Saturday, 19 July 2008

Explaination of Ros Chantraboth about Preah Vihear Temple

News #5 - Preah Vihear - 19.07.2008

Day 5 at Preah Vihear temple (Unlikely to get violent)

Thai Colonel Chay Huay Soon Nern (L) gestures as Cambodian General Srey Dek (R) talks to a Thai soldier at Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the compounds of Preah Vihaer temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over an ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier carrying B41 rockets walks past soldiers from Thailand (in black) as they stand stand guard near the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda of the Preah Vihear temple, about 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over the ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk, left, walks past a Thai soldier at a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex which was occupied by Thai soldiers near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, July 19, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple entered.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai soldiers stand guard at a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex which they have occupied near Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, July 19, 2008. A Cambodian general said a border standoff between his soldiers and Thai troops came close to a shoot-out overnight as the confrontation over disputed territory surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple entered.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Thai solder, left, watches his fellow soldiers are heading from the border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple which Thai troops have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand enters its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian soldier (R) looks at his mobile phone with a Thai soldier as they patrol near Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the compounds of Preah Vihaer temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over an ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia soldiers (front) patrol with a Thai soldier (standing) near Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the compounds of Preah Vihaer temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over an ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) Photo Tools

Thai soldiers walk next to a pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple which is situated in Cambodia. Thailand sent more military reinforcements to a disputed part of the Cambodian border Friday, after the tense four-day standoff nearly erupted into gunfire during the night.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Cambodian soldiers stand guard near a Buddhist temple which was occupied by Thai soldiers Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand enters its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian military police (R) stand guard at the Preah Vihear temple, about 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over the ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

People on a truck loaded with food and other supplies drive past Thai soldiers (R) as they stand guard with Cambodian soldiers (C) near Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the compounds of Preah Vihaer temple, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over an ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
Photo Tools

Cambodian Buddhist monks, left, square off with Thai soldiers inside a Cambodian Buddhist temple which Thai soldiers have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand enters its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A demining team from Thailand walks inside the compound of the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda of the Preah Vihear temple, about 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 19, 2008. Cambodia sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand on Friday, as both sides insisted the flare-up over the ancient temple was unlikely to get violent.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Thai soldiers stand guard at a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex which they have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand enters its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai soldiers carry a container of water inside a Cambodian Buddhist temple complex which they have occupied near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Saturday, July 19, 2008. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand enters its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Newly-arrived Thai soldiers walk from the border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple which their fellow soldiers have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand entered its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A newly-arrived Thai soldier, center, walks through Cambodian soldiers as he heads from the border to a Cambodian Buddhist temple which Thai soldiers have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear temple, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand entered its fifth day Saturday, as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Newly-arrived Thai soldiers walk through a Cambodian Buddhist temple which their fellow soldiers have occupied Saturday, July 19, 2008 near Preah Vihear, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. The military stand off between Cambodia and Thailand entered its fifth day Saturday as both sides continue to reinforce their troops ahead of scheduled talks over a disputed border area.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

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Cambodia to fly international military attaches to disputed temple

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Jul 19, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's Defence Ministry announced it would fly military attaches from China, the United States and other countries yet to be named to the Preah Vihear temple complex to view a border dispute first hand, local television announced Saturday.

The Khmer-language private television station CTN made the announcement in a lunchtime bulletin, adding that the tour of the temple by the international delegation would take place imminently and would be led by Cambodian armed forces chief Sao Sokha.

Although private, CTN is owned by powerful businessman Kith Meng and is viewed as close to the government.

Thailand has maintained the temple is in a disputed no man's land and that a Thai presence in the area was not breaching Cambodian sovereignty. Cambodia disagreed and asked for the tour by international observers.

Meanwhile CTN announced Thai troops had withdrawn from a pagoda a few hundred metres from Preah Vihear and had camped in nearby jungle.

Tensions have been running high on the border since Cambodia asked UNESCO to list the temple as a World Heritage site despite there being a dispute over a 4.6-kilometre swath of land nearby.

UNESCO obliged earlier this month, but tensions spilled over Tuesday when Cambodia briefly detained then released three Thais it said had illegally crossed the border, prompting first dozens, and then hundreds of Thai troops to follow in an alleged incursion.

On Friday, Thailand warned the situation was deteriorating but Cambodia has said it will not be intimidated.

'I would rather lose my life than lose my country's territory,' veteran parliamentarian Cheam Yeap of the ruling Cambodian People's Party said regarding the temple Friday.

50 years of China-Cambodia diplomatic ties

China and Cambodia have celebrated their 50th anniversaryof diplomatic ties.(Photo:


Source: 07-19-2008

China and Cambodia have celebrated their 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

The President of the China-Cambodia Friendship Association, Gu Xiu-lian, and Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, attended the event.

Yang Jiechi said the Chinese government will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to Cambodia. He said China is willing to promote traditional friendship, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation with Cambodia. He also said China will continue to promote common development to contribute more to regional peace and prosperity.

Editor:Liu Fang

Workers abandon construction site

Three protesters against Cambodia's listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site stand behind barbed wire at Khao Phra Viharn national park in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district after their return to Thailand. From left: Phra Khampheng Chayathamo, Vicharn Tapsorn, and Chanikan Kengnok.

The Bangkok Post
Saturday July 19, 2008


SI SA KET : About 300 Thai construction hands working for Ch Karnchang Plc returned from Cambodia yesterday, fearing the already tense situation would deteriorate into violence and their safety would be compromised over the Preah Vihear temple conflict.

The group abandoned the construction site of a national road project in Oddar Meancheay province and arrived at the Chong Sa-ngam border checkpoint in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district in the morning. They are worried over their security as the protest against the listing of the ancient Hindu temple as a World Heritage site shows no sign of ending, said immigration police captain Supap Srisuk.

Cambodians who work in Thailand have also begun to return to their country. The returning Thai workers were hired last year to build a 167-km-long road linking Chong Sa-ngam, Anlong Veng and Siem Reap under a Thai-Cambodian joint venture.

The Thai government, which is financing the project with a 229-million-baht investment, believes the route would promote tourism when completed next year, providing the shortest journey from Thailand to the world-renowned Angkor Wat.

However, the ongoing protest is keeping away tourists from the region as many tour groups have cancelled trips to Cambodia because of the growing danger.

Nikom Maksik, a car rent service operator in Si Sa Ket, said his business has begun to suffer as the number of customers has dropped. A serious conflict between Thailand and Cambodia also erupted back in 2003.

An alleged comment by a Thai actress that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand caused a violent riot in Phnom Penh, including the torching of the Thai embassy, although she strongly denied saying so.

Three Thai protesters who were arrested in Cambodia for illegally entering the Preah Vihear temple earlier in the week, have filed a charge against Cambodian authorities for detaining them on land they claim "belongs to the Thai people".

The group, consisting of a man, a woman and a monk, lodged the charge with Bueng Malu police in Kantharalak district, asking them to take action against the Cambodian authorities for limiting their freedom.

However, their presence before the police yesterday caused Si Sa Ket police chief Pol Maj-Gen Pinit Faengyong to order an investigation into their protest.

However, one of the protesters, Vicharn Tapsorn, 40, admitted to police that his group climbed over a gate and entered a disputed area claimed by both countries near the temple. Some Cambodian villagers scolded them before they were taken away by Cambodian soldiers. "We just meditated there," Mr Vicharn said, insisting they have the right to do so.

Mr Vicharn, Phra Khampheng Chayathamo and Chanikan Kengnok were released from detention on Tuesday. Their protest irked Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who called them "absurd."

