"Those truly living hand-to-mouth on the streets can't afford to stop begging, but for those kids who are trying it on with the tourists or to see if it works or what they can get, a game or messing about with a pad and paper for five to 10 minutes is a healthier interaction for everyone."

Every penny and peso counts

CHANGE for Good is a partnership between UNICEF and the international airline industry.
Established in 1987, it's one of UNICEF's best-known alliances. Unused currency collected from passengers is converted to life-saving materials and services for the world's neediest children.

Ten airlines are involved – Aer Lingus, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qantas – and their cabin crews collect spare coins and notes in special envelopes distributed to passengers.

Funds are transferred to UNICEF programs in more than 150 countries. Change for Good has raised more than $US70 million ($75 million). Other airlines run similar onboard collections, such as Virgin Atlantic's Change for Children.

Temple harmony

The Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh - Cambodia and Thailand said on Tuesday that the border temple of Prey Vihear was not in dispute and Thailand would not obstruct it being accepted as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

"The process of listing the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site is a Cambodian internal affair," Cambodian spokesman Phay Siphon said. "Both governments agree to cooperate."

Siphon told journalists after a meeting between Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and a Thai delegation led by Thai Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Virasakdi Futrakul that the talks were cordial.

The temple, known as Khao Phra Viharn in Thai and predating Angkor Wat by a century, is a sacred site to both nations but can only be accessed easily from the Thai side.

Despite Thai protests, it was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the International Court of Justice in The Hague but has historically remained a contentious issue between Thais and Khmers. In Thai, the temple is called Khao Phra Viharn.

Both sides are accused of deploying troops there in recent years, but on Tuesday, both sides were keen to be seen as in agreement.

Siphon declined comment about whether any other talks had been held on the two nations' still-disputed border demarcation or whether these have been as cordial.

Because of the rugged border terrain and a history of colonialism and war in Indochina, borders in the region remain a hot issue with potential mineral and oil reserves in the balance.

Siphon said he was not aware of a visit by World Heritage representatives to the temple this week, which diplomatic sources have said could go ahead.

In a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day over the weekend, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith was also conciliatory.

He urged journalists to keep their work on the temple issue factual and calm and not to incite problems that do not exist between the two neighbours. (dpa)

Telling tales of Peace Corps life

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Emi Caitlin Ishigooka has partaken of some exotic fare during her mission in Cambodia, including a local delicacy - fried tarantulas.

Peace Corps volunteer Emi Caitlin Ishigooka sits with students from the school where she teaches in Takeo Province, Cambodia. The school recently completed a mural of the world as part of a project.

Being a Peace Corps volunteer isn't all work. Emi Caitlin Ishigooka of Long Beach takes a break from her job as a high school teacher of English in the Kirivong district of Cambodia.

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH - She's dealt with frogs in her underwear, rats in her bed and partaken of the local delicacy - fried tarantulas. In other words, Emi Caitlin Ishigooka is having a typical Peace Corps experience.

About 15 months ago, Ishigooka became part of the first Peace Corps group to be assigned to Cambodia. And while she says she is too involved in the process right now to step back and reflect on the experience, Ishigooka has already collected a basketful of stories and memories in the first half of her two-plus-year appointment.

After a hectic, very American-girl-on-vacation couple of weeks home in Long Beach, Ishigooka boarded a plane and returned for her final year in the Kirivong district in Takeo Province, near the Vietnamese border.

Ishigooka says she understands why the Peace Corps mission lasts for two years, because she is only now getting her feet under her and settling in.

"The second year is about things coming together," Ishigooka says. "Now I have the relationships."

The UCLA and Poly High grad will continue to teach English to high school students in her village, but she will also become more engaged in community and social development.

Ishigooka says last year she helped the Swiss Red Cross organize an HIV/AIDS workshop, and this year she hopes to help put together an English library and resource center at the school where she teaches.

Ishigooka is the only American in her village and is 20 kilometers from her nearest Peace Corps neighbor. The two will occasionally jump on bikes and meet somewhere between their villages for coffee.

Ishigooka's village has no running water, but she's lucky that it does have electricity.

"You really get used to it," Ishigooka says of the change in lifestyle. "You think it will be hard not having running water and all the nice amenities."

Ishigooka says she now thinks nothing of doing her laundry at the local well, although she admits trying to dry her clothes during the rainy season can be frustrating.

"You just have to resign yourself to things smelling moldy," she says.

As a child, Ishigooka was raised on her mother's tales about Peace Corps volunteers she had met on travels to exotic locales such as Palau, Saipan and other Pacific Islands.

Now she is getting her own stories, like the time a frog made a hammock of her underwear while it was drying on a line.

Then there are the rats.

Ishigooka says on her first night with her host family, she was given a basket of fruit. During the night, a rat chewed its way through the mosquito netting on Ishigooka's bed to get at the fruit.
When Ishigooka realized the rat was inside her bed, she said it led to "a mad game of me trying to kick the rat out."

And then there was the rat who stole Ishigooka's retainer.

"Somewhere in Cambodia there's a rat with really perfect teeth," Ishigooka jokes.

As a half-Japanese woman who attended racially mixed Poly High, Ishigooka is no stranger to diversity. Many of her closest friends were Cambodian or Vietnamese. In Cambodia, she says she has had no bad experiences because of being mixed-race.

