Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Cambodian children eat rice in their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province

Cambodian children eat rice in their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers, (28 miles) west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian cook prepares meals for children during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian school boy eats rice during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian children wait outside their classroom in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian boys carry a bucket of rice to their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian orphans melt ex-pat

DONNA PAGET/Waikato Times
BACK HOME: Donelle McLeod spoke to parishioners at Hamilton's Wesley Methodist Church, discussing her involvement with the Rainbow Bridge orphanage in Cambodia.

Waikato Times
Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Donelle McLeod tries not to get too attached to the children at the Rainbow Bridge Happy Tree Aids orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, but says it is difficult not to.

Ms McLeod, formerly of Cambridge and with family still in Waikato, is based in the Cambodian capital working for ANZ, and is a regular visitor to Rainbow Bridge, an orphanage specifically for children with HIV/Aids.

She was back in Hamilton for a short stay last week, and spoke to members of Hamilton's Wesley Methodist Church about her connection to the orphanage and how donations from parishioners had helped the facility.

"You can't get too connected to them (the children) or you just want to take them all home. They certainly get connected to you," said Ms McLeod, who plays with the children for a few hours each week.

"But you have fun you make water bombs, kick a ball around, read books, that sort of stuff."
The orphanage is home to more than 60 children.

Ms McLeod regularly donates clothing, toys and linen to the orphanage, and insists any friends coming to Phnom Penh to stay with her do the same as payment for their stay with her.

Food, shelter and clothing are covered by government grants, but all other goods and services are paid for with donations.

Donations from Hamilton people have enabled orphanage staff to vaccinate the children, who range in age from babies to 19-year-olds.

While she had been a little sceptical of what percentage of charity donations actually reached the communities they're intended for, Ms McLeod said having direct contact with Rainbow Bridge staff reassured her donations were definitely being used to benefit the children. Ms McLeod added her own money to make up the donations to US dollar value, a popular currency in Cambodia.

Ms McLeod was introduced to the orphanage through a work colleague and said her involvement over the past 12 months "has become bigger than Ben Hur".

She is contracted to work in Cambodia until next May.

Her role involves bringing Cambodian banks up to international standards.

A sweet recipe to help the poor in Cambodia

The Electric News
By Liew Hanqing
May 27, 2008

These are just some of the roles a group of young entrepreneurs had to fill in the course of setting up a new cookie boutique in Cambodia.

The team, consisting of past and current Singapore Management University (SMU) students, started the business with the goal of providing employment for the less fortunate in Cambodia.

Team member Kiri Ong, 27, a former SMU student, said the group decided to start the business after a trip to Cambodia in 2006, taking donations and supplies to a village near Phnom Penh.

'We were moved by the people there - they are so poor, and there is so much we can do to help,' he said.

'We didn't want to just take them donations and have it end there. We wondered how we could sustain the effort to help them.'

After several brainstorming sessions, the team drafted a business proposal to present to potential investors.

'We decided to sell cookies because there didn't seem to be any businesses selling food which tourists could take home,' he said.


They managed to secure about $130,000 in funding from independent investors to help start their business, which they named Camory Food Industries, marrying the words 'Cambodia' and 'Memory'.

About half of the amount went towards renting and renovating the shop in Phnom Penh's tourist hub, by the Sisowath river, while the rest has been used for working capital.

Mr Ong's teammate, Miss Veth Sokly, 21, an SMU undergraduate from Cambodia, said setting up the business was no walk in the park.

She said: 'There were electrical problems - the voltages of appliances didn't match. We didn't have any technical skills, but we had to learn them.'

She recalled an incident where there was a sewerage leak in the shop, which covered the floor with dirty water.

'To make things worse, the plumber we hired wasn't very skilled - he kept hammering the wrong places,' she said.


Another issue the team faced was coming up with the right recipes for the cookies.

Mr Ong said it took nearly two months before the team managed to produce cookies of the right texture.

And while setting up the shop's kitchen, Mr Ong recalled nearly being crushed while carrying a 400kg oven up a narrow spiral staircase.

Recalled Miss Veth: 'I was so scared - I just kept crying, and didn't know what to do.'
Added another team member, Mr Tha Sothun, 22, also an SMU undergraduate from Cambodia:

'There were all these challenges we didn't plan for.

'There were legal procedures in Cambodia which we had to find out more about. These procedures also differ between officers.'

These hiccups delayed the shop's opening by over a month, but they eventually opened their doors for business on 25 Jul last year.

They now have 10 Cambodian employees, hired as bakers and counter staff.

The team says they hope to break even by the end of the year, and are looking to expand the business by getting Singapore distributors to sell their cookies.


