Wednesday, 1 October 2008

(CACJE) Againts to Prime Minister that appeal on September 26th, 2008 asking Cambodian people living In Thailand to return to Cambodia

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"

Immediately Press Release

Date: September 30, 2008


In reference to the appeal of Prime Minister HUN SEN of the Royal Government of Cambodia of the fourth Assembly on September 26, 2008 asking Cambodian people living in Thailand to return to Cambodia, Cambodian Action Committee for Justice & Equity (CACJE) believes that HUN SEN appeal is demagogic in order to serve his own political purposes only for the following reasons:

1. The Royal Government of Cambodia is incompetent, and unable to create sufficiently jobs for the half million Cambodian people who live actually legally and illegally in Thailand.

2. Among Cambodian people living in Thailand were also civil rights activists, or members of Cambodian political Parties who fled to Thailand for the political reason. The Police State of Cambodia violates their civil rights and intends to throw them all in jail. For this reason, these civil rights activists cannot return to Cambodia.

3. Several million of Vietnamese immigrate illegally to Cambodia, hence, compete for jobs in Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia was unable to stop the Vietnamese illegal immigration and unable to repatriate the illegal ones who were already living in Cambodia.

4. Thirty-five percent of Cambodian people were living under the poverty line with less than one dollar per day. They are jobless, without land, and under unbearable pressure of powerful people, and people in close relation with Prime Minister HUN SEN family members.

5. In 2008, Cambodia inflation rate is 20%. And Cambodia Corruption Perception Index is 2.0 which puts Cambodia at the 166th rank of the Worldwide Corruption Perceptions ranking of countries. Cambodia is a beggar state kept in life support by financial aids from donor countries.

6. Cambodia economy is instable. Economic gaps between rich and poor, between people in power and ordinary people are bigger and bigger every year.

7. Royal Government of Cambodia involves in money laundering through land speculation, and illegal or fictional import, export and investment.

For the above reasons, CACJE encourages Cambodian people living in Thailand not return to Cambodia: Live free where you are instead of living under the authoritarian regime of the Royal Government of Cambodia.


Chief Mission

Cambodia's Prince Ranariddh returns home

ABC Radio Australia

Cambodia's Prince Norodom Ranariddh has returned from exile just days after being pardoned by the king over a fraud conviction. His political rival, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the amnesty.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: Lao Mong Hay, senior researcher Asian Human Rights Commission Hong Kong.

Listen: Windows Media

COCHRANE: Prince Norodom Ranariddh wasted no time getting back to Cambodia, news of a royal pardon emerged Thursday and by Sunday Prince Ranariddh touched down in the temple town of Siem Reap. He had been staying in self-imposed exile in Malaysia, with his second wife and their young son, after being convicted in absentia last year of embezzling $3.6 million in a land deal. After his arrival back, Ranariddh told media he was grateful to his half-brother King Norodom Sihamoni and to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who requested the royal pardon. Ranariddh also said his political party - the Norodom Ranariddh Party would no longer be oppose the ruling Cambodian People's Party, saying they only wanted to serve the nation. However, Lao Mong Hay, a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong, says Prince Ranariddh's return was made possible by him accepting the results of a national election in August. The poll was criticised by observers for irregularities and initially three opposition parties - including the Norodom Ranariddh Party rejected the outcome. Lao Mong Hay says a deal was done between Ranariddh and Hun Sen.

HAY: Ranariddh had changed his mind about the results of the election and abandoned the early sort of coalition with the other parties to denounce the results of the election. This is the price he paid to get Hun Sen to support a pardon for him.

COCHRANE: Neither Prince Ranariddh or the Cambodian government spokesperson could not be contacted to respond to the claims. But it's not the first time Ranariddh has fallen out with Hun Sen. Ranariddh won Cambodia's first election in 1993 but was ousted by Hun Sen in a coup four years later. More recently, Ranariddh was charged under a new monogomy law, which critics say was introduced specifically to target the prince, who has lived openly with his second wife, classical dancer Ouk Palla. Lao Mong Hay says Ranariddh has received special treatment, and says the royal demonstrates a tradition of impunity for the rich and powerful.

HAY: The deal struck between Hun Sen and Ranariddh undermined the rule of law, if any rule of law exists in Cambodia, in the sense that power prevailed over the rule of law.

COCHRANE: Ranariddh said he would give a full press conference later this week, but did indicate he might try to continue his political career. Lao Mong Hay says that although he is still seen as a representative of the much-loved monarchy by some sections of the public, Ranariddh's reputation may be sullied by the perception he is a playboy prince without any deep political convictions.

HAY: But I think to many he has been very much discredited by his mercurial style, a changing prince like his father in the past.