Some people think she is part Khmer.

"It's kind of nice to blend in," Ishigooka said, adding that it is also comforting to be in a country in which she isn't always the smallest person in a group.

Ishigooka's mother, Bridget Dole, says her daughter's heritage has served her well.

"Being bicultural, she's always had an appreciation for other cultures," Dole said. "Because of that, I don't see a different outlook from her. But I think it's deepened her understanding. I don't think you can live in a developing country and ever view the world in the same way again."

"Being a foreigner, I've never felt like they didn't want me there," Ishigooka says.

Many times, she says, her foreignness precedes her.

When she gets on a bicycle and leaves the village to meet another volunteer, she says children will often run along and a chorus of "Barang, barang," will ripple down the road.

Literally, barang translates to a French person, but is often used for any Caucasian, or in Ishigooka's case half-Caucasian, foreigner.

The Cambodian experience has not been without its setbacks and frustrations.

Not long after she arrived, Ishigooka was stricken with amoebic dysentery and dropped to 83 pounds before regaining her health.

As a teacher, Ishigooka notices the need for education is great, but scheduling can be erratic. Especially when students have to work the fields or go on holiday. Her classes are often large and not divided by skill, meaning she often has to teach remedial and advanced language skills simultaneously.

She has begun holding office hours between morning and afternoon classes. One particularly diligent student has been showing up regularly and has been reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

Other students travel long distances to attend classes and spend weeknights at the home Ishigooka shares with her host family, who are also teachers.

In the face of such staggering need, Ishigooka says she maintains modest goals.

"The small successes get you through the day," Ishigooka says. "Some people come (to the Peace Corps) and think they'll change the world. For me, it's the individuals who stand out, the people in the community and the teachers. If I can help them, that's what I'm here for."

Britain welcomes arrest of ex-Khmer Rouge man accused in mine clearer's killing

The Associated Press
Published: May 8, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Authorities have arrested a fourth former Khmer Rouge soldier allegedly linked to the killing of a British mine clearance expert and his Cambodian interpreter 12 years ago.

Sin Dorn was held on a charge of premeditated murder, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Ke Sakhan said Wednesday. Sin Dorn is accused in the 1996 kidnapping and supposed murder of Briton Christopher Howes and his interpreter Huon Huot.

The British Embassy in Phnom Penh on Thursday welcomed Sin Dorn's arrest "and the continued progress made on this long standing case," spokesman Chantha Kim said in an e-mail.

Howes, of Bristol, England, and a group of his Cambodian co-workers were abducted in March 1996 by Khmer Rouge guerrillas while clearing mines in an isolated area about 17 kilometers (10 miles) north of the Angkor Wat temple, the country's most popular tourist destination.

Howes, who was 37 at the time, persuaded the guerrillas to free his colleagues while he and Huon Huot remained hostages for ransom.

Their fate was unknown until a team of detectives from Scotland Yard said about two years later that they had firm evidence the two had been taken to the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng and killed soon after their abduction.

Sin Dorn's arrest comes after three other ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers were detained in November in connection with Howes disappearance.

The judge said police arrested Sin Dorn, 52, late last week in Anlong Veng, a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla stronghold in northwestern Cambodia. He did not elaborate on the suspect's alleged involvement in the crime.

The other detained suspects include Khem Ngun, a former Khmer Rouge commander who witnesses said had given the order to kill Howes.

Khem Ngun defected to the government in 1998 and was awarded the rank of major general in the Cambodian army.

However, the Cambodian government had been unwilling to arrest him earlier, apparently for fear of losing the trust of Khmer Rouge guerrillas who were in the process of defecting at the time.

The charge against Sin Dorn carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Doha plans to invest $200mn in Cambodia

Thursday, 8 May, 2008
Gulf Times

PHNOM PENH: Qatar plans to invest around $200mn in the agricultural sector of Cambodia, a senior official said yesterday.

An investment agreement will be signed soon, said Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international co-operation.

Qatar’s co-operation with Cambodia was highlighted after Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani paid his first official visit to Cambodia last month, he said.

“We welcome their investment,” said Hor, adding that Cambodia also plans to borrow loan from Qatar to restore its irrigation system for over 300,000 hectares of rice planting land in Savy Rieng, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces.Part of the paddy rice there will be sold to Qatar, he added.

– Xinhua

Economic slowdown to further limit new jobs in Cambodia

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

PHNOM PENH, May 8, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- -- An average of 250,000 new workers entered the job market each year from 2003 to 2007, but only an average of 150,000 new jobs were created in each of those years, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported Thursday.

The number of jobs created annually peaked at 200,000 in 2005 and 2006, though 2007 saw a sharp decline to about 115,000 new jobs created, and further economic slowdown is expected to keep the number low for 2008, Sok Hach, director of the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) was quoted as saying.

The World Bank is aware of the glut of new workers, said Senior Country Economist Stephane Guimbert, and in cooperation with the government, the bank is exploring ways to create about 250,000 new jobs per year.

By the end of the year, Guimbert said, the World Bank will submit an analysis to the government on ways to tackle the unemployment issue.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian Ministry of Labor is also training workers to better meet the demands of the local and overseas job markets, ministry Undersecretary of State Oum Mean said.