The investors can hope to make some profits eventually, while the Cambodians can hope to remain employed.

Said Mr Ong: 'SMU has always been very supportive of social enterprise, and we are grateful for their help.'

The university's social entrepreneurship club, SMU Initiatives for Social Enterprise (SMU-ISE), encourages students to pursue projects which help the less privileged achieve financial independence.

Some of its other projects include Project HOME, in collaboration with the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics.

Migrant workers were trained in basic computer skills and then given business card data entry assignments.

Assoc Prof Low Aik Meng, SMU's dean of students, said the university encourages its students to develop their social entrepreneurial skills.

'We are glad that these students drew on their inspiration after their humanitarian outreach and embarked on this social enterprise.'

Cambodia upbeat about tourism development by Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai

Travel Blackboard
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

With Sihanoukville as the official location of the 21st Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Tourism Working Group (TWG) and Mekong Tourism Development Project (MTDP) meeting, being held on May 20-21 at the Sokha Beach Resort, Cambodia is upbeat about its amazing tourism development going on. Hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, the event was being held in conjunction with the 5th Working Group on Tourism Development Co-operation in the Emerald Triangle, comprising the borders of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand.

On the agenda were topics, such as the several international border checkpoints, human resources development, tourism promotion, infrastructure and tourism facility development, and community participation. Don Ross, Managing Director of Travel Trade Report (TTR) Weekly based in Bangkok, was one of the few journalists specialising on Thailand and the Mekong Region to attend the meeting. He was the first to file a summary of the event on the web-site www.ttrweekly.com this week - in order to give a firsthand report about the outcome.

According to Don Ross, Mekong tourism policy makers say they will consider an offer from Laos to host the rotating Mekong Tourism Co-ordination Office (MTCO) in 2009. The position of the MTCO Executive Director was filled in sometime ago with the person of Stephen Yong, a former PATA executive, who dropped out after some two years in the job. The vacant position is still waiting for a soon to be appointed new director within the upcoming months. Currently, Thailand hosts MTCO in Bangkok, through the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which provides free office space and utilities.

Furthermore, it was discussed that in the context of an already adopted Mekong Tourism Marketing Plan a new web-site called www.exploremekong.org will be established leading up to “Visit Mekong Year 2010.” But nevertheless, most of the government representatives from the six GMS countries - Cambodia, China (Yunnan and Guangxi), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – were cautious to approve a new campaign logo, which was introduced by Peter Semone, Senior Advisor to MTCO in Bangkok. Following the report of Don Ross, “TWG members have three weeks to return a verdict on the branding, which will be used on promotions and the web-site leading up to Visit Mekong Year 2010.”

Interesting to note is that Cambodia is looking for a branding campaign logo by itself. “Explore Cambodia” is just one of the many suggestions made during a recent Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) meeting in Siem Reap. On a recent one-month visit to the country, I came across so many development schemes, which will guarantee the growth of tourism of up to 20% on a yearly count. Surprisingly, Cambodia had just announced its achievement to receive some 2 million tourists in 2007 alone.

Exciting tourism developments evolved in Siem Reap, where a new National Museum has successfully opened its doors to visitors and light and sound shows at Angkor Wat are sought after. There is a steadily improving infrastructure of high-class hotels, such as Angkor Palace Resort & Spa, Borei Angkor, Le Meridien Angkor or Sofitel Royal Angkor Golf & Spa Resort. For nightlife, there is a crowded Pub Street and the Passage running parallel about a half of a block over – with galleries, shops, bars, and small metropolitan restaurants. To clean the nearby Siem Reap River is a meritorious project to do. Streets branching out in all directions, reaching Tonle Sap in the south, Phnom Penh further east, Kulen Mountain in the north, and Poipet at the Thai border in the west. The road to Thailand is still under construction and should be completed in 2009.

Phnom Penh is becoming a magnet for developers and foreign investors. In the wake of the booming property and real estate market with land prices going sky high, there was the First Home & Lifestyle Expo at the Phnom Penh Cultural Centre on April 4-6, 2008. Some 27 major retail and wholesale companies participated, displaying a wide range of quality products and services. The Expo will be an annual event not to be missed. Another exhibition is now permanently displayed at the centrally located Wat Phnom Culture and Fine Arts Museum that shows Khmer civilisation from the 1st century to the present and advertises Kampuchea as the “Golden Land.” For the grim past of the Khmer Rouge era during 1975-1979, just head out to the Choeng Ek Memorial on a newly constructed access road.

