Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Vietnam returns 17 Cambodian boatmen


VietNamNet Bridge – Southern Vung Tau Province has handed over 17 Cambodian boatmen, who were saved from a boat drifting on Vietnamese sea early September, to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Cambodian General Consulate.

The hand-over took place at the Moc Bai international border gate in the southwestern border province of Tay Ninh on September 17.

The accommodation and meal costs during their stay in Vung Tau City were fully covered by Vietnam at the Cambodian request.

They were part of a group of 58 crewmen holding the citizenship of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, who were found collapsed aboard a ship on the Vietnamese waters on September 6. They were brought safe by Vietnamese fishermen and border guards later on.

Provincial border guards and external affairs service finished paper work for two Thai crewmen to return home on September 10 and for two other Laotians one day later.

Provincial border guards said they will return 37 Myanmar victims next week.

(Source: VNA)

Cambodia's development balance

VANDY RATTANA; Asian Development Bank Country Director Arjun Goswami at the ADB offices in Phnom Penh.

Arjun Goswami
Born October 2, 1960, in Vienna, Austria. Education Graduated with a BA and MA in modern history from Oxford University and later was awarded an LLM in public international law from Cambridge University and a JD from American University in Washington, DC. Later was awarded MSC in financial management from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. Career Goswami worked in Washington, DC, and Mumbai, India, before joining the ADB.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady and Kay Kimsong
Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Asian Development Bank's country director, Arjun Goswami, offers a measured look at Cambodia's successes and challenges as the Kingdom emerges as a regional economic player

Is the slowdown of Cambodia's national economic growth a natural levelling ,or can we expect the number to rise above 10 percent again?

We are expecting growth to come down to around 6.5 percent and that's a reflection in part of the slowdown worldwide and inflationary trends. The slowdown worldwide has affected some of the engines of growth in Cambodia, and those engines have tended to be fairly narrow. So garment exports have clearly been affected, to some extent construction has also slowed down, and as credit becomes more constrained to head off inflation, that obviously affects growth numbers.

We're seeing the importance of going for diversification of those sources of growth to address the structural and competitiveness issues to ensure growth rates can rise again.

What sector should demand the most attention?

We have a particular concern for agriculture and rural development. That's where the vast bulk of Cambodians live. There is clearly a disparity between rural and urban Cambodia. Making sure rural communities are part of the tide of growth is very important and something that the ADB regards as part of its core mandate. We need to consider what sort of skills would be needed for two or three hundred thousand Cambodians who are coming onto the rural labour market every year. We need to look critically at vocational training to help Cambodians match their skills with the demands of businesses. Agriculture is a sector that has had a very volatile path given weather conditions. It's not performing to full potential and it needs to. The poverty numbers are deeper there and it is such a potential engine of economic development.

To what extent is your emphasis on agricultural development a response to the commodity price inflation boom that began last year?

Following the food price inflation crisis there has been a eureka moment in the development community. In 2007 we already knew more emphasis needed to be placed on agriculture and agribusiness in Cambodia, but the problem has been exacerbated. There's a much stronger need now after the food price inflation crisis.

The underinvestment in the rural economy is not purely a Cambodian story. It's been true in many parts of the Asia-Pacific, unfortunately. There are very particular challenges in trying to move that area forward because it involves many steps: It's a question of farm productivity, off-farm employment in the countryside, infrastructure, rural credit - and these kinds of things all have to work together. We are beginning to see some interest from foreign direct investment in agriculture in Cambodia, for example from the Middle East. We're beginning to see agribusiness showing interest. No doubt some of that is influenced by global food price hikes.

" We need to look critically at vocational training to help Cambodians match their skills with the demands of businesses. "

Cambodia has requested food emergency aid assistance from the ADB while also pursuing food-export deals.

We have been concerned with a balance of two issues: On the one hand, in order to exploit that potential for the export market, there needs to be a full assessment of how much irrigation would have to increase, how much additional productivity there would need to be. The second thing is that in doing any assessment, you want to make sure domestic consumption needs are met. Quite a lot of our attention has been on the social protection issue as a first step.

Are land-grant deals, such as those recently made between Cambodia and some countries in the Middle East, problematic in any way?

Contract farming is something that's been done by a number of countries, and we are not against it per se, but we want Cambodia to get the full value added for what they are producing. If all that is happening, as is currently the case, is that raw product is being exported, then Cambodia is not getting the full value addition that it can. There's huge potential to move further along the value-added chain.

Is there confidence in a Cambodian Stock Exchange?

Setting a timeframe of late 2009 is useful because it gives focus. But merely having the physical opening of the stock exchange is not sufficient. There have been some useful things that have taken place, such as the formation of a securities and exchange commission well in advance of the opening of the stock exchange. But there are things that can be done that would help build confidence in Cambodia's capital markets development like government securities - which usually help set a benchmark yield curve - and continuing to work on corporate governance and auditing capacity. This would really prepare the path for the stock exchange opening and listings.

What are the domestic benefits of the stock exchange?

Finance in Cambodia is still quite heavily concentrated in the banking sector so having that non-banking side developed is useful.... An economy that has a good capital market can ensure its private sector is able to draw from equity capital. And people take ownership stakes, equity capital is a democratisation of ownership of companies. It also helps bring a strong drive not just for economic growth but for reforms. A good stock exchange will help drive transparency. And this is a cycle, because it can attract capital.

Has the ADB been pushing the government to pass the anti-corruption law?

A very heavily weighted part of our funding formula for our member countries is based on governance issues and anti-corruption issues. So the extent to which we are able to assist Cambodia is linked to Cambodia's ability to make progress in this area. We are one in the development community in saying this does need to be enacted, and it's important to set a timeframe for it to happen.

Are Cambodia's urban communities being protected from displacement in the face of development?

That's a challenge. If you look at some of the urban slums, they are being hit. So that sort of social protection does need further work. It's a highly relevant issue for Cambodia as a whole. Having a robust system of safeguards is very important. We've been trying to encourage more national subdecrees in this area to find the balance between compensating people who are affected and allowing for development.

Filmmaker remembers movie business heyday

May Titthara; Screenwriter and producer Ly Bun Yim picked up a camera in Hong Kong when he was fresh out of high school and never turned back.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Thursday, 18 September 2008

Pioneering screenwriter and producer tackled tough stories with do-it-yourself aesthetic to become a player in the early days of the Cambodian movie industry

VETERAN screenwriter and producer Ly Bun Yim is one of Cambodia's most celebrated filmmakers and has been honing his craft since the age of nineteen when he was first introduced to a movie camera.

"I became a movie writer and producer when I was 19 years old. I was never taught how to write, produce or be a photographer because I taught myself," said Ly Bun Yim.

After graduating from high school he intended to study in France, but a two-week visit to Hong Kong changed the course of his life dramatically.

"It was in Hong Kong that I saw a camera and loved it so much that I spent all my holiday money on it and came back home," he said.

"I learned to use the camera by myself and one day I went to see a movie at the cinema and when it was finished I thought this is a very simple movie and I thought I could do much better.

"He soon wrote the screenplay that culminated in his first movie, The Flash Family, which he also acted in himself "because I couldn't find good actors", he said. This movie proved a success and strengthened his resolve to pursue a career in filmmaking.

"I have never promoted my films to the audiences or other movie producers, but when they showed in the theatres there were many people who came to see them. Everyone who comes to see my movies promotes them for me through word-of-mouth," he said.

Before writing, he said he thinks carefully about making stories that are meaningful to the audience.

"When I finish my writing I have to check it over and over again and add or withdraw some points before I decide to produce it. I wrote more than 20 screenplays from 1961 to 1975, because from 1975 our country was at war and in 1977 I went to France.

"When Ly Bun Yim came back to Cambodia in 1994, he lacked the funds to return to movie making, but he volunteered on some local productions.

"In 2003 I was urged by production companies and audiences to write a new screenplay, so I started to write a story called Divinity Court. I haven't completed the film yet because I don't have enough money. I have spent about US$500,000 and now I need $100,000 more to complete it," he said.

