Monday, 14 July 2008

Prasat Preah Vihear

A Cambodian man climbs up a famed Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodia-Thai border in Cambodia, Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, on June 21, 2008. Cambodia's retired king has taken a nationalistic swipe at Thailand in the controversy over a recent world heritage tag for an 11th century temple, which has sparked political tensions in the neighboring country and celebrations at home.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Foreign and Cambodian visitors tour Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Sunday, July 13, 2008. Preah Vihear temple was declared a World Heritage site a week ago despite objection from Thai anti-government groups. The Cambodian government planned to hold another mass rally Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country's 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian boy and girl scouts scale down the steps of Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Sunday, July 13, 2008. Preah Vihear temple was declared a World Heritage site a week ago despite objection from Thai anti-government groups. The Cambodian government planned to hold another mass rally Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country's 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian solider, center, and tourists walk at Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Sunday, July 13, 2008. Preah Vihear temple was declared a World Heritage site a week ago despite objection from Thai anti-government groups. The Cambodian government planned to hold another mass rally Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country's 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian visitors take photographs at the sunset at Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, July 12, 2008. Preah Vihear temple was declared a World Heritage site a week ago despite objection from Thai anti-government groups. The Cambodian government planned to hold another mass rally Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country's 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

North Korea to sign ASEAN's non-aggression treaty
July 14th, 2008

Singapore - The Association of South-East Asian Nations welcomed on Monday North Korea's decision to sign ASEAN's non-aggression treaty promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in South-East Asia will take place July 24 after the 15th ASEAN Regional Forum, said a statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With Singapore the current chairman of the 10-member regional grouping, the statement said, "ASEAN warmly welcomes the DPRK's decision."

"Accession to the TAC will strengthen relations between ASEAN and the DPRK, and also help promote peace, security and cooperation in the region," the ministry said.

ASEAN includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Twenty-seven countries are set to gather at the forum to discuss security issues. (dpa)

Military urges reversal of Cambodia support

The Bangkok Post

The Foreign Ministry should inform Cambodia and all concerned countries and organisations that Thailand is revoking the joint communique issued to support Cambodia's bid to register the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, Supreme Commander Boonsang Niempradit said.

Speaking after a seminar with with academics and others with an interest in the temple dispute, Gen Boonsang said measures taken to cope with the disputed areas surrounding the temple are the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry.

The army is responsible for taking care of the country's sovereignty only, he said.

He said any actions on the matter must be taken transparently and with public acknowledgement.

Because of this, the ministry should prepare easy-to-understand documents to clarify all issues the public had doubted.

Pisanu Suvanajata, the deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of East Asian Affairs, suggested the government should join the seven-nation International Coordinating Committee (ICC) to manage the Preah Vihear temple to help protect the country's sovereignty.

Thai involvement would benefit the country as it would be able to air its opinions concerning the national sovereignty, he said.

Feb 1 is the deadline for the submission of documents to join the committee to be set up under the World Heritage Committee's resolution. (TNA)

Thai PM may face treason charge over Cambodia temple deal

Thai tourists visit the Preah Vihear temple

BANGKOK (AFP) — Anti-government activists Monday urged Thailand's top anti-corruption watchdog to consider treason charges against the prime minister for backing a deal with Cambodia on a disputed Hindu temple.

The Constitutional Court last week ruled that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet had violated the charter by signing a deal on the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple without seeking parliament's approval.

Foreign minister Noppadon Pattama resigned over the controversy, which has raised the threat of impeachment proceedings against the cabinet.

Now royalist activists from the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) want Samak and other top officials, including deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to face treason charges, which are punishable by execution.

Samak and his ruling People Power Party are closely aligned with Thaksin, who was toppled in a coup by royalist generals two years ago.

"The cabinet members, senior officials and former prime minister Thaksin committed severe crimes against the country," PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila told AFP.

The PAD submitted a letter Monday to the National Counter Corruption Commission, urging an investigation into the entire 34-member cabinet as well as Thaksin, top foreign ministry officials, and the Thai ambassador to France, the spokesman said.

The letter accused the cabinet of causing Thailand to lose territory to Cambodia, working to benefit a foreign state, and inciting an international conflict.

The scandal began last month when Noppadon signed a deal with Cambodia, backing its effort to win World Heritage status for the temple.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, critics of the government have stoked a nationalist uproar, accusing the government of giving away Thai land to Cambodia.

The exact border around the temple has never been agreed. The dispute has raised tensions in both countries, with Cambodia closing the temple after Thai protesters tried to march to the site.

Cambodia to hold rally celebrating temple's World Heritage status

The Straits Times
July 14, 2008

PHNOM PENH - THE Cambodian government organised another mass rally on Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country's 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark.

Some 10,000 people were expected to gather late on Monday to celebrate Preah Vihear temple's new status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, said Mr Mann Chhoeun, deputy governor of Phnom Penh Municipality that organised the event.

The ceremony will be presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An when he returns from Canada, where he lobbied a UNESCO committee meeting to designate the temple a cultural treasure, Mr Mann Chhoeun said.

'We have succeeded in this goal not by just sitting idly. We struggled hard to get it,' Mr Mann Chhoeun said.

Preah Vihear was declared a World Heritage site a week ago despite objection from Thai anti-government groups. The two countries have a long-standing dispute over the land that surrounds the temple, and Thai activists have recently revived nationalist sentiment over the issue.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the temple and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles many Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex in northwestern Cambodia.

Mr Mann Chhoeun said the temple's new status is 'the second success' for Cambodia following the 1962 ruling.

He said speeches will be read and nationalist songs will be sung at the ceremony purely to express 'our pride and modest joy.' As Cambodians celebrate the recognition for the temple, a small group of Thais continue to protest, demanding the eviction of Cambodians living on land near the temple.

Last week, Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama resigned after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had overstepped his authority in supporting Cambodia's application to have the temple designated as a World Heritage Site.

Some political opponents have charged that the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej deliberately bypassed Parliament and backed the bid in exchange for business concessions from Cambodia for toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Noppadon, whose resignation takes effect on Monday, has denied the allegations. -- AP

Green Zoon takes root to Siem Reap, Cambodia

2008-07-14 - A joint German and Cambodian regional economic development program to develop an agricultural 'green zone' around Siem Reap at a cost of about $20 million is gaining momentum, with five districts selected for the project's first phase.

Four German organizations - GTZ, DED, InWent, and KFW - have guaranteed 12 million euros for the project, and the Cambodian government has committed to contributing an additional 10 percent of this figure, or 1.2 million euros.GTZ program leader Martin Orth, based in Siem Riep, told the Post that the project would both beautify and economically enrich the target districts.

The simple objective, he said, was 'to grow vegetables and raise animals for the platters of the tourists who come to Siem Reap. The main theme is to link the tourist boom in Siem Reap to the rural areas.'He pointed out that 50-80 percent of the vegetables and about 75 percent of other foods consumed in Siem Reap were imported and that Siem Reap performed poorly in passing on money derived from tourism revenue to the general population.

