Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Orangewood grad shares story

Redlands Daily Facts
Staff Writer

REDLANDS - Everything changed for Mattel Liv in high school. The death of his uncle, a father figure and mentor, put Liv on a dark path, he said. Then his family moved back to Cambodia, leaving him to struggle alone through the remainder of his high school education.

He started cutting classes and missing school.

"We all have to make choices some choices may backfire on us, but we learn from our mistakes. We start to build ourselves back up," Liv said.

On Monday, along with 62 other students, Liv accepted his high school diploma from Orangewood High School, a continuation school.

"We have conquered the struggles that life put us through... and we became something that we would never have thought we'd become," Liv said.

Fellow student speaker Danny Mendoza also wandered down the wrong path during high school, until he noticed how his choices influenced his younger siblings. Like many at Orangewood, Mendoza made changes in his life out of love for his family, he said.

"Orangewood isn't a school where all the low-lifes and failures go," Mendoza said. "It's a school that gives opportunities that no other school could. A place where you can make up for your past and see into your future."

Assistant Principal Audrey Jordan delivered her last commencement speech, as she is retiring this year.

Jordan charged the class of 2008 to give make a difference in someone else's life, to give 100 percent, do the right thing the first time, be honest, and above all else, to believe in themselves.

"You've come to terms with what brought you to Orangewood and have made adjustments in your lives. You are now on the road to success," Jordan said. "You have what it takes to be a success in this world."

At Monday's commencement, $20,000 in scholarship money was awarded to the Orangewood graduating class.

"They deserve it," said counselor Brad Camp.

More than half the class earned a "little boost" to get them started on their higher education.
"Remember their faces, because this won't be the last time you see them," Mendoza said. "These are the future doctors, mechanics, teachers, lawyers (and) entrepreneurs When you see them later on in life, just let them know that you noticed that they did make something of themselves and that they have been successful, against all odds."

Students plan on becoming businessmen - like basketball star Sherif Taha - nurses, like Jessica Chimalpopcoa, Bernardin Le Dao, Breanna Sawyer and two-sport athlete Jordan Cohoe - and teachers, like Teresa Maddox. Maddox plans to return to Orangewood as a faculty member.

Graduates left the stage Monday with one final piece of encouragement to continue the learning process.

"Tom Bodett, an American author and voice actor once said, `The difference between school and life (is) in school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.' We, the class of '08, took one of those life tests and as you can tell, we passed."

Sacravatoons : The Temple of Preah Vihear and its Khmer Empire "

Click on picture to zoom in
Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sacravatoons :" Rainsy' Secret Weapon "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Healing war wounds

Cumberland Newspaper Group

Lana Lam
Wednesday 11 June, 2008

WHEN he was just 10 years old in Cambodia, Ben Nhem used his bare hands to dig up the shallow grave his mother was buried in just to see her face one last time.

It was 1977 and millions of Cambodians were suffering.

The Vietnam War had ended and Cambodia was under the iron-grip rule of the Khmer Rouge.

Mr Nhem had already lost his father, who had been captured and killed by the Khmer Rouge because he was a forestry official.

Before he was orphaned Mr Nhem had been thrown into jail for stealing rice but managed to escape.

Months later, his mother and sister were dead.

In 1979, at the end of the Pol Pot regime, Mr Nhem, then 12, and his younger brother walked barefoot towards Thailand for seven days, surviving on small crabs and fish and what little rice they had.

After more than 100km they arrived at the Thai border where they were picked up by international aid workers.

Four years later, Ben and his brother arrived in Australia as wards of the state.

After high school, Ben went to university to study accounting and has run his own practice for the past decade in Rooty Hill.

This week, Mr Nhem received an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his work with the Cambodian community in NSW and with the Cambodian International Network for Peace and Reconciliation.

As an original founder of the network, his key aim was to raise awareness of the human rights abuses that happened in Cambodia and to establish a process for reconciliation.

In addition to this, the network also raises funds to build water wells in rural Cambodia. Each well costs about $200 to build.

Nr Nhem said his work with other Cambodian refugees was challenging but helpful for personal reasons.

"When I was young I had nightmares. This work helps me with the healing process," he said.
When he found out his friends had nominated him for the honour he was surprised.

"I asked, 'What for?' I'm proud but I'm also reserved," he said.

On reconciliation, he drew comparisons between Cambodia's history and the plight of indigenous Australians.

"Someone must wake up and break the cycle," he said.

Re-cycle your old shoes......and help disabled Cambodians

Julie's Health Club
June 10, 2008

Flip-flops are popular in Cambodia's largely shoeless culture, but they're not the best footwear if you're trying to ride an indoor stationary bike.

So Cori Parks, an American spinning and fitness instructor who is helping train disabled volleyball players and other Cambodian athletes, is asking for donations of old stiff-soled cycling shoes.

She'll take any size, condition and even lonely singles; just don't send tennis shoes because she can get those at the local market. She also can't use shoes with cleats.

Half of the 11 stationary bikes she currently has were donated by Frog's Fitness in Southern California. Parks is looking for two or three pairs of most sizes to equip riders on an as-needed basis.

To donate shoes, get them to Nicki Anderson at Reality Fitness personal training studio, 39 1/2 W. Jefferson Ave., in Naperville by July 4.

The shoes will help land mine victims, the deaf youth development center and other local Cambodians who want to train with Parks who is helping the Cambodian National Volleyball Team (Disabled) in a program called Stand up Cambodia.

"It's an effort to emphasize sports for the disabled and to help the nation heal," Parks said, referring to Cambodia's brutal and tragic past. "When (Stand Up Cambodia) goes for funding, it is often denied because donors like to give to "health" projects, like vaccines, water sanitation and food distribution...which perplexes (Stand Up Cambodia organizers) because they can't figure out how sports isn't associated with health OR national reconciliation...especially since there are some older guys from different sides of the war on the same team."

In 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge took power and tried to rebuild the country's agriculture on an 11th Century model. Western medicine was eliminated, cities were evacuated and the entire population was sent on forced marches. It's estimated that between 1 and 3 million people were killed, while hundreds of thousands fled across the border.

Here's a Q and A with Parks, an awe-inspiring former Peace Corps volunteer from Encinitas, Calif., who has lived all over the world, but now resides in Cambodia with her husband and two children.

Q: How did you end up with a fitness career in the developing world?

A: I started out as an Interpreter for the Deaf (ASL) and had the wonderful fortune of being an AFS (American Field Service) student for my senior year in Australia. My host sister was deaf and my mum was a teacher for the deaf. This was the kindling of so many things for me: ASL interpreter, ESL (English as a Second Language) degree, Peace Corps, cross cultural living, deaf education, teaching and adult training.