Difficult stories

Ly Bun Yim said he was able to write all kinds of movies, modern or historical, but historical movies - which most of his have been - tended to cost more to produce.

"I think that screenwriters today won't write a story that's difficult to produce because sometimes the actors or actresses can't do what the story requires. I like to do difficult stories," he said.

"I have never copied international movie styles or ideas as my own; I try to do my own style. I see some writers take western movie ideas and just put their name on them. That is not a good movie.... I want to produce a quality story."

He said he has been happy to teach up-and-coming filmmakers how to improve and has ideas to strengthen the Cambodian film industry.

"In order to improve our Khmer movie industry and make it as famous as the industry in other countries, we have to control the copyright law and the government has to pay more attention to Khmer movies by lending some money for the producers to make movies," he said.

Cambodia: UN Oversight Needed to Address Ongoing Rights Violations

A Joint Statement by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

Review, Rationalisation and Improvement of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Human Rights in Cambodia.

9th session of the Human Rights Council

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call on the Human Rights Council members to extend the mandate of the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia.

The systemic lack of protection for human rights in Cambodia is a consequence of impunity, the absence of the rule of law and the seriously stunted legal and judicial reform. The government - through inaction - continues to demonstrate its unwillingness to seriously address human rights.

Although marked improvements have taken place since the first resolution on Cambodia by the Commission on Human Rights was adopted in 1993, the unfulfilled need to institutionalize human rights protection – through the legal system, the government administrative structures, and independent institutions – testifies to the need for continued UN engagement. Key to such an engagement is the SRSG’s independent and authoritative assessments of the human rights situation for the international community through the Human Rights Council, as well as the SRSG’s recommendations to bring about improvements, support for Cambodian human rights defenders, and cooperation with and technical assistance to the Cambodian government.

While Cambodia has experienced significant economic growth during the past 15 years, the government has rejected a rights-based approach to development. As stipulated in the Paris Peace Accords, economic development must go hand-in-hand with respect for human rights.

Lack of integrity and independence within the court system sits at the centre of Cambodia’s current human rights problems – its most notable impact is an escalating land crisis. Forced evictions further impoverish the marginalized, who are routinely deprived of redress. Violence against women goes unpunished. Freedoms of expression and association are compromised and human rights defenders, opposition journalists, and community activists defending land and natural resources are increasingly imprisoned on baseless charges, physically attacked, or murdered; the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. The Supreme Council of Magistracy, established to ensure independence and effectiveness of the judiciary remains ineffectual, while the Constitutional Council has continuously failed to demonstrate its role to safeguard the constitutionality of legislation.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords, signed by the United Nations and 19 member states, recommended the establishment of the Special Representative, whose mandate includes protecting and promoting human rights. Until the Cambodian government implements concrete reforms needed to establish an independent judiciary and other independent institutions to provide checks and balances on the government it is crucial that the Special Representative’s mandate be continued. To end or reduce the mandate’s reporting function will deprive Cambodians of the international oversight essential to achieving the effective promotion and fulfilment of the human rights to which they aspire and deserve.

P. Penh, Bangkok tradeaccusations in border row

The Bangkok Post
Thursday September 18, 2008

Cambodia and Thailand swapped accusations of violating each other's territory yesterday as the row continued over disputed land near ancient temples along the border. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen accused Thai soldiers of being thieves ''creating anarchy'' around border areas, including the ancient Ta Muen and Ta Kwai temples.

''We cannot accept this act,'' Hun Sen said, calling for fresh border talks with Thailand.

''I am wondering who ordered the troops to come over, or whether they are thieves, because they [the Thai government] said they did not order them. So it must mean they are thieves.''
Thailand claims sovereignty over both sites.

In Bangkok, the Foreign Ministry in return issued a statement protesting that Cambodian soldiers had violated Thailand territory by periodically occupying Ta Kwai temple since last month.

The statement called on the two countries to resolve their boundary issues in ''a just and peaceful manner in accordance with international law''.

Hun Sen has publicly hinted in recent weeks that he might take his boundary complaints to the United Nations Security Council or international courts if they two countries cannot meet soon to resolve their disagreement.

Much of the frontier remains in dispute, and demarcation has been held up by the slow pace of demining in the region.

Talks to discuss withdrawing troops from around Preah Vihear, called Phra Viharn in Thailand, were postponed late last month because of the political turmoil in Bangkok.

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

Neighbors Survey 'Rice Intensification' Gains

By Kong Soth, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (1.20 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (1.20 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Experts from five countries recently traveled to Phnom Penh to learn more about a new way to grow rice, one that requires lest chemicals and yields greater results.

Agriculturalists from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Pakistan spent five days in Cambodia to review the System of Rice Intensification, which is being developed in Cambodia by the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

"The farmers in some of these countries in Asia, they are very interested with the experience we have to encourage SRI," said Yong Sang Korma, director of the center, which is known by its French acronym, CEDAC. "By following natural principals, rice farms have higher production, while using their own resources more effectively and expending less chemicals or pesticides."

SRI differs from traditional growth methods, but proponents say the yield can be much greater. Under the system, rice fields are kept moist, but not saturated, and rice stalks, whose seedlings are planted early on, are spaced farther apart to promote the growth of roots.

South Tichaykunvuth, a farmer from Thailand, said agriculture there is divided among families, who produce for themselves, and agro-businesses, which farm for export abroad. Around 70 percent of Thai farmers use pesticides on their crops, he said, a situation that is similar to Cambodia now.

"The use of chemicals can impact crop soil or the way the produce tastes and smells," he said.
Laiv Pai Yin, of Malaysia's non-governmental Action Network Asia and Pacific, said the best choice for farmers in Southeast Asia was a reduction in pesticides.

"It is a real threat to environmental and human health," he said.

Cambodia has nearly 3 million hectares of agricultural land, but much of it is farmed through the use of chemicals. CEDAC works to encourage farmers to give up these habits and turn to natural fertilizer and other methods.

Yim Kim Sean, secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment, said he supports organizations educating people about agriculture. Only about 20 percent of Cambodia's farmers know the negative impacts of chemical use on the environment and human health, he said.

Cambodian has nearly 3 million heta of agriculture land in daily profession Khmer people they likes to used chemical and pesticide ,and these produce are imported from Thailand and Vietnam. Since 2000 CEDAC it research agriculture locally have to encourage farmer to give up old habitat so they turn to used normal fertilizer more.

Cambodia Braces for Global Finance Woes

An investor looks at the stock price monitor at a private security company in Shanghai Wednesday, as Chinese shares fell to a 22-month low. Analysts worry that weakened Asian markets could hurt Cambodia.

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 17 September 2008 (1.83 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 17 September 2008 (1.83 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Economic turbulence in the US and Asian markets this week will indirectly affect Cambodia's industries, even as inflation and other factors have weakened the economy so far this year, economic and finance experts said Wednesday.

The bankruptcy announcement by US financial firm Lehman Brothers and the sale of brokerage firm Merrill Lynch to Bank of America this week upset US and Asian markets and led to worries of a global economic crisis.

"The longer term concern is that the world economy will be impacted and that will have follow-on effects for Cambodia, but how big those effects will be remains to be seen," said Stephen Higgins, chief executive officer of ANZ Royal Bank.

Cambodian and international economists said Wednesday falling markets could harm Cambodia's leading sectors: garments and tourism.

The US is the top importer of Cambodian garments, and the sector, which is Cambodia's economic engine, already has seen weakened growth in 2008, analysts said. Tourism, the second-highest earner for Cambodia, could be hurt as potential visitors stay at home to weather the economic storm.

Cambodia could also be affected by a drop in foreign investment from its Asian neighbors.

"One thing that we would need to keep a close watch on is sort of providing finance to Cambodia in terms of foreign direct investment," said Eric Sidgwick, an economic officer at the Asian Development Bank in Phnom Penh. "You know, China, Korea, Thailand and other countries. How will they be affected by the turmoil in the US? They may in turn have less resources to bring to Cambodia."

