Thursday, 14 August 2008

Sacravatoons : " Form 1018, Ghost & Xmer Voters "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sacravatoons : " Tim Sakhorn Freedom "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Japan Gets UN Financial Post, Pays for UNDP-Backed Cambodia Court

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee
Inner City Press
UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 13 -- What is it about the UN, money and Japan? After months of reports of financial improprieties at the UN-based Cambodia Tribunal, overseen by the UN Development Program, this week it was reported that Japan has stepped in to pay salaries until the scandal passes. At the UN noon briefing on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq about the scandal, and to confirm that Japan will be paying. Haq said to ask UNDP, so Inner City Press did, including asking about the replacement of the court's chief of personnel. UNDP's answer, which arrived at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, was that

"Keo Thyvuth was the Chief of Personnel on the Cambodian side of the Court. We understand from press reports and statements from the national side of the Court that he has been replaced. I would suggest contacting the Cambodian authorities for more details on the circumstances of regarding his replacement. As for the Japanese funding, it is a bilateral issue between Tokyo and the Cambodian government. Again, I would suggest contacting the Japanese and Cambodian missions."

But what are the allegations of impropriety that UNDP has been alluding to but not explaining? Go ask someone else, both UNDP and Haq answered. Haq did however announce that Jun Yamazaki, previously of Japan's Foreign Ministry, is taking over at the UN's Controller. He succeeds Warren Sach, who is being shifted over to head the whittled down Central Support Services. Computer services has been shifted about from CSS, as has Facilities Management, put under Michael Adlerstein's Capital Master Plan. One wag said Sach is now in charge of only the postal administration and the UN cafeteria, and called him Mister Coffee. We shall see.

Not to say, we told you so -- but we told you so.

Officials zero in on 19 products to make Cambodia competitive

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian Commerce Ministry and U.N. Development Program have zeroed in on 19 Cambodian goods to promote for niche markets by improving production and packaging standards, local media reported Thursday.

These include 14 agricultural products such as corn, rice and livestock, and five service products, ranging from tourism to light manufacturing and labor, English-language newspaper the Phnom Penh Post said.

"We are promoting and developing a strategy to increase the quality and quantity of those products," Sok Darith of the Commerce Ministry's Trade Promotion Department was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Cambodia's farmers and manufacturers are losing out to regional competitors who have higher quality goods and better business models, trade officials said.

Cambodia exports garments to the United States, European Union, Canada and Japan, but has failed to diversify its other sectors, with its agriculture bound largely for Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor: Yao

Cambodia, Thai troops to pull back from temple at weekend: general

A Cambodian soldier carries a grenade launcher as he stand guards near a contested temple on the Cambodia-Thai border

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to sharply reduce their troop numbers around a disputed temple before a new round of border talks opens Monday, a top general said.

The agreement was reached Wednesday during a meeting of military officials from the two countries, Cambodian General Neang Phat, a top official at the defence ministry, told reporters.

Thai military officials confirmed the deal, but neither country would reveal exactly how many troops would be withdrawn from the area around the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

"Both sides agreed to redeploy the troops, who are stationed in the pagoda (near the temple), to the lowest possible number in order to avoid confrontation with each other," Neang Phat told reporters Thursday.

More than 1,000 troops from both countries are stationed around the ruins of the ancient Khmer temple. Cambodia and Thailand agreed last month to withdraw their forces from a small patch of disputed territory near the temples.

Foreign ministers from both countries are set to meet Monday and Tuesday to hammer out details on the deal.

"The redeployment of the troops that we have agreed to will finish before the ministerial meeting on August 18," Neang Phat said.

Neang Phat said the remaining troops would be allowed to carry only simple rifles and guns.
Their future positions would be determined after the ministerial meeting next week, he added.

The border dispute erupted July 15, after three Thai nationalist protesters were arrested for trying to illegally cross into Cambodia to reach the temple.

Thai nationalists were incensed that Cambodia last month won world heritage status from the United Nations for the ruins, which Thailand has long claimed despite a World Court ruling giving the ruins to Cambodia.

Cambodia Seeing an Influx of Investment Money

Private equity funds see a great opportunity in Cambodia and are looking to bring some $475 million US of foreign investment into the country in the next year. Cambodia now finds itself in the midst of a real estate boom, with high-rise condos and office buildings rising quickly in Phnom Penh and investors set to make significant amounts of money.

Asian countries China, South Korea and Malaysia have also been investing in the country, increasing foreign direct investment into the country over the past few years. According to Cambodia Investment, it expects more than $6 billion to be invested in the country over the next three years.

The government has been encouraging investment with economic reforms that are aimed to open up the markets and draw more people in. The economy has expanded rapidly in recent years, growing by 9.6% in 2007 and averaging over 10% for the past three years. Tourism is also on the increase, as there were over 2 million visitors in 2006 and some 2.2 million in 2007.

Some overseas property investors see Phnom Penh has the next Bangkok, with property prices low now but continually rising. It is a great time to get in on property in Cambodia

CAMBODIA: 'Getting Decent Jobs for Women - The Challenge'

Women are largely confined to the informal sector of Cambodia's economy. Credit:Andrew Nette/IPS
By Andrew Nette

PHNOM PENH, Aug 14 (IPS) - ‘Women are cloth, men are gold’. This traditional Khmer saying is quoted by many studies on gender in Cambodia as emblematic of the different value accorded to men and women in this country of 14 million.

But it takes on a different perspective in Cham Choa district and other areas of Phnom Penh, the heart of the country’s garment industry.

Rooming houses, shacks and apartment blocks intermingle with large nondescript factory buildings. Legions of mainly young female workers mill around stalls selling produce, toiletries and clothing.

These women are part of a major shift in the Cambodian economy over the last decade as employment opportunities slowly move from agriculture to new industries such as services, garment export and construction.

Cambodia’s women are at the forefront of this transition.

According to the soon to be released Cambodia Gender Assessment (CGA), produced by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Cambodia’s female labour force participation rate is high by regional standards, at 71 percent of the working age population over 15 years of age.

This is compared to 64 percent in Thailand, 56 percent in Laos and 87 percent in Vietnam.

"More than 50 percent of the active female population contribute to the economy of their country," said Dr Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister for Women’s Affairs, in an interview with IPS. "The problem is that this [contribution] is still mainly in the informal sector."

"The challenge Cambodian women face is not just to access employment, but decent, better paying employment."

While the majority -- 83 percent -- remain self-employed or unpaid family workers, new employment opportunities for women have opened up, particularly in the garment industry, which accounted for 1.4 percent of total female employment in 1998, rising to 5.5 percent in 2004.

This is part of what many believe has been a gradual positive shift in the situation of Cambodian women over the last decade.

