Tuesday, 13 May 2008

New Cambodia National Airline

Overseas Property Blog
by C Mahida
May 13, 2008

While Cambodia’s history has been one of highs and lows, it seems that the prospects look good for this South East Asian country with signs of a surge in tourist visitors and prompting the Cambodian government to release news of its plans to re-launch a national carrier to promote air travel and more flights to Cambodia.

The news of a deal with Indonesian giant Rajawali to develop a new Cambodian national carrier has been greeted with surprise given that the government’s early attempt at such a venture collapsed with massive losses in 2000. However, using the strength and experience of massive conglomerate Rajawali, there are genuine hopes that this new airline venture will be a success. Recent figures show that the country had over 2 million visitors in 2006, 60% of whom travelled by air – creating a large base for the national carrier to tap into.

Dubbed the ‘New Thailand’, Cambodia offers the opportunity to experience virgin beaches and undiscovered landscapes to date as yet untainted by tourism development. General tourism numbers in Cambodia are also on the up with a 20% increase reported in 2007 alone. The main hub of the Cambodian tourist sector seems to be Sihanoukville where the natural terrain and beautiful beaches such as Serendipity Bay are attracting large numbers of foreign visitors eager to be one of the first to experience South East Asia’s newest hotspot. While the Cambodian authorities are desperate to develop the country’s tourism economy, they are also acutely aware that there is a need to consider the environment and the long term implications making an investment in a tourist based property development in Cambodia something of a long term venture.

Whilst the development of Cambodia’s tourism sector will move at a slower pace than many investors would hope, the wider impact upon the country’s economy should be rapid. As local economies around the country continue to benefit from the growing numbers of tourists visiting, there will be more money for the population to spend and many are expecting a steady rise in property prices. The policies of the government and controlled growth of the economy are vital not only to the country as a whole, but the property sector in particular.

Property prices at the moment are relatively low, the norm for emerging markets but when compared to other similar regions of the world and there is the potential for long term capital gains and substantial rental income in the medium to longer term. A new national carrier is the first step for Cambodia along the road to tourism success.

Khmers Should Remember Preah Vihear is belong to Kingdom of Cambodia

New 20,000 note to be officially circulated

King Sihamony of Kingdom of Cambodia

Courtesy of Vutha News at http://vuthanews.info/

National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) officially circulated new 20,000 banknote on Monday to congratulate the King’s birthday during 13-15 May, by bearing the portrait of The King Norodom Sihamoni.

Speaking at the pagoda inauguration on May 09 in Kandal province, he said that the circulation of new notes does not mean that the old 20,000 banknote will be abandoned. He added that the new to be released is to celebrate the 56th birthday of King Norodom Sihamoni, turning 55 on Wednesday.

“We requested for the retired King to examine the image in order to avoid confusion that we were trying to promote the son and were forgetting the father,” Hun Sen was quoted from The Cambodia Daily as saying.

Hun Sen said that “we are gradually increasing the riel in circulation, as about 700,000 people receive their salaries in dollars. If [we] make the riel note rise too much, these people could meet difficulties. Therefore, we must have a measured monetary policy,” reported The Mekong Times.

Last year, new 2,000 banknote was circulated in 2007 by NBC, bearing an image of Preah Vihear temple.

Norodom Ranariddh party spokesman Muth Chantha said that “it is not a good intention, it is a political intention to gain political benefits,” he added that “it is very coincidental that it comes during the election campaign,” reported the Cambodia Daily.

12 political parties registered for Cambodia's July election+

Kyodo News International
Monday, May 12, 2008

PHNOM PENH, May 13-(Kyodo), Twelve out of 57 political parties recognized by the Interior Ministry have registered with the National Election Committee to run in the upcoming general election, a senior official of the committee told Kyodo News on Tuesday.

Khan Keomono, deputy director of the committee's Public Information Department, said political parties wanting to compete in the election were required to register with the committee by Monday.

The registration of the 12 for the July 27 election, he said, marks a decline by nearly half from the 2003 general election in which 23 parties took part.

He said the absence of many parties could be attributed to the political situation and funding shortages.

Although 23 parties took part in the 2003 election, only three parties won seats in the 123-seat parliament.

After several decades of civil war and political strife, Cambodia held its first general election in 1993 under U.N. supervision.

Since then, Cambodia has held general elections every five years.

ČR to remit most of Cambodia's $3.6m debt

The Prague Daily Monitor

Prague, May 12 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will forgive most of the debt worth $3.6m (Kc58m) to Cambodia which will have to pay a quarter of the amount, the Finance Ministry told CTK today.

The plan for the debt's reduction is part of a memorandum reps of the Czech Republic and Cambodia signed today.

The Czech Republic will use the paid money for development assistance.

Cambodia should pay 23 percent of the debt, that is Kc13m, to the Czech Republic and then the rest will be forgiven.

Both countries also signed an agreement on mutual protection of and support to investments.

At end-2006, the Czech Republic had Kc18.4bn claims on other world countries. The sum does not include special loans subject to the regime of secrecy.