When we lived in Kenya, I spent a lot of time killing time at the gym; my son was in pre-school and I wasn't working. I turned to fitness more as a coping strategy while my husband worked in Burundi, than for fitness. From there I got certified through the American Council on Exercise and spent time during each home-leave to the U.S. upping my credentials which now include YogaFit, WellCoaches Fitness Coach and Spinning ™

Through my years in Kenya, Madagascar and Egypt, I taught First Aid/cpr, group fitness, did personal training, trained trainers and channeled my energy toward what is now culminating in my dream life.

I have a small spinning and personal training studio so I can continue to be an instructor for the many expats also living outside their comfort zone who, like me, turn to fitness for both the benefits of being fit and coping with the stresses of living and working outside their culture but that also has an overt mission to offer training to people who would otherwise not get it.

Q: What is the fitness scene like in Cambodia?

A: There are pockets of exercising people around town. They are going by 5 a.m. doing aerobics (lots of punching grapevines is what I've seen) to tinny Asian music. At the Olympic stadium they do it too at 5 p.m.. You just show up and join in with the leader of your choice who has a boom box. By 7 a.m. the tai chi in the park people are winding down as are the hacky sackers (circular soccer with a bean bag). I won't be joining them. They play for keeps.

Q: Why spinning as opposed to a sport without equipment?

A: I'm a spinning instructor! My hope is that I can work with people who might not otherwise get a chance to do spinning to train their cardio endurance and learn about their heart rate. Nothing is as good as just playing your sport to get good at your sport, but this will be an opportunity to cross train in a way they never got to do before.

Q: Do you see signs of Cambodia's tragic past?

A: I was 10 in 1975 and teaching my dog how to roller skate and jump rope, coordinating outfits with my friends. (A Cambodian friend) was also 10 that year, and she was picking up spilled, uncooked rice off the ground to eat so she wouldn't starve. She saw her neighbors tortured. It is hard to believe we are of the same world. But she doesn't dwell. She is married and has two boys and is happy to have a healthy family with a future for her kids and herself.

My children are aware and respectful of their surroundings. We don't waste food and if we know we won't eat something we give it away before it goes bad. We often have power cuts and are really fortunate to have a landlord who installed a generator for us. But it makes noise and gives us power when others don't have it, so we turn it off by 9 p.m. because there are so many kids on our street…we would feel awful if we ran the generator and kept others up for our comfort.

Q: Can sports help with national reconciliation? How?

A: Some have said that if the world faced a common enemy, we would unite and fight for the world (guess it has to be a bigger enemy than global warming and hunger). This national volleyball team is fantastic and brings families, villages and regions pride when they're in the newspaper. As they start to compete against other teams (both amputee and non-amputee) outside Cambodia and win, people celebrate and forget the history of internal conflict and have a sense of pride as a united country. Even the team has people who used to be on opposite sides of the war. They take it out on the court.

Q: Is Cambodia able to help its disabled community?

A: It would take a pretty forth right community to simply recognize disabled people as people. I'm not even sure America is totally there. All throughout the world, if a family member was somehow disabled, it has meant hardship. If a family can only afford education for one child, they have to put their "most likely to succeed" child in. It has taken tremendous work from awe-inspiring people, like the guys at Stand Up Cambodia to say, 'what if we just make it
possible and see where we end up?'

To have to live your life with any sense of shame for not wearing the same frame as another person is a profoundly missed opportunity to nurture a soul who could change the world…or their country, or their village…or their family. I don’t really know about the support systems for people who are disabled in Cambodia, but I do think there is no need for any one in any country to wait for the government to respond, when we can all do our bit with acceptance and opportunity.

Two countries close to agreeing on map

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday June 11, 2008



Thailand and Cambodia will meet again to revise the map of Preah Vihear temple to be used in the listing of the ancient ruins as a World Heritage site.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungwat said further talks between Thai and Cambodian officials are needed because the Cambodian map of the area covering the Hindu temple is slightly different from the border map used by Thailand.

Mr Tharit said the Royal Thai Survey Department will visit the site, on the border between Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district and Preah Vihear province of Cambodia, to verify the map before the ministry schedules a meeting with Phnom Penh.

He gave an assurance Thailand would not lose any land as a result of Cambodia's listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a Unesco World Heritage site.

The map will be a key document when Cambodia presents its case to experts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) at talks next month in Quebec. The Cambodian plan needs Thailand's support.

Security sources said on Monday Thailand wants to ensure the area identified on the map as Preah Vihear temple, known as Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, does not include land which has not yet been demarcated by the two countries.

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit was confident of settling the issue amicably and believed Cambodia had no intention of including unmarked border areas in the temple map.

Mr Tharit said Thailand cannot petition to have the temple returned to its sovereignty as the World Court decided in 1962 to give it to Cambodia following a court battle between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

''If we wanted to reclaim it, we should have made the claim within 10 years from the World Court 's verdict,'' he said. ''But 46 years have already passed''.

Cambodian PM: CPP boasts strong basis to win election

June 11, 2008

The major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) boasts strong basis to win the next general election in July, said Prime Minister Hun Sen in an exclusive interview with English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times Wednesday.

"CPP began building its support base in 1993 with the winning of 51 seats at the National Assembly (NA), then 64 seats in 1998 and 73 (out of 123) seats in 2003. This basis is the foundation of (CPP's) support when it faces difficulties," he said.

Meanwhile, in the current third mandate government, (Cambodia) achieved double-digit economic growth, poverty has been reduced, and people's living conditions and the physical infrastructure has improved, he said.

These (achievements) will attract people in the upcoming election, said Hun Sen, also vice president of CPP.

The July 27 parliamentary election is to establish the fourth government of the kingdom. Altogether 11 parties have been approved to vie for the 123 seats in NA.


Tackling Cambodia's landmine legacy

Khoeun Sokhorn demonstrates how she checks the earth for landmines

A red triangle marks a landmine which must be blown up

Supervisors clear the area before detonating any landmines they find

Wednesday, 11 June 2008
By Philippa Fogarty
BBC News, Pailin

On a wooded hillside above a village in north-west Cambodia, a man speaks into a radio.

Figures in body armour and visors head downhill to shelter from the sun under some trees.

A whistle sounds and then a siren. A few minutes later a loud crack echoes around the countryside. Grey smoke floats into the air.

The first landmine of the morning has been destroyed.

It was a Chinese-made type 72A - a small, green object that blows off the leg that treads on it or the arm that picks it up.

