Monday, 1 September 2008

Cambodian runner leaves for Beijing Paralympics

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Kim Vanna, 40-year-old runner who lost his right leg below the knee in a landmine explosion in 1989, left Monday for Beijing on deputy of Cambodia for the Paralympic Games from Sept. 6 to 17.

"I will compete in the 100- and 200-meter races at the game," Kim Vanna told Xinhua.
"I feel so great that I will join the Paralympic Games in Beijing because it is the first time for me to join a world class event like this," he said.

"I am a disabled person but my mind is not disabled. In the future I want to become a coach of disabled runners," Kim Vanna added.

Kim Vanna was selected by the committee on the basis of the silver medal that he had won at the ASEAN Para Games in Thailand earlier this year, said Yi Veasna, secretary general of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia.

"He is our national athlete selection for 2008. He has the most recent medal from the ASEAN Games," he said, adding that the government had recently awarded him 4,000 U.S. dollars for his silver medal.

Kim Vanna has so far won 18 medals at international competitions, three golds, 10 silvers and five bronzes, and the Beijing trip will be the first Paralympics.

Editor: Gao

Sacravatoons :"The Royal Park in 2050 "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

sacravatoons : " PAD on Vacation "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Update on Thai Political Crisis

City Life Forum
Mon Sep 01, 2008

Yesterday, Sunday 31st August, an emergency and extraordinary joint parliamentary session was held in Bangkok, in order to find solutions to the ongoing political crisis in Thailand. After over eleven hours of debate the Government Coalition stood firm in face of vast criticism from the opposition, the senate as well as the – independent – media and insisted that they will not step down, dissolve the house or bow to the demands from ‘street gang protesters’, as Prime Minister Samak Suntaravej called the hundreds of thousands strong People’s Alliance for Democracy, a group of conservative activist and protesters who have been holding street rallies in Bangkok and some other provinces for one hundred days now (and who have occupied the Parliament House since last Tuesday).

Leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that he did not support the unlawful movements of the PAD, he did not support PAD’s demands for a 70% appointed government and 30% elective, he emphasised that the Democrats would not use any power vacuum to assume power and urged the government, in order to ease tensions, to dissolve the house, something which would affect his political party as hard as any other, ‘We Democrats are willing to make a sacrifice, let’s all make this painful sacrifice and get back to the table to discuss things calmly.’ Members of the Government’s coalition, while standing firmly behind Prime Minister Samak, also urged the Government to avoid the use of force at all costs.

However, some members of the People’s Power Party called the Prime Minister to use tear gas to force out the demonstrators and insisted that the elected government was legitimate and the voice of many more millions of silent voters carried more weight than the demands from a group of protesters. They also cited the high cost of holding yet another election (2 billion baht) only seven months after the last one. These issues were attacked throughout the session by the Democrats and other members of the opposition who accepted the Government’s legitimacy in assuming power, but called for the government to ‘look at itself and consider itself’ as to its legitimacy in the country’s management thus far. Key issues of lack of legitimacy being the ‘nominee Prime Minister’, the support for the World Heritage Site bid for Cambodia, the government’s insistence on amending the constitution to benefit the dissolved Thai Rak Thai banned members of parliament, widespread corruption, the appointment of questionable characters to ministerial positions and the use of extreme force this last Friday against the PAD demonstrators. The Government was also heavily criticised for its use of inflammatory remarks during the session as well as numerous ungrounded accusations, the Prime Minister having been accused at one point of ‘bullying a little girl,’ when a member of the government produced a document which was found in his pigeon hole and which accused of a young member of parliament from a southern province of laundering over 250 million baht through a company to support the Democratic party. When she asked for a copy of this alleged document, the Prime Minister refused to show it to her, but finally bowed down and handed it over amidst huge outrage and protest.

Today at 1.30 the session will continue, though with Samak’s combative style, and his lack of any concessions yesterday, little hope is expected for an immediate solution. Members of the senate critisised the Prime Minister and members of the coalition for not apologising for acts of violence against demonstrators, for calling an extraordinary session but yet not taking any of the advice or suggestions on board, for fuelling divisiveness in society by encouraging opposition mobs to support the government – which could lead to violent clashing – and for its incompetence in running the country over the past seven months.