Oum Mean said the nation's unemployment rate remains low because of an informal, unregulated labor market, which he said employs millions from motorbike taxi drivers to street vendors.

Cambodian restaurateur, Thai wife serve up flavors of home

By Alice T. Carter
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Food snobs generally greet with suspicion any restaurant that's doing business in a suburban strip mall.

That's their loss.

It means they will overlook the joys of Angkor, an attractive, well-run restaurant with an adventurous menu of Cambodian and Thai cuisine.

It's been doing business since 2002 in a utilitarian strip mall that's technically inside Pittsburgh where the city's borders intersect with those of Greentree and Crafton.

Angkor is a family business run by husband-and-wife team Bo and Nit Meng and Bo Meng's mother, Kim Hong. They also own and operate two Downtown restaurants featuring the cuisine of Southeast Asia -- Phnom Penh on First Avenue and Lemon Grass Cafe on Sixth Avenue.

Prettily decorated with carved wood panels and an abundance of small gilded Thai and Cambodian statuettes, the dining room offers a sense of place and an island of tranquility.

Tables are covered with white and green cloths and decorated with artificial sprigs of orchids. On one visit, Asian music played in the background; on another, the soundtrack was more Western and jazzy.

Bo Meng is a native of Cambodia and his wife, Nit, is from Thailand, so the menu offers selections from both those countries as well as some familiar Chinese entrees such as General Tso's Chicken ($9.95 dinner, $6.50 lunch) or Chicken with Garlic Sauce ($8.95 dinner, $6.50 lunch).

You'll also find familiar Thai and Cambodian menu items such as Pad Thai ($11.95) or Red or Green Chicken Curry ($8.95).

Fat and crunchy Fresh Spring Rolls (two for $4.95) are packed full of fresh lettuce and bean sprouts and bits of mint and licorice-accented Thai basil. You can choose from fillings of chicken, shrimp or tofu. Alternately, the obliging staff will happily honor requests for different fillings in each of the pair.

We also enjoyed the Lemon Grass Skewers (two for $2.95) that are available with either grilled beef or chicken, glazed with a light but sticky sauce and served with a small pile of crisp, matchstick-sized pickled vegetables.

But the restaurant's menu also offers attractions for adventurous diners who want to explore Thai and Cambodian cuisine beyond the usual offerings.

We started with Angkor Healthy Soup ($3.50), based in chicken broth that's been enhanced with a smoky, fishy taste and the citrusy tang of lemon grass. Also known as Khymer Soup, it's filled with bits of spinach, zucchini, straw mushrooms and thin discs of taro root.

Thai and Cambodian cuisine is similar to Chinese food. There's an emphasis on fresh, often uncooked or lightly cooked vegetables, and meat is used more like a condiment than a main ingredient.

Some entrees are fiery while others are mild.

But it's the flavor accents that distinguish them -- leaves of fresh mint and Thai basil, citrusy and bright lemon grass, peppery and ginger-like galangal, and lots and lots of coconut and coconut milk.

For our main courses, we opted for Ban Chhev ($8.95), a huge but thin yellow pancake wrapped loosely around a filling of ground chicken and small chunks of shrimp as well as bits of vegetables and roasted coconut. It's a mild dish that you can dress up to your taste by adding bits of lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, basil and mint leaves that come on a side plate along with a sweet brown sauce.

Also on the mild side but very flavorful is Lot Chha ($8.95 to $11.95, depending on choice of protein). Translated as Cambodian Rice Pasta, it can be ordered with chicken, beef or shrimp.

We opted for the shrimp version, a sort of Cambodian comfort food, which contained more than a dozen nicely cooked shrimp stir-fried to combine egg, bean sprouts, green onions and Chinese broccoli with the short, fat cylinders of pressed rice.

If you prefer spicier options, you can opt for Moarn Chha Kreung, which is translated at Lemon Grass Sauce ($8.95 to $11.95, depending on choice of protein). A pleasant kick of fire blends satisfyingly with the sharp lemon accents of the sauce. The sauce ties together bits of chicken and an abundance of vegetables that include green onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and green peppers.

We also enjoyed the competing attractions of coconut, peanuts and star anise in Saramann ($12.95). Served with rice, as are most of the entrees that are not noodle dishes, Saramann has large, thin strips of beef and a generous handful of roasted peanuts submerged in a hearty, hot and peppery brown sauce.

Portions are large but not overwhelming.

That's good, because it leaves room to try one of the half-dozen dessert selections.

If Jackfruit and Golden Threads are foreign to you, the staff will guide you through the options. Ordered singly, they range from $2.95 to $4.95.

If their descriptions make it difficult to choose between the options -- and they will -- you can order a sampler platter of any four items for $4.95.

We did that on one visit and particularly liked the Golden Threads, which look like a small skein of bright yellow embroidery floss but turned out to have a subtly sweet and custardy taste. We also liked the square of cake embedded with cubes of creamy, mild jackfruit.

On another visit, we sampled the available ice creams -- three small, rich spheres in a glass dish ($3.50). Our flavor selections were the flamboyantly colorful purple yam -- think sweet potato in royal garb -- the more retiring but mildly sweet jack fruit and the bright orange tropical and fragrant mango.

Sampler portions are tiny, especially if you're sharing.