The team head back up the hill. There are many more mines to go.

This is a scene that is repeated day after day across Cambodia, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

Between four and six million landmines are thought to have been laid during the country's three decades of civil war.

Khmer Rouge fighters, Vietnamese troops and government forces all planted devices, but did not record where or how many. Huge areas of land were contaminated, particularly in western border regions where the fighting was fiercest.

Across the country, victims of landmine blasts are a strikingly visible presence. More than 40,000 people are thought to have lost limbs.

Work to remove the mines has been going on ever since the conflict ended, and a great deal of progress has been made. But there is a lot still to do.

"Cambodia still has a significant landmine problem," says Rupert Leighton, Cambodia country director of the Mines Advisory Group. "They are not starting to dry up yet."

Casualties have fallen significantly in recent years, from more than 2,000 annually in the early 1990s to less than a quarter of that in 2006.

This is because the movement of displaced people has subsided, people know more about landmines and more clearance has been carried out. There are also fewer people facing acute hunger, meaning fewer people foraging in the forests.

The key issue now, says Mr Leighton, is the fact that so much land still cannot be used - at a time when competition for it has become fierce.

Ten families

Boeung Prolite lies 6 km ( 4 miles) from the Thai border, not far from the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin.

For more than two decades a guerrilla conflict raged in this area - and both sides laid mines extensively.

People began settling in Boeung Prolite in the 1990s, when the fighting wound down.

About 30% of villagers are former Khmer Rouge fighters, the rest are new arrivals from other provinces. They live in simple wooden houses and grow crops for subsistence and sale.

On high ground above the village lies a mine field about the size of 19 football pitches.

This one was laid mainly by the Khmer Rouge and, as well as 72As, contains type 69s - small grey mines which spring upwards to explode at waist height.

Nine casualties have been recorded on this minefield over the years. The last was in 2002, a farmer who wanted to plant more crops.

Roeu Sokhom heads the team that is clearing the site. He, a deputy supervisor, a medic, a driver and 12 deminers began work there in early March after the initial site survey was complete.

Using metal detectors to examine every inch of ground, working in high heat and humidity, they have already destroyed dozens of mines. They expect to complete the job by the end of June.

When it is done, 10 local families, comprising a total of 59 people, will be able to farm there, Roeu Sokhom says.

Some have already moved in to plant up earth cleared only days before, such is their hunger for land.

'Finish line'

One of the mine clearers is 26 year-old Khoeun Sokhorn. She lives with her family in a village near Pailin and has been a deminer for two years.

In 2002, she went into the forest to gather firewood. The area had been classified as "suspect", but people had been going there for years and everyone thought it was safe. A landmine blew off her right leg.

She wants to clear mines so that no-one else gets hurt the way she did, she says. She is proud that the number of casualties is continuing to fall.

But when she finds a mine, there is no flash of triumph - she just reports it to her supervisor and moves on to the next one.

She says she will clear mines as long as there is work for her. She does not need to look for another job yet.

"We will never clear all the mines out of Cambodia, but in 10 years we have a reasonable chance of saying that the worst areas have been cleared," says Mr Leighton.

"It depends on funding and also on how we define the finish line - are we talking about impact-free or casualty-free?"

"We could go on working in Cambodia forever, but the law of diminishing returns would mean that we become more and more expensive."

In Khoeun Sokhorn's village there are several mine fields that need to be cleared.

She is married and she has a three-year-old daughter.

The little girl does not know what a landmine is yet. But, Khoeun Sokhorn says, she is old enough to know that she must not go into certain parts of the forest.

Cambodian court sentences Taiwanese man to jail for drug trafficking


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A Cambodian court sentenced a Taiwanese man to 22 years in prison for trying to smuggle 1.76 pounds (0.8 kilogram) of heroin out of Cambodia, a court official said Wednesday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Chhay Kong said he sentenced Lin Kochih, 41, during a court hearing Tuesday.

The court also ordered Lin to pay a fine of 60 million riel (US$15,000).Police arrested Lin in October 2007 after finding heroin hidden in his clothes when he checked in for a flight to Taiwan at Phnom Penh's international airport.

Nou Chantha, Lin's defense lawyer, said his client was a victim and was not involved in the smuggling of the heroin.

He said the heroin belonged to Lin's best friend who asked him to bring a substance to Taiwan to be used in the production of make-up powder.

The lawyer said he would appeal the case.

‘Abandoned’ plane belongs to Cambodian airline: official
June 11, 2008

An aviation official Tuesday repudiated a local newspaper’s report that relevant agencies have yet to identify the owner of a Boeing 727 that has been left idle at a Hanoi airport for the past several months.

Vo Cuong, head of the Aviation Transport Division under the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, told Thanh Nien the plane, which had landed at Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport last year, belonged to the Royal Khmer Airlines of Cambodia.

Cuong said the Boeing 727-200 had to remain at Noi Bai airport for several months due to a technical problem.

Royal Khmer Airlines asked to park the aircraft at the airport in a note to the Vietnam Civil Aviation Administration and has paid all appropriate parking fees, he continued.

Tuesday morning, a local newspaper reported a plane carrying a Cambodian flag and the label Air Dream on its fuselage had been abandoned for over the past six months.

The newspaper said it couldn’t find information about an airline called Air Dream in Cambodia, adding there were no references of Air Dream on the websites of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Air Dream is a charter airline based in Cambodia.

Its Boeing 727-200 is operated by Royal Khmer Airlines.

Reported by Xuan Toan

Minister gives each Cambodian Olympic Games candidate $200

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games PHNOM PENH, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Tourism Minister and National Olympic Committee (NOCC) President Thong Khon has donated200 U.S. dollars for each of the six Cambodian athletes and trainers heading for the Beijing Olympics in August, national media said Wednesday.

"I just visited them and offered them my personal money," he said, adding that he had asked the committee to raise the stipend for Cambodia's Olympic hopefuls, which is currently set at 50 U.S. dollars each athlete per month for three months prior to the games.

The minister confirmed that Cambodia receives annual funding from the International Olympic committee in Switzerland, but no member of NOCC could tell the amount and spending situation of the funding, reported English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodian Daily.

Cambodia's two Olympic track and field athletes said last week they had been preparing for the games with little to no support from NOCC.

Cambodia will send a 15-member delegation to participate in the Olympic Games in Beijing in August with focus on swimming and marathon medals. The team will include Thong Khon himself, who will depart for Beijing on August 7

King Norodom Sihamoni and Education Minister Kol Pheng also plan to attend the opening ceremony of the games.