: While observers say Ranariddh's return wont significantly alter the political situation in Cambodia, there has been at least one change in his absence. His daughter, Princess Rattana Devi, has turned his villa in the capital of Phnom Penh into an upmarket French restaurant, so the prince is staying with his family in another residence in the north west town of Siem Reap.

Sacravatoons : " The Emperor Army "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Cambodia wins support for oil, not rights

Pacific Daily News
October 1, 2008

After Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte's recent visit to Cambodia, he told the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong: As Cambodia "works to strengthen democracy, improve public health, and increase respect for human rights, Cambodia can count on our support."

While in Cambodia, Negroponte announced the U.S. initial contribution of $1.8 million to fund the Khmer Rouge tribunal. He viewed the decline in violence in Cambodia's four national elections since 1993 as a "very positive development."

A day after his speech, the Voice of America reported State Department spokesman Sean McCormack' remarks: "We believe that the court (KR tribunal) is now capable of meeting international standards of justice, and ... the court has the capacity to respond effectively and appropriately" to allegations of corruption.

Two days before Negroponte's Hong Kong speech, the United Nations Human Rights Council, which held its 9th session in Geneva, reviewed on Sept. 15 the "Mandate of Special Representative of the (United Nations) Secretary-General on Human Rights Situation in Cambodia." Special Representative Yash Ghai wasn't present, but his written statement was read by Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan.

In my Sept. 17 column, "Human rights, development should be balanced," I wrote that U.N. Special Representative Ghai observed the "scant respect for the rule of law," shown by state authorities and those "well connected" with the regime, and that Cambodia's courts and the legal profession "have failed the people of Cambodia woefully." I noted Premier Sen's government wanted Ghai fired, and failing that, declined all cooperation with Ghai, and menaced to close down the human rights office in Cambodia.

In Ghai's statement, Ghai canceled his trip to Cambodia to review the human rights situation and to consult on the future of the mandate of the Special Representative in Cambodia.

The statement spoke of Ghai's warning in his last report, "there had been serious deficiencies in the general elections in July this year. Little progress had been made in other areas where human rights continued to be violated. Allegations of further irregularities in the management of the extraordinary chambers continued to undermine the good work of the prosecutors and judges."

Ghai's "reports, advice and recommendations over the past year" produced no "change for the better," and this "state of affairs might raise a question as to whether there was any point in the extension of the mandate" of the Special Representative.

Yet, Ghai urged the Council to extend the mandate, and "it would be very important" that his successor "should have the full support of the Council, the United Nations family and the international community," which in his statement Ghai said he could not claim to have received.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had not come to Ghai's defense, the statement charged. Thus, as read by Samar, Ghai "had tendered his resignation from the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Cambodia."

On the same day, Sept. 17, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, called on the Human Rights Council to extend the mandate, and observed, "The systematic lack of protection of 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."

Amnesty and HRW remind it was the 1991 Paris Peace Accords signed by the U.N. and 19 member states that recommended the Special Representative to protect and promote human rights. They say, "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."

On the same page?

Can it be that the Cambodia described by Negoponte and the Cambodia described by Ghai and rights groups, are the same country? Opposition leader Sam Rainsy sees Ghai's departure as a loss to victims of human rights violations. Khieu Kanharith, the Cambodian Minister of Information, charges, "The accusation made by Mr. Yash Ghai is only aimed at creating animosity ... and this shows his despicable attitude and manner are unfit for the high role given to him by the UN."

I lamented the disconnect between governments preaching human rights and freedom and their actual support for authoritarian rules that suppress them. On Sept. 17, the VOA broadcast that Sen said he was "satisfied" with Ghai's resignation: "I have no need to curse him anymore."

Perhaps, here's something to reflect on: Are China, the U.S. and other countries drawn to supporting the Hun Sen government, which controls Cambodia's potential oil fields in the Gulf of Thailand and onshore deposits of minerals? Will oil bring wealth for the poor people, 35 percent of whom live on less than 50 cents a day, or a curse, if the 2007 95-page "Global Witness Cambodia's Family Trees," the Transparency International survey on global corruption, among others, are guides?

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. Write him at

PM to visit Cambodia, seeks end to row

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday October 01, 2008


The disputes over Ta Muen Tom and Ta Kwai temples will be high on the agenda of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat when he visits Cambodia on Oct 13.

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said a Cambodian foreign affairs official had told foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that ''Thailand is occupying these two areas''.

Cambodia wanted to discuss the issue during the visit to Phnom Penh by the prime minister, he added.

Thailand is confident the two temples are in Phanom Dong Rak district in Surin. Ta Kwai temple is called Ta Krabey by Cambodians.