"Positive trends towards greater equality include increasing girls enrolment in primary education (and resulting rises in female literacy) and expanded employment opportunities," the World Bank’s 2007 Cambodia Report noted.

Observers believe much of this progress is the result of sustained, if highly uneven, economic growth over the last few years. Poverty levels fell, according to the Bank, by 47 – 35 percent between 1994 and 2004.

At the same time, years of war and civil conflict have left Cambodia’s health, social and economic indicators among the worst in Southeast Asia.

As part of this, women continue to face serious economic, legal and social barriers, which the Bank says are part of a broader institutional bias against the poor and marginalised.

"Significant traditional inequalities persist and new ones are emerging," said the Bank, reinforced by lower standards of education and prevailing attitudes regarding what are ‘appropriate’ occupations for women.

The plight of the garment sector illustrates the broader challenge in creating sufficient employment for Cambodia’s rapidly growing labour force.

According to the CGA, approximately 62 percent of the total population and 44 percent of the labour force is under 25 years of age. Of this group 55 percent are women.

It also demonstrates the difficulties of safeguarding the economic gains made by Cambodian women, which remain fragile.

Approximately 90 percent of employees in the garment industry are women.

Despite maturing since the 1990s, the sector remains plagued by lower levels of productivity than its key competitors. The largely untrained female workforce is overseen by mainly foreign middle managers.

The recession in the U.S. -- the market for 70 percent of Cambodia’s garment exports -- is only one of many problems. Others include skyrocketing power prices, poor infrastructure and high compliance costs.

In developing countries like Cambodia, the garment sector often kick-starts industrialisation and is the precursor to the arrival of other manufacturing such as food processing, before itself relocating to other, lower-cost countries. Even a minor downturn would have major economic implications. "If textiles goes, you’ll have 300,000 people employed today on the road tomorrow, not to mention supporting businesses large and small, including mine, that would also be in trouble," said Paul Thomas, director of the freight company, Flow Forwarding Cambodia.

Some estimate up to a million people are either directly employed in the industry or depend on the pay packets of those who are.

Despite generating billions in foreign investment, Cambodia’s weak regulatory and legal frameworks and corruption are significant barriers to long-term sustainable growth.

According to Thomas, the government has given little thought to investment in alternative industry in Cambodia beyond garments and agriculture that could provide sustainable employment opportunities.

"The attitude is very much ‘let foreign businesses come and do it’, but no work has been done on paving the way and targeting what investment they want," he said.

"To raise their participation in formal employment and decision-making institutions women need skills and information about how markets and the law function," said Phavi.

"When you talk about increasing women’s participation in the labour force, you have to be very specific about what kind of participation you are talking about," said Chea Vannath, a regular commentator on social and political affairs.

"Are you talking about the informal sector where women are already heavily represented? Or 8 am to 5 pm professional jobs?"

"We are not going to increase women’s participation in professional jobs until we have things like adequate child care facilities, care for older people and salaries that keep up with the cost of living."

Two of the most significant barriers to increasing women’s participation in the workforce are their education and health status.

While Phavi maintained the government had made progress, the Cambodian Gender Assessment said Cambodia continues to have some of the weakest health indicators in the region.

"In order to participate in economic activity and contribute to the economy you have to be healthy," she said.

"The high rate of maternal mortality, while declining, is a real concern and a real challenge. We need to look at why, with all the aid we have received, this has not decreased more in the past."

"This is also a cultural problem. The woman is the last to get medical attention after the children and the father. They are in bad shape by the time they come [to the doctor]."

More immediate and obvious implications for the future employment and earning capacity of women is their educational status.

While the CGA noted progress at attaining gender parity at the primary school level, overall levels of education remain low for the nation generally and women in particular.

Although enrolment rates and gender parity "have improved at all levels of education … the female share of enrolment drops at each higher level of education," it said.

Approximately 40 percent of women aged 25-44 are illiterate (vs 22 percent for men). Although improving in younger age groups, 23 percent of young women aged 15-24 are illiterate (vs 16 percent of young men).

"The Cambodian government is committed to increasing education opportunities for women at all levels, from primary school to university, during the next five year mandate," said Phavi.

A particular focus is on increasing access to vocational education.

"We have some vocational training centres now but not enough and they are not responding to demand. This is important in the context of the garment industry, which we not only want to stay [in Cambodia], but to value add and not just use labour."

In the absence of job opportunities in Cambodia, increasing numbers of Khmer women are choosing to work overseas, mainly in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.

"We are not sure about the exact numbers but they are significant," said Phavi. "Although we are concerned about the conditions some of these women face overseas, we [the government] encourage labour migration due to the level of local unemployment."

Chinese company to conduct feasibility study on dams in Cambodia

August 14, 2008

The Cambodian government has given the go-ahead for a Chinese company to conduct feasibility study into building two hydropower dams on the Sre Pok River, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said Thursday.

"It is just feasibility study to see whether or not they can do it," Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem was quoted as saying.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with the company in June to study the possibility of building the two dams, but the specific locations can't be told, said the minister.

"It is a big benefit to have cheap electricity because gasoline is so expensive," he added.

The agreement with Guangxi Guiguan Electric Power Co. Ltd. commits it to reviewing and analyzing the effects of the projects on the social, environmental and ecological conditions of the area.

The Sre Pok River runs through northeastern provinces of Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng.


Cambodia 6th leading destination for Korean overseas investment

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has become the sixth leading destination for South Korean overseas investment, English daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post Thursday quoted South Korean Ambassador Shin Hyun-suk as saying.

The total amount of South Korean investment in Cambodia to March 2008 stood at 1.46 billion U.S. dollars, followed by China, the U.S., Hong Kong of China, Vietnam and Malaysia, he said.

The number of South Korean investors in Cambodia was above 500 and they used to focus on the garment sector, but in recent years became diversified to banking, agriculture, food processing, tourism, manufacturing, construction and IT, he said.

"In terms of amounts, construction is the dominant field for South Korean investment in Cambodia in these days," he added.

Meanwhile, South Korea's imports from Cambodia totaled 8.9 million U.S. dollars in 2007, an increase of 62.5 percent over 2006, and South Korea's exports to Cambodia have posted big rises over the past three years, amounting to 144 million U.S. dollars in 2005, 206 million U.S. dollars in 2006, and 281 million U.S. dollars in 2007, he said.

"Once the South Korea-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement is ratified, the trade volume between South Korea and Cambodia will be boosted immensely," he added.

Editor: Yao

Cambodia firm on temple, people offer to help troops

Birmingham Star
Wednesday 13th August, 2008

Cambodian journalists Wednesday announced they would answer a call for aid from soldiers stationed at a remote northern temple complex and travel there to distribute supplies.