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank said in an outlook report released Tuesday that Cambodia's economic growth would drop to an estimated 6.5 percent, down from 9.6 percent in 2007.

The decline in economic growth was a product of a garment sector suffering from the decline of US consumption, as well as inflation and the drop in value of the US dollar, the ADB said.

UN Envoy's Resignation Pleases Hun Sen

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 September 2008

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday he was "satisfied" with the resignation of UN special envoy Yash Ghai, who had been a continuous critic of the government's human rights record.

Ghai, who was the UN secretary-general's special representative to Cambodia for human rights, announced his resignation in Geneva Tuesday. His criticism of Cambodia's human rights efforts over three years had been so nettling that on his last visit, in December 2007, he was not granted a meeting with any government official and Hun Sen called for his termination.

Hun Sen told a crowd gathered at a Pannasastra University graduation ceremony that following Ghai's resignation, "I have no need to curse him anymore."

"I am very satisfied for his resignation," Hun Sen said. "He resigned because he knew Hun Sen would continue to be the prime minister for the next five years, and if Hun Sen continues in his position, he will continue not to meet [Ghai]."

"I will be ready to meet with his successor appointed by the UN secretary-general," Hun Sen said.

Ghai's resignation comes as the UN's Human Rights Council is considering whether it will have a special rights representative for the UN secretary-general in Cambodia, or whether it will have a Council-designated rapporteur.

Ny Chakrya, chief of the investigation unit for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday Ghai's resignation signaled how ineffectual his work had become in the face of government resistance.

"He resigned because Cambodia doesn't need a UN special representative who criticizes the government," he said. "But we are very regretful for his resignation, because was a man who could speak out and criticize the government on its human rights violations in Cambodia."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Ghai's resignation was a loss to victims of human rights violations in the country.

"But we hope that his successor will fulfill good work like Yash Ghai and follow Yash Ghai's line in the prevention of and the struggle against human rights violations in Cambodia."

"I appreciate Yash Ghai, who could speak out against the government in human rights violations in his mission," he said.

Prince Can Return for Pchum Ben: Hun Sen

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 September 2008

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday offered an open door to Prince Norodom Ranariddh to return to Cambodia for Pchum Ben, the festival honoring the dead.

"I want him to come for Pchum Ben," Hun Sen said in a public speech.

Prince Ranariddh has accepted the results of July's election and supported the quick formation of a new government, Hun Sen said.

"He's been easy on me, so I am easy on him," Hun Sen said.

The prince faces an 18-month prison sentence if he returns from self-imposed exile, but government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wednesday the courts would suspend his guilty verdict, on breach of trust charges.

Court officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to the law, Hun Sen must request a suspended sentence to King Norodom Sihamoni, said Long Phal, secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice.

Khieu Kanahirth said Hun Sen has not yet made such a request.

Prince Ranariddh could not be reached for comment.

Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Suth Dina said the prince will return to Cambodia at the end of September.

Hun Sen said he would give two National Assembly committee seats to members of the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

US Official Warns Against Border Violence

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
17 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (971 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (971 KB) - Listen (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 17 September 2008 (554 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 17 September 2008 (554 KB) - Listen (MP3)

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte warned Thailand and Cambodia against border violence in a continued military standoff, saying bilateral negotiations were the best way to resolve the crisis.

"We think that [bilateral negotiation] is the most effective way of dealing with this problem," Negroponte said, following a three-day visit to Cambodia this week. "And we think it's important that the use of force or coercion has to be avoided at all costs, because that would risk undermining some of the progress that has been achieved in the region in terms of peaceful economic development."

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he will approach the UN Security Council and other multilateral avenues to solve a continued military standoff that began in July.

The visit of Negroponte, who is the second-highest ranking official in the US State Department, capped several years of warming relations between the two countries.

Negroponte said the inclusion of an FBI team in the investigation of slain opposition journalist Khim Sambor was another "positive" step.

"I think it's a welcome development, and we want to be as helpful as we can," he said.

Khim Sambor was shot dead with his son in Phnom Penh in July, just two weeks ahead of national elections. He is the 12th journalist to be murdered since 1993, and his killers have not been found.

Entrepreneurs Find Chances in New Economy

By Vohar Cheat, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (1.79 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 16 September 2008 (1.79 MB) - Listen (MP3)

A Cambodian maxim holds that, "If you want to be rich, trade in rice; if you want to be poor, trade in old cars." But in Cambodia's current economic climate, that isn't exactly true.

Entrepreneurs have found openings in the expanding economy, founding sound businesses with little start-up or experience.

Soeng Bunna is among them. An orphan from Kampong Speu province whose parents were executed by the Khmer Rouge, the 33-year-old businessman started his Bunna Realty Group in 1999 with $250, but has seen it grow to a staff of 100 people working across most of the provinces.

He lived in pagodas and with friends in Phnom Penh following the war, and after a job as a cook at Lucky Burger, he began driving around on an "old, cheap motorcycle," he said in a recent interview, passing out contact details, trying to convince people he could find them places to rent or buy.

"I made copies of my phone number, covered them in plastic, and stuck them to public walls or on someone's door, or the trunk of coconut and mango trees on side streets," he said.

Now his business, a yellow-painted building on Street 51, sustains him and his wife and three children. The yellow represents power, success and luck, he said.

"I believed in God and angels to judge my fate," he said. "My wife and I had only $80 after marriage." He chuckled. "Sometimes we had only 10,000 riel."

Kang Chandararoth, an economist and head of the Cambodia Institute for Study and Development, said that successful entrepreneurs have several qualities in common: good thought, an awareness of areas where the economy is growing, and the growth of the economy itself.

"Trade in rice" no longer applies, he said, as small-business owners can quickly make money, especially in buying land or trading in real estate.

Those aren't the only ways to build a successful business, however.

Another entrepreneur, Leng Soklay, 51, supports her five children and husband with a clothing manufacturing company that has, like Soeung Bunna's business, thrived in the current economic environment.

She built her business with a $1,600 loan from Acleda Bank in 1993 and two sewing machines, growing until she had repaid the loan and eventually employed 20 workers. Her small factory puts out 200 items of clothing per day, and she recently estimated her assets at around $400,000.

"I think it is partly because of merit and my luck from the past," she said. "It is unbelievable that I can be like this now. A lot of people made businesses too but they didn't have luck."

Cambodian Film Wins Major U.S. Award

Posted on 18 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Phnom Penh: A film produced by Khmer producers with the title ‘Facing the Truth’ won a high award in the United States during the Freddie Awards Celebration 2008; Freddie Awards are given in the United States for international health and medical media achievements.

“Oscar Awards [awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] are well known for the competition of films in general, but there is also a competition in which there are medical awards, the Freddie Awards, which is one among special awards. In this competition, health organizations from around the world participated. This award is an encouragement for such film productions worldwide.

“‘Facing the Truth’ was produced by Khmer Mekong Films, it is a 30-minute televised drama, describing the importance of HIV tests for pregnant women. Its content shows the countryside in Cambodia and it is a sad film reflecting the reality in Cambodian society.

“This film was submitted under two categories – fist under Prevention, and the second submission was in the category Infectious Diseases – among 32. The film was accepted as a candidate and surprisingly, it won the Number One Award in the field of Prevention, although there was strong competition from broadcasting corporations in Canada and from two big cable TV networks in the United States.

“‘Facing the Truth’ was produced as part of the campaign to promote AIDS prevention, which was led and organized by the program PMTCT (Prevention mother to child transmission of HIV) of the National Maternal Child Health Center of the Ministry of Health, and has been shown around Cambodia.

“This film was funded by the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, and in Cambodia also through the Global AIDS Program. Drafts of the film’s content and text of the conversation were produced by Khmer Mekong Films with assisting ideas from Madame Dr. Vong Sothearany, a coordinator of the program PMTCT (Prevention mother to child transmission of HIV) of the National Maternal Child Health Center of the Ministry of Health.