The amount of money foreign countries owe to the Czech Republic has been falling in the long term.

When the independent Czech Republic was established in 1993, foreign countries owed Kc156bn to the Czech Republic, with Cuba being the biggest debtor.

The Finance Ministry had ranked claims on Cambodia as highly risky.

Community Garden turns 20 in Dallas

East Dallas Community Garden (Rachael Dunlap)

Savorn Touch relaxes for a few minutes during the East Dallas Community Garden's first plant sale of the season. Touch has been gardening here since he came to Dallas from Cambodia.

DALLAS, TX (2008-05-12) It's Saturday morning and the East Dallas Community garden is bustling. Today is the first plant sale of the season. The air is full of fresh, pungent aromas and idle chatter. The gardeners, mostly Southeast Asian seniors, have taken a break from tending their plants to make a profit. Some display the season's first harvest on tables near the garden entrance. Others sell their produce right in front of their narrow garden plots.

Savorn Touch is sitting beneath an awning of wooden beams and a blue plastic tarp. He's a thin man, with weathered skin and an infectious laugh. Touch has been gardening here since he came to Dallas from Cambodia in 1987. He spoke to us with the help of Police Lieutenant Paul Thai who works at the neighborhood police storefront.

Savorn Touch and Paul Thai: "He and his family decided to leave the country, seeking refuge. And they went to the old camp on the border if Thailand and Cambodia. And he was sick, his wife was sick his children were sick. Then his family was sponsored by the YMCA to come to the U.S. He moved to Dallas to join his friend, who was a cans collector. He heard about the garden project and asked for a plot.

"Today, Touch and his wife are selling lettuce, lemon grass and garlic chives. Gardening allows them to grow the vegetables they like to use in cooking and also to make some extra money. Mr. Touch has six young grandchildren who come to the garden to play. He is beaming with pride. But when he is asked about the past, about adjusting to life in Dallas, he pauses and his eyes glisten.

Savorn Touch and Paul Thai: "He said he was happy and wanted to live here, but he has been homesick. That is why he had a hard time describing. He was originally a farmer in Cambodia. Gardening makes him feel like he is at home, and he is happy with that."

Mr. Touch - like most of the gardeners here - had to leave his home because of widespread violence and starvation. For him and his fellow refugees, the garden is a source of food as well as comfort. Around twenty other Cambodian and Burmese families are planting and harvesting this season. From ivy leaf gourd and bitter melon to watercress, the garden offers a wide variety of plants and vegetables. The plots, which are separated by tiny, makeshift wooden fences, are all in different stages of growth - some lush with greenery, others boasting only a few sprouts.

Lieutenant Thai remembers the garden's humble beginnings

Lieutenant Paul Thai: "This area used to be called Little Asia. Back then there were a lot of people doing gardening in their own apartments. Managers would complain: those people were gardening in the front yard and all that. We told them not too, but they don't understand us. So we found a donor who donated land for us."

The land is owned by the Texas Community Foundation. The garden organization has to pay one dollar per year to use the land. Each individual family pays an annual plot fee of $30, which covers the cost of utilities such as water.

Looking around, it is hard not to wonder what the garden will be like in ten or twenty years. Few of the younger community members seem to be involved. Nuon Chun thinks this is a shame.

Nuon Chun: "Her children used to come to the garden but they don't anymore. They are all grown up and have jobs and stuff. She would like to see her children and younger generations coming to the garden more often. She likes to visit and socialize with friends and they should do the same.

"Before leaving the garden, Lieutenant Thai walks over to one of the plots. It is mostly soil, but there are small green plants peeking out of the earth. Soon, that plot will be a large crop of watercress. He explains that watercress grows easily and in large quantities. It saved many refugees from starvation back in Cambodia. Now, many of the gardeners grow it, remembering what it did for them and their families. After talking to gardeners like Mr. Touch, it is obvious that this garden sustains more than the people's diets.

Angkor Airways executive sued for fraud

Yao Ta-kuang, chairman of the Travel Agent Association of the ROC, Taiwan, yesterday filed an accusation of fraud against a key executive of Angkor Airways, on behalf of nine travel agencies which suffered over NT$100 million in losses as a result of the abrupt suspension of its flights between Taiwan and Cambodia. (CNA)

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nine local travel agencies yesterday filed an accusation of fraud against Alex Lou, executive director of the Taiwan branch office of the Cambodia-based Angkor Airways, after suffering total losses of over NT$100 million caused by the airline's abrupt suspension of flights between Taipei and the Southeast Asian country.

Yao Ta-kuang, chairman of the Travel Agent Association of the ROC, Taiwan said the firms, all based in Taipei, took legal action against Angkor Airways after consulting with the Cabinet-level Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) yesterday morning.

Yao said CPC officials advised them that the most effective way for the travel service firms to get back money they have paid for advance bookings on flights offered by the PhnomPenh-based airline between Taipei and Siem Reap -- home to the world famous Cambodian historic site of Angkor Wat complex.

In total, the travel agencies have sustained losses valued at over NT$100 million (US$3.2 million) due to the suspension of the flights, Yao said.

