Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Royal Palace, the residence of the King of Cambodia

Tourists take photos inside the grounds of the Royal Palace, the residence of the King of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh in this October 12, 2004 file photo.(Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)

Cambodian police seize newspaper's supplement on Burma

21 May 2008
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

A newspaper in Cambodia has had to stop publishing a pullout on Burma after authorities confiscated that section for two consecutive days, warning that a suspension would soon follow.

The English-Khmer "Cambodia Daily" started the pullout, called the "Burma Daily", on 16 May 2008, "to introduce to the Burmese people what a free and responsible newspaper looks like", its publisher Bernard Krisher was quoted as saying by the press.

However, the Information Ministry said the pullout, which had the same masthead as the main paper except for the title, required a separate licence and ordered for its confiscation on 19 May.

Police continued to seize the pullout from newsstands the following day as Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the publication could harm relations between Cambodia and Burma.

"Cambodia Daily" was later threatened with an immediate 30-day suspension, said the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), a SEAPA partner, which issued a statement on 21 May deploring the seizure.

Vendors said some officers even took the whole paper away, according to press reports.

However, Krisher did not appear too dismayed at having to stop the pullout. He told the press that the "Burma Daily", which featured articles from international press as well as his own staff, will be published online and available by mail for its intended audience in Burma.

"Cambodia Daily" claims to be an independent non-profit newspaper with a circulation of about 5,000. It is published six days a week in the capital Phnom Penh.

Petrol, sugar smuggled in southwest border provinces


CUU LONG DELTA — Petrol and sugar smuggling over the borders of Viet Nam and Cambodia has increased recently, creating havoc on the local market, market watchdog has said.

The price of petrol in Cambodia is VND18,000-19,000 a litre (US$1.13-1.19) while the price in Viet Nam is VND14,000–15,000 ($ 0.88- 0.94).

Cans filled with petrol are brought into Cambodia by trucks, boats or three-wheeled vehicles. Many people buy from petrol stations in the cities to take to the border provinces every day.

Le Van Cu, who lives in Khanh An Commune in An Giang Province’s An Phu District, said the petrol retailers prefer to sell to smugglers who offer a high price.

Kien Giang Province said it confiscated 3,440 litres of DO oil in Vinh Dieu Commune, Kien Luong District, that was destined for Cambodia.

A border guard said that petrol smuggling had become more prevalent and that his unit had had difficulty preventing it.

Meanwhile, sugar is being smuggled from Cambodia to Viet Nam. The boats that transport goods to Viet Nam pass by warehouses in Cambodia to take Thai sugar to Viet Nam.

At Cambodia’s Kirivong District, Takeo Province, the goods are taken to Chau Doc in Viet Nam.

Tonnes of sugar have been transported to small warehouses in Long Binh commune in Long An Province or Khanh An commune in An Giang Province by small boats. In Tinh Bien, trucks transport sugar from Thalot in Cambodia to Viet Nam.

Tan Chau market in An Giang Province and Hong Ngu market in Dong Thap Province also serve as an entrepot for sugar.

Many markets in Mekong Delta will only buy Thai sugar, which costs VND 8,500-9,000 ($ 0.53- 0.56) per kilo, lower than Vietnamese sugar.

According to the Viet Nam Sugar and Sugarcane Association, over 300 tonnes of sugar are smuggled thro]ugh the southwest border provinces every day.

Smugglers replace the Thai sugar bag with a Vietnamese trademark bag, the association said. To avoid being caught by customs, the bags are swapped at warehouses in Cambodia where smugglers also have the necessary documents.


Hun Sen urges critics to vote for one opposition party

By Neth Pheaktra
The Mekong Times

In a brazen display of confidence in the Cambodian People’s Party(CPP)’s election prospects, Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) sarcastically advised people to vote for one of the Kingdom’s three opposition parties yesterday.

“People opposing the government and the CPP should choose one out of the three Cambodian opposition parties,” he said before listing the parties’ relative merits.

“One opposition party, which has taken part in many previous elections, has done nothing, while the other which used to lead the government has now become the opposition party. The last party was formed as a result of a merger of small parties,” Hun Sen said in a veiled reference to the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) and the Human Rights Party (HRP) respectively.

NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said that his party “does not need Hun Sen to ask people to vote for our party.”

HRP President Kem Sokha called Hun Sen’s “statement meaningless for the opposition parties.”

SRP secretary general Eng Chhay Eang called Hun Sen’s appeal “strange.”

“We wait to see the election results, which will be determined by the people,” he said.

However, data suggests that even the prime minister’s support cannot help Cambodia’s opposition, with some figures putting CPP approval ratings at 75 percent.

Opposition leaders vowed to fight on.

Kem Sokha noted that only 3.1 million of over 7.5 million eligible voters cast ballots for the CPP in the 2003 election, less than half.

Kek Galabru, president of the local rights group Licadho, advised the divided opposition to use electoral tactics to combat CPP popularity.

