Saturday, 20 September 2008

Two Indian Warships Dock at Sihanouk Ville International Seaport

Phnom Penh, September 19, 2008 AKP --

Two Indian warships, named Gharial No.F-23 and Kulish No.T-63, were docked at Sihanouk Ville international seaport on September 18 for a four-day visit to Cambodia.

Of the two, the former with a storage capacity of 5 444 tones contains 140 seamen and 25 officers, under the leadership of lieutenant-colonel S. TK. THHETRI and the latter of 1 460 tones has 170 seamen and 18 officers, under Commander Gaswinder Singh.

The two warships equipped with modern anti-aircraft and surface-to-surface weapons, left Indian seaport for Cambodia and then are expected to visit Vietnam and Korea.

During their dock at Sihanouk Ville international seaport, the Indian navy commanders and officers will meet Sihanouk Ville governor, visit RCAF navy base at Ream, RCAF headquarters in Phnom Penh and also made a sightseeing tour of Sihanouk Ville.

It is noted that the Indian warships used to visit Sihanouk Ville international seaport in April, 2008.--AKP

(By Mr. THOU Peou)

High-quality Vietnamese goods fair opens in Cambodia

September 20, 2008

Nhan Dan/VNA - A high-quality Vietnamese goods fair opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on September 18.

The five-day event attracts the participation of more than 150 businesses to showcase their export and high quality Vietnamese goods in 300 booths.

Products on show include farm and pharmaceutical products, foodstuff, construction materials, chemicals, electrical equipment and stationery, all manufactured in Vietnam.

Speaking at the opening of the “High-quality Vietnamese goods 2008” Fair, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Hor Namhong said that the organisation of the annual Vietnamese trade fair in Cambodia aims to further accelerate the development of a mutually beneficial relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam in a range of different domains.

During the first eight months of 2008, the overall trade revenue between Vietnam and Cambodia was approximately US$1.2 billion, compared with US$1.1 billion in 2007. It is expected to reach US$2 billion before 2010, according to Deputy PM Hor Namhong.

The Cambodian Deputy PM took the opportunity to call upon Vietnamese investors to boost their investment activities in Cambodia in order to turn Cambodia into a bridge to export Vietnamese goods to other regional countries and the world.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu said that trade activities between Vietnam and Cambodia have become more and more prosperous as the two countries share more than 1,000 kilometres of borderline and have seven border-gate economic zones and 43 border-gates and 23 border markets. The two countries’ regular trade, investment and tourism activities have laid a foundation for the solid development of bilateral socio-economic co-operation.

During the fair, business representatives from the two countries’ will attend a trade exchange programme held in Phnom Penh and Batambang province.

Hun Sen greets Somchai, vows good relations

The Bangkok Post

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday sent a congratulatory message to Somchai Wongsawat on his appointment as Thailand's new prime minister, saying that he hoped that the two neighbouring countries "will soon be able to peacefully and legally settle all the current border issues".

The message from the Cambodian leader said that Mr Hun Sen hoped the border problem could be solved "in the spirit of friendship and good neighbourliness".

"I look forward to working closely with Your Excellency to further promote the existing excellent bonds of amity and fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand for the mutual interests of both our peoples and for a stronger Asean family," the message said.

Mr Somchai was royally appointed as Thailand's 26th prime minister on Thursday.

According to the Thai foreign ministry, Mr Hun Sen also telephoned Mr Somchai on Thursday hours after his royal appointment as prime minister took place.

Both parties recalled their earlier meeting on May 14 this year during the opening ceremony of Route 48, a road in Cambodia, at a time when Mr Somchai was Thailand's deputy prime minister and education minister.

The two prime ministers emphasised the willingness of both governments to address outstanding issues between the neighbours by using existing bilateral mechanisms to further strengthen the friendly relations between their two countries whose histories and destinies have been linked from time immemorial.

The warm exchange was a change from Cambodian statements last week, when Mr Hun Sen and his spokesmen disparaged the Thai government, and questioned whether the country could serve as chairman of Asean. (TNA)

Hun-Sen talks about border problem with Thai

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sacravatoons :" A Dried-Fish lays eggs "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Thai, Cambodian troops to end Ta Krabei row

( - Thai and Cambodian regional army commanders planned to negotiate and end the border dispute around Ta Kwai temple, also known as Ta Krabey in Cambodia, at the end of September, according to Thailand’s Suranaree Task Force commander, Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakhawesana.

