Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cambodian father learns kids don't inflate well

The Earth Times
Thu, 22 May 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian father and mechanic learned the hard way not to inflate children when he inserted an air hose designed to fill car tires into his 5-year-old son's anus and blew him up, local media reported Thursday. The Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea daily reported Try Sienghym was "playing" with his son Sok Sambo when the incident took place.

The paper said the child's stomach became distended and his concerned mother rushed him to hospital, where he remains in a stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

"The father very much regrets playing like this now," the paper quoted a family member as saying.

Police were not expected to take action against the father, blaming the incident on pure stupidity, against which there is currently no law.

US tourist critical after shooting self at Cambodian firing range

The Earth Times
Thu, 22 May 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A US man was in a critical but stable condition after suffering an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at one of Cambodia's famous military shooting ranges, police said Thursday. Cody Mark Patrick, 33, had fired seven bullets of a 10-shot round at one of the capital's most popular tourist attractions before apparently deliberately firing a single bullet through his own jaw, according to Interior Ministry penal police chief Mok Chito said .

"We do not know if he had a military background or what was in his mind," Mok Chito said. "He obviously brought a problem with him to Cambodia."

The bullet exited through the back of Patrick's head and he was rushed to Calmette Hospital, where doctors reported he was likely to survive, but did not give further details of the damage sustained.

In 2004 a 25-year-old US tourist shot himself fatally at the same military-managed shooting range with a K-54 pistol.

Shooting range officials call the incidents regrettable, but say they have no way of identifying and stopping potentially suicidal tourists.

The firing range offers tourists approximately 50 different kinds of weapons to fire, throw or set off, ranging in price from 20-250 US dollars.

Bail decision suspended in Khmer Rouge female leader case

M&G Asia-Pasific
May 21, 2008

The court hearing a bail appeal against a former female Khmer Rouge leader adjourned to a date to be set for its decision, a court official said Wednesday.

Court media liaison officer Reach Sambath said the hearing involving former Democratic Kampuchea Social Affairs minister Ieng Thirith, would give a verdict at a date yet to be set.

The day-long hearing heard three prosecution lawyers for victims argue that Thirith, 76, should not be released so close to national elections scheduled for July because it could cause public disorder.

The defence argued that Thirith had a mental illness which was being made worse while she was jailed awaiting charges of human rights abuses.

Thirith's sister, Khieu Ponnary, was married to the movement's leader Pol Pot but the marriage reportedly broke down over Ponnary's mental health problems. Ponnary died of natural causes in 2003.

Former Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot died at home in 1998.

Five former leaders face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes at the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal to prosecute leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, under which up to 2-million Cambodians died.

Court spokesman Reach Sambath said the decision whether to grant bail had been suspended until a date yet to be set.

Temple vandalism blamed on ritual

Thursday May 22, 2008

Clues point to black magic at Phanom Rung


A black magic ritual is now believed to be behind the vandalism of an ancient statue at the historic Phanom Rung stone temple ruins in Buri Ram province. Krissana Suktungkha, superintendent of Chalerm Phrakiat district police, said investigators were concentrating on what appear to be ritualistic offerings left at the site.

A glass of water and three cigarettes were found nearby on the stairs to the ancient temple.

This kind of offering was used in Khmer-style black magic rituals, Pol Col Krissana said.

Police have been instructed to keep a close watch on those known to follow these rituals in Buri Ram and neighbouring Surin province, which have large ethnic Khmer populations.

It was possible that those who damaged the statues were hired by a group of people to destroy what they believed to harbour supernatural power, he said.

Police have offered a cash reward of 50,000 baht to anyone who gives information leading to the arrest of those who desecrated the ancient site.

The heads of eleven Nagas, mythical serpent-like animals, at the stairs to the ancient temple were broken off by the vandals.

The statue of the sacred cow of the Hindu god Shiva, two statues of Singha, a mythical lion-like beast, and the statue of the guardian deity at the entrance were damaged.

The Shiva Linga stone, a symbol of Shiva in the centre of the temple, was also moved off its plinth.

The chief of Phanom Rung Historical Park, Dusit Thummakorn, said a meeting would be called to discuss repairs.

Fine arts authorities have ordered officials in charge of ancient ruins in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin and Chaiyaphum provinces to increase security patrols.