Mr Sompong reaffirmed the next Joint Boundary Commission meeting would be held after Parliament gives it the go-ahead. The Foreign Ministry wants Parliament's approval for the meeting to avoid any violation of the constitution.

Asean foreign ministers were satisfied Thailand and Cambodia would be able to handle the problems through the bilateral talks, he said.

UN Secretary-General Bun Ki Moon agreed it was unnecessary for the two countries to bring the issues to the UN Security Council, Mr Sompong said.

Asean ministers held talks on Monday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

Buffalo races cap festival for the dead

AFP; Villagers ride on their buffalos during a race in the P’Chum Ben festival, or the festival of the dead, at Vihear Suor village, Vihear Suor commune in Kandal province on Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Eleanor Ainge Roy and May Titthara
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The P'Chum Ben festival in Vihear Suor commune brings young and old together to honour fallen ancestors with games and fellowship

IT is 7:30am in Vihear Suor commune, Kandal province. The air is cool, and local residents are wearing their holiday best: women in elegant silk sarongs and fine lace blouses; men, a little cleaner than usual.

They have assembled for the buffalo races, a hallmark of the commune's celebration of P'Chum Ben, a three-day festival in which the dead are said to visit their living relatives. Food and other offerings must be made to ensure the spirits' ease in the afterlife.

"We celebrate the festival because we want the younger generations to remember what the ancients have done in the past," said Pen Kong, commune chief and organiser of the buffalo race.

Eighteen-year-old buffalo jockey Chap Cinn is more excited than most as he contemplates winning this year's race. He will pit his skills against 35 other riders.

"I have been riding buffalo since I was five years old. My father taught me," he said, his crooked mouth breaking into an easy grin.

"It is not difficult to ride him, but when the crowd claps their hands to cheer for me he sometimes gets scared and refuses to move," he said.

Chap Cinn lives in a nearby village and says buffalo racing is a way of giving thanks to the spirits who look after the animals.

The bells that adorn the beasts clang jarringly through the rising crowd noise as owners attempt to soothe the buffalo with gentle caresses and whispered words of encouragement prior to the race.

Tep Li, 85, a holy man at the local pagoda, says he has attended the festival here ever since he can remember.

The festival attracts many people to this neglected part of the country, Tep Li said.

He takes in the spectacle in a mood of quiet reflection.

"I worry about the young people," he said. "I do not think they know how to pay the proper respect anymore. They come here only for the fun and make many mistakes about customs because they do not know the rules."

After the buffalo have been safely stabled and the riders have celebrated victory or opined defeat, the wrestling begins.

Competitors dressed in red or blue longyi grapple on a padded plastic mat. The crowd erupts in laughter when the slightest scrap of undergarment peaks through in the heat of battle.

The largely adolescent combatants crouch low and circle each other, twirling gracefully or leaping high into the air to land savage slaps on their thighs as they descend.

The tournament ends when the professional wrestlers appear, spearing each other into the ground with mock fury and theatrical blows ill-disguised as true aggression.

Despite the frivolity and excitement, the deeper meanings of P'Chum Ben are not forgotten.

"If we don't celebrate this festival, the traditions will be lost forever," commune chief Pen Kong said. "Since we started celebrating the festival with buffalo races and wrestling, our village has remained safe."

Govt plan targets corruption

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Sebastian Strangio
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

But opposition politicians, civil society predict more of the same

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has announced the official five-year plan for his government's coming mandate, highlighting human rights, corruption and the rule of law as key concerns. But opposition spokesmen say the new CPP-dominated government, voted in by the National Assembly Thursday, will have little impact on the Kingdom's endemic corruption.

"The government is determined to guarantee peace and political stability and improve the state of law in order to generate respect for human rights and democracy," Hun Sen said at the first meeting of his newly-appointed cabinet Friday. He also promised to maintain economic growth and reduce poverty by one percent per year.

Hun Sen added that the behaviour of politicians and their families was vital to building trust in government services. "The powerful and rich have to be educated not to buy vehicles and motorbikes for their children to race in the streets," he said, calling on civil servants to carry out their duties with "good morality".

"If you commit a bad deed, you will receive a bad deed, like [Khmer Republic president] Lon Nol, whose stroke paralysed half his body," he warned. "When you die, you cannot bring money [and] houses along with you."

However, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ke Sovannroth said the continuities between the old government and the new were more striking than the differences. "It is the fourth mandate of a new government, but the officials holding power are not new," she said. "It doesn't mean that they will work with a conscience to serve the nation."

Mar Sophal, head of the monitoring unit at election watchdog Comfrel, agreed that the new government's promises could not be taken at face value. "Every political announcement was good, but the individual officials have no real commitment to following up all these programs," he said.