The Prime Minister remained steady in his conviction and insisted that he would remain in power to preserve Thai democracy and that only a democratic method would be used for him to step down.

More demonstrators are joining both sides of the debate with the water authority threatening to cut power to all government offices today, more bureaucrats joining the ‘civil disobedience’, as well as an alarming number of protesters and border police being bussed down from the north eastern region of Thailand into the capital. While Thailand’s coups and civil disobedience have, on the most part, remained peaceful in the last decade, there are very real fears of the situation escalating to bloodshed.

However, tourists to Thailand are now able to travel freely by plane, as all airports which were closed over the weekend have now been opened, and as yet, protest zones have been localised and have no physical threat has been made towards any visitor.

As editor of Citylife magazine, I join the many voiced in Thailand and urge the government to dissolve the parliament and hold another general election as soon as possible in order to ease tensions and avoid bloodshed.

US man charged with child sex in Cambodia

A policeman in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where an American man has been charged over abusing a 13-year-old child prostitute

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — An American man has been arrested and charged in Cambodia with committing indecent acts against a 13-year-old child prostitute on a dark street, police and court officials said Monday.

Richard David Mitchell, 60, was arrested late Thursday in the capital Phnom Penh while allegedly having sex with the girl, said Urm Rathana, the municipal police chief in charge of anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection.

Mitchell, who denied the crime when police interrogated him, faces seven to 15 years in jail if convicted.

Hing Bunchea, a prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told AFP that he charged Mitchell on Sunday with committing indecent acts against minors and soliciting a child prostitute.

Mitchell's lawyer could not be reached immediately for comment Monday.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia push in 2003 to try to shake off its reputation as a haven for sex predators.

Preah Vihear on Hun Sen’s mind

Cambodge Soir


On Friday the 29th of August, at the Council of Ministers, and later during a closed -door meeting, the Prime Minister has voiced comments about the sensitive case concerning the temple located on the Dangrek Mountain.

The Head of the Cambodian Government doesn’t want the status quo at Preah Vihear to drag on. Currently the negotiations with Thailand have been put on hold until his counterpart, Samak Sundaravej, restores the peace in his country. However, Hun Sen has requested his Minister of Foreign Affairs to reestablish contact with the head of the Thai diplomacy in order to continue the discussions. This request was expressed in the morning of the 29th of August during a closed-door meeting, following the Council of Ministers. Hor Nam Hong’s mission won’t be easy as long as his Thai alter-ego doesn’t solve the tensions, just like the whole Samak team. It’s been four days now that the militants of the Alliance for Democracy are trying to overthrow it. Today the police even ended up using batons in order to drive the demonstrators out of the government house. In response, the PAD is blocking trains and tourist flights towards Phuket and Hat Yai.

Earlier in the morning, Hun Sen, surrounded by his Ministers, declared that the funds collected by CTN and Bayon TV stations would be used to finance the construction of roads opening up the access to Preah Vihear and Ta Moan Thom. An important announcement when one knows that the concerned provinces are indeed desperately lacking infrastructure.

As a matter of fact, the Bangkok-based military are still inflexible at Ta Moan. Their fences are still in front of the temple. And since last Monday they only authorise three days of visit, instead of five, to the Cambodians who wish to discover the monument.

A Condom lubricant efficient against pimples in Cambodia?

Cambodge Soir


A condom lubricant allegedly efficient against acne! This funny information which was published on Thursday 28th of August in the Khmer newspaper Kampuchea Thmey, has been picked up by AFP.

Without even having the intention, Population Services International (PSI) is probably running a good marketing campaign. This non-profit health organisation, based in Cambodia, has created a water-based lubricant which would be excellent to fight acne. At least, this is what a young shop owner from Phnom Penh told Agence France Presse. “After having used it during three days, my acne disappeared”, said Tep Kemyoeurn. Another person; 29 years old Khen Vanny, quoted by AFP, also said that many textile workers from the capital city where successfully using this remedy in order to get rid of those awkward pimples. The Kampuchea Thmey newspaper also publishes other testimonies with the same message. The newspaper makes it clear however that the long term effects of the gel on the face are unknown and has asked independent experts to study the subject in order to give their opinion concerning this strange discovery. Contacted by Cambodge Soir Hebdo, Chris Jones, PSI representative in Cambodia, confirms that the lubricant “has no other goal” than to improve the prevention of the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted diseases in the Kingdom. The contraceptive is directly distributed to prostitutes and homosexuals by social workers. The question is now to know whether acne also disappears within this population…