A group of journalists, including the privately owned Cambodian Television Network, said they would visit the Ta Moan temples in the north of the country soon to deliver food and other essentials to troops near the site that is disputed by Thailand.

Cambodia's ill-equipped army has been heavily supported by various groups nationwide in its hurried stand against alleged Thai incursions, including journalists and social activists, politicians and prominent members of society since the temple standoffs started last month.

Senior officials from Oddar Meanchey province, home to the Ta Moan Thom temples, appealed for assistance for soldiers and the police this week to maintain their vigil.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the temple complex was 'indisputably inside Cambodian territory'.'

We deny any demand that contravenes Cambodia's legal rights,' the foreign ministry said.

Thai soldiers have reportedly denied Cambodians access to the Ta Moan temples since July 28.

Cambodia won Unesco World Heritage listing for the Preah Vihear temple ruins - 150 km east of Ta Moan - July 7 against Thailand's wishes. Thai troops then moved into territory claimed by Cambodia, but Thailand insists this has not been legally decided.

Later that month, Thai troops allegedly blocked Cambodian access to the Ta Moan group of temples, also on the 800-km border, which is disputed at many points.

Cambodia says it hopes the issue can be resolved 'peacefully and lawfully' at scheduled a bilateral meeting between foreign ministers in the Thai province of Prachuap Kiri Khan next Monday.

Tuscarora teacher to share Cambodian travels in class

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008
by Katherine Mullen Staff Writer

Stored in Glenn Blanchard's digital camera are photographs he took of black and white images of children, taken in the 1970s before they were imprisoned and killed at Security Prison 21, the most notorious jail in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge's bloody reign.

Blanchard, a social studies teacher at Tuscarora High School, visited the former prison – now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh - during the second week of his travels in Cambodia in July.

For more than three weeks, Blanchard and a group of American teachers traveled throughout the Southeast Asian nation as part of the "Travel and Teach: Cambodia" program at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Established by Congress in 1960, the East-West Center is an educational and research organization that aims to strengthen relations between the U.S. and the peoples and countries of Asia and the Pacific.

Blanchard raised much of the $1,400 cost of the trip through donations from The American Legion, Knights of Columbus and Lions Club in Emmitsburg, where he lives.

The trip was not only a chance for Blanchard to immerse himself in Cambodian history and culture, but to also teach Cambodian students learning English in small villages for a week.

During that week, Blanchard lived with a local family, helping them with daily chores and cooking. He later spent another week in a monastery, living with Buddhist monks and rising at 4 a.m. for meditation and prayer. For Blanchard, a once-aspiring Peace Corps volunteer, the experience was a taste of what it was like to live and work in a foreign country.

"I'm still trying to absorb some of it now," he said this week.

When the doors to Tuscarora High School open Aug. 25, Blanchard said he hopes to incorporate much of his newfound knowledge and travel experiences when he and his 10th-grade students discuss imperialism and nationalism in the course, "Modern World History."

Cambodia, a former French protectorate from 1863 to 1954, still has vestiges of its colonial past, evidenced by old buildings and the spoken French often heard on the streets, Blanchard said.
But Cambodia's national identity – best exemplified by the temple of Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century– will also be part of the classroom discussion on nationalism, Blanchard said.

Kathleen Schlappal, principal at Tuscarora High School, noted that having teachers travel abroad and share their experiences with students helps open students' minds to different experiences.
"It allows them to share a broader world perspective and perhaps to emphasize that we are more alike than different," she said.

Schlappal said Blanchard's current perspective on Cambodia will be valuable, especially since the country is often associated with the Vietnam-era for many Americans.

Though some teachers might not be able to travel abroad because of family obligations or financial cost, Schlappal said she knows other Frederick County teachers who have studied in Mexico on Fulbright scholarships or have traveled to China with students.

Blanchard had an opportunity to work alongside Cambodian teachers in small, countryside villages in open-air classrooms, teaching English. He said he was impressed by the high school students' willingness and dedication in learning English.

"You could tell they're cracking the books and absorbing it," he noted. Blanchard added that many students focused on studying business or tourism view learning English as crucial to their success.

Overall, Cambodians' work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, bolstered by optimism for the future, was apparent in many of his experiences with them.

"I don't think I could have gotten that out of a book," Blanchard said of his interactions with Cambodians. "You need to see it face-to-face to understand it."

Blanchard noticed that optimism for the future and the foreign investment pouring into Cambodia was tempered by the the country's violent past. On a field trip to Tuol Sleng, Blanchard glimpsed the horrors of genocide in the hundreds of victims' skulls, now shelved and displayed at the museum for visitors to see.

Touring the museum was "frightening," Blanchard noted, because the former prison was once a high school. "As an instructor, I found this to be horrifying," he said. "At the end of it none of us could talk. You didn't know what to say to each other."

An estimated 17,000 Cambodians were imprisoned there between 1975 and 1978 but only seven people survived, including Vann Nath, who Blanchard met during his visit. The Khmer Rouge spared Nath because of his talent and ordered him to paint portraits of Pol Pot.

From 1975 to 1979, more than 1 million Cambodians died under Communist regime, mostly from executions, starvation or forced labor.

Chinese company to conduct feasibility study on dams in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government has given the go-ahead for a Chinese company to conduct feasibility study into building two hydropower dams on the Sre Pok River, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said Thursday.

"It is just feasibility study to see whether or not they can do it," Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem was quoted as saying.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with the company in June to study the possibility of building the two dams, but the specific locations can't be told, said the minister.

"It is a big benefit to have cheap electricity because gasoline is so expensive," he added.

The agreement with Guangxi Guiguan Electric Power Co. Ltd. commits it to reviewing and analyzing the effects of the projects on the social, environmental and ecological conditions of the area.

The Sre Pok River runs through northeastern provinces of Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng.

Editor: Yao

Man accused of fratricide issues death threat to surviving brother

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chamroeun Chrann
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Father and son claim to have mistaken kin for a Vietnamese intruder, while their attorney argues dead brother was out to kill matriarch

A MAN accused of slaying his younger brother threatened the life of a second younger brother before exiting Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, after the judge failed to issue a verdict.

"When I get out, I will kill you," Lem Heang, 52, told his visibly shaken sibling for not testifying on his behalf.

Prosecutor Ek Chheng Hout, following the recommendation of an investigating judge, is attempting to stick an unintentional killing charge on Lem Heang and his son Lem Hok Nay for the fatal beating and stabbing of Lem Eng, 51, in their home near Phnom Penh's Central Market.

The victim's lawyer is arguing for premeditated murder against claims that the two accused men mistook their relative for a thief.