His reaction was strongly criticised by former prime minister and Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, who said the premier was too pessimistic.

"The premier should carefully consider their reasons. No one wants to risk his life by doing anything wrong," Mr Chuan said.

Meanwhile, Somsak Kosaisuk, a key leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, blamed the Si Sa Ket governor and police for failing to prevent Thursday's clash between PAD members and their rivals. The PAD members were blocked by some villagers as they were trying to march toward the temple ruins to stage a protest. Two of its members were injured.

Aid as impediment to development

Cambodia is one of the single biggest recipients of foreign aid in the world. However, some critics say the vast flow of development funds has created a culture of dependency.
101 East's Fauziah Ibrahim finds out if foreign aid is harming the country more than it is helping it.

Cham Kar Bei, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, is among the poorest villages in Cambodia.

Yet, the village was once considered a progressive community, largely thanks to being granted a development project by the UN agency Unesco in 1998.

UN funding saw a new school built and the installation of machines that meant villagers were taught how to sew, knit and weave.

But when Unesco handed control over to the local authorities at the end of its mandate in 2004, problems began to crop up, according to Chum Nuong, a Cham Kar Bei village councillor.

"Because our community did not have the managing experience and no leadership, we could not continue the activities," he told Al Jazeera.

Without proper infrastructure, the programmes have become dilapidated like the machines and hand looms - which sit rusting while children are forced to stand in classrooms due to lack of chairs.The Cham Kar Bei community say they were not given sufficient training and support to continue the development project and consequently the machines have been left to rot. Many non-governmental organisations say this is typical of major international aid agencies. They may have bigger budgets but they lack effective planning or a policy of consultation with local communities.

Today, a smaller group, Bridges Across Borders, is attempting to revive development in Cham Kar Bei.

Community participation

"Co-operation is the most important aspect," Sil Sineng from the group says. "The idea of thinking ahead for the sustainability of the project is the most important.

"The participation from the community, the empowerment of the community - I don't think Unesco is focusing on such concepts. They are just coming to run it by themselves. When they stop it, nobody can continue because Unesco didn't involve them in the beginning."

Cambodia does not suffer a lack of international aid. It is one of the single biggest recipients of foreign help in the world, most of which goes to helping the majority rural poor.

About half of the central government’s budget is dependent on donor assistance, and there are an estimated 600 NGOs currently operating in the country.

In some experts' opinion, all this available help sometimes proves counterproductive.

"Aid is helping Cambodians with regard to education, with regard to health," Theary Seng from the group Cambodian Social Development.

"But it's also enabling a system that is corrupt, enabling a system that is mismanaged, enabling the status quo that is poor governance, and more than that it is creating a mentality of dependency where we are constantly begging." Large-scale foreign aid continues to be given to Cambodia despite the fact the country consistently ranks among the most corrupt nations in Asia.

Some critics have accused the government of pocketing a portion of the financial aid before the money is channelled to those who need it most.

'Kind of blackmail'

Sam Rainsy, an opposition leader, even says the administration is guilty of a "kind of blackmail"."They [the government] say that if the donor community wants to help the people, they have to go through the Cambodian government and tolerate any practice, otherwise the poor will get nothing," he says.

The government rejects those accusations.

"I don't agree, not at all with such judgment," Hor Namhong, the Cambodian foreign minister, said. "Always the grant aid goes to the people.

"Take one example when China gave us the money to build a bridge in the countryside. We used all the money to build roads and bridges."

Other personalities critical of how development money is spent, say it is the donors who should be more vigilant when dispensing aid to Cambodia.

In 1999, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loaned the Cambodian government $40 million to build part of a national highway linking the capital Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border, aimed at promoting economic trade between the two countries.

But activists say the Cambodian government failed to compensate those who lost their homes and livelihoods to make way for the new road.

Donor indifference

"We found that a lack of monitoring on the part of the ADB," Peter Raingsey of the NGO Forum in Cambodia, said. "And the ADB itself recognises this part of their activity.

"Most of the time ADB try to defend themselves by saying that those monies had already been released to the government, meaning it no longer responsible and the government needs to respond that. So the ADB only thinks about the loan."

International aid has also been plagued by the debate over "technical assistants" or foreign consultants hired by the agencies to oversee aid projects.

Cambodia is not immune to the controversy over these experts who often take up a large amount of the aid budget.

Sil Sineng from Bridges Across Borders says he worked once with an international agency where half the total project budget was taken by technical assistants' pay.

"I don't think it is necessary, they have only three people. It's necessary to have one or two people, is enough and by doing that we can build the capacity of the local people," he says.

"I can see that many Cambodians, they can do the work, but sometimes they are not empowered, they are not respected."

Until Cambodians are respected, many say the culture of dependency and the cycle of poverty will continue.

Cambodia sends more troops to temple area

The Bangkok Post
Saturday July 19, 2008


Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ung Sean was summoned to the Foreign Ministry yesterday to hear the government's protest over Cambodia's claim of ownership of the disputed zone near the Preah Vihear temple.

Bangkok's diplomatic manoeuvre came as Phnom Penh sent more troops to the area. The Thai army is likely to counter the move and match forces with Cambodia.

The ministry handed the ambassador a letter from Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, which insisted Thai soldiers were deployed on Thai soil, according to ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat.

On Thursday, the Cambodian prime minister wrote to Mr Samak demanding the withdrawal of Thai troops from Cambodian territory.

Mr Samak's letter said the government was concerned about the increasing border troop build-up by Cambodia, which would lead to a deteriorating situation.

Mr Samak argued that the area the Cambodian leader claimed in his letter was part of Cambodia was actually within Thailand.

"The establishment of the Cambodian community, including construction of a temple, houses and the stationing of Cambodian military personnel in the area is a continued violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the letter said.

Thailand had protested against the intrusion of Cambodians into the area four times - in 2004, 2005, 2007 and last year, it said.

The two neighbours claim sovereignty over a 4.6-square-kilometre area at the border. Thailand claims it is part of Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province, while Cambodia claims it is in its province of Preah Vihear.

Eight ambassadors to Thailand from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were briefed by the ministry. They were handed copies of the letters from Mr Hun Sen and Mr Samak.

Mr Samak repeated Thailand's determination to resolve the problem in the area immediately adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple through peaceful means.

In Si Sa Ket, a Thai intelligence source said about 2,000 Cambodian soldiers with heavy military equipment, including helicopters and personnel carriers, were stationed at Komui village close to the contested area yesterday.

They were elite soldiers sent in to counter the special forces which Thailand planned to send to the area.

A Cambodian convoy of four heavy military trucks with mounted machine guns and two smaller trucks was seen travelling from the capital, Phnom Penh, to the border yesterday, according to Reuters. The soldiers were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles.

"I am leading these men to reinforce our troops at Preah Vihear," Gen Yim Sanh said.

A Thai army source said Thailand planned to dispatch more soldiers to the disputed area to at least match the Cambodian forces.

Second Army commander Lt-Gen Sujit Sithiprapa vowed to keep Thai troops in the overlapping area until the General Border Committee (GBC) meets on Monday in Aranyaprathet district.

Lt-Gen Sujit denied reports that soldiers from the two countries nearly clashed on Thursday evening.

"I can confirm that Thai and Cambodian soldiers are staying together in the area without any conflicts or clashes," he said.

The GBC is chaired by the defence ministers of the two countries.

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit will lead the Thai negotiators to meet their Cambodian counterparts led by Defence Minister Teah Banh.

Gen Boonsrang was assigned by Mr Samak, who is also defence minister, to attend the talks.

Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda, air force leader ACM Chalit Pukpasuk, navy commander Adm Sathiraphan Keyanont, national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan and National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Lt-Gen Surapol Puaenaiyaga met yesterday to assess the situation in Si Sa Ket ahead of the GBC meeting.

Gen Boonsrang indicated Thailand could propose Phnom Penh withdraw about 500 Cambodian villagers from the disputed area as a condition for a Thai military withdrawal.

Say no to ugly nationalism

The Bangkok Post
Saturday July 19, 2008

The bloody clash between members of the the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy and a group of local people in Si Sa Ket at the foot of the contentious Preah Vihear temple complex is a sad event. It is a culmination of the relentless building up of nationalist frenzy to the point that it bypasses reason and good judgement.

The touchy issue of Preah Vihear could not have occurred at a worse time for Thai-Cambodian relations, either. An ill-natured election campaign in Cambodia and an equally vengeful government-opposition face-off in Thailand have turned a cultural subject back into a political and nationalist confrontation. The governments on both sides of the border have caved in to the actions of self-styled super-patriots. A border committee meeting scheduled for Monday has to take firm action on both sides of the border to end all threats of violence and ratchet down the ugly voices.

The near-crisis around the temple issue has occurred for a variety of unfortunate reasons. For separate but equal reasons, neither Thai nor Cambodian authorities have been totally in control of events focusing on the ancient treasure. In both countries, extreme nationalists managed to gain the upper hand, leading to an ugly confrontation at the Preah Vihear site.

The priority on both sides of the border must be for the proper authorities to gain total control. There has been neither cause nor justification for the self-styled patriots of either Thailand or Cambodia to challenge the status quo at the temple site. Thais and Cambodians have long inhabited the region around the temple peacefully. Credit is due to both governments and both local military commands at the frontier for dealing peacefully and leniently with the mobs set on "liberating" the temple and the disputed surrounding territory.

It is an unhappy coincidence that both the Thai and Cambodian authorities have had to deal so cautiously with such embarrassing groups. Still, the army should have moved much more forcefully to block extremists in their quest to violate long-established border controls. The brief arrest of three Thais for crossing illegally into Cambodia was embarrassing to Thai forces responsible for border security - and to all Thais who want to see a peaceful resolution to existing disputes around the temple.

Just as in Thailand, the Cambodian political opposition has accused the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen of being soft on Preah Vihear, of negotiating with Thailand instead of seizing the 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping land.

There, as here, the government has had to try to deal with the temple tempest without seeming to be going against the national will.

Thai authorities have invited Cambodian counterparts to Sa Kaeo province on Monday for a special meeting of the General Border Committee. Thankfully, officials of both countries have stayed calm. There is no reason for any cross-border confrontation on the issue.

It might be wise to close the area for a short time to let tempers cool. Thai and Cambodian troops should agree to jointly patrol the area and prevent any civilians or nationalist groups from violating the border.

Because of the temple's unique geographical location, discussions should be held on jointly caring for the grounds around the Cambodia-owned temple. In addition, authorities must agree to begin talks and surveys to settle ownership of the disputed patch of land around Preah Vihear.

Both the temple and bilateral relations are too important to let ultra-nationalists gain the upper hand with violence.

Tension along Thai-Cambodian border continues, agencies

Cambodian and Thailand Saturday increased their troops in the fifth day of a tense standoff on disputed land near Preah Vihear temple.

There are more than 500 Thai troops and over 1,000 Cambodian soldiers stationing in the area, according to AFP.

The mood among Cambodians reportedly became tense on Friday evening when Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ung Sean was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear the Thai government's protest over Cambodia's claim of ownership of the disputed zone near the temple.

According to the ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat, the ministry handed the ambassador a letter from Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to his Cambodian counterpart HunSen, which insisted Thai soldiers were deployed on Thai soil.

Mr Samak's letter said the area the Cambodian leader claimed was part of Cambodia was actually within Thailand.

Brigadier Chea Keo, commander of Cambodian forces in the area, replied on Saturday: "On the map, it is our territory."

Cambodia and Thailand continue troop buildup despite pledge to hold talks

The Associated Press
Published: July 19, 2008

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia: Cambodia and Thailand continued to reinforce their troops along a disputed border area near an 11th century temple Saturday, even as they prepared for talks to avert a military confrontation.

Some 300 more Cambodian soldiers and 100 Thais were seen by Associated Press reporters arriving near the Preah Vihear temple late Friday, although commanders declined to confirm those numbers.

Earlier, Cambodian Brig. Gen. Chea Keo said Cambodia had about 800 troops as against 400 Thai soldiers in the area as the standoff entered a fifth day.

The countries are to meet Monday in an attempt to defuse the conflict over territory surrounding the ancient temple, which escalated when UNESCO recently approved Cambodia's application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site. Thai activists fear the new status will undermine Thailand's claim to nearby land since the border has never been demarcated.

Chea Keo said troops from the opposing forces were on the brink of a shoot-out Thursday night when Cambodian monks gathered to celebrate Buddhist lent at a pagoda about 220 yards (200 meters) from the ancient temple.

The incident occurred when Thai troops tried to evict about 50 Cambodian soldiers from the compound of the Buddhist pagoda, where they sought to camp for the night to provide security for the monks. The two sides raised their rifles at each other, but the standoff ended with the Cambodians eventually pulling back, Chea Keo said Friday.

A Thai army spokeswoman said she was not aware of any brinksmanship taking place.

Thai soldiers entered the Preah Vihear area Tuesday, staking out positions at a Buddhist temple compound. However, some resident Cambodian monks remained and Cambodian soldiers have continued to visit them.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote a letter to Samak on Thursday saying relations had been "worsening" since Thai troops "encroached on our territory," and asked Samak to pull them back.

Responding to his Cambodian counterpart, Samak said the area around the pagoda referred to in the letter "is within the Thai territory," according to a statement Saturday from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While urging both sides to exercise restraint, Samak's letter said that the settlement of Cambodians in that area constitutes "a continued violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

In an effort to contain the tension, the Cambodian Interior Ministry instructed authorities in border provinces to maintain "good working relations" and avoid "confrontation or violence."

The dispute has taken a toll on tourism in the area, with the Thai side closed to visitors and the U.S. Embassy recommending Friday that American citizens "defer travel to this area until the situation has been resolved."

It also is starting to hurt economic relations between the two neighbors. On Friday, about 200 Thai construction workers returned home from Cambodia, said Capt. Supab Srisuk, an immigration policewoman.

"They wanted to return, fearing for their safety," she said. "They said they would go back to work when the situation returns to normal."

Cambodia and Thailand further increase troops in border standoff

Soldiers from Thailand patrol the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihaer temple compound, along the Thai-Cambodian border. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

July 19, 2008

PREAH VIHEAR (Cambodia) - CAMBODIA and Thailand further increased their forces in the fifth day of a tense standoff on disputed land near an ancient Hindu temple on the border, officials said.

More than 500 Thai troops and well over 1,000 Cambodian soldiers are stationed around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

'Now there are nearly 400 Thai troops stationed in the pagoda. I'm not sure how many are stationed in the jungle,' said Brigadier Chea Keo on Saturday. He is the commander of Cambodian forces in the area.

Cambodian officials declined to give the number of their forces at the border, however hundreds of anti-riot police began reinforcing more than 1,000 troops in the area on Friday while more than 100 Thai troops joined 400 soldiers already at the scene.

Officials said the situation was 'stable' on Saturday but the mood among Cambodians became tense on Friday evening when they got word of a letter from Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, saying the addition of Cambodian troops had caused the situation to 'deteriorate'.