But that should inspire you to return to try a full serving.

Move to block Cambodia's temple proposal likely to fail: Army

By Piyanart Srivalo
The Nation
Published on May 8, 2008

A move to block Cambodia's proposal to list Preah Vihear temple as a United Nations World Heritage Site will probably fail as the government in Phnom Penh has managed to lobby at least 21 countries to take its side, a military source said yesterday.

A meeting between senior officials led by Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul and Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An over the last two days has been "useless" since Phnom Penh has already achieved its goal, the source said.

Thailand had delayed the United Nations Educational, Science and Culture Organisation's decision to list the ancient Hindu temple as a World Heritage Site after Cambodia proposed the temple area along with the annexation of some 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area, claimed by both sides.

The temple belongs to Cambodia according to a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962, but the land below the hill-top temple claimed by the two countries remained unclear and the both sides agreed not to make any changes before the boundary demarcation was settled.

The listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site has nothing to do with national sovereignty, but if the area were annexed into part of the temple, Thailand would de facto lose the area, the military source said.

The Foreign Ministry proposed to Cambodia the establishment of a joint body to run the overlapping area before listing the temple as a World Heritage Site.

The two countries have not yet reached any common ground on the idea.

A dream come true: Lightman lights up future for Cambodians

Alan Lightman, at right, shares a meal with Cambodian students. The Harpswell Foundation, which he and his wife founded, built a dormitory for the women so they could attend college in Phnom Penh. Photo / Elyse Lightman

MIT News
Donna Coveney, News Office
May 7, 2008

The inauguration this week of a new mosque in the Cambodian village of Tramung Chrum will represent a dream come true for residents of the Muslim enclave in the overwhelmingly Buddhist country.

That dream was brought to life by Alan Lightman, MIT physicist and writer who a decade or so ago, with his wife, Jeanne, made a pact to turn their energies toward humanitarian pursuits.

Without a firm direction or funding, they formed the nonprofit Harpswell Foundation in 1999.

Within a few years, Lightman, Jeanne and their daughter, Elyse, would attend the opening of a school built in an impoverished village 50 miles from Phnom Penh, build and manage a women's dorm and leadership center in Phnom Penh and, finally, build the new mosque in Tramung Chrum.

Lightman has been entranced by science and the arts from an early age. Appointed professor of science and writing and senior lecturer in physics at MIT in 1989, he went on to head the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies from 1991 to 1997 and helped found the Catalyst Collaborative, a collaboration between MIT and the Underground Railway Theatre of Boston in 2004. His novel, "Einstein's Dreams," published in 1993, was an international bestseller and has been translated into 30 languages.

Professor Lightman first heard of Tramung Chrum, a tiny Muslim village in Cambodia, in 2003 from the Rev. Fred Lipp. Lipp, who had been working to keep young girls in school in Cambodia with his own foundation, told Alan of a village whose only school had a roof of palm fronds.
Lightman's imagination was kindled and in December of that year he and daughter Elyse accompanied Lipp to Cambodia.

What they found was a village of about 500 people--mostly Muslim Chams, one of Cambodia's ethnic minorities. With neither running water nor electricity, the local economy was based on subsistence farming and menial labor.

"We were overwhelmed with emotion," Lightman says softly, his eyes lighting at the memory. "These people had gone through tremendous suffering since the mid-1970s and the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, and in spite of that they had hope and resilience. "The best expression of that hope for the future," he says, "was when we arrived, mothers holding babies came up and asked for our help to build a school.

They had nothing, lived in abject poverty, but wanted a school, a future. We were so moved."

Funded by donations from family and friends, the school was finished in the summer of 2005. Where a roof of palm fronds had been now stands a concrete-and-steel-girder school.

The impetus for his next project came from Veasna Chea, a native of Tramung Chrum who had made it through law school in Phnom Penh by living with three female classmates in the space on the mud floor beneath the school for four years. Male students could live in the Buddhist temples, but in the gritty capital, there were few, if any, safe places for women to stay, so few women attended college.

Once again, he took on the challenge, found contractors and built the dormitory and leadership center.

But that was only the beginning. Lightman reckons, "One-third of my waking hours I spend on Cambodia daily." From sleeping security guards to the students' need for medical procedures, funds for upkeep, teachers, food and all life's issues, Lightman is the go-to guy. His daily electronic communications with the dorm represent the sole exception to Lightman's personal ban on using e-mail.

He is presently trying to raise a $500,000 endowment to keep the dorm and all it offers up and running in the future.

As he busied himself managing the dorm and leadership center, the villagers of Tramung Chrum, thrilled with their school, asked him to build a mosque. To Lightman, health care seemed a more compelling need, but he understood that it had to be what the entire village wanted. So he asked the men and women of the village to choose five representatives each, and he met with the two groups separately. The men wanted a mosque, the women wanted health care.

A meeting was convened to give the 10 representatives the opportunity to address the whole village and then vote on which project to take forward. After a civil discussion, all the men and three women voted for the mosque. The reason? The mosque represented their spiritual health, which they considered more important than their physical health. Lightman recognized that the cultural value and tradition was different than his own and that the social fabric of the community depended on the mosque.

"They are so proud," he says, "so deeply happy with this mosque."

