Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Cambodia - News : Border dispute - 20.08.2008

Sacravatoons :" Phnom Penh-Demonstrators :"

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Sacravatoons :" Preah Vihear & Border Talk "

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Sacravatoons no :" My Dropping "

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U.S. diplomat's extraordinary journey

ABC News
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By Cheryl Jennings

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A former United States ambassador to the United Nations was recently in town talking about his dramatic journey from the killing fields of Cambodia, to America and the White House. He says his mother was his inspiration.

"She was a strong woman and she told me, she told us that no matter what happens, never give up hope. So that was one piece of wisdom that remained with me and that is why I was able to survive the killing fields of Cambodia because hope was the only thing I had left," said former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Sichan Siv.

Siv is traveling the country, talking about his new book, "Golden Bones: An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America."

"Golden bones is used by the Cambodians to refer to somebody who is very lucky," said Siv.

Siv spoke with ABC7 recently about his life in Cambodia. He had been a teacher, but quit his job to work for CARE International because his country got dragged into the Vietnam War.

"CARE was helping about half a million refugees, displaced persons in Cambodia."

He was offered a chance to escape from Cambodia in April of 1975, but was trying to help CARE arrange for a food airlift for starving refugees.

"That was the reason I missed the last helicopter."

His life changed dramatically in May of 1975 after the Khmer Rouge staged a revolution against their own country.

"They forced everyone to get out of cities and urban centers and Pnom Pen. Just imagine three million people trying to get out at the same time," said Siv. "My background was putting my family into great danger because I went to school, I was college educated, I wore glasses and the Khmer Rouge wanted to turn society upside down. They wanted to eliminate anybody they considered an enemy of the revolution."

So he threw away his glasses and took off on a bicycle heading to Thailand with the blessing of his mother in order to save his life and the lives of his family members.

"I was later captured near the Thai border, so I changed completely my identity. I was just a simple peasant, a former truck driver," said Siv. "I walked through the jungles of Cambodia, I fell in a booby trap, I was severely wounded, was jailed for illegal entry, I was transferred to a refugee camp. I spent time teaching English to my fellow refugees, I became a Buddhist monk."

Siv made it to America thanks to his supervisor from CARE, June Macnaldi, who asked her friends to sponsor him. Unfortunately, most of his family in Cambodia was killed.

"I had two dollars in my pocket and I told myself that I ought to look forward, forget the painful past and look forward to the future, hopefully brighter."

He did whatever it took to earn a living.

"I washed dishes, I cooked hamburgers and finally I went to New York to drive a taxi."

He received a scholarship to Columbia. In 1988, he wanted to understand American politics. So he volunteered for the campaign to elect the first President Bush.

"I got a call from the transition team to go down for an interview and I was offered a job at the White House."

In 2001, the current President Bush nominated Siv as an ambassador to the United Nations.

"So, within 13 years, I went from somebody who tried to escape the killing fields, walking across the jungles, to a presidential assistant, and that tells a lot about America."

Meta House in Phnom Penh Opens Exhibition Remembering the Vietnam War

Suntuntak Piteak (Cambodia, born 1967), About Pol Pot. Oil painting, 100 x 120 cm. Pol Pot killed more than 3 million members of his own race.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PHNOM PENH.- "Art of Survival" is back! The Khmer Rouge genocide and its impact on the Cambodian society today is reflected by Cambodian artists Pich Sopheap, Chat Piersat, Chhouen Rithy, Chan Vitarin, Ching Taingchea, Khauch Touch, Koung Channa, Phe Sophon, Kong Vollak, Kvay Samnang, Tor Vutha and many more – accompanied by foreign guests such as Vietnamese-Khmer artist Le Huy Hoang, who visits Phnom Penh for the first time since the 1980s. Other participants are Bradfort Edwards (USA), Panca Evenblij (Netherland) and Ali Sanderson (Australia), Virginie Noel (Belgium) and Herbert Mueller (Germany). Special screenings take place on the META HOUSE rooftop - about the KR genocide and the Vietnam War.

For the highly acclaimed AOS exhibition Meta House is partnering with the "Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center". The center (founded by famous film director Rithy Panh) collects and safeguards audiovisual documents about Cambodia in order to open access to the memory and pass it on to the new generations. At Bophana they will also screen the video documentation of the first AOS exhibition “Cambodian artists speak out: The Art of Survival” (Khmer/Engl.), that has been produced in cooperation with the KONRAD–ADENAUER–FOUNDATION (KAS). The book with the same title will also be available in both locations.

Boasting more than 200 square meters of art exhibition space, the three storey META HOUSE gallery in Phnom Penh/Cambodia offers an excellent space for artists-in-residence and visiting artists to interact. The kingdom's first art/media/communication center promotes the development of contemporary art in Cambodia through local and international exhibitions, workshops, community-based projects, artist exchange programs and by fostering links with South East Asian and international universities, galleries, curators, non-governmental and governmental organizations.

Buddhist monk attacks Cambodian man

The Age -
August 20, 2008

Cambodian man caught "loitering suspiciously" at a Buddhist pagoda was attacked by a monk with a machete, local media said.

Soy Narith, 22, was recovering from severe chop wounds to his leg and left side after Buddhist monk Em Eat, whose age was not supplied, allegedly set upon him on Monday with a long knife, the Khmer-language Koh Santepheap newspaper said.

The paper quoted police as saying that Eat suspected Narith was trying to steal temple property.

Buddhism preaches tolerance and non-violence but Eat reportedly told police it also taught that people should not steal.

Police were continuing the investigations as Narith accused Eat of being of no good character and that he should possibly change his vocation.

Long Beach group aims to heal another heart

Press-Telegram Long Beach
By Greg Mellen Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - When David Kem of Long Beach volunteered to help organize a benefit for a Cambodian girl who had been brought to the United States for life-altering open-heart surgery, it was because it seemed the right thing to do. He certainly didn't expect anything in return.

"I just heard about her story and followed it in the paper and thought, `Wouldn't it be great to help?"' Kem says.

Now, Kem may have received a gift beyond payment.

A week or so after the benefit, in a bizarre coincidence, Kem received devastating news from Cambodia. His infant nephew, born in December, was suffering from a mysterious heart ailment.
At the time, Peter Chhun, the founder of Hearts Without Boundaries, the organization that arranged for Davik Teng to come to the United States, was preparing to take the girl and her mother back to their village in Cambodia after a successful surgery and recovery. He was also looking for another candidate in need of care not readily available in Cambodia.

Kem asked Chhun if he could visit his nephew, Vy Soksamnang, and his cousin, Pang Ratha.
Like Davik, Pang and her son live in a bamboo hut in a village and are very poor. Vy's father, Meas Bunno, works as a guard along the border with Thailand and is rarely able to see his family.

After visiting the family, Chhun arranged for the boy to be seen by the same cardiologist in Siem Reap who helped with the diagnosis of Davik.

The cardiologist, Dr. Lyda Luy, found Vy had a ventricular septal defect, or hole in the heart, the same condition that afflicted Davik.