In the capital city, recommended accommodations are the Phnom Penh Hotel, where Thailand-born Pheerasit Kanthiwang is Acting General Manager, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Bougainvillier Hotel on the lively riverfront or the luxurious Hotel Cambodiana, overlooking the mighty Mekong River’s Four Arms. New dining outlets are the Italian Restaurant Le Duo, Restaurant Khmer Malis and the elegant French Van’s Restaurant. Night bars in the city abound. To reach the outlying areas of Battambang in the west and Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri in the east, there are functioning taxi services and buses.

The best-developed highway connects Phnom Penh with the port town of Sihanoukville in the south. On the way, you should explore ancient Angkor Borei/Phnom Da at Takeo and the river landscape of Kampot. Nearby Bokor Mountain will be developed as an attractive hill station, while it is already possible to reach the elusive Mekong Delta in Vietnam by a newly opened border crossing to Ha Tien, if you have a Vietnamese visa. Actually, this newly developed “Cambodian Riviera” connects Kampot via Kep to Vietnam and via Koh Kong to Thailand.

Sihanoukville is the newest rising star and jewel in the crown of Cambodian tourism. Blessed with five sand-lined beaches and an emerging international airport, the town will become a fierce competitor of Pattaya City at Thailand’s East Coast. Also, it will become the starting point for excursions into Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and further to Ho Chi Minh City. A Vietnamese consulate is already established in Sihanoukville.Both, the luxurious Sokha Beach Resort and the nostalgic Independence Hotel are open for international and domestic guests. Ideal for holding conferences, both hotels have romantic restaurants near by the sea. Hotel veteran Axel Goerlach, German GM of the Sokha Beach Resort, told me on my last visit in April that two years work at this prime property in Sihanoukville had likely become his last exciting challenge.

Overseeing a small kingdom of green palms along a private beachfront, his view rings true for any visitor with an optimistic world-view.Anyway, the near economic future of Cambodia with some 13 million people, mostly farmers, will be reviewed today (on May 23), as there will be the annual “Royal Ploughing Ceremony” to be held near the Royal Palace in downtown Phnom Penh. Independent of the outcome, the future of tourism in Cambodia will be bright and rosy.

The House Price Boom Heads East

By VOA Khmer, Washington
Video Editor: Manilene Ek
26 May 2008

Yann Ker reports in Khmer - Download (WM)
Yann Ker reports in Khmer - Watch (WM)

Until war and the Communist revolution ravaged Cambodia, Phnom Penh, the country's capital, was known as the 'Pearl of the East'. The city's landscape was an exotic blend of French Art-Deco colonial architecture and more traditional Khmer and Chinese styles. But during more than 30 years of upheaval, many historic buildings were destroyed or damaged

In recent years, Cambodia's capital has undergone a building-boom that has changed the face of the city. New developments are springing up everywhere, ranging from multi-story apartment blocks to brand new satellite cities.

Today a threat to Phnom Penh's remaining historic buildings comes from local property developers who tear them down to make way for new developments. Tour guide Yam Sokly knows Phnom Penh's historic architecture - saying rich property developers often tear down old buildings to make way for new developments.

Yam Sokly: "Many of these old buildings have eight or ten poor families leaving here and if you want to renovate this building it is very difficult to pay off them to leave. And the people who can afford is rich property developers who may have the idea to pull down the building and to make a new property development."

Despite the loss of many historic buildings, much evidence of Phnom Penh's 'golden era' remains. And a growing demand for housing has seen renewed interest in renovating these old buildings and converting them into high-quality homes.

Most are bought by foreign investors who rent them out to earn additional income. Australian Rory Hunter is the CEO of Brocon Group, a Phnom Penh based property developer that specialises in renovating French colonial-era properties - he says there's a considerable amount of money to be made in the Cambodian market.

Rory Hunter: "All the investors that we're seeing in the French colonial-era apartments and buildings are very much foreign investors. And the reason that they're looking at Cambodia is the yields are great - on all of our properties we guarantee a yield of 9% for the first 2 years. And because the economy is growing so rapidly, the capital growth upside is very large as well."

Developers like Brocon try to maintain the essence of the original buildings while fully refitting them in a comfortable, more modern style. Melita Hunter, Brocon's chief interior designer, says there's an obligation to restore the historic buildings.

Melita Hunger: "We feel we have an obligation to find the beauty in these old apartments and to restore them - not tear them down, so we're very very very conscience of everything."

Attention to every detail adds a level of comfort that is hard to find elsewhere in Phnom Penh. Christophe Forsinetti, who's from France, recently bought this renovated colonial-era property in the heart of Phnom Penh.

Christopher Forsinetti: "So we bought this apartment only 5 months ago for $100,000. We really believe that is was a good asset because the market is increasing and we're so happy to live in such a standard that we could not probably afford in Europe."