Media: distress amidst VOD

Cambodge Soir


The independent radio station, Voice of Democracy, loses an important financial support. However, this bad news shouldn’t compromise its functioning.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) stopped financing VOD. This news dates from Saturday 30th of August and is important as the IRI was giving the independent radio station 300,000 dollars a year, which almost amounts to its total year budget of 350,000 dollars. The VOD director assures however that this withdrawal won’t mean the end of the station, or the dismissal of its 34 employees. “We’ll continue to broadcast the normal programs. We have other sponsors who are taking over”, explains Pa Nguon Teang. The man in charge refuses however to reveal the identity of his partners and also remains discrete concerning the reason of the IRI’s decision, after a 5-year collaboration with VOD. Um Sarin, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, regrets this withdrawal: “VOD is a quality radio station. The media are the eyes of democracy. The disengagement of the IRI thus means a setback as far as this is concerned”. Voice of Democracy broadcasts on five frequencies: 105 FM in Phnom Penh, 90.25 FM in Battambang and Oddor Meanchey, 95.5 FM in Siem Reap and 88.5 FM in Kampong Thom.

New 600 km road to link four Cambodian provinces along Thai border

September 01, 2008

Cambodian military officials hoped a new road will bolster local populations and improve security in four provinces along the Cambodian-Thai border, local media reported Monday.

The more than 600 km road will link Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces, the Phnom Penh Post said.

"We will build the road through the four provinces as soon as the rainy season passes," Kvan Siem, head of general command headquarters for military engineers, was quoted as saying.

"I received orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen to build the road to help people settle their homes along the border and farm their lands," Kvan Siem said, adding that he completed a study of the projected gravel road earlier in August.

The proposed road will run between one and four kilometers from the Thai border, with a second road planned closer to the border once Thailand and Cambodia complete negotiations over new border demarcations.

Kvan Siem said the road is part of larger development plans that officials hope will modernize the border provinces and improve security.


Witness to Cambodia's birth pangs
By Raphael Minder
September 1 2008 03:00

Among his childhood memories, Sam Rainsy recalls sitting with his father on the rooftop terrace of their beautiful house in Phnom Penh, watching pelicans land next to their water tank. "In Cambodia, which is full of superstitions, friends and neighbours kept telling us that these pelicans would end up by bringing us bad luck," he writes in his autobiography, Des Racines dans la Pierre (Roots in the Stone).

Sam Rainsy and his family have certainly endured plenty of misfortune. Their ups-and-downs mirror those of a country that ranks among Asia's fastest-growing economies, but that returned to multi-party democracy only 15 years ago, after decades of war and a genocide that wiped out about a quarter of the population.

Sam Rainsy has been an integral part of Cambodia's recovery, now as the leader of the country's main opposition party. But much of his life has been spent in France and other places of exile, first because of his father's political downfall, which ended with his death in mysterious circumstances, and then because of his own clashes with Hun Sen, the country's long-standing prime minister.

Still, that geographic distance in no way reduces the insight this book provides into events that have shaped Cambodia following a century of French colonialism, starting with the 1954 Geneva conference to reconfigure the former Indochina. Sam Rainsy's father was one of Cambodia's lead negotiators there, playing off tensions among more formidable government representatives such as Zhou Enlai and Vyacheslav Molotov to ensure that another foreign power would not fill the void left by the French.

The Geneva agreement guaranteed Cambodia's independence but was followed by the bleakest period in its history, climaxing in the Khmer Rouge's terrifying attempt to establish an agrarian utopia in the late 1970s. While that tragic episode was largely domestic, Sam Rainsy says Cambodia remains the Poland of Asia, sandwiched between two bigger neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam, and prone to being drawn into wider conflicts such as the Vietnam war.