Now, Chhun, with the help of Susan Grossfeld, whose husband is a cardiologist, is working to see if he can broker a deal with Rady Children's Hospital of San Diego.

"The baby has a congenital heart defect that without surgery will shorten his life," said Dr. Paul Grossfeld of San Diego, who reviewed Luy's report.

In the case of Davik, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles donated its facilities and staff for the surgery. A colleague of Chhun and her cardiologist husband at Childrens Hospital paved the way for that deal.

While in Cambodia, Chhun was visited by 13 children, all suffering from heart ailments of differing severity.

Chhun said when he visited Vy and his mother, Pang Rantha, he thought Luy and his team at Angkor Hospital for Children could repair the defect.

In Luy's assessment, the doctor said he feared if the boy was sent to Phnom Penh for surgery, surgeons would elect to do too much.

In a note to Chhun, Luy wrote that children with similar problems have been recommended for aortic valve replacement in addition to repair of the hole.

In a country like Cambodia, where the extensive care required after major surgery is simply not available to the poor, valve replacement is not only unneeded, but unnecessarily dangerous and risky for children like Vy.

Luy says he has refused the risky treatment because, "I believe these kids can do surgery to close VSD without valve replacement." Those children also need help that may never come.

Chhun stresses that negotiations with the Rady Children's Hospital of San Diego are in very early stages and nothing is certain.

"I just hope and pray we can find a place for this boy," Chhun says.

As for the unlikely connection with Kem, it's just the latest twist in an already unusual tale.
To Chhun it was fate that led to the discovery of Davik in her remote village and it's the same with Vy.

"Something, somewhere told this (Kem) to help us," Chhun said.

And the repayment could be special indeed.

In the meantime, Kem is hoping the luck, or fate, or whatever it is, holds out.

The uncertain future of Boeung Kak dwellers

© Nihm Sophal
Cambodge Soir

The first official meeting between Boeung kak residents and municipal authorities took place on Monday August 18, to deal with the eviction conditions of the local dwellers. The lake and it surroundings will disappear and be replaced by a planning project which includes a commercial centre, a university, an entertainment centre and luxurious residences…

The long awaited, if tense, negotiations have finally started, as the elections are now over. Kep Chuk Tema, the mayor, received 450 residents of Boeung Kak. The area comprises of 133 hectares, of which 104 hectares are occupied by the lake. An investment contract was signed in February 2007 between Kep Chuk Tema and Lao Meng Khin, Sukaku Company director and CPP senator. The lease runs over 99 years and amounts to US$ 79 million. Shortly after the project was made public, around 4 000 local residents reacted, expressing their fear of eviction. The residents do not understand the agreement terms between the village authorities and the company.

The local authorities have put forward three solutions: the locals can either stay, move to Damnak Trayeung village, located 15 km away in a Phnom Penh suburb-where concrete dwellings are already being built- or receive a US$ 8,000 indemnity payment. During the meeting with the governor, most of the dwellers-who have always lived by the lake-chose to relocate. However, before the meeting several of them stated that they wanted compensation from the company. Finally the majority changed their mind and are now making claims for new dwellings and US$ 5,000 payments.

In the main meeting room, the Phnom Penh governor answered all questions. He promised to submit the last proposal to the company in order to find a proper solution. “I expect this investment to proceed smoothly and that a compromise can be reached between the company and the residents” said Kep Chuk tema. He also stated that the residents will immediately receive a 50% down payment and will be able to cash in the other half once they have moved. The dwellers expressed their concerns regarding the move to a location lacking infrastructure. They then asked about road, drainage, hospital and school infrastructures... The locals, who have been living on the lake since the 1980s, grow morning glory and fish over nine hectares; activities carried out in full agreement with the local authorities. Yet, Kep Chuk Tema confirmed that everyone will be evicted, as “the lake is state property” he added.

As for those living around the lake, their fate will be decided once the case of the lake dwellers is resolved.

Security is no laughing matter at national Assembly

Cambodge Soir

New metal detector installed in the premises.

It has become very difficult to sneak into the National Assembly. A new security device will change the habits of the thousand employees of the lower house. “The aim is to strengthen overall security” said a staff member following an inter-branch meeting.

This security device installation, the second in the lower house, occurred just before the start of the fourth legislature, planned for September 24 to be presided over by King Norodom Sihamoni. “Everything is set for the first session, security as much as the rest.” asserted the general secretary of the Assembly, Léng Péng Long. He also said that this second device will be in constant operation.

The government of Vietnam gave the first security detector installed after the inauguration of the new Assembly. It is only used during sessions. Usually MPs use the secure access whereas staff favour the smaller entrances located between the buildings in order to access their offices faster.

Normally, the security forces in charge of controlling the Assembly entrance only search visitors. Staff members, wearing their badges, may pass through the security gate without being stopped

Interim pact on settling border dispute

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday August 20, 2008

Informal ministerial talks prove fruitful


PHETCHABURI : Thailand and Cambodia yesterday agreed to an interim agreement to solve the row over the disputed border area surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.

The agreement was reached in the second round of informal talks between the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers, Tej Bunnag and Hor Namhong, in Cha-am district.

The main thrust of the interim agreement is that the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) should be a key mechanism in resolving the problem, and for more troops to be withdrawn from the overlapping area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear.

It also pledges efforts to remove landmines in the area.

The interim agreement requires approval from both governments.

It will tabled for the cabinet next week, after which parliamentary approval will also be required, Mr Tej said.

After completing this process, the JBC is expected to hold talks in October with Manaspas Xuto, who is adviser to the foreign minister.

The JBC will identify the border area to be demarcated, with assistance from legal experts.
The two ministers did not go into detail as to how many more soldiers will be moved out of the disputed area.

This will be settled at a meeting of the Regional Border Committee on Aug 29 and 30 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Thai delegrationwill be headed by Second Army commander Lt-Get Sujit Sitthiprapa and the Cambodian side by Deputy Defence Minister Gen Neang Phat and Gen Chea Mon, commander of the Cambodian Fourth Army Region.

Thailand and Cambodia completed the first troop reduction on Sunday.

Hor Namhong was optimistic about settling the problem with Thailand as the two countries showed political willingness to put an end to the row.

But he admitted settling the issue would take more time.

He promised to withdraw the complaint on the border dispute with Thailand from the United Nations Security Council soon and said Preah Vihear will be reopened for tourists after the situation returns to normal.

The Cambodian government decided not to complain to the UN agency after most council members and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) made clear their position that the border problem should be resolved through bilateral discussions.

The Cambodian minister was granted an audience with His Majesty the King for one hour at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

A group of Dharmayatra led by Samarn Sri-ngam also rallied in front of the meeting venue, holding banners bearing slogans such as ''Kick out the Cambodians'' and ''Get back Preah Vihear'', which is called Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand.

The group also lodged a petition to the King via the Foreign Ministry.

It said the military reduction was unfair, as Cambodia still has about 500 soldiers around the eastern side of the Preah Vihear foothill, while Thailand has only about 300 military personnel on the western side.