Cambodia Provides Emergency Aid to Burma

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 07 (987KB) - Download

Cambodia will provide $50,000 to Burma to help the hundreds of thousands of people affected by Cyclone Nargis, officials said Wednesday.

The cyclone, which hit the Burmese coast Friday, has claimed more than 20,000 lives, and twice that number are still missing, the nation’s state radio reported. One million people have been left homeless in the worst natural disaster to hit Asia since the December 2004 tsunami, which killed 230,000.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday he had met with the Burmese ambassador in Phnom Penh to offer the aid.

“This amount is not much, but, importantly, it shows that Cambodia’s heart, character and solidarity is with the Burmese people,” he told reporters.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was donating the money “for the sake of neighbors, friendship and the Asian family of nations,” Hor Namhong said.

UN officials say the cyclone survivors now face a lack of food, water and shelter in the Irrawaddy Delta region adjacent to the capital, Rangoon, where a quarter of Burma’s 57 million people live.

Burma’s ruling junta called the storm a “major disaster.”

“The tragedy of the Burmese people is a humanitarian disaster, for which the world must unite,” Hor Namhong said.

The international community has so far provided $21 million in aid to Burma. Britain has pledged $9.8 million, the US $3 million, the European Union $3.1 million and China $1 million in aid and $500,000 in relief. Indonesia, which was hardest hit by the 2004 tsunami, pledged $1 million. France will give about $309,000.

Lawsuit Versus Sam Rainsy Worries Ambassador

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 07 (556KB) - Download

US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said Tuesday he was concerned a suit filed against the opposition leader by the foreign minister could have an affect on the general elections in July.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is suing Sam Rainsy for disparaging remarks the opposition leader allegedly made at an April 17 public rally.

“As a general principle, the United States strongly believes that defamation and disinformation should never be criminal cases,” the ambassador said after a vitamin distribution in Kampong Thom province.

Hor Namhong dismissed questions about the suit by reporters Wednesday, asking them to let the court do its work.

If found guilty Sam Rainsy could face a fine for defamation but imprisonment for disinformation.

Condom Program To Target All Provinces

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 07 (822KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 07 (822KB) - Listen (MP3)

A new program to expand condom use among sex workers will hit all 24 provinces and municipalities, officials said Tuesday at the official launch of the campaign.

The US and UK are providing $27 million over the next five years to help Population Services International curb the spread of HIV through condom use.

PSI Director Chris Jones said that the goal of the program is to improve the health of vulnerable Cambodians, by reducing HIV infection, and to improve the sexual and reproductive health of women.

The project will seek to make condoms widely available in the country’s brothels, karaoke bars, beer gardens and hotels.

USAID Director Erin Soto said the amount of assistance from the two countries was sizable and would not have been provided unless it was sure to be put to good use.

Social marketing such as that done by PSI works, she said.

Cambodia has about 67,000 people living with HIV or AIDS, though its prevalence has dropped in recent years.

Teng Kunthy, secretary-general of the National AIDS Authority, said condom use was the key to the reduction of the disease.

Khmer takeaway taken away

On the move... Owner-operator Phy Sem may return to Cambodia with her husband after the Dunedin City Council terminated the contract for her Khmer Satay Away Octagon stall.

Thursday, 8th May 2008

A COUPLE who fled the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1980s might return to Cambodia after the Dunedin City Council decided to ‘‘terminate the contract’’ for their Khmer Satay-Away stall.

‘‘I can’t speak. I feel very upset,’’ Phy Sem said.

Mrs Sem (54) had operated the stall at the corner of George St and the lower Octagon for more than 10 years, while her husband, Song Sem (59), worked part-time at the couple’s other Satay-Away stall at the university.

While the stall at the university was still permitted to operate in the area, Mr Sem had decided to close it ‘‘because the council do not care about us’’.

Council environmental health team leader Ros MacGill said the contract between the council and the Satay-Away stall was to have ended next month, but the termination was brought forward because of ‘‘health issues’’.

The DCC issued the Octagon stall with a D rating in February and ‘‘it was one of the factors that helped me make the decision to close the stall earlier than expected’’.

The couple pay $6500 to the council annually to operate the stall.

The DCC sent the couple a letter in March informing them of their decision. However, they did not receive the letter as they had returned to Cambodia to care for Mrs Sem’s mother.

On their return this month, Mrs Sem opened the stall as usual, only to be told by the DCC it was meant to be closed as of April 7.

The couple were offered other areas in the city in which to operate the stall, including the Exchange, the museum, St Clair and Kettle Park.

Ms MacGill said the stall would have to meet current standards before a contract could be granted.

In 2002, the DCC decided to review street stalls in the Octagon, but with year-round alfresco dining available, the Khmer Satay stall was no longer required in the area she said.

In a letter to the Otago Daily Times, Phy and Song Sem said they would like to express their thanks to their loyal customers.

The couple fled the Khmer Rouge, arriving as refugees in New Zealand in 1983, settling in Dunedin where they have lived for 25 years.

Mr Sem worked at the now closed Methven factory for 14 years, while Mrs Sem looked after their four children and also worked at the now closed Distinctive Knitwear.