This book is an often touching family history, but it also highlights the broader challenges faced by any war-ravaged country. After a successful banking career in Paris, Sam Rainsy returned to Cambodia in 1992 and within a year was put in charge of the finance ministry. Given the limited pool of talent, his wife Saumura was forced against her wishes to become deputy governor of the central bank.

For somebody with such a strong financial background, Sam Rainsy devotes surprisingly little of his book to Cambodia's economic resurgence, during which it has attracted billions of dollars of foreign investment and achieved average annual growth of 9 per cent over the past decade. Instead, he focuses excessively on the political jockeying in Phnom Penh, complicated by feuding within the royal family.

Sam Rainsy paints a grim picture of corruption in Cambodia, starting with his short-lived crusade, as finance minister, against tax evasion and smuggling. His strategy appears to have been remarkably naive at times. One ill-prepared boat attack against smugglers on the Mekong river, which he led, nearly cost him his life after the accompanying United Nations troops refused to get involved in the gunfight.

He has harsh words for foreign powers, including his otherwise beloved France, which he accuses of turning a blind eye to killings of political associates. Sam Rainsy has himself survived several assassination attempts, including a grenade attack that killed 19 -people.

"Paris preferred to forget the bloodstains on the suits of the ruling leaders in Phnom Penh in order to strike economic and technical co-operation agreements with them," he writes.

This book was published in the run-up to July's general election, which returned Hun Sen to power with a landslide victory. Despite Sam Rainsy's claim that Cambodians "want to get out of this old, neo-communist and mafiosi regime", many pundits believe that the 55-year-old Hun Sen has never had a stronger power base, almost justifying his boast that he would run the country until the age of 90. Rather than repressing opposition in the manner of the Burmese junta, Hun Sen has benefited from Sam Rainsy's challenge, which has been crucial to Cambodia's democratic credentials.

The book's title refers to the blend of architectural and natural beauty found around Angkor Wat, Cambodia's cultural treasure, where trees grow among the ruins. Although Sam Rainsy might not like the idea, it also seems an appropriate symbol for Hun Sen's deep-rooted control over his country.

The writer is the FT's Asia regional correspondent

Cambodian Senate president leaves for China visit

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim left here on Monday for China on an official visit.

Chea Sim was seen off by some government officials and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfeng at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

At the invitation of Jia Qinglin, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Chea Sim will pay a five-day visit to China, a press release said.

During his stay in China, Chea Sim is scheduled to meet with Chinese leaders, aiming to promote friendship and cooperation between the two countries, it said.

Editor: Yao

SCG plans to raise output in Cambodia

The Bangkok Post
Monday September 01, 2008

200m set aside for cement subsidiary


PHNOM PENH : Siam Cement Group (SCG), Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, is planning to invest $200 million to more than double the capacity of its cement factory in southern Cambodia.

Kampot Cement Co Ltd, a joint venture in which SCG holds 93% and a Cambodian partner the rest, aims to lift its annual capacity to three million tonnes by 2010 from the current one million, according to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

So far, SCG has invested $127 million in the facility located 148 kilometres southwest of Phnom Penh and within driving distance of the Cambodia-Vietnam border.

''The increase is to purely serve the domestic Cambodian market where demand for cement has risen sharply from ongoing construction projects. The property sector is also booming here,'' a high-ranking embassy official said.

Cambodia still imports cement from neighbouring countries including Thailand. But given the current high oil prices that have pushed up transport costs, local cement producers would gain more competitive advantages.

''Consequently, the expansion at Kampot has become more feasible for the time being,'' the official said.

SCG's Thai headquarters declined to confirm the expansion plan, saying the project had been studied.

According to the embassy, construction materials are the main items Cambodia import from Thailand, along with sugar and farm and consumer products.

Thailand last year recorded a 70% rise in exports to Cambodia with a total value of $1.4 billion. The figure does not include about 30 billion baht in cross-border trade.

According to SCT Co Ltd, an international trading arm of SCG, Thailand ranks third among the trading partners of Cambodia after Vietnam and China.

On the investment side, Thailand has yet to play an active role in Cambodia with South Korea, China and Malaysia taking the lead. Apart from SCG, major Thai businesses operating in Cambodia are Charoen Pokphand (CP), as well as are Siam Commercial Bank and Krung Thai Bank.