Lou was detained by prosecutors in Taipei on May 1 in connection with an alleged embezzlement scandal involving Taipei-based Far Eastern Air Transportation Corp., which leases planes to Angkor Airways.

Lou has been solely in charge of sourcing funding for operations, and his detention has plunged the company into financial woes, according to Angkor officials.

As a result, the carrier closed the branch last Friday and temporarily suspended all its Taipei-Siem Reap flights, stranding many Taiwanese tourists in Cambodia.

Angkor Airways operated between 20 and 23 chartered flights between Taipei and Siem Reap per month.

Also yesterday, CPC officials said a group of Taiwanese tourists stranded in Cambodia by the abrupt shutdown of Angkor Airways are scheduled to return to Taiwan today.

The officials said the nine travel service firms involved have arranged a China Airlines (CAL) plane to fly the 118 Angkor Airways ticket holders from Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

More than 100 other Angkor Airways ticket holders were flown back to Taiwan on several flights Saturday. They were among 449 Taiwanese tourists left without a return flight when the Phnom Penh headquartered carrier suddenly decided Friday to temporarily suspend all its flights between Taipei and Siem Reap.

The travel agencies have also promised to fully reimburse all expenses to the ticket holders, the CPC officials said.

The decision was reached in a coordination meeting held by the commission earlier in the day and attended by officials from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the Tourism Bureau, the Travel Quality Assurance Assn., as well as travel agency alliance representatives.

The nine travel agencies include: Lion Travel Service Co., Ltd., Flyee Travel Service Co., Ltd., Favor Holiday, South East Travel Service Co., Ltd., PK Travel, Tai-Der International Travel Co., Ltd., China Times Travel Service and Come Best Travel & Tour Ltd.

The firms have also decided to soon file another suit against Angkor Airway to demand compensations from the airlines.

Heritage site proposal deadlocked

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on May 13, 2008

Cambodia and Thailand struggle to resolve the Preah Vihear temple issue

Negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia over a proposal to list the Preah Vihear temple as a United Nations Educational Science and Culture Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Site are now approaching a deadlock as available options are not getting accepted.

The Thai military chief of staff General Songkitti Jaggabatara suggested the Unesco postpone considering the proposal if both sides fail to reach an agreement before the world heritage committee makes its final decision in July in Canada.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 ruled that the ancient Hindu temple of Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia and Thailand has no right to object, according to Phnom Penh.

However, the point of contention is the overlapping area of 4.6 square kilometres around the temple - claimed by both sides - which Cambodia has included in its proposal. Thailand opposed the proposal on the grounds that both sides have not yet reached a proper solution.

Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niumpradit said Thailand could not allow Cambodia to claim the area in question, because it would automatically go under Cambodian sovereignty.

"Only the joint technical committee has the right to decide on the overlapping area. We cannot depend on different maps and claim it," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia formed the Joint Boundary Commission to demarcate the border but the commission has made little progress on the demarcation of the 640km land boundary.

It will take another 10 years to complete the demarcation, the Foreign Ministry's legal expert Virachai Plasai said. Virachai is also the former director of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department.

Both sides agreed in 2000 to make no changes in the overlapping area before completion of the demarcation.

So far, Cambodia has built a Buddhist temple and developed communities in 2004, constructed a road in 2005 and deployed armed forces in late 2007 in the overlapping area, prompting official protests from Thailand that such moves were deemed a violation of Thai sovereignty.

Cambodia's Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said his government rejected the protests.

Phnom Penh claimed the area as its own, in accordance with the 1904 French Indo-China and Siam Treaty, which indicated the watershed of Dongrak mountain range as the border.

The treaty itself did not make anything clear until the annexed map drawn by the French experts suggested that in the eastern sector of the Dongrak range, in which Preah Vihear is situated, the frontier was to follow the watershed line, meaning it was to be on the Cambodian side.

The Hindu temple was built on the edge of the cliff. Thailand considers the cliff the watershed, while Cambodia sees the watershed as located far from it.

Cambodia argued that Thailand had already accepted the annexed map since the ICJ's ruling. Phnom Penh issued a decree in 2004 to claim the 4.6-square-kilometre area.

However, in 2005, the Thai Cabinet interpreted the court ruling differently, saying the court ruled only on the temple and not the boundary, so Thailand retained its right over the area. The ICJ ordered withdrawal of Thai troops from the temple but never said anything about the area around it.

There were three options to settle the dispute. First, Cambodia was to list the temple as a world heritage site without changing the status quo of the boundary.

The Thai military disagreed, as it feared Phnom Penh would automatically claim the peripheral area.

Second, the site would not be listed before the completion of boundary demarcation.

This option is unlikely to be accepted by Cambodia, as it would take years.

The final option, suggested by the Thai Foreign Ministry, is to have a joint contemporary regime for the administration of the site.

The option is under negotiation, but Phnom Penh is reluctant to allow Thais to share the right to run the temple. The deadlock is not easy to break.