Sakchai Pojnanwanit, director of the 12th Fine Arts Office in Nakhon Ratchasima, said patrols would be made around the clock.

Repairs to the damaged statues at Phanom Rung would take only about a month, Mr Sakchai said.

Only two of the 11 damaged Nagas were originals. The others were replicas.

The Fine Arts Department's office of traditional arts will supervise the work.

Thepmontri Limpapayom, a historian, confirmed that most of the damaged statues at Phanom Rung were replicas. Any substances taken from these statues had no sacred power and could not be used as a raw material for making amulets, he said.

One theory is that the damage was caused by amulet makers in search of objects with magical powers to incorporate in the talismans they sell.

Mr Thepmontri said the authorities should not to allow anyone to use the temple ruins as a site for performing rituals.

Buri Ram politician Newin Chidchob was earlier allowed to take Brahmin priests to the Phanom Rung ruins to perform a ritual to ward off bad luck for a powerful politician, the historian said.

Official: Medical waste ticking bomb in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Potentially dangerous viral epidemics could break out if Phnom Penh's medical waste managementis not tightened up, English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times Thursday quoted official as saying.

"(We must) be careful of possible virus outbreaks, if medical waste is not properly managed (or disposed of)," said deputy governor of Phnom Penh Pa Socheatevong.

"(Human) health problems are partially caused by medical waste which is invisible to naked eyes," he said, citing that high blood pressure and cancers as prominent diseases being faced by city dwellers in Cambodia.

"We must realize that environmental pollution and transmission of viruses have no limits. So, if it occurs, it will cause a massive impact (on people). We will establish a medical waste management system to protect the environment and public health in the city," he added.

Phnom Penh covers over 700 square kilometers with some 1.3 million people discarding a total of more than 1,000 tons of rubbish a day, 70 percent of which is contaminated with medical waste, according to official statistics.

Editor: Amber Yao

The sovereignty dispute over sacred site Preah Vihear continues

The Bangkok Post
Thursday May 22, 2008


Forty-six years ago, the World Court ruled that Preah Vihear, or Prasat Phra Viharn, is under Cambodian sovereignty. But the significance of Preah Vihear lies beyond the tug-of-war match that Thailand and Cambodia have engaged in over it. The ancient temple is an historical symbol of interrelationships among different peoples and beliefs. It also represents a social and cultural history of mankind.

"Preah Vihear belongs to neither Cambodia nor Thailand - it belongs to sacred powers. It has been a holy place for pilgrimage," said anthropologist and archaeologist Srisakra Vallibhotama.

According to him, Preah Vihear, or Sri Sikharesvara, has been an area for people from both sides to perform rituals.

Watershed lines were traditionally considered by ancient people as no man's land, belonging to no one. Crossing the areas required the performing of rituals.

Established in the reign of Cambodian King Yasovarman (889-900) under the Devaraja (divine kingship) Cult, Preah Vihear stands on the Peuy Ta Di cliff of the Phra Viharn Mountain. The mountain is part of the Phanom Dong Rek Range that lies between the Lower Khmer Plain and the Korat Plateau.

Those who wanted to cross the Lower Khmer Plain and the Korat Plateau needed to perform or attend rituals. Sanctuaries were built as homes to spirits called Phi Ton Nam (watershed spirits) and also served as unofficial border posts.

In ancient times, kings and peoples paid homage to the spirits there. Phra Viharn Mountain was believed to be home to Phi Ton Nam and then to a god who safeguarded local people.

Historian Dhida Saraya writes in the book Preah Vihear (Sri Sikharesvara) that the Khmer kings built the sanctuary, but the sanctuary embraces different peoples and different beliefs. Hence, the true meaning and significance of Phra Viharn mountain is universal.

Prasat Phra Viharn, as a pilgrimage site, has been a universally and internationally sacred place. Several great Khmer kings established there the power of Shiva, the Universal God, over the local deities and ancestors of the peoples.

According to her book, during the reign of King Suryavarman I (1010-1050), ancestral worship and animism were central beliefs of the Devaraja Cult. The king established a link between himself, as the God King, and Sri Sikharesvara of Phra Viharn Mountain.