Ministry wants more kids in schools

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A POLICY designed to increase the number of children entering primary school is not working well enough and needs to be supplemented by more legislation and funding, officials say.

The policy, which was implemented in 2003, was intended to increase the school attendance of children aged three to six.

Nat Bunroeun, under secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said that in 2005 about 50 percent of children aged three to five were enrolled in primary schools. He said the ministry wanted to improve this figure and would seek more resources and support to do so.

He said that in order to build a stronger national policy that could help achieve the goal of education for all children, participation from local and international NGOs was needed.

Union unimpressed

According to Rong Chhun, head of Cambodia's Independent Teacher's Association, the policy has failed due to a weakness in Ministry of Education leadership.

"We no longer hope there will be education for all children by 2015 and teachers no longer have faith in the Ministry," he said, adding that about 60 percent of children between the ages three and six are not attending school.

Figures provided by the ministry show the overall number of children entering primary school increased from 91.9 percent in 2004-2005 to 93.3 percent in 2007-2008 in Phnom Penh and from 71 percent in 2004-2005 to 76 percent in 2007-2008 in rural areas.

But Rong Chhun said the statistics were questionable.

Govt warns of rising traffic deaths

TRACEY SHELTON; An accident on Phnom Penh’s Norodom Boulevard last week. The Ministry of Transport has said it will start fining drivers who break road rules in a bid to reduce accidents, especially over festive periods.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

P'Chum Ben festivities could drive up number of accidents

THE Ministry of Transportation reiterated a warning to motorists on Sunday, saying drivers during P'Chum Ben should adhere to traffic laws or risk death.

"Violating traffic laws will not only bring serious injury or death to yourself, but will also put others in serious danger," said Ung Chunhour, general director of the Department of Transportation.

He said that increased traffic levels would also affect the safety of the roads during the busy P'Chum Ben holiday.

"We currently have 750,000 motorbikes and 205,000 cars and trucks travelling on the roads," Ung Chunhour said.

In a bid to reduce traffic jams and traffic accidents, the Ministry of Transport will fine motorists for moving violations.

"Next month, we will begin to fine drivers who overload, overtake and drunken drive," Ung Chunhour said.

But Teng Sothy, a taxi driver who drives the Phnom Penh-Kampong Thom route, said road accidents and casualties on the roads are caused by the narrow streets, traffic jams and traffic police not adhering to their duties.

He said that he and other taxi drivers tried not to overload, but felt sorry for poor people asking to travel home to meet their families for the festival.

"We know that the traffic laws do not allow overloading, but our passengers are desperate," Teng Sothy said. "They say that if they had enough money they would not sit on the roof of a van like that, but they have no choice."

Accidents may double

Meas Chandy, an official at Handicap International Belgium, said that if road users are careless, traffic accidents and casualties on the roads could double this year, especially during the P'Chum Ben festival period.

"We are now more worried about traffic accidents and casualties on the road than HIV/Aids," he said.

He said that Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS) showed that during the weeklong period of P'Chum Ben last year, 48 people died and 889 others were injured in road accidents across the Kingdom.

He called for the traffic police to crack down on road users who violated the traffic laws to reduce the number of traffic accidents and casualties in Cambodia.

Tin Prosoaur, Phnom Penh's chief of traffic police, said that during P'Chum Ben there have been 700 traffic police deployed on busy roads to help with congestion.

"Accidents will decrease during this period if road users obey traffic laws and drive safely," Tin Prosoaur said.

Crime: Family plea fails to halt rape case

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

In an unsual sequel to an alleged rape in Kampong Cham last week, an 18-year-old man was taken into custody despite the victim's family dropping all charges against him. The alleged rape is said to have occurred on September 22 and was reported by the 16-year-old victim's parents, who later withdrew the charges and said reconciliation had been made with the accused. An Kimsry, deputy criminal police chief in Chamkaloeu district, called the crime inexcusable and said that he "made a report and sent the boy on ... to Kampong Cham Provincial Police Department". Leanh Muyngim, owner of the farm on which both families have worked for nearly three years, said this is not a rape case because the boy and girl love each other. But Suoug Runaveth, Licadho's monitor for Kampong Cham province, is supportive of the police decision."The decision to detain or not is the court's." Chrann ChamRoeun

Govt launches Borei Keila probe

HENG CHIVOAN; Residents at Borei Keila last week. Some residents claim they have been cheated out of houses they are entitled to.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Some 120 families have lodged a complaint saying they have been cheated out of the homes they are entitled to at the relocation project; now a government delegation will investigate

AGOVERNMENT delegation will investigate the complaint of 120 Borei Keila families who say that they have been deprived of their right to a new apartment under the government's relocation scheme, officials said Sunday.

