Monday, 26 May 2008
The Cambodian government said it will resume rice exports after its two-month ban came to an end Monday
PHNOM PENH, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said here on Monday that the country would resume rice export from Tuesday.
"The ban on rice export for two months is over," Hun Sen said while addressing an inauguration ceremony at the National Institute of Education.
However, Cambodia can only export about 1.6 million tons of rice totally this year because the government has to guarantee food security for the country too, Hun Sen said.
From now on, rice export of over 100 tons has to be registered at the Ministry of Commerce while rice export lower than this has to be registered to custom officials at international border gates, he said.
"We have to know the data of rice export to protect food security for the country," he added.
In March, the Cambodian government imposed a two-month ban on rice export and released its stockpile to the market to curb spiraling rice prices.
This year Cambodia harvested 6.7 million tons of rice, according to official statistics.
Editor: Bi Mingxin
Socheata Poeuv tells family's journey out of Cambodian killing fields in PBS documentary 'New Year Baby'
By CHRIS VOGNAR
The Dallas Morning News
Longtime Carrollton resident Socheata Poeuv was born 28 years ago in a refugee camp on Cambodian New Year, a day that is supposed to bring luck. As it turned out, her entire immediate family was blessed with fortune. They survived.
Now she has told her story in the documentary New Year Baby, airing Tuesday on KERA (Channel 13) as part of the Independent Lens series.
New Year Baby is a prime example of filmmaking as self-discovery. It started Christmas of 2002, when Ms. Poeuv's parents called a family meeting in their Carrollton home and dropped a bombshell: Ms. Poeuv's two sisters were in fact her cousins, and her brother was her half brother. Her parents had adopted the children of family members murdered by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, which killed one-quarter of the country's population between 1975 and 1979. But Socheata, her parents and those she still considers her siblings lived to create a new life in Texas.
This knowledge only made Socheata want to learn more. So she persuaded her parents and her half brother to return to Cambodia for the documentary. They confronted old ghosts, loved ones and hard memories. When it was over, the filmmaker found herself more dedicated to her family than ever.
"It certainly deepened my respect and my love for my family and for my parents for what they went through," she says by phone. "It's given me another perspective on who I am, having known their story. Because of that I've found a sense of responsibility for the community, to do something that serves them."
That something is Khmer Legacies, described by Ms. Poeuv as "an effort to document the Cambodian genocide through personal videotaped testimonies."
"The idea is that the younger generations interview their parents about their life stories and their stories of survival," she says. "The interviews will be part of an archive that can be used as an educational tool, whether it's through museum exhibits or school curriculums or other films and documentaries." Khmer Legacies is a nonprofit organization based at Yale University's Genocide Studies Program.
"Because of the sacrifices my parents made, to have the kind of life where I just serve myself doesn't seem like the best way to honor what they have done," she says.
The film features some difficult moments for the parents, including visits to the labor camps where they once toiled and a confrontation with a former Khmer Rouge cadre. Ms. Poeuv wasn't sure if they would like the film when it was finished. "I had this whole scheme worked out," she says. "If my parents hated the film I would try to make it up to them by taking them on a cruise. That was always Plan B."
No need. After New Year Baby showed at the 2007 AFI-Dallas International Film Festival, her parents received a standing ovation. "The audience kind of created a receiving line with people coming up to tell them how great they were," Ms. Poeuv says. "It was that experience of having the audience affirm their life story that really transformed their relationship to their past." New Year Baby
PHNOM PENH (Thomson Financial) - Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is planning to build a 'modern city' in neighbouring Cambodia, replete with a financial district and port, an official said Monday.
The businessman, who owns English football club Manchester City, told Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen of his plans for Koh Kong province, near the Thai border, during a meeting on Friday in the capital Phnom Penh.
'He did not say how much money will be invested, he just told Prime Minister Hun Sen about his plan,' Hun Sen's spokesman, Eang Sophalleth, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.