He says the move has given him a higher standard of living than he could have found in Europe.

With a booming economy, the demand for high quality renovated old properties in Phnom Penh continues to grow. It seems the future of many of the city's beautiful old building now looks secure.

Democracy Group Calls on Cambodians to Vote

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

Khmer audio aired May 26 (1.06MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 26 (1.06MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Cambodian-American for Human Rights and Democracy Association is urging all capable Cambodians to vote in July’s general election.

“Khmer people should change their leader through election,” said association president Yap Kem Tung. “Don’t stay at home; your ballot is very valuable to change the country.”

The Democracy Association was established to monitor the judicial, political, rights and democracy sectors of Cambodia, he said, speaking on the third anniversary of the group.

The association “is working hard to raise funds from Cambodia people who live in America in order to help the Students’ Movement for Democracy for opening an education session on human rights, democracy and law to the Cambodian youths,” said Mong Heng, an adviser to the association.

The association gave about $4,500 to the student’s group, he said.

The Democracy Association has 11 members, based in Virginia, and has urged senators in Washington to help in the release of defrocked monk Tim Sakhorn, who was detained by Vietnamese authorities in mid-2007 following his reported ejection from Cambodia.

Ratanakkiri Villagers Seek End to Land Violence

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

Khmer audio aired May 23 (738KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 23 (738KB) - Listen (MP3)

About 280 ethnic minorities of Ratanakkiri have met with rights workers at Adhoc to find ways to end violence over land in the burgeoning area province.

The villagers from various communities across nine districts in the remote northeast of the country joined a rally recently; they had planned to demonstrate by road, but authorities did not allow it.

The villagers blame senior government and military officials for theft of their land.

“Since 2006, there is no resolution for us,” said a villager named Sal Lin, in a meeting that was surrounded by police. “We need to get it back.”

Ratanakkiri Adhoc coordinator Pen Bunnar said local authorities worked to prevent villagers from joining the rally, a claim the authorities rejected.

Adhoc estimates that thousands of hectares have been taken from villagers through illegal or dishonest means by the rich and powerful.

HIV Victims Face Difficulties

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

Khmer audio aired May 24 (1.09MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 24 (1.09MB) - Listen (MP3)

Many Cambodians with HIV or AIDS continue to face challenges finding work or careers, thanks to lingering discrimination of the disease, officials said as they marked Global AIDS Week.

Many are supported by rice from the World Food Program, but they say they want their own businesses and to live independently.

Heng Sambath, coordinator of the Cambodian Alliance for Combating HIV/AIDS, said that the most important for those with the disease is getting a daily income.

Cambodia has around 67,000 people living with HIV or AIDS, with 28,000 taking anti-retroviral medication, which can help them take on daily occupations.

Council Denies Party Appeal for Approval

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

Khmer audio aired May 26 (825KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 26 (825KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Constitutional Council denied Monday an appeal by the Sangkum Khmer Niyum, or United Khmer People Party, to compete in July’s general election.

The National Election Committee rejected the party’s application in May, saying it could not fill 25 candidates for 23 provinces.

Council spokesman Pen Thol declined to comment further on the decision.

I cover on constitutional council has decided, in a hearing this morning, not to allow Sangkum Khmer Niyum party to join the election .

UKPP President Oeun Sarath said he regretted the decision, but he recognized his party had faults.

The council’s decision leaves 11 parties to contest the election.

US Honors Cambodian-Americans

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
26 May 2008

Khmer audio aired May 23 (0.99MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 23 (0.99MB) - Listen (MP3)

The US has been honoring its citizens of Asian ancestry with Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which ends this week.

Among these are Cambodians, who in the US number 240,000—about .08 percent of the population, according to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Notable Cambodians in the US include Chanrithy Uong, who was elected to the city council of Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1998; Dr. Haing Nor, who won an Academy Award for his performance in “The Killing Fields;” and Linn Yann, who won a county spelling bee after coming to the US without a word of English and who was featured in a television movie, “The Girl Who Spelled Freedom.”

Artiststs Bun Em, Peou Khatna, and Chum Ngek have earned the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.Whitney Ping, a 2004 Olympian table tennis player, and bodybuilder Krisna "Kris" Dim “have thrilled sports fans,” the embassy said. “Soben Huon was crowned Miss Utah USA in 2006 and went on to compete in the Miss USA pageant.”

Khieu Samphan Remains in Hospital

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

Khmer audio aired May 24 (777KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 24 (777KB) - Listen (MP3)

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan is still at Calmette Hospital, as doctors continue exams following his admission last week.