“This film was shot in and around Phnom Penh in ten days and has been shown at hospitals and health centers nationwide during a period of about two years. This movie was shown also on the Cambodian Television Network in June 2008, and more than two million citizens watched it.

“Mr. Matthew Robinson [the executive producer and owner of Khmer Mekong Films], said that this award is a great achievement, not only for Khmer Mekong Films, but also for the National Maternal Child Health Center of the Ministry of Health and for the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, and especially it is a reason of pride of all Khmers.

“It should be noted that the celebration, where this important award will be delivered, is organized to happen in Philadelphia in the United States on 14 November 2008. For that occasion, Khmer Mekong Films will send two staff members, as well as a film director, to receive the award.”
Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #100, 17.9.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Foreign Minister could not be a wrong choice

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on September 18, 2008

Newly elected Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat badly needs to pick the right person as foreign minister as Thailand faces many major challenges. The wrong selection would be a big blow to the country's international credibility.

People in Bangkok might dislike or disagree with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen for raising the question of Thailand's ability to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) amid the current political turmoil.

Hun Sen is not alone in expressing concerns over the repercussion of Thai domestic problems on Asean, which is at the crossroads of transforming itself from an ad-hoc grouping into a rules-based organisation.

When Thailand took the chairmanship from Singapore after the annual ministerial meeting in July, the international community and media raised a sharp question about whether the Kingdom could steer the group during its 18-month term while facing political instability.

Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo, who then chaired the group, kindly and optimistically replied that Thailand had a lot of professional and capable civil servants in the foreign service so that members could be assured that Asean was in the right hands.

It's true that officials at the Foreign Ministry have the ability to handle Asean and have prepared well for the Asean Summit in mid-December. The first meetings of Asean's standing committee and senior officials under Thailand's chairmanship have already been held. The standing committee was briefed on the progress of preparation for the coming summit, with member countries expressing satisfaction with the steps taken.

Career diplomats alone might be able to host an Asean summit, but Thailand's foreign affairs extend beyond organising a meeting of 10 heads of government. There are many other issues requiring political policies and decisions.

Asean itself must have good leadership and the right decisions to handle many issues including human rights and Burma's political stalemate. Political will is a necessity.

Moreover, Thailand also has border trouble with neighbour Cambodia relating to areas where Khmer and Hindu temples are located. The conflicts over Preah Vihear and Ta Muen Thom temples have not been resolved yet. Phnom Penh raised the third dispute over Ta Kwai.

Former foreign minister Tej Bunnag did a good job when he negotiated to have border disputes handled by the normal mechanism of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), but the job has not finished yet. His meeting with Cambodia counterpart Hor Namhong in Cha-am last month required many follow-up meetings to resolve the problems step by step. The JBC itself is a ministerial mechanism. Border demarcation is a technical issue that requires policy guidelines and political decisions.

Cambodia might raise the issue again when its foreign minister is in New York late this month for the United Nations General Assembly and the sideline meeting of Asean foreign ministers. Thailand really needs a keen foreign minister to deal with the situation in New York. Former deputy prime minister Sahas Bunditkul, who represented Thailand at an Asean meeting in Singapore in July, used his experience in dealing with the Cambodian diplomatic bombshell.

The experience of the past seven months under Samak Sundaravej's administration has taught a lesson that the selection of the foreign minister really matters. The different backgrounds of two former ministers, Noppadon Pattama and Tej Bunnag, made a big difference to the ministry's work. New PM Somchai, who was also in Samak's Cabinet, has already learned the lesson and political consequences of a wrong selection.

No need to inflame border dispute

By The Nation
Published on September 18, 2008

Cambodia should not exploit opportunities when Thailand is in political trouble. An example is its claim to sovereignty over Khmer temples along the disputed border. Such a move could jeopardise already fragile diplomatic relations.

Of course, Phnom Penh has the right to claim Hindu temples along the boundary but the two countries need to clearly define the border. New techniques for border demarcation could help, but this will not happen unless the two countries have good relations.

The recent claim on the temple of Ta Kwai is not timely, since Thailand is not ready to negotiate over the complicated issue of borderlines due to domestic difficulties. Moreover, the two countries have not yet resolved the previous dispute over the Khmer sanctuaries of Preah Vihear and Ta Muen Thom. Bringing Ta Kwai into the equation only puts mounting pressure on relations.

The dispute over the temples must not be settled by military means. Only diplomatic negotiations can resolve the problem.

As Phnom Penh registers its fresh claim, Thailand can do nothing but register an official protest for the record, pending further talks. The Foreign Ministry's permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul summoned Cambodia's ambassador Ung Sean on Tuesday to take an aide-memoire of the protest. The memoire said some 70 Cambodian soldiers had intruded upon the temple on September 6. It was the second intrusion since 30 Cambodian troops were seen at the temple between August 3 and 6.

"These acts constitute a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Thailand," the memoire said.

Reaction from Phnom Penh made the problem more complicated. Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said his government was preparing to appeal to a "third international party" to intervene.

The dispute must be solved bilaterally in the spirit of good Asean neighbourliness. The Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission is the proper mechanism to handle the issue. It might take time but it could end the border disputes peacefully and fairly.

Dispute spreading along border

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Thursday, 18 September 2008

Thai soldiers are demanding Cambodia cede land in Pursat province

HIGH-LEVEL negotiations are over and the political mudslinging has shifted up a gear, with Prime Minister Hun Sen labelling Thai soldiers "thieves" for their encroachment on the Kingdom's territory. On the ground, the military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand is spreading, and fast.

Having flared up over the Unesco-listed Preah Vihear temple, the dispute raced through Oddar Meanchey's Ta Moan Thom, Ta Moan Touch and Ta Krabey temples, and has now reached O'Plok Damrey in Veal Veng district, Pursat province, military officials say.

"Thai soldiers came to see our soldiers and told them to remove the fence along the border and withdraw our troops back inside Cambodia," said Ek Sam On, deputy commander of Military Region 5, which covers Pursat, Pailin, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

"Our soldiers are simply stationed along our border to protect it, we are not sure why the Thais have demanded that we withdraw from the area and remove the [10-year-old] border fence. It is an unreasonable request," Ek Sam On added.

Oun Yong, Veal Veng district's governor, said Tuesday that unless the Cambodian government ordered a troop withdrawal, soldiers would remain in their positions.

An RCAF commander from Military Region 5, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that more troops were being sent to the area as reinforcements for those already on this "new front line". Military commanders are travelling to the area to check on the situation, he said.

More meetings between Thai and Cambodian military border commanders will start today, according to Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402.

He added he had little hope of negotiations bringing any solution, saying, "I do not believe the Thai military commanders because ... they have never kept their promises."Thai embassy officials refused to comment.

Cambodia, Thailand not have channel for talks of military redeployment at border areas

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia does not have the channel to continue the talk with Thailand to speed up the military redeployment at border areas, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday.

"We do not have channel to talk with the Thai side," Hun Sen said, adding that the Thai troops are still occupying Cambodian territory from one place to another.

"They have invaded our territory at border areas, including areas near the Preah Vihear temple of Preach Vihear province, Ta Moane Toch temple and Ta Moane Thom temple in Oddar Meanchey province, Ta Krobey temple and Chup Korki and Cham Ksan areas in Anlong Veng district of Bantey Meanchey province," he said.

Hun Sen also appealed to the Thai government to send delegates to continue bilateral talks to seek a peaceful resolution.

"After foreign minister meeting in Hua Hin, we have delayed nearly a month for the bilateral talks and now we have to continueit," he said.

"If the bilateral talks fail, we will seek a third party to help, including the International Court of Justice or the UN Security council," he added.

"The newly elected Thai prime minister will give a chance for us to continue the bilateral talks," he said.

On July 22, Cambodia made an appeal to the Security Council during its military standoff with Thailand at the World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple, but withdrew the complaint two days later after Thailand agreed to hold immediate talks on the issue. But discussions over a full troop withdrawal have stagnated, with the Thais requesting a postponement due to political tensions in Bangkok.