Opening the Satay-Away stall 10 years ago, they became a regular fixture at their site working mainly noon to 2pm and 1am to 5am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Story-telling helps Cambodian kids

Jennifer Meloche, Gaye LePage and Gayle Redfern will read children’s books for Voices In The Night, a free evening to support Shoe Boxes for Kids.
Colleen Flanagan

By Lara Gerrits - The Tri-City News
May 06, 2008

The combination of shoe boxes and story books is a strong one for Cambodian children who don’t have a home.

Stage 43 is pairing the two seemingly unrelated items together for a Voices In The Night storytelling event May 17 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, with all goods raised benefiting Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The first half of the evening will have young participants decorating shoe boxes that will be filled with donations, while the second half will feature the lost art of storytelling.

The only cost to attend the family-friendly event, beginning at 6:30 p.m., is a hygiene item(s) for the hospital, which treats the children of Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest countries.

About 34% of people there survive on less than $1 a day and of a population of 13 million, nearly half are under the age of 15. About 51% of children are malnourished and one in seven will die before their fifth birthday.

Stage 43 is donating the shoe boxes as well as decorating supplies, but kids (or adults) can bring special ribbons, bows or other art along if they wish. Later, storytellers from Stage 43 will share with the children magical stories.

Angkor Hospital for Children provides both outpatient and inpatient, acute, emergency, surgical and dental care. AHC has treated 500,000 kids since 1999. Currently, the outpatient department sees 300 to 400 children daily and maintains 50 inpatient beds.

All treatment and inpatient care is free of charge.

Suggested items to donate for the shoe boxes are: packaged toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, nailbrushes, hairbrushes, combs, water bottles, t-shirts, flashlights, batteries, colourful pencil packs, pens, crayons, manual sharpeners, books, colouring books, paper, magnifying glasses, soft toys, balls, card games or anything else you can think of.

Also, if you want to correspond with a Cambodian child, then bring a self-addressed envelope so a child can write you.

A lesson about life in Cambodia

Spalding Today
06 May 2008

By Rachel Mayfield

YOUNGSTERS have been learning first hand about life in Cambodia.

Visitor Samuth Mech spent a morning at Gedney Hill Primary School speaking to pupils about the differences between his country and England.

The visit was arranged by Voluntary Service Overseas volunteer Jan Gracey, who has been working in Cambodia to help schools become established there.

Headteacher Lynn Chappell said: “We have been studying contrasting environments and Samuth’s visit was an ideal opportunity for the children to learn about a different country.

“Samuth is a teacher and was very keen to find out as much as possible about schools in England.”Samuth is also a watercolour artist and took some of his paintings into the school to show the children.

The full article contains 126 words and appears in Lincolnshire Free Press newspaper.

Do You Know This 'man'? Interpol Needs You

By Ros Prynn

Interpol needs your help. They have been searching for this man for two years.

This may be the chance for online social networks to provide a break in the case that Interpol's wide net couldn't crack. Within 24 hours of launching the operation, over 200 leads have been received.

Norwegian police found hundreds of images of the unknown man on the computer of a convicted pedophile. Over the last two years, they have tried to identify him without success. Now, for only the second time in their history, Interpol is hoping worldwide distribution will help them bring this 'man' to justice.

"Interpol is requesting the public's assistance to identify this man, pictured in a series of child sexual abuse images posted on the Internet.

The photos shown here were retrieved from the computer of a convicted paedophile, and are from a series involving at least three boys aged approximately six to 10 years old. They are believed to have been taken in Southeast Asia in 2000 and 2001."[ Interpol ]

Interpol spokesman Michael Moran, a criminal intelligence officer, said the appeal was issued after a two-year investigation failed to bring the agency no closer to identifying or locating a man who allegedly appears in about 100 photographs to be sexually abusing boys five to 10 years of age.

Interpol collected around 800 photos, that it believes to be connected to the man because they include similar locations and child victims, according an interpol media release.

Canwest News Service reports they had a telephone interview with Moran, who was in Lyon, France, in which he said "These are not harmless images. These are images of the sexual abuse of children."

Interpol apparently received tips from around the world, including some from Canada. [ ]

It was in Canada that Interpol found a suspected pedophile, following the first ever release of similar pictures by the agency. A Canadian from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was identified as the man pictured allegedly abusing young boys in Vietnam and Cambodia. Christopher Neil, 32 was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty, with his next court appearance set for June 2.

This current effort, to identify the man shown above, has been called "Operation Ident", and Interpol asks that anyone with ANY information that can help identify this 'man', contact Interpol or their local police immediately. [ Interpol Report Form ]

Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and other South East Asian countries are well known destination spots for perverts who prey on young children. For a very few dollars, the poor kids of these countries become the sex toys of men who would, and should be shunned, in their own countries. Every day, western men victimise unknown hundreds of kids worldwide.

While Interpol thinks these pictures above may date back as far as 2001, it should be possible for someone to identify him from these images.

Can you help? Do you know who this is? Please do the right thing. Contact Interpol or your local police. Time to send a clear message to this 'man': you may run, but you cannot hide. Oh, the internet can be a wonderful thing!

Cambodian held over Briton's murder

Wed May 07 2008

A former Khmer Rouge soldier has been arrested and charged with the murder of a Briton more than a decade ago.

Sin Dorn, 52, was formally charged with the abduction and premeditated murder of Christopher Howes of UK-based charity Mines Advisory Group in the northern province of Siem Reap in 1996. His Cambodian translator was also killed.