“Opposition parties … should not field parliamentary candidates in the same districts and should send them where they think that they can garner more votes,” she said. “The parties which know they cannot garner votes should withdraw from the election.”

A fractured opposition heralds an easy electoral victory for the ruling CPP, with the situation further undermined by frequent opposition defections to the CPP. Hun Sen has repeatedly stressed he will find positions in the CPP for any opposition politicians who wish to join, with one notable exception.

“Sam Rainsy won’t join [the CPP] because his party carries his name and he will be the opposition until he no longer has strength,” the premier predicted. “Even if he comes, I won’t welcome him because he is too big and plays games. If I welcome him, it will damage the CPP.”

Cambodian company offers crocodiles by mail

Wed, 21 May 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - As the price of crocodiles for commercial use plummets locally, a Cambodian company has sought out an alternative market niche - mail-order pet crocs. The hybrid saltwater Siamese crocodiles might not make loving pets, but they do possess lovable qualities, Crocodiles Cambodia insisted on its website.

For 2,355 dollars, the company mails 18 eggs and an incubator wrapped in brown paper and said more than 90 per cent of its shipments make it through customs around the world.

For those who might need a helping hand with their new babies, Siem Reap-based Crocodiles Cambodia provides links to with tips for new owners.

"No doubt when you think of a crocodile as your pet, you might be wondering if it will work out," said.

But have no fear - or only a few, at least.

"They can be harmful for the inexperienced lovers," the website said. "... There is no doubt that crocodiles are not for kids. They can be ... potentially harmful to other pets, and even people."

Contacted by telephone, Crocodiles Cambodia staff declined comment on their mail-order reptiles, preferring to dwell on the virtues of the eggs as a delicious snack if they fail to hatch.
And that might be a valid point. Chris Hunter of Florida-based Nature Coast Exotics Inc said he was not sure whether eggs could be shipped at all.

"Crocodilian eggs ... cannot be rotated more than 20 degrees in any direction," he said by e-mail. Otherwise, the embryos drown, he said.

He had concerns about the breed, too, which is aggressive, he said, and warned that potential buyers might be biting off more than they can chew.

"The hybrid crocs grow twice as fast as pure-breds," he warned.

Ex-Khmer Rouge Appeals for Bail


The U.N.-backed "Killing Fields" court is to hear another bail appeal by another senior Khmer Rouge leader. Here's more from Cambodia on this story.


Ieng Thirith was the former Khmer Rouge minister of social affairs. She was arrested in November 2007 with her husband, Ieng Sary, who served as foreign minister for the regime.

The tribunal hopes to put the five regime leaders on trial for various charges including crimes against humanity. Ieng Thirith is the fourth member of Pol Pot's inner circle to stand trial. The couple surrendered to the government in 1995 ending the power of the Khmer Rouge as a fighting force. Pol Pot, or Brother No.1, and other senior members remained in the jungle at the time.

Survivors of the genocide hope Thirith won't be granted bail. [Un Dara, Genocide Survivor]:"If the court lets her out of jail, I'm afraid she would be killed by the victims families and then we would lose evidence for the tribunal.

So it is better to let her stay in court and wait for the trial. For me, as withother people, we want the trial to take place soon so that the other leaders will not commit such killings in the future."

Many Cambodians have been waiting for years and are glad that their wait is almost over. [Kong Rum, Farmer]:

"Yes, I want the court to punish her because there are millions of people who were killed. I would forgive her if it were just one person."After nearly a decade of delays and drawn-out talks with the United Nations, the court proceedings kicked off in earnest last year.

Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, looks on during a hearing Wednesday

Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, looks on during a hearing Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thirith, facing charges of crimes against humanity before Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal, appealed for release from pretrial detention Wednesday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians stand line to attend the hearing for Ieng Thirith, former minister of social affairs of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in the outskirts of Phnom Penh May 21, 2008 . Thirith, the wife of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, made her first public appearance at the U.N.-backed "Killing Fields" tribunal.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Muslim Cambodian woman waits in a line in front of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal headquarters before a hearing of Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge's 76-year-old former head of state, has been rushed to a hospital with high blood pressure, as one of his ex-comrades appeared before the tribunal.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians and foreigners wait in front of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal headquarters before a hearing of Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge's 76-year-old former head of state, has been rushed to a hospital with high blood pressure, as one of his ex-comrades appeared before the tribunal.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians wait in front of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal headquarters before a hearing of Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge's 76-year-old former head of state, has been rushed to a hospital with high blood pressure, as one of his ex-comrades appeared before the tribunal.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Officials of Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal conduct hearing of Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, unseen, Wednesday, May 21, 2008 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thirith, facing charges of crimes against humanity before Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal, appealed for release from pretrial detention Wednesday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Ieng Thirith (C), former minister of social affairs of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, attends a hearing at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in the outskirts of Phnom Penh May 21, 2008 . Thirith, the wife of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, made her first public appearance at the U.N.-backed "Killing Fields" tribunal.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, sits with her arms folded in the dock during a hearing Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Thirith, facing charges of crimes against humanity before Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal, appealed for release from pretrial detention Wednesday.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Ieng Thirith, former minister of social affairs of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, is helped by a police officer at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in the outskirts of Phnom Penh May 21, 2008. Thirith, the wife of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, made her first public appearance at the U.N.-backed "Killing Fields" tribunal.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian courts to unveil public information boards

May 21, 2008

Cambodian courts this week will unveil public information boards designed to improve the accessibility and transparency of the country's legal system, local media reported Wednesday.