It is not the first time Cambodia has sent athletes to the Olympics.

The first post-war delegation of five Khmers competed in the Atlanta Games in 1996, and Cambodia subsequently sent four athletes to both Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.

Editor: An Lu

Day in pictures

Cambodia's streets : A blind homeless man who lost his sight after a tooth extraction became infected, causing blindness, sits in a street of a shanty town in Phnom Penh.(AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

A Cambodian scavenger rides on the back on a rubbish truck at a landfill in Phnom Penh. Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labour(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A child scarvenger searches for recycling materials along a street in Phnom Penh. Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labour.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A child scavenger carries a bag at a rubbish dump in Phnom Penh. Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labour.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A Cambodian scarvenger sit at a rubbish damp in Phnom Penh. Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labour.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A child carries a bag of rubbish he has retrieved for recycling from a dump in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Recycling boom adds to hazardous life of Cambodian children

Tehran Times
June 10, 2008

PHNOM PENH (AFP) -- Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables -- from bottles and cans to cardboard -- has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labor.

In 2006, around 4,000 children were working on Phnom Penh's streets, according to Chan Haranvadey, an official with the Social Affairs Ministry.

That number is estimated to have spiraled to between 10,000 and 20,000, though the number dips during the planting season in May and June, when many children return to family farms, non-governmental organiations say.

In March Doctor Tuy Puthea was finishing his rounds behind Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium, inspecting a wound on the neck of his 10-year-old patient. Wearing only ragged shorts and a t-shirt, he was just one among thousands of youngsters scraping out an existence scavenging waste on the streets of the Cambodian capital. "

"These child scavengers are the most vulnerable,"" said Tuy Puthea, who works with the NGO Mith Samlanh, which helps homeless children. "

"They use neither gloves nor shoes, they inhale toxic fumes, eat out of garbage bins,"" he said, listing ailments he sees every day, from headaches and infected wounds to diarrhea and hacking coughs.

Across Cambodia an estimated 1.5 million children under 14 are forced to work, child advocacy groups say. They says that while most labor on family farms, up to 250,000 work in hazardous conditions at such pursuits as begging, waste scavenging, factory work or mining.

In Phnom Penh, where an economic boom has also fueled the trash trade, some 70 percent of scavengers are children, according to Mith Samlanh and another child advocacy group, For the Smile of a Child (PSE).

They can be seen day and night, sometimes alone or with their families, picking through piles of trash or begging for bottles and cans from customers at street-side restaurants.

-----------Scavengers' lives defined by violence, degradation

By foraging for plastic, glass, metal or cardboard, a child can make a dollar or two a day -- no small sum in a country where 35 percent of the population is mired in poverty.

But scavenging also places them in a rigid system of patronage, extortion and intimidation at the hands of local thugs acting as middlemen for large recycling outfits operating in Thailand or Vietnam.

These handlers, sometimes children only a few years older than the scavengers themselves, often pay lower than market value in exchange for protection or small tips.

It's a necessary arrangement in a world defined by violence and degradation. "

"They are exposed to others problems -- violence, drug use, sexual harassment or trafficking,"" says Tuy Puthea, whose clinic treats about 30 children a day.

That number could drastically increase as plans to close Cambodia's largest dump get underway. Phnom Penh needs to find somewhere else for its garbage because the current dump is almost full, say city officials.

Only a few short kilometres (miles) from Phnom Penh's burgeoning downtown, at the end of a dirt lane crowded with garbage trucks, is the Stung Meanchey tip, a vast horizon of trash.

Here hundreds of scavengers, many of them children, wander through the smoldering squalor, their clothing stiff with grime and faces tightly wrapped with scarves against the stinging, ever-present smoke.

But without the dump, they will be forced into the streets, swelling the ranks of those already prowling Phnom Penh's litter piles but also taking them further from the reach of the groups most actively trying to help them. "

"Closing the dump is a good thing -- this should not be so close to the city,"" said Pin Sarapitch, director of the programs at PSE, which for 12 years has operated on the fringes of Stung Meanchey, providing education or vocational training for more than 5,000 children. ""The closure should be followed by more social intervention from the state. The government cannot close the dump and leave these families without a place to live or work,"" Pin Sarapitch said. "
"Where will they go, and how will we be able to our work with them if they cannot be found,"" he added.

UN restarts Cambodia breakfast program

Radio Australia

The United Nations food agency says it has restarted a free breakfast program for hundreds of thousands of poor Cambodian schoolchildren after receiving new funds.

The World Food Program (WFP) suspended the initiative in April because of the high cost of rice on the international market.

But the WFP's country director Thomas Keusters says that an extra $US5.4 million has now been pledged by the agency, and the program could resume immediately for more than 1,300 schools nationwide.

The breakfast program was introduced about eight years ago and now provides meals to around 450,000 needy children.

Plane abandoned at Hanoi airport

Officials say the plane could belong to a Cambodian airline

BBC News
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Vietnamese authorities say they are mystified as to who owns a Boeing 727 which has been abandoned at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport.

The plane was flown in from Siem Reap in neighbouring Cambodia in late 2007 and has been unclaimed ever since.

An airport official told the BBC that they believe the owners could be an airline based in Cambodia.

The official said that if it remains unclaimed, the plane will have to be sent for scrap.

The plane has a Cambodian flag on its fuselage and is emblazoned with the name Air Dream, but the authorities say they have no information about the airline.

Earlier, one security official at Noi Bai airport told the BBC’s Vietnamese Service that the plane belongs to bankrupt budget Cambodian airline Royal Khmer, but this is not certain.

Permission was originally given for the plane to remain at the airport while essential maintenance was carried out but these repairs have not been done.

Online newspaper VietnamNet reported that the owners could be unable or unwilling to pay the required airport parking fees.

Phnom Penh accused of cracking down on dissent

Australia Network

Cambodia's opposition leader has accused the government of having a newspaper publisher arrested to crack down on dissent ahead of next month's elections.

Dam Sith, the publisher of a daily Khmer-language newspaper and a parliamentary candidate in the upcoming poll, was arrested on Sunday.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy says Dam Sith quoted him as saying that the country's deputy prime minister and foreign minister had a Khmer Rouge past.

Sam Rainsy says Dam Sith did nothing wrong in reporting a speech he made at a Khmer Rouge victims' commemoration in April.

Produced by Radio Australia and Australia Network

Cambodian progress leaves poor behind

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. Write him at

Pacific Daily News
June 11, 2008

I was driving south in the United States as my wife read out loud the April 26 New York Times column "Last Breakfast in Cambodia" by Sichan Siv, former United States ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He described his last bowl of Kuytiev noodle soup on April 17, 1975, the day armed Maoist Pol Pot Khmer Rouge radicals entered Cambodia's capital as victors.