The row erupted after Cambodia's arrest of three Thai nationalist protesters on July 15, whom authorities claimed crossed illegally into Cambodian territory close to the disputed temple site.

Since then, Thailand and Cambodia have been building up their forces near the temple and tensions have escalated, spreading to other temple sites along the border.

Editor: Du

Remarks by Deputy Secretary Negroponte in Cambodia

US Department of State

John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
September 16, 2008

It is a pleasure to be in Cambodia and to see the progress that has been made over the past several years. I have had a number of productive meetings, including with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. We discussed the many positive ways that the United States and Cambodia cooperate, and we explored ways to deepen our bilateral relationship. My trip here is also an opportunity to emphasize our commitment to strong regional engagement in Asia.

The United States and Cambodia have a good and growing relationship. We are working together to improve the lives of Cambodians. The first Peace Corps volunteers recently marked their one-year anniversary. We are spending roughly $32 million per year in Cambodia to improve health and are cooperating closely to address HIV/AIDS and avian influenza. We are also working together in the areas of refugee matters, cultural preservation, and humanitarian demining. Our military-to-military relationship is growing stronger, and we value interaction with Cambodia in the areas of counter-terrorism, law enforcement, and POW/MIA matters.

We welcome Cambodia’s increasing involvement in solving regional and global problems. Once the beneficiary of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, Cambodia today has peacekeepers deployed in Sudan. Cambodians have also provided demining assistance to Afghanistan and Iraq.

We have also been impressed with the strides that Cambodia has made in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons in recent years, and the progress of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. The State Department intends to work with Congress to make available an initial contribution of $1.8 million this year to support the tribunal. We expect to be active among donors to the tribunal to ensure that it continues to improve its management and addresses the issue of corruption. This decision to seek funding for the court reflects our commitment to see this process through to its conclusion and to help Cambodians build a society based on the rule of law.

In all of my meetings, I also stressed the importance that the United States places on respect for human rights, open access to the media, and a free and fair electoral process.

Relations between the United States and Cambodia are at a high point, but there is more work to do. We look forward to continuing our efforts with the Royal Government of Cambodia to strengthen the rule of law and further economic development.

Let me now take a few questions.

Released on September 16, 2008

Press Conference by Deputy Secretary Negroponte in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

US Department of State

John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
September 16, 2008

QUESTION: When you talk about the 1.8 million in funding to the KRT, will it be contributed directly to the UN side or the Cambodian side – this is the first question. Secondly during you talk with the Prime Minister Hun Sen, did he ask for UN intervention on the issue of the border problem with Thailand.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: On the first question subject to correction by the ChargĂ© d’affaires I believe that the contribution will be made to the UN side – the 1.8 million and I would stress again that this is an initial contribution and I think the important point about the contribution is that it represents a threshold contribution by the United States to provide material support to the tribunal.

Your second question I believe related to the dispute with Thailand over the temple, and what I would like to say here is that we think that this is a dispute a difference that should be resolved peacefully between Thailand and Cambodia and that it should be preferably resolved bilaterally between the two countries. We think that is the most effective way of dealing with this problem, and we think that it is important that the use of force or coercion be avoided at all costs because that would risk undermining some of the great progress that has been achieved in this region in terms of peaceful economic development.

QUESTION: Good morning Deputy Secretary – my name is Douglas from the Cambodia Daily and I’ll try and be brief. I have two questions regarding the Khmer Rouge tribunal. One was that as you well know there has been a congressional ban on funding the tribunal pending a finding by the State Department that the Cambodian judiciary is free and fair and that the court meets international standards. If you could tell us about that review – whether or not it has been completed.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Let me first say that my understanding is that that ban no long exists – it expired about two years ago. That would be the fist point – the second is that I think I’ll ask the Embassy to put out a fact sheet about the tribunal so that some of the details that I may not have complete mastery of can be made clear but I think what my point that I would make is that we believe that the conditions are both appropriate and opportune to make this contribution and we have been talking to our congress and those who are interested in the tribunal and I think there is generally a consensus that this is a good time to move forward in support of the tribunal.

QUESTION: Just quickly my second question concerned the fact that the funding for the court would soon expire this would appear to be one moment where donors have the greatest leverage to request changes in the court. Could you tell us how the US feels about the possible investigation of corruption claims in the court and any changes that need to be made?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well as I mentioned in my prepared statement we think it is important that the court be managed properly and we will certainly spare no effort on our part to ensure that not only our resources but the resources of the international community as a whole are put to good use and this is certainly one of the themes that we will be emphasizing with those concerned. There have been some issues about the management of the court but they have not risen to the level where we felt that it justified withholding any contribution to the court. We think it is a good time to go ahead, we’ll have as a result of that a voice along with the other donors and certainly when we see issues and problems we’re going to be sure that they are called to the attention of the right people.

QUESTION: Ker Munthit from AP – can you elaborate a little bit whether there will be conditions or a mechanism that the US will attach to the contribution to make sure that the money…

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think I said - at the risk of being repetitive I really believe that I’ve said all that I can say. If you want further background from the Charge d’affaires or the Embassy I would refer you to them after the press conference.
Question: Good morning to you sir – I am Madra from Reuters – sir you said Washington is going to fund 1.8 million for this year – will the US look to further contribute to the tribunal in the future?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Yes – I think that is our hope, it definitely is in our planning and we have included a proposal in the budget for future years that calls for continued contributions to be made to the court. That of course will require, any budget in any system requires the approval of the legislature but that is certainly the position of the executive branch so we’ll make this initial contribution but in future fiscal years we hope to be able to continue to make a contribution and hopefully even increase the size.

QUESTION: Hello sir – another quick question. Why the US want to give funds to the KRT now, why not before.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I mean I think one of the reasons that was mentioned is there had been reservations in the past on the part of our Congress but I think the point to make here is first of all we have decided to go forward, and secondly I think that like many other people we think it is important that this tribunal be able to carry out its work and succeed. There have been a number of people arrested now who are awaiting trial. There is a trial that is about to take place perhaps as early as November. I had the opportunity to meet a Canadian prosecutor. So this seems to be a distinctly opportune moment to make an announcement about our contribution but I think the main thing is that we want to help this tribunal succeed, and we think it definitely has the chance to succeed.

QUESTION: Just today you met the opposition leader and what did you talk about with them and what about the compromise between the opposition leaders and Hun Sen’s government

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I think it would probably not be very prudent of me to comment in any detail about questions that have to do with the relationship between the government and the opposition I did have a opportunity to meet with a couple of opposition leaders, those who had members elected to the national assembly and in the election that took place in July I also had a chance to meet with members of civic society both here and when I was up in Siem Riep. I think the point that I would make is that in July Cambodia had it’s fourth national election since 1993. You’ve had elections for a national assembly in 93, 98, 2003 and now in 2008 and this for a county that emerged from such difficult circumstances this is a very positive track record a very positive development and each of these elections have been progressively less violent and have been carried out under better and better conditions so we welcome that and we think that that bodes well it augers well for the future of Cambodian democracy.

QUESTION: Did you advise them to go to the swearing in ceremony in the palace?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Look – I didn’t offer any particular advice frankly. I listened more than I gave advice. I haven’t been to Cambodia in many many years and for me this was an opportunity to listen and learn about what is happening here and certainly it is not for me to give advice, specific tactical advice to the political actors here. We certainly favor democracy, we favor human rights, we support elections and we want them to be fair and free but I think that our concerns and the kind of advice we give is at a more general level than what is being suggested by your question.

QUESTION: Good morning, my name is (inaudible) – I would like to ask you could you please tell us about FBI progress in the investigation of the journalist’s killing in July, Mr. Kim Sambo from Mnesekah Khmai?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Right – I’m aware of the fact that the FBI is cooperating with the Cambodian authorities in investigating this killing, and I think that is a positive thing I think it is a welcome development and we want to be as helpful as we can but I happen not to know what progress is being made and normally as you can appreciate even if I was aware of some of the details we would probably not reveal them at this stage because investigative matters are usually kept confidential until they are ready until the investigators or the investigative authority is prepared to make its findings public, so even if I did know any of the details it would not be appropriate for me to reveal them publicly. I think perhaps I’ll take one more question.