The Cambodian government provides incentives for foreign investors such as tax-free machinery imports and corporate income tax holidays. It also promotes Special Economic Zones that comprises an export free zone, container yard area and other facilities for industrial zones.

The Thailand-funded road Number 48 in Koh Kong is expected to facilitate more business links between the two countries by strategically turning Koh Kong into the gateway to Phnom Penh.

Siam Cement shares (SCC) closed on Friday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 165 baht, up one baht, in trade worth 65 million baht.

Fertile frontier

The Standard

Yoolim Lee and Netty Ismail
Monday, September 01, 2008

Kith Meng grew up in Australia as an orphan and a refugee from Cambodia's genocide. He tells of washing dishes and mowing lawns to make ends meet while living in Canberra. Being a poor outsider made him stronger, he says, and unusually driven.

Back in Cambodia since 1991, Kith Meng has built his Royal Group into an empire that owns Cambodia's biggest mobile phone company and television network and is developing a US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion) resort and casino on a fishermen's island on Cambodia's coast.

The country's most successful businessman, he supports Prime Minister Hun Sen and benefits from his ties to the government, which granted the 99-year lease on the island for his resort.
Black-and-white photographs of Kith Meng's parents adorn one wall of his office in the capital city of Phnom Penh. They starved to death during Pol Pot's reign, when Cambodia's fertile countryside became the killing fields - two victims among the 1.7 million, or 20 percent of the population, who perished.

Kith Meng fled the terror, first to a refugee camp in Thailand and then, in 1981, to Australia. "Suffering is my mentor," he says.

Thousands of former refugees, with their own harrowing stories, have returned to Cambodia, and now investors hoping to profit in the next frontier market - a term Standard & Poor's coined for economies smaller or less developed than traditional emerging markets - are coming to the country, too.

The entrepreneurial drive and technical skills the returnees bring with them from overseas are breathing life into the economy.

Three decades after Pol Pot exterminated the country's educated classes and emptied its cities, Cambodia's gross domestic product is just US$8 billion a year.

Political and business leaders are grappling with poverty, inadequate health care, poor education and a lack of roads in this nation of 14 million.

"The trick with a frontier market is getting the timing right," says Douglas Clayton, who founded Leopard Cambodia Fund last year and is raising US$100 million to invest in real estate, banking and agribusiness. "Cambodia is really a discovery story - and it's being discovered." Cambodia grew 9.5 percent a year from 2000 to 2007, the fastest pace in Asia after China, which expanded 9.9 percent a year. Political stability under the administration of Hun Sen, has helped the Cambodian economy take off, says Bretton Sciaroni, chairman of the American Cambodian Business Council in Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen, whose Cambodian People's Party won a landslide victory in July's parliamentary elections has run the country since 1985.

An opposition leader has alleged manipulation of voter rolls, and the royalist party that shared power in the 1990s has been reduced to two seats in the legislature.

Clothing exports and tourism have buoyed the tiny economy. A 1994 law to open the country to foreign investors has encouraged some to put money in. Approved foreign direct investment rose to a record US$4.4 billion in 2006, according to the Cambodian Investment Board.

Investors can own 100 percent of a company, and they face no restrictions on taking money in and out of the country - in contrast to China or Vietnam.

From 1994 to 2007, foreign exchange reserves expanded 16-fold to US$1.6 billion. Cambodia is scheduled to open its first stock and corporate bond markets by the end of next year.

The country is now outpacing Asia's other frontier markets in Bangladesh, Laos, Mongolia and Myanmar, says Clayton. Cambodia is represented by just one company in the S&P/IFCG Extended Frontier 150 Index.

"Cambodia is Vietnam 8 to 10 years ago and Thailand 20 years ago," says Marvin Yeo, the co-founder of Phnom Penh-based Cambodia Investment & Development Fund.

He says the boom will move fast in Cambodia, because it's a smaller country than Thailand or Vietnam and has more pro-business policies.

Investors face many hurdles - not just the risk of getting in late. In a report this year, the World Bank and International Finance Corp. ranked Cambodia 145th out of 178 countries as a place to do business. The assessment weighed criteria such as how difficult it is to register property, secure credit or move goods across borders. In Transparency International's 2007 survey of perceptions about corruption, the Berlin-based watchdog group put Cambodia among the world's worst, ranking it 162nd among 180 countries.