Siv, then manager for humanitarian relief CARE, had missed the April 12 U.S. airlift out of Cambodia as he was busy with a relief meeting elsewhere. Subsequently, he spent a year in Pol Pot's "slave labor camps" where he survived two death sentences, then escaped, was jailed in Thailand, and finally was allowed to resettle in the U.S.

Thirty-three years later, Siv's column's datelined at Angkor, ancient Khmer ruins he visited during the Cambodian celebration of New Year. The Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese troops never permitted those traditional celebrations, Siv says, "But now Cambodia is free again and the festivities are in the open." Yet, Siv also observed, "Cambodia today is not unlike the Cambodia of my youth -- there is deep poverty and enormous wealth side by side. There is unrest beneath the surface ... ."

Siv's writing takes me to the March 27 statement by Ron Abney, director of the International Republican Institute, who was injured in Phnom Penh by the March 1997 hand grenade attack on the opposition Sam Rainsy Party protesters. The attack brought the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to Cambodia. No result was revealed.

Abney's statement reads: "Cambodia hasn't really changed. Everything looks shinier and tourists who fly from their own country to Bangkok or Hong Kong to Siem Reap and its five-star hotels and then back to their homes talk of how wonderful it is to see all the changes. They should travel about an hour from Siem Reap in any direction and see what has happened to the homeless who used to pack the streets of that great city.

"In Cambodia everybody votes but nobody counts," the statement charges.

Country for sale

Ironically, on the day Siv's "now Cambodia is free again" appeared in the Times, in England The Guardian's Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark's 11-page "Country for sale" ( reported, "Almost half of Cambodia has been sold to foreign speculators in the past 18 months -- and hundreds of thousands who fled the Khmer Rouge are homeless again."

The British claimed that Russian investor Alexander Trofimov bought Snake Island, or "Koh Puos," from Cambodia in 2006, and in 2007 Cambodia's islands of Russei, Ta Kiev, Bong, Ouen, Preus, Krabei, Tres "were all snapped up by foreigners" who also negotiated to buy "public beaches" as well. The "super-rich, predominately British, French and Swiss speculators, fuelled by a high-risk machismo, came hunting for profits of 30 percent or more. Their interest was land speculation ...," the article says, and the writers accuse authorities of permitting investors "to form 100 percent foreign-owned companies in Cambodia that can buy land and real estate outright -- or at least on 99-year-plus-99-year leases. No other country in the world countenances such a deal." The article was floated on the Internet by Cambodian groups, but I was amazed by the lack of discussion about it.

Economic development comes in many forms and shades. In "Angkor Wat: A Temple to Tourism?" Susan Postlewaite writes in the April 21 Business Week, "Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the famous ruins, is booming, and luxury hotels, galleries, golf courses and spas are rising to meet demand." Of the 2.1 million tourists who visited Cambodia in 2006, almost half went to Angkor Wat. "Everyone is happy. The government is happy, the prime minister is happy," Postlewaite quoted a consultant for the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, about the international arrivals.

Getting a makeover

Postlewaite's "Real Estate Boom in Cambodia's Capital" in the June 2 Business Week reminds, "A decade ago, Phnom Penh lacked even a single traffic light. Today, as land speculators rake in profits and new developments lure tenants, the dilapidated capital ... is getting a makeover. All over the city, shanty towns and old villas are being sold for land value and razed to make way for high-rise apartments, office buildings, shopping malls, and new villas." Postlewaite mentioned a 42-story "residential building," a 52-story skyscraper, both funded by money from South Korea.

The sales manager for the $240 million Korean-funded Gold Tower 42 skyscraper that's expected to be completed in three and a half years was quoted as boasting, "We are 80 percent sold out," with "high-ranking Cambodians and some foreigners from other Asian countries" plunking down deposits. And don't worry that foreigners are not allowed to own real estate in Cambodia. "You can get (Cambodian) citizenship" if your investment is of a certain size; "It's a contribution to the country," Postlewaite quoted a Western law firm in Phnom Penh.

Postlewaite says opposition leader Sam Rainsy called "many of the real estate deals 'shady.'" She writes, "The scramble for prime land has led to widespread evictions of people without clear land titles to the properties," and references a human rights group's report in Phnom Penh as claiming more than 50,000 people were evicted for development in 2006 and 2007, where "a developer wants to build a new township that will have condos, a hotel, and shopping."

"There is no balance between the big development and the rights of the people," a human rights lawyer told Postlewait.

Journalist jailed on defamation, disinformation charges

Committee to Protect Journalists
News Alert 2008

New York, June 10, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of Dam Sith, editor-in-chief of the opposition-aligned, Khmer-language daily newspaper Moneakseka Khmer.

Dam Sith was arrested on Sunday by plainclothes police at a car wash and interrogated for several hours at the national military police headquarters in the capital, Phnom Penh. A criminal court charged Dam Sith the same day with defamation and disinformation in connection with an April 18 article on a speech by opposition politician Sam Rainsy, according to a joint statement from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and the Cambodian League for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (LICADHO).

Segments of the published speech were highly critical of several government officials and raised questions about ministers’ past association with the Khmer Rouge government, a few members of which are now standing trial for genocide.

Dam Sith is currently being held at Prey Sar Prison in Phnom Penh. On Monday, authorities refused to allow family members and others to visit him, LICADHO told CPJ by e-mail.
The charges were filed by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who has also taken legal action against Rainsy in the past.

“Dam Sith should not be in prison simply for reporting on a politician’s remarks, and he should be released immediately. This imprisonment constitutes harassment of a journalist of whom the government does not approve,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

The Cambodian government recently abolished prison sentences for defamation and libel, penalties that were once used to harass journalists. But disinformation convictions still carry three-year jail terms, and officials have in recent months used the threat of those charges to intimidate journalists.

Dam Sith’s imprisonment comes in the run-up to general elections scheduled for this July, which the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minster Hun Sen is expected to win handily. Dam Sith, whose newspaper is one of only a handful in Cambodia that reports critically on the government, was a likely candidate to run for office under the opposition Sam Rainsy Party banner.

LICADHO noted that Dam Sith’s arrest comes after the Ministry of Information ordered the closing of provincial radio station Angkor Ratha FM105.25 soon after it leased airtime to four political parties to campaign for the election. The ministry had issued a license to the station in Kratie province on January 30. It gave no reason or legal justification for its cancellation on May 28, according to LICADHO.