King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) extended and centralised the Sri Sikharesvara Sanctuary, making the temple the core of the state cult, the Devaraja, and the ritual centre of ancestral worship.

It became customary to pay homage ceremonially to the Kamaratengjagata Sri Sikharesvara at the same time the farmers celebrated their annual festival.

According to Srisakra, people from both sides came to Preah Vihear to perform rituals, as they do to this very day. Therefore, he wonders why France believed the sanctuary belonged to Cambodia.

"The troublemaker was France, as they introduced the concept of borders. Ancient people just looked for a symbol before crossing from one zone to another but France drew the line for us to accept," the archaeologist said.

To survive colonisation, Siam opted for Western knowledge and, hence, fell into the trappings of thoughts and theories set by the superpowers.

As long as Thailand sanctions France's interpretation that any site with Khmer inscriptions belongs to the ancient Khmer empire, there will be no solution, he noted.

"It was France who started circulating the story that Angkor was the centre of civilisation and any land with Khmer inscriptions was under the Khmer empire. This model was created by France and accepted by us," the academic added.

According to him, English professor O. W. Wolters at Cornell University, New York, analysed inscriptions and found that Southeast Asian empires were not centralised states but were instead regulated under the Mandala system that observed Indian traditions. They were a network of big and small regions which revered the king of kings, known as Jakrapatdiraj or Rajathiraj.

Siamese kings loved Laotian and Khmer royals like their own relatives and some Cambodian kings were educated in the Siamese court.

"In fact, the Thai-Khmer relations were not heirarchical but were instead based on intermarriage," he noted.

However, imperialist countries ignored the Mandala system in this region and introduced European-style political and administrative structures to manipulate the Asian royals and the elite class.

They also exercised another tool - border demarcation - during conflict with other Southeast Asian countries. Maps became major evidence for making agreements or claims under laws, Srisakra said.

He pointed out that Thailand lost Preah Vihear to Cambodia because Siam had recognised the French map, which drew the sanctuary within Cambodian.

In 1904, Siam failed to send representatives to border demarcation surveys conducted by France. This allowed France to include Phra Viharn in the map, made by France and Cambodia, which was shown to Siam in 1907, even though it went against the principle of watershed lines.

Based on the watershed line theory, Phra Viharn Mountain lies on Thai territory. According to the French map, the mountain is located within the Cambodian border.

To prove that the Phra Viharn sanctuary compound, from the foot of the mountain to the top, is in Thai territory, just pour water from the top of the mountain and see on which side it drains. The fact is that the water flows towards Korat Plateau and to the Lam Trao reservoir in Si Sa Ket, Srisakra noted.

In 1959, Cambodia took the dispute to the World Court. It presented the map charted by France under the Treaties of 1904 and 1907 as major evidence.

Another substantial piece of evidence was a group photo of the French Governor of Kampongthom, some French officials in uniform and Siam's Prince Damrong, standing near a French flag being flown at full mast in the Phra Viharn compound. In 1929, Prince Damrong, then the president of the Royal Academy and a former interior minister, visited a number of historical sites in Si Sa Ket, including Prasat Phra Viharn.

On June 15, 1962, the World Court ruled that the ruins of Prasat Phra Viharn are under Cambodian sovereignty on the grounds that Thailand never lodged a protest against the said map. Nevertheless, the court ruling left some room for argument on the surrounding land where the border was not settled.

In his interview with Matichon Daily on January 9, 1992, MR Seni Pramoj, the lawyer who handled the case for Thailand, said, "There is still some misunderstanding that the whole Phra Viharn Mountain belongs to Cambodia. This is not so. The World Court did not pass such a judgement. The World Court only passed a decision to return the right of possession over the sanctuary and the surrounding area, not the whole mountain."

The controversy erupted again after Cambodia, during last year's Unesco conference in New Zealand, lodged a motion to nominate Preah Vihear as a new World Heritage site. Until now, the nomination has been deadlocked. However, a decision is expected from the World Heritage Committee within the next month.

Tharapong Srisuchat, director of the Fine Arts Department's Office of Archaeology, said the Thai side is trying, through diplomatic procedures, to push for mutual collaboration in nominating Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site because the World Court's ruling covers only the sanctuary, not the mountain.