The former nominal head of the regime was moved to the hospital May 21, for high blood pressure, and doctors have not yet “allowed” him to return to his detention cell, Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said.

“There is no worry for his health,” Reach Sambath said.

But Khieu Samphan attorney Say Bory said his client’s “situation is worse than we expected.”

“He cannot sit, and he speaks with an unclear voice,” he said.

Khieu Samphan, 76, was arrested in November and faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More Korean Volunteers Have Arrived in Cambodia

Posted on 27 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 562

“Phnom Penh: Fourteen new Korean volunteers, among them seven women, were sent to work in Cambodia. Nine of the fourteen volunteers arrived Cambodia on 21 May 2008, and five more volunteers will arrive on 26 May 2008. They will actively function assisting in the fields of human resources development in different institutions of the Royal Government of Cambodia for a period of two years from 2008 to 2010.

“According to an announcement by the Korea International Cooperation Agency [KOICA] for the year 2008, the group of these fourteen volunteers is the first new group to be sent to Cambodia to fulfill duties in various fields – such as health, arts, Korean language, tourism, sports, electricity, and information technology. The institutions, which have asked for volunteers, are the Calmette Hospital and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Phnom Penh, primary schools in Kratie and Pursat, professional training centers in Kompong Cham and Siem Reap, the National University of Management in Battambang, the Kompong Chhnang Referral Hospital, and the National Institutes of Education of Kompong Cham and Siem Reap.

“The Korean Volunteer Program is a program of the Republic of Korea to send Korean volunteers for cooperation in other countries to share and exchange different experiences for social and economic development. Since the creation of the Korean Volunteer Program in Cambodia in 2003, the total number of Korean volunteers has been 144, and they have been sent to Cambodia to work in various fields, such as health education, rural development, and the development of information technology, arts, agriculture, and tourism. With their skills and their commitment, all the fourteen new volunteers, as well as other volunteers who are already actively working in Cambodia [click for an example from 2007], are playing very important roles in contributing in programs and in assistance from the Republic of Korea to develop the Cambodian economy and society through the exchange and the improvement of human resources and other assistance from the Republic of Korea. This will strengthens the relations between both countries.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4598, 25-26.5.2008

Saudis donate $500M for food crisis

(AP Photo/Heng Sinith) :: Cambodian children eat rice in their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the WorldFoodProgram, in Cambodian children serve rice in their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 29, 2008.

By Associated Press


Saudi Arabia made an unprecedented contribution of $500 million to the U.N. World Food Program to respond to rising prices, meaning the agency won't have to cut rations to the world's needy, the United Nations announced Friday.

The contribution the world's biggest oil producing nation was by far the largest response to the U.N. food agency's emergency appeal for $755 million to cover increased costs that threatened critical aid to millions of needy people.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ''warmly welcomes the offer of the landmark contribution,'' U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

''The secretary-general notes that this contribution of an unprecedented size and generosity comes not a moment too soon, given the needs of millions of people dependent on food rations,'' she said.

The Saudi contribution means the agency, which operates the world's largest humanitarian program, will now have the money it needs to carry on its activities without cutting the amount of food given to the needy, Okabe said.

Josette Sheeran, the agency's executive director, said donations actually topped the appeal target — reaching $960 million from 32 countries — which means WFP will have $205 million to use for other urgent needs.

''We turned to the world to help the hungry and the world has been generous,'' Sheeran said in a statement issued at the agency's Rome headquarters.

According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia produces about 9 million barrels of oil a day. Oil prices have now topped $130 a barrel.

The WFP describes higher food prices as its biggest challenge ever and estimates the rising prices are pushing 130 million people into hunger.

Ban warned last month that the rapidly escalating global food crisis has reached emergency proportions and threatens to wipe out seven years of progress in the fight against global poverty.

Ban has established a top-level task force to tackle the world food crisis.

More foreign aid delivered to China's earthquake zone


BEIJING, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Aid for China's quake-ravaged regions continued to pour in Sunday and Monday, with several more countries extending assistance.

Malian President Amadou Toumany Toure handed over a check for 50 million CFA Francs (about 120,000 U.S. dollars) to the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Guoqing on Sunday.

Though Mali is not a rich country, it should offer support and help to the Chinese people at this time of tragedy for China, said Toure.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia received separate donations from three overseas Chinese organizations Monday, bringing up the total earthquake-relief donations from Cambodia to 1.165 million U.S. dollars.

While accepting the donations, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfeng said that as a less-developed country long ravaged by conflicts, the offering of such a large sum of money by Cambodia shows a sincere emotional tie between the governments and peoples of China and Cambodia.

Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfube on Monday donated 1 million U.S. dollars on behalf of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to the Chinese disaster area, hoping the Chinese government and people can overcome the difficulty at an early date.

Another batch of tents donated by Pakistan were flown to Sichuan province on Monday morning. The Pakistani government has so far delivered ten tons of disaster relief material for the victims of the massive quake in China, and donated more than 20,000 tents.

The Swedish government also flew 600 family tents to China's Sichuan province on Sunday. It will deliver a further 380 tents and 17,000 blankets to those left homeless by the quake, a government communique said.

The government of Switzerland will send 1050 tents to China this week, which will help accommodate 6000 to 8000 earthquake victims. It will also provide six multi-function tents for temporary medical stations, schools or storage facilities.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

No breakfast for children because of aid cuts


KAMPONG SPEU, Cambodia (AP) — At dawn in a ramshackle elementary school in rural Cambodia, the children think of only one thing: their stomachs. They anxiously await the steaming buckets of free rice delivered to their desks.

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 more than 14,000 tons of rice, and with more pressing needs to meet, the World Food Program stopped the free breakfasts in March. The schools' remaining stocks are expected 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 percent 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.

"I don't think there is a single program that doesn't have some kind of concerns because they have to scale down," said Susana Rico, an official of the World Food Program which feeds almost 89 million people worldwide, including 58.8 million children. "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 percent less food to Iraqi refugees in Syria and serve 12 percent 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 40 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 fields or help raise siblings, said Thomas Keusters, the World Food Program's Cambodia director. 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 six 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.

Associated Press Environmental Writer Michael Casey contributed to this report from Bangkok, Thailand.

Cambodia: Sleeping beauty of a sanctuary

Ta Prohm, entangled in trees and vines, has an eerie aura. Photo / Jim Eagles

Tuesday May 27, 2008

By William Dalrymple

I know nowhere more secretive, more lost-in-the-forest or more mysteriously, darkly lovely than the Khmer temple complex of Ta Prohm, a few kilometres into the jungle from Angkor Wat.

Angkor is one of the great ruins of the world. Surrounded as it is by parkland and a lake, it feels magnificently grand - and by necessity, given its fame, it is attended by ticket offices and cabins selling postcards, guide books and fizzy drinks.

Ta Prohm, in contrast, is hidden deep in the jungle and is still wildly, magnificently, hopelessly overgrown - a Sleeping Beauty of a temple complex, tangled in a thick lattice of aerial roots and creepers.

I visited with my family and we stayed in the King of Cambodia's old guest house there, now the understatedly stylish Amansara Hotel.

So unusually gentle, peaceful and friendly were the Cambodians we met - the smiling schoolchildren and the beautiful village women going to market - that my children simply refused to believe the stories I tried to tell them of the old days of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields.

Only when we visited the Siem Reap crocodile farm did they really begin to understand the horrors that this country so recently underwent.

The Khmer Rouge had used the farm as an execution ground, throwing their bound prisoners to the crocs, and the old ones still retain their taste for human flesh. When my children crossed the bridge over the pens from which captives were once thrown, they were greeted by hopeful snapping jaws.

Ta Prohm was a world away from these dark associations. To get there we trekked through thick monsoon-green jungle for an hour and the children saw huge centipedes, squawking parrots, cicadas as loud as car alarms, hooting geckos and, best of all, a green poisonous snake hunting a lizard, one of the highlights of the trip for them.

It was late evening by the time we finally got there and the sun was setting. Suddenly, out of the trees, a mountain of masonry rose in successive ranges from the jungle - a great tumbling scree of plinths and capitals, octagonal pillars and lotus jambs.

Trees spiralled out of the barrel vaults of the shingled temple roofs like the flying buttresses of a Gothic cathedral; branches knotted over Sanskrit inscriptions, before curving around the bas relief of lions and elephants, gods sprites and tree spirits.

Cracked lintels covered in mosses and bright lichens were supported by the roots of 1000-year-old banyan trees, which wrapped their way over broken arcades, coiling in spirals like the tail of some slumbering guardian dragon.

Roots like fused spiders' webs gripped fallen finials and crumbling friezes of bare-breasted dancing girls in girdles and anklets, spear-holding warriors in war chariots and long-haired, cross-legged meditating sages.

As the shadows lengthened, we wandered through terraces and overgrown galleries, narrow corridors and dark staircases, courtyard after courtyard, the sculptures gradually losing their definition, crumbling into shadows of dusk.

Darkness fell and it was by the light of a torch that we saw the eeriest sight of all: the 12m-high face of the temple's 12th-century founder, Jayavarman VII, impressed into the ashlar of one of the temple spires.