Maj-Gen Kanok said both sides agreed to reduce the number of soldiers to an equal amount, and they will be stationed at least 300 metres away from the site.

Previously, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen accused Thai army officials of intruding the Khmer sanctuary of Ta Krabey as well as Ta Moan Thom.

Ta Kwai temple is situated in the northeastern province of Surin, approximately 13 kilometres to the east of Ta Moan Thom temple and 150 kilometres to the west of Preah Vihear temple.

Tots doing trade

The Star Online

Saturday September 20, 2008


The streets of Cambodia are a world where street children trade and are sometimes traded.

One dollar, one dollar!” It is rather impossible really, to put on a poker face and ignore these unrelenting three-syllable cries.

What more when they emanate from enterprising tots no more than three feet tall, whose first words were most probably “one dollar”, quickly followed by “You buy?”

And that is just English; Cambodian street children generally speak whatever language it takes to make another dollar for the day. And just like any self-respecting trader worth his salt, these industrious little tykes know that variety is key.

It is no wonder then that the list of goods sold for a single American dollar runs longer than the mighty Mekong itself.
A family living on the street.

Some tourists who trot around clutching their Lonely Planet guidebooks actually end up clutching even more copies after being ambushed by groups of these little traders. Others simply emerge with everything else, from postcards and bracelets to foot-long flutes and statues of the Buddha of all sizes.

“I just could not say no!” most of them shrug.

To some degree, I could not say no, either. After all, these kids are not pestering tourists because they want to, but because they have to. Cambodia’s street children are the tragic outcome of the country’s history of chaos and isolation, uneven development and the rugged nature of its new economy.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), thousands of Cambodian children work and live on the streets, returning home to their families only irregularly. Sadly, home €” to a good number of the families €” is also out on the streets.

A street child trying to sell a handmade flute.

Different people are affected by Cambodia in different ways. Some are awed into silence €” sometimes into tears €” by the sight of the magnificent Angkor Wat, while some blindly ask, “Angkor what?”

Others feel a desperate need to bite into fried tarantulas so they can horrify friends back home, and the rest just want to live on Siem Reap’s Pub Street forever.

But the essence of Cambodia that affects most visitors, if not all, must surely be the resilience of its street children.

They teach you that survival means taking a step forward each time you are about to be shoved a step back.

In short, if you are a street kid in Cambodia, it is all about survival. Earning another dollar means buying a bit more time and a bit more of life. A dollar can go a long way here.

If you can just get over your attachment to international fast food chains for a while and dive headfirst €” or at least dip a toe €” into the local cuisine, you will most likely find yourself pleasantly surprised.

The children will do anything for a dollar, even coil a snake around their necks

It is all about being a good sport, really. Discovering where the locals eat entails research and taking time to talk to the locals. Once you find yourself in the right place, chances are you will walk away hours later feeling utterly guilty for having wolfed down platters of great Khmer food for less than US$2 (RM7).

Some find it necessary to shell out a few more dollars for some very decent Angkor beers and Tomb Raider cocktails.

Guilty pleasures aside, what I find distressing is that in the face of so much affordable food available to the tourists, many Cambodians still do not have enough to eat. As for the street children, despite their best efforts to earn money and fend for themselves, many are malnourished.

It is even more heartbreaking to see these children with hungry bellies skirting the sidewalks of restaurants that seem glitzy enough to attract bad-boy celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay to come over and shout out orders and obscenities in their kitchens.

How do you even begin to comfort a hungry child who is staring at this extreme abundance out of his reach?

The World Food Programme (WFP) in Cambodia estimates that hundreds of thousands of Cambodian children depend on the meals provided by the WFP for sustenance and nutrition. But donor support for the agency’s relief programme has diminished alarmingly since 2005, and the agency is anxious to fully restore this much-needed food assistance for the children, as well as for the very sick and the critically poor.

According to the 2006 Global Hunger Index, Cambodia is one of the 12 “hunger hot spot” countries listed as “extremely alarming”. With nearly 35% of Cambodians living below the poverty line, Cambodia is classified as a least developed, low-income and food-deficit country.

Poverty looms over Cambodia like a bad bet that has gone terribly wrong. Some blame it on the nation’s dark past while others fault its erratic progress. What is clear, however, is that Cambodians have become more aware of what tourism can do, and reliance on tourism does seem to be the one key hope that they are clinging on to.

Today, the major draw card of this tiny pocket of Indochina is undoubtedly the Angkor temples, and the locals are banking on it like there is no tomorrow.