Sok Phalla, deputy chief of the Department of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Investigations (NASRI), confirmed that he will be leading the investigation.

"I am working on the [Borei Keila] case, but I can't tell when [the investigation] will finish," he said, adding that while he has visited the site he cannot disclose additional information about the investigation while it is ongoing.

The 120 families, who say that they were eligible for apartments in the new buildings at Borei Keila, sent a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Hun Sen in July alleging that they have been deprived of this right by local authorities and are being temporarily sheltered in poor conditions.

The investigation was initiated when Men Sam On, the former minister of NASRI, called for the creation of a delegation to examine the problem on August 20 in response to the resident's complaint.

Borei Keila is the only remaining social land concession, a scheme that was announced by the Council of Ministers in June 2003 as a way to upgrade poor settlements around Phnom Penh.

Resettlement 'derailed'

The government contracted Phanimex company to build 10 apartment buildings to re-house 1,776 families slated for eviction. Only three buildings have been constructed to date.

Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, said she hopes the investigation will improve the lot of the 120 affected families, but added she had doubts as to whether it would be effective. "This is what [the government] does all the time. We hope that their intentions are legitimate, but [investigation] delegations have been set down before [in similar cases] and nothing has happened," she said.

Manfred Hornung, legal consultant at Licadho, said Thursday that the resettlement scheme "derailed" due to a nontransparent allocation process.

"We have observed a trend, where [the] most vulnerable families, which by definition should get a place in a social concession, are now being deprived of their rights and other families are given priority. This is in contravention of the spirit of the social land concession."

Ratanakkiri officials launch drive to fight drug abuse

Most of the drugs used in Ratanakkiri’s neighbouring provinces Stung Treng and Preah Vihear are trafficked down the Mekong from Laos. The isolation of Cambodia’s northern provinces also provides the perfect environment for drug production.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A spike in drug use in Ratanakkiri has prompted a province-wide campaign to explain the dangers of substance abuse

FACED with spiralling drug use among Ratanakkiri's ethnic minorities, provincial officials have launched a province-wide drive to fight substance abuse.

So Neak, deputy governor of Ratanakkiri, told the Post that the campaign was launched in Banlung last week and will travel to Veun Sai, Bokeo and O'Yadaw districts in October.

"We are holding a campaign against drug use to alert people to the dangers of drugs because the number of drug users has increased in the province this year," So Neak said.

"We want people to be careful and to prevent drug use from spreading."

Land sales boost drug buys

More than 90 people have already been caught using or trafficking drugs in Ratanakkiri this year compared with 60 at the same time last year, So Neak said, adding that the drug traffickers in the province were targeting rural minorities.

"While some drug users are children of rich people or officials in provincial areas, most are minority people in the province's districts," he said.

"Approximately 70 percent of the drug users are minority people. They have a lower level of education so they are easily cheated into taking drugs."

Pen Bonna, the provincial coordinator for human rights watchdog Adhoc, said that minorities are particularly prone to drug abuse because many have recently cashed in from land sales.

"Minority people have money from selling their land and they give it to their children who use it to buy alcohol and drugs," Pen Bonna said.

" We want people to be careful and to prevent drug use from spreading. "

"They use drugs because drug dealers lie to them and tell them that drugs will make them stronger and happier."

But Moek Dara, director of the Drug Department of Interior Ministry, said the overall number of drug users in the Kingdom has remained steady despite provincial swells in numbers.

"There were approximately 6,000 drug users in Cambodia last year and this year the number has been the same," he said.

"The number of drug users hasn't increased because we have frequently cracked down on drug use.

A decrease in the number of drug users will depend on education and prevention measures," he said.

Tick-tock stopped


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Vong Bunthoeun stands by the broken Wat Phnom clock last week as he and fellow municipality workers attempt to repair it. The clock used to be run by a large motor but was recently upgraded to a computerised system from China that keeps time via satellite. The maintenance team says it may take some days for them to work out how fix the clock but hope it will be ticking again by the end of the week.

Past Post: The kites are gone but the 'orange girls' stay

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

THE last blushes of sunset have only just drained away from the skies behind the Independence Monument, but already Davi is carefully staking out her patch of grass in the park below.

A trio of leering teenagers on an embarrassingly undersized motor scooter cruise past her, prompting a call that Davi will be making for the rest of the evening. "Come sit down with me... Would you like to have an orange?" Davi says, prompting a chorus of hoots and laughter from the boys.

Davi is just one of Independence Park's approximately 20 krouch chrorbach, or "orange girls", young women who constitute a little-known corner of Phnom Penh's ubiquitous sex trade.

Every evening Davi and the other young women serve a stream of overwhelmingly young male patrons peeled oranges, small talk, and if requested and the price is right, sex.