EU to send delegation to watch parliamentary election of Cambodia

May 13, 2008

The European Union (EU) is planning to send a 120-member delegation to Cambodia to help supervise its parliamentary election on July 27, Chinese-language newspaper the Jianhua Daily said on Tuesday.

This will be the third election-supervising delegation coming from the EU to the kingdom, if the plan is approved by both sides, the paper quoted EU's resident officials as saying.

The delegation, together with about 8,400 national and international observers, will watch the election process and try to make it safe and democratic, the officials said.

From Sept. 8, 2007 to April 22, 2008, the National Election Committee (NEC) of Cambodia has accredited 8,342 observers, including 2,938 females and 42 international ones, to supervise the process of the 4th National Assembly election.

So far on Monday, 12 out of the country's 57 political parties have officially registered for the election. They will compete for the 123 seats in the Cambodian National Assembly.

In the 2003 general election, the ruling Cambodian People's Party led by Prime Minister Hun Sen won 73 seats, the co-ruling Funcinpec Party 26 seats, and the major opposition Sam Rainsy Party 24 seats.  


Cambodian guards to protect Preah Vihear temple


PHNOM PENH, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The recently-established Preah Vihear National Authority (PVNA) has announced plans to deploy 22 uniformed guards to protect Preah Vihear temple from looters, local media reported Tuesday.

"The guards will consist of 11 men and 11 women. They will be assigned to the temple next month to prevent the theft of temple stones," PVNA General Director Hang Soth was quoted by the Mekong Times, a local newspaper, as saying.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Tourism Ministry's Statistics and Information Department, expressed support for the PVNA's plan, claiming that the guards will not only protect the temples, but also give tourists more confidence to visit the remote site.

Preah Vihear temple perches atop the Dangrek Mountains close to the Thai border, the newspaper said.

No guards have protected the temple since the International Court of Justice handed ownership of the temple to Cambodia in 1962, though troops have regularly been deployed at the contentious site, it said.

The temple was occupied by Thailand 1949-1952, and there is still tension between the two countries over the exact location of the border.

Editor: An Lu

Vietnam and Cambodia enjoy growing judicial co-operation

May 13, 2008

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung says he was delighted at the increasing development of ties between Vietnam and Cambodia, particularly in judicial co-operation.

The Government leader made the comment while receiving in Hanoi on May 12 Cambodian Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, who is on a visit to Vietnam from May 1-16.

Cambodian Minister Vathana brief his host of the results of the talks held earlier with his Vietnamese counterpart, Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong, saying that the two sides vowed to accelerate the signing of a judicial agreement.

PM Dung commended the outcomes of the talks which was aimed at boosting co-operation between the two ministries in matters relating to citizenship, lawyers, exchanges of delegations, experts, legal documents and training.

The PM said he wished the two ministries would continue to share experiences and increase co-operation.

Earlier the same day, judicial ministers of the two countries held talks on co-operation possibilities in law and justice.

While in Vietnam, the Cambodian delegation met leaders of the People’s Supreme Court and the People’s Supreme Procuracy in a move to foster law and judicial co-operation between the two countries.

The delegation also worked with the Hanoi Law University , the Quang Ninh Judicial Academy and Judicial Department to inquire into these establishments’ training models, curricula and development strategy. (VNA)

Huge Earthquake Kills 9,000+ in China!

The Mekong Times : In Khmer and English Language

The Mekong Times #65.pdf
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Srolanh Khmer Number 645

The Preynokor News number 20

National Election Committee Calls for Many National and International Observers to Monitor Fourth Term Elections

Posted on 13 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“Phnom Penh: Officials of the National Election Committee [NEC] call for more participation of national and international non-government organizations to observe the coming elections.

“Secretary-general of the NEC Mr. Tep Nitha said that so far, there are approximately 8,400 observers from 23 non-government organizations being authorized by the NEC. As for 42 international observers, they are from the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the US Embassy, and the Cambodian-Japanese Forum; and recently the NEC just received letters of request from Peru and Nigeria to observe the elections. He continued that observers play a very important role in the election process. Observers can conduct evaluations and release statements according to what they have seen during the elections, and such evaluations have influences the elections on the whole.

“Mr. Hang Puthea, the executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia [NICFEC], stated that to have national and international observers participating as observers contributes to make the elections free and fair. He added that his organization plans to increase the number of national observers up to 7,000 and international observers up to 150 for this fourth term election.

“According to Mr. Tep Nitha, the NEC is receiving registrations of national observers until 20 July 2008, and of international observers until 27 July 2008.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #18, 10-13.5.2008

ANFA announces final 23 players for AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers

All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has announced final 23 players on Monday for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup Qualifies being played in Cambodia this month.

Organising a press conference at National Sports Council, Nepal's Head Coach Thomas Flath announced the name that again has no place for right winger Nabin Neupane. Flath included Ananta Thapa - who retired unofficially from national football team- returned back to national side and Parbat Pandey of Nepal Police for the first time in the team.

The press release signed by Flath including two other assistant coaches; Bal Gopal Maharjan and Upendra Man Singh, states that Bikash Malla, Ritesh Thapa and Kiran Chemzong will vie for the pos under the bar.