Judge Ke Sakhan said: "The authorities were searching for him for several years, but couldn't find him. We finally arrested him and have thrown him in jail."

Sin Dorn is the fourth Khmer Rouge soldier to be arrested in connection with the murder.

He was found in the north of the country near the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Along Veng where Pol Pot died.

The murder at the hand's of Pol Pot's communist guerrillas shocked most Cambodians, and a street in the capital Phnom Penh has since been named in Mr Howes's honour.

Can disaster loosen junta's grip in Burma (Myanmar)?

Protest: "Voters" in Manila, Philippines, held a mock referendum outside the embassy of Burma Wednesday to protest the Burmese military junta's decision to hold a previously planned May 10 constitutional referendum despite the devastation of Saturday's cyclone. The junta has postponed the vote inhard-hit areas by two weeks.Bullit Marquez

Relief: Residents collect water in Rangoon, Burma, where relief groups have been distributing supplies and foreign aid has been trickling in.AP

A May 10 poll could underscore how unpopular the regime is, as it slowly opens to foreign aid.

By David Montero Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the May 8, 2008 edition

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - The first test of how the people of Burma (Myanmar) view their government's slow response to the devastating May 3 cyclone could come Saturday.

A previously scheduled vote on a new constitution will be held nationwide, except in the hardest-hit areas. While recent natural disasters in Indonesia and Pakistan have altered the political landscapes in those nations, few analysts expect cyclone Nargis to significantly shake – let alone topple – the military regime. But the Burmese government's reliance on outside assistance could lessen its diplomatic isolation, and popular resentment over how the regime has handled the disaster could further undermine its legitimacy – and even push it to compromise with opposition groups.

"This is an opportunity for opposition groups to make limited gains," says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, head of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. "There will be mounting pressures on the government because of its inadequacies. Opposition groups have the upper hand." The disaster could also foster political reconciliation between Burma's government and the outside world, following a pattern from other natural disasters from Pakistan to Indonesia, experts say.

"It could be quite catalytic, like the [2004] tsunami in Aceh," says John Virgoe, the International Crisis Group's Southeast Asia project director in Jakarta, Indonesia. "Indonesia does show how game-changing these disasters can be: The tsunami allowed both sides to say, 'Let's put aside our differences,' " he adds, referring to a cease-fire that ended a running conflict between the Indonesian Army and rebel separatists in Aceh.

Mr. Virgoe and others, however, are quick to caution against drawing a direct parallel to Burma, which has shown disdain for dialogue with political opponents and sent mixed signals about even accepting foreign aid workers.

On Wednesday, as the death toll topped 22,500, relief agencies said they had still not received visas to enter Burma, despite a preliminary agreement from Burma allowing foreign aid workers.

"We have a team of five emergency relief members in Thailand. And they have applied for visas. But they are on standby," says Elizabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.

With the UN declaring cyclone Nargis "a major disaster," saying up to 1 million may now be homeless, any delays in international aid could add to the death toll. More than 60,000 have been declared missing and are presumed dead.

Relief groups in the country have begun distributing aid, but road damage and flooding are blocking access to many of the victims.

Speaking from the Thai-Burmese border, Nyo Myint, head of foreign affairs for the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, says many survivors in the Irrawaddy delta lack drinking water and food. "Some wells have been filled up with dead bodies. [People] are trying to get drinking water from small ponds, but they are also covered with bodies," he says. "Transportation is a problem because the jetties and the ferryboats are gone.... The only way is to have an airlift supported by the US or [others]."

Since receiving its first international shipment from Thailand Tuesday, Burma has accepted aid from longtime friends China, India, and Indonesia. The US upped its aid pledge to $3 million Wednesday.

The visa holdup for foreign aid workers underscores Burma's dilemma: The Army cannot respond adequately, but allowing outside aid will invite unprecedented scrutiny. "This government is paranoid about foreigners coming in and establishing contacts with the people of Burma," says Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy Magazine, an opposition publication based in Thailand.

Since taking power in a military coup in 1962, Burma's government has positioned itself as one of the world's most authoritarian and isolated. Though the NLD won a landslide election in 1990, the junta rejected the results. And last September's protesters were quickly suppressed.

Many believe the cyclone has created an opportunity for change. "People who I've spoken to in Yangon [Rangoon] are very upset with the government," says Mr. Zaw. "Soldiers who came out against the protesters are nowhere to be seen now."

Mr. Myint, of the NLD, says the government has been unable to prevent looting or provide the basics. "Even in big towns with 100,000, there's only a hundred people receiving government handouts," he says. "They're trying their best, but they can only cover about 5 percent of what is really badly needed."

Still, state television played up images of soldiers clearing debris and conducting rescue operations, the Associated Press reported.

"From the outside, we can see the junta has so many limitations. But this will be the first time that they will have to admit that they have limitations," says Pornpimon Trichot, of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. "[They] may realize ... you cannot only have strong men and advanced weapons."

Many analysts point to the referendum, which the government says will go ahead on May 10, except in 47 hard-hit townships, which will vote May 24. The Army drafted the constitution, saying it will devolve authority, but critics say the generals will retain their power monopoly.
With resentment running high against the government, experts say many citizens could vote "no" and force the regime to make compromises with opposition groups.