The Thai side was seeking equal reduction from the Cambodian side, military sources said

Border to be closed

The Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh (dpa)

Although talks with Thailand over disputed border territory achieved modest progress, the border crossing at the ancient Preah Vihear temple would remain closed indefinitely, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday.

Cambodia remained firm in its stance that Thailand had sent troops into Cambodian territory, he told a press conference at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from Thailand after talks there Tuesday.

However, he said he remained convinced that bilateral diplomacy remained the way forward and Cambodia could yet avoid taking the matter to the UN Security Council for mediation.

"We two countries should solve this issue by peaceful means and avoid war," he said.

He said his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, wholeheartedly agreed.

The 11th-century Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO over Thai objections on July 7, and a week later, Thai troops moved into nearby areas Bangkok claims are disputed and Cambodia says is its territory.

Late last month, Thai troops also moved into the Ta Moan temple complex, 150 kilometres west of Preah Vihear. Preah Vihear lies around 300 kilometres north of Phnom Penh on Cambodia's northern border.

Cambodia closed the Preah Vihear border crossing June 22 as Thai protestors began to gather there and would not reopen it without a complete resolution to the dispute, Hor Namhong said.

"When the situation is normal in Preah Vihear, then we will think about reopening the border," he said.

Cambodia has reported that tourism to the clifftop temple has doubled since the crisis began despite the border closure.

Cambodia's Increased Transparency

VOA News
19 August 2008

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Trade Representative Dr. Christina Sevilla visited Phnom Penh, August 13th, and took part in a forum with Cambodia's Senior Minister of Commerce, H.E. Cham Prasidh. Dr. Sevilla congratulated the Cambodian government on the impressive strides it has made in increasing transparency and dialogue with the private sector. She signaled the United States commitment to deepening and expanding the trade relationship between the two countries.

Dr. Sevilla also noted that Cambodia needed to implement its World Trade Organization commitments and strengthen its intellectual property rights regime in order to improve the business climate.

The forum provided a platform for the participants to share U.S. and Cambodian experiences in consultative mechanisms for trade development in order to further the economic ties between the two countries. Promoting trade through improved policies and procedures is one goal of a private-public sector dialogue. Trade between the U.S. and Cambodia rose to two-billion-six-hundred-million dollars in 2008.

Increased transparency is good news for Cambodia's private sector. For the economy to grow, the actions of government officials must be open to public scrutiny. Laws must be enforced fairly and impartially. Corruption and illegal business practices must be exposed and the rule of law applied to violators. Journalists have a responsibility to expose corruption and illegal practices in government and the private sector. They should report the news fairly, objectively, and without surrendering to bribery or political influence. Government has a responsibility to protect the press, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens who expose corruption and illegal practices.

Promoting transparency is one of a number of goals of U.S. trade policy. American policy works toward opening markets throughout the world to create new opportunities and higher living standards for families, farmers, manufacturers, workers, consumers, and businesses.

Thailand, Cambodia to draw border

Radio Australia
August 20, 2008

Foreign ministers from Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to intensify efforts to mark the border around a disputed temple.

At the weekend, up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops pulled back from confronting each other on a small patch of disputed land near Cambodia's 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.

Twenty troops from both sides are stationed at a small pagoda in the contentious border area, while 40 Cambodian and Thai solders remain nearby.

After a day of talks the ministers announced a border committee will meet in October to draw a boundary around the temple.

Military officials will meet later this month to discuss a further pullback of troops.

The two countries say they will solve the problem peacefully, in friendship and under the law.

Sdok Kok Thom temple under 38 year renovation

MCOT English News

With Thailand and Cambodia seeking a peaceful solution to the lingering border dispute over the ancient Preah Vihear temple, other temples along their joint border might become issues, due to unclear demarcation between the two countries. Sdok Kok Thom temple in Sa Kaeo province is one of them.

Workers were refining each block of sandstone after it was brought down and rebuilt during renovation work. This method, requiring highly skilled craftsmen and specialists, was also used to restore the Pathenon in Greece.

Sdok Kok Thom temple covers an area of six acres. The stupa collapsed and the Fine Arts Department has been renovating it for 38 years on a limited budget. Now, it’s an outstanding attraction, drawing more tourists.

“Renovation work has to be done consistantly to keep records on each block of sand stone. Specialists have to work continuously for accuracy and smoothness of work,” said Anat Bumrungwong, Director, Fines Art Office 5.

Sdok Kok Thom was built in the 11th century, housing the phallus stone, as a symbol of worship to the Hindu god, Shiva. The temple was an area restricted for kings in the past. Outside the temple wall is a pond as big as a football field. Stone pillars are placed along the stone walkway at the temple pointing in the direction of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.

In 1935, the temple was registered as a national historical site. Two inscription stones inscribing the royal line-up to the throne of the ancient Khmer empire were found here. They stood the test of time and offer a reference into history. The lintel featuring the God Vishnu in reclining position was found here.

The temple is considered an important temple from the past, in contrast to its name “Sdok Kok Thom”, which means desolate areas full of reed.

HIV/AIDS rate expected to keep declining in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The number of Cambodians with HIV or AIDS has plummeted from the country's all-time high in the late 1990s and experts expect its prevalence to continue dropping in the foreseeable future, national media said Wednesday.

"This is good news," English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily quoted Mean Chhi Vun, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS), as commenting on NCHADS' latest report.

"As a program manager, I am very happy because this shows we have successfully slowed down or controlled the HIV epidemic through prevention, care and treatment," he added.

Recent sample tests in 22 provinces and municipalities throughout Cambodia tell NCHADS that some 14 percent female sex workers are thought to have HIV/AIDS, as opposed to 43 percent in 1998, and 1.1 percent this year as opposed to 2.1 percent in 1998 among pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the infection rate of the disease is now kept under one percent in the kingdom, said the tests.

The decline can be attributed to increased condom use and high treatment rates, according to NCHADS officials.

The infection rate of HIV/AIDS in Cambodian once reached 3.3 percent at its peak in 1997.

Editor: An

Drama helps needy Auckland New Zealand
Eastern Courier Wednesday, 20 August 2008

An evening of entertainment will help provide clean drinking water for one of Cambodia’s poorest provinces.

Howick resident Adam Kirby will cycle through 475km of tough terrain in Cambodia to raise money for the cause. He and the other participants in the World Vision cycle challenge must raise $6000 for the trip, half of which is a donation to the water project.

Mr Kirby wants to raise $10,000, and is putting together fundraising events.

Proceeds from tickets to the Howick Little Theatre production 12 Angry Men on September 4 will help.

"The play is a great drama which deals with the theme of someone standing up for justice in a situation where it would be far easier just to go with the majority.

"It sort of fits with us doing the cycle challenge because we are not ready to accept the status quo and want to make people’s lives better in a practical way," he says.

Light supper is from 7.30pm with the play starting at 8pm. Tickets are $30.

On September 20 at 6.30pm there will be a dinner with food and entertainment from around the world at the Pakuranga Baptist Church on Fremantle Place.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children, under sevens are free.

For tickets email or phone 968-8000 ext 8353.