"I didn't recognize him as my uncle because he entered my house early in the morning, wearing black clothes, black glasses and a colorful hat, which made me think he was a Vietnamese robber," said Lem Hok Nay, 31. "I swear I had no intention of killing my uncle."

Identify unclear

Lem Heang claimed, "I didn't know who had died in my house. It was two days before police told me he was my younger brother.

"I've been in prison for five months and I can stay longer, but I just want to know why my brother came and attacked my house like that."

According to the defense lawyer, Lem Eng entered his older brother's home with several knives, planning to kill the lady of the house for having cheated him in a business deal, when the housekeeper alerted the two defendants to the intrusion and they set upon him.

"This is not a robbery case, but a revenge case," attorney Ty Kim Sream said.

Lem Heang denied feuding over money with his dead brother, who was a prosperous Cambodian national visiting from Canada, but the dead brother's widow wants him to repay a US$110,000 loan and $500,000 in compensation.

Hun Sen's relative admits to hit-and-run

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chamroeun Chrann
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A MAN who answered the phone of Prime Minister Hun Sen's nephew Hun Chea and identified himself as Hun Chea's younger brother admitted Tuesday to his family's involvement in a hit-and-run killing and blamed the victim for being inebriated.

"This case has already been resolved. I compensated the victim's family US$4,000," he said.

On August 3 at about 11:30 pm, a black Cadillac Escalade SUV sped north up Phnom Penh's Sothearos Boulevard at more than 100km/h before running down a man on a motorbike, tearing off his left arm and left leg in front of the Regent Park Hotel. The SUV's driver attempted to flee, but a destroyed front left tire forced him to pull over in front of the Ministry of Justice.

Numerous traffic police were seen avoiding the accident scene, but armed military police arrived, removed the SUV's license plate and comforted Hun Chea.

On Tuesday, the man claiming to be Hun Chea's younger brother disputed the press coverage of the accident.

"It's not right what Radio Free Asia broadcasted, saying that it was unintentional murder. It was not. It was a normal traffic accident in which the motorbike driver was very drunk," he said.

"Please stop broadcasting about this case, or I will file a complaint, because the case has already ended. You see, there are a lot of terrible accidents. Why don't [journalists] go there and ask those drivers?"

Last week, Deputy Municipal Police Commissioner Him Yan said he would open a file on the case. "According to the law, it must be sent to court," he said.

But Tuesday Him Yan declined to comment on the case.

Last act for Cambodian theatre, thespians say

Heng Chivoan Royal University of Fine Arts students perform in Phnom Penh in this file photo.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A dearth of employment opportunities means fewer students choose to study drama, leaving directors fearing for the future of theatre

TEACHERS in Phnom Penh worry that a decline in the number of drama students could spell the end of traditional Khmer theatre.

Chan Sarith, vice-director of the National Theatre School of Fine Arts, attributed the decline to an influx of foreign cultural influences.

"Khmer theatre has declined considerably in past years because our people are following other cultures and have ceased to care about their own," Chan Sarith said.

Vong Metry, lecturer of traditional dancing and manager of the Apsara Arts Association, noted that traditional Khmer fine arts have long been a transmitter of cultural values and must not be neglected.

"I am afraid of losing Khmer culture [so] I try very hard to teach the next generation about drama, theatre, Khmer dancing and Khmer traditional music," Vong Metry said.

That next generation has grown smaller in recent years as employment prospects in theatre have waned. "It is unfortunate that many drama professionals have to look for other jobs because they can't support themselves on the money they earn through their art," Vong Metry added.

Vanishing act

Tep Sopheaktra, a drama lecturer at the University of Culture and Fine Arts, said fewer students are attending his classes. "Now I only have around ten students. When I was studying in 1988, there were many students learning about theatre," he said.

Some like Sad Dano, 24, have come to regret their years of theatre training. A graduate of the National The-atre School of Fine Arts, Sad Dano says his five years of study could have been better spent in a field that would have given him better job prospects.

"If I had studied another subject, I would be able to find a good job," Sad Dano said.

One educator hopes the two will never be mutually exclusive. Proeung Chieng, vice-rector of the Royal University of Culture and Fine Arts, said that Khmer theatre should be promoted in the Kingdom through television and print media to remind people of its importance. "My regret would be enormous if we lost Khmer theatre, which has played such a significant part in our cultural history," Proeung Chieng said.

Crystal meth use spreads: report

HENG CHIVOAN A policeman peruses the new government report on illicit drug use and trafficking, the second of its kind, at a conference Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Lyria Eastley and Mom Kunthear
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

According to government figures, the number of drug users nationwide has dropped below 6,000, but methamphetamines dominate the diet of the Kingdom’s dedicated junkies

WHILE illicit drug use in the Kingdom has remained stable over the last year, the prevalence of crystal methamphetamine could be on the rise, according to a new report by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).

The NACD's "Report on Illicit Drug Data and Routine Surveillance Systems," launched on Tuesday at the Cambodiana Hotel, documents illicit drug use throughout Cambodia and the routes by which drugs enter the country.

"This is the second report of its kind," Lars Pedersen, the head of Cambodia's UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said at the report's launch, adding that its aim was "to improve our understanding of the drug problem in Cambodia."

A key finding of the new report was the discovery of a laboratory on a farm in Kampong Speu where authorities seized chloroephedrine, a precursor chemical in the production of methamphetamine (yaba) and crystal methamphetamine (ice).

The overall number of illicit drug users in Cambodia has declined, the report stated. Government figures put the number at 5,797 in 2007, nearly 1,000 less than the previous year.

The report also noted that 1,719 drug users were admitted to government-run treatment centres in 2007, an increase of 57.7 percent from 2006.

More than 80 percent of these were admitted for methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine use. Two-thirds were between the ages of 16 and 25, and most were either students or unemployed.

The report also says that usage has spread from urban areas to rural parts of the country. Farmers and labourers comprised more than a third of drug users (37.8 percent), followed by street children (16.8 percent) and students (15.4 percent), according to the report.

"In previous years, drug use was largely confined to urban areas, but it is spreading into remote regions such as Kandal, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces," said Lour Ramin, the secretary-general of NACD.

He added that authorities have now expanded their ability to control drugs in all provinces of the Kingdom but that problems still remain.

"The quantity of drugs that cross our country makes us worry, particularly because we have arrested more drug users in 2008 than ever before," Lour Ramin said.

Last sunset on Boeung Kak lake as developers move in

HENG CHIVOAN The traditional way of life on Boeung Kak lake will end in September when a developer begins filling it in.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan AND Sebastian Strangio
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Municipal officials say the little-known developer granted the concession will begin filling in the lake by September

NEXT month, developers will begin filling in Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak Lake with sand dredged from the Tonle Sap, reigniting concerns about the planned development which even now remains shrouded in secrecy.