"I sell oranges ... and anything else they might want," Davi says candidly. "That's what orange girls do... That's why men come here."

With thick layers of white-powder makeup on their faces, Davi and her fellow orange girls wait for their customers on pieces of protective plastic, peeling oranges and smiling coyly at the young men cruising past them on motorbikes.

"Some people just want to eat an orange and talk," says Charya. "Others sit down and want to touch different parts of my body... but they have to pay for that."

At 500 riels an orange, however, the orange girls interviewed by the Post conceded that the price of an orange entitled their customers to fondle them. Those customers wanting sexual intercourse are expected to pay much more.

"We agree on a price and then we go to a nearby guest house," Charya said of a typical encounter with her patrons, adding that on a good night she could sell "between two or three dozen" oranges.

Chanthol Oung, executive director of Cambodia Women Crisis Center (CWCC), said an ongoing, if sporadic, crackdown on brothels was feeding the development of increasing numbers of "freelance" prostitutes. The result, Oung said, was to make prostitution "uncontrollable" as well as encouraging the spread of Aids among sex workers out of reach of traditional health education programs.

A future, however, is what many of the orange girls have little conception of. "What do I want to be doing a year from now?" Davi mused. "I can't think that far ahead."

Cambodian Access to Justice

Yash Ghai describes access to justice in Cambodia wh...
Yash Ghai describes access to justice in Cambodia where, he says, "the legal system has been subverted by the government."

Suffer from Privatization - The Messenger Band

Cambodians suffer deeply from the privatization poli...
Cambodians suffer deeply from the privatization policy instituted by the Hun Sen's government. The Messenger Band provides their interpretation of the suffering by Cambodian people from this ill-advised policy.

Sacravatoons : " In the Emperor's eyes "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons :" The Emperor-Chess "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Thailand: Army Chief to visit disputed Thai-Cambodian area


The Army Chief will visit the disputed Thai-Cambodian area and confirmed he would act according to government orders and to be respectful of law of the two countries.

General Anupong Paochinda spoke to the press before inspecting the disputed Thai-Cambodian area of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples at the border of Thailand and Cambodia. Currently there is nothing to be concerned about as the government of the two countries will utilize bilateral discussion to resolve the issues. The Army is performing their duty at the request of the government. He has heard reports that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the Thai military didn't act according to the government order in the Preah Vihear joint area. The Army Chief confirmed that the Army performed its' duty according to the government order and also utilized peaceful methods to resolve the issues at the Thai-Cambodian border. They also respected the laws of the two countries. Today he will listen to a summary before inspecting the area of Ta Moan temple in Phanom Dong Rak district, Surin province.

The Army Chief said he will report information from the inspection today to the government. There has however, been no direction for him to report directly to Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Sompong Amornwiwat before he attends the ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministry meeting in New York City, United States of America. This will be the first time that the Foreign Minister will discuss the issue of the two nations whether the Foreign Minister of Cambodia is attending the meeting or not.

TeliaSonera to spend USD488m on Spice Nepal, Applifone stakes

Your Communication News
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2008

Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera is investing SEK3.2 billion (USD488 million) to acquire controlling interests in two Asian mobile operators, Spice Nepal Private Limited in Nepal and Applifone Co in Cambodia. TeliaSonera is buying a 51% stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding from Kazakhstan's Visor Group, giving it 80% of the shares and votes in the Nepalese operator and 100% of Cambodia's Applifone. Visor Group will retain its ownership of the other 49% of TeliaSonera Asia Holding. The transaction is expected to be completed on 1 October. Commenting on the deal TeliaSonera chief executive Lars Nyberg said ‘One of our top priorities is to grow our business in [Asia] ... where we have successfully grown and created value over the past ten years,’ adding, ‘Nepal and Cambodia have a combined population of 43 million, low mobile penetration and growing economies.’

Spice Nepal is the second largest mobile operator in Nepal with around 1.6 million subscribers and an estimated market share of 41%. In 2007 the unit reported net sales of USD41.1 million and EBITDA of USD19 million. TeliaSonera said Spice posted revenues of USD34.1 million in the first half of 2008 and EBITDA of USD18.2 million. Meanwhile, Applifone is the fourth largest mobile operator in Cambodia, with 97,500 subscribers and a market share of around 3%.

Cambodia: Cashew market crumbling
Publication date: 9/30/2008

The dearth of domestic cashew processing plants means many farmers are abandoning the nut and growing more profitable crops: rubber and cassava. Faced with a stagnant market for local cashews, farmers of the high-end nut are switching to other crops, according to local agriculture experts. Without domestic processing plants to purchase cashews, farmers are forced to sell to the nearest buyer, Vietnam, which is one of the world's biggest cashew processors and exporters, according to Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

Cashews in Cambodia are harvested mainly in the provinces of Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Ratanakkiri, which are near Vietnam. "Currently, the cashew nut market in Cambodia is very small, and what we export to Vietnam is just raw product so Cambodian farmers get a bad price," said Yang Saing Koma.