According to him, each World Heritage site must consist of its nucleus, core zone and buffer zone, which should be circular, but Preah Vihear in Cambodia's proposal is in the shape of a fan with the core zone at its lowest end.

The temple's surroundings located in Thai territory, including the site of ancient communities at the foot of the Phnom Dong Rek mountain range, stone carvings on the Pha Mor I-Daeng cliff, stone-cutting sources and the Sa Trao reservoir, are also important and should go together with the sanctuary in the nomination.

He pointed out that Cambodia's attempts to register only the sanctuary could damage the historical value of Preah Vihear and spoil management plans.

However, Thai authorities and scholars are still hoping for a happy ending.

Srisakra suggested Thailand to negotiate with Cambodia for the declaring of the disputed area as a no man's land and the sharing of benefits if it becomes a World Heritage site.

"Thailand must be ready to discuss the matter, and have enough evidence to show that Preah Vihear cannot be an outstanding World Heritage site without its surroundings," he said.

1833 to 1846Siam and Vietnam were engaged in a 14-year war known as the Annam-Siam War, resulting in Siam reasserting sovereignty over Cambodia. In the early Bangkok Period, Cambodia had been under Thai control. During the reigns of King Rama III and IV, Siamese kings crowned Cambodian kings.

1861France ruled over Saigon and South Vietnam, and became interested in Laos and Cambodia.
December 7, 1863A treaty was signed between Siam and Cambodia, verifying Cambodia's status as a dependent state of Siam.

France invited Siam to attend the coronation of Prince Narodom.

1867Siam and France signed an agreement that all of Cambodia, except for Seam Reap, Battambong and Srisophon, was under French protection.

1893France seized the east bank of the Mekong River and forced Siam to sign a pact granting possession.

1907Siam and France signed another treaty under which Siam had to yield the right of possession over Seam Reap, Battambong and Srisophon to France in exchange for the re-acquisition of Dan Sai, Trat and all islands ranging from Laem Ling to Kood Island.

1929Prince Damrong visited a number of historical sites in Si Sa Ket. At Prasat Phra Viharn, he was welcomed by the French Governor of Kampongthom and some French officials in uniform. A French flag was raised in the compound. This incident was later claimed as evidence in World Court.

1939Luang Vichitr Vadakarn, the director-general of the Fine Arts Department, inspected the map of the area and discovered that a stream, instead of the watershed line, was used as the boundary. The government, headed by Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsonggram, tried to reach agreement with the French government in Indochina. The Thai government made an announcement and openly put the area under its protection on October 11, 1940.

1940The Fine Arts Department registered Prasat Phra Viharn as a national historical monument. The announcement was made once again in the Royal Gazette on December 22, 1959.

1941Thailand was allied with Japan in World War Two under the Tokyo Pact, and regained all lands lost to France during the reign of King Rama V. After the defeat of Japan, Thailand had to return these to France.

1949France raised the issue of the Phra Viharn Mountain, protesting Thailand's occupation of the site. After this, Thai-Cambodian relations deteriorated steadily.

1958Cambodia made several claims that the Phra Viharn Mountain belonged to it. In August, Bangkok declared a state of emergency in six provinces along the Cambodian border.

December 1, 1958Cambodia terminated diplomatic ties with Thailand.

October 6, 1959The Cambodian government took the case to the World Court.

June 15, 1962The World Court handed down a ruling that Preah Vihear was under Cambodian sovereignty.

July 15, 1962Thailand evacuated everything from Phra Viharn Mountain, including a Thai flag placed on the cliff.

1970-1975Cambodia re-established diplomatic ties with Thailand and opened Preah Vihear as tourist attraction.

1975-1991The civil war in Cambodia became a barrier to visits to Preah Vihear.

1992Cambodia reopened Preah Vihear as a tourist spot after civil war.

2007Cambodia, during the Unesco conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, filed a motion to nominate Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

Tranquil temple at centre of a storm

The temple stands atop mountains on the Thai-Cambodian border

Thursday, 22 May 2008
By Philippa Fogarty
BBC News, Bangkok

Stone steps and paths lead visitors through a series of ancient entranceways to the carved sanctuary high in the Dangrek mountain range.

Look one way and a Thai flag flies on a distant rocky outcrop. Turn the other way and the cliffs fall sharply down to the blue-green Cambodian jungle below.