It would not be the first time a disaster brought change. For example, the Pakistani Army's inept response to a 1970 cyclone spurred Bangladesh's breaking away.

Still, if protests could not shake them, a storm is unlikely to either, analysts say. "There were huge protests and that didn't weaken the regime. The regime has an apparatus to keep itself in power by coercion," says Tim Huxley, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia in Singapore.

But following Pakistan's deadly earthquake in 2005, an influx of foreign aid workers dramatically improved perceptions of the West and strengthened ties between the US and Pakistani military.
Burma's opening up to aid could open a door to more dialogue, experts say. "You could develop a long-term humanitarian program that opens up other forms of dialogue," says Charles Perry, of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge, Mass.

Analysts caution that the junta is too calculating not to see that foreign governments view the disaster as an opportunity. And there are no guarantees that, once they've received aid, the generals won't shut down again, analysts say.

But "the cyclone could trigger social unrest in Burma," says Zaw. "I do think there's going to be a political upheaval."

• Christopher Johnson contributed from Tokyo.

Cambodia doubles bank reserve requirements to 16 percent - central bank

Thomson Financial News

PHNOM PENH (Thomson Financial) - Cambodia has doubled reserve requirements for private banks from 8.0 percent to 16.0 percent in a bid to curb money supply to stem rising inflation, officials said Wednesday.

The requirements will take effect from July this year, said Phan Ho, director of banking supervision at the National Bank of Cambodia.

'The measure is important to reduce so much cash circulation,' he told Agence France-Presse.
'Now our GDP (gross domestic product) has increased too high, too fast. We want it to slow down because when the growth jumps too high, it is not good,' Phan Ho added.

The new reserve requirement will only affect foreign currency deposits, he said.

Cambodia's economy has averaged 11.0 percent growth over the past three years, but inflation has also soared. It cracked into double digits late last year, hovering around 11.0 percent, driving up the cost of food and other staple goods.


Editorial: Unworkable cartel

Business Standard / New Delhi May 08, 2008

The recent bid by Thailand and Cambodia to revive the long-dormant proposal for creating an Opec-like cartel of five rice-exporting countries of South-east Asia is both ill-timed and ill-advised; indeed, prima facie, the idea is unworkable. This balloon was floated first by Thailand in 2001, subsequently by Cambodia in 2005, and is supported by Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Thailand is the world's largest rice exporter (with annual exports of 10 million tonnes), with Vietnam not far behind (exporting around 6 million tonnes). Cambodia is a smaller exporter, with exports of around 2 million tonnes, but it can expand paddy cultivation to boost its surplus, if assured attractive prices. Together, these three members of Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) account for a sizeable part of total rice exports.

The idea has been floated again at a time when global rice prices are already on the boil, having more than tripled since 2006. Supplies are tight, owing partly to the restrictions on rice exports imposed by several countries, including India, Brazil and Egypt, all of which are keen to build up domestic stockpiles. Any adverse price signals at this stage are bound to add to food inflation. An indication of what could be in store came when the rice import tenders floated by the Philippines and Bangladesh failed to attract any worthwhile bid and had to be scrapped early this week. It is no wonder therefore that the first denouncement of the cartelisation move came from none other than a key Asean member, the Philippines, which is a large rice importer. The Asian Development Bank too has been quick to oppose it, maintaining that it would not be good for either exporters or importers.

Going beyond the immediate interests of rice-exporters and -importers, the truth is that a successful rice cartel is almost impossible to visualise. Even if the alliance partners agree on a price band, it will be difficult for them to control production/supply — which is a key requirement for a successful cartel. This is especially so because some of these countries grow three or four crops of paddy in a year and, unlike oil wells, which can be switched on and off, a paddy harvest cannot be so regulated. Stocking up, as an option, could be expensive, especially if prices do not stay high. Nor can farmers be coerced into increasing or reducing rice acreage. The key element is that buyers have an option to go elsewhere, as the other rice-exporting countries are free to sell at prices of their choosing. Indeed, buyers could switch to alternative cereals too.

Regardless of whether a rice cartel is born or not, the alarm bells set off by the Thai attempt may spur fresh efforts to salvage the Doha round of trade talks, stalled for some years now because of disagreement over the liberalisation of agricultural trade. When the rice price manipulation proposal is viewed against the backdrop of the global food crisis, which has resulted in food riots in several countries, the need for free (unhindered) and fair (undistorted) trade in food and other farm products under a globally agreed and legally-enforceable regime will be seen to be all the more urgent.

Cambodian football squad drills in Vietnam


VietNamNet Bridge - The Cambodian national football team is on a drilling trip in Vietnam. The team defeated the HCM City Football Club in a match on May 6 at Thong Nhat Stadium, HCM City.

The Cambodian team will have two other friendly matches against the official team of Southern Steel-Saigon Port club, the U21 team of Southern Steel-Saigon Port or a team of foreign footballers in HCM City.

The Cambodian squad is led by a South Korean coach, Yu Ki Hung, with 30 players from 18-28. This drilling trip is a preparation for the Southeast Asian Football Championship or AFF Cup 2008, where Cambodia will vie against four teams, Laos, Philippines, Brunei and East Timor.

The drilling trip is sponsored by Vietnam’s Dong Luc Sports Group.

(Source: TP)