In the letter calling for a peaceful solution to the standoff, Mr Samak said Cambodia had violated a pre-existing agreement not to build in disputed territory, according to a statement by the Thai foreign ministry.

'The establishment of the Cambodian community, including construction of a temple and houses, and the stationing of the Cambodian military personnel in the area constitute a continued violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity,' said the Thai foreign ministry.

Asked about the Thai premier's claims, Brigadier Chea Keo answered: 'On the map, it is our territory.'

The standoff nearly erupted into violence late on Thursday, when witnesses said troops twice pointed their guns at each other during 10 tense minutes at the pagoda when 50 Cambodian troops entered the pagoda compound to protect food supplies for dozens of monks.

Officials from both countries plan to meet Monday to resolve the standoff.

But Premier Hun Sen and told his Thai counterpart in a letter on Thursday that the dispute was worsening and harming their relations. -- AFP

Thai Prime Minister Samak 'Note' sent to Khmer Prime Minister Hun Sen

19 July 2008

BANGKOK, July 19 (TNA) - Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited Cambodian Ambassador Ung Sean to receive a letter from Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in response to the Khmer premier's July 17 diplomatic 'Note'.

On Friday (July 18), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited Mr. Ung Sean to receive Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's letter to Premier Hun Sen in reply to his July 17 Note.

Mr. Samak reaffirmed the Royal Thai Government's resolve to seek a just and peaceful solution to the situation in the area immediately adjacent to the Temple of Preah Vihear.

The Thai premier said he has instructed the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to lead Thai delegates to Monday's session of the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) in Sa Kaeo Province to discuss issues surrounding the situation with the Cambodian side in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

Mr. Samak affirmed that the two countries should use every means to prevent escalation of the situation.

The Thai prime minister emphasised that the area of Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda mentioned in the Cambodian Prime Minister's Note is within Thai territory, and that the establishment of a Khmer community, including building a temple and homes, aswell as stationing Cambodian military personnel in the area constitute a continued violation of Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Royal Thai Government has issued four written protests toCambodia regarding this matter in 2004, 2005, 2007 and April 2008 respectively.

Meanwhile, the deployment by Cambodia of more than 1,000 troops, in addition to around 200 troops stationed there earlier, has caused the situation to deteriorate.

The Thai Prime Minister called on both sides to exercise restraint and hopes that the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission will accelerate its work to survey and demarcate the entire stretch of the Thai-Cambodian border so that similar problems would not arise in the future. In addition, pending completion of the JBC's work in this area, the Thai side is ready to jointly explore with Cambodia possible interim measures.

Later on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the remaining eight ASEAN ambassadors to the ministry inform them of the situation and present copies of the July 17 Note to Thailand and Cambodia's ASEAN neighbours, the July 18 Note from Prime Minister Samak to his Cambodian counterpart, including attached copies of the four aide-memoires which Thailand had earlier sent to protest Cambodian actions, as well as copies of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Thailand and Cambodia on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary dated June 4, 2000.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also circulated all of the said documents to other foreign missions in Bangkok.The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the four protests by Thailand to Cambodia were made on the basis of Article 5 of the 2000 MOU, under which both sides agreed not to carry out any work resulting in changes of environment of the frontier zone, pending the survey and demarcation of the common land boundary.

However, to date, no action whatsoever has been undertaken by Cambodia to address Thailand's concerns, protests and requests.

The four Thai protests were made on Nov. 25, 2004 protesting expansion of the Cambodian community and building Cambodian government offices in the area; on March 8, 2005 to protest against Cambodian construction and road improvements from Komui Village, Chom Ksan District, Preah Vihear Province, to Preah Vihear temple; on May 17, 2007 to object to Cambodia's nomination for Preah Vihear temple to be inscribed on the World Heritage List and to Cambodia's "Décret Royal on Délimitation du site protégé du temple de Preah Vihear," which encroached into Thai territory.

On April 10 this year Thailand reiterated all three preceding protests and requested Cambodia's immediate withdrawal of its military and police forces stationed in the areas under overlapping territorial claims between Thailand and Cambodia.

The overall situation at Preah Vihear at present remains stable. (TNA)

Thais protest at Hindu temple in border dispute
Saturday, 19th July 2008

CAMBODIA sent extra troops to its disputed border with Thailand yesterday after four days of clashes over the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops now face each other across the border and there are fears the dispute will escalate.

The Hindu temple has been a source of tension since the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, a decision that still rankles Thais. The listing of the temple as a World Heritage site this month triggered a political uproar in Thailand.

The troops were dispatched despite both sides saying they hoped there could be an amicable solution.

Thailand and Cambodia teeter on edge of conflict at cliff-top temple

From The Times
July 19, 2008

Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor

With its friezes of kings, gods and elephants, its ancient buildings and its location at the top of a beetling cliff, the temple of Preah Vihear is one of the most spectacular and historic sites in South-East Asia. Now it is threatening to make history for a different reason, as the first World Heritage Site to become a battleground.

Thai and Cambodian troops pulled guns on one another in a tense stand-off in the 1,100-year-old Hindu temple, after several days of increasing military tension. Stoked by a build-up of soldiers, accusations of corruption and a developing political crisis in Thailand, Preah Vihear has emerged as Asia’s newest flashpoint.

About 400 Thai and 200 Cambodian troops have moved into the temple area since Tuesday, after three Thai activists were detained briefly for entering the temple to assert Bangkok’s claim to the land. Yesterday a Cambodian general reported that soldiers from both sides levelled weapons at one another on Thursday night, after the Thais drove Cambodian forces out of one of the temple buildings. “We exercised patience to prevent weapons from being fired,” Brigadier-General Chea Keo said. He said that the Cambodian troops had been escorting monks and nuns, but withdrew after the encounter.

Perched on the top of a 1,600ft (488m) cliff, Preah Vihear is far more accessible from Thailand than from Cambodia. The territory was awarded to Cambodia in a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962, after legal arguments about the validity of maps produced during Cambodia’s French colonial period. Its inaccessible position made it a natural fortress — it was the last hold-out of the forces of the Lon Nol regime, driven out by the genocidal Khmer Rouge in 1975.

Even after their own defeat, Khmer Rouge forces held out in the temple until 1998.

Ill-feeling was defused because Thai locals and tourists were allowed to visit the temple freely from Thailand without a visa, and the dispute was largely forgotten until this month when the UN cultural organisation, Unesco, granted an application for Preah Vihear to receive World Heritage status. The decision would do much to promote tourism to Preah Vihear and bring business to both sides. When it turned out that the Thai Government had supported the application, there was an uproar in Bangkok.

Since its election victory last December, the Government of the Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, has been under increasing pressure from protesters who accuse it of being the puppet of the country’s deposed leader, Thaksin Shinawatra. The Preah Vihear debacle has enabled them to portray Mr Samak and his ministers as self-seeking cynics who have sold out Thai territory, allegedly in return for concessions for the tourist industry.

Thailand’s constitutional court ruled earlier this month that endorsing the Unesco application was illegal; Mr Samak’s foreign minister resigned as a result. It is unclear why Thai troops have entered the temple area. They may have gone at the behest of a government anxious to demonstrate its nationalist potential. Or they may have been sent at the initiative of military officers, as a warning to Mr Samak whose friend, Mr Thaksin, was himself ousted in a military coup.

News #4 - Preah Vihear - 18.07.2008

Cambodians set to endorse ruling CPP
By Raphael Minder in Phnom Penh
Published: July 18 2008

Sovan, a cadre from the ruling Cambodian People’s party, has been driving around Phnom Penh to rally voters for next Sunday’s legislative election.