"The company [will] pump out the water and pump in sand to fill the lake," said Phnom Penh deputy governor Pa Socheat Vong, adding the work is scheduled to begun in September and take an estimated 12 to 18 months to complete.

In February 2007, the municipal government signed a $79 million leasehold agreement with little-known developer Shukaku Inc., giving it the right to develop a 133-hectare area at Boeung Kak. Although no plans have been made public, Pa Socheat Vong said the project would include shops, hotels, apartments, a university and hospital.

But residents remain concerned about their fate once the project is underway. Teav Teang, 60, who has raised fish for ten years in the lake behind her lot on the north shore, told the Post in June that she feared relocation to an area lacking in basic amenities and said "no official or company representative has come to discuss it with us."

Shukaku is reportedly headed by CPP senator and Pheapimex Group director Lao Meng Khin, but little more is known about the company. Despite exhaustive efforts by Post reporters to track down the developer for comment, no Phnom Penh office or contact number could be found, and city officials refused to comment.

Lack of transparency

David Pred, country director of legal NGO Bridges Across Borders, said that the project has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning, and that authorities have been exerting pressure on the 4,000 lakeside families expected to make way when construction begins. "At the moment they're pressuring and intimidating people to move and to accept relocation. About 150 people in Village 4 have been pressured to thumbprint documents giving up their land and forcing them to move to Trapeing Troyeung [a relocation site 20km from Phnom Penh]," he said. "There's been no consultation and no information given to these people.

"Pa Socheat Vong said the company had made efforts to explain the situation to residents, but that claims of eviction were meaningless because they were residing on state-owned land. "We shouldn't use the term ‘eviction,' because all issues have been discussed with the residents," he said. "These people must understand that the lake belongs to the state.

"He added that residents were offered three options: to accept on-site replacement accommodation, to resettle to Trapaing Troyeung, or to accept cash compensation of around $10,000 per house. "We encourage residents to select on-site housing, because they will have a good place to live, unlike the current place, which is polluted, unsanitary, disorderly, and a fire threat," he said. "We will try our best to explain that the land they live on belongs to the state, and that they live there illegally."

But Pa Nguon Teang, former executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and current director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, said many residents had a legal case for title to the land. "According to the 2001 Land Law, people who have lived on unoccupied land for five years prior to 2001 can claim land titles," he said. "Many people at Boeung Kak have been here since 1980, [so] according to the law, they should be able to apply for a title."

Nhep Ngim, 54, a resident of the east side of the lake, said he has no trust that residents will be offered fair compensation for their land. "We just want a fair resolution from City Hall. But I have no confidence that there will be a fair resolution, because the city's track record shows that it has always evicted violently," he said.

Duch indicted by KRT

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Known as Duch, ex-prison head will be first of five former regime leaders to be prosecuted in UN-backed Khmer Rouge trials

FORMER Khmer Rouge S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was formally indicted Tuesday as tribunal judges sent their first case to trial in a landmark moment in Cambodia's quest for justice.

Kaing Guek Eav, who is more commonly known by his revolutionary name Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention over his alleged role at Tuol Sleng, the regime's most notorious torture centre where more than 16,000 men, women and children were imprisoned and brutalised during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule over Cambodia.

In a statement, Cambodia's Extraordinary Chambers said that co-investigating judges had presented a closing order on Duch last Friday, bringing to an end his lengthy pretrial proceedings. The prosecution now has 15 days to appeal the indictment if, for example, they feel it is too broad or to vague.

The development signals a positive step for the tribunal, which has been fraught with delays and graft allegations that are now under review by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight in New York.

Observers, however, warned that the indictment of Duch, who is the youngest of five former Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the UN-backed court, was just another step in a lengthy legal journey.

"I hope that the ECCC does not see this as a success story," said genocide researcher Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia which has been collecting evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities. "I hope they [the ECCC] are prepared to cope with high public expectations, and higher expectations from the victims."

SRP defectors get top posts as Sam Rainsy complains to UN

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Thursday, 14 August 2008

Posts for defectors?
Secretary of state positions: Ngor Sovann, Ministry of Justice; Lon Phun, Ministry of Rural Development; Tan Vanthara, Ministry of Water Resources; Nou Sovath, Ministry of Public Works; Chao Phally, Ministry of Defense (undersecretary of state)

As those who jumped ship pre-election now reap the benefits, their erstwhile party says it will not drop its claims of electoral fraud

THE ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) released a draft of its new coalition government this week in which at least 37 former members of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) were appointed positions ranging from secretary to undersecretary of state.

Sok Pheng, who led a mass defection of SRP members to the CPP a few months before national elections and strongly criticized the SRP during the national polls in July, said that he received no official information about future appointments but was ready to accept whatever post was offered.

"I joined the CCP because it offered more possibilities to help the nation," Sok Pheng told the Post on Tuesday. "The SRP could not move forward."

Pheng was named secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, according to the list of appointments in the new coalition government. Other defectors were also given plum appointments.

SRP spokesman Son Chhay said the party didn't care about the appointments and that the defectors were simply looking out for themselves rather than the nation. "It is the CCP policy to make these appointments for their own benefit," Chhay said.

Government spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the appointments are not yet official and could change.

"I cannot say how many government positions will be offered to former SRP members because they have not yet been confirmed," Khieu Kanharith said. "The appointments were offered as incentives and were based on previous job experience."

" I joined the cpp as it offered more opportunities to help the nation. "

On Tuesday, the SRP and the Human Rights Party (HRP) announced they will collectively file a complaint against the results of the recent election, which they claim was marred by widespread ballot fraud.

"We are going to file a complaint to the United Nations and the European Union because these poll results which were proclaimed by the National Election Committee are not acceptable," Rainsy said.

Rainsy claimed if the polls had been free and fair the Cambodian People's Party would have won 75 seats rather than 90, and said his own SRP would have grabbed 36 seats not 26.

Secretary general of the HRP, Uo Chanrath confirmed his party supported the complaint to the UN.

Khieu Kanharith ridiculed the complaint, saying "now only two parties are rejecting the results," alluding to the fact that former SRP-partners Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party have u-turned and now say they support the election results.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Publish 'Responsible' Tourism Guide

Focus on Travel News
Written by Ozgur Tore
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The fast growing tourism destinations of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have published a 148-page guide book showing where and how to enjoy responsible tourism activities in the three countries.

Over 25 activities in each country have been profiled in "The Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam." Each activity creates income for local people, minimises potential negative tourism impacts, involves members of the local communities in running the business, conserves natural and cultural heritage, provides meaningful experiences for tourists, helps people with physical disabilities, and builds respect between visitors and hosts.