'The pro-poor impact of in-destination tourism revenues is estimated at 27 percent in Luang Prabang, Laos, and 26 percent in Da Nang, Vietnam,' he said. 'But the pro-poor impacts are an extremely low five percent in Siem Reap.' 'We want to turn the areas surrounding Siem Reap into a natural green zone and turn the poor districts into rich districts so that people can earn more money to better support their families,' Siem Reap governor Sou Phirin told the Post.

'This project, it is hoped, will help to expand economic growth in the rural areas of Siem Reap province.' Phirin identified the debut districts as Pouk, Angkor Chum, Varin, Svay Leu and Sot Nikom. He said that three of the chosen debut districts, Pouk, Varin and Angkor Chum, were in Khmer Rouge hands as recently as 1995-97 and that there was much underutilized land. Land speculation, especially in Pouk district, he added, was rapidly encroaching on agricultural areas.

'We are now surveying the geography in the chosen districts and developing the human resources to carry out this project which will be officially started at the end of this year,' Phirin said.The wide-ranging green zone program would also help develop infrastructure in the target districts with more paving of local roads, for example.

The program would aim to revitalize and promote the local handicrafts industry since most of the souvenirs and handcrafts sold in Siem Riep tourist markets were, like foodstuffs, imported.The green zone project had its genesis in 2005 when the Council of Ministers requested assistance from German organizations to help farmers reap some of the benefit from the millions of dollars that pour into the province each year from international tourism.

Joint program preparation missions worked together in 2006 to define the scope and areas of German support, and in 2007 an agreement was struck to jointly tackle the problem that too few benefits from the booming tourism economy were trickling down to the local population, especially the rural poor, creating a disparity between the booming Siem Reap urban area and surrounding areas that were among the poorest in the Kingdom (

The regional economic development program officially began in October 2007 and was to last for eight years, with a completion date for the first phase scheduled for September 2010.Siem Reap deputy governor Bun Tharith earlier this year led a Cambodian delegation to Germany to learn about green zone projects firsthand. He told the Post that Germany in the past decade had had success with similar projects in other countries.'People will be provided with business capital and technical training and will then be integrated into the basic community project for a sustainable joint benefit,' Bun Tharith said.By Yun Vann and Peter Olszewski

Foes want Thai govt and Thaksin charged in temple row

Mon Jul 14, 2008
By Pracha Hariraksapitak

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Protesters marched on the offices of Thailand's graftbusting agency on Monday to press for criminal charges against the government for its role in a dispute over an ancient temple on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The 500 marchers led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) handed over a petition accusing the cabinet of agreeing to cede land to Cambodia in return for business concessions for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The charge has been denied by Thaksin and the government in Cambodia, where the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple was approved as a World Heritage site this month.

"We are exercising our constitutional rights to preserve our territory after the cabinet passed a resolution that was ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court," PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk said at the National Counter Corruption Commission office.

Preah Vihear, built by Khmer kings in the 11th century, sits on top of a jungle-clad escarpment that forms a natural boundary between Cambodia and Thailand.

It has been a source of tension for decades, but anti-government groups whipped up nationalist fervour over the temple's listing, accusing Bangkok of selling the country's heritage.

The Constitutional Court ruling last week that Thailand's initial support for the temple listing had violated the charter gave the PAD another weapon to attack the pro-Thaksin government.

The coalition of activists, royalists and businessmen has waged a nearly two-month-old street campaign to oust Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, accusing his government of trying to protect Thaksin from graft charges.

The PAD petition accused Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, of conspiring to cede Thai territory for his personal gain.

NCCC Secretary-General Saravuth Maenasavet told reporters the agency would decide on Tuesday whether it would investigate the Preah Vihear case.

If it believed the cabinet broke the law, the NCCC would forward its findings to the Supreme Court for a ruling which could lead to the government's impeachment by the Senate.

Samak, under pressure from legal cases that already cost him two ministers last week, has blamed the crisis on the 2007 constitution, designed by the coupmakers to give judges more oversight powers in politics.

Shrugging off looming lawsuits and potentially intensifying street protests, he vowed in his weekly TV show on Sunday to rewrite the charter, reshuffle his cabinet and unveil an economic stimulus package on Tuesday.

The prospect of further strife worried investors who pushed the main stock index down 1.6 percent at the midday break on Monday. The market is down nearly 18 percent since the street campaign began on May 25.

(Writing by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)
MEY SOMONY; Animator Puy Chhunly, whose film about diarrhea and unsafe drinking water won the Golden Buffalo award at 2007’s Cambofest, now leads an animation program at Battambang province’s Phare Art School.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Friday, 11 July 2008

While any number of Western movies makes a joke out of a case of diarrhea, it’s no laughing matter in the developing world, where countless children die from the disease every year. Drinking Safe Water, an animated film by Puy Chhunly, 28, the director of the new animation program at Phare Art School in Battambang province, beat out 65 competitors, including entries from France, Thailand and Vietnam, for the Golden Buffalo award at Cambofest, the national film festival, in June 2007. Phnom Penh Post reporter Mom Kunthear draws on the wisdom of the young cartoonist.

What is your film about?

Drinking Safe Water is a story about a little boy who drinks swamp water and then, a few days later, he gets diarrhea and becomes ill. His parents pray to the spirits of his grandparents to help him, but it’s no use. One day, a neighbor sees their son has fallen ill and she tells them about the dangers of drinking swamp water. After that, the boy gets better, they drink safe water and they live happily ever after.

What interested you in this issue?

This was a true story that happened to me when I was little. I lived in the countryside and I drank some bad water when I went out to tend the buffalo far from my house. I had no idea what I was doing. After that, I had a bad case of diarrhea. I wanted to tell all children and their parents with this cartoon about the dangers of drinking dirty water. I think this story is important for every family, especially in the countryside.

How long did it take you to make this film?

It was very difficult for me to do this film, and it took a month to complete a three-minute movie with my teacher, because he only had one month to work with. I tried to work non-stop, and sometimes I only slept about two hours a day.

How long have you known how to make animated films?

I started studying drawing at Phare Art School in 1998. In January 2007, a professional animator from France volunteered to come to teach me how to make animated films. At that time, I was the only one there who wanted to study it because I knew how to draw, so it was easy for me to learn. I spent only one month learning about it and I could do it.

Why did you decide to place your film in competition?

I have never thought or dreamed about competition or showing my animation in public. At first, I just wanted to know how to do it. But, when I completed my story, my teacher asked me to take it to competition at Cambofest. I really had no hope of winning because there were a lot of international competitors and their movies were better than mine because they have modern techniques and they were just better than me at animation. But, it was my destiny to win this award, and it has inspired me to continue this work forever.

How did you feel when you won?

At first, I couldn’t believe it, and I still wonder why some of the other competitors didn’t win. I was lucky, and I feel proud that I won this award for my school, my family and especially for Cambodia because I can say that I am probably the first person to win an award for making an animated film in Cambodia.