Amidst the quaint and rustic feel of rugged Cambodia, one can now see the increasing emergence of tourist-friendly spots, like restaurants that cater to international palates (no such thing as chilli crickets and skewered scorpions here) and other establishments that many Cambodians cannot afford.

Like the rest of South-East Asia, Cambodia is coming into its own, and it will not be very long before this little bump on the map fits in snugly, in terms of tourism outlook, with its immediate neighbours, Thailand and Vietnam.

The street is where they make their home and living.

I will not say Cambodia is an amazing mix of the old and the new. Most places are these days, and tourism billboards the world over use this tagline to death. But Cambodia is an amazing place.

You will find yourself intrigued €” seduced by the charms of its ruins, captivated by the stories you hear, pained by the hardships you witness, and surprised by the resilience of its people.

Visitors often arrive with images of the Angkor temples in their minds and leave with memories of the local folk in their hearts.

Even harder to forget would be the faces of the street children. They don’t have the luxuries of their counterparts in other countries.

They are trying to sell something every other minute just to ensure their survival.

One child told me, “No, no school for me. No play for me. You buy postcards, please? I give good price.”

These kids will do anything to get through the day. They will play you a medley of tunes using the handmade flutes they are hoping to sell.

They will pose with snakes coiled around their little necks in exchange for payment. Their desperate situation also means that they are a prime target for child prostitution and child sex trafficking.

Although Cambodian society is becoming more wary of paedophilia, much needs to be done to protect these children.

In 2005, Dateline NBC went undercover here with a human rights group to expose child sex trafficking and came out shocked by the magnitude of it. This exposé was elaborated upon by Time magazine in 2006 when it reported that Cambodia has been a haven for foreign sexual predators since the United Nations brought peace to the war-ravaged country in 1993, and since its neighbour Thailand started its own crackdown on child sex abuse.

In recent years, international organisations like the Child Safe Network have been working hard to shield the children of Cambodia from exploitation. According to Child Safe, a total of 167 paedophiles were arrested in Cambodia in 2006 for sexually abusing children, and these are just the reported cases.

Organisations like Child Safe train key members of society €” for example, taxi drivers and hotel workers €” to recognise and help children who may be in danger.

There are also local heroes who have taken it upon themselves to protect their country’s children. Take, for instance, the case of one man (who only wished to be known as Hong), who runs a small dilapidated orphanage in Siem Reap that is simply known as “Orphanage”.

An orphanage classroom.

“The place looks run-down, I know. But we keep it clean and comfortable. Also, all the kids here go to school. My mission is to keep them off the streets. The streets are just too dangerous,” said Hong.

The orphanage is dependent on donations, and paintings produced by the children in their spare time are also sold to visiting tourists to help keep the place running. Some travellers insist on seeing both the real Cambodia and the Cambodia made for mass tourism, and a good part of the real deal is often found in the country’s many orphanages.

Sad, but true.

Most taxi or tuk-tuk drivers, as well as hotel staff, are happy to point out the nearest orphanages. However, it is a good idea to trawl through some reliable information first before you start donating cash. Some orphanages are known to be managed in ways that do not put the interests of the children first.

There are many things a visiting traveller can do for the orphans. It is not all about money. In fact, it is perfectly fine to bring along food, books and toys. The kids love it when you play Santa.

At times, they do not even clamour over the gifts. They clamour over you instead! Just like any other kid, all they want sometimes is just a big hug and a kind word.

As you trot around Cambodia pursued by guides who keep reminding you about Angelina Jolie and Tomb Raider, you cannot help but find that everything fades whenever a street child approaches you. If nothing else, the resilience of the street children are to be admired.

Cambodia is a place that does not try very hard to impress anyone. But you will end up not only impressed, but charmed by it. While the majestic Angkor temples are remarkable, I believe the magic of Cambodia lies in the faces of its children €” children who keep taking a step forward each time they are about to be shoved a step back.

In every one of their faces, the message is always crystal clear: I am not giving up on life just yet.

The United States Expects that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will No Longer Be Involved in a Corruption Scandal

Posted on 20 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“The United States expects that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will no longer be involved in a corruption scandal in the future, after the US pledged to grant US$1.8 million to the mixed tribunal to seek justice for the victims who died during the Killing Field regime. This information is based on statements of the spokesperson of the US Department of State Sean McCormack during a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 [see the full text at the end].