Japanese man detained in Cambodia for taking nude photos of children

Japan Today, Japan News and Discussion
Wednesday 20th August

PHNOM PENH — A Japanese man has been arrested and charged in Cambodia’s coastal town of Sihanoukville for having taken nude photos of children there, local officials said Tuesday.

According to police and prosecutors, Shunichi Nakagawa, 32, was arrested Sunday and sent Tuesday to Sihanoukville Municipal Court where he was charged with a child pornography offense punishable by between 5 and 10 years of imprisonment.

Second Thai-Cambodian foreign ministers' meeting on border dispute ends without breakthrough

August 20, 2008

No substantial agreement has been reached after a one-day verbal tug-of-war between Thai and Cambodian delegations led by respective foreign ministers over the disputed border around the Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday at Thailand's central resort town Cha-am, Phetchburi province.

At a news conference after the talks on Tuesday evening, both Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong called the meeting a success, or a bis step forward since the long-lingering dispute re-captured national attention last month.

The Thai foreign minister read out a five-point statement which has basically set a rough timetable for next round of military and diplomatic negotiations in the near future.

The statement said both sides "welcomed the first-phase redeployment of their respective troops out of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda, the area surrounding the Pagoda and then Temple of Preah Vihear temple," and agreed to convene a second meeting between the Head of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the Head of the Thai Regional Border Committee on Aug. 29 in Cambodia to discuss the "second phase of redeployment."

It was also agreed that the next meeting of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) will be convened in early October this year to discuss issues regarding survey and demarcation of the disputed border.

The third Foreign Ministers' meeting will be held after the JBC meeting, whose schedule has yet to be set.

The first JBC meeting was held in Thailand early July, followed by the first bilateral ministerial meeting on July 28. Both meetings produced no big breakthrough on border demarcation.

As their first-round talks in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the two foreign ministers have brought with them diplomatic, legal, military and border affairs officials to join in Tuesday's meeting, which opened after 9 a.m. (0200GMT) at a hotel in Cha-am, some 220 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, and lasted eight hours until 8 p.m. (1300GMT).

The ministerial meeting mechanism was aimed to find a peaceful solution to a long border dispute regarding a 4.6-sq-kilometer area around the 11th- century ruins of the Khmer-style Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, listed recently by UNESCO as a World Heritage, and to lay down foundations for future cooperation on demarcation and demining work along the disputed border.

The two sides have settled for now on a bilateral mechanism to solve their problems, after the Cambodia withdrew its earlier efforts to draw help from the United Nations Security Council amid voices of disapproval from Thailand and other ASEAN members.

The anticipation for any real breakthrough in foreseeable future talks had been low, though, as both sides had strong claims regarding the sovereignty over the disputed area, including the Preah Vihear temple environs and another ancient ruins -- the Tha Muen temple, critics said.

The Tha Muen temples issue, another topic of wrangle following the Preah Vihear debate, will be discussed during next foreign ministers meeting.

On Tuesday afternoon, outside the hotel, a dozen Thais had a quiet protest against Cambodia's "occupation" of Preah Vihear site and surrounding border areas, by raising banners which reads "Cambodia get out."

Earlier before the meeting started, Tharit Charungvat, spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said the atmosphere between the two ministers was good on Monday when they met and joined in a dinner, and that the situation has been improving a lot, as the tensions at the border have been eased as a result of the military "redeployment" following previous talks under bilateral mechanism.

Tharit reiterated that territorial dispute is normal for any two neighboring countries, and that the situation for Thailand and Cambodia has now cooled down.

The "first phase of redeployment" has seen that, before Tuesday's talks opened, only about 10 soldiers from each side remain at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda on the access to the Preah Vihear temple, which sits at the border between Thai northeastern province of Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, following a respective "redeployment" since Saturday, and some 20 others from each side at areas nearby for patrol.

The military stand-off had started after three Thais, including a monk, were briefly detained by Cambodian authorities on July 15 for "intruding Cambodian territory" by breaking into the Preah Vihear temple compound to declare Thai sovereignty over the temple.

The temple was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 verdict of the International Court of Justice, which some Thais have been reluctant to accept. The dispute became a hot issue when Cambodia launched efforts to bid for the listing of the temple as a World Heritage Site last year.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee approved Cambodia's application early last month, triggering a wave of national sentiment in Thailand urging the Thai government to take counter actions in defense of territorial sovereignty.

Thailand and Cambodia share a nearly 800-kilometer long common border. Cambodia has based its claim over the Preah Vihear areas on a map drawn by the French before it ended the colonization history half a century ago, but Thailand has refused to recognized the map and called for joint re-demarcation.


Castaway Cambodian Islands - the Next Asian hotspot

Property Wire

Written by Liam Bailey
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Brocon Group are to build a massive luxury resort on previously unheard of Cambodian islands. Will they be as successful as Thailand's islands, a new Asian hotspot perhaps? Property Wire's global markets expert Liam Bailey gives us his opinion.

Successful Australian property developer Brocon Group; the company behind the hugely popular French Colonial apartments in Phnom Penh, were recently given the green light for a massive $35million luxury resort development on two Cambodian islands just off the coast at Sihanoukville.

I recently predicted Sihanoukville as having the potential to become a massively popular and profitable destination for overseas property investors, but when I heard about this it blew me away.

I fell for Sihanoukville because it was a virgin coastal region of Cambodia; with white sandy beaches, tropical climate. Comparative coastal areas throughout Asia have been some of the most profitable of all overseas property investment locations. Sihanoukville also wet my whistle because it was undiscovered and so, perfectly positioned to capitalise on Cambodia's recently and rapidly rising tourism -- to be further boosted by the re-launching of the Cambodia national airline.

The islands of Koh Oeun and Koh Bong, the sites of the new resort, have all the above and much more:

Brocon's possession of the islands, now fully granted by the government, will combine with the island's tropical beaches surrounded by lush rainforests, to make them an exclusive island hideaway for the region's growing middle classes, which are always on the lookout for virgin beaches to stake their claim to.

The massive power of Asian regional tourism and the massive effect it can have on an emerging property market have been seen time and time again. The most comparable are the Thai islands of Koh Samui and Phuket, which saw luxury property values grow by 50% per year in 2006 and 2007, and continue to grow strongly.

The new emergence of luxury resort property on a virgin Cambodian island, which shares many of Koh Samui and Phuket's sought after characteristics, and offers the chance to get in early at low prices, is sure to become a massively profitable endeavour.

'When we heard about a luxury resort development on previously unheard of Cambodian islands, when Cambodia's tourism was just starting to sprout hot-spots on Cambodia's coastline we were filled with excitement,' said Eleanor Flanders of Buy Sell Abroad. 'We will be marketing the Brocon resort development in the UK, and depending on starting prices, which could be extremely low, we foresee annual capital appreciation of at least 20%, and the potential for rises of up to 50%. Rental yields should start at 6% and climb to around 10% over three to five years,' she continued.

In closing, the emerging Cambodian islands have all the strengths of the other Asian islands that have been so profitable for foreign property investors, with the added bonus of being a completely new kid on the block - a virgin market with proven potential if you will.