Thaksin, joined by other Thai investors, told Hun Sen that the planned city would include a financial centre, hospital, schools and housing.
A port to be used for fixing broken ships would also be included, he said.
Eang Sophalleth said Hun Sen welcomed the plan, asking Thaksin to work on his project with the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
Thaksin was toppled in a military coup in September 2006 and went into self-imposed exile in Britain.
The former Thai premier returned to Bangkok in late February after his allies returned to power in elections late last year.
BY CHRIS GRAY
SIEM REAP, Cambodia -- Let's be honest: It was the specter of tigers, temples and tom yam soup that led my husband and me to honeymoon in Southeast Asia. We wanted an adventure to remember, on a continent where neither of us had been.
But as I researched our trip, I realized that we should spend at least a little time giving back to people who are still struggling for the basics after decades of war and poverty.
We found a way to have it all in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the ancient temple complex Angkor Wat -- and Ponheary Ly, a tour guide who considers it her mission to help educate as many Cambodian children as possible.
I found Ly, a Siem Reap native and survivor of dictator Pol Pot's labor camps, through the Asia message board on Fodors.com. Ly, 44, is a veteran guide who has arranged private tours of Angkor Wat and other Siem Reap attractions in both English and French -- languages she learned in secret during the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia -- since 2000.
A former English teacher, Ly has also worked for seven years to enroll children in Cambodian schools. While public school in the country is ostensibly free for the first three years, many rural children do not have the $12 necessary for shoes, school supplies or uniforms, she said.
''As a teacher, I knew about the difficulties of the kids and families who couldn't send the kids to schools,'' she said. ``Also, I found that the kids are smart, but they don't have any occasion to show how smart they are. To build the country, we have to build the education for all people, especially the kids.''
It's a message that Ly's clients -- mostly Americans who prefer independent travel with native guides to packaged tours -- could support. In addition to touring the temples, more and more visitors asked Ly whether they could visit the schools and donate money for bicycles, supplies and uniforms.
Lori Carlson, formerly of Austin, Texas, was one such convert. When she visited here in 2005, Carlson was struck by Ly's dedication. On her return to the States, she founded the Ponheary Ly Foundation (www.theplf.org), a registered nonprofit that channels money directly to the schools.
By last December, Carlson, 48, had raised $90,000 for five schools -- and quit her job to move here to work full time with Ly. She formed a board of directors for the PLF, which distributed school supplies to 1,955 children last fall.
''I believe the travelers who go to visit the temples at Angkor Wat understand they bear at least some of the responsibility to gently nudge these children toward school rather than reinforce the idea that it's good to stand on the corner and beg dollars from tourists,'' she said.
With such strong advocates, Don and I were excited to meet Ly and do our part. We arrived here to find a city undergoing massive change. The number of tourists visiting Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, has exploded in recent years, spurring an increase in hotels, shops, restaurants and other businesses.
While the influx of dollars has been good for many Cambodians (merchants prefer U.S. dollars to the Cambodian rial), it's disconcerting to see barefoot bicyclists ride past $800-a-night hotels.
Young children hawk maps, books and trinkets near the temple grounds; tuk-tuk drivers fight over $1 fares.
That's not to say that Don and I eschew luxury (it was our honeymoon, after all). We turned down a $20 room at Ly's simple guesthouse, primarily because it didn't have a pool, which we considered essential to deal with the area's crushing humidity. At $95, our poolside room at Bopha Angkor was spacious yet not ostentatious, and the package included daily breakfast, a traditional Khmer dinner and a massage.
Just a few hours after we landed, we went to Angkor Wat with Ly's brother Dara as our guide. There are more than 300 temples in the complex, but Dara steered us to the ones that would provide the most interesting backdrops for my husband, the photographer.