The information boards, installed in sets of three, make details of court rules and procedures available to the public, the Mekong Times newspaper said.

The first board lists civil dispute filing fees and lists the criteria under which fees may be waived; the second lists the defendants' rights under the newly passed Criminal Procedure Code; and the third board provides information on the rights of accused persons, minors and victims of crime, it said.

The project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the East West Management Institute (EWMI), hopes to have public information boards at every provincial court by mid-July.

he idea for the information boards came from a model courthouse in Kandal province developed by the Ministry of Justice with USAID support, a U.S. embassy spokesman said.


Former Khmer Rouge official hospitalized as ex-comrade appears before tribunal


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A spokesman for the Khmer Rouge tribunal says the regime's former head of state has been hospitalized for high blood pressure.

The spokesman says Khieu Samphan, 76, was taken Wednesday from his detention cell at the tribunal compound to a Phnom Penh hospital.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath says Khieu Samphan's condition was not considered «extremely urgent but necessitated attention.

His hospitalization came as the tribunal was hearing an appeal against pretrial detention from Ieng Thirith, the Khmer Rouge's former social affairs minister.

Former Khmer Rouge government minister appeals her detention by Cambodian tribunal

Ieng Thirith, former minister of social affairs of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, is helped by a police officer at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in the outskirts of Phnom Penh May 21, 2008. Thirith, the wife of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, made her first public appearance at the U.N.-backed "Killing Fields" tribunal.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A former Khmer Rouge government minister facing charges of crimes against humanity before Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal appealed for release from pretrial detention Wednesday .

Ieng Thirith, who was the Khmer Rouge social affairs minister, is among five suspects facing trial for their alleged roles in the regime's brutality. Her hearing was scheduled to last one day.

The tribunal seeks justice for atrocities committed by the ultra-communist group when it ruled Cambodia in 1975-79. Its radical policies caused the deaths of about 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

The Cambodian lawyer for the 76-year-old Ieng Thirith has cited a lack of evidence for detaining her and said she suffers from chronic illnesses, «both mental and physical,» that require constant medical treatment.

The suspect is the wife of Ieng Sary, who was the regime's deputy prime minister and foreign minister. He is also detained on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ieng Thirith is also the sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

In a detention order issued in November, the tribunal's investigating judges said Ieng Thirith is to be tried for supporting Khmer Rouge policies and practices that were «characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhuman acts.

She rejected the charges against her as «100 percent false,» according to the detention order.

She has denied responsibility for any criminal acts and said she worked at all times for the benefit of the people, according to an appeal filed in January by her lawyer, Phat Pouv Seang.

Ieng Thirith, who was among the first generation of female Cambodian intellectuals, studied English literature in Paris and worked as a professor after returning to Cambodia in 1957. Three years later, she founded a private English school in the capital, Phnom Penh.

She followed her husband into the jungle to flee government repression in 1965. Their communist movement later became a guerrilla force that toppled the pro-American government in 1975, turning the country in a vast slave-labor camp, anyone deemed bourgeois executed or imprisoned.

The husband and wife, who are held in separate cells, have been allowed to occasionally see each other in the presence of the detention guards, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Tuesday.

Cambodia to mark Thailand border

Radio Australia

Cambodia says it will install more markers along the Thai border in a bid to more clearly demarcate the state line.Var Kim Hong, chief of the National Border Committee, says more markers are needed as those installed by France are inadequate.

He says it's not clear when the work will begin or how many markers would be needed.

Cambodia has an 805 kilometre land border with Thailand, but only 73 markers, planted by the French in the early 20th century, demarcate the border.

Cambodia and Thailand created a bilateral committee to demarcate the border in 2006 following disputes along their border in Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces.

Throughout its history Cambodia has been plagued by border disputes with neighboring countries.

Negotiations with Vietnam, Thailand and Laos over border demarcations are ongoing.

A Day to Remember the Killing

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

Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.21MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.21MB) - Listen (MP3)

Thousands of Cambodians gathered for a Buddhist ceremony at the Choeung Ek “killing fields” Tuesday, in a day of remembarence.

As many as 20,000 were dumped in the mass graves outside in Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge. They were memorialized by a giant glass stupa full of skulls, where Cambodians made offerings Tuesday.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said the day was necessary to ensure atrocities did not occur in the future.