What will you do next?

After I won, a lot of NGOs and hospitals asked me to do animation for them, and I have already completed two. I am now doing a 12-minute film with support from the Oxfam organization about human trafficking. This film is going to take me about a year-and-a-half to produce because every minute of film takes about six weeks to make. So, it’s hard work, but I like it.

I also want to have my own studio and study more about the technical aspects of animation. I don’t know if I’ll be able to because it’ll cost thousands of dollars and five or six years to study. Right now, I’m teaching animation to seven students at Phare Art School.

Military guards displace villagers

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Friday, 11 July 2008

Uncertainty is growing over the fate of residents living in three hamlets sealed off late last month by Cambodian military under an apparent property redistribution scheme that has drawn fire from rights groups as another example of illegal land grabbing.

Armed with assault rifles, axes and knives, more than 300 soldiers from Brigade 31 of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) cordoned-off hundreds of hectares in an area known as Chey Sena, on the fringes of Bokor National Park in Kampot, and began ripping apart the homes of some 200 families living in Anlong Krom, a small collection of huts.

The evictees were forced into the nearby hamlet of Kbal Damrey and offered compensatory plots of land – land already belonging to villagers there who had no idea they would be sharing their property with strangers.

“Each family owned between two to three hectares, but the [soldiers] came and divided the land into 30m by 50m plots,” said 28-year-old Nhek Chanthol, whose mother was beaten unconscious and arrested when Kbal Damrey villagers tried to stop the military from tearing up their vegetable patches and nut plantations.

Three others were seized in the ensuing melee on June 23, when soldiers set upon villagers protesting the arbitrary dismantling and redistribution of their farms, while 20 others fled, fearing arrests.

Villagers said on July 9 that the soldiers had continued to bulldoze homes and buildings not taken down fast enough and were divvying up the land into smaller plots, leaving the original residents of Kbal Damrey fearing for their future.

“They have not compensated us for the loss of our land so how can we live now?” Chanthol said.

The military has refused to say what the seized land will be used for. Some military officials claim it will become a tree nursery, while there is speculation it will be given over to disabled former soldiers.

But rights groups have raised the alarm over yet another land grab – a practice that they say increasingly threatens the country’s stability.

“It is completely unacceptable for the authorities to be forcefully displacing people only to dump them on other people’s land,” said Kek Galabru, president of human rights group Licadho.

“It creates greater uncertainty for the relocated people, who will probably face attempts to evict them from their new land in the future.”

Also of concern for rights groups is the fact that access to the area has been denied amid stories of violence committed against those resisting the redistribution scheme.

“These villagers are completely isolated and very vulnerable to abuses which may be committed by the soldiers out of sight of NGOs and others,” Galabru said.

Licadho staff were blocked by soldiers from entering the area last month and, despite several phone calls to provincial officials to try to secure access, were unable to get inside the military cordon.

Because of the roadblocks, Licadho has not been able to provide basic humanitarian assistance to the villagers in the area.

“If the military is not doing anything wrong, then why have human rights NGOs and journalists been prevented from entering the area to see what is happening? .... Brigade 31 has no authority to seal off a village – this is completely unlawful,” Galabru added.

The original Kbal Damrey villagers claim to have bought their property from the chief of Taken commune, Galabru said, but their papers were never officially recognized by the Cadastral Office.

However, That Sophal, an officer with Brigade 31, told the Post that all the villagers had been squatting illegally on the land, which is located in the protected area of the Bokor National Park.

“We moved them because we developed the area and we want them to legalize the land,” Sophal said. “I think the protesters are the outsiders who lost the land they bought illegally and also the local sellers intend to get in [on compensation packages].”

Sophal said many local villagers had built their huts on the land only after local authorities built a new road. He said they had known the area was slated for development and had moved into the area hoping for quick speculative gains.

“They are just trying to get money,” he said.

According to Licadho, 14,000 hectares in the area were declared a national park by royal decree in November 1993 without specifying the exact boundaries.

In 2007, part of the area became a social land concession granted by the government, sponsored by the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Bun Rany, for amputee former soldiers.

A working group was formed to oversee the project which is headed by RCAF deputy commander in chief Kun Kim.

As the row escalated earlier this month, the military launched a propaganda offensive with a July 8 visit to the area by Kun Kim.

Footage was later broadcast on CTN of the event, which, according to villagers, was heavily stage managed: a few people were brought out to say how much happier they are now the land has been divided properly and they have land titles.

Altered images

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Monday, 14 July 2008

A judgment in the ongoing lawsuit by three Cambodian celebrities against men who faked pornographic images of the stars in 2005 and distributed them by mobile phone will be handed down in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 17, according to the judge hearing the case.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Din Sivuthy told the Post by phone that he would issue his decision at that time, following the June 27 hearing in the case brought by Cambodian stars Soeur Sotheara, Chorn Chan Leakhena, and Chin Seriya.

The judge said that the identities of the two men accused in the lawsuit have not been released and refused to give any further information about the case or his decision.

A lawyer who has been following the case but who declined to be named predicted that the defendants in the case would prevail as the defamation action against them has already been dismissed.

With penal liability no longer in issue, the court was expected only to judge whether to award damages for mental injury to the plaintiffs.

Actress and singer Sotheara said her point was not to win monetary damages but to show that the photos were defamatory and not true to her.

“I just want the court to legally punish the perpetrators. I am not demanding damages for any mental injury to myself,” she said.

Film star Yuthara Chhany, who is actress Chan Leakhena’s husband, said his wife’s complaint has been awaiting judgment since late 2005. Mental damages to his wife and family were not important, he said.

The main point was to warn anyone who does this will face consequences, Chhany said.Lawyer Kong Sopheak, who helped Chan Leakhena and her husband prepare the case for court but who said he was not her attorney, was unsure whether monetary damages would be awarded.

The Post was unable to contact singer Seriya for comment and was told by a family member that she was currently in France.

Picturing the future

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Monday, 14 July 2008

Thirteen-year-old Chay Sreypich puts the finishing touches on her brick painting, with many of her friends stopping to admire her work.

She and other disadvantaged kids paint pictures on bricks which are then sold as part of a Friends-International project to buy a permanent site for its Cambodian affiliate, Mith Samlanh, explained fundraising manager Penny Tynan.

“I wanted to draw a picture of a doctor because I want to be a doctor in the future,” said Chay Sreypich.

“When I grow up I will try to study to become a doctor so I can help cure and take care of patients,” she said. “At home everyday, I look after my mother who is sick by washing her clothes and bringing her food and medicine. I try very hard to make her happy so she can get better soon.”

Being a doctor would not only let her help people but also can earn money to support her family, since her father has died.

“Most of the children like to draw pictures of what they want to become in the future. For instance, if they want to be footballers they draw a ball, or if they want to be teachers, they draw books or schools,” said Sen Ratana, head of the Friends-International culture program.

“I think that this program is very important for them because they can show their artistic ability and express to others through their pictures what they faced before they came here,” Sen Ratana said.