As much as US$500 million a year is diverted from government coffers, the US Agency for International Development estimated in 2004 in its most recent report on the issue.

Hun Sen hasn't passed an anti- corruption law, despite pledging in 2003 to push it through the assembly. The leader says he wants to diversify the economy to ease reliance on textiles and tourism.

Clothing and other manufacturing account for 26 percent of the country's GDP, agriculture makes up 31 percent and tourism and other services 43 percent. The violence of Pol Pot's time, and the uncertain years that followed, have left the country to this day without the factories, roads and bridges needed to make and move basic supplies.

"Other than bricks, we have to import pretty much everything," says Jung Myung Sik, a representative of South Korea's World City, which is constructing a US$2 billion complex called Camko City near Boeung Kak Lake, a 20-minute drive from Phnom Penh's central district.

Camko City, modeled on a successful satellite city outside Seoul, will include the planned stock exchange, residential and commercial buildings, three schools and a medical center. Khaou Phallaboth, who returned to Cambodia in 1991, is among those trying to create the industry the country needs.

He spent some of his 20 years as a refugee in Paris and Brussels as a Buddhist monk and an artist.

He and his father, Khaou Chuly, have rebuilt the family construction business decimated by the Khmer Rouge. Khaou Chuly Group has set up a venture with Siam Cement, Thailand's biggest cement producer, to make 1 million tonnes of cement a year. Khaou Phallaboth plans to triple capacity to meet the country's demand of 3 million tonnes.

A third of the country's people still live on less than 50 cents a day. Eighty percent live in rural areas, and 60 percent of the population is younger than age 20.

Kith Meng owns a hotel on the banks of the Mekong River in Phnom Penh and is planning a boutique resort with India's Oberoi Group near Angkor Wat.

In his office overlooking the Royal Palace in one direction and Cambodia's first shopping mall in another, he flips through a 20-page document that outlines his island resort-casino plan, which will take more than a decade to complete.

Public Works and Transport Minister Chanthol Sun is another former refugee lured back by the chance to play a role in transforming his country.

He lost his mother and a brother when the Khmer Rouge drove the population out of the cities. The rest of the family managed to escape to a refugee camp in Thailand.

He had been sent to the US in 1973, escaping the violence with a one-way airplane ticket and US$50 in his pocket. After earning a master's degree in public administration at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he went to work at GE. Then came a call for help that Chanthol Sun decided he couldn't turn down.

The Cambodian government asked him to set up a Cambodia development council, and he came back in 1994 to the country of his birth.

"When I worked at GE, I worked hard for the shareholders, but who are they?" he says. "Here, my shareholders are men, women and children in the streets I see every day."


It's managing the power, stupid!

By Thanong Khanthong
The Nation
Published on September 1, 2008

Thailand is facing a democratic dilemma:

Thailand is facing a democratic dilemma: Can a minority voice unseat a democratically elected government, voted into power by a majority vote?

The answer is yes.

There are three processes involved with political power - the process of assuming power, the process of managing power and the process of stepping down from power.

Samak Sundaravej, the prime minister, and the People Power Party have been arguing that since they have been democratically elected by a majority of the people, they must be allowed to run the country till the end of the term stipulated by the Constitution. Any objection to their rule is looked upon as undemocratic because it represents a minority voice, which does not play by the rules or does not honour the outcome of the majority votes.

This sounds plausible on the surface. But practically all acknowledged the outcome of the December election in 2007 that brought the People Power Party to power. Samak led his party to a victory and formed a coalition government with five other coalition partners with 315 MPs in Parliament.

After having formed his government, Samak and his Cabinet completed the process of assuming political power. That initial stage of the process is over. Nobody objected to that.

The next stage, in which we are now, involves the Samak government's managing of political power.

To manage the country through the four-year term, the Samak government must try to build a consensus and get broad-based support among the people, who either voted for it or voted against it. In other words, it must try to keep its supporters happy and have the least number of people objecting to its rule.

If Samak fails to manage power by bringing the minority on board, as is now the case, he can't continue to rule. The voice of the minority is legitimate too.