“I cannot forget the brutality of the Khmer Rouge,” said Ou Savorn, whose parents, brothers and sisters were killed by the regime. “I pray for the killing fields not to return to Cambodia.”

Authorities Ban Ratanakkiri Minority Demonstration

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 19 (762KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 19 (762KB) - Listen (MP3)

Ratanakkiri provincial authorities are preventing a protest of ethnic minorities over a land dispute, officials said Monday.

More than 300 minority villagers, assisted by the rights group Adhoc, planned to hold a demonstration Friday, to protest alleged land grabs of more than 10,000 hectares and the arrests of two protesters in 2007.

But officials have denied the villagers permission, Ratanakkiri Deputy Police Chief Prey Chram said.
“Ratanakkir authorities will not permit Adhoc and the minorities to hold a demonstration because we need to defend public security and order in advance of July’s national election,” he said, adding that the denial was not a suppression of rights.

Adhoc Ratanakkiri coordinator Pen Bunna said the authorities were violating the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

“We will hold a demonstration at our office to replace the march,” he said.

The gathering was an initial step on a complaint process that would lead to requests of the authorities to solve the increasing land disputes in the area, some of them perpetrated by local officials, he said.

In ‘New Year Baby’ Bittersweet History

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.05MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.05MB) - Listen (MP3)

“New Year Baby” is a documentary movie highlighting the life of Poeuv Socheata’s parents under the Khmer Rouge. About 30 of her family members died during the rule of the regime.

The film was screened in Washington last week, and has been shown in many US states. Poeuv Socheata led and directed this documentary after she graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts in 2002.

The film demonstrated “the sadness and the bitter memory of Cambodia people who live without freedom and who live with silence,” said audience member Isaura Martinez. “Some of them were killed without pity.”

After seeing the movie Cambodian-Canadian Hen Bon Han called the Khmer Rouge “a regime of murder, sorrow and horror.”

A document filmmaker, Poeuv Socheata said she wanted to bring the show to Cambodia in coming years, and that it could act as “additional evidence” for the tribunal.

The movie was supported and sponsored by the Independence Television Service and Center for Asian American Media. Peuv Socheata spent three years making it.

Government Seizes Newspaper Supplement

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 19 (864KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 19 (864KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Ministry of Information has begun the seizure of a supplemental section of the English-language Cambodia Daily that covers news about Asean neighbor Burma.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the Daily’s insert was “not a supplement” but a newspaper.

“They must have a license before publishing it,” he said, adding that the Cambodia Daily could face closure itself if it continues publishing the Burma insert.

The Cambodia Daily has run two “Burma Daily” inserts inside it’s own pages, which cover Cambodian, regional and international news. The insert covers news relevant to Burma, which is in the throes of slow governmental response to a devastating cyclone.

The insert has not increased the price of the Cambodia Daily.

Cambodia Daily publisher Bernard Krisher said the insert did not constitute a newspaper and said he would not stop publishing it.

“The confiscation of the newspaper I think is a bad act,” he said, adding that the Cambodia Daily is “an independent newspaper.”

Scores of Opposition Seek Defection

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 19 (645KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 19 (645KB) - Listen (MP3)

At least 77 opposition members and activists from one commune in Preah Vihear province have requested to move to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, officials said Monday.

“This is true information because the list is in my hands,” said Yan Ran, governor of Preah Vihear’s Kulen district, where Sam Rainsy Party members of Tbeng Pi commune have requested the switch.

The members will be granted CPP admission May 25, he said.

CPP first deputy chief of the commune, Prum Khet, said at least 28 members, led by former SRP commune deputy chief So Huon, have been issued ruling party membership cards.

So Huon and other reported defectors were not immediately available for comment.

Long Ry, an SRP official in charge of Preah Vihear affairs, said the defections, if true, could have been coerced.

“If there is such a defection, I think that it would have been a threat against those SRP people, such as threatening them to vote for [the CPP],” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly welcomed defections from the opposition, promising to provide those who change affiliation with positions within the government and ruling party.

Civic Groups Seek to Help Tribunal Monitoring

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 19 (810KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 19 (810KB) - Listen (MP3)

Representatives of civil society say the Khmer Rouge tribunal is improving, and they have offered to continue to help monitoring.

Groups of an “action committee,” including the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Documentation Center of Cambodia, two groups that have continually participated in the tribunal process, met Tuesday to discuss who they can more closely monitor the process, said Hisham Mousar, who monitors the courts for Adhoc.

The committee will submit recommendations to tribunal Administration Director Sean Visoth and Deputy Director Michelle Lee, as well as investigating judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde, he said.

“Now the tribunal is receiving more financial support, and they have more victim complaints and more work,” he said. “There is a need for civil society to monitor closely and seriously.”

Different non-governmental agencies should have access to all kinds of information, including confidential, and should be provided an office inside the tribunal in order to work closely with the courts, he said.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said he had heard the intent of the groups, but the decision would ultimately be up to tribunal officials.

You Bunleng declined to comment.