The Buy-a-Brick campaign was started in 2006, said Tynan.

“All the children participating in the art class paint bricks. The purpose is to raise funds for the purchase of a site for Mith Samlanh,” she said. “I think that all youth who receive an education and vocational training here are much better prepared for life and becoming fully engaged members of their community.”

Former street kid Ben Kosal, 18, has been living at Friends-International for three years and participates in the art classes.

“I am drawing a picture about how the moon stays among a lot of stars,” Ben Kosal said. “I am looking at them through the window in the dark. I want to show myself through this picture, the dark place meaning that I am a quiet person, the moon that I am a neat person, and the rest meaning that my knowledge is being shared everywhere.”

Pei Seng, 18, said he likes to draw about the environment and views of the landscape of his country.

“I see that some parts of our country are not so good environmentally, and I want to correct it and make it better through my pictures,” Pei Seng said.

Full steam ahead

TRACEY SHELTON; Spa treatments are becoming more popular with increasingly affluent Cambodians.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Monday, 14 July 2008

C ambodia’s small but vital spa industry attracted about 200,000 customers last year and generated about $6 million in revenues, with annual growth of 14 percent forecast for the next two years, according to the first-ever spa industry survey for Cambodia issued late last month by Singapore-based Intelligent Spas.

Intelligent Spas managing director Julie Garrow said the survey was conducted between July 2007 and April 2008.

“We invited all spas in Cambodia to participate and 54 percent of all spas in Cambodia responded,” Garrow wrote by email to the Post on July 9. Intelligent Spas was the only independent research company specializing in the spa industry we has surveyed the industry annually for over five years, she said.

The survey found that there were 35 authentic spa facilities operating in Cambodia, 34 percent of which were stand-alone day spas and 66 percent destination spas operating alongside accommodation.

The spa industry employed about 400 people during 2007.

Oum Khim, deputy chief of the tourism industry department in the Ministry of Tourism, doubted the survey’s estimate of $6 million in revenues.

“The spa industry in Cambodia is growing rapidly, of course, but in a limited fashion and popular only among foreigners,” he said. “There is no official figure of spa facilities available in Cambodia because most of them are included in hotels and only a few have registered with the ministry.”

Kornchmok Dang, the Thai manager of Amara Spas and Café in Phnom Penh’s Duan Penh district, told the Post on July 7 that spas were doing good business and generating strong profits.

“Service fees are between $10 and $25 an hour, and about 25 to 30 customers come and get spa service in my facility,” she said. “We see revenues of from $30,000 to $35,000 a month.”

At the same time, she noted, input costs for operating a spa were very high.

“Every six months, we buy high-quality materials from Italy costing about $100,000,” she said.

“In the past, when somebody said ‘spa’, we didn’t really know what it was, but now they are popular with both foreigners and higher-income Cambodians,” said Sin Sakonaly, the owner of Banteay Srey Spa in Siem Reap’s Svay Dangkum district.

“We can earn about $1,250 a day in the low season, and up to $7,500 in the high season,” Sin Sakonaly said. In the high season from October to February, the spa welcomed about 300 customers per day and some even had to be turned away, she said.

Kornchmok Dang agreed that spas were becoming an increasingly popular way for middle- and upper-class Cambodians to relax after a hard day at work.

“Spas can help relieve you from headaches, fatigue, depression and fevers,” she said.

US-Cambodians Seek Solutions for Dropouts

Var Sereyvuth, left, a liaison of the Community and Family Engagement Network, and Nhim Setha, executive director of the Khmer Emerging Education Program, seek ways to keep US-Cambodians in school.

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
14 July 2008

Growing up, a teenager can divert from a normal life in society as an adult by getting involved in gangs or drugs, or becoming pregnant at a young age. Many such teens have troubled lives at home that include abuse or negligence.

Cambodian teenagers in the US are no different. They face a number of challenges that can lead to their dropping out of school, including family and social pressures, said Var Sereyvuth, a liaison of the Community and Family Engagement Network to school districts in Fresno, Calif.

Many simply can't finish school because they must work to support their families, he said.
At least one group in Fresno is seeking to curb the dropout trend by putting Cambodian teenagers back in touch with their roots and their parents.

Nhim Setha, executive director of the Khmer Emerging Education Program, said Cambodian children, ignorant and disregarding their cultural background, sometimes drift away from their parents and school.

"We believe for the students that dropped out of school or joined gangs, there was no program available to help or educate them," Nhim Setha said. "The Khmer Emerging Education Program is teaching Cambodian children in the Fresno community to write and to read Khmer, which means learning a new alphabet. Alongside grammar, we teach them morals and bring them closer to their parents, which in turn has improved their performance in school."

The most important lessons the group has learned are that parents should spend time with their children, provide children with after-school activities and give them the attention and love they need.

The risk factors affecting Cambodian high school dropouts include poor grades, disinterest in school, lack of money, laziness, marriage pressure, failing grades, learning disabilities, social or cultural problems, peer pressure and full time work. Some teenagers don't see the benefit of finishing school, Var Sereyvuth said."Another reason for the high rate of Cambodian dropouts is from parents who are unable to provide the necessary day-to-day care," he said.

"This is from uneducated parents, parents with gambling addictions, parents who cannot communicate with their children due to lack of English skills or, simply, parents who just don't care."

Another large problem is the growing groups of Cambodian gangs who continually recruit children and teenagers to sell drugs or participate in other illegal acts.

Teenagers may feel overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are going through. At the same time, teens may be facing a number of pressures from friends to fit in as well as to perform well in school from parents, adults.

Sacravatonns : " The Dice-Game "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Re: Sacravatoons : " Freedom is not Free "

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Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sam Rainsy Party predicts victory in upcoming election

The Sam Rainsy Party election campaign

By Chun Sophal
The Mekong Times

The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has announced that it expects to win over 50 percent of the votes in the July 27 general election, claiming that victory in the poll has been assured by the electorate’s disillusionment with the present government.

“People can see the government’s powerlessness to prevent corruption and inflation,” SRP Secretary General Eng Chhay Eang told The Mekong Times Saturday, adding that the party expects to make gains particularly in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province.

“[The] SRP’s target is to win 62 seats in this election. We are confident because people know that only the SRP can eliminate corruption, lower goods prices, solve unemployment and provide free health services,” he said.

The SRP hopes to gain six more seats in the capital and five more in Kampong Cham, the nation’s most populous province, according to a recent prediction from the SRP. In the 2003 election, the SRP won just 24 of the 123 seats contested for the National Assembly (NA).

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the opposition party’s remarks were made to attract politicians who are looking to pay for high positions in the party. “He makes these claims now, but when he loses, he will announce that there is a threat, so he cannot return the money [to those who paid him],” he said, adding that, as a party that respects the law, the Cambodian People’Party (CPP) does not want to talk about other parties.

“But we will make every effort in this election to win 10 more seats,” he said. The CPP won 73 seats in the last election.