Vietnam imported about 150,000 tonnes of cashews from Cambodia and South Africa in the first half of 2008. The country has exported about US$850 million worth of cashews this year, according to a Vietnamese news report. Yang Saing Koma said that in Cambodia the industry would continue to decline unless local processing infrastructure was developed to provide Cambodian farmers a deeper pool of buyers.

Cambodia's only cashew processing plant, the now- defunct CAMAG in Kampong Cham, used to purchase a minuscule 150 tonnes per year, according to Tim Purcell, an agriculture specialist based in Phnom Penh with the NGO Agriculture Development International. A June 2007 report from the Economic Institute forecasted a decline in the domestic cashew industry.

The agency warned that by exporting 95 percent of its raw product to Vietnam, Cambodia was forgoing too much of the value-added chain for its cashew industry to remain profitable. According to the EIC report, the main barrier to investment in processing plants in Cambodia is staggering energy costs, which remain significantly higher than in Thailand and Vietnam. Farmers who once dedicated their fields to cashews are now growing rubber and cassava.

"Cashew nuts are only exported to Vietnam, there's really no local market. But with cassava and rubber, they are purchased by local companies at competitive prices," said Suon Dy, head of the Department of Industry, Mines and Energy in Kampong Cham. He said that at current market prices, one hectare of cashews yields around US$1,000 worth of product per year, compared with nearly $2,500 for rubber and cassava.

Global demand for rubber and cassava has climbed in recent years.

Cassava is used to produce ethanol, one of the main alternative fuels promoted by the global campaign against climate change. Natural rubber has also been increasingly prized, by China especially, following dramatic hikes in the price of oil, as it is used to make its synthetic alternative. Local processing conditions also favour the prospects for both crops: Cambodia processes about half the cassava it grows, and by law refines all of its locally harvested rubber.

Meas Sothearvy, head of the agriculture ministry's statistics office, said that while it was too early to tally nationwide yields for this year's harvest, inspections suggest there are significant declines in cashews. For 37-year-old Prum Chorn and others in the former cashew growing district of Memot in Kampong Cham province, the benefits of switching to rubber crops were overwhelming. "Cashew nut yields once a year and is bought at low prices from middlemen to go to Vietnam," he said.

"Rubber yields daily and is purchased at high prices from rubber factories within the province." Similarly, Ing Taingleng, 73, from Kampong Thom's Baray district, said he's following the lead of other farmers in the province and this year would replace half of his 20-hectare cashew farm with rubber crops. "The price of cashew nuts has not changed for several years now; it's still $500 to $700 a ton depending on the quality," he said.

"And we can only export to Vietnam. With rubber, the price is going up a lot and there is a strong market in Cambodia."

Groups Renew Calls for Corruption Law

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

Opposition leaders and human rights workers urged the new National Assembly and cabinet to pass a long-awaited anti-corruption law, claiming prior promises by Prime Minister Hun Sen have not been kept.

In speech to his new cabinet Friday, Hun Sen said fighting corruption was a “high priority” and the government was “strongly committed to develop and adopt this law.”

But critics said Tuesday they had heard such commitments before, in many speeches and in promises to donors.

“The government leaders…have no will and not enough determination to prevent corruption,” Yim Sovan, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and former head of the National Assembly’s inspection committee, said Tuesday. “Their promises are only on paper.”

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party relies on corruption to support it, he said, and so is unlikely to push for its elimination.

“We have little belief in Hun Sen’s promise to pass the anti-corruption law,” he said.

The anti-corruption law, which was first proposed by the opposition in 1998 and was drafted by Ministry of National Assembly Relations in 2006, is under review at the Council of Ministers.

Drafts of the law have been kept from the public, and it is unclear what provisions it might include to curb the practice of government malfeasance.

“If the government breaks its promise to pass the anti-corruption law, the Human Rights Party will repeatedly make demands on the government day after day when we join the National Assembly,” HRP President Kem Sokha said.

Cambodia is perceived as the 14th-most corrupt country in the world, according to surveys by Transparency International, and officials say the practice costs the country up to $500 million per year.

“The anti-corruption law must come out soon, to show transparency and confidence for the new government,” Ny Chakrya, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday. “The anti-corruption law does not need to wait for another law to support it.”

Hun Sen has said the anti-corruption law must be passed after the penal code, which is in the process of being drafted by the Ministry of Justice.