Rakesh Shrestha, Chun Bahadur Thapa, Anjan K.C, Biraj Maharjan, Lok Bandu Gurung, Pradeep Maharjan, Bijaya Gurung, Jumanu Rai, Nirajan Rayamajhi, Vishad Gauchan, Sagar Thapa, Sandeep Rai, Bikash Singh Chhetri, Nirajan Khadka, Raju Tamang, Suman Subedi, Deepak Bhushal and Bharat Khawas are those players who impressed Thomas Flath.

Meanwhile, Coach Flath informed that team will leave the country on 15th May for Thailand before reaching to Cambodia. "We will play some un-official match in Thailand", Flath told reporters.

Nepal has been grouped with hosts Cambodia, Macau and Palestine in the group. Only one team from the group will proceed on for the final round to be played in India.

nepalnews.com bt May 12 08


Alain Megias, IBLS

Consumer protection in Cambodia is regulated by the Law on the Management of Quality and Safety of Products and Services, which received Royal assent on June 21, 2000 (the “LMQSPS”). The LMQSPS mainly deals with the obligations of economic operators, such as commercial enterprises, manufacturers, importers, exporters, merchants, service providers, advertisers of products, etc., and product safety.

The LMQSPS enjoins State organs to punish the offences of economic operators who violate consumer rights and interests. It provides for various actions to be taken by the respective Ministries against the production of products or services that are likely to induce grave or imminent dangers. The LMQSPS also sets out comprehensive procedures to be followed by inspection agents to ensure the quality and safety of products. It also allows for the establishment of a specialized institution in charge of fraud repression and inspections of imported and exported goods.

What are some of the economic operators’ obligations under the LMQSPS?
Chapter 2 of the LMQSPS details the rights of consumers and economic operators’ obligations. These latter include the following prohibitions:

- Pursuant to Articles 6 and 7, it is prohibited to produce or place in to the stream of commerce products, goods, or services that could harm the health or safety of consumers when no prior disclosure has been made or no prior authorization has been issued by the competent institutions following a proper inspection.

- Pursuant to Article 17, it is prohibited to falsify products used, or kept, for commercialization by modifying the products through treatment or tampering such as adding, subtracting, or substituting any part of or the whole component. It is also prohibited to put in the stream of commerce products that are known to be falsified.

- Pursuant to Articles 18 and 20, it is prohibited to put in the stream of commerce food products which are known to be contaminated or toxic or do not meet bacteriological or sanitary requirement, as well as products and instruments used for falsifying and counterfeiting products.

What actions can be taken when a product is dangerous?
When a product, good, or service can cause grave or imminent danger to consumers’ health or safety, the competent Ministries can take several actions, including the following, in accordance with Article 22 of the LMQSPS:

- Temporarily or permanently banning the sale of the product;

- Temporarily or permanently closing down the manufacturing facilities; or

- If necessary, withholding, confiscating, or destroying the products.

What happens when the LMQSPS is violated?
Article 25 of the LMQSPS states that any act in violations of the LMQSPS will be thoroughly investigated. In this respect, the inspection agents of the Ministry of Commerce are authorized to carry out inspections, investigations, and offense recording activities, or to take other measures in cooperation with other relevant Ministries. To this end, they are authorized to enter into and inspect the premises where the manufacturing, processing, commercialization, and services provisions take place, as well as inspect the means of transportation, goods, warehouses, offices, and other related premises. They can investigate, confiscate documents or product samples. In addition, the LMQSPS under Chapter 7 thereof, provides for imprisonment and/or fines for violation of the prohibitions stated in this Act. Sanctions also apply to the obstruction of the inspection agents’ mission.

China quake buries nearly 900 students in Sichuan Province

Rescuers search for students at JuyuanMiddle School in Juyuan Township of DujiangyanCity, about 100 kilometers from the epicenterin Wenchuan county of southwest China's SichuanProvince, on May 12, 2008. Nearly 900 studentshere were feared buried when a high school building collapsed in the earthquake measuring7.8 on the Richter scale which jolted WenchuanCounty at 2:28 p.m. on Monday. Rescue works werestill underway by press time. (Xinhua Photo)

Source: Xinhua

Special Report: Strong quake jolts SW China

DUJIANGYAN, Sichuan, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 900 students in southwest China's Sichuan Province were feared buried when a high school building collapsed here in an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale on Monday afternoon.

At least four third-graders -- two boys and two girls -- were confirmed dead at Juyuan Middle School in Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan City, about 100 kilometers from the epicenter in Wenchuan County, parents and witnesses said.

Xinhua reporters saw a three-story school building had partially collapsed. Some buried teenagers were struggling to break loose from underneath the ruins while others were crying out for help.

Grieved parents watched as five cranes were excavating at the site and an ambulance was waiting.

A tearful mother said his son, third-grader Zhang Chengwei, was buried in the ruins.

Two girls said they escaped because they had "run faster than others."

"It was around 2:30 pm, and the building suddenly began to rock back and forth," one of them recalled.