Civil society organizations monitoring the election have noted that political parties are stepping up their campaigns considerably, with less than a fortnight remaining until Cambodians go to the polls.“We can see that political parties have made a lot of effort so far in the official 30-day campaign period,” said Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia. “But we do not think these remarks about gaining [seats] are realistic.”

Optimistic predictions are typical around election time but the real results will only be known after the election, he said. “Only the voters can decide.”
The assassination of Mr Khim Sambor is a political threat

After receiving the news that Mr Khim Sambor, a journalist for the Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper, and his son were tragically shot to death on the afternoon of 11 July 2008 , the Sam Rainsy Party members of Parliament and officials of the SRP express grief and pity for their unfortunate deaths.

When one who dares to write or argue against those with absolute power is assassinated, the perpetrators behind the killing are never found nor tried according to the law. This clearly demonstrates the nature of those in power. SRP members of Parliament urge all members of the Cambodian nation to come together with the SRP in order to find and punish the killers of these patriots as soon as possible. By voting for the SRP, it can be ensured that an SRP government will find the murderers and bring them to justice as soon as possible. SRP members of Parliament also urge the International Community and both local and international electoral observers to unite and push for the investigation of the assassinations of many Cambodian patriots such as Mr. Chea Vichea, leader of the Cambodian workers' trade union, Mr. Om Rasadi, former member of Parliament, as well as countless numbers of journalists, political activists and others in order to bring their killers to justice.

SRP members of parliament also ask for the protection of Mr. Oum Sara, the information officer of the SRP, who faced an assassination attempt on 6 July 2008 , and the protection of journalists and political activists from all opposition parties from being assassinated in the future.

Phnom Penh , 12 July 2008
SRP Members of Parliament
For more information, please contact 012 858 857

Sex tourists face UK prosecution

Mon Jul 14 2008

children abroad prosecuted in Britain have come into force.

The legislation allows police to bring charges against "sex tourists" even if their activities were legal in the country where they took place.

It means someone who has sex with an under-16 could be prosecuted on their return to the UK even if the child was above the local age of consent.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: "I hope this new law will send a tough message to deter travelling sex tourists.

"We already have some of the toughest sex offences legislation in the world but we are determined to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable, at home and abroad.

"Anyone who commits an offence against children abroad will face the prospect of prosecution for the same offence here even though it may not have been an offence in that country."

Chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre Jim Gamble said: "No offender should be able to escape to foreign jurisdictions in order to abuse children and young people, or possess images and materials that show sexual exploitation without living in fear of UK police working with their international counterparts to bring that person to account.

"This measure is a significant step forward and sends out a very clear and unequivocal message to offenders everywhere - and no matter whether they are in the UK or abroad - we will track you, we will bring you to account and you will face the consequences of your criminal actions."

NSPCC policy advisor Zoe Hilton said: "These new measures to prosecute those who commit sexual offences abroad are very welcome.

"However, there are still loopholes in the rules which allow sex offenders to slip off and abuse children in other countries. For example, when travelling abroad, offenders only have to notify authorities of the first country they plan to visit.

"This makes it easy for an offender to travel from Europe and then on to countries which have weaker child protection systems like Cambodia or Vietnam.

"It is essential that these new measures should be accompanied by more resources to convict, manage and monitor offenders who go overseas to abuse children."

Death for Taiwan drug traffickers


VietNamNet Bridge – A local court in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on Friday sentenced two Taiwanese men to death for illegal drug trafficking in what it called a "particularly serious case".

The court found Lee Chih Wen, 35 and Wei Chun Lung, 43, guilty of forming an organised ring that trafficked drugs from Cambodia to HCM City and Taiwan.

The provincial court also sentenced Phan Thi Cam Tu, 32, to 20 years in prison and Huynh Thi Anh, 38, to 18 years' imprisonment on the same charges.

The court said that between May 12 and 21,2007, Huynh Thi Anh, Wei Chun Lung, Phan Thi Cam Tu and Lee Chil Wen illegally traded six packs of heroin with a total weight of 2.5105kg.

A Taiwanese man Lin Chao Hung, 52, and a Vietnamese Woman, Huynh Thi Thuy Em, 26, of Soc Trang Province, each received a three-year suspended jail term for "hiding criminals", the court said.

The two had hidden Lee Chih Wen in an undisclosed location in Sdc Trang Province.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

Watch Out For Cloggers

You have heard about bloggers but watch out for “Cloggers” What’s that? Cambodian bloggers, that’s what it is.

For a country struggling to get out of poverty, Cambodia’s 144 million population is pretty well wired up to cyberspace with one-in-ten persons connected to the Internet. This is their window to the world.

Many get into blogosphere to make a statement. Three years ago, Hor Virak who lived in the capital city of Phnom Penh, started riding his scooter all over the place clicking away on his digital camera and later uploading them on his blog. Hor makes statements with his photos on his blog. He wants to share his world with anyone who bothers to click.

Soon he began to acquire virtual friends.

For Hor Virak and his fellow cloggers, despite the low connectivity, clogging has also become a state of mind apart from just making statements.

To encourage more cloggers, Be Chantra spoke, started offering courses to young people to create their blogs. He established a non-profit organization, ‘open college’ with two friends in 2003.

In a little help from Microsoft and some other US groups, the ‘opne college’ have managed to train about two thousand young people to set-up and manage their blogs.

“Strictly speaking, we failed,” Be Chantra said. The reason is only less than one in twenty are able to create their blogs after finished the course.

Despite that, there are about a thousand Cambodia youngsters with blogs or clogs, most of them are student. If online fees can be lower net speed made faster, life would be better for cloggers. Be Chantra believes in the future, they will have more cloggers.

(Translated by ALICE TAN/ MySinchew)

Cambodian official attacked with acid
From correspondents in Phnom Penh
July 14, 2008

A SENIOR Cambodian government official has been attacked with acid, as the country gears up for a general election in two weeks.

Ngor Srun, secretary of state for the cabinet's office, was attacked yesterday at a garage in Phnom Penh, where he had taken his Lexus SUV for repairs, reported the Khmer-language Koh Santepheap Daily newspaper.

While he stooped to look at his vehicle's tyres, an assailant dumped acid over his head then fled on a motorbike driven by an accomplice, the newspaper said.

He was rushed to Calmette Hospital to treat acid burns on his face, ear and chest and then flown for treatment in Thailand last night, reported the English-language Cambodia Daily.

Mr Srun is a member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, which is expected to sweep the country's July 27 election.

Authorities refused to confirm the attack.

Acid attacks, while decreasing in recent years, are still a common form of revenge in Cambodia, often committed by jilted lovers.

Cambodia once suffered widespread violence in the run-up to elections, but in recent years campaigning has run peacefully.

The most dramatic attack in the current campaign was the shooting deaths on Friday of a Cambodian journalist and his son, though witnesses said the conflict appeared to be personal rather than political.

Millennium and Royal to launch $2 billion project in Cambodia

Travel Blackboard
Monday, 14 July 2008

Royal Group and Millennium Group are currently looking for investors for a new resort on an island off the East Coast of Cambodia which could eventuate to a US$2 billion project.