His eyes were closed in meditation, expression passive but powerful, monk and ruler, enlightened incarnation and megalomaniac monarch.

The fireflies danced around us, the night birds screeched from the ruins and the frogs croaked. A long walk back lay ahead but we all knew we would never forget this place.


WHERE TO STAY House of Travel is offering four-day/three-night Cambodia packages from $2439 per person twin-share, including three nights in Siem Reap at the Amansara Hotel with breakfast, transfers and sightseeing.

Touring includes visits to the Roluos group - Bakong, Preah Ko and Lolei Temples, Terrace of Elephant, Leper King, the former Royal Palace, Baphuon, Preah Pithu, Ta Prohm and North and South Khleang Temples. Valid for travel until September 30, 2008. Contact House of Travel on 0800 838 747 or visit

Single donation for quake relief of China tops $301,000 in Cambodia

May 26, 2008

The China Hong Kong and Macao Expatriate and Business Association of Cambodia on Monday donated 301,000 U.S. dollars for China's quake relief works, making the largest single donation so far in the kingdom.

"With your contribution, Cambodia's donation campaign for China's quake relief efforts reaches its climax," said Zhang Jinfeng, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, while receiving the money in deputy of the Chinese government.

The Chinese compatriots' affection has trickled into a sea of love, she said.

"The nature is cruel, but the people are affectionate," she said, adding that a nation can usually rise and flourish over disasters.

Yum Sui Sang, chairman of the association, told the ambassador that all his members believe in the good leadership of the Chinese government which will take the country to overcome the disaster.

"The 1.3 billion Chinese people become united again due to the disaster. We are just invincible," he added.

Also Monday, the Association of Chinese in Cambodia, which is the largest Chinese Cambodian civilian organization, donated over 200,000 U.S. dollars at the embassy.

Until Monday, the embassy has received around 1.165 million U.S. dollars of donation from the Cambodian government, the Cambodian royal family, Chinese and Chinese Cambodian societies, as well as local Chinese, Chinese Cambodian and Khmer individuals.

Source: Xinhua

Two Cambodian vessels detained for poaching near Sakhalin - FSB

May 26, 2008

MOSCOW. May 26 (Interfax) - Russian border guards have detained twovessels sailing the flag of Cambodia, which was illegally poaching crabsin the Russian economic zone.

"Russian border guards detained two steamships Khobart and Dampir,which illegally caught sea food resources, in Russia's exclusiveeconomic zone near the eastern shore of Sakhalin on Saturday," thepublic affairs center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)says.

"Over 50 tons of crabs were found aboard Khobart, while over 70tons of crabs were found aboard Dampir in a check," the statement says.

Fishing equipment was found aboard the ships, while "documentsproving the authenticity of the catch arose doubts," the statement says.

The detained vessels were tugged to the port of Korsakov for aninvestigation

Fairmont, Controlled by Kingdom Holding, Sold 2 Hotels in Cambodia for SR131 Million

Monday, 26 May 2008
Saudi Arabia

Fairmont Raffles Hotels International in which Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, holds a 58.1% controlling interest, has sold the Raffles Grand D' Angkor & Le Royal, Cambodia for a sale value SR131 million.

The Raffles Grand D' Angkor is a 131 room hotel in Siem Reap and Le Royal is a 170 room hotel located in Phnom Penh. These two hotels were acquired by Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI), a company also owned 54% by KHC and chaired by HRH.

Mr. PJ Shoucair Executive Director for International Investments at KHC commented: "The sale of these hotels to Kingdom Hotel Investments, KHC's listed hotel vehicle, is in line with KHI's strategy of owning hotels in emerging markets, and realizing significant value over time."

Last year, Kingdom Holding announced the sale of Swissotel Sydney in Australia for a sale value SR281 million, re-financing of the Four Seasons George V hotel in Paris with net cash proceeds valued at SR285 million going to KHC, the re-financing of the Hotel des Bergues, Geneva in the amount of SR375 million and announced the sale of the Four Seasons Hotel, London for SR550 million.

This year KHC announced that it had completed the sale of the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel in Monaco with proceeds valued at SR150 million going to KHC. In 2006 Kingdom and Colony completed a $5.5 billion Acquisition of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts which was combined with the Raffles Hotels Group.

Cambodia to provide 300,000 dollars in aid to Myanmar

The Earth Times
Mon, 26 May 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia will provide a total of 300,000 dollars in aid to cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday. Speaking at an awards ceremony in the capital, Hun Sen said the amount was not adequate, because Cambodia itself was poor, but it was from the heart.