At the top, the only sound is of cicadas and dragonflies. Lower down, in a market with a frontier feel to it, vendors sell gems and rare animal parts.

Things were good these days, one vendor said. The temple was open and visitors were coming. "The war is over," he smiled.

But the temple has not always been so accessible, or so peaceful.

Bullet holes scar one stone wall, while to the side of another stands a rusting artillery gun. Further down, both Cambodian and Thai guards maintain a low-key presence.

These are reminders that bitter battles have dominated Preah Vihear's recent history - and that one of them is still being fought today.

Court ruling

Preah Vihear was built mainly in the 11th and 12th centuries when the Khmer empire was at its height, its construction ordered by the kings that commissioned the temples of Angkor.

According to Sanskrit inscriptions, it was called Sri Sikharisvara, meaning Glorious Lord of the Mountain - a dedication to the Hindu god Shiva.

It sits on a mountain-top promontory, facing north towards Thailand. The main access comes from the Thai side, because of the sheer cliffs behind it.

Cambodian ownership of the temple was first formally established in boundary settlements between its colonial ruler, France, and Siam, as Thailand was then known, a century ago.

A joint commission in 1904 set the border between the two countries atop the Dangrek mountain range - but its subsequent map, in 1907, put Preah Vihear in Cambodia.

In 1954, shortly after Cambodia achieved independence, Thai forces occupied the temple. In response, Cambodia took its case to the international courts.

Thai authorities argued that as the border was supposed to follow the watershed line of the mountains, the temple was theirs. They had not challenged the map, they said, because their access to the site gave them de facto control over it.

But the court ruled against Thailand and in 1962, the Thai troops withdrew.

More trouble was in store for Preah Vihear as conflict engulfed Cambodia.

With its hill-top location, it was the last place to fall to the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Four years later, when a Vietnamese invasion swept the Maoist regime from power, it was one of the strongholds to which the Khmer Rouge retreated.

Years of fighting followed. Government forces managed to reopen the temple briefly in 1992, but Khmer Rouge guerrillas soon seized it back. Scores of fighters holed up in reinforced bunkers and held the complex for six more years.

But the Khmer Rouge was on its last legs, its leaders dead or defected.

In December 1998 the commander of the last group of fighters met negotiators at the temple to agree a historic surrender - one that ended three long decades of civil war.

Unesco row

Preah Vihear could finally be reopened. Landmines were cleared and paths made safe.

Visitors began to return, market traders set up stalls and there was talk of much-needed restoration work.

But the sovereignty row lingered on. In late 2001, Thai troops blocked access for a more than a year in a row over polluted water at the site.

Since then, it has stayed open, but the issue remains extremely sensitive - as Cambodia's application to have Preah Vihear listed as the country's second Unesco World Heritage site has shown.

"Becoming a Unesco World Heritage Site would bring international recognition to the Preah Vihear temple, especially the recognition of its universal value," says Ty Yao, president of Cambodia's National Authority for Preah Vihear.

The added prestige would bring technical assistance from Unesco and other donors, he says, while the listing would formalise Cambodia's obligations in terms of managing and maintaining the site.

It could also be a boon to the tourism industry, Cambodia's second biggest foreign currency earner, particularly given work to improve access from inside Cambodia.

But there is a problem. Although the international courts settled the row over the temple itself, the surrounding land remains the subject of overlapping territorial claims.

Thailand says it would not object if Cambodia applied to list the temple area only. But it says Cambodia has, in its submission to Unesco, included disputed territory within the listed zone.

It wants both countries to jointly manage the disputed areas until the border is agreed - and last month, sent a formal protest to Cambodia accusing it of deploying troops and mine clearers in a mutually-claimed area.

Senior officials from the two countries are due to meet at Unesco headquarters in Paris today in a bid to iron out the dispute.

"We would like to reach a win-win agreement," The Bangkok Post quoted Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama as saying ahead of the meeting. "We will try to be more flexible."

Preah Vihear is not about to fall down - it has already survived a great deal.

It is a staggeringly beautiful reminder of the area's turbulent past. Perhaps soon it will be known only for this beauty, rather than for the battles fought over it for so many decades.