The new project revealed by Bloomberg, finds that the partners are looking to launch a new island resort on Koh Rong to include a new airport, apartments, casinos, golf courses, polo fields and the like.

It is understood that the two will raise funds to build this new development from regions such as the Middle East and London. Estimates put the development of the entire resort between ten and 15 years.

Koh Rong Island is the largest of 22 islands off the coast of Sihanoukville, and has been described Royal Group as ‘like the Maldives’.

Royal and Millennium are also said to be in talks with global and regional hoteliers, like Banyan Tree, to encourage them to also put properties on the island.

Cambodia has been aggressively developing its tourism offerings these last few years as the benefits of traveller dollars become more apparent. Visitors to Cambodia burst past the 2 million barrier last year for the first time.

Cambodia: Indian inertia versus growing Chinese presence
Sunday, 07.13.2008

Working towards greater economic cooperation forms an important part of India's Look East Policy. In the last two decades India's bilateral trade and investment with this region has increased significantly. However, the increase remains asymmetrical.

The case of Cambodia, for example, shows that India's interaction with the country is far below potential. In 2007, India's total trade with Cambodia was just US$53.7 million.

Although there was an exceptional increase of more than 100 per cent in annual trade over 2006 trade. However, this amount of trade is minimal in the overall trade of both countries.

Interestingly India's exports are far higher than the imports from Cambodia. There is hardly an Indian contribution in investments in Cambodia of around $2.8 billion in 2007. The latest data available shows that till 2002 India had invested only $1.1 million in Cambodia.

In recent times, some Indian companies such as Kirloskar have opened their offices in Cambodia.

Even as Cambodian authorities have made it very clear that they are looking for long term investments, the Indian government seems to be happy with paltry measures like lines of credit, donation of some money for Khmer Rouge trials, temple restoration, IT kiosks and gifting jars of indelible ink.

On the other hand, in an obvious indication of assertion in Southeast Asia, China is using economic means as a readily available tool to achieve its strategic objectives. The Chinese economic presence in Cambodia is not only expanding but also growing in strength.

The component of Chinese economic diplomacy largely contains investments and trade.

Although China is also a major donor, the focus is on increasing Chinese presence by means of foreign direct investment. The total volume of Chinese investment from 1994 to 2007 was US$1.76 billion.

There are 3,016 Chinese businesses operating in Cambodia which produced more than US$1.5 billion at the end of 2007. China-Cambodia bilateral trade is heading towards the US$1 billion mark having crossed US$900 million in 2007 with an annual growth of 30 per cent. China is present in every possible economic sector in Cambodia.

Chinese and French companies are major players in the emerging oil and gas sector and as Cambodia plans to build more than 10 hydropower plants in the near future, the Chinese are vying to grab the opportunity. Around four major Chinese steel companies are also engaged in joint ventures to develop iron ore mines in Cambodia.

The above facts make it very clear that while Chinese economic presence in Cambodia is overwhelming, the Indian presence is negligible by contrast. There is, therefore, an urgent need to identify some areas where Indian presence can be increased.

Cambodia has untapped natural resources, which makes it attractive destination for investment. According to recent estimates Cambodia has potential offshore oil deposits of about 700 million barrels and natural gas reserves of around 4 to 5 TCF (trillion cubic feet).

According to the Director-General of Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, there are significant onshore reserves in provinces of Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom and Pursat.

Other than petroleum reserves, Cambodia has iron ore reserves and gold. Given the India's energy needs and its expertise in the mining sector there lie greater possibilities of cooperation in these sectors.

More than 50 per cent of Cambodia's population is under 21 years of age. This population structure coupled with a growing economy makes Cambodia a fertile ground for knowledge-based industries. Given India's expertise in this field, this provides an opportunity for India to explore the human resource development sector in Cambodia.

Cambodia still remains an agriculture-based economy and diversification in agro-based products is its top priority in this sector. Indian companies can find a niche, here with their experience in bio-technology that can be used by Cambodia to improve yields in agriculture.

In recent times, Cambodia has also emerged as an attractive tourist destination. However, the lack of basic tourism-related infrastructure hinders the growth of this sector in Cambodia. Here, Indian hotel and resorts can play a vital role by investing in Cambodia's tourism sector.

To facilitate the growth of trade, adequate transportation, infrastructure and minimization of trade costs is needed. Here the physical connectivity from India through other Mekong region states will be a revolutionary step.

Institution-building is another important aspect in developing the economic linkages; a joint trade promotion mechanism of possible players will be a fruitful step. Above all, a good communication mechanism should be developed by the Indian government to inform the business community in India about the opportunities available in Cambodia.

(The writer is a Research Officer at IPCS)
Pranav Kumar

Pongpol explains about Preah Vihear to Abhisit

( - Pongpol Adireksarn, the chairman of Thailand's World Heritage Committee, met Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday morning to explain about issues concerning Preah Vihear temple.

Mr Pongpol said he had initiated the meeting, after he returned from Quebec, when a Unesco-sponsored meeting approved Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site on request of the Cambodian government. He said he wanted to clarify the issue - indicating there may be a lot of misinformation around.

He insisted Thailand lost no sovereignty after the committee approved the listing of the Hindu temple.

Mr Pongpol said he would like to explain to Mr Abhisit all the facts to prevent any misunderstandings about the matter that could lead to national rifts.

Push for Thais on Preah Vihear panel

The Bangkok Post

Move to protect local interests, say officials

The Foreign Ministry's Department of East Asian Affairs has suggested the government join the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) to manage the Preah Vihear temple to help protect the country's sovereignty.

Pisanu Suvanajata, the deputy director-general of the department, said sitting on the seven-nation committee, to be set up under the World Heritage Committee's (WHC) resolution, would benefit Thailand as it would provide a channel for Thailand to give its views on any conditions that would affect the country's sovereignty.

The WHC approved Cambodia's application to list the Hindu temple ruins as a World Heritage site and proposed a Thai representative sit on the seven-nation committee to safeguard and manage Preah Vihear.

Mr Pisanu said a Thai organisation or institute can join the ICC. The decision on whether Thailand would join the ICC was the duty of the chairman of Thailand's World Heritage Committee, Pongpol Adireksarn, to forward the matter to the cabinet for consideration, he added.

If the government agreed the country should join the ICC, it should decide before Feb 1, the deadline for the submission of documents to join the committee.

He said the ICC would not manage the 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area. The department's deputy chief shrugged off threats by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to take criminal action against ministry officials over the Preah Vihear issue, saying the ministry had followed all legal procedures.

He said Thailand had not lost anything from the temple listing by Cambodia. Cambodia agreed to revise the diagram of the temple to apply for the World Heritage listing, which meant Cambodia recognised that there was an overlapping area.

Cambodia's action would legally benefit Thailand in future negotiations with Phnom Penh over the boundary demarcation, he said.