Fruit, Veggies, Fridge Keys to Beating Gastric Cancer: Doctor

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 19 (6.01MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 19 (6.01MB) - Listen (MP3)

Heavy use of soy sauce and salted foods can lead to gastric cancer, a doctor said Monday.

The Japanese, who have high intakes of salt, smoke a lot and eat less vegetables have a high incidence of gastric cancer, said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Salty food can increase the risk of “helicobacter pylon” infection as well as gastric cancer, he said.

The best way to prevent gastric cancer is to keep food refrigerated, reduce consumption of salted, smoked and chemically preserved foods and eat more fruits and vegetables, he said.

Graphic Novel Exposes Shaky Legal System

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
20 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 18 (2.17MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 18 (2.17MB) - Listen (MP3)

The shortcomings of Cambodia’s legal system are highlighted in a new fictional graphic novel produced by a group of students at Stanford University in California. The story, “Shake Girl,” was published online last week.

The story, written by American journalist Eric Pape, is based on the 1999 cases of Tat Marina, the victim of an acid attack, and Piseth Pilika, who was murdered. Both cases have reported links to top-ranking Cambodian officials, but neither has been solved.

Pape, who worked for the English-language newspapers in Phnom Penh from 1996 to 1998, said the story was a comment on dangerous Cambodian love triangles—which can occur for fruit shake vendors, karaoke singers or movie stars alike.

“Shake Girl,” which borrows its name from the fruit shake vendors of Phnom Penh, seeks to expose shortcomings in Cambodia’s judicial system, he said.

The cases of Tat Marina and Piseth Pilika were shocking to many people, yet authorities have failed to seek justice for them, Pape said. Cambodia’s culture of impunity has continued without solution, he said.

The book was based on reporting he did in Cambodia from 1998 to 2006, Pape said.

“Shake Girl” received a small print run of 750, but it is also available on the Internet. On its first day, 200 people downloaded the story in a matter of minutes, with thousands following the next, Pape said.

Lem Mony, a program officer for women’s issues for Adhoc, said “Shake Girl” was an important push for “judicial competence,” and might urge authorities to reexamine the two cases and bring suspects to justice.

Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth and Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak did not respond to VOA Khmer requests to be interviewed.

Chiv Keng, chief judge of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said he had no updated information on either case, as they were initiated before he began his posting.

“I dare not to speak about it right now,” he said.

Pape spent from January to March this year making “Shake Girl” with the assistance of 14 design students and two professors from the Stanford.

The story can be found at

Hundreds Protest in Bantey Meanchey

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

Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.16MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 20 (1.16MB) - Listen (MP3)

At least 200 people in Banthey Meanchey province’s Malay district protested in front of the provincial cabinet Tuesday, urging the governor to resolve a land dispute.

Protesters say 775 hectares of land have been taken by district police, affecting more than 300 families.

Malay District Police Chief Mei Samorn said the land belongs to the police.

“If the people need this land, they must pay for police,” he said.

The Ministry of Information Seized Newspapers Published without Legal Permission that Have an anti-Burma Tendency

Posted on 20 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“A small sized newspaper with four pages with the name The Burma Daily, published and inserted in the The Cambodia Daily, was seized by the Ministry of Interior, which had been asked by the Ministry of Information, claiming that this newspaper is published without having asking for legal permission from the ministry; furthermore its articles showed a critical tendency towards the government of the Burmese military junta.

“On Monday morning of 19 May 2008, there were police at many newspaper stalls in Phnom Penh, seizing The Burma Daily, which had been distributed for sale together with The Cambodia Daily. The police claimed that they acted based on higher orders when they confiscated the newspapers from newspaper stalls and from children selling newspapers along the roads.

“Regarding the confiscation of The Burma Daily, the head of the Information Department of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Yem Noy, stated that the Ministry of Information had asked the authorities to seize the newspapers, because they had been published without legal permission; moreover, it was deceptive to publish them inside The Cambodia Daily, which has a legal permission from the ministry. However, the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, could not be reached for comment.

“The newspapers of The Burma Daily, which were seized by the authorities on the morning of 19 May 2008, were published in English, with four pages, on white paper, and they had the same size as The Cambodia Daily; most of the articles talked about Burma. Generally speaking, the articles showed a tendency critical of the government of the Burmese military junta, especially focusing on the events after the tropical cyclone in Burma.

“By 19 May 2008, The Burma Daily published a second issue, and according to its context, it was clear that Mr. Bernard Krisher is the publisher and Mr. Kevin Doyle is the editor-in-chief; and they are also the publisher and the editor-in-chief of The Cambodia Daily.

“So far, no reaction has been seen yet from the publisher of The Cambodia Daily regarding the actions of the authorities.

“It should be stressed that The Burma Daily was not published and sold separately, but it was inserted into the The Cambodia Daily. But the volume and issue numbers were different.