For example, the book makes it easier for tourists to trek responsibly with hilltribes, buy handicrafts that keep traditions alive, eat in restaurants that employ former street kids or people with disabilities, stay in accommodation that respects its local community, and discover nature in some of the most awe inspiring areas of Southeast Asia.

"The various recommended activities in the book show the best side of tourism," said Mr Arjun Thapan, director general of the Asian Development Bank's Southeast Asia Department. The bank supported the publication through its Mekong Tourism Development Project. "All the activities recommended in the book help alleviate poverty," he said, "but do so in a respectful and sustainable way that both the host and the visitor can be proud of.

"Mr Thapan said continued poverty alleviation measures through tourism are important because millions of people in the subregion still live on less than two US dollars a day.

Project coordinator, Mr Peter Semone, senior advisor at the Mekong Tourism Office in Bangkok, said: "We designed the book to appeal to tourists who want to pick up a copy and go -- and for tour operators and travel agents who would like to add responsible travel experiences to their Mekong subregion itineraries.

"The colour guide book describes 82 tourism experiences from the tourist's perspective, and how that activity helps local people while respecting local culture and the environment. The book contains full contact and booking information for all the recommended activities.

The book also contains profiles of the three countries, practical information for travellers, and a list of useful resources and organisations involved with heritage, conservation and responsible tourism.

The guide was written by Mekong subregion experts Guy Marris, Nick Ray and Bernie Rosenbloom. It was edited by Ken Scott.

Statistics from the Pacific Asia Travel Association issued last month show that international tourism visitor arrivals year-to-date are growing at a rate of over 13% into Cambodia, 8% into Vietnam and 4% into Laos.

Mr Thapan said: "Our aim now is to channel that growth more equitably towards sustainable and responsible tourism operators that help us conserve culture and at the same time fight poverty."

The 148-page Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam costs US$15 (plus postage). The book can be ordered through the Pacific Asia Travel Association's online publication catalogue at:
Or email
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: (+66) 2658 2000 ext 121.

Cambodia Will Spend More Than US$400 Million to Create a First Class Irrigation System

Posted on 14 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 573

“Phnom Penh: A high ranking official of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology said that Cambodia will spend more than US$400 million starting in 2008 for ambitious developments to create a huge, first class irrigation system.

“Mr. Lim Kean Hor, the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, said that more than one million hectares of rice fields in Cambodia are expected to be served with enough water when these projects will be completed towards the end of the newly starting fourth term of the royal government. Mr. Lim Kean Hor continued that the projects are now in the preliminary stages. After they are completed, it is expected they will deliver water to nearly 60% of the entire area of the present day rice fields.

“At present, the Ministry of Water Resources plans to start building a big dam in the coming dry season with resources from Qatar at the Vaico River in Svay Rieng, worth more than US$200 million, which can deliver water to more than 300,000 hectares of rice fields, and it plans to construct another dam at the Stung Saen River [Kompong Thom] with resources from Kuwait, worth over US$100 million, which can serve 10,000 hectares of cultivation fields. The Ministry plans also to build the Krang Ponley dam [in Kompong Speu], starting during the dry season, with a loan from the government of Korea at a costs of US$33 million, and to build dams at the Basal and Chi Kraeng Krom rivers [Siem Reap] with a loan from the government of India, at a costs US$30 million, as well as the Kumhat dam, by using water from the Stung Sangkae River [Battambang] at a costs US$52 million.

“The director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture – CEDAC - Mr. Yang Saing Koma, immediately welcomed the project to spend money for a first class irrigation system, assessing that this project will help to increase paddy rice yields in the country by at least more than one million tonnes per year. Mr. Yang Saing Koma said that this is a good project, but the government has to ensure that expenses are used efficiently. In the meantime, the government has to clarify which system for storing water should be constructed or restored, in order to avoid losing national resources. According to Mr. Yang Saing Koma’s comment, the government as well as the Ministry of Water Resources should focus on delivering water to farmers to grow rice with stability in the rainy season as the first priority, because it will increase our paddy rice yields to be higher than at present.

“It should be noted that currently, because of insufficient irrigation systems to deliver water for rice production, Cambodia receives only 1.6 to 2 tonnes per hectare on average. Regarding this irrigation system, Mr. Yang Saing Koma said, ‘If our land of more than one million hectares receives enough water, in the rainy season, based on our experiences, farmers might yield at least between 30% to 50% more paddy rice – that is more than one million tonnes more.’
“At present, Cambodia, with more than 2.5 million hectares for rice farming, yields between 6 and 7 million tonnes of paddy rice per year, out of which more than 2 million tonnes can be exported. On 6 August 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated in front of thousands of citizens who were transplanting rice seedlings in Kompong Speu that the next term government, which will be formed after the election of 27 August 2008, has the intention to give top priority to irrigation systems so that Cambodia will become a big rice exporting country in the region. He said that Cambodia will have between 4 and 5 million tonnes paddy rice to sell each year under the policy of giving top priority to irrigation systems.

“According to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, nowadays around 44% of the rice fields in Cambodia are being irrigated.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #72, 13.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Duch Indictment Outlines Heinous Crimes

Witnesses told investigating judges they were horrified of Duch, who had the power to order executions.

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008 (794 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008 (794 KB) - Listen (MP3)

When jailed prison chief Duch faces a Khmer Rouge tribunal chamber in coming months, he will face charges that he was fully responsible for the deaths of at least 12,380 people at Tuol Sleng, as well as war crimes, documents issued this week show.

Investigating judges of the tribunal announced Tuesday they had sent their closing order to the Trial Chamber Aug. 8, setting the stage for the trial stage of the prison chief.

Duch, 65, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, now faces both charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, for his role as director of the S-21 prison, and the order forwarded this week gives a detailed outline of charges made against him.

Investigating judges claim he was fully responsible for the 12,380 people who died under his watch, a number that the order said was not the full amount killed.

Duch himself acknowledged that some prisoners who were later killed were not documented at Tuol Sleng.

More than 1,000 people were killed by having their bodies emptied of blood, the order said, citing witnesses, an execution method that was particularly horrifying to prisoners.

Among the prisoners, most were Cambodian, including 200 prison staff, who themselves were subsequently detained there, according to the order, which serves as an indictment.

Prisoners included Muslims, Thais, Laotians, Indians, Westerners and more than 400 Vietnamese, according to order. Of the Vietnamese, 150 would be considered "prisoners of war."

The closing order claims witnesses reported being terribly afraid of Duch, who had the power to order executions.

However, the order says, Duch confessed that "in general cases, high-ranking [officials] told him to prepare to receive prisoners, and most of those prisoners had been arrested and transferred by their respective units."

"But some evidence makes clear that S-21 arrested prisoners by itself," the order said.

Some of them had been accused of belonging to "special agencies" of Vietnam, the order said.