A villager said the school had 18 classes, all second and third graders, with about 50 students in each class.

"We ran out of the house when the quake hit," said Gao Shangyuan, a villager who lived close to school and helped with the rescue work.

Gao and other villagers helped dozens of students out of the ruins. "Some had jumped out of the window and a few others ran down the stairs that did not collapse."

The quake, felt in most parts of China, has killed 107 nationwide, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs by 18:00.

Editor:Xiong Qu

CPP Money Bought Opposition ‘Hearts’: Sam Rainsy

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

Khmer audio aired May 12 (1.03MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 12 (1.03MB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday publicly accused the Cambodian People’s Party of using its power and money to buy the hearts of opposition officials, causing them to defect.

The party has lost three parliamentarians, at least 30 steering committee members and hundreds of provincial and municipal supporters in the months leading into July’s elections. Many of them have turned to the ruling CPP.

Meanwhile, those activists who do stay loyal to the opposition face intimidation, Sam Rainsy said, citing the cases of 16 activists who have been threatened.

“The CPP uses all means to attract SRP activists and supporters to leave,” Sam Rainsy said Monday. “But SRP officials and supporters do not fear and are not able to be bought.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared all SRP officials “welcome” to bring their allegiance to the ruling party, “until the election and after the election.”

Defector Leng Seng said former opposition members were leaving the party not because of money but because of “injustice and nepotism.”

Observers say the defections are likely to hurt the party.

“Politicians and supporters are not happy with their party,” Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said.

The Sam Rainsy Party has not been able to solve their problems or deal properly with disputes, he said. “All these push the defections.”

Tribunal Seeks Budget for Five Trials Soon

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
12 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 12 (833KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 12 (833KB) - Listen (MP3)

Khmer Rouge tribunal administration chief Sean Visoth said Monday a revised budget must bring five leaders to trial soon.

“The budget presently under review should be as definite as possible,” he said in a speech addressing donors last week and posted on the tribunal Web site Monday.

The budget should also project the time requirements in dealing with the trials of the five leaders in custody: Kaing Khek Iev, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

Tribunal officials have asked for as much as $114 million in additional funds over the $56 million originally proposed. Donors need a smaller sum.

“We are still in the final stages of developing a precise budget because the budget presumed in early January was not welcome by jurists, because it was too big and it went for too long period,” tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said. “So now we are seeing how it can be cut back.”

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he agreed that the five leaders must be tried soon, but he said the use of the first $56 million was still unclear.

The tribunal “must use this money to try the first case, to show the donors,” he said.

Ranariddh Official Calls for Arrest in Death Threat

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
12 May 2008

A senior official of the Norodom Ranariddh Party called on authorities to arrest a ruling party member Monday, following an alleged threat to an activist.

NRP activist Sreng Srout, of Svay Chi Kray village in Preah Vihear province, was alleged threatened on Thursday by a Cambodian People’s Party deputy village chief, Ngim Thol, according to Sok Sokun, an NRP parliamentary candidate.

Sreng Srout claims he was threatened on arriving at a party last week to celebrate the posting of a Norodom Ranariddh sign, Sok Sokun said.

Ngim Thol could not be reached for comment. Former village chief Rim Thy confirmed that threat but denied it was political.

Sok Sokun said Monday such threats would no longer be tolerated, and called for Ngim Thol to be jailed.

Storm Strikes Kandal; None Hurt

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

Khmer audio aired May 10 (906KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 10 (906KB) - Listen (MP3)

A heavy rain storm destroyed 20 wooden homes in Kampot province last week, but no one was hurt or killed officials said.

The storm struck Samrong Tbong village, in Punhea Leu district, on Thursday, but no one was in the houses when they collapsed, officials said.

“This is the first time that such a storm happened in my village,” said Samrong commune chief Yin Im.

Villager Chhoeurn Kunthea said his house was nearly completely destroyed by the storm, leaving him homeless.

Government meteorologist Long Saravuth said the storm was not related to the cyclone that ripped through Burma last week, leaving many thousands dead and threatening millions.

“The cyclone has not affected Cambodia,” he said.

Obama: Change the Country, Change the World

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
12 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 10 (3.86MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 10 (3.86MB) - Listen (MP3)

Illinois senator Barack Obama wants to change the world. But first he wants to change the country. And to do that, he wants to become the first African-American president in the White House.

“We will win this nomination,” he told supporters recently. “You and I together will change this country, and we will change the world.”

Cambodian voters in America and politicians in Cambodia are watching to see what will happen.

Both Obama and New York senator Hillary Clinton have a chance at the presidency “because of the crisis in the US that President [George W.] Bush seriously generated,” said Chanly Kuch, a Cambodian voter who lives in Maryland.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy called Obama a new man with modern ideas. American voters do not have racial discrimination, he said.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said Cambodia was watching the election closely.

Obama could prove popular because of his centrist approach, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, in Cambodia.

“I think it’s good to focus closely and pay attention to what candidates raise and how to solve the issues, [and] the capacity, the ideals of the candidate, rather than focusing on where a person is from,” he said, adding that Obama was “brave.”