Cambodia: Khemara Keila Fall To Build

Khemara Keila FC failed to get the better of Build Bright United when they found themselves done in by two goals in the second half of the Cambodian Premier League which was played at the National Training Centre.

Build Bright, who had won their previous match 3-1 over Moha Garuda, were in control for much of the exchange but just could not get the last touch for the lead in the first half.

But Khemara’s concession of a penalty in the 62nd minute which was quickly converted by Saidu Zila Sani turned the game against them as Sem Bunny added the second goal in the 79th minute for the three points for Build Bright.

In the meantime, Kiriving Sok Sen Chey FC scored their first win in the league when they beat Intry Kraham Post FC 4-1.

Mam Sophal’s early lead in the sixth minute for Kirivong was quickly erased by Nuon Sam Bol in the 29th minute.

But O.J. Chukwuma retaliated with a 41st minute strike for Kirivong to be 2-1 in front at the break before further goals from O. Amarachi Jothan (76th minute) and In VichHika (85th minute) for Kiriving to pick up their first full points.
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The Preynokor News number 21

Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Youth Quarterly Vol. 4

Cambodia Still Frets about Drug Trafficking


Cambodia is still saddled with danger of drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle and increase of domestic drug users, officials told an anti-drug meeting here on Wednesday.

"We still suffer from drug trafficking and using. Drug cases have increased and caused serious concern with us," said Lou Ramin, secretary general of the Cambodian National Anti-drug Authority, at the 2008 national meeting for monitoring drug problems.

Drugs have been imported from the Golden Triangle into Cambodia through its northern region like Stung Treng province, the Phnom Penh International Airport and even Laos since 2003, rather than through Thailand before, he said.

In 2007, criminals even made their efforts to establish drug- producing sites in Cambodia, he said, adding that two such cases were cracked down respectively in Kampong Speu province and the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

However, it was fortunate for the kingdom that marijuana plantation was completely weeded out recently, he said.

In another development, the government cracked down 152 drug cases and arrested 279 drug criminals in 2007 and during the first quarter of 2008, 42 drug cases were resolved and 67 drug criminals arrested, he said.

Meanwhile, addicts in Cambodia were found using drugs like amphetamine, heroin, ecstasy pills, marijuana and sniffing glue, he said.

The government has registered 5,797 drug users nationwide, including 377 women, and 1,719 of them have received treatment provided by the government, according to a report issued by the Interior Ministry.

Drug users went to youth exhibition centers of the Interior Ministry, where they were called "drug victims" to receive education and medical help, said Lou Ramin.

Each provincial or municipal authority has to establish youth exhibition center to treat them, he said.

Khieu Samphan Taken From Tribunal to Hospital

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
21 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.11MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.11MB) - Listen (MP3)

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan was taken to the hospital Wednesday, as another former minister of the regime was appealing her detention.

Khieu Samphan was received at Calmette Hospital for high blood pressure, Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said, as former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith attended a bail hearing.

It was Khieu Samphan’s first trip to the hospital, which has so far been visited by fellow former leaders Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary.

Ieng Thirith’s hearing, meanwhile, lasted nine hours, but judges delayed a verdict. Ieng Thirith’s lawyers argued she would not pose a threat to proceedings if she were released ahead of her atrocity crimes trial.

Court ‘Information Boards’ Open to Help Judiciary

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
21 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.32MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.32MB) - Listen (MP3)

Provincial and municipal courts hope to strengthen their transparency through a system of public information boards, which will seek to answer questions by citizens on court procedures.

The information boards, funded through $2 million in US aid and launched Wednesday, will list civil dispute filing fees, provide criteria for waiving those fees and will help citizens understand the rights of defendants and criminal court proceedings.

The boards will operate in every province and city, said US Embassy Charge d’Affairs Piper Campbell.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana called the boards “an important step toward court transparency.”

Adhoc rights investigator Ny Chakrya said installing such boards without strengthening the rest of the judicial system would produce limited results in reform.

Strengthen Next Assembly, Society Warns

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
21 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.10MB) - Download (Real)
Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.10MB) - Listen (Real)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the National Assembly.]

The limited power of the National Assembly should be changed after the election, so that lawmakers can truly represent those who elect them, members of civil society say.

After Cambodians go to the polls in July, the rules must be changed so that the National Assembly can act on accusations of corruption and the abuse of power within the government, fulfilling a watchdog role it has been hard-pressed to implement, they say.