Club of Cambodian Journalists and Cambodia Independent Journalism Foundation Invite a Trainer from the USA to Train Cambodian Journalists

Posted on 11 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 564

“As a part of its committment to strengthen journalism, the Club of Cambodian Journalists began a five day training course for Cambodian journalists from different institutions and with different political trends.

“Journalists from Rasmei Kampuchea, Koh Santepheap, Kampuchea Thmey, Moneaksekar Khmer, Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, and the Radio Voice of Democracy are among the twenty two journalists attending the training, organized by the Club of Cambodian Journalists and sponsored by the Cambodia Independent Journalism Foundation.

“The President of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Pen Samithi, said, ‘This training is very important; it will help to strengthen the professional work of Cambodian journalists.’ He added that this training aims to provide participants with useful techniques and skills of writing and reporting with the goal to make it easy to cover information and to report information to the readers.

“He expressed his optimism that after the training finishes, the trainees will be able to use new techniques as the basis to cover information, to make interviews, and to write. Also they will know how to find data – data that can be trusted, experts, and resources to produce reports on different topics.

“The Cambodian Independent Journalism Foundation, with the Club of Cambodian Journalists as partner, invited Ms. Margaret Freaney, who is an experienced journalist from the United States of America, for the five day training course. Ms. Margaret Freaney is a founding academic director of the Caucasus School of Journalism in Georgia. Working for the Independent Journalism Foundation and the International Center for Journalists in Washington, she has trained many journalists, including Journalists from Cambodia and Vietnam.

“The representative of the Independent Journalism Foundation in Cambodia, Mr. Peter Starr, said, ‘The Independent Journalism Foundation is satisfied to sponsor this second workshop in Cambodia, where Ms. Margaret Freaney is the trainer, who is an excellent trainer for international journalists and a former editor of several newspapers in the United States. She has also great experiences of being a reporter on the health sector.’

“The Club of Cambodian Journalists is an independent organization committed to serve the interests of journalists and to protect journalists, as well as to promote press freedom and to strengthen journalism in Cambodia.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4611, 10.6.2008

City Candidates Eye Urban Displaced

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (2.48 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (2.48 MB) - 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 first in a two-part series examining the worries of the urban displaced.]

On a road thick with swirling dust, at dusk, a group of villagers walked home for the day. One of them was Heang Chansei, a 45-year-old mother of two and part of an increasing number of Phnom Penh's urban displaced. She was evicted with 1,500 others in 2006 from the Sparrow's Nest squatter neighborhood of Phnom Penh, along the Tonle Bassac river, moved here 20 kilometers outside the capital, to Andong Thmei village, Dangkao district.

"In the capital, it was easy for us to earn money, and we don't know what kind of businesses we should make here," she said.

In the Sparrow's Nest, she earned a living by selling fresh water clams to city residents. Now, she does the same thing, but her profits are cut in half by the high costs of transport, $5 per day, to ride into town.

Development projects in Phnom Penh have ousted entire communities of squatters, people like Heang Chansei, who now find themselves in makeshift neighborhoods outside the capital, far from jobs, schools and clean water. Phnom Penh has nearly 600 such communities, with 150,000 facing possible displacement.

Top officials and party candidates competing in July's general election say the problem will be a main focus during their campaigns.

Critics say these communities can be evicted with little advanced warning, and are often not properly compensated. But government officials say they are taking up state land and need to be moved.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong acknowledged the citizens of Andong Thmei were living in difficult circumstances, but he said the government cannot resolve all issues for all evictees, though it has been able to provide clean water, electricity and schools to other displaced communities.

"However, they can own legal land now and that is better than where they lived on illegal land," he said.

Outspoken opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, of the Sam Rainsy Party, criticized such evictions, saying the residents are severely under-compensated, getting a mere fraction of the worth of land that can fetch up to $2,000 per square meter.

Srei Sothea, director of the 7NG company, tasked with developing the cleared land, disputed the figure. "The company has spent millions of dollars for construction of apartments, and it has not sold one square meter of land," he said of another development, in a neighborhood called Red Earth.

Sale or no, facilities or no, residents say they will vote for those who can change their lot, and politicians hope they can capitalize on this on Election Day.

Sam Rainsy Wants Ieng Sary Called in Suit

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (866 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (866 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told reporters Tuesday he will ask the court to allow jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary to testify in his defense in a defamation case.

If Phnom Penh Municipal Court agrees, he will request Ieng Sary be allowed to testify in a lawsuit brought by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Sam Rainsy said his lawyers have already begun drafting the necessary documents.

"In the capacity as an accused person, I ask Ieng Sary to be my witness," Sam Rainsy said. "My position is, if Hor Namhong proposes Duch to be his witness, I will ask also Ieng Sary to be mine.

My proposal is because Hor Namhong himself confessed that he had a good relationship with Ieng Sary, and I would like Ieng Sary to explain his relationship with Hor Namhong."

Hor Namhong has been quoted in the media in the past saying he knew Ieng Sary and was the head of a work group at Boeung Trabek prison camp, but he has maintained he was never the director of the camp.

He has said some of his family, including his sister, perished under the regime.

Sam Rainsy lawyer Chu Chung Ngy said he submitted a request to the Khmer Rouge tribunal early Tuesday, but had received no response.

Ieng Sary lawyer Ang Udom said Tuesday he will report Sam Rainsy's request to Ieng Sary, if such a request comes.

Tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said he knew of no legal restrictions to such participation.

"However, it would take close collaboration and agreement between the office of the co-investigating judges here and the legal representatives in the other case," he said. "It would be part of an agreement, an arrangement, they would have to make between themselves. But so far we have no request for any such movement of anybody from another court to be a witness."

NDI Debate Schedule Comes Under Fire

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (883 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (883 KB) - Listen (MP3)

The National Election Committee and the smaller of 11 parties competing in July's election say a schedule for aired debates by a non-governmental election group is unfair.

The smaller parties have complained to the NEC about the debate schedule of the National Democratic Institute, among the parliamentary candidates during the election campaign, by providing the "old parties" many more debates than the smaller parties.

There are 31 debates scheduled between the Cambodian People's and Sam Rainsy parties, 22 between the Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh parties, and two to three each between the other parties, including the Human Rights Party.

"NDI did not make any unfair or any political discrimination in the preparation of the scheduled debates for political parties," said Ly Sothearayuth, a senior NDI official. "We just instituted the scheduled debates following the criteria of proportionality and equity."