“We will certainly win,” he says, his voice turned hoarse from shouting slogans into his megaphone.

Few Cambodians seem ready to dispute that prognosis. Although the CPP is being challenged by 10 opposition parties, the contenders have been weakened by internal bickering and high-profile defections.

Hun Sen, a former communist who has led the government since 1985 when Vietnamese troops occupied the country, is expected to secure not only another five-year term but also enough votes to end his coalition with the royalist Funcin­­pec party, a power-sharing arrangement in place since Cambodia’s first multi-party election in 1993.

In a country ravaged by decades of war and a genocide, the CPP’s guarantee of stability appears to have more clout than calls for government rotation, particularly among a business community that has benefited from average annual growth of 9 per cent over the past decade.

“Until a few years ago, Cambodia was not considered investable because of a perception of political instability and a weak legal structure,” says Douglas Clayton, who has been investing in south-east Asia for 20 years and manages Leopard Capital, a Cambodian fund. “We can now predict who will be running the government for the next five or even 10 years – and a government that is pro-business – which isn’t the case in Thailand, Malaysia or the Philippines.”

But legal concerns remain, with Cambodia regularly among the worst performers in international corruption studies. The World Bank has also been forced to shelve some Cambodian projects because of corrupt procurement procedures.

Stories of forced land evictions abound, while evidence that newly-acquired wealth is often coupled with disregard for the law can be seen on the streets, where limousines and SUVs speed along without number plates.

As a latecomer to Asia’s decade-long boom, Cambodia has benefited from some of the more recent difficulties of others. Its biggest industry, textiles, has grown as Chinese exporters have struggled with anti-dumping duties and, more recently, higher labour costs.

“This country is coming from a very low base,” Mr Clayton argues, “so there is still a lot of low-hanging fruit and very little downside.”

As long as foreign property companies continue to invest in redrawing Phnom Penh’s skyline, government officials show little inclination to discuss Cambodia’s underground economy.

“Corruption exists everywhere in the world,” says Chea Vuthy, deputy secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the agency that vets investment proposals. “They [international agencies] can rank us wherever they want, but look at our GDP growth and improved living standards. If investors want to judge us by looking at the reports of the World Bank and others, it’s better for them to stay at home.”

In a sign that the government is worried that surging prices will weaken its power base, it stopped publishing relevant indicators at the start of the year after inflation hit 18.7 per cent, up from an annual rate of 5 per cent in 2007. A local economist says he has seen recent data showing inflation accelerating to 32 per cent.

The government also recently doubled reserve requirements for banks to 16 per cent, a move seen by some as evidence of panic. In Channy, chief executive of Acleda Bank, which has Cambodia’s largest branch network, says: “By increasing reserves, they think they can reduce spending. I don’t see how this is a good measure. It means we cannot effectively use collected deposits.”

Economic hardship is expected to reduce voter turnout, which was above 90 per cent in the 1990s but fell to 65 per cent in 2003. The main textile workers’ union forecast that 40 per cent of the country’s 340,000 garment workers would be unable to vote as they could not afford the trip to their home constituency because of higher travel costs.

The campaign has been marred by allegations of vote-buying and intimidation in the countryside, unfair CPP control on the media, as well as some killings. Still, US development group the Asia Foundation said this week: “Although these reports are shocking and the methods unacceptable, the current situation is nevertheless a marked improvement from the characteristic suppression and violence of past elections.”

Sam Rainsy, leader of the eponymous party that is the CPP’s most resolute opponent, remains optimistic about next Sunday’s vote, but also gives a bleak forecast should the CPP secure an absolute majority. “We will simply go the Burmese way,” he told the FT.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers & Attempts

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia Issued a Statement to Address the Impunity of Murderers and Attempts to Murder Journalists

Posted on 19 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 569

“On 16 July 2008, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] in Cambodia issued an official statement with the title ‘The Murder of Khim Sambo, a Journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer, and of His Son’ on 11 July 2008. This statement has raised, in many paragraphs, the issues of press freedom, and of impunity for criminals. It started by sharing sadness as follows:

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia expresses its concerns and sadness about the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son, Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008 in the center of Phnom Penh. The OHCHR would like to share sad condolences with the family, friends, and colleges of the victims, and would like to join with others to express our sadness about their death with all who mourn together.

“While it is too early to decide whether his murder is related to articles that he had written, there is a certain context, raising the suspicion that ‘His work might be a reason for his murder.’
“Mr. Khim Sambo was an experienced journalist working with Moneaksekar Khmer which is oriented towards the Sam Rainsy Party, which is in the opposition.

“OHCHR stressed the following in the statement:

“By not thinking about the reasons for this murder, one could not influence the public view that causes fear of politics among the citizens and in their feelings. Therefore, it is very important that the authorities of the government investigate this case soon, fully, and dependably, and bring the criminals to be sentenced to the court, to resolve all doubts about this murder. Such action would be an assurance, better than anything else in the context of impunity, which still continues for the murderers of journalists in the past, with the impression that criminals are above the law, and journalists are not protected.

“The murder on a journalist is a denial of the basic right of the freedom of expression. A murder during the parliamentary election campaign towards the 27 July 2008 throws a shadow on the election campaign, where there had not yet been any serious violations so far, compared to previous elections. This murder not only destroyed the victim’s family, friends, and colleges, but it also destroyed newspapers, the journalists’ community, rights and freedoms of expression, and it destroyed as well the possibility of a proper participation by opposition parties in Cambodia.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia recently noticed that violations against journalists had decreased significantly, compared to the 1990ies. More disputes with journalists are now solved by the courts, but regrettably, activities from criminals still continue stronger than the use of civil courts actions against destructive activities. This murder causes fear that journalists become shooting targets for murderers again.

“It is indispensable to secure the right to freedom of expression, based on the Constitution, where the authorities protect the journalists from violence; but defamation cases have been approached through criminal lawsuits rather than through civil court actions. The freedom of expression for anyone, to be used peacefully and freely, contributes to publicly discuss concerns in society – this is a key condition to develop a democratic environment.

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia is ready to cooperate with the Ministry of Information and other relevant institutions as well as with other concerned people to find what should be done to strengthen, to promote, and to protect the peaceful implementation of the rights of the freedom of expression and of press freedom, that are recognized by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Information background: Impunity - murders and attempt of murders of journalists in the past:

“The murder of Mr. Khim Sambo is similar to eight other murders and attempts of murder of journalists in Cambodia since 1994 - in all cases the criminals still continue to live happily with impunity. Those cases are:

“Mr. Nuon Chan, editor-in-chief of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, was shot dead by two people riding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 7 September 1994.

“Mr. Sao Chandara, a journalist of Koh Santepheap, was shot dead on 8 December 1994 in Kompong Cham. A military official was sued, but not sentenced, and he was free from any punishment. The Appeals Court decided to file an appeal against this decision to absolve him from punishment, but the appeal was not filed at the Supreme Court.

“Mr. Ek Mongkol, a reporter of Radio FM 90 MHz, was shot with many bullets while he was driving along a road in the center of Phnom Penh on 21 October 1995. He survived the shooting.

“Mr. Thun Bunly, editor-in-chief of Udom Katte Khmer was shot dead by two people ridding on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh on 18 May 1996. Half an hour before he was murdered, he told a friend that he was worried about his safety. In 1995, he had been accused and sentenced twice on accusations of publishing many articles criticizing the Royal Government.

“Mr. Leng Sam Ang, editor-in-chief of Kumnit Koun Khmer, was hit and shot by police on 2 January 1997. He survived the attack.