As we sweated in the 90-degree heat, I asked Dara about his family's experience under the Khmer Rouge. He told us that his father, a teacher in Siem Reap, was among the first wave of educated people to be killed under Pol Pot's regime. As a result, Dara and his siblings were sent with their mother to the countryside to work.
It's a sobering tale, and we heard more from Ly over the next few days. Ly, who was 13 when the Khmer Rouge came to power, and her siblings survived, mainly because villagers would leave food for them at night.
''We were given this much rice,'' Ly told us, holding up the tip of her finger. Dara would ''crawl out on all fours, like a cat'' to get extra food; sometimes, actual cats or monkeys would have gotten to the rations instead, she said.
Still, the extra nourishment kept the family alive -- and the Khmer Rouge noticed. Officials asked her mother why her children were still alive when so many other youngsters had died, Ly said. When her mother refused to answer, she was horribly beaten.
Such atrocities were common in the Pol Pot years. Yet most Cambodians don't like to talk about the time under the Khmer Rouge, Carlson said. It's rare to find it discussed in schools, primarily due to the country's Buddhist beliefs, which hold that people -- even war criminals -- are responsible for their own karma.
Ly is different, Carlson said. She understands that it's important to talk about the past so it doesn't happen again. We were talking in Ly's van, on our way to deliver lunch to the 476 children at Knar school, out in the Cambodian countryside. On the road, we saw men on bikes toting crates filled with piglets and open huts with children playing in the dirt.
Cambodian families expect all children, no matter how young, to contribute economically, Ly told us. Which is why even the kids who are lucky enough to go to school attend for a half day; at home, they are needed for chores, farm work or other money-making ventures.
In addition to a donation made before our trip, we gave Ly $40 for lunch, which buys two noodle packets for each child. That's essential, Carlson said, because if the child received only one packet, he or she would take it home to the family instead of eating it. The school tries to feed the children at least once a day to make sure they have enough energy to learn, Carlson said.
We arrived at Knar School, which consists of several one-story classrooms. As Don carried the boxes of noodle packets into the rooms, the children's eyes grew wide. They straightened in their seats and thanked us by pressing their hands together and bowing.
Carlson and Ly showed us around the school and talked about the improvements that have been made. Incentives such as bicycles, uniforms and extra noodle packets show the families that there are tangible benefits to their children attending school, Carlson said.
''I would like to have my country be the same as the other countries,'' Ly said, with Cambodian children able ``to have good education to work well to get out from the poor life.''
The children seemed to love school, showing off their uniforms and books. An impromptu game of soccer ensued, with Don in the thick of it. It was an emotional sight for me, which sparked later discussion: Although we had been together several years, Don and I had never talked about the greater good we could accomplish as a couple.
It's a conversation that all newlyweds should have, wherever their honeymoon takes them. For us, road-testing our fledgling marriage in an underdeveloped country not only gave us the adventures we sought, but also set the course for a more permanent path. And that's definitely a trip worth taking.
PHNOM PENH, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will provide additional 250,000 U.S. dollars to help Myanmar after the cyclone disaster, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced here on Monday.
"Including the 50,000 U.S. dollars that Cambodia has already provided, we will provide up to 300,000 U.S. dollars to Myanmar," Hun Sen said while addressing an inauguration ceremony at the National Institute of Education.
"The amount of money is from our honest heart to help Myanmar but it is still little because we are also poor," he said.
He added that Myanmar used to help Cambodia with 500 tons of rice seeds in 2000 when Cambodia suffered from floods.
Editor: Bi Mingxin
Published: May 26, 2008
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The Cambodian government said it will resume rice exports after its two-month ban came to an end Monday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said there was no rice shortage in Cambodia and that the ban, imposed March 26 to ensure a stable supply of the country's staple food, had helped stabilize domestic prices.
Beginning Tuesday, rice exports can be resumed for some 1 million tons of milled rice Cambodia has in excess of its needs for domestic consumption, he said.