"We still remember how Myanmar helped us after the floods of 2000 by providing 500 tons of rice seeds," he said, speaking of Cambodia's worst floods in decades.

He said Cambodia had already provided 50,000 dollars.

That amount apparently included the proceeds of a collection at the capital's largest private university last week which reportedly raised 10,000 dollars.

Myanmar and Cambodia have retained warm diplomatic ties despite international criticism of the ruling Myanmar military junta's appalling human rights record.

Cambodian lobby group asks Thailand to return temple artifacts

The Earth Times
Mon, 26 May 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A lobby group comprised of Cambodian business people, archeologists and lawyers Monday called on the Thai government to return artifacts they alleged had been removed from the border temple of Preah Vihear decades earlier. The newly-formed Khmer Civilization Foundation comprises heavy hitting lobbyists including prominent human rights lawyer Sok Sam Oeun, businessman Moeung Son and leading archeologist Vong Sotheara.

"We ask the Thai government to return artifacts ... from the temple," chairman Moeung Son told a press conference in the capital.

"If the Royal Cambodian Government asks for these artifacts back and Cambodia can identify them, under international law, Thailand should give them back," Sok Sam Oeun said.

The call comes when Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was still overseas after UN-brokered talks with Thailand over the temple in Paris, which has proved a deeply sensitive topic between the neighbours.

Cambodia rejected an offer for Thailand to co-manage Preah Vihear and has asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to list it as a World Heritage site.
Thailand has disputed the border around the temple but seemed to have resigned itself to the World Heritage listing after the talks.

The temple, known as Prasat Phra Viharn by Thais, is sacred to both sides and was previously occupied by Thailand, but the International Court in The Hague ruled it to be Cambodian in 1962.

The Cambodian government has not yet raised the issue of the return of artifacts publicly.

Carrollton family focus of film

Carrollton Leader
By Senitra Horbrook/Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

After fleeing one of the cruelest political regimes ever documented, Socheata Poeuv’s parents focused on giving their kids a “normal American life.” That meant leaving Cambodia, escaping to Thailand and then moving the family to Carrollton.

It wasn’t until Christmas Day 2002 that Poeuv learned a secret her parents had been keeping for 25 years. Poeuv’s older sisters weren’t really her sisters at all, and her brother was only her half-brother, the child of her mother’s previous marriage.

“My mother claims she wanted to tell us 10 years earlier, but didn’t feel like we were ready, so she put it off and put it off,” Poeuv said. “I felt shocked. I felt a little bit betrayed that my family thought I couldn’t be trusted with this information.”

Those secrets as well stories from some of the millions of other Cambodians who escaped the deadly Khmer Rouge, are the focus of Poeuv’s award-winning documentary, “New Year Baby.” The documentary will have its television premiere on the PBS series “Independent Lens,” hosted by Terrence Howard, May 27 at 10 p.m.

“The documentary film really started as a glorified home video,” said Poeuv, a 1998 graduate of R.L. Turner High School. “There were some incredibly emotional and intimate moments, very compelling. I knew if we continued to pursue it, it was worth a larger film.”

Armed with a video camera and the knowledge that her nuclear family wasn’t completely nuclear, Poeuv traveled to Cambodia with her parents, retracing the family’s path and picking up the lost pieces of her history along the way. “There are more secrets that were revealed in the process … labor camps, the refugee camp where I was born. You really got a window into what happened to people in that time and see the emotions in the legacy still wrapped up in that trauma. The tagline is ‘What does it take to heal?’ That is the inquiry of the film.”

Poeuv’s parents weren’t thrilled with the idea of a documentary at first.

“That is the central conflict. I wanted to uncover history and they didn’t want to talk about it anymore,” she said. “Now since my family has seen the film, they’ve come to be very proud of the story.”

Aptly named “New Year Baby” because Poeuv was born on April 13, the Cambodian New Year, the documentary uses animation to illustrate the family memories and the country’s history. In less then four years, more than 1.7 million Cambodians—about one-fourth of the population—died from starvation, disease or execution. Poeuv hopes the film will open people’s eyes to a different kind of story they would probably never encounter in their life.

“Mainly I want them to be moved and entertained by the story,” she said.

After graduating from Turner, Poeuv attended SMU for one year, then transferred to Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and majored in English literature. She then moved to New York City to pursue a journalism career and worked at the “Today” show. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Yale University Genocide Studies Program.

Poeuv is also the CEO of Khmer Legacies, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a video archive about the Cambodian genocide. Khmer Legacies has a goal of videotaping thousands of testimonies of Cambodian survivors by having the children interview their parents.

“I wanted to be able to channel the interest in the film to a program that would have a lasting impact on the Cambodian community,” she said.