QUESTION: I’m from thePhnom Penh Post – for military relations between the US and Cambodian government – what further developments can we expect, and can we expect the US to provide lethal material to Cambodia.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that the focus of our effort is in such areas as peacekeeping, support for peacekeeping efforts and we welcome Cambodia’s role in that, especially as I said in my statement they have been the beneficiaries of peacekeepers in the past, and they have peacekeepers in the Sudan. Demining efforts, perhaps some officer training in exchanges, so it’s that kind of focus that we have at this particular time. Another would be ship visits, visits by some of our naval vessels, we’ve had several in the past year and we can imagine, we can visualize those continuing and perhaps increasing but those would be the kind of areas in which we contemplate a military cooperation between the two countries. I want to thank you for this opportunity – ok – one last question.

QUESTION: Just would like to know will the White House invite Prime Minister Hun Sen. Is there any plan for that to happen?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well I’m not aware of any such plan and at the moment as you know we’re in the final stages of our own electoral campaign between now and the 4th of November and we will have a new administration in January so I would think that any possible meetings at that level and in Washington would probably have to wait till the next administration although I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that our leaders might meet one way or another during the course of some of the international meetings that are taking place between now and the end of this year.

Thanks you very much.

Released on September 16, 2008

CAMBODIA: Human trafficking likely to increase

Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Lured by the prospects of better job opportunities, many men have fallen victim to human traffickers as well

" Trafficking is a mega-problem in Cambodia. It's becoming a critical issue that needs to be tackled head-on, in a coordinated and comprehensive way. "

PHNOM PENH, 17 September 2008 (IRIN) - Trafficking in Cambodia is set to rise with the sharp increase in food and fuel prices, according to humanitarian workers.

"The lure of a better life and a secure income is bound to trap more unsuspecting youngsters into the grip of these trafficking rings," Lim Tith, project coordinator for the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) in Cambodia, told IRIN.

"Trafficking is a mega-problem in Cambodia," said Vicheth Tuon, chief executive officer of the NGO Coalition to Address Trafficking and (Sexual) Exploitation of Children in Cambodia (COSECAM).

"It's becoming a critical issue that needs to be tackled head-on, in a coordinated and comprehensive way," he said.

According to the UN, men, women and children are susceptible to trafficking, with some trafficked inside the country and others sent abroad - mostly for labour exploitation.

Some women and children are recruited from the countryside by gangs and inducted into the sex trade in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, while most end up in domestic service, factories, ships or as beggars.

"I came to Phnom Penh to work in a restaurant," a 22-year-old bar-girl, Pong Ly Kaeng, said. "The owner came to our village in Svay Raeng and promised my sister he would look after me and pay me a good salary. So I went with him. But I left when the owner tried to make me have sex with a customer.

Then my cousin found me a job in the bar. But I don't sleep with all my customers." Such stories are typical among the girls working in the capital's entertainment industry, in "hostess" bars, Karaoke clubs, beer gardens and brothels.

"At least 20 percent of sex workers in Phnom Penh have been trafficked," said Lim. "It is difficult to estimate the number of people being trafficked into Phnom Penh to be commercial sex workers, but it is a constant stream, probably between 200 and 500 a month," he said.

Trafficking abroad

But there have also been reports of women being trafficked abroad for sexual exploitation.

"A few years ago there was a major case of Cambodian women being smuggled into Somalia," said Lim. "There have also been a few cases of women being transported to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to become commercial sex workers. Of course there are also many Vietnamese women who have been trafficked from southern Vietnam to work in Phnom Penh's sex industry," he said.

Many of them are under-age, a Cambodian aid worker who monitors the situation, told IRIN.

Another disturbing trend is children being trafficked to neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam to work as street sellers or beggars.

Photo: WFP Cambodia
Most trafficking victims come from Cambodia's impoverished countryside

Most of the girls selling flowers in Bangkok's red light districts are Cambodians - including seven-year-old Kimmi from Phnom Penh, who has been selling roses in Nana for more than two years after her father sold her to a trafficker for US$50.

Cambodian children, especially from the western provinces, are being trafficked to Vietnam to beg and to a lesser extent work as scavengers in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh.

"Handicapped children are particularly vulnerable, as they are believed to be more effective beggars," said Lim, adding that up to 700 children a month were being trafficked across the border.

Cheap labour

Yet most Cambodians who are trafficked end up in sweat shops, construction sites, fishing trawlers and domestic service, mainly in Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan.

"One of our current concerns is Cambodian men who are being trafficked to work on fishing boats in Malaysia and Thailand," Lim said.

More than 4,000 a year were being trafficked, passing through a network, from one local recruiter to another in Phnom Penh or the border town of Poipet, to a Thai gang and then sold on to a boat, he said.

Conditions on many of the boats, which go out to sea for up to six months, are reportedly intolerable, with few safety precautions taken.

"Once on the fishing boat, life is unbearable; we get little to eat and are often beaten," Kong, a former Cambodian fisherman on a boat based in southern Thailand, said. "It's so bad there are only two choices: commit suicide or jump ship," he said.

According to the UN, more than 200,000 trafficked Cambodians are working in factories and boats in Malaysia and Thailand.

"The situation remains critical, and the fact that it remains hidden makes it much harder for the government and development workers," Tuon said.

Woman establishes school in Cambodia

By Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — In an act of charity, it takes real love to empower people, rather than make them depend on you. Kari Grady Grossman has come to understand that.

The reason why is quite a journey.

In 2001, she was a freelance journalist, working for the Discovery Channel’s website and living in the mountains of Wyoming. These days, she’s a Front Range mother of two adopted children, an award-winning author and founder of a successful school in her son’s native home of Cambodia.

“To be honest with you, I’m kind of in awe,” she said.

She’s not the only one.

Her recent book, “Bones That Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia” has won several accolades, and Grossman herself has been named “Peacemaker of the Year” by the Independent Publisher Book Awards. She’s given presentations across the country, and thousands have bought her memoir. People seem eager to hear her story. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a simple one to tell.

Her connection to Cambodia began when she and her husband, George, wanted to start a family and faced infertility. World travelers already, they thought of international adoption immediately. Grossman liked the idea of being part of some distant place.

“You’re not just American anymore,” she explained. “You’re Cambodian-American. You’re Indian-American. You’re really connected with your child’s history.”

She completely took that to heart.

After adopting Grady, now 8, from an orphanage, she learned about his country’s complex history, about the abhorrent acts committed by its government and the role our own government had there. What she saw was a corrupt, war-torn nation, and she just wanted to help. Full of empathy and good intent, she started up the Grady Grossman School in a small, mountain town and began a nonprofit to support it. For years, she acted mostly in a fundraising capacity. Her efforts were valiant, but something was missing. She wanted more for these people.

“It wasn’t very empowering for them to depend on a nice girl in Colorado to raise money for them,” she explained, “And (what) we really needed to do with that community was empower them to support their own school.”

What she was dealing with was a culture so used to foreign aid that its citizens felt entitled to it. It was frustrating for Grossman, as she wanted these people to feel they could help themselves. At Grossman’s school there were constant absences of both teachers and students, and some of the surrounding areas were completely deforested, as the trees were cut for fuel. The two issues might seem divergent, but they weren’t. It all stemmed from an economic and social depression, one that discouraged any form of creative problem solving. These people didn’t feel ownership over their own lives, and they’d been scared into silence about it for years by their government. They were desperate and had no idea how to make things better.

So Grossman decided to shake everything up for them.

These days, the Grady Grossman School is completely different than before. Teachers want to be there, because they’re compensated extra for their attendance. The town’s environmental nightmare has been squelched, as Grossman found the residents a way to make briquettes out of waste instead of using wood. The manufacturing of this burnable material generates income, as well, which helps the residents stay afloat, and allows more kids to stay in class. Instead of just being given funds, people have to work for them. If they want a library or some other addition, they have figure out how to pay for it. Slowly, the people who want change are taking over the reigns of their lives — economically, socially and educationally.