Cambodian Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Creates Mechanism against Corruption

Posted on 20 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 574

“Phnom Penh: A Mechanism against corruption, a committee at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, was created on 15 August 2008 by the Cambodian section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in order to receive complaints from Khmer staff who face, see, or hear that corruption is committed in this institution. Mr. Reach Sambath, the spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, said last week that the mechanism against corruption is led by two high ranking officials of the tribunal – Judge Kong Srim, the president of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and Ms. Helen Jarvis, the head of the Public Affairs Office of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, who act as observers and as complaint receivers.

“According to Mr. Reach Sambath this mechanism was created to suppress corruption at the Cambodian section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, as there were such accusations again and again; although previous audits had not showed that there was corruption at the tribunal, last week there was again an accusation that there was corruption among Khmer staff, and officials of the United Nations reported that its internal oversight office in New York is checking complaints regarding corruption lodged by Khmer staff. The accused corruption is that staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal of the Cambodian side had to pay one part of their salaries as kickback to officials of the Royal Government so that they could receive position at the Cambodian-UN mixed court created to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Mr. Reach Sambath said the creation of a mechanism on the Cambodian side against corruption was welcomed by more than 250 employees of the tribunal who attended a meeting last Friday.In that meeting, the Judge Prak Kim San, head of the ECCC Pre-Trial Chamber, was quoted by Mr. Reach Sambath as saying, ‘When I came to work here, I heard about accusations regarding corruption. It is a shame for our tribunal, and we must create a mechanism to suppress it.’ Mr. Prak Kim San added, ‘Those who had given money to them [officials of the government] must stop, and those [officials of the government] who had received money have to be prepared to go to jail.’ Also, Mr. You Bunleng, a co-investigating judge, stated, ‘Those who had given money are wrong, and those who had received money must be punished.’ As for Mr. Kong Srim, the President of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, who has been appointed to be head of the observers of the ethics monitoring group, was quoted also by Mr. Reach Sambath that he pledged to successfully achieve the action against corruption, calling on the Khmer staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, ‘Anyone who sees and hears about corruption, please report to me (through named letters or anonymously – all that will be checked), and I will punish those who have committed wrongdoings.’

“Because of the corruption accusations, the United Nations Development Program [UNDP], which administers one part of the donor funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, had ruled to suspend the salary payment funds of the Khmer staff of US$300,000 temporally. The postponement created problems for the Cambodian side to provide salaries to its staff for July, but this was then solved, after Japan allowed the Cambodian side to use Japanese funds to provide the salaries to the staff. Regarding the creation of a mechanism against corruption, a UNDP spokesperson said Saturday, that the UNDP has not yet received any information. When asked when +UNDP will release the suspended salaries to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, [another UNDP staff] Mr. Men Kimseng said they cannot yet say that.

“The creation of a mechanism against corruption has been cautiously welcomed by officials of civil society organizations who work with Khmer Rouge cases. Mr. Chhang Youk, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that the creation of such a mechanism is good to provide trust and a positive posture towards different donor countries and to shows cooperation with them, while they are concerned that there is corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. However, the creation of a mechanism against corruption was considered by Mr. Chhang Youk also to be a problem. He explained that it will make donor countries to lose trust, because the current corruption is systemic, and the creation of a mechanism will make the problem bigger.
The director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia said, ‘I think it would be better if the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would create better mechanisms to deal with its administration.’

“Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, the director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that the creation of a mechanism against corruption might somewhat increase the donor countries’ trust, but as for him, he does not believed that it is an efficient mechanism against corruption, because previously, we always created different institutions, but there was no implementation.
Nevertheless, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun waits to see future results, saying, ‘If there is really a clear intention, they will achieve their goal.’

“As for Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, also known as Dr. Kek Galabru, the director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO - she said that the creation of a mechanism is good, but it is not sufficient yet; there must be further clear investigations to see whether there was corruption, as charged, or not, so that donor countries trust again and provide more aid, in order that the process of the tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders can proceed to the end.

The director of the Office of Administration of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia promised to resign if corruption where he is involved is found.

“Mr. Sean Visoth, the director of the Office of Administration for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was quoted by Mr. Reach Sambath during the meeting for the creation of the mechanism against corruption last Friday as saying that he will resign, if there is corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, especially if there is any case which relates to himself. Mr. Sean Visoth said his many years’ efforts aimed to make the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to proceed smoothly, and if there are such corruption accusations, he is disappointed. Mr. Sean Visoth pledged in front of Khmer and foreign staff last Saturday, ‘If there were corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and especially, if it relates to me, I will resign.’ Regarding the promise by Mr. Sean Visoth, Mr. Reach Sambath said that the director of the Office of Administration for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia considers the fight against corruption as a major issue.

“Mr. Chhang Youk considered the promise by the director of the Office of Administration for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to resign to be a too big promise that is beyond what the donor countries expect regarding the accusation that some kickback had to be paid by staff members. However, Mr. Chhang Youk said that the director of the Office of Administration for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia wanted to show his good will to cooperate honestly, so that the tribunal moves ahead. As for Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, she considered the promise by Mr. Sean Visoth to resign if he was found involved in corruption to be a good thing, but the corruption issue does not relate to individual persons only. Therefore, the promise is not sufficient, and there must be clear investigations with proofs, in order to regain confidence. Ms. Pong Chiv Kek said that the corruption issue should not become an obstacle for the work to seek justice for the victims who are anxiously waiting for it; there should be careful investigations.

“However, Mr. Reach Sambath, the spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, stressed that what the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has tried so far, including the creation of a mechanism against corruption, show that the tribunal thinks highly about the fight against corruption, so that everyone can focus on the work to seek justice for the victims, because this is most important for human beings.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #76, 19.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Thailand, Cambodia agree on full troop redeployment

HUA HIN, Aug 19 (TNA) - Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong on Tuesday agreed on full troop redeployment and to adopt a provisional arrangement over the disputed Preah Vihear temple pending the survey and demarcation of the area in question.

In a joint press conference after a full day of talks in this Thai resort town, Mr. Tej announced both parties have agreed on a full redeployment of troops in the area, among other measures.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed to convene a second meeting between the head of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the head of the Thai Regional Border Committee (RBC) on August 29 in Cambodia to discuss the second phase of redeployment.

Both sides pulled out most of their soldiers on Saturday, leaving only 10 troops from each country at the compound of a pagoda near the temple.

They agreed to adopt a provisional arrangement pending the survey and demarcation work to be carried out by the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), which is expected to be convened in October.

However, the Thai Foreign Minister reaffirmed the arrangement must comply with the Thai constitution.

In the afternoon, a group of 10 Buddhist Dharmayatra was staging a protest against the bilateral talks and Preah Vihear's listing as a World Heritage Site in front of the hotel where the ministerial meeting was insession. The group submitted a letter of protest to a foreign ministry official before leaving.

It is expected that the next round of the Foreign Ministers' Meeting will take place after the Joint Boundary Commission is convened in October.