“The Press Law, Chapter 1, Article 5, talks about press freedom; it states that in general, the press has the right to share information, under the control of the Royal Government, except for any information that undermines national security or relations with other countries. Therefore, using Cambodia as a basis to publish information which has an anti-Burma tendency in the The Burma Daily, contradicts the Press Law, so the government did not allow it.”

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2778, 20.5.2008

Cost of increasing access to artemisinin combination therapy: the Cambodian experience

7thSpace Interactive

Malaria-endemic countries are switching antimalarial drug policy from cheap ineffective monotherapies to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and the global community are considering setting up a global subsidy to fund their purchase. However, in order to ensure that ACTs are correctly used and are accessible to the poor and remote communities who need them, specific interventions will be necessary and the additional costs need to be considered.

Methods: This paper presents an incremental cost analysis of some of these interventions in Cambodia, the first country to change national antimalarial drug policy to an ACT of artesunate and mefloquine. These costs include the cost of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), the cost of blister-packaging the drugs locally and the costs of increasing access to diagnosis and treatment to remote communities through malaria outreach teams (MOTs) and Village Malaria Workers (VMW).

Results: At optimum productive capacity, the cost of blister-packaging cost under $0.20 per package but in reality was significantly more than this because of the low rate of production. The annual fixed cost (exclusive of RDTs and drugs) per capita of the MOT and VMW schemes was $0.44 and $0.69 respectively.

However because the VMW scheme achieved a higher rate of coverage than the MOT scheme, the cost per patient treated was substantially lower at $5.14 compared to $12.74 per falciparum malaria patient treated. The annual cost per capita inclusive of the RDTs and drugs was $19.31 for the MOT scheme and $11.28 for the VMW scheme given similar RDT positivity rates of around 22% and good provider compliance to test results.

Conclusion: In addition to the cost of ACTs themselves, substantial additional investments are required in order to ensure that they reach the targeted population via appropriate delivery systems and to ensure that they are used appropriately. In addition, differences in local conditions, in particular the prevalence of malaria and the pre-existing infrastructure, need to be considered in choosing appropriate diagnostic and delivery strategies.

Author: Shunmay Yeung, Wim Van Damme, Doung Socheat, Nicholas J White and Anne MillsCredits
Source: Malaria Journal 2008, 7:84
Published on: 2008-05-20

Buddhism through the lens

Katherine Feeney
May 20, 2008

Genre The Arts
Location Queensland
Performing Arts Centre
Address Corner Melbourne and Grey streets, South Bank
Date Until May 31
Tickets Free

QPAC presents a photographic exhibition of Buddhist tradition by Brisbane photographer Anthony Anderton.

The exhibition ranges from intimate, personal expressions of faith to vibrant colourful festivals and religious celebrations.

The images were taken on location across Asia, including Tibet, China, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma.

Features of the exhibition include scenes from the colourful Tibetan Great Prayer Festival and a view of the Buddhist traditions of Brisbane, including A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Monastic, photographed at Brisbane's Chung Tian Temple.

World Bank says food prices to remain high for 2-3 years - UPDATE

Thomson Financial News

SINGAPORE (Thomson Financial) - The World Bank said on Tuesday prices of food such as rice will stay high in the next two to three years, pushing back efforts to fight poverty.

A variety of factors ranging from strong demand from emerging economies like China and India, to financial speculation, market distortions and weather have pushed food prices to unprecedented levels.

'We believe this phenomenon [of high food prices] is here to stay for a few years, not for a few weeks or a few months,' World Bank managing director Juan Jose Daboub said at a media briefing.

Daboub said 100 million people have been pushed back into poverty, subsisting on $2 a day, over the past two years.

'The doubling of food prices for a period of three years would be equivalent to going back seven years in terms of poverty alleviation,' said Daboub.

Boosting global food production is the only solution to the soaring food inflation but this is possible only in the longer-term, said Daboub.

'We need to work on a new deal for food policy in order to address the short-term needs while keeping in mind that it is going to take longer to alleviate the situation,' he said.

The World Bank is urging collaborative efforts among nations to help ease the plight of the very poor, while voicing out its disapproval of commodity cartels.

'I don't like cartels. I don't think it's good to have another cartel, like in some commodities,' said Daboub.

Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter with 9.5 million tons shipped overseas in 2007, had earlier floated the idea of forming a rice cartel with Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia which would fix the price of rice, and would operate in the same way that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sets the price of crude oil.

No World Bank aid for Myanmar: top official

World Bank President Robert Zoellick speaks during the session "Does Arab Business Care" at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, May 19, 2008. [Agencies]


SINGAPORE -- A top World Bank official says the bank won't give financial aid or loans to cyclone-hit Myanmar because of outstanding debts.

Managing Director Juan Jose Daboub says the World Bank is working with Southeast Asian countries by providing technical support to assess damages in Myanmar and to help them to plan rehabiliation efforts.

But he says the bank is "not in a position" to provide financial resources for Myanmar because the military-ruled nation has been in arrears with the World Bank since 1998.