“Mr. Sean McCormack stated, ‘We believe that the court is now capable of meeting international standards of justice, and our decision at this time to identify funds reflects our belief that the court has the capacity to respond effectively and appropriately to these allegations.’ He said that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal still has more to do, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have made significant strides to overcome international concerns about corruption, mismanagement, and political influence, including adding a new international deputy administrator from the United Nations side, strengthening management practices, and establishing procedures to deal with allegations of wrongdoing.

“It should be remembered that previously, employees of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had repeatedly raised the problem of kickbacks in exchange for getting employed, but it was never officially announced that there were any perpetrators or who they are. As a result of suspicion, the UN Development Program office had suspended more than US$300,000 for a period of time, suspending the payment of salaries for Khmer staff in July. Then, the head of the Khmer Staff Department was removed from his position, as a big corruption leader at the Khmer side of the court, but it seems that nobody really dares to touch him.

“The international community and many donor countries, especially the United States, hesitated to grant more funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, because of the [not yet clarified allegations of a] corruption scandal. However, the United States, through its Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. John Negroponte, who visited Cambodia recently, pledged to grant US$1.8 million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, so that it can proceed smoothly. Mr. Sean McCormack added that the US Department of State had already shared information about this attempt to help Cambodia to try the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Mr. Reach Sambath, the spokesperson of the [Cambodian section of the] Khmer Rouge Tribunal, said that the granting of US funds is mainly a political sign, and the tribunal welcomes this decision by the United States as a correct one. He went on to say that although this grant is small, it is better than nothing, and though it comes late, it is better than nothing. Mr. Reach Sambath boasted that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is strongly committed and has created clear plans to deal with corruption, like by the nomination of two ethics monitoring officials, and the reassignment away of the director of personnel.

“This spokesperson hinted that the trial of Kang Kek Iev – called Duch, the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief – might happen in October or in November, after some procedural problems between the co-investigating judges and the co-prosecutors will have been clarified. Some officials of civil society organizations and observers are keenly observing this problem, because they want to see that the trial of the suspects to happens soon, in order to find justice for the victims. However, if there is more delay, the funds from the United States will be spent wastefully, and the Khmer citizens still do not see the light of justice.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has suffered from allegations of a corruption scandal, needs approximately US$50 million in addition, to cover expenses until 2010, out of which approximately US$10 million are to come from the Cambodian side, and approximately US$40 million are needed from the United Nations. At present, many observers are waiting to see whether the trial – which is planed to take place this late October – of Khiev Samphan, who had filed an appeal to be temporarily released from detention, will proceed smoothly or not. If the trial of Khiev Samphan in October faces complications and is delayed again, like it happened already on 23 April 2008, it is not easy for the tribunal to seek additional millions of dollars.

“Although the US government announced to ask for parliamentary approval for a grant of US$1.8 million to the [UN, not the Cambodian section of the] Khmer Rouge Tribunal budget during the recent visit by the US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, some observers of the processes of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal do not expect that this mixed tribunal can find justice for the victims who were killed during the killing filed regime, because previously, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had spent already millions of dollars wastefully, while Khmer citizens in general have been waiting for justice nearly 30 years. Furthermore, irregularities and a corruption scandal at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not yet been clarified.

“Khmer citizens inside of the country and abroad want that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders should occur soon, as long as they are still alive, so that the real reasons that led to the killing of more than 1.7 million people during their time in power from 1975 to early January 1979 can be revealed. Therefore, if there is further delay, those former Khmer Rouge leaders might die before the trial takes place, because already at present, they became older, and some of them had been suffering from serious illness and had often been sent to Calmette Hospital.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3569, 19.9.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 19 September 2008

Thai-Cambodia Prime Ministers reiterate commitment to resolve outstanding issues using bilateral mechanisms

Monitor Pack

During the evening of 18 September 2008, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat held a telephone conversation with Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen congratulated Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat for the Royal Command appointing him prime minister and Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat congratulated Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen for his recent election victory. Both sides recalled their earlier meeting on 14 May 2008 during the opening ceremony of Route 48 in Cambodia, during which Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat at the time was warmly received by Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

The two Prime Ministers emphasized their willingness of both governments to address outstanding issues between the two countries using existing bilateral mechanisms to strengthen further the friendly relations between their two countries who are close neighbours from time immemorial.

Drought over in Cambodia, enough rain to plant rice


September 19, 2008
PHNOM PENH, Sept. 19 — Rains across Cambodia are bringing relief to farmers in areas that were suffering from drought, allowing them to start planting rice, national media reported Friday, citing government officials.