Tensions at the ancient temple escalated after the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'s World Heritage Committee early last month named the temple as World Heritage site to Cambodia. The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, but that the surrounding area remains in dispute between the two countries. (TNA)

Thailand, Cambodia agree to step up marking of border

Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag (R) shakes hands with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong (L)

HUA HIN, Thailand (AFP) — Foreign ministers from Cambodia and Thailand said Tuesday they have agreed to step up efforts to mark the border around a disputed temple that has been the scene of a military standoff.

At the weekend, up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops pulled back from a small patch of disputed land near Cambodia's 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, suggesting that an end to the month-long military stand-off could be near.

Twenty troops from both sides are stationed at a small pagoda in the contentious border area, while 40 Cambodian and Thai solders remain nearby.

After a day of talks between Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong, the two sides said in a statement that a border committee would meet in October to step up efforts to draw the boundary around the temple.

They also said military officials would meet on August 29 to discuss a further pullback of troops.
Cambodia had asked the UN Security Council to consider the standoff that erupted last month, but Hor Namhong said that request would likely be withdrawn.

"I think the removal of this issue from before the UN Security Council will take place as soon as possible," he told reporters, but said he had yet to consult his government on the matter.

"The two countries will solve the problem peacefully, in friendship and under the law," he said after the talks in the Thai beach resort town of Hua Hin.

Once both countries remove all their soldiers from the ruins, he said Cambodia would station only police at the temple and the border crossing.

Relations between the neighbours flared up last month after Preah Vihear was awarded world heritage status by the UN cultural body UNESCO, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the ancient Khmer temple.

On July 15, Cambodia arrested three Thai protesters for illegally crossing the border to try to reach the temple, sparking the deployment of troops from both sides on the tiny patch of disputed land near Preah Vihear.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but surrounding land remains in dispute.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Khmer Rouge court chief pledges resign if graft proven

The Earth Times
Tue, 19 Aug 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government official in charge of the Khmer Rouge tribunal pledged to resign if any allegations of corruption prove true, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

"Sean Visoth has pledged he will resign if any evidence of corruption is found, from today," court spokesman Reach Sambath said.

Visoth is the director of administration for the tribunal.

Allegations of kickbacks and other irregularities have plagued the joint UN-Cambodian court set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders since 2006, but have been strenuously denied by Cambodian officials, who branded the claims politically motivated and unfair.

Sambath said the court had also set up a mechanism to hear corruption allegations, headed by the court's chief of public affairs Helen Jarvis and director of the nation's Supreme Court, Kong Srim.

Despite allegations that neither are independent of the government, Reach Sambath said the 250 Cambodian staff at the tribunal, which have had 300,000 dollars in salaries frozen by the United Nations Development Fund since June, were pleased.

"When we announced the new committee to the staff, they all cheered," Sambath said. "Everyone is satisfied."

Up to 2 million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime. The court currently has five senior former leaders in custody.

It indicted its first defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, the former head of the S-21 torture centre, on August 8, according to court papers.

Cambodia has been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Asia by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International.

Employees to receive new death, disability benefits

AFP; Workers do some heavy lifting. Under a new Ministry of Labour plan, all companies with more than eight employees will be required to pay accidental injury and death benefits.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady and Hor Hab
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Plan will require employers to pay 0.8 percent payroll tax to fund accidental injury and death benefits for their workers

An accidental death and disability fund would have to be set up by employers for the benefit of their workers under a Ministry of Labour plan announced last week.

The National Social Security Fund would require companies with eight or more employees to pay monthly insurance premiums of 0.8 percent of their payroll. Managers would be required to send injured workers to hospital, with medical bills to be covered by the fund.

Beyond incapacity benefits to workers, the fund's coverage would extend to survival benefits to families of workers who sustain lethal injuries at the workplace. Survival benefits would be paid to wives until they remarry and children until the age of 21, a statement from the ministry said.

The program would take effect in September and has been in the works since 2005 when the ILO drafted a report recommending a legal framework for the plan.

Unions and factories agreed that the plan would benefit workers but manufacturers complain the plan would increase costs in already difficult times.

The new measure would most affect the garment sector, the Kingdom's leading employer, with an estimated 360,000 workers in 400 factories.

"The [premium] of 0.8 percent is quite high if you compare it with the previous rates we had with private insurance companies of 0.4 percent or 0.5 percent," said Kaing Monika, external affairs manager for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC). "But the coverage is more comprehensive, which is good for workers. As long as the rate is affordable to the industry, GMAC is not against it, but it is being implemented at a tough time for the garment industry and it's another cost for us."

Doubts remain

The country's garment sector has seen growth of only five percent this year, down from about 20 percent last year, with increased competition from China and Vietnam, a slowed US economy and higher energy costs.

Free Trade Union President Chea Mony said the failure of past workplace compensation plans made him suspicious of the new social security scheme.

"In the past, workers with workplace accidents haven't received any benefits even though it was required by the law. The factories would say they already pay insurance to the ministry and don't want to pay again," Chea Mony said.

He also said the lack of labour involvement in drafting the plan was cause for concern.

"We are having some difficulty understanding the particulars of the plan since the ministry hasn't been transparent with us," he said.

Alonzo G Suson, country program director of the American Center for International Labour Solidarity, echoed Chea Mony's concern, saying that, while the concept of the fund was sound, hidden pitfalls could emerge in its methods, supporting infrastructure and opportunities for corruption.

Hiroshi Yamabana, a social security specialist at the ILO's East Asia regional office in Bangkok who was involved in drafting the bill, said the social security fund would be "up to international standards" and was "comparable" to or even "somewhat better" than compensation funds offered in other countries in the region.

"It's the right time for Cambodia to start to protecting workers in a systematic manner, not relying on malfunctioning direct compensation or on the ‘tender mercies' of employers," he said.

However, he recognised union concerns over management of the fund.

Compensation for workplace injuries would be the first step in a three-part employee welfare program that would include medical insurance by 2010 and retirement pensions by 2012, according to Sandra D'Amico, a member of the tripartite committee to oversee the fund.

"Medical insurance is going to be a big challenge because we will need to deduct it from employees, too," she added.

Students shoot for first Cisco degree

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Hor Hab
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

TWO local students are hoping to become Cambodia's first certified Cisco Systems trainers, according to First Cambodia (FC), a computer systems company.

Long Chhunhour and Horn Marong left for the United States on Friday to spend one week in Dallas, Texas, where they could become certified Cisco Systems instructors.

"No one in Cambodia has a CCSI certification, so it is a good opportunity to be a pioneer in this area," Long Chhunhour told the Post prior to his departure.

Based in California, Cisco is a leading provider of computer network technology and security worldwide.

FC, Cambodia's largest computer systems integration and company, partnered with Cisco in February 2008 and is authorised to sell, install and support Cisco products.

FC would be allowed to teach Cisco training courses.

"The program is a part of First Cambodia's investment in human resources development and could be a good model for other local companies," Horn Marong said.

To inventor, car security is just a phone call away

HENG CHIVOAN; Tim Vutha demostrates his invention allowing car drivers to control their vehicle through a mobile phone.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Device can track and operate vehicles through text messages using a SIM card hidden on board, turning handsets into remote controls

IT is often seen as negligent, dangerous driving to use a phone while in your car, but computer programmer Tim Vutha says there are some instances that might call for it.