None of the smaller parties, including the Human Rights Party, has seats in national parliament or in any of the country's 1,621 commune councils.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said NDI's debate schedule violated NEC regulations and the principles of equality. NEC officials will meet to discuss this problem with NDI, he said

Opposition Editor Remains in Jail

THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH IN CAMBODIA: Who try to say something about the big man or the man with full of power will be in JAIL.

By Reporters, VOA Khmer
Original reports from Phnom Penh and Washington
10 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (987 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (987 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition newspaper editor Dam Sith was still in jail Tuesday, despite a request from the Ministry of Information Monday he be released and hopes for international intervention by local rights groups and the opposition.

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge said Tuesday he was considering the ministry's letter.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy called the arrest "very unjust and illegal."

He placed a call to US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli on Sunday, after the arrest of Dam Sith, editor of Moneaksekar Khmer, Sam Rainsy said. The ambassador said he would intervene, Sam Rainsy said.

The US has not written a letter to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to intervene, US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Tuesday.

"I can say that the embassy is concerned about the case, and we are following it, and we feel that it is regrettable that Dam Sith was detained," Daigle said.

Thais to Approve Preah Vihear Map This Week

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 June 2008

Thai officials will decide before June 15 on a redrawn site map for Preah Vihear temple's Unesco World Heritage application, officials said Tuesday.

The temple's application for Unesco protection sparked border disagreements between the two countries, over longstanding disputed zones surrounding the temples, and had been stalled for months.

Both countries agreed in a May meeting with Unesco representatives that Cambodia could forward the temples for World Heritage consideration but must redrawn a site map and have it approved by Thailand beforehand.

Thai approval would green-light Cambodia's application submission at a July meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada.

The redrawn site map includes 30 meters of land surrounding each temple, but it is not a redrawing of the 1962 border map that Cambodian adheres to in its official border position, officials said Tuesday.

Vietnam Doctors Treat Polio in Capital

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (1.14 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 10 June 2008 (1.14 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Eight Vietnamese doctors from a Ho Chi Minh City hospital this week are treating young Cambodian polio patients at Phnom Penh Municipal Hospital, part of a privately sponsored, six-day program.

Vietnamese doctors have in the past come to Phnom Penh to treat eye patients, but this program, which will only serve children under the age of 16, is the first of its kind.

Dr. Le Duc To, of the Phueng Dung Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said many Cambodians must travel to Vietnam for polio treatment. The work is aimed at helping people who can't raise the money to go to Vietnam.

Veng Thai, director the Phnom Penh health department, said the mission was important, to fulfill what Cambodian doctors lack.

About 190 people registered, but officials expect only 40 children will receive treatment.

This is the first such mission for polio, but five other groups of Vietnamese doctors have come in the past to provide eye care.

So Phea, a mother of a 10-year-old boy who received treatment Tuesday, said she believed that her son would get better now.

Her son has not been able to walk since he was born, and she said now she hopes he'll be able to now.

Another mother said her 14-year-old was down to his last hope; she has exhausted all treatments available in Phnom Penh.

The mission is sponsored by Vinh Tien Paper Corp., from Ho Chi Minh City, and another operation will be conducted in Siem Reap next year.

Personnel Announcement


President George W. Bush today announced his decision to nominate three individuals, appoint one individual and designate one individual to serve in his Administration.

The President intends to nominate John R. Beyrle, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation. Mr. Beyrle, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria. Prior to this, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow. Earlier in his career, his served as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs in Prague. Mr. Beyrle received his bachelor's degree from Grand Valley State University and his master's degree from the National War College.

The President intends to nominate Rosemary A. DiCarlo, of the District of Columbia, to be the Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, and an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Ms. DiCarlo currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State. Prior to this, she served as Director for United Nations Affairs at the National Security Council. Earlier in her career, she served as Director of the Washington Office of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Ms. DiCarlo received her bachelor's degree, master's degree and PhD from Brown University.

The President intends to nominate Carol A. Rodley, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Ms. Rodley, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as a Faculty Advisor at the Foreign Service Institute. Prior to this, she served as Counselor for Political Military Affairs at the United States Embassy in Afghanistan. Earlier in her career she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. Ms. Rodley received her bachelor's degree from Smith College.

The President intends to appoint Jan Donnelly O'Neill, of Texas, to be a Member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, for the remainder of a three-year term expiring 09/22/10.

The President intends to designate Leland A. Strom, of Illinois, to be Chairman of the Farm Credit Administration Board.

New US Ambassador Announced

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
10 June 2008

The US has nominated a new ambassador for Cambodia, who will take the place of Joseph Mussomeli.

Carol Rodley was chief of mission in Phnom Penh between 1997 and 2000. Following that, she worked in the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Mussomeli told VOA Khmer Rodley's experience in Cambodia gave her a "better sense of the country and the culture."

Members of Cambodia's main political parties welcomed the new ambassador.

Cambodia marks 1962 Preah Vihear verdict


Phnom Penh (dpa) - Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni on Tuesday endorsed a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the International Court ruling that awarded an ancient border temple to Cambodia over Thailand, according to a letter received Tuesday.

In a letter to the head of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation, Moeung Son, the king congratulated their efforts to organise the June 15 ceremony and wished them success.

"I deeply thank you for this information and would like to admire this ceremony's organisation to remember this event," the king wrote.

The foundation is a newly formed group of archeologists, business people, interested citizens and legal consultants formed to lobby for Cambodian interests of the once-disputed 11th century Preah Vihear temple perched on the Thai border.

King Sihamoni was a former ambassador for Cambodia to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Cambodia rejected an offer for Thailand to co-manage the Hindu temple that dates to the Khmer Empire, and asked Unesco to list it as a World Heritage site.

Thailand disputes the border around the temple but seems to have resigned itself to the World Heritage listing after recent UN-brokered talks in Paris, although it remains a sensitive cross-border issue.

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.

Rapist to judge: Sentence too harsh

Public Opinion

Staff report

Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah Zook and Public Defender Mike Toms have until the end of the month to submit briefs in an appeal by a convicted rapist who was sentenced last year to 341/2 to 150 years in prison.

Pov Srun, 37, who became known as the duct tape rapist because of he used duct tape to disguise himself during rapes in Pennsylvania and Maryland, was convicted in October of kidnapping and raping two young women in Franklin County almost four years ago.

He was convicted of similar rapes in Maryland last year and sentenced to 35 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in Maryland in 17 years, but the Maryland judge also ordered his deportation to his native Cambodia when he is released from prison.

In an appeal plea last week, Srun told Franklin County President Judge John R. Walker by video conference from the prison where he is serving his Maryland sentence that he thought the Pennsylvania sentence is too harsh. His appeal contends that Walker's sentence in December surpassed the standard range in Pennsylvania for the charges.