Strangely, by making the villagers more fiscally accountable, it’s as though Grossman’s setting them free.

“Our mission is to empower communities to sustain schools through economic development,” she said, adding later, “We’ve kind of stumbled on a real answer.”

In America, her nonprofit, formally known as Friends of the Grady Grossman School, is now Sustainable School International. As she sees it, this is a totally new way of running a charitable organization. She can’t help but want to spread it far and wide. But, of course, when it comes to dealing with people, nothing is cut and dried. Though her family moved to Fort Collins to be closer to a major airport recently, Grossman can’t always be in her adopted village to oversee things. She has Grady and her 4-year-old daughter, Shanti (from India) to take care of. In her absence, all kinds of things can happen. People can make mistakes and argue and use poor judgment. They’re human. They are what makes Grossman’s efforts so complicated and trying — and absolutely rewarding, too. This is really about people, after all, not the schools.

“You’re telling them you believe in them,” she said.And that’s what makes all this possible.

Floating bones
In Cambodian, the expression “bones that float” means “the sacred that rises above the suffering.” It’s also the title of Kari Grady Grossman’s memoir and historical look at Cambodia. In 2001, Grossman adopted a little boy from the country and decided to establish a Cambodian school, which a portion of the proceeds from her book funds. She’ll be speaking about her experiences, reading from “Bones” and showing a documentary film produced by her husband, George, at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library, 413 Ninth St. The presentation is free. For more information, visit Grossman’s website at

Cambodia, Thailand trade jibes in border spat

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cambodia and Thailand swapped accusations of violating each other's territory Wednesday in a simmering spat about disputed land near ancient temples along their border.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen accused Thai soldiers of being thieves ''creating anarchy'' around border areas, including at the ancient Ta Moan and Ta Kwai temples.

''We cannot accept this act,'' Hun Sen said, calling for fresh border talks with Thailand.

The Thai foreign ministry in return issued a statement protesting that Cambodian soldiers had violated Thailand's sovereignty by periodically occupying Ta Kwai temple in August and September.


Cambodia denies PM called for Thailand to give up ASEAN chair

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied reports made by the Bangkok Post that Prime Minister Hun Sen had called on Thailand to give up its temporary chairmanship of ASEAN, national media reported Wednesday.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen never ... made any comment that would impact Thailand's position as chair of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations)," Khieu Kanharith was quoted as saying in a statement released Tuesday, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

The statement said that Hun Sen's comments only related to Thailand's ability to host a forthcoming ASEAN summit in light of current political troubles.

Hun Sen had no intention of disrespecting Thailand but was addressing a broader issue of concern for all ASEAN members, the statement said.

Khieu Kanharith was responding to a Bangkok Post report claiming that Hun Sen had called on Thailand to abandon its chairmanship of ASEAN in favor of Singapore or Vietnam.

The article added that it was "unusual" for ASEAN countries to comment on the internal disputes of their fellow members.

The Cambodian government only wants to see the political situation in Thailand return to normal in order to guarantee peace and harmony among ASEAN members, the statement said.

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

Editor: Bi Mingxin

UN human rights envoy to Cambodia resigns

ABC Radio Australia
September 17, 2008

The UN's special envoy for human rights to Cambodia Yash Ghai has resigned after arguing with Cambodian officials and complaining of being repeatedly insulted by Prime Ministrer Hun Sen.

The Kenyan lawyer gave unusually blunt assessments of the government's reform failures.

He was snubbed by government officials during a visit in December when he declared the country's judiciary had failed.

Cambodia lodged a formal complaint against Mr Ghai with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Cambodia 'sympathises' with Thai Asean chair

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Cambodia said Wednesday that it was concerned about Thailand's ability to host the upcoming summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in December.

Cambodia sympathised deeply with Thailand during its period of political turmoil and was suggesting a contingency plan for the scheduled summit of leaders of the 10-member bloc, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith, said in an official clarification issued by the Information Ministry.

"Until now, the government's desire is nothing but to see the Thai situation become normal in order to have peace and harmony in Thai society and the Asean community," the statement read.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Asean might consider a more stable host such as Singapore or Vietnam for December's summit if Thailand remains troubled.

The chair rotates annually in alphabetical order and hosting the summit is prestigious. Thailand took the chair from Singapore in July but has been wracked by demonstrations that saw Government House overrun and a new prime minister installed Wednesday.

Hun Sen's spokesperson Ieng Sophallet referred questions to Dr Chap Sotharith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP), who said Cambodia's security worries were legitimate and not without precedent.

"Cambodia is an Asean member so we have a right to speak our concerns," Hun Sen said, pointing out that the 2006 summit in the Philippines was postponed, officially due to a looming storm.

He said Thailand has "also previously expressed concerns about us" and that dialogue within ASEAN was healthy. CICP describes itself as an independent, neutral, non-partisan research institute.

Letter to Co-Investigating Judges and Co-Prosecutors of ECCC

Cambodian Action Committee for Justice & Equity
No: 3 Fountain Ave. Cranston RI, 02920 Web:, Email:

"CACJE’s mission is working & advocating for Social Justice & Human Equity"

No: 0035/CACJE

Date: 16th Sptember 2008,

To: Mr. Yu Bun Leng and Mr. Marcel Lemonde, Co-Investigating Judges of ECCC; And
Ms. Chea Leang and Mr. Robert Petit, Co-Prosecutors of ECCC.

Address: National Road 4, Chaom Chau Commune, Dangkao District, Phnom Penh
P.O. Box 71, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tel: (855) 23 219 814, Fax: (855) 23 219 841

Object: Request to broaden and deepen the investigation to individual and group of high ranking officers who had ordered, had executed the mass slaughtering of thousand (s) people and who commanded the Santibal (Security forces) during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Cambodian Committee for Justice and Equity (CACJE) can’t accept the investigation report that made by Co-investigation Judges of an Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) that said in a statement on August 8, 2008 that its investigating judges issued the indictment upon ending their investigation of Kaing Guek Eav — also known as Duch — whose Phnom Penh prison was used as a torture center.

CACJE requests the ECCC to broaden and deepen its investigation to other individual and group of high ranking officers who had ordered or had executed the mass slaughtering of thousand and more people and those who commanded the Santibal (Security forces) during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Thousands of documents have been collected and hundreds of mass graves, prisons and memorials have been mapped by the Vietnam Experts and Research Committee of the Salvation Front (Renakse) during 1979, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) and the Cambodian Genocide Program. These will be made available to the court

At Nuremberg Court, which was created immediately after the victory of the allied forces, the evidences can be reasonably established because the majority of evidences were recent, only less than four years old and the memory was still fresh while the evidences that the ECCC will use for its investigation and verdict were at least 33 years old and live witnesses did not yet participate fully and freely.

The bulk of evidences that the ECCC will use to decide on its investigation and its verdict came from the documents of Tuol Sleng Prison, S-21 which were deposed at Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM) and constituted almost the whole archives of DC-CAM.

CACJE has some witnesses who still alive, they declare that when S-21 was liberated in January 1979 S-21 was empty. There was nothing inside. No bone, no archives, nothing. All the bones and skulls which were exposed now at S-21 were transported by trucks from village Laang Sala,
[Phnom Sam Pov] of Battambang Province. Those bones and skulls were not the ones belonging to people who were tortured and executed at S-21.

S-21 was close to Beung Trabek Prison. Beung Trabek Prison was under the power of Comrade Hong aka Hor Nam Hong. Beung Trabek Prison had tortured and slaughtered more than one hundred thousand people. Compared to Beung Trabek Prison, S-21 is nothing. It was a political decision to make S-21 more important than Beung Trabek Prison.

The bulk of documents, physical evidence, such as mass graves and former prisons, and statements and testimony by victims, witnesses and defendants were fabricated and doctored by Hanoi government officials.