Cambodia produced a surplus of nearly 1.6 million tons of milled rice from last year's farming season, he said. But he added that exports must not exceed the total amount of surplus until the new harvesting season begins in December.
Hun Sen said that more than 500,000 tons had already been exported before he imposed the two-month ban.
The export ban primarily stopped rice from flowing to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. Since the end of the harvest early this year, Cambodian farmers living in provinces bordering the two countries have been selling rice in large quantities across the borders, attracted by high prices.
In Phnom Penh markets over the weekend, a kilo of low-grade rice was selling for between 1,800 riel (US$0.45; €.29) and 2,000 riel (US$0.50; €.32), little changed from before when the ban was imposed. Earlier this year, rice of this quality cost about 1,300 riel (US$0.30; €0.19) a kilo.
Cambodia is a minor rice exporter, shipping about 450,000 tons of milled rice last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate. Neighboring Thailand exported 8.5 million tons, it said.
Hun Sen's government has also advocated creation of a cartel of rice-exporting countries with Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. But the idea appeared stalled after Thailand dropped out.
Phnom Penh Cambodia became the first rice exporter on Monday to lift a ban on foreign shipments imposed by some Asian countries in the last six months to protect domestic supplies in the face of soaring international prices.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said the southeast Asian nation, a small exporter compared to neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam, clearly had enough rice for its own needs and was also short of its own long-term storage space.
"The ban on the rice exports is being lifted from now on," he told students at a picture-framing centre in the capital, Phnom Penh. "We still have over 1 million tonnes of rice that needs to be exported. We don't have any shortage."
Rice production in Cambodia is finally getting back on track after decades of civil war and upheaval, including the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" of the 1970s.
It produced a record 6.4 million tonnes in its 2007-08 crop year, giving it a 2.6 million tonne surplus for export, although Hun Sen imposed a two-month ban on foreign sales on March 27 to safeguard domestic supply.
At the time, he blamed surging overseas demand for a near trebling of domestic rice prices from $0.35 a kg in January to $0.92 kg in March.
The ban, which followed similar moves by India at the end of last year and Vietnam, was seen as another indicator of rapidly tightening supplies in Asia, pushing prices to record highs and raising concerns about the continent's ability to feed itself.
A week ago, state media in communist-run Vietnam, which vies with India for the mantle of the world's second-largest exporter after Thailand, said the government might lift its export ban in early July.
Hun Sen said Cambodia's next harvest was looking like a good one. "It seems we already have plenty of rice to come. We need more warehouses to store our rice," he said.
The Bangkok Post
Monday May 26, 2008
KOH KONG, CAMBODIA : Tourism between Thailand and Cambodia is expected to flourish now that road transport has been improved, said Sasithara Pichaichannrong, the permanent secretary of Tourism and Sports Ministry.
Work was completed last month on the route known as the Southern Coastal Sub-corridor, linking Thailand's Eastern Seaboard provinces and Trat with Koh Kong and Sihanoukville in Cambodia, and onward to Nam Can in Vietnam.
According to Ms Sasithara, foreign visitor numbers are also expected to increase because Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to offer a single visa for travel to both countries.
However, tourism flows between Thailand and Cambodia could grow more if immigration procedures were relaxed by the Thai government, said Bun Beav, director of the tourism unit at Koh Kong province.
Cambodian visitors to Thailand totalled 108,776 last year but only 35,796 Thais visited Cambodia.
He proposed that the Thai government allow Cambodian visitors who hold border passes to travel in Trat province. Currently, Cambodian visitors must seek a visa in Phnom Penh if they want to travel to Trat. According to Mr Bun Beav, the improved road increased the number of foreign daily visitors to Koh Kong by 50% in April from an average of 400 a day in March. Koh Kong has six hotels and 12 guesthouses with a total of 780 rooms.
Sakol Sunate of the Trat Tourist Association said Thailand would gain the most benefit from the route because visitors from Phnom Penh liked to travel to Trat and other eastern provinces in Thailand.