The drought in Cambodia was over and all farmers had enough water to plant rice, Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, was quoted by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as saying.

Nine provinces have completed about 90 percent of the planting work and nine others 80 percent.

He said his ministry had distributed more than 100 tons of rice seed in four provinces to support farmers hit by drought.

According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture's Statistic Department, the total area under cultivation stood at two million hectares this week, up from about 1.6 million hectares in late August.

However, the current cultivated area is still about seven percent less than the total area under cultivation in mid- September 2007. (PNA/Xinhua)

North Korea Finds Foothold With Food

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

As a woman performed a Korean song at Pyongyang restaurant in Phnom Penh on a recent evening, the guests toasted each other with North Korean wine and applauded. Her song was followed by performances of at least eight other women who played the violin, zither, or electronic keyboards.

At times, the women wore headphones and hands-free microphones, and at others they twirled with fans. During some songs, images of North Korean landscapes played on a widescreen television on the wall. When each performance ended, the women quickly went back to waiting on tables.

Opened in 2003, the restaurant is as close as many in Cambodia will get to secretive North Korea, a country whose relatively small amount of investment in the country belies a long relationship with Cambodia, one forged by former king Norodom Sihanouk. Meanwhile, South Korea continues to make increased investment inroads as the Cambodian economy expands.

At the Pyongyang, the work system differs from Cambodian eateries. The women sing, dance and wait tables, but they never accompany guests.

Vath Chamroeun, a Cambodian who has worked with North Korean businesses, said the workers are well-trained in many different tasks, paralleling government policies that require its workforce to do more with less.

"They are strictly controlled," he said. "Wherever they go, they go as a team. Men are teamed with men, women are teamed with women. Each team has its own leader to control the members. Even team leaders are controlled by several more higher-ranking officials."

The country has one restaurant in Phnom Penh and two in Siem Reap, he said, and little else.
While South Korea has become a ready investor in Cambodia in recent years, investment statistics for North Korean business are hard to come by.

Sou Yung, first secretary at the North Korean embassy, said he was unaware of any other businesses, and the Ministry of Commerce records show 1,750 "Korean" companies in Cambodia, without differentiating between North and South.

"We do not divide North or South, but it is very rare to see a North Korean company on the register," said Sok Sokun, head of the Commerce Ministry's foreign business registration.

Sok Chenda, secretary-general of the Cambodia Development Council, a government body that approves investment, said of the $14 million invested in Cambodia by "Korean" companies, likely none of it is from the North.

"Not only in Cambodia," he said. "North Korea is well known in the world as a country without overseas investment, because, No. 1, North Korea is a communist country and poor. The government cannot sustain its people, who are starving. No. 2, North Korea's business is handled by the state. It is not a free market."

Without economic leverage, North Korea remains a fast friend, with one of the oldest diplomatic relationships in the country. Former king Norodom Sihanouk met Kim Il-sung, the "Great Leader," in 1961, when both men attended a Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Belgrade. The two developed a personal friendship, and when Norodom Sihanouk was ousted in a US-backed coup in 1970, King Il-sung built him a palace and offered him asylum.

Cambodia has ever since been linked to North Korea, but in recent years, it is South Korea that has made inroads.

"Both the people and the government of South Korea are richer," Cheam Yiep, a Cambodian People's Party lawmaker who heads the National Assembly's committee on finance and banking, said. "Now South Korean tourist visits are No. 1, leading other countries."

South Korea has invested in private sectors such as tourism and aviation, he said, opening flights from Seoul to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

"We have received a lot of benefit" from the investments, he said.

Meanwhile, North Korean remains "very strict," he said. "They are afraid their people will steal secret [nuclear] technology and escape to a third country. They are very afraid of that."

North Koreans have in the past chosen Cambodia as a country of escape, but a government spokesman said that is no longer the case.

Cheam Yiep said the government's relationship with North Korean remains strong, despite its open doors to the South.

"In general, we count both North and South Korea equally," he said. "But the difference is that South Korea invests a lot more than North Korea. It is as simple as that."

At the Pyongyang restaurant, politics and economics seem to mean very little.

Manager Kil Ilva said the restaurant attracts people from around the world, Europeans, Americans, Asians and especially South Koreans, who are curious about North Korean cuisine and culture, especially the kimchi and "cool noodle" dishes.

"They like it," she said.