“Mr. Michael Senior, a freelance photographer who was originally Khmer, was shot dead by soldiers when he attempted to take pictures of many soldiers who were stealing goods in a market in Phnom Penh on 8 July 1997.

Additional Background Information

Tragedy in Cambodia hits home - A 23-year-old Canadian was among those killed in last months fighting in Cambodia

PORT MOODY, British Columbia/Canada — Cambodia’s tragedy was brought home when a 23-year-old Cambodian, adopted and raised by a Port Moody couple, was killed July 8 1997.

Michael Senior ran afoul of rampaging soldiers in Phnom Penh.

A memorial service was held 12 July 1997 at Peter and Judy Seniors’ place of worship, Hillside Community Church in Coquitlam, when family members spoke about Michael and several representatives of the Cambodian community shared their thoughts about the crisis in Cambodia.

“Michael had just gone out of his apartment,” explains his father. “He had a still camera. He saw some soldiers looting stores, and started taking pictures. One of the soldiers shot him in the leg.

“His wife heard the shot, and came out. He was speaking in Cambodian, telling the soldiers he was sorry for taking the pictures. He and his wife started begging for mercy. The soldiers shot him in front of his wife, and she had to run for her life.”

“We had her flown out of there the next day,” says Judy Senior. Srey-Pov Senior and her daughter Nina, nine months, arrived in Canada soon afterward and met Michael’s parents for the first time. The family attended a Cambodian memorial service 26 July 1997 at Fraserview Alliance Church in Vancouver. “It would be dangerous for Srey-Pov to go back,” Judy says.
“We’re hoping she’ll be able to stay in Canada.”

“Mr. Thong Uy Pang, editor-in-chief of Koh Santepheap was shot in Phnom Penh on 8 June 1998, but he survived the injury. Last year two grenades were thrown into this newspaper’s office.

“Mr. Chuo Chetharith, reporter of Radio Ta Prum was shot dead when he arrived at his workplace, by two people riding on a motorcycle, on 18 October 2003.

“Meanwhile, three other journalists died from violence, cases that have not been solved – Mr. Tou Chhom Mongkol, editor-in-chief of Antarakum died on 11 June 1994; Mr. Pich Em, technician of National Television of Cambodia in Sihanoukville, died on 5 May 1997; and Mr. Ou Sareoun, a journalist of Samleng Reas Khmer was also killed.

“The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Charge of Human Rights in Cambodia agreed with analysts that impunity is the one major barrier which destroys the rule of law in Cambodia. In most cases when journalists were shot dead, the authorities always said that investigations are being continued, or are not yet finished, or have achieved little results. As a consequence - according to the OHCHR, no criminals have been brought to court to be punished for these crimes.”

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3362, 18.7.2008

Protection, Not Incursion: Thai Officers

A squad of Thai soldiers passes a Cambodian soldier near Preah Vihear temple Friday.

By Vong Dara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Banthey Meanchey province
18 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (1.12 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (1.12 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Thai commanders told a visiting Cambodian delegation on the border Friday they had not entered Cambodian territory near Preah Vihear temple as an incursion, but they had occupied neutral land in order to "protect" Cambodia from Thai protesters.

The Cambodian delegation, led by Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, escorted a group of monks to Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, known in Cambodia as the Prasat pagoda, near Preah Vihear temple, to negotiate a Thai military withdrawal.

About 600 Thai troops remained in the pagoda complex, surrounded by nearly 1,000 Cambodian soldiers, as the military build-up entered its fourth day.

Wary villagers in the surrounding areas continued to flee Friday, and less than 100 people remained near the temples.

Thai commanders said they would leave the temple, though they did not say when.

Around 40 soldiers had come to the pagoda to protect Cambodia from protesters who were angered by the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple on Unesco's World Heritage list, the commanders told the delegation.

More Thai troops were seen massing on the Thai side of the border late Friday.

At least 1,600 troops from each side have massed on the border, in a situation Prime Minister Hun Sen characterized as "worsening" in a letter to his Thai counterpart Thursday.

Thai and Cambodia soldiers pointed their weapons at each other for the first time late Thursday, when Cambodian soldiers were barred from entering the pagoda by Thai troops.

Cambodian soldiers said they had gone to the pagoda to protect the monks and nuns staying there.

Montagnard Deportation Sparks Protest

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (773 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (773 KB) - Listen (MP3)

A police attempt to deport 29 Vietnam Montagnards whose refugee applications had been rejected led to a protest outside a UN refugee house in Phnom Penh's Tuol Kork district Friday morning.

"They were worried that [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees] would deport them to Vietnam," Cambodian Center for Human Rights investigator Ing Kong Chit said. "They asked UNHCR not to send them back to their home villages, because they are afraid of oppression."

Three of the deportees initially escaped police attempts to return the Montagnards to Vietnam, though one was caught and returned with 26 others.

Two returned to the refugee house and led a protest of about 50 more Montagnards over the deportation. Montagnards have been crossing the Cambodian-Vietnamese border at Ratanakkiri and Mondolkiri provinces since 2001 seeking refugee status from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Those who are not granted refugee protection are returned to Vietnam.

"They [make a claim] to go to third countries, but not to be sent to Vietnam," UNHCR field protection officer Chung Ravuth said. "This is the main topic that they demonstrated over. And then we called them to come inside and start negotiating. We promised them that we would settle the problem."

More than 400 Montagnards are staying in refugee houses across Phnom Penh, Chung Ravuth said.

More than 1,000 refugees have been accepted as refugees and moved to third countries since 2001, most of them by the US, he said.

Five Parties Debate for K'Cham Voters

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Kampong Cham
18 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (1.27 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 18 July 2008 (1.27 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Voters asked Kampong Cham delegates Friday about their election strategies for winning, the prevention of "dictatorship" and upgrades of the living standards in Cambodia's most populous province.

The Sam Rainsy, Human Rights, Khmer Democratic, League for Democracy and Hang Dara Democratic Movement parties each addressed concerns from voters and questions from a moderator in a province with 18 National Assembly seats at stake.

Around 1,800 people, including party activists and individual voters, attended the debate, which was held by the National Democratic Institute and will be later televised on TVK. Friday's debate was the last televised debate held by the institute.

"It is very important for me to listen to the political party message, before I decide to vote," said Nov Sophal, a 40-year-old villager who lived nearby in O'Rang Oev district. "So the debate is not only good for me, but for all the voters in the area."

Party candidates promised their would-be constituents strategies for fighting corruption and decreasing the price of goods in the province, as well as agricultural promotion, establishing more jobs and providing free healthcare to villagers.

SRP candidate Mao Monyvann said his party's election strategy relied on campaigning from the grassroots to the national level. The party was campaigning on fighting corruption and inflation and job creation, he said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha told participants that his party's strategy was the promotion of agriculture for farmers and a two-term limit for party president, to fight corruption, partisanship and a "dictatorship" within the party.

NDI senior adviser Thomas Andrews called forums and open debates such as this "an important ingredient to the creation of a strong and vital democracy."

"We can find our real leader through debate, but I keep it in my mind," Buth Saroeun, a 55-year-old villager, said. "Today, I gave up my farm work to join the debate to understand what the parties are saying before the election."

Fisheries Official Killed in Kampot Waters

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 July 2008

Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities are jointly investigating the killing of a fisheries department official off the coast of Kampot province Wednesday.

Phat Sareoun, 43, a Kampot province fisheries officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, was shot dead Wednesday night, after he and six other fisheries officials confronted a Vietnamese fishing trawler in Cambodian waters, officials said.

Sar Sarin, chief of the Kampot fisheries administration, said Friday authorities from both countries were working closely together to find the perpetrators.