For example, Ta KEU (aka Nhim Sophal), Ta KAO (aka Ros Ngim/Moul Sambath) and Ta PET (in charge of security forces) were respectively the number one, the number two and the number three of the Northwest region (Phumpheak Peay Yorp). Almost one million people have died/slaughtered in that region during the Khmer Rouge regime under their watch 1975-1977
June 1977, Ta KEU and Ta KAO fled with their 38 headquarter staff officers to Thailand. They escaped by cars and abandoned their cars at Bovel district city, Battambang Province, then, walked toward Thailand. The distance to Thailand border was one day walk. They lost their way and fell in Khmer Rouge border guard’s ambush in Anlong Thngan village. The fugitives were all killed. But according to Toul Sleng, S-21/DC-CAM files Ta KEU and Ta KAO were tortured and confessed and recorded a long report and then killed in Toul Sleng Prison, S-21.

April 21, 1975, Venerable Buddhist monk Chief PON SAMPHEACH, Col. Leng Raoul and others 19 Army officers surrendered to Khmer Rouge Army. KEO (Khmer Rouge Army Division commander), Saravuth (Khmer Rouge Army Brigade commander), Khleng (Khmer Rouge Army Brigade commander) backed up by 40 soldiers accepted their surrender. Then, they transported those surrendered people by cars to Veal Bekchan Battambang airport. Not far from the airport, the Khmer Rouge soldiers bind the surrendered people hands one by one and kill them all and buried their corps under a tall tree. But according to DC-CAM file, Venerable PON SAMPHEACH was tortured with confession and died at Toul Sleng Prison, S-21.

CACJE requests the ECCC to widen and deepen its investigation to all level of administration high ranking officers, top down, from head of state levels to village level, people who had ordered or had executed the order or participated to the execution of the order to kill/slaughter several thousand and more people in order to render justice to family members of the victims. At least five thousand of "people who had committed the crime against humanity" lived free now.

Sourn Serey Ratha

Copy to: Chief Mission

 UNAKRT Office in New York
 Foreigner Embassy in Phnom Penh
 Local & International NGOs
 Local & International Media

Sacravatoons : " Power & Money "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons :" Two Toons on Preah Vihear Temple "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Cambodia needs 1.14 bln USD to develop 7 hydropower projects

Source: Comtex Business

PHNOM PENH, Sep 16, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Cambodia needs 1.14 billion U. S. dollars to develop seven priority hydropower projects out of the 29-hydropower-project master plan, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The location of the hydropower sites will be in the northeastern and southwestern of Cambodia, according to the report from a joint study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy (MIME).

"We have to discuss them in details to implement the priority hydropower projects," said Ith Prang, Secretary of State for MIME.

"When we have electricity from hydropower, it will provide electricity supply of cheap price and help reduce poverty in the country," he added.

The report said that Cambodia has two existing hydropower stations, including Kirirom I and O Chum with the capacity of 12 and one megawatts respectively, which are already operated by Electricity Authority of Cambodia.

The hydropower master plan is a part of generation expansion in Cambodia, the report said, adding that the target is 100 percent of village electrification, including battery lighting by 2020 and 70 percent level of household electrification with grid quality by 2030.

On the East Side, Cambodian Two Ways

Alex di Suvero for The New York Times. OLD AND NEW The catfish crepe at Kampuchea.
The New York Times
Published: September 17, 2008
IT looked as if 2008 might be a breakout year for Cambodian food after predicted in December that it would become the new Thai.
Julien Jourdes for The New York Times
In June, Jerry Ley opened Cambodian Cuisine, which moved from Brooklyn

Yet here it is September, and we seem to have only two Cambodian restaurants in New York City: a relocated Cambodian Cuisine and a revived Kampuchea.

Kampuchea isn’t even really Cambodian; Cambodian-inspired is more like it. Kampuchea, Khmer for Cambodia, opened in 2006 on the Lower East Side as Kampuchea Noodle Bar, a name that remains on its awning but not in its publicity. (A good thing too, as noodle bar pretty much says, “I want to be Momofuku.”)

The chef, Ratha Chau, was a child when his family fled Cambodia. This may be why Kampuchea evokes an expatriate’s vision, looking like an old shop front, with dark wood communal tables and drinks in Mason jars.

Initial reviews complained of a reticence in seasoning. Two years on, that has been redressed, as brazenly exemplified by the plate of pickles ($8) that ratchet up in heat clockwise. Equally aggressive is the bwah moun ($15), a chili ginger lime broth laden with rice, shrimp and chicken.

Mr. Chau is ostensibly focused on street food, but he harbors greater ambitions. Green papaya, traditionally a julienne in a salad, is run through a mandoline and paired with strips of cured duck breast ($11), coolly sweet and salty at once. Less successful are sweetbreads, which soak too long in a mushroom broth.

To serve authentic food seems less of a priority than to appeal to the young and restless who haunt the Lower East Side. The grilled corn and chili mayonnaise, sticky with coconut ($6), is more South American than Southeast Asian.

A savory crepe cradles peppered catfish ($14). Variations on num pang, a sandwich akin to the Vietnamese banh mi, come on sturdy baguettes ($12 to $16). Fillings like house-cured bacon, tucked in with charred chilies ($13), earn happy sighs. But veal hoisin meatballs err on the sweet side, and the oxtail was anemic.

In June a less glamorous Cambodian outpost appeared on the Upper East Side. The forthrightly named Cambodian Cuisine started life in Fort Greene, but Manhattanites visiting the Brooklyn Academy of Music urged the chef, Jerry Ley, to move. Trouble with permits, faulty piping and a threat of eviction delayed its opening for nearly three years.

The new space feels like the charming, hodgepodge restaurants you’d find in Phnom Penh: a family affair, with the chef’s wife and sister out front; Khmer wedding music trilling; TVs playing sports with the sound down. (All that’s missing is karaoke.)

The menu is bewilderingly long and vague. Neophytes may wind up with a meal they can get at a Chinese restaurant. Best to heed the house favorites, including ahmok, a highlight of Cambodian home cooking ($14.95). Customarily made with fish steamed in curry until it achieves a mousse-like texture, here it takes the form of chicken, breaded with curry and swamped in coconut curd. It’s delicious, with biting citrus notes and a subtle flare of heat.

The same goes for prahok, the fermented mudfish paste that’s in nearly every Khmer dish. It takes a starring role in prahok ktis, with ground chicken and the national spice palette of galangal, ginger and lemon grass, served with vegetables to dip ($17.95). The flavor is gratifyingly deep.

No meal in Cambodia is complete without soup, or samlor, and the versions found here are the real deal, a pitched battle between sour and sweet, whether teeming with turmeric (samlor mchoo kroeurng, $14.95) or chunky with tomato and pineapple (samlor mchoo moen, $3.95).

In a concession to local palates, salmon is offered: fried, of all things. Go for the tilapia instead ($17.95), a closer approximation of Mekong River fish.

If Cambodian Cuisine represents the old Cambodia, gracious and earnest, Kampuchea is the new: erratic but exciting. Poised at opposite ends of the East Side, the restaurants are not so much rivals as points on a spectrum.

78 Rivington Street (Allen Street); (212) 529-3901;

The Boeung Kak residents requesting Hun Sen’s support

Cambodge Soir


While a court complaint was filed over the filling of the lake, the Boeung Kak residents have the intention to travel to the Prime Minister’s residence in Takmao on Wednesday morning, 17 September.

The residents intend to ask Hun Sen’s intervention in order to stop the lake filling operations already started by the Shukaku Inc. Company. Another important problem is the subject of compensations. This action is the result of the impossibility to reach an agreement between the residents and the local authorities. It ensues from a complaint over the filling of the lake, which the court has to examine before the 19th of September.

Moreover, the residents’ lawyer is studying the possibility of cancelling the contract signed between the company and the Phnom Penh authorities. The latter had granted a 99-year land lease to Shukaku Inc. However, for such a procedure the court requests an advance payment of 50 to 100% of the costs. The lawyer estimates this amount to reach 160 million riel (40,000 dollars), which will be difficult to find.