He agreed that the Thai government should consider issuing visas on arrival for Cambodian visitors at the border of Bann Haad Lek in Trat. The two countries also should allow tourist buses to cross the border, he said.
Currently, caravan tours are allowed to drive in the cities but general tourists are required to change buses at the border.
Mr Sakol said Trat had potential to become the gateway for foreign visitors from third countries to Cambodia. However, the Thai government should consider attracting longer-stays in Thailand, rather than just transit at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Tourism packages to link eastern Thailand and Cambodia thus needed to be developed, he added.
But by the end of the month, they will no longer get free breakfast from the U.N. World Food Program. About 450,000 Cambodian students will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.
Five local suppliers have defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they can get a higher price elsewhere, program officials say. Prices of rice have tripled on the global market since December.
Faced with a shortfall of 14,330 tons of rice and more pressing needs, the World Food Program stopped the free breakfasts in March. The schools' remaining stocks are expect to run out in the coming days. That will leave students without what was often the best meal they got all day.
"I feel hopeless," said Boeurn Srey Leak, a 15-year-old in sixth grade.
Rich countries have pledged $469 million for food aid to address what is expected to be a $755 million deficit, due to food prices that have risen 76% since December. The U.S., already the largest provider of food aid, is expected to contribute almost a third of that money. If Congress approves, the U.S. will contribute $770 million more to be available after Oct. 1.
But the money will not arrive in time to save some food programs from being cut or ended. The World Food Program feeds almost 89 million people worldwide, including 58.8 million children.
"I don't think there is single program that doesn't have some kind of concerns because they have to scale down," said Susana Rico, a World Food Program official. "The majority of countries will suffer some kind of cutbacks in rations or programs in the next three to five months."
The numbers are grim. In Burundi, Kenya and Zambia, hundreds of thousands of people face cuts in food rations after June. In Iraq, 500,000 recipients will likely lose food aid. In Yemen, it's 320,000 households, including children and the sick.
Private aid agencies based in the U.S. also said food price hikes are hurting their projects.
Mercy Corps will likely distribute 20% less food to Iraqi refugees in Syria and serve 12% fewer Colombian families fleeing violence in the countryside. World Vision may stop helping 1.5 million people — nearly a quarter of the number it serves — because of rising food prices and pledged donations not yet delivered. At least a third are children.
In Cambodia, the free breakfasts that started in 2000 have made children visibly healthier, said Nheng Vorn, the principal of Choumpou Proek School, about 43 miles west of the capital Phnom Penh.
"They are more focused on lessons, and their reading ability has improved subsequently," he noted.
But principals at many such rural schools don't have the money to replace the breakfast program. Girls in particular will be at risk of dropping out because families need them at home to work in the field or help raise siblings, said World Food Program Cambodia director Thomas Keusters. Children in Cambodia often start school late and repeat grades a lot, he said.
"It's not uncommon to have a girl in grade five or six who is already 15 or 16 years old," Keusters said. "We are paying them to come to school. I'm very concerned about them because I have no rice."
About 6 miles away from Choumpou Proek school, the students of Sangkum Seksa school devour hearty portions of rice, peas and sardines in the morning. The school has only 10 rooms, housed in two faded yellow concrete buildings. Some students go barefoot.
"I can only feel pity for them," said the principal, Tan Sak. "I have no solution for them after the current stock is used up."
Before the free breakfasts, many students left school before noon so they could eat lunch at home.
"I had difficulty sitting in the class because my stomach was growling," Rim Channa, a 13-year-old fifth-grader.
Now, once again, all they will have for breakfast is the tart fruit from the nearby tamarind trees.
By Marina Emmanuel
CAMBODIA will continue to be the focus of Leader Universal Holding Bhd's power generation business as the Penang-based company looks to clinch downstream power-related jobs there.