Teams from both countries are searching for evidence and investigating on both sides of the border, he said.

Vietnam Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam said Friday the embassy had not received an official complaint from the Cambodian side, but Vietnamese officials were aiding in the investigation.

He dismissed initial reports that the shooting could have been done by the Vietnamese navy.

Two Activists Dead in Motorcycle Crash

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 July 2008

Two Human Rights Party activists were killed in a motorcycle accident Friday in Takeo province as they rushed to attend campaign activities, officials said.

Mao Hoeurn, 51, vice president of the farmer affairs for the party, and his father, Mao Ban, 71, an activist for the party, died after their motorcycle collided with another motorcycle in Taphen commune, Tram Kork district.

The cause of death was not presumed to be politically motivated, police and human rights monitors said.

"As per our investigation, Mao Hoeurn was in a hurry and driving at a high speed, and a traffic accident took place," said HRP Takeo president Phan Soeurn. "We cannot conclude that this is a political issue."

Pok Pulrith, chief of traffic police in Takeo, said three other people were injured, one of them seriously, and are hospitalized in Takeo provincial hospital.

"This is the first time a political party activist died in an election campaign due to a traffic accident," he said.

In the first 6 months of 2008, nearly 20 people have died in Takeo traffic accidents, he said.

10 Parties Discuss Issues at Forum

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 July 2008

Adopting anti-corruption legislation, dealing with land conflicts and improving social welfare were discussed by 10 political parties at a forum hosted by a group of organizations Friday.

Representatives of all the national election's competing parties, excluding the ruling Cambodian People's Party, and around 100 voters attended the forum in Phnom Penh.

Representatives of each party promised voters to follow-up on the promises they made for each of the three issues.

Each party explained in six-minute blocks their plans for dealing with each topic.

"There are many things that the CPP has left until now, but the Norodom Ranariddh Party has three priorities," said NRP spokesman Muth Chantha. Those include passing a long-awaited anti-corruption law, resolving the growing problem of land conflicts and addressing rising prices, he said.

Human Rights Party representative Keat Sokhun said the party would adopt anti-corruption legislation, provide property licenses and take better control of the national budget.

Kravang Daron, president of the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, promised to decrease poverty, adopt the anti-corruption law and provide free medical treatment for the poor.

Friday's was the third forum held with 10 political parties. The first dealt exclusively with anti-corruption legislation, which has been in a draft stage for a decade, and the second dealt with putting more women in politics.

World Bank Gives $30 Million for Healthcare

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
18 July 2008

Cambodian and World Bank officials signed a $30 million credit for the healthcare sector Thursday.

"The plan aims to improve healthcare and preventative health services for Cambodian people, with particular emphasis on women, children and the poor," a World Bank statement said.

Cambodia is expected to received $120 million for health projects between 2008 and 2015.

NEC Warns Media on Campaign Ethics

NEC Deputy Secretary-General Sokolac Tipor, left, and National Democratic Institute senior program officer Ly Sothearayuth

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
18 July 2008

A National Election Committee official warned media groups on Wednesday to adhere to election regularities and a code of ethics as Election Day nears.

"The NEC has issued a statement and met representatives to discuss violations to the code of ethics, and if they still continue to do it, we would send a warning letter," said NEC Deputy Secretary-General Sokolac Tipor, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

"If they still do not obey, we will have some sort of other action," he said. "We will take action if there are complaints from the parties."

Pro-government media have attacked the opposition during the campaign, triggering complaints.

Media should know the code of ethics and operate in a climate of mutual respect, said National Democratic Institute senior program officer Ly Sothearayuth, also a guest on "Hello VOA."

"There should not be the use of bad words to attack other parties just in the interest of political gain," he said.

Border committee to convene

By The Nation
Published on July 19, 2008

Boonsarng to lead delegation

Supreme Commander General Boonsarng Niumpradit will on Monday take Thai delegates to an urgent meeting of the General Border Committee in Sa Kaew in the hope of defusing the provocative border confrontation with Cambodia.

Thai and Cambodian forces stationed across the border were reportedly "pointing guns" at each other.

In a bid to prevent further escalation, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who is also defence minister, yesterday appointed Boonsarng his representative in talks with his Cambodian counterpart.

Some 300 construction workers near the border returned to Thailand due to the conflict over the Preah Vihear Temple.

Lt-General Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Army's Border Affairs Department, said a decision on withdrawing troops from the border area would be made after pending issues were discussed at the border meeting.

"We'll meet on the basis of good bilateral relations and understanding," he said.

Boonsarng and his Cambodian counterpart, Defence Minister Tea Banh, know each other well, so Boonsarng's taking the place of Samak does not mean a downgrade, he said.

Suraphol Puanayakan, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said the two countries would use peaceful means to solve their problems.

Military sources said the standoff across the border was verging on a "shoot-out".

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sun wrote to Samak asking for some 400 Thai troops to be withdrawn from the area.

Cambodia has dispatched some 2,000 troops to strategic spots along the border, citing the need to beef up security for tourists, residents and traders. Their presence caused a drastic drop in cross-border trade.

The dispute revolves around the registration of Cambodia's Hindu temple as a World Heritage Site amid angry protests from some Thais who blame the government for failing to oppose Cambodia's listing application.

The People's Alliance for Democracy dispatched members to the temple to express disagreement with the World Heritage designation on the grounds that Thailand should have had the right to associate itself with the application.

Three PAD members stormed into the temple on Tuesday. Many protesters clashed with residents of Si Sa Ket's Kantaralak district, where the temple entrance is located, who had grown frustrated with the tense situation and loss of income after the temple was closed to tourists for several weeks after the protest began.

The 11th-century temple of Preah Vihear was ruled by the International Court of Justice in 1962 as belonging to Cambodia.

Media invited to Preah Vihear to see Cambodian-Thai military standoff
2008-07-19 00:27:10

PREAH VIHEAR, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Under the arrangement of the Cambodian government, representatives from foreign and domestic news media came here Friday to watch the real situation of the four-day-long Cambodian-Thai military standoff over a land dispute.

"We want the foreign media agencies and local media organizations to see what is on earth happening here," Phan Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers of Cambodia, told the reporters in front of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda (namely the Preah Vihear Pagoda), 200 meters away from near the Preah Vihear Temple.

Each side deployed some 50 soldiers inside the pagoda. The overall Thai and Cambodian troops within the area were estimated at around 500 for each side.

The Cambodian authority refused to give the exact number, fearing that it may lead to new buildup.

News agencies reported Friday that both troops came close to shoot-out and the situation was very tense.

However, at the scene, Thai and Cambodian troops were seen sitting in small groups next to each other in the forestry and along the street near the Preah Vihear Temple. They were equipped with long rifles and bombs.

Some were chatting with and smiling to each other and it looked like there was no military tension at all.

When asked why they did not attack each other, they said they were waiting for order from their bosses.

"Our bosses are on the way to discuss next Monday and now we can't do anything," they added.

Siphan said that "I hope that the top-level meeting next Monday between the senior officials from Cambodian and Thai governments will help avoid war between the two countries."

The meeting will be held Monday in Thai province of Sa Keaw near the border. Thai Supreme Commander of Royal Thai Armed Forces Boonsrang Niumpraditt will lead the Thai delegation, while Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh will lead the Cambodian team.

On Friday's mission, 20 reporters were transported from Phnom Penh by a military helicopter to the Preah Vihear Temple.

During the press tour, some soldiers from both sides were also seen putting their fingers on gun triggers, looking serious, and not passing through the other side's blocks.

Siphan said that the two countries are neighbors and used to have good, traditional and friendly relations.