The charge of crimes against humanity was put forward because of the mass killings, torture, detention, abuse, sexual abuse and other methods, the order said.

War crimes was put forward for the intent to kill, injure and cause suffering, as well as denial of rights of judgment, according to the order.

The investigating judges ruled Duch would be held in detention ahead of his trial.

The Trial Chamber will now set up a date for the trial and choose witnesses to appear, co-investigating judge You Bunleng said.

Cambodians Barred From Ta Moan Thom

By Reporters, VOA Khmer
Original reports from Cambodia and Washington
13 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 11 August 2008, by Nuch Sarita (1.18 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 11 August 2008, by Nuch Sarita (1.18 MB) - Listen (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008, by Heng Reaksmey (862 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008, by Heng Reaksmey (862 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Thai soldiers continued to bar Cambodians from entering Ta Moan temple Wednesday, declining to take down two wire barricades they had earlier planned to remove, a military official said.

Thai soldiers occupied the temple, in a complex on the border of Oddar Meanchey province, last week, as a continued standoff over Preah Vihear temple went unresolved.

Both sides are expected to meet in Thailand Monday to diffuse the Preah Vihear standoff, but Cambodia will add Ta Moan Thom to its agenda, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at least 50 Cambodian-Americans demonstrated in front of the Thai Embassy in Washington Monday, demanding the Thai government withdraw troops from areas surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

"We demand the Thai army build-up to pull out from Preah Vihear territory because this can escalate to brutal war and bloodshed," said Tom Keo, a member of the Angkor Association, a group of Cambodian-Americans in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. "We want peace, and we want the Thai government to accept the mediation of the UN and Asean countries."

US Trade Mission Urges Transparency

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008 (601 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 August 2008 (601 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Members of US trade mission arrived in Cambodia Wednesday, for talks on private sector dialogue and trade development with key government figures.

The delegation, led by Deputy US Trade Representative Christina Sevilla, held a forum late Wednesday to educate officials in US trade policymaking.

Trade between the two was $2.7 billion in 2007, with $3 billion expected in 2008, and the US is the chief buyer of Cambodia's manufactured garments.

The US mission recommended the government to increase transparency and dialogue with the private sector, as well as look for ways to build on each other's experience, Sevilla told reporters Wednesday.

Cambodia was doing "much better" with rights, wages and conditions in the labor field, compared to other neighboring countries, US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said.

Cambodia had many unions that did not always communicate well with factory management, he said.

Election Formula, Disunity Bucked Change

By VOA Khmer,
Pin Sisovann
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 09 August 2008 (1.78 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 09 August 2008 (1.78 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Vote-for-vote, nearly half the Cambodians who cast a ballot in July's election sought to change the ruling party. But the lack of a unified opposing party meant that an election formula enacted since 1998 was against them.

About 42 percent voted for non-ruling parties, leaving the Cambodian People's Party with 58 percent of the ballots. But the CPP ended the election with an estimated 90 seats, with only 33 going to four other parties.

"The number of votes split into small parties is like throwing [votes] into the trash," said Thun Saray, president of Adhoc and head of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. "The formula gives the remaining seats to the big parties."

While the CPP earned 58 percent of the votes, it gained 70 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, he said. The Human Rights Party, however, earned 6 percent of votes, but three seats. And any party with less than 4 percent of the votes was cast aside.

The formula surprised voters, who saw the opposition earn just under half of the votes but nearly three times fewer seats than the ruling party, he said.

"I think the Untac formula was better, because we are talking plural democracy," he said.
The formula was changed by CPP and Funcinpec following the 1998 election.

However, even with the current formula, had smaller parties joined into one ahead of the election, they could have pulled out more seats. With 42 percent of the votes with one party, about 40 seats would have been won, with the CPP earning about 70, and the remaining going to the highest average.

National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nitha said it was too early to comment on election law and seat allocation.
Meanwhile, Thun Saray said in order for a coalition to be effective, to affect change, they must form before an election, not after. Some Cambodians did not vote because they expected no change in July's election, he said.

A firm coalition with a clear candidate for premier was also necessary, he said.
Ex-SRP lawmaker Khem Veasna said he left the party ahead of the election because there was "no light of unity."

Kem Sokha, leader of the Human Rights Party, said the opposition had lost the election because too many irregularities overcame a climate for change that was not yet ripe.

"If we had united, the formula would benefit us as well," he said. "The Human Rights Party demanded unification before the election, and so did the Norodom Ranariddh Party. Except the Sam Rainsy Party. If the Sam Rainsy Party had had the same will, I think it would have become true."

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the main obstacle had not been unity, but unfair proceedings.

But CPP lawmaker Chiem Yeap said the overwhelming support of voters for the CPP found its way to the polls, no matter the formula or the coalition.

The opposition parties suffered because of their "tricky behavior," he said. "I think they won't beat the CPP for two or three elections to come. The CPP's political agenda is too close to the people."

Opposition Leader Assails Fraudulent Form

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 11 August 2008 (5.94 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 11 August 2008 (5.94 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy dismissed the possibility of losing his seats when a new government is formed, but claimed instead he was concentrating on restoring the votes of those who were unable to cast ballots in July's election.

"We have found the evidence that the ruling Cambodian People's Party commune and local authorities illegally issued form 1018 to allow ghost and Vietnamese voters to be eligible to vote for CPP, and I launched the complaint yesterday," Sam Rainsy said.

The falsification of documents carries an Untac penalty of up to 15 years, Sam Rainsy said, and many local officials had violated the law.

He was receiving more evidence each day, he said.

Thailand, Cambodia agree to reduce troops at border temple

BANGKOK, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Thailand and Cambodia on Wednesday agreed to reduce the number of their military personnel guarding the disputed border temple of Ta Moan Thom after a bilateral defense meeting in Thailand's northeastern province Surin.

The agreement was reached following a meeting between Lt-Gen. Suchit Sitthiprapa, Thailand's Second Army commander, responsible for security affairs in northeastern Thailand, and Cambodian Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Neang Paht at a hotel in Surin province bordering Cambodia, according to a report by Thai News Agency.

Both sides agreed at the meeting to reduce the number of armed forces personnel guarding the Ta Moan Thom, 13-century Khmer-styletemple ruin which is located between Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district and Cambodian province of Uddor Meanchey.

Thailand and Cambodia also agreed to open the barbed wire installed at the ruin early Thursday so that military and residents of both countries could communicate with each other and visit the temple. Thais will also be allowed to visit another ruin about a km deeper inside Cambodia.

Tensions in the area heightened after Thailand's Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit, on Aug. 4 asked Cambodia to withdraw its soldiers from the environs of the temple.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman has said the Ta Moan Thom ruin is only one of a number of sites along the yet-to-be-demarcated boundary between the two countries.