His comments Tuesday came ahead of an aid donors conference in Yangon on Sunday to pledge funds for Myanmar, which has estimated that losses from the recent Cyclone Nargis exceeded US$10 billion (euro 6.49 billion).

Three opposition parties compete with ruling CPP

PHNOM PENH, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Three opposition parties in Cambodia are competing with the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) for the parliamentary election on July 27, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday.

They are competing with his CPP sharply and they are also competing with each other for gaining votes, Hun Sen told a graduation ceremony at the National Institution of Education.

Each party is trying to get the position as the main opposition party in Cambodia when they aired on radios before the election campaign starts, he added.

The three opposition parties are the Human Rights Party (HRP) of former senator Kim Sokha, the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) of Prince Norodom Ranariddh and the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), Hun Sen said.

He reclaimed that if the co-ruling Funcinpec party does not have a seat in the National Assembly during the general election, his CPP will lead the government alone.

The SRP is the main opposition party in the current National Assembly of Cambodia.  

Editor: An Lu

Calumet, Cambodia topics of conflict and compromise

May 20, 2008

PAINESDALE — They’ve been ambassadors for history in downstate Mount Pleasant, and now they’re spreading the message even farther.

After making it through the regional and state competitions, four local students will be competing at National History Day, to be held June 15-19 at the University of Maryland.

The event is a nationwide competition of middle and high school students based on a theme which changes every year. Students could choose to do a documentary, exhibit, performance, web site or paper based on this year’s theme of “Conflict and Compromise.”

“We wanted to do something local, and something we could both relate to,” said Jeffers High School ninth-grader Hannah Rundman, explaining why she and classmate Brittany Puska chose to enter an exhibit on the 1913-14 Copper Mining Strike. This is the second time at the Nationals for the duo, who did an exhibit on the Finnish Winter War last year.

Puska said they’ve learned a few things since last year.

“There are rows and rows of exhibits, so it’s important we have something that makes ours stand out,” she said.

Following judges’ suggestions from both the regional and the state competitions, the trick is to add improvements without inadvertently messing with a good thing.

“We don’t want to take out something the judges really liked,” Rundman said. “It’s hard to make it stronger without fooling with it too much.”

Kalle Markkanen of Houghton Middle School also chose the same topic, although as an eighth-grader he competes at the junior level and is not in direct competition with Rundman and Puska.

“I thought it was the spitting image of perfection after the regionals,” he said of his exhibit. “But I realized after (the state competition) that I really had to do some serious revision.”

He eschewed his original cardboard foundation for foam and added some three-dimensional elements such as a shaft rock house and a picket sign with strike wording.

“One thing I didn’t want to change too much was the timeline, which everyone seemed to like,” he said. He’s also been paying strict attention to the NHD rules which limit an entry’s word count to 500.

Markkanen was sponsored by his parents as his school did not participate. At Jeffers, social studies teacher Cheryl Ruohonen is a proponent for the program, but said she didn’t believe in making History Day work a mandatory assignment.

“It’s even more impressive when you know how much work they put into this on nights and weekends because they want to,” she said of Rundman and Puska. “They’ve spent an untold number of hours, not for a class assignment and not for an ounce of extra credit.”

Hancock Central High School 11th-grader Kirsti Wall will also advance to the NHD finals for her Web site on the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, a topic she chose after reading a book.

“The judges seemed to like the fact that I chose it on my own curiosity,” Wall said. They also praised her inclusion of artwork from one of the survivors and her Web site’s ease in navigation.

All four students say they plan to provide more context about why their topic has national or international significance. Wall also plans after the competition to make her site live so her work won’t be in vain.

“I’d like to do that if I can find a host for it,” she said. “I think this is a really good topic more students should know about.”

For more information on National History Day, go to

CAMBODIA: Seeing Opportunity in Rising Food Prices

Cambodian farmer moving produce by bullock cart, a sign of poor investment in agriculture. Credit:Andrew Nette/IPS

By Andrew Nette

PHNOM PENH, May 19 (IPS) - Cambodian government sees opportunity for this impoverished country in the global rise in food prices that could help turn the fortunes for its agrarian economy.

But, while Khmer and foreign experts agree that there is considerable room for Cambodia to improve its production of rice, fruit, vegetables and other crops, they also say that the economic, physical and geographical challenges are huge.

Even if Cambodia can increase the production of crops like rice, doubts exist as to whether small-scale farmers are positioned well enough to take advantage of the situation.

Cham Prasidh, minister for commerce, told the English-language Cambodia Daily newspaper in early May that the food crisis provided an opportunity for the country to transform itself into one of the world’s rice bowls. "For Cambodia now, we see rice as gold," he was quoted as saying.

The minister said the increased value of foodstuffs, particularly rice, was moving the government to reconsider its economic strategy and place greater emphasis on agriculture. He said the government wanted to double the area under rice cultivation to five million hectares.