Date Set for Ieng Thirith Detention Appeal

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
12 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 09 (909KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 09 (909KB) - Listen (MP3)

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith, wife of Ieng Sary and former social affairs minister, will have her detention appeal heard before tribunal judges May 21, officials said.

Ieng Tirith 76, is charged with crimes against humanity. She was arrested Nov. 12, 2007, with Ieng Sary, in Phnom Penh.

Tribunal officials said a live camera feed will be in place for her May 21 hearing, which will determine whether she is kept in tribunal detention ahead of trial.

She has denied any wrong-doing as a minister of the regime, claiming she worked to help people and promising not to leave the country, destroy evidence or threaten witnesses if she is released on bail.

Hope Opposition Unity Likely Finished: Experts

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
12 May 2008

As party registration for July’s elections approaches, political observers say the likelihood of the competing parties to join in an opposition is unlikely.

The failure of unity has caused much finger-pointing among the parties, who will now have to run separately against the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and its coalition partner, Funcinpec.

“We are too late to accept a coalition,” said Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha. Those who said it was not too late were going to confuse the public, he said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha expressed “sadness” over the failure, but said he would welcome a coalition. He blamed a failure of unity on the absence of Prince Ranariddh, who is running his party from exile in Malaysia and faces an 18-month prison sentence for embezzling if he returns.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, fresh back from a trip to the US in search of support, said he was ready to unite with the NRP or HRP, but he would not spend time discussing coalitions with newer parties or those with no political base.

Cambodia’s competing parties have in the past sought unity through coalitions, especially after general elections, but they have always failed.

Independent social analyst Chea Vannath said the recent failure was another good experience for the three parties to consider how they might work together in the next elections.

Senate to ask Noppadon to testify

May 13, 2008

Senate's Committee of Foreign Affairs would seek Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama's testimony over a reshuffle at the ministry, which kicked up stair a legal expert Virachai Plasai who handled dispute over Preah Vihear with Cambodia.

The issue would be in the committee's agenda next week and Noppadon would be invited to the testimony otherwise the committee would visit him at the ministry to ask for explanation, said committee chairman Pikulkaew Kraireuk.

Political motivation might be the reason behind the reshuffle to remove Virachai from Director of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department since he is qualify to fit the job, he said.

The Nation

Reporter Eric Campbell travels to Cambodia to investigate secrets from the past and present.

(L-R) Trevor Bormann, Eric Campbell and Mark Corcoran of Foreign Correspondent.

Foreign Correspondent
Lenny Ann Low, reviewer
May 12, 2008

Reporter Eric Campbell travels to Cambodia to investigate secrets from the past and present. He meets Sydney University archaeologist Damien Evans who, along with colleagues from France, Cambodia and Australia, has spent years researching the kingdom of Angkor, the building of the magnificent temple Angkor Wat and what made this powerful and hugely populated city disappear in the 15th or 16th century.

The team has concluded that Angkor was the largest city in the pre-industrial world with an extraordinarily complex system of irrigation. As Evans explains, the land could not sustain such a system and it collapsed, leaving Angkor crippled.

Campbell lucidly parallels this with modern-day Cambodia, where those controlling the thriving tourism industry at Angkor Wat are being criticised for corruption. Angkor Wat receives 2 million visitors every year yet little of the tourism revenue is fed back into preserving the area's heritage.

Cambodia: Advertisement that Attracts

Sunday, May 11th, 2008
by Tharum Bun

In a recent opinion letter to one of Cambodia's newspapers, Chak Sopeap, 23, voices her concern over a commercial television advertisement, which she believes affect the nation's culture.

Sopheap praises the government for the improved press rights and freedom of expression, but wants Ministry of Culture as well as Ministry of Information to ensure that all commercial TV ads should be properly monitored before going on air.

It's not the first time for the young human rights activist expressing her opinion through Op-Ed. But it was until last year when she joined Cambodia blogger community that all her letters (one of which is about Khmer Rouge tribunal), published in English-language daily newspaper The Cambodia Daily, can also be found on her personal Weblog.

In the controversial ads, it appears that several Cambodian sexy women in attractive clothes embracing promotional motorbike Suzuki Viva 2009.

I noticed a recent advertisement for Susuki Viva 2009 is problematic. This advertisement appears to target on sexy girls rather than on the Motor; its content is not consistent and affect the Khmer Culture and disvalue the woman.

Offending or not, Thomas Wanhoff, a German national commented on Sopheap's expressed opinion that:

If Cambodia wants to be part of the global markets, its has to accept one of the oldest rules in advertising: sex sells. But not only that: The whole pop culture in Cambodia is just a copy of what we now from Thailand. Where is the real culture? Look how especially girls are dressed up. Why are a lot of karaoke bars, casinos, night bars, named it. The reality is far from what you decribed not consistent.

This debatable point also appeared in a Cambodia related discussion board, and that a long-time American resident wrote an email saying that

I might suggest you try to get a picture of the offending ad - it doesn't have to be the worst part, or a good picture but it will support your argument. (I wonder if it is on YouTube?) Also, what station is running it?