The inventor recently released his system to control cars via SIM cards, the circuitry behind GSM mobile phones, as well as track them through a Global Positioning System (GPS).

"I created this system to give more security to the drivers, so when their cars are stolen, we can stop the engine and give the owner the location of their car," Tim Vutha said.

The system enables car owners to control various parts of their cars, such as opening or closing doors, and starting or stopping the engine, by sending password-protected commands via text message to a SIM card hidden in the car.

The latest addition to his system, expected by the year's end, allows users to track their vehicle's whereabouts by GPS. Users contact Tim Vutha by SMS, and he will text back the vehicle's location, accurate to within about a city block.

The inventor said the GPS function is convenient for families who want to keep track of their children.

"They will not worry about their son, daughter or their car because they can control 24 hours by their phone," he said.

He said it's also useful for NGOs and companies that wish to keep better tabs on their employees. The feature collects data such as speed and location, so their staff could not cheat them and they can know where they are, he said.

The inventor and car enthusiast said the security system has been two years in the making. The SIM card is housed in a small control box hidden in the car, Tim Vutha said. He said the box is not easily found, and the system works with all network providers.

The entire system is expected to cost US$250, and Tim Vutha said he is also planning a cheaper monthly service.

Soun Pheakdey, a customer who regularly has her car repaired by Tim Vutha, expressed interest in his security system.

"I really want to use it because I want to keep track of my husband. With this, I don't need to ask him where he is, I just send a text message to Mr Vutha and I will know."

Reported rapes on the rise in Kampong Speu

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

RAPE complaints in Kampong Speu province this month have already tripled the number reported in the whole of July, rights workers said Monday, adding that victims were becoming less likely to accept money in exchange for not filing a complaint with police.

Roath Thavy, a monitor with the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said his office has seen six rape complaints so far in August, compared with two received last month. The last of these was a complaint filed by the parent's of an eight-year-old girl on August 8.

He told the Post that the complaint has been sent to police, but provincial authorities are denying that there is a spike in sexual assaults.

Tuy Thorn, deputy police chief in Kong Pisei district where the eight year-old was allegedly raped, said: "I sent the victim to the hospital and doctors said there is no injury from rape." He added that the victim's parents and the alleged 85-year-old culprit had come to an out-of-court agreement.

Rights groups say, however, that the number of reported rapes nationwide is rising as fewer victims accept money.

City Hall promises compensation for Boeung Kak villagers

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by chhay channyda and sebastian strangio
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Money, new housing offered to those facing eviction by lakeside development project, but many say it is not enough for them to move

In February 2007, the municipal government signed a US$79 million leasehold agreement with Shukaku Inc to fill Boeung Kak lake and develop its surroundings. NGO Bridges Across Borders expects 4,000 lakeside families will be affected by the project.

PHNOM Penh Governor Kep Chuktema met Monday with villagers from 450 local families likely to be displaced by the reclamation of Boeung Kak lake, reassuring them they would receive adequate compensation after their eviction.

Municipal officials told the Post last week that the draining of the lake will begin as early as next month, the first stage in the construction of a 133-hectare commercial and housing project by local developer Shukaku Inc.

The families, who live in floating houses on the lake, will be the first Boeung Kak residents evicted to make way for the project.

" I accepted a house because i COULDN’T SURVIVE WITH SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT. "

At the meeting, Kep Chuktema said that the lake is polluted and would create health problems for those living there. "[But] it is not an excuse for the municipality to tell you that the water is polluted and then to evict you," he said. "Boeung Kak must have development."

250 families have agreed to accept relocation to Damnak Trayoeng village in Dangkor district, while another 200 have opted for $8,000 cash compensation. But some villagers questioned the amount, asking that the company provide up to $13,000 to aid in their relocation, while others refused the compensation outright.

Villager Kim Sopheap agreed to accept replacement housing but asked whether she could get an extra $5,000 to repair a house at Damnak Trayoeng. "I am happy to move, but I want to make sure that we get a land title," Sopheap added.

Nim Davy said the $8,000 offered by the company was not nearly enough. "I chose to accept a house because I couldn't survive with such a small amount of money," she said.

David Pred, country director of the legal NGO Bridges Across Borders, said the government has a responsibility to provide adequate replacement housing for evictees.

"The Cambodian authorities are legally responsible to ensure its citizens have adequate housing. And if it's going to deprive them of their homes, it has a moral responsibility to provide them with an alternative," he said, adding that the secretive nature of the project did not inspire confidence.

"It's been very difficult for anybody to get clear information about this project," he said.

But Kep Chuktema rejected calls for greater compensation, saying that the villagers' requests were "too high".

Crackdown on furniture in R’kiri

HENG CHIVOAN; A furniture maker in Phnom Penh carves a table leg on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Teth Sambath
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

As part of the fight against rampant illegal logging, police are targeting unlicensed furniture manufacturers, claiming they are using wrongly harvested timber to make their products

FORESTRY officials and local police in Ratanakkiri province raided five furniture makers for using illegally harvested timber to make their products, according to a local official.

"We closed five illegal furniture stores over the course of two days and confiscated their goods and materials," Leng Yu, head of the Lumphat Forestry Administration, told the Post on Sunday.

He said the crackdowns will continue until all illegal operations have been closed.

"We are continuing to crack down in other locations," Leng Yu said. "We have to stop all of them." He added that officials will also begin verifying the documents of legal furniture operations to make sure they are following the rules.

Leng Yu said that of the nearly 40 furniture makers operating in Banlung district, where the raids took place, only 16 have the necessary documents from the Ministry of Agriculture to use local timber to make their goods.

"We warned them many times in the last several months to close down their operations, but they didn't listen," Leng Yu said.

Forestry officials and local police confiscated furniture, wood and other materials during the raids, carried out over the weekend.

Fines will be imposed on the unlicensed furniture makers, and they must promise to stop trading in illegal timber in the future, Leng Yu said.

Rights violated?

Im Heng, 44, one of the furniture makers closed down during the raids, said she lost more than US$2,500 in furniture and goods, adding that the cost of getting permission from the Ministry of Agriculture was too high.

"I contacted forestry officials for permission to make furniture, but they demanded $4,000 for a legal permit," she told the Post. "How could I afford this?

"Im Heng claimed that forestry officials gave her no advance warning and seized her property without a warrant.

"They just asked me for a thumb print and called police to seize my property," she said. "It is a violation of my rights."

The forestry department's Leng Yu said unregistered furniture makers make it difficult to control logging and pose an environmental threat.

Moung Poy, governor of Ratanakkiri province, said the crackdown will help government officials address the issue of deforestation. "I recently asked forestry officials to cooperate with local police and soldiers to monitor logging activity in the districts," he said.

Talks expected to end Preah Vihear standoff

AFP/TANG CHHIN SOTHYThai soldiers leave their positions at Preah Vihear temple as part of mass troop withdrawals on both sides this weekend.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Cambodia and Thailand’s foreign ministers get down to the business of ending their countries’ worst diplomatic crisis since the 2003 anti-Thai riots

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong left Monday for talks in Thailand optimistic that a resolution could be reached to end the month long military standoff over disputed territory at Preah Vihear.