Managing director and chief executive officer Sean C.H. H'ng said the company is eyeing power distribution and transmission activities in Cambodia where it has been present for more than a decade.
"We are also still pursuing our plan to list our power generation business but the timing is now uncertain, given the fact that the regional equity market is not performing well currently," he told reporters after the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Penang yesterday.
Last year, LUH had announced plans to float its power generation business and was targetting to do so by the middle of this year. It was mulling a listing in either Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai.
Apart from power generation, Leader makes and sells cables and wires for the power and telecommunication industries. It also develops properties.
The company, via 60 per cent-owned Cambodian Utilities Pte Ltd, is the first independent power producer (IPP) in Cambodia, where it began operations in 1996.
Last year, Leader won a bid to develop its second power plant, a 200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant which will be located in the port town of Sihanoukville.
Leader and its Cambodian partner, MKCSS Holdings, has signed a 30- year power purchase agreement.
"With the signing of the power purchase agreement and implementation agreement with the Cambodian authorities, construction works are expected to commence in early 2009, with commercial production targeted to begin in 2012," he added.
(c) 2008 New Straits Times. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.
Source: New Straits Times
PHNOM PENH, May 26 (Xinhua) -- A senior Cambodian official has told investors developing islands to speed up their projects, warning that they must not divide their land concessions into plots for resale, local media reported Monday.
"Investors should not construct houses or villas for sale. They have to establish hotels or resorts to attract tourists to Cambodia," Keat Chhon, Cambodian Minister of Economics and Finance, was quoted by the Mekong Times as saying.
"We will not allow companies to violate their contracts," he warned.
The Cambodian government has granted permission for private firms to construct resorts worth billions of dollars on 10 islands off the coast of Sihanoukville and Kampot.
However, only a few sites are currently under construction, with rumors that companies are violating their contracts to build luxury residences for sale.
Sihanoukville governor Say Hak has previously warned that investors will lose their deposit and have their islands confiscated if development is too slow.
Editor: Gao Ying
May 26, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah will Monday begin a six-day state visit to Laos and Cambodia.
The Majesties' visit to Laos, at the invitation of president Choummaly Sayasone, was historic as it was the first by a Malaysian Head of State in the history of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The King and Queen, accompanied by Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek as the minister-in-attendance and senior government officials, will be in Laos for three days beginning today.
On Wednesday, the royal couple will depart for a four-day visit to Cambodia at the invitation of the Cambodian King, Norodom Sihamoni.
The Foreign Ministry said the visit by their Majesties to the two Asean member states symbolised the warm and close ties of friendship and understanding between Malaysia and the two Indo-Chinese nations.
"The visits are expected to further enhance existing bilateral relations and mutual understanding between Malaysia and the two countries.
In Vientiane, Tuanku Mizan and Tuanku Nur Zahirah will grant an audience to Choummaly, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and National Assembly chairman Thongsing Thammavong.
Choummaly will also host a state banquet in honour of Tuanku Mizan and Tuanku Nur Zahirah at a leading hotel.
The Majesties will also meet Malaysians in Laos.Besides visiting places of historical significance in Vientiane, the King and Queen will also view the ancient royal city of Luang Prabang, also known as the "Jewel of Indo-China".
It is one of the historical sites in the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites.
In Phnom Penh, Tuanku Mizan will have an audience with King Norodom Sihamoni and grant an audience to National Assembly president Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Their Majesties will also be hosted to a state banquet at the palace of the Cambodian King. Tuanku Mizan and Tuanku Nur Zahirah will also visit the historical town of Siem Reap in northern Cambodia where the ancient Angkor Wat Temple is located.
Sun, 25 May 2008
Author : DPA
Bangkok - Thailand and Cambodia have resolved a border dispute over the Hindu-style Preah Vihear temple, paving the way for the ancient site to become a UN World Heritage Site candidate, media reports said Sunday. In a meeting brokered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris Thursday, Cambodia agreed to a Thai proposal that only the temple compound, and not territory surrounding it, would be included in the World Heritage Site proposal, Thai Foreign Minister Noppodon Pattama told the Bangkok Post.