Not surprisingly, Cambodia has introduced a number regulations and bans in attempt to improve social order as well as morality. Early this year, a song titled “I’m asking for one part of your heart” was requested not to be replayed on TV by the country's First Lady.

In 2006, fear of widespread of pornography among cellphone users, Cambodia blocked some features of sending digital video on 3G network service.

A year later, based on a request from National Election Committee, mobile phone text messaging was blocked during a weekend of 2007 local elections to avoid political unrest. ‘Details are Sketchy,' a blog about all things Cambodia, has a response to the news article:

For starters, Khmer fonts for the average telephone are virtually unheard of. But, really, that’s besides the point. The fact is, an overwhelming majority of the Cambodian population is illiterate. And poor. So in practice such a ban would only effect registered voters who also own a telephone and can read English. That’s a pretty small group. Significantly less than 1% of the population. It is, however, exactly the kind of people that vote for Sam Rainsy. Still, it hardly seems worth the effort.

Khmer Legacies: The Desire To Be Heard

Socheata Poeuv
Posted May 12, 2008

I heard this amazing story from a friend recently, a professor in anthropology.

She had the opportunity to meet with the renowned peace negotiator Johan Galtung. Galtung is the grandfather of peace and conflict studies. At the age of 77, he has spent over 50 years negotiating peace agreements with conflicting groups all over the world.

My friend asked him over lunch, "Mr. Galtung, you've negotiated over 70 conflicts all over the world. What is the common denominator in all of these negotiations?"

Mr. Galtung hesitated for a very long time. Then he opened his mouth and he said, "Everybody wants to tell their story."

Wherever there is conflict, mistrust or dissension, just next to the desire to "have one's way," is the desire to be heard and acknowledged.

My family and the country of my heritage is one that saw war and conflict for nearly 50 years.

Cambodia fought a war against the French for independence, only to devolve into a state of madness wherein the government began to turn on its own people. Under the Khmer Rouge regime, nearly a quarter of the population, almost 2 million Cambodians died of execution, starvation and disease.

My parents never talked about their story of survival until one Christmas day five years ago when they made a confession to me. They told me that even though they had raised me, my brother and sisters as one nuclear family, we were not nuclear at all. In fact, we are a patchwork quilt of survivors. In effect, my family was formed during the Cambodian genocide.

I decided to make a documentary film about their story, called New Year Baby. I also wanted to create a forum so that stories of the Cambodian genocide could be passed from one generation to the next.

I'm starting a new organization called Khmer Legacies. The mission of Khmer Legacies is to document the Cambodian genocide through personal videotaped testimonies. The idea is to have the younger generation interview their parents about their story of survival. These videotapes will be used as an educational tool - an opportunity to tell the larger story of the Cambodian genocide.

I have to confess that it's not an easy job. Like my parents, many Cambodians don't want to share their past with their children. As much as Khmer Legacies is about recording people's stories on videotape, it's also about changing the culture. Taking a conversation of shame and transforming it into one of honor.

But it's my belief that despite the secrets we keep and the shame we hold inside, Cambodians truly want to be remembered and acknowledged. With patience, love and powerful or active listening, these stories truly beg to be told.

It's a desire every human shares. Therefore, to listen to someone is to honor and dignify the them. To listen is the greatest gift you can give.

Re-Election of Pm Likely

Vancouver Sun
Monday, May 12, 2008

Cambodian democracy is of a highly individual nature. It works fine just so long as everyone remembers that Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party have to win, or else there will be trouble.

That's what happened after Hun Sen failed to win 1993 elections brokered by the United Nations.

Hun Sen had been prime minister of Cambodia from 1985 after neighbouring Vietnam invaded the country to oust the Khmer Rouge and installed him as their viceroy. So he was highly dipleased when he didn't win the 1993 vote.

There was such concern about his propensity for violence it was decided that, despite the result, Hun Sen should become co-prime minister with the winner of the election, Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his Funcinpec party.

This compromise was also not entirely to Hun Sen's liking, and in 1997 he launched a bloody coup that saw him installed as sole leader in 1998.

The 2003 election results were more palatable to Hun Sen -- a clear majority for the CPP -- and this July the Cambodian people will be encouraged to re-elect him.

Fewer parties register for parliamentary election of Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Altogether 12 political parties have officially registered for the parliamentary election of Cambodia on July 27, the National Election Committee (NEC) announced on Monday, or the closing date of registration.

This number is lower than the 2003 general election, which had 23 political parties, Tep Nytha, secretary general of the NEC, told a press conference at the NEC office.

The decrease could be attributed to lack of budget and human resources, he added.

The 12 political parties will compete for the 123 seats in the Cambodian National Assembly.

In the 2003 general election, the ruling Cambodian People's Party led by Prime Minister Hun Sen won 73 seats, the co-ruling Funcinpec Party 26 seats, and the major opposition Sam Rainsy Party 24 seats.

Editor: Bi Mingxin