"Both sides don't want to see blood at war battle, because we are brothers and sisters," he said.

"We want to see the situation like before July 15 and the Thai troops have to move back to their stations," he added.

Thai military colonel Chayan Huay Soong Nern told reporter through interpreter inside the pagoda that "we are concerned that more Thai protesters will appear around the Perah Vihear Temple. Therefore, we deploy troops here."

Earlier Tuesday, three Thai protesters were arrested for jumping an immigration checkpoint to reach the Preah Vihear Temple. Thai troops then came to fetch them, thus triggering face off with Cambodian military there.

The protesters trespassed the border with intention to reclaim the 11-century classic Khmer-style temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded, together with the land it occupies, to Cambodia in 1962. The decision has rankled the Thais ever since.

The temple straddles the Thai-Cambodian border atop the Dangrek Mountain and was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee

Editor: Yan Liang

Chinese, Cambodian leaders exchange congratulations on 50th anniversary of ties

BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao exchanged congratulatory messages on Saturday with Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In his message, Hu said the friendly relations between China and Cambodia have withstood the test of the changing international environment and domestic situation and developed healthily and steadily since the two countries established diplomatic ties 50 years ago.

The people of the two countries have supported each other all along in safeguarding national independence and sovereignty and promoting peace and development, he said.

The Chinese president called China-Cambodia ties a good example of cooperation on an equal footing between countries with different social systems.

In the new century, the growth of bilateral ties gained new momentum with the establishment of a partnership of all-round cooperation, he said.

China is ready to work with Cambodia to enhance exchange, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and promote common development, so as to bring China-Cambodia cooperation to a new level, he said.

Sihamoni said in his message that, over the past 50 years, Cambodia-China ties "have been profoundly strengthened and expanded day by day."

The people of Cambodia and China have made "significant progress" in promoting economic, trade and cultural development between the two countries, the king said.

"Good socio-economic achievement in both Cambodia and China will widen the scope of our cooperation, thus increasing greater interaction and closer friendship between our two peoples," he said.

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year will "foster a stronger sentiment of solidarity, close friendship and dynamic cooperation between our nations," the king said.

Editor: Yan Liang

Reception marks golden jubilee of China-Cambodia ties

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- An official reception was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia here on Friday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi addressed the reception, saying the two nations enjoyed a long-lasting friendship; to further grow the comprehensive partnership of cooperation is both the firm policy of the Chinese government and the common desire of the two peoples.

He said the Chinese government and people attached great importance to China-Cambodia relations. China was willing to work with Cambodia to push forward the traditional friendship, deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation, promote common development and make new progress to regional peace and prosperity.

Khek M. Caimealy, the Cambodian Ambassador to China, said since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the strong bonds of friendship, mutual solidarity, cooperation and assistance had never ceased to develop and strengthen.

She reaffirmed Cambodia adhered to the one-China policy and wished the Beijing Olympic Games a complete success.

Some 200 people from China and Cambodia and some ambassadors of other countries to China attended the reception.

Editor: Yan Liang

THAILAND/CAMBODIA: Row Over Ancient Temple May Sour ASEAN Spirit

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Jul 18 (IPS) - Amornchai Sirisai has been a regular visitor to the Thai-Cambodian border close to where a 10th century Hindu temple sits atop a steep cliff. But it is not tourism that takes the Thai national to the ancient site.

He has been working for two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaged in clearing landmines on the Thai side of the border near the temple in the northern Cambodian province of Preah Vihear, where the Khmer Rouge made its last stand before surrendering in 1998.

The area is pockmarked by shell craters and land mines being cleared by the Japan Alliance for Humanitarian Demining Support (JAHDS) and the Mekong Organisation for Mankind (MOM) to make the temple, built by the Khmer kings who ruled Cambodia, more accessible to local and foreign visitors.

But these days it is not the fear of people stepping on landmines that worries the project manager of MOM. The temple has been at the centre of a bitter dispute after Cambodia won international approval this month to recognise Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site. The committee that gave Phnom Penh the nod to list the temple as its own is an affiliate of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Tension between the two South-east Asian neighbours reached a dangerous level by Thursday with hundreds of troops ordered by both countries to maintain vigil near the border. Fuelling this tense environment were hundreds of Thais belonging to an anti-government group who rushed to the spot to chant nationalist slogans, declaring that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Thailand and had been ‘’stolen’’ by Cambodia.

‘’The situation here is getting bad. It has not been like this before,’’ Amornchai said during a telephone interview from Si Sa Ket, the Thai border province that faces the temple. ‘’Both countries have ordered soldiers near the border. They are facing each other.’’

The growing wave of strident Thai nationalism -- and anti-Cambodian slogans -- has already delivered a sharp blow to the government of Prime Minster Samak Sundaravej.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was forced to resign after he returned to Bangkok on Jul. 10 following the meeting of the World Heritage committee, which ruled 8-1 in favour of Cambodia getting the ancient temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva.

Across the border, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has been using the UNESCO approval to list the temple as a World Heritage site to advantage in its campaign for parliamentary elections scheduled for Jul. 27, 2008.

Moderate Thais say nationalists are refusing to accept recent history and facts that strengthen Cambodia’s claims to the temple upheld in 1962 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The Thai government, under a military dictatorship in 1963, accepted the verdict but claimed ownership of a small area of land between the temple and the Thai border which offers the main access route to the historic site.

‘’As a member of the U.N., Thailand had to accept the ruling and hand the temple over to Cambodia. In the decades since, there has been no legal bid to reclaim the site,’’ wrote Supalak Ganjanakhundee in a commentary in Thursday’s edition of ‘The Nation’ newspaper. ‘’In the language of the law, de facto and de jure, the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia.’’

Yet the recent burst of tension at that particular point on the Thai-Cambodian border is not the first. In November 2004 Thai troops were ordered to patrol their side of the border over another disagreement regarding the sliver of no-man’s-land area. And there have been times over the past seven years when locals and foreigners seeking to enter the temple from the Thai side have been denied access by Cambodian officials.

The dispute is seen as a legacy of French colonisation of Indo-China when Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam were under the grip of Paris. Thailand, which was never colonised, remained a buffer between the French colonists, to its east, and the British, to its west and south. The current border that separates Thailand and its two eastern neighbours was drawn up by French officials.

Yet the border that separates Thailand from Cambodia and Laos is dotted with grey areas that have sparked disputes in the past. Towards the end of 1987, Thai and Laotian troops clashed over a territory that Laos claimed was part of its Xaignabouri province, while the Thais claimed the area belonged to its Phitsanulok province. By the time a ceasefire was declared in February 1988, over 1,000 soldiers were killed, most of them Thais.

The current dispute which threatens to sour Thai-Cambodian relations could not have come at a worse time for Bangkok. It is getting ready to take over as the head of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member regional bloc of which Thailand and Cambodia are members. The others are Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Last November, ASEAN leaders signed a charter for the regional body aimed at greater integration to create a unified community at the political, economic and social level by 2015. This legally binding document was an attempt to revamp the group’s relevance on the world stage.

ASEAN was created in 1967 to stall the spread of communism in the region and advance free-market policies. But its usefulness began to fade with the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s and the financial crash mid-way in that decade.

Now, a growing wave of nationalism is posing a further challenge to the new chapter on stronger regional unity that ASEAN wants to write. ‘’Bruised nationalism is stimulating feelings of hatred between Thais and Cambodian,’’ says Supalak. ‘’Anti-Cambodian sentiment is growing stronger as Thais -- who consider themselves superior to their south-eastern neighbours -- feel they have lost face (because of the temple).’’