He was convicted by a jury in October of kidnapping, rape, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, making terroristic threats, robbery of a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Srun is asking in his appeal for a new trial, but he also asked Walker during the video conference to modify his Pennsylvania sentence and make it run concurrent with his Maryland sentence.

Cambodia jails news editor despite outcry

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Jun 10, 2008

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian newspaper editor was in jail Tuesday despite the intervention of the country's Information Ministry seeking his release and a rising outcry from rights and media groups.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said his ministry had personally written to Phnom Penh Municipal Court requesting the release of Dam Sith, editor of pro-opposition Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper and a senior member of the Sam Rainsy Party.

Sith was arrested Sunday on charges of defamation, 'insult' and disinformation and jailed when the court determined that he was a threat to interfere with witnesses, even though none of the charges are criminal offenses.

His charges stem from the newspaper quoting allegedly defamatory remarks regarding Deputy Prime Minister and Cambodian People's Party politburo member Hor Namhong made by opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

'I must stress this is a personal matter ... and nothing to do with the government,' Kanharith said by telephone.

Sith's continuing detention in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison has drawn protests from media groups including the South-east Asian Press Alliance, Reporters Without Borders and Cambodia's largest journalism organization, the Club of Cambodian Journalists.

It has also concerned human rights groups who say that with a national election due on July 27, it sends a negative message to voters and potentially silences a leading opposition voice.

Sith's newspaper is the most widely read opposition newspaper in the country.

On Tuesday, Rainsy held a press conference calling for police to arrest him and exchange him for Sith, but without response.

Land grab victims appeal for government intervention

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Villagers who lost their farms in one of Cambodia's most violent land grabs have traveled to Phnom Penh to seek government intervention in one of the country's longest-standing disputes over property.

Some 459 families in Koh Kong Province's Sre Ambel district say that millionaire Senator Ly Yong Phat has yet to pay them for land lost nearly two years ago when his Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation companies were granted nearly 20,000 hectares in land concessions to cultivate sugarcane.

Nearly half the families have failed to receive the full 100,000 to 150,000 riels ($25 to $37.50) per hectare that was promised, while 265 families have been paid nothing, said villager An Haiya.

“We are here to get back our land, which the company bulldozed,” Haiya told journalists on June 9, speaking at the office of the Community Legal Education Center in Phnom Penh.

“We have protested and filed many complaints, but still there is no solution,” Haiya said.

Villager protests following the land deal in August 2006 were quelled with bulldozers and armed security, who villagers say fired bullets into the crowd, wounding several.

Guards recruited from local police and military continue to bar villagers from the land, and either shoot or seize livestock that wanders into the company compound, another villager, Teng Kao, said.

“Since the company came, we can not do anything,” Kao said. “We are starving and have nothing with which to survive.”

He said villagers have scrawled their demands along their fences, stating that the company should return their land or provide proper compensation.

Provincial authorities have so far proven unsympathetic to the villagers' complaints. Those charged with trying to mediate the row have accused a small group of agitators of inflaming the situation, and say many of the alleged victims are simply trying to wrestle more compensation from the companies who now own the land.

Koh Kong Deputy Governor Bin Sam Ol, who is charged with settling land disputes in his province, said that provincial authorities had brought village and company representatives together eight times, but they had failed to reach a solution.“It is difficult for the authorities because the trouble never ends,” Sam Ol said.

“A small group of protesters are behind this problem. Outsiders also come to protest,” he added.

Sam Ol said the number of families complaining about land grabbing continues to rise, no matter how much compensation is paid out by the company.

“Some families have already been paid, but they return to protest again and again, aiming to get more money,” he said.

Koh Kong Sugar Industry Company representative Heng San declined to comment, but he previously told the Post that his company had already resolved the complaints of more than 400 families and only 20 families have not yet been paid.

In a similar development, villagers from northwestern Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province embroiled in a land dispute with another Yong Phat-owned company have also sent a representative to Phnom Penh. In that case, a village representative said that an unnamed enterprise had leveled nearly 7,600 hectares of land outside the boundaries of its sugarcane plantation concession in Samroang district.

“We came here asking to get our land back,” said Vey Sarin, adding that he was speaking for 256 families.“Most of the farmers are homeless, and others do not have land for farming,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, a human rights monitor with the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said that local authorities fear intervening in Yong Phat's business, dragging out the disputes.

“If they were willing to solve the problem, it could be over in about a month,” Sam Ath said."

But the villagers in Samroang will have the same problems as the villagers in Sre Ambel.”

Famed US golfer Arnold Palmer to design Bokor golf course

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong and Cat Barton
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

American golfing legend Arnold Palmer has confirmed his company is designing two 18-hole golf courses for the Sokha Hotel group's $1 billion makeover of the decaying, French-colonial-era Bokor Mountain resort.

"From the preliminary design stages to course opening will be two years – this is a fast track project, [Sokha Group] would like to move forward quickly," John Hamilton, vice president of Arnold Palmer Design Company, told the Post on June 9.

The aim is to create a "world class golf experience" amid the jungles of Bokor Mountain, preserving as much as possible the topography and minimizing environmental impact to the area, Hamilton said.

The courses will be Cambodia's fifth and sixth sets of luxury links, and will sit at the foot of Bokor Mountain, in Kampot province.

The Kingdom is keen to take advantage of the golf mania that has recently swept Southeast Asia, which has been cashing in on a worldwide golf tourism boom that last year was valued at $20 billion.

About 50 million golfers are estimated to roam the world on an annual odyssey to find new, relatively undiscovered greens, and Cambodia looks set to capture a good chunk of this market over the coming decade.

Sokha Hotels are a key player in Cambodia's booming tourism industry. The Bokor Mountain redevelopment is the group's most ambitious project to date. The project will seek to transform the crumbling, fog-swept ruins at the mountain's top into a modern luxury tourist resort.

The group is also inaugurating construction of a 500-room hotel on the Chroy Changva peninsula in Phnom Penh in July this year.

"Tourism is the number one priority sector for the future and a major sector for investment," Sok Kong, founder and owner of Sokimex, Sokha Group's parent company, told the Post in an interview on June 9.

"The company's focus is shifting to tourism, and we have already signed an agreement on the design of the golf course on Bokor Mountain," Sok Kong said.

Palmer, 78, is one of golf's legends. He has won seven major championships over the course of his career, which began in the 1950s.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. His design company has crafted 300 golf courses to date, according to the company’s website. The company prides itself on being in tune with the environment, Hamilton said.