“It is needed that we change the system after the election,” opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said. “To make sure that parliamentarians really represent citizens. If we can question the government, the scandals that we hear of will be reduced quickly.”

Son Chhay also encouraged National Assembly representatives to solve the problems of their constituents in the provinces—before they are forced to march to Phnom Penh in search of help. Chiem Yeap, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said lawmakers in the next elected session should strengthen their role with more participation and discussions of the law, while Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphan suggested a greater strengthening of human resources after the election.

The National Assembly would be stronger were it allowed to question members of the other branches of government, said Im Francois, who monitors politics for the Center for Social Development. Parliamentarians should also be given more time at the microphone to debate and improve a democratic atmosphere, he said.

Role of Assembly Hobbled, Lawmakers Say

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

Khmer audio aired May 20 (2.05MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 20 (2.05MB) - Listen (MP3)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the National Assembly.]

A crowd of 20 people have gathered in Kandal province, looking for the resolution to a land dispute, the alleged sale of 6 hectares of land by local authorities.

“We’ve never seen a parliamentarian come,” says one. “We don’t know them. We are waiting for their intervention.”

The concerns of the villagers underscore an important part of the democratic process: what National Assembly members do once they are elected. With less than three months to the general elections, it’s a question worth asking.

Parliamentarians admitted in interviews they have been unsuccessful in land disputes, and more.

“There are many factors because of which we cannot reach a good result,” said Monh Sophan, a Funcinpec lawmaker for Kampong Cham province. But, he said, the National Assembly has responded to some needs in terms of adopting laws.

This session of the National Assembly began in July 2004, 11 months after the general elections, due to political crisis. More than 140 laws and agreements have been passed since then.

“It is historical work by the National Assembly,” said Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, who represents Prey Veng province.

Not everyone agrees.

Son Chhay, a National Assemblyman from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said many of the laws that were passed were done to benefit the ruling party, a charge Cheam Yiep denies.

The National Assembly has 123 seats: the Sam Rainsy Party has 24, Funcinpec has 26 and the CPP has 73. The lawmakers have three key roles: proposing and discussing laws, oversight of laws, and the representation of constituents.

“The management of the National Assembly does not respect the constitution and democracy,” Son Chhay said, citing influence of the ruling party and patronage by CPP honorary president Heng Samrin, who heads the Assembly.

Im Francois, a political program officer at the Center for Social Development, noted the same problem. Another issue, he said, is that the National Assembly has no power to get the Executive Branch to answer to them.

“Government representatives do not respond to requests of parliamentarians,” he said. “But in a democracy, government representatives come each week to answer questions of lawmakers.”

Pursat Drug Oil To Be Destroyed

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
21 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.04MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 21 (1.04MB) - Listen (MP3)

National drug authorities plan to destroy three tons of sassafras oil, which can be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamines, in Pursat province next month, officials said Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry collected the oil, which can be harnessed from Cambodia’s forests, in Battambang, Pursat and Kampot provinces, Gen. Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, told reporters.

The destruction of the oil comes as officials worry Cambodia may be transforming into a production, rather than transshipment, country in the drug trade. Police raided a large methamphetamine lab last year, arresting 18 people and seizing three tons of production chemicals.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said he admires the work of authorities who seized the oil this year and the chemicals last year, but he cautioned that Cambodia remains a country of drugs and trafficking.

Sacravatoons : " A Chair-Vendor "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Mine Clearing Rate Will Decline in 2008

Posted on 21 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“A Senior Official of the Cambodian Mine Action Center [CMAC] said that in 2008 the mine clearing rate will decline because this year mine clearing officials are required to learn additional skills.

“CMAC general director Mr. Khem Sophoan said, ‘During this time, the mine clearing rate of landmines in 2008 will decline, because now some of our mine clearing staff have been withdrawn to learn more skills. Nowadays, there are 205 mine clearing staff of the CMAC who are being trained, and after they have finished their training course, we will send 205 more staff members until we have 600 of our staff trained according to the goal set.’

“Mr. Khem Sophoan continued that the training takes three months.

“In 2007, CMAC cleared 27 million square meters of landmines. In 2008, the landmine clearance will decline, because CMAC staff are busy with training.