The government and donors are also pinning their hopes on agriculture as a way of alleviating endemic rural poverty. Eighty percent of Cambodia’s 14 million people live in rural areas, as also an estimated 90 percent of the country’s poor.

"We estimate that only 7 to 8 percent of total rice production is traded on the international market," said Mahfuz Ahmed, Senior Agricultural Economist in the South-east Asia department of the Asian Development Bank (AsDB).

"An additional three million tonnes would make the country a major player in the rice market but first they have to improve quality and production."

"We have the potential to become a key supplier of rice on the world market after Thailand and Vietnam," said Yang Sang Koma, president of the Centre for the Study and Development of Cambodian Agriculture (CEDAC). "We might even be able to replace Vietnam, which has peaked in its capacity."

"It is realistic but they have to have clear policies. On the one hand they talk about Cambodia becoming a green basket, on the other they push industrial zones. What do they really want?"

The World Bank and other donors agree Cambodia needs to place more emphasis on agriculture, and point out that successful agricultural production in China and Vietnam acted as a stimulus for broader industrial and manufacturing growth.

It is generally accepted that Cambodia now grows more rice than it consumes, approximately 2 to 4 million tons per year and has done so since the mid-nineties.

Although land under cultivation has also increased over the last decade, surpassing 2.5 million hectares in 2006, according to figures from the ministry of agriculture, this is still amongst the lowest in the region.

According to AsDB’s Ahmed, the average amount produced hovers around 2.5 tons per hectare, with some farmers producing 3 tons, and most 1 to 1.5. This compares with Vietnam’s 4 kilos per hectare.

"Most farmers are poor and live from harvest to harvest. They are subsistence orientated and focused more on survival than increasing production,’’ Koma said.

Cambodia exported 1.48 million tons of milled rice during the 2007-2008 season, a figure the government wants to increase to 5 million, besides boosting production of crops such as soya beans, cashew and corn.

"Ten years ago they did not have enough food, so the fact that they export as much as they do is a considerable achievement," said Ahmed. "They could probably produce more and export it. The area currently under cultivation is still below that in the mid-sixties."

"The increased value of rice should be good for Cambodia," agreed Thomas Keustas, the World Food Programme’s country director in Cambodia. "The question is how much can the rice harvest increase given that the costs of inputs are also increasing.’’

Farmers are facing the full brunt of the inflationary pressures hitting Cambodia. Fertilizer has doubled in price, and fuel has increased by 6 to 7 per cent in the last six months.

But price rises are just one obstacle facing increased farm production. Others include lack of seed production, uncertain land tenure in much of the country, lack of technical information, and poor infrastructure such as roads and irrigation.

Lack of access by small-scale farmers to rural credit is a particularly pressing constraint. According to some figures, only four percent of loans from banks went to agriculture in 2007.

These barriers make it difficult for Cambodia to compete with the productivity of farmers in Thailand and Vietnam, where transport, fertilizer and pesticides are all cheaper.

"How do you compete with the sophistication of agricultural produces in Vietnam, where strawberries are picked and on the shelves of supermarkets in Phnom Penh in 24 hours?" said one long-term foreign observer. "People talk about buzz words like improving value chains. At the moment when it comes to agriculture all you have is a pile of links that no one has welded together."

"All these factors mean farmers are not well placed to take advantage of increased prices,’’ said the observer who did not wish to be named. ‘’They sell their crop after harvest because their production costs are so high compared to their revenue, much of it to Vietnamese and Thai traders who travel from farm gate to farm gate, within days of it being harvested."

AsDB’s Ahmed believes that storage facilities are important. "Small farmers cannot take advantage of the marketing realities unless they can hold onto their crop for 3 to 4 months rather than 60 days as is currently the case.’’

"Even if Cambodia can increase its rice harvest, any increased profitability is likely to be captured by middle men and their agents unless the farmer has some choice about who they sell to and when,’’ said Ahmed. "This bargaining power will only occur when they have greater access to storage facilities, roads, credit, and so on. At the moment the point at which they sell is the point at which the price is lowest."

The question now is, does the government have the political will to shift the balance of power across the board to increase the bargaining power of farmers?

While experts believe the government’s emphasis should now be on getting a good harvest next year, work is needed to ensure that farmers can take advantage of this.

"In the long term the question is whether enough resources can be mobilised and whether they can be delivered to the households that need them on time," said Ahmed. "Government alone cannot do this, it requires a joint effort with donors and NGOs."

"Physical facilities are important but it will not solve the problem on its own," argues CEDAC’s Koma, who works with farmers on marketing organically grown produce, including locally certified organic rice. "Our farmers are very subsistence oriented. We need time to develop more commercially oriented farmers."

"We also need to re-orient the people who work with the farmers, the extension workers and NGOs. They have a basic knowledge of agriculture, perhaps some community development experience but no business skills,’’ said Koma.

Cambodia’s potential can be gauged by the fact that large investors, including several private equity funds, are beginning to see opportunities in this country’s agricultural sector.