Hor Namhong was to meet his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, Monday and today in the second round of negotiations over the crisis, which erupted after Thai troops crossed into Cambodia on July 15 and has resulted in the largest buildup of soldiers and military equipment on the border in years.

"I'm optimistic that the meeting will achieve the withdrawal of the troops at the pagoda and around the pagoda," Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before his departure, referring to the Keo Sekha Kirisvara pagoda located in disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple.

Soldiers from both sides continue to occupy the Buddhist pagoda, although in much-diminished numbers following the weekend redeployment of nearly 1,000 troops away from the temple.

"We will resolve the problem step by step," he said, adding the Cambodian side would also raise the Thai occupation of two other Cambodian temples, Ta Moan Thom and Ta Moan Touch in Oddar Meanchey province.

The two countries "will solve the problem legally and peacefully", he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said later Monday that the two diplomats would have a casual dinner that night before getting down to talks today in the Thai seaside resort town of Hua Hin.


"They will talk among themselves during dinner and it will make the situation more friendly ... then we will have a meeting to discuss and solve this problem," Phay Siphan said.

The first round of Preah Vihear talks took place in late July at the height of the crisis, with both sides agreeing to recommend troop withdrawals. Little progress, however, was seen until last week, when troops began to leave their positions.

Defusing the crisis

Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej flew to the border early Monday ahead of the talks to meet with the few soldiers still stationed there.

"I want to say Thailand and Cambodia are neighbours, not enemies. We have to help each other ... I would like you to keep working and be patient," Samak told troops along the border.

General Anupong Paojinda, head of the Thai army, joined Samak and sought to reassure soldiers.

"Both sides understand each other and there will be no confrontation or tension," he said.

Cambodian commanders also expressed hope for a quick resolution: "I am anxious to know results from this meeting because no one wants to stay in the forest," said General Srey Doek, commander of RCAF Brigade 12.

Hor Namhong said that after all the troops had withdrawn, both sides would restart demining operations and push for the joint demarcation of the border. The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully defined, in part as it is littered with landmines left from decades of war in Cambodia.


Cambodian Workers Overstay Welcome


A group of ten Cambodian people were brought to the Immigration Office in Jomtien on the morning of 17th August to face deportation back to Cambodia.

They were discovered working in Pattaya without valid work permits. Only one woman in the group had a legal work permit but it had expired in July and she had not renewed it for fear it would not be extended.

News stories placed on this website are short versions. If you would like the full story, please read the Pattaya People Weekly newspaper.

Government presses for price cut on petrol

Rick Valenzuela A mortorcyclist fills up at a Phnom Penh streetside fuel vendor. Prices fell after government pressure, but not by much.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Minister of Finance Keat Chhon urges fuel companies to lower pump prices but high international oil costs might force consumers to wait

Petrol and diesel prices at most Phnom Penh stations dropped 400 to 500 riels (US$0.10) per litre at the weekend following a meeting last week between the government and oil companies where finance officials pressed for a cut in pump prices.

"We asked all major companies to consider reducing petrol and diesel prices," said Chuo Vichet, chief of Cabinet for Finance Minister Keat Chhon.

He said Keat Chhon met petroleum majors Sokimex, PTT, Kampuchea Tela, Total Cambodge, Caltex and Savimex on Thursday to press for a price cut.

"We did not order [oil companies] to cut petrol prices, but being partners, we hope companies reduce prices step by step," Chuo Vichet said Sunday.

He said high international crude costs were the most important factor behind the high petrol prices.

"We understand that this is a free-market economy, but the government is hoping petroleum distributors drop gasoline to a reasonable level for consumers," Chuo Vichet said.

Following the meeting, petrol and diesel at most Phnom Penh stations dropped from 5,600 riels ($1.40) per litre to 5,200 riels for premium fuel.

Medium-grade petrol prices dropped from 5,500 riels per litre to 5,300 riels. Diesel prices remained the same as premium.

Crude oil closed at $115 per barrel on Monday.

Cambodia imports about 100,000 tonnes of oil per month, according to Finance Ministry figures.

All of Cambodia's petroleum is imported with pricing based on the Singapore Tapis system. Cambodia's largest petroleum company, Sokimex, said that local prices would fluctuate with the international market.

"We are willing to reduce the price in line with international crude prices," said Heu Heng, deputy director of charge marketing of Sokimex.

Sokimex reduced petrol prices to 5,250 riels per litre from 5,650 riels last week. Diesel went from 5,600 riels to 5,400 riels, he said.

Seng Chungly, network manager for Total Cambodge, said the company was cutting prices by 350 riels after meeting with Keat Chhon.

On the job: women workers are changing the employment sector

AFP; Female garment workers leave their factory in Phnom Penh’s Choam Chao district.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Andrew Nette
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

More then ever, Cambodian women are working outside the home, but they need better education and job opportunities to bring their full potential to the Kingdom’s labour force

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 Choam Chao 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's 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.

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

"More than 50 percent of the active female population contribute to the economy," said Dr Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister for Women's Affairs. "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 female 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.

But "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.

Women on the move

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 US - 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."

No work has been done on paving the way and targeting what investment they want," he said.

Raising the bar

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

For Chea Vannath, a regular commentator on social and political affairs, women are already heavily represented in the informal sector but increasing their participation in professional jobs will not happen "until we have things like adequate childcare 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 Ing Kantha Phavi maintained the government had made progress, the CGA said Cambodia continues to have some of the weakest health indicators in the region.

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.

About 40 percent of women ages 25-44 are illiterate (versus 22 percent for men). Although improving in younger age groups, 23 percent of women ages 15-24 are illiterate (versus 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 Ing Kantha Phavi, adding that vocational training was a particular focus.

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 Ing Kantha 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." ISP NEWS

Pact extends protection of Khmer artifacts

HENG CHIVOAN; US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli and Chuch Phoeurn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, sign a new MoU Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

IN a ceremony at Phnom Penh's National Museum, the United States and Cambodian governments renewed Monday a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to protect Cambodian artifacts and prevent their import into the US.

US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli also signed over a US$45,000 grant to help the National Museum rebuild its library and preserve its collection of rare books, which includes items dating back to the beginning of the last century.

The new agreement expands the scope of the original 2003 MoU to include artifacts from the Bronze Age to the Angkorian era, which experts say are increasingly the target of looting. It specifically restricts the import into the US of ancient Cambodian stone, metal and ceramic artifacts unless an export permit is issued by Cambodia.

The original MoU and cooperation between the two countries had helped abate the flow of Khmer artifacts into the US and led to the return of a "very precious item ... the head of a Shiva," said Chuch Phoeurn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, who presided over the ceremony. He added that the donation would provide for much-needed renovations to the museum library, which has weathered considerably since first opening its doors to the public in 1920.

Mussomeli said that while Cambodia was a "young country", it stemmed from "an ancient civilisation that was one of the greatest civilisations ever. We're happy to be able to help Cambodia preserve its past".