According to the CMAC report, in the period of four months in 2008, the CMAC cleared 9,184,303 square meters of landmines and 1,115,580 square meters of fields with unexploded ordnance. The CMAC has also put up 1,690,454 mine danger signs, reduced landmine danger zone size by 24,432 hectares, and found a new areas of 18,583 hectares with landmines, 9,981 anti-personnel mines, 189 anti-tank mines, 36,295 unexploded ordnances, 49 hand-made mines, and 3,111 kilogram of bullets.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1646, 21.5.2008

After 33 years, Cambodians recall anniversary of murdered bishop for the first time

Rome, May 21, 2008 (CNA).- Thirty three years after his murder by the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, Catholics in Cambodia have commemorated the anniversary of the death of Bishop Paul Tep-im Soth for the first time.

According to UCA News, Bishop Sotha was killed at the beginning of Pol Pot’s reign of terror (1975-1979), during which more than a million people were exterminated in forced labor camps. He died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Kbeal Spean, where today a school stands and a monument that tells his story.

Nearly 300 people participated in a special Mass, including 56 year-old Hnem Yard, who tried to help Bishop Sotha escape. "I offered to take him across the Thai border another way, but he refused because it was illegal. He decided to go on National Road No. 5 to Poipet, where he was killed by a soldier for no reason," Yard said.

Bishop Sotha was ordained a priest in 1959, serving at St. Mary's Parish in Phnom Penh. He was appointed Apostolic Prefect of Battambang when the Vatican established the prefecture on Sept. 26, 1968.

Church records say Cambodia had 65,000 Catholics in 1970, but only 1,000 or so Cambodian Catholics were alive when Vietnamese troops forced the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979. Foreign missionaries were deported, and no Cambodian priests or nuns in the country survived.

Bail decision suspended in Khmer Rouge female leader case

Top News Law
May 21st, 2008
by Saurav Shukla

Phnom Penh - The court hearing a bail appeal against a former female Khmer Rouge leader adjourned to a date to be set for its decision, a court official said Wednesday.

Court media liaison officer Reach Sambath said the hearing involving former Democratic Kampuchea Social Affairs minister Ieng Thirith, would give a verdict at a date yet to be set.

The day-long hearing heard three prosecution lawyers for victims argue that Thirith, 76, should not be released so close to national elections scheduled for July because it could cause public disorder.

The defence argued that Thirith had a mental illness which was being made worse while she was jailed awaiting charges of human rights abuses.

Thirith's sister, Khieu Ponnary, was married to the movement's leader Pol Pot but the marriage reportedly broke down over Ponnary's mental health problems. Ponnary died of natural causes in 2003.

Former Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot died at home in 1998.

Five former leaders face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes at the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal to prosecute leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, under which up to 2-million Cambodians died.

Court spokesman Reach Sambath said the decision whether to grant bail had been suspended until a date yet to be set. (dpa)

Ex-Khmer Rouge minister in court

Ieng Thirith was the most powerful woman in the Khmer Rouge

BBC News
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Khmer Rouge's former social welfare minister has made her first appearance at Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court.

Ieng Thirith, 76, is seeking bail on charges of crimes against humanity relating to the regime's brutal four-year rule in the late 1970s.

Three of the five former Khmer Rouge leaders held by the court have already had their requests for bail denied.

One of them, 76-year-old Khieu Samphan, was taken to hospital on Wednesday morning with high blood pressure.

A spokesman for the tribunal, Reach Sambath, said that his condition not urgent "but necessitated attention".

The former head of state's efforts to write a book had led to stress, he said.


Ieng Thirith was one of the Khmer Rouge's founding members and its most powerful woman.

Her husband, Ieng Sary, was foreign minister and her sister was married to the movement's leader, Pol Pot.

Prosecutors say that as social welfare minister, she knew that tens of thousands of people were dying from starvation and disease on brutal collective farms - but did nothing to stop the disaster.

Ieng Thirith denies any wrongdoing. In court her lawyer argued that she required regular treatment for both mental and physical conditions.

A ruling on bail is expected next month. The trials themselves are expected to begin later in the year.

The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During this period an estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation or overwork as leaders tried to create a classless agrarian society.

Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle classes were tortured and executed.