Both countries have agreed to hold another meeting next Monday in the Thai central resort town of Hua Hin.

On Monday and Tuesday, foreign ministers from both countries will also hold their second-round talks regarding the long-disputed border area around the Preah Vihear Temple.

The 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple was awarded a World Heritage site honor after the UNESCO last month approved Cambodia's application, which has sparked nationalist sentiment in Thailand amid its recent domestic political turmoil.

Thai and Cambodian military have beefed up military presence along the disputed border since July 15 after three Thais including a monk was briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers for breaking into the temple, which had been closed for public by Cambodian authorities to public as border tension rose.

Editor: Yan

Cambodia media to carry aid to military at temple

The Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh - Cambodian journalists Wednesday announced they would answer a call for aid from soldiers stationed at a remote northern temple complex and travel there to distribute supplies.

A group of journalists including the privately owned Cambodian Television Network said they would visit the Ta Moan temples in the north of the country soon to deliver food and other essentials to troops near the site that is disputed by Thailand.

Cambodia's ill-equipped army has been heavily supported by various groups nationwide in its hurried stand against alleged Thai incursions, including journalists and social activists, politicians and prominent members of society since the temple standoffs started last month.

Senior officials from Oddar Meanchey province, home to the Ta Moan Thom temples, appealed for assistance for soldiers and police this week to maintain their vigil.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the temple complex was "indisputably inside Cambodian territory."

"We deny any demand that contravenes Cambodia's legal rights," the Foreign Ministry said.

Thai soldiers have reportedly denied Cambodians access to the Ta Moan temples since July 28.

Cambodia won Unesco World Heritage listing for the Preah Vihear temple ruins - 150 kilometres east of Ta Moan - on July 7 against Thailand's wishes. Thai troops then moved into territory claimed by Cambodia, but Thailand insists this has not been legally decided.

Later that month, Thai troops allegedly blocked Cambodian access to the Ta Moan group of temples, also on the 800-kilometre border, which is disputed at many points.

Cambodia says it hopes the issue can be resolved "peacefully and lawfully" at scheduled a bilateral meeting between foreign ministers in the Thai province of Prachuap Kiri Khan Monday.

Quarrel over temple rekindled

The Cambodian flag flew over thePreah Vihear temple in 2006, nowit is occupied by heavily armedmilitary personnel.Photo by: pfordham at

Radio Netherlands Worldwide
By correspondent Michel Maas*

There is a war brewing on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Thai soldiers have cordoned off the area around the controversial Preah Vihear temple from the outside world. There is no sign that troops have been withdrawn, as agreed earlier by both countries. Nor is there any sign of tourists being allowed to visit the ancient ruin, which recently made it onto UNESCO's world heritage list. The troops have taken their positions - the Cambodians are in the temple, the Thais surround it - and for the last two months each side has been closely watching the other.

"Do you want to meditate?" asks a Buddhist monk dressed in white. He points to a little chapel that he and his followers have set up next to the road block. He has just spent the last half hour listening to his own thoughts there. Which is a wonder in itself as incessant Buddhist singing blares from a car. The volume is so high that it is difficult to hear yourself speak.

Protect the Thais
Only a handful of Thai Buddhists are left over from the thousands who went to Preah Vihear two months ago to claim the temple for Thailand. Some of the demonstrators were arrested by the Cambodians and Thailand sent its troops to "protect the Thais".

The situation was so tense for a while that Cambodia wanted the United Nations Security Council to intervene. The demonstrators were made to retreat 12 kilometres down the road and now there are just soldiers in the area. The last protesters are keeping watch at the road block. "We are trying to resolve the situation through meditation," says the man clad in white.

Border drawn too widely
An "error" by UNESCO has sparked off an old conflict. The Preah Vihear temple has belonged to Cambodia since the International Court of Justice allocated the ruin to the country in 1962. But the border has been drawn a little too wide around the temple on the UNESCO map by a few kilometres. Thailand feels wronged.

The third week in August is the week by which all troops are supposed to have withdrawn, but it looks like no-one wants to take the first step. On the contrary, 300 kilometres to the west - on the same border - troops have dug in at another temple: Tha Moan Thom.

There are not many troops, at first glance. Half a road block is guarded by two soldiers and under a roof in the car park there are a couple more. But around the back, at the foot of the temple, Thai and Cambodian soldiers stand eye to eye on the edge of the woods. The two are separated by barbed wire and a rickety fence made from branches.

Here too the Thais say "the Cambodians" could start shooting at any moment. They are ready and willing. "We would gladly die for our country," they say. There is no shooting and at the top, tourists walk around as normal in amongst the temple stones. But the situation remains tense.

Colonial border
The border between Thailand and Cambodia was drawn more than 100 years ago by the French, who colonised Cambodia at the time. Like many colonial borders, this one was also decided on the drawing board and no one bothered to check where the line should run precisely.

But after the independence of Cambodia in 1953, all this changed. The squabble that began back then has continued right up until today, and each time the issue is raised, nationalist feelings are rekindled.

Four years ago we saw what this could lead to when a Thai actress reportedly told an interviewer that - from a historical point of view - large parts of Cambodia actually belonged to Thailand. As a result angry Cambodians set the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh and other Thai property on fire.

"Blow the whole thing up, like the Taliban did in Afghanistan," says a Thai passer-by on the border.

It wouldn't take a lot for the whole matter to explode. One stray bullet in the woods in Tha Moan Thom would be enough.

Cambodia asks for regional cooperation in drug fight

Monsters & Critics
Asia-Pacific News

Aug 13, 2008

Phnom Penh - A senior Cambodian official said Wednesday that methamphetamines were an increasingly serious regional problem and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) should fight them together.

Lou Ramin, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Cambodia believed it had virtually eradicated marijuana and heroin trafficking, production and processing but methamphetamines were a much more invasive problem.

'People can make methamphetamines with very basic, easily acquired ingredients,' he said. 'We have had success, but policing against this drug is the biggest challenge we have ever faced because you can buy ingredients at a shop and make it in a small place.'

He said ASEAN anti-drug chiefs would meet soon to discuss ways to combat trafficking in the region.

'Cambodia is very proud of its achievements, but no country can fight this alone,' he said.
Ramin was speaking after the release of an annual report on illicit drug data and surveillance systems.

In April 2007, Cambodian authorities seized 3 tons of chemicals used to produce methamphetamines during a raid on a farm in Kampong Speu, around 40 kilometres south-west of Phnom Penh.

The operation inflamed fears that Cambodia might be becoming a new regional hub for manufacturing the drug after neighbouring countries, including Thailand, cracked down on drug smuggling and tightened border surveillance.