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit said the Foreign Ministry should handle the overlapping areas, while the military would take charge of the country's sovereignty.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said in his weekly talk programme broadcast yesterday that Cambodia had the right to push for the listing of the temple ruins.

He said any government, including the Democrats, would have done the same as his government did and Cambodia would have eventually successfully listed its temple as a World Heritage site.

Mr Samak also said the Chuan Leekpai government had sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1997 to rescue the country from an economic crisis, under the condition that Thailand amend 15 laws, of which 11 had been done, and people labelled that move as selling the nation. Luckily, he said, Mr Chuan had managed to ask the Constitution Court whether the signing of the agreement with the IMF should be approved by parliament, but the court said it was not necessary.

In the Preah Vihear case, the court ruled that the signing of the joint communique must be approved by parliament despite the fact that it has never caused any loss to the nation, said Mr Samak.

Killing of reporter brings fear to Cambodian election campaign

Radio Australia

In Cambodia, a journalist and his son have been shot dead in what appears to be a targetted assassination.

The 47-year old opposition newspaper reporter was killed on Friday evening and his son died in hospital later that night.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane Speakers: Sara Colm, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch; Kek Galabru, president of LICADHO, Yim Sovann, candidate for Sam Rainsy Party; Khieu Kanarith, Minister of Information

SFX chanting

About 500 people came to pay their last respects to journalist Khim Sambor on Sunday. He was riding on the back of a scooter with his 21-year-old son in central Phnom Penh when two men on a motorcycle opened fire from several meters away, killing Sambor and fatally wounding his son.

The journalist was a contributor to Moneaksekar Khmer, the daily newspaper affiliated to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

It's the first killing of a journalist in five years and Sara Colm from Human Rights Watch says it will have a chilling effect on Cambodia's pre-election environment.

"Whether it was politically motivated or not, it will still have an effect on people, making them more afraid to speak out, to write, to attend rallies."

Kek Galabru is the president of the Cambodian human rights group

She says that so far there have been reports of 11 political activists killed during the election campaign, although it's not clear whether all cases were politically motivated. Galabru says this murder the first high profile killing during the campaign - will probably cause self-censorship of the media and fear amongst voters.

"All the voters are scared now, especially the ones who want to support the opposition. For example, Dam Sith, the editor in chief of the newspaper of the opposition. He locked himself at home, he didn't even come to the funeral, the cremation of this victim."

Dam Sith is the boss of the slain journalist and also a candidate for the Sam Rainsy Party. Last month he was held in jail on charges of defamation and disinformation after his newspaper reported a claim from the opposition leader that Cambodia's current Foreign Minister, Hor Nam Hong, was in charge of a Khmer Rouge death camp in the 1970s. A complaint was also lodged against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, and the court asked the National Assembly to remove his parliamentary immunity so he too could be prosecuted. The National Assembly said it could not remove the immunity at this time and Sam Rainsy is on a whistle-stop tour of the countryside to promote his party. Yim Sovann is a standing committee member of the Sam Rainsy Party and a candidate in the election. He attended the cremation of the journalist on Sunday and said the killing had political overtones.

"The government [is] afraid the opposition will win the election so they try to create this time the killing to intimidate the people, the voters, especially the activists of Sam Rainsy Party."

COCHRANECambodia's Minister of Information, Khieu Kanarith was also at the cremation ceremony. Kanarith said he has asked journalists to continue their duty and not to hide, but admitted the murder reflected badly on Cambodia's election campaign.


" I think this killing comes at a very bad time, because this is during the election and this will give a bad image of the electoral process, but also we ask that the authorities conduct an investigation and quickly find the culprit and bring them to justice."

But historically, there has been little justice for Cambodian reporters killed in the line of duty. Local rights groups say this is the 12th reporter killed since Cambodia's first elections in the early 1990s, but not a single perpetrator has been convicted of their deaths. Rights groups and the opposition called for a swift investigation and arrests. But Sam Rainsy Party leader Yim Sovann warned that innocent people might be framed for the murder, as is alleged to have happened with the 2004 killing of trade unionist Chea Vichea.

"And do not arrest the plastic murderer, please arrest the true murderer. Don't do like you have done before. [In] many political killing the murderer [is] never arrested, I do not accuse the government but it's the government responsibility to arrest the true murderer."

COCHRANEThere are just two weeks to go until the country goes to the polls on July 27. But with allegations of intimidation and now this killing, observers like Kek Galabru say the chances of a free and fair election are becoming slim.

"So how we can say this election is free? It's not possible. Free, it means that every single Cambodian can come out, can support any political party [with] no intimidation, no stick, and no vote buying, no carrot. So here they use stick and carrot - a lot of carrot but a lot of stick also."

Liam Cochrane for Radio Australia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Major opposition party expects to win half votes in general election of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The major opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) expects to win over 50 percent of the votes in the July 27 general election, English-Khmer language newspaper the Mekong Times said Monday.

SRP "is to win 62 (out of the 123 seats at the National Assembly) in the election" and will make gains particularly in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province, the paper quoted SRP secretary general Eng Chhay Eang as saying.

The victory in the poll has been assured by the electorate's disillusionment with the present government, as "people can see the government's powerlessness to prevent corruption and inflation," he said.

People know that only SRP can eliminate corruption, lower goods prices, solve unemployment and provide free health services, he added.

Altogether 11 parties participate in the current election. Major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has predicted landslide victory for itself.

SRP was established in 1995 as an opposition force. It used to be the third largest party of the kingdom, but surpassed the co-ruling Funcinpec Party in April 2007 during the commune councils election to be No. 2 closely trailing CPP.

Editor: Du Guodong

Cambodian secretary of state attacked by acid

PHNOM PENH, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Ngor Srun, secretary of state at the Cambodian Council of Ministers and top aid for Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, was the victim of an acid attack Sunday morning and now in Thailand for further medical care, said police source here Monday.

The attack occurred in downtown Phnom Penh, as Srun ended his participation of a major general election campaign for the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and prepared to bring his vehicle to a nearby workshop for mechanical check, said the source.

Srun was hospitalized at the Calmette Hospital around 11:00 a.m. local time Sunday and transferred to Thailand later in the afternoon, the source said.

Police refused to give more details of the crime.

English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily Monday quoted hospital source as saying that Srun was burnt on the left side of his face, ear and chest.

His wounds were cleaned, treated and bandaged in the emergency room over the course of two hours, said the source.

"The patient's symptoms seemed fine. But with an acid attack, it is hard to predict," the source added.

Meanwhile, the paper quoted an anonymous man as saying that "this is a family problem, (but) I want to keep it a secret."

Sarun, a CPP member, is husband to the second daughter of Cambodian Senator President Chea Sim.

This has been the second high-profile crime so far during Cambodia's general election month, which started in June and will end on July 27.

Friday, veteran reporter Khim Sambo and his son were shot dead on street. Sambo used to work as part-time contributor for the Khmer Conscience News, a Cambodian-language newspaper closed affiliated with major opposition party.