Thailand had previously blocked Cambodia's bid to get the temple listed as a world heritage site on the grounds that the proposal included land around the temple compound that was still subject to a border dispute between the two countries.
Preah Vihear, or Phra Viharn as it is called in Thai, has been a contentious issue between the two neighbouring countries for decades.
A dispute over ownership of the ancient temple, which straddles the Thai-Cambodian border, was taken to the International Court of Justice, which ruled on June 15, 1962, that the site belonged to Cambodia.
Although the temple, perched on a cliff overlooking Cambodia, is now under the management of the Cambodian government, the easiest access to the site for tourists is via Thailand.
Cambodia must now draw up a new map for its Preah Vihear World Heritage Site proposal and send it to UNESCO by June 6. The new sites will be announced by UNESCO in July.
May 26, 2008
The Thai press placed areas on the eastern border under an unwanted spotlight amid two high-profile cases involving a territorial dispute with Cambodia and the vandalising of an ancient Hindu temple in Buri Ram province. Thai Rath newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama expressing optimism that things are moving in the right direction with regard to the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the latter's proposal that Unesco add the ancient Hindu Preah Vihear Temple to its World Heritage list.
Noppadon told reporters that Phnom Penh was prepared to propose to Unesco that only the main Preah Vihear Temple's grounds - not the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area surrounding it - be considered for recognition as a Unesco World Heritage site.
The former consiglieri for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, although falling short of declaring victory, put a positive spin on negotiations that basically resulted in Cambodia rejecting Thailand's proposal that the areas in dispute fall under a "joint administrative regime".
But, as it is, things are back to what they were before the latest dispute erupted.
The area in dispute remains tense, with security officials from both sides glaring at their counterparts, and with the Thai side hosting the only accessible route to the Hindu temple that the International Court ruled in 1962 was in Cambodian territory after years of disputes over its ownership.
Separately, local television stations and daily newspapers reported that residents were taking matters into their own hands by employing black magic in their search for the culprits behind the recent act of vandalism at Phanom Rung, the ruins of a ninth-century Hindu stone temple and a monument to the ancient Khmer civilisation.
Shamans were called in to carry out ceremonies that saw bundles of incense and candles accompanying baskets of fresh fruits and half a dozen boiled pig heads to stave off the potential wrath of Shiva, the Hindu deity for whom the temple was built over 1,000 years ago.
On domestic matters, Thai dailies reported Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej as saying he is determined to push through a referendum in July on whether to amend the Constitution, which voters approved by a referendum during the previous administration.
The newspapers said Samak was in no mood to debate the issue when the Parliament convenes in less than two months. He decided that he would instead use his executive powers as prime minister to push the referendum through for a vote in July.
May 25, 2008
SAUK RAPIDS — Children should not be having sex — period
But many children around the world are being exploited for sex, according to Nicole Severson, who started a nonprofit organization to bring attention to the atrocity.
“We want to learn more about these children who have been sold into the sex trade — children as young as 3, some say — because we’ve been horrified by the research,” said Severson, president and founder of Saving Hope International.
The recent St. Cloud State University graduate will fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, today with a Web designer and a videographer to capture what they see and can learn about the sex trade there.
As of last year, the United Nations estimates 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh were younger than 18.
“Our goal is to go into Cambodia not with the mentality of ‘We know what you need’ but to assess what they need, to talk to other nonprofits that are already there and just kind of figure out what we can do and what our role will be,” she said.
Saving Hope International became recognized as a tax-exempt charitable organization in November. Its goal is focus attention on child sex workers and victims “to carry their story through imagery to the world.”
Sarah Stroschein, a St. Cloud State junior majoring in graphic design, and Laura Senko, a 28-year-old documentarian from Toronto, will accompany Severson on the monthlong trip.