The protesters under the umbrella of the People's Alliance for Democracy have taken over Government House since last Tuesday to air their grievances against the prime minister and his administration. They are demanding Samak's resignation on the grounds that he is acting as a nominee for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra; his government has sold off the temple of Preah Vihear to Cambodia; his government has tried to amend the Constitution to protect the interests of some politicians; his government is corrupt.

Which brings us to the third and final stage, which involves the process of stepping down from power. If Samak manages political power to the satisfaction of most, he can survive four years. If not, he has to explore the process of stepping down. This is common knowledge for CEOs in the corporate world. And this is true in democracy.

'On the Road' in Cambodia
By Jennifer Myers

LOWELL -- Fifty years ago, the face of Lowell was Greek, French-Canadian, Irish, Polish.
The average Lowellian probably could not find Cambodia on a map.

Today, with an estimated 25,000 Cambodians living in the city, the second-largest Cambodian population in the United States, you are more likely to hear folks strolling down Chelmsford Street speaking Khmer than English.

The time has come for the Mill City's new sons to get to know its favorite son.

Jack Kerouac's 1957 seminal American road-trip novel On The Road, the book that defined the 1950s Beat generation, is being translated into Khmer, the latest of more than 25 languages into which the book has been translated.

Jason Rosette, a 40-year-old Ohio native and graduate of New York University's film school, has been teaching and working on media projects in Cambodia since 2003. He recently acquired the rights to translate the novel into the native tongue of Cambodia from publisher Sterling Lord.

A former bookseller on the streets of New York City, Rosette says he has always felt a connection to Kerouac's work.

He concedes that his favorite Kerouac novel is Vanity of Duluoz, but On The Road has more mainstream appeal.

"At its core, the novel's enthusiastic Beat heart bears parallels to the great number of soulful Beat characters who inhabit Cambodia today -- the old soldiers, the saffron-colored Holymen, the unaffected frog hunters," he wrote in an e-mail. "When Kerouac refers to the Beat streets of Denver, for instance, I'm reminded of the currently still-dilapidated buildings of Kompot."
Locally, the news has received a warm reception.

"I think it's awesome, the more connections the better," said Victoria Fahlberg, executive director of immigrant-advocacy agency ONE Lowell. "It is one thing to translate it linguistically, but it will be interesting to see how they translate it culturally."

"I think today even some American kids would need a cultural translation to fully understand On The Road. We are living in a very different culture, and they certainly are living in a different culture in Cambodia," she added.

Not to worry, Rosette says he has that covered.

In addition to the literal translation, Rosette expects to work simultaneously on an interpretive translation.

"A reference in On The Road to a migrant Mexican worker or the "Okies" may be likened to a migrant Vietnamese fisherman's family," he explained.

Rosette says comparing Kerouac's America to modern-day Cambodia is not as much of a stretch as it seems.

Like the United States of the post-war 1950s, post-war Cambodia is currently undergoing major infrastructure improvements, leading to a wider web of accessible roadways.

"More and more Cambodians are driving cars, new motorcycles, and are hitting the roads for sheer kicks," he wrote. "There's a sense of exhilaration in the air."

Paul Marion, executive director of community outreach at UMass Lowell who edited a compilation of Kerouac's early works, says translating On The Road into Khmer is a natural progression.

"Khmer is as common in 2008 Lowell as French was in 1920s Lowell when Kerouac was growing up," he said. "To have an edition of On The Road translated into Khmer and published in Cambodia seems fitting in light of Lowell's cultural diversity today."

He added that former Lowell resident Chath PierSath, an artist and activist who has since returned to his native Cambodia, often said he wanted to write about his country the way Kerouac wrote about Lowell and America.

Rosette calls undertaking the translation, "a pure literary challenge."

"We'd be going from a Roman alphabet, written with a Beat-era U.S. English sensibility, by an author whose first language was not even English (Kerouac spoke a French-Canadian dialect first and foremost) to a Pali-based writing system that has no verb or noun inflections, not much punctuation, and numerous fundamental cultural and historical differences," he wrote, adding that he is currently looking to build a team of advisers, sponsors, historians, musicologists, Khmer poets, patrons, translators, Beat scholars and others to work on the translation, as well as a documentary about the process.

Anyone interested in joining the team, can contact Rosette at