Editor: Du Guodong

Small Steps for Cambodia's 'Jungle Girl'
July 13 2008

PHNOM PENH—Cambodia’s “jungle girl,” who lived alone in the forest for 18 years after vanishing at age nine, has learned to dress herself, bathe, and laugh in the year-and-a-half since she returned to her family, but she remains unable to speak, her father and a local police officer say.

“She knows how to do a lot of things. She just doesn’t speak,” her father, Sal Lou, said in an interview. “She mostly stays alone, laughing, singing, and talking to herself in her animal-jungle language that we cannot understand.”

“I would like to appeal to the U.S. government to help bring my daughter to the States where she can have an opportunity to receive treatment, rehabilitation, and learn to speak from medical doctors and other specialists.”

He also said he hopes for assistance from the Cambodian government and other countries.

Sal Lou, 43 and a retired police officer, identified his oldest child, Rochom P’ngieng, by a scar on her arm after villagers reported seeing a naked woman stealing food in January 2007. She has lived with Sal Lou, his wife, six other children, and six grandchildren since then.

“I think she is different now. She seems to know or aware more of things around her. We can see that she can eat, can dress by herself... Now she is happy. She looks very fresh, her face is brightening... I do not mean to praise my own child, but everyone who comes to see her loves her.”

She now dresses, bathes, and feeds herself, as well as playing and laughing with her nieces and nephews, he said. She now also walks almost upright, according to Sal Lou and district police detective Ma Vichit.

‘Animal-jungle language’

Rochom P’ngieng, now 29, vanished in 1989 while tending buffalo near the jungle in Cambodia’s remote northern Rattanakiri province.

Her plight came to light when a villager noticed some of his food had been taken and staked out the area, 350 kms (220 miles) northeast of Phnom Penh.

Sal Lou said he knows Rochom P’ngieng understands spoken language because “when we tell her to eat or take a bath, she does accordingly. She also takes a bath and rubs herself clean by herself, but we have to fetch the water for her. But she never takes anything without people give it to her directly...”

No doctors or aid workers have visited her since January 2007, he said. Nor has her DNA been tested to ascertain that she is Sal Lou’s daughter. She ran back to the jungle for nine days in April 2007 but her mother retrieved her after village children reported seeing her.

“When she feels hungry she would go and look for food to eat, and she eats by herself. She can understand what we speak to her, but she does not speak,” he said, adding that her routine consists of washing, eating two meals a day, and little more.

Asked if she understands who she is, he replied, “I cannot say anything about this, because she hasn’t spoken yet. But I believe she knows and understands everything.”

“The spirits haven’t allowed her to talk—it’s not the right time yet. Also we don’t have money to make an offering to the spirits who have been taking care of her... We need one buffalo to do the offering.”

Small steps

Ma Vichit, the police detective, cited “15 percent progress” over the last 18 months. Her family is trying to teach her both Khmer and their own minority Pnong language, he said.

“She tries to use a spoon now,” he said in an interview. “She tries to help in the kitchen. And she can alert someone when she needs to be taken to urinate. Her activity is a little inconsistent, though—she can concentrate only for short periods.”

“But her body is transformed. Her complexion is changing. And she is charming,” Ma Vichit said.

Sal Lou also said his daughter prefers vegetables at meals.

“She takes any food we would normally eat, but she prefers vegetables and fruits to meat. As you know, in the jungle there are only fruits and vegetables that she used to eat. She eats some meat, but mostly she picks the vegetables,” he said.

“We bring new clothes and tell her to get changed. She changes into the clean clothes by herself. But she does not know how to wash and clean the dirty clothes, so we have to wash for her,” he said.

“She plays and laughs with her nieces and nephews, holding, carrying, hugging, and kissing them. I can see that she does love her nieces and nephews, six of them. I have six grandchildren. We live together though we are very poor.”

BKK gains benefits from deal with Phnom Penh over Preah Vihear Temple

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
July 14, 2008

Thailand has not lost anything but gained a lot of benefits from the deal with Cambodia over the World Heritage listing of Preah Vihear Temple.

The Foreign Ministry said it managed to make Cambodia accept for the first time that there is an unresolved disputed area surrounding the Hindu temple.

Phnom Penh always referred to the Frenchmade map to indicate its boundary in the area. That's the reason why Cambodia initially claimed 4.6 square kilometres over the area for the Preah Vihear buffer zone in its proposal.

Thailand also claimed sovereignty over the area in accordance with its own map.

As Cambodia agreed to revise the graphic plan of the property for World Heritage listing, it meant Cambodia recognised that the area was an "overlapping area", said Deputy Director of East Asia Affairs Pisanu Suvanajata.

Legally speaking, such recognition would benefit Thailand in future negotiations with Cambodia over the boundary demarcation, he said.

The deal with Cambodia to list the Hindu temple has caused political difficulties for Samak Sundaravej's government as senators, the opposiฌtion Democrat Party and street protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accuse the Cabinet of losing territory over the temple and the surrounding area.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia since it is sitฌuated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia. The Cabinet under the leadership of dictator Sarit Thanarat agreed to relinquish some 250,000 square metres of territory where the temple sits to Cambodia.

The senators, opposition and the PAD interpreted the ICJ's ruling difฌferently, saying that only the ruins belong to Cambodia but the soil on which the temple sits belongs to Thailand.

Allowing Cambodia to list the temple means loss of sovereignty. The Constitution Court, at the request of some senators, ruled the joint communique signed by former foreign minister Noppadon and Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok Anh to support Cambodia's application was a treaty which might cause a change to Thai sovereignty.

The communique was ruled unconstitutional and Noppadon was forced to quit.

It was the first time domestic political sensitivity over the temple had been acknowledged by the World Heritage Committee since the body consistently insisted listing had nothing to do with sovereignty.

Documents from Thailand earlier to support the application were withdrawn during a meeting of the committee in Quebec last week, according to the head of Thailand's world heritage committee Pongpol Adireksarn.

Pisanu said to gain the attention of the World Heritage Committee over the area around Preah Vihear, Thailand intended to apply for an archaeological site downhill as an adjoining nomination to the listed site. He said the Hindu temple of Phnom Roung in Buri Ram could also be proposed.

This is the result of the Quebec meeting being of benefit to Thailand.

Another benefit of the Quebec meeting, said Pisanu, was the right to join the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) which is a policymaking body for the safeguarding and development of Preah Vihear.

The World Heritage Committee asked Cambodia to invite Thailand to be a member of ICC together with not more than seven other internaฌtional partners.

There was wide misunderstandฌing among academics that the ICC would become a body to run the overlapping area.

In fact, the overlapping area had already been excluded and the World Heritage Committee's decision made clear in its 14th paragraph that the ICC would cover only the listed "property", according to the Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi, who attended the Quebec meeting.

Joining the ICC would be a gain, rather than loss, since Thai repreฌsentatives would have the right to run Preah Vihear and the chance to voice Thai concerns, if any, to protect the country's national interest.

"It's good to have our ears, eyes and mouths there," ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said.