“The research I’ve done is that the average age of a young girl being exploited is somewhere between 11 and 14 years old,” Severson said.
The 28-year-old from St. Cloud graduated with a major in nonprofit management and minor in photojournalism. She will be putting both knowledge areas to use in Cambodia, a country the group has not visited. The trip to Cambodia is the volunteer organization’s first major project.
“I lived in Mozambique, Africa, for three months in 1999, where there was a girl — one of many — whose home had been invaded by rebels and she was raped continuously over a period of time,” Severson said.
The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked globally. The highest concentration — 225,000 people — is estimated to come from Southeast Asia.
“I’ve gone overseas and seen the poverty and deprivation, so my heart has always been to bring hope to these children, which is why I called my organization Saving Hope International,” Severson said.
Cambodia Property: Untapped Potential Revealed as Tourism Grows
The Cambodian government has announced plans to re-launch the national airline, which was scrapped with massive losses on 2000. This time however the airline is being launched with the backing of massive Indonesian conglomerate Rajawali, and will be able to tap into the massively growing number of tourists to Cambodia.
Visitor numbers to Cambodia grew to 2 million in 2006, 60% of whom flew into the country. And with Cambodia being hailed as the new Thailand, because of its virgin white sandy beaches, and undiscovered tropical locations prompting a further 20% rise in tourism for 2007, it is hoped the new airline will be an added boost to the clearly flourishing Cambodia tourism market.
Liam Bailey head of international research for David Stanley Redfern Ltd gave his view on the possible effect the airline will have on the Cambodia property market:"New air routes are always good news for property markets, but the new Cambodia airline, and the likely increase in flights it will generate will be of special significance in Cambodia. The massively successful property markets of Malaysia, Thailand, and Thai islands like Koh Samui, have largely been fuelled by tourism, well in Thailand almost completely fuelled by tourism.
"But in Cambodia, property market growth has been largely limited to Phnom Penh, and fuelled by growth in commercial, business, financial and services sectors. The recent massive increases in visitor numbers, which will be helped by the new airline, will spread property market growth to other areas, and new Cambodian property hotspots will be emerging very soon - perfect timing given that the Phnom Penh property market is showing signs of levelling out."
Even though Cambodia property has been among the hottest for the past two years, it seems the surface has barely been scratched on the country's property investment profitability.
Find out more about Cambodia property at www.davidstanleyredfern.com/investment-property/cambodia.
May 25, 2008
Phnom Penh - They are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and a great talking point for guests - Australians may soon be throwing a shrimp on a traditional Cambodian clay barbeque.
That's the hope of Tom Drury of Thomas Imports in Sydney's Mosman.
Drury is currently advertising the handmade clay barbeques on internet trading site alibaba.com, but says he will approach large chains that show interest in going carbon-friendly such as Bunnings.
The barbeques are the brainchild of French environmental aid agency Geres, manufactured by mostly small and previously poor family businesses in the central province of Kampong Chhnang.
'I'm interested in Geres because they are involved with carbon reduction projects in Cambodia. I want to give a few dollars from every barbeque I sell to Geres in the hope of becoming a carbon neutral company,' Drury said by email.
Kimberley Buss, Australian carbon offset analyst with Geres, says the great Aussie barbie going green from Cambodia is exciting.
'I think a certain percentage, especially men, will always want their big, shiny barbeques,' she said in an interview. 'But they make a great talking point - every barbeque has a story.'
By redesigning the traditional Cambodian model so the grill sits closer to the fire, adjusting the number and size of the ventilation holes and keeping heat in with a metal jacket, Buss said the barbeques used 25-per-cent less fuel than conventional barbeques.
'It's a moral thing with a lot of buyers,' Buss said. 'And it helps people. There are two sisters making them at the moment who may not have had work before but now every time I visit they have something more - a new motorbike, new staff. It's great.'