City Sees Lowered Holiday Traffic Injuries

An annual flight from the capital during Pchum Ben can mean dangerous road conditions for travelers.
By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
30 September 2008

City officials say an increased police presence has reduced the number of injuries in Phnom Penh during the annual Pchum Ben exodus.

At least two people died and two others were injured in a traffic accidents in the capital, less injuries but the same fatalities as in Pchum Ben traffic last year, officials said Tuesday.

Traditionally a time of heavy travel outside of the city, Pchum Ben, a festival honoring deceased ancestors, means quiet streets in Phnom Penh. But the resulting exodus can also lead to a high number of traffic accidents, injuries and death, as drivers jostle with each other to leave town.

Tin Prosoeur, director of Phnom Penh's land traffic office, said Tuesday the city was better prepared this year to prevent accidents.

"This year, the municipality and Phnom Penh police prepared police forces to conduct traffic for the people to avoid aggressive driving," he said. "We've ordered people to stop driving fast, and sometimes traffic police work until midnight on Pchum Ben days."

Last year, two people died and 15 were injured in traffic accidents in Phnom Penh during the three final days of the 15-day Pchum Ben period.

Officials said Tuesday they did not have statistics from 23 other provinces and municipalities.
"Today is a holiday," said Brig. Gen. Pho Khon, director of the Ministry of Interior's public order department. "We have not yet come to work."

Meas Chandy, traffic safety coordinator for Handicap International Belgium, said Tuesday that during 15 days of Pchum Ben last year, 48 people died and 812 were injured in traffic accidents nationwide.

"We've found that people drive over their limits, drive while drunk, without a helmet, and don't respect the rule of law," he said. "That's why a lot of accidents happen."

Thais Occupy All Three Ta Moan Temples

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Oddar Meanchey province
30 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 30 September 2008 (1.63 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 30 September 2008 (1.63 MB) - Listen (MP3)

More than ten weeks after the beginning of a military standoff over Preah Vihear temple, Thai soldiers are firmly entrenched at three temples 100 kilometers to the west, though the situation remains quiet.

Cambodian troops patrol the Dangrek Mountains that hover above the temples, but they have no access to or control of any of the three temples.

“Nothing has changed yet,” said Maj. Chhim Yen, of Division 42, stationed at the base of the mountains. “We are still in the same place, and the Thai soldiers have not moved. We are waiting for a settlement from high-ranking [government officials].”

Thai soldiers regularly patrol the areas surrounding the temples, “and they keep a watch on Cambodian soldiers at a post in front of the temples,” he said.

Both sides claim ownership of the temples, but Cambodian soldiers say they had access prior to the July 15 occupation of Preah Vihear temple by Thai soldiers.

Several hundred Cambodian troops are stationed in tents and houses along the road to the border temples, living in stark conditions. However, there are no signs of military tension.

The Cambodian soldiers, armed with rockets and heavy machine guns, are in the process of constructing three houses at the base of the mountains with fresh-cut wood from the jungle.

Travel can take as much as one hour for the last 8 kilometers of travel from the main route to the base of the mountain, on a road run over with rivers and mud.

“We are determined in the face of abuse from the Thais,” Chhim Yen said.

Soldiers eat morning glory soup with small pieces of fish that are caught nearby, along with other wild animals, to supplement government rations.

Despite a lengthy deployment, no signs of illness have appeared, said 1st Lt. Im Pan, an army medic. Some soldiers have caught the flu and fever, he said, and others have contracted malaria.

No malaria fatalities have been reported. Military officials expect road improvements and the construction of a headquarters building to begin after the rainy season, to enable great military control of the area.

Duch Trial Could Stall Into 2009: Monitor

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

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The first trial ever of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, for jailed prison chief Duch, could be delayed to the beginning of next year, an independent monitor said Monday.

Long Panhavuth, an official with the Open Society Justice Initiative, which monitors the tribunal, said official predictions that Duch’s trial could come as early as October or November may be premature.

Duch, 65, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as the director of Tuol Sleng, a Phnom Penh detention center where at least 12,000 Cambodians were tortured and later executed under the regime.

An indictment against him issued by investigating judges of the tribunal has been appealed by prosecutors, delaying further the first trial of the tribunal, which was beset with delays at its inception and has been plagued by funding problems amid allegations of corruption.

“I think there might be another possibility” for his trial date, Long Panhavuth said, adding that a delay until December, when the Pre-Trial Chamber is scheduled to rule on the prosecutor appeal, would be complicated by the onset of the Western holiday seasons of Christmas and New Year’s.

The delays could mean Duch won’t be tried until the first quarter of 2009, he said.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the courts were aiming to try Duch by the end of the year, but “everyone is equal, so everyone of [five detained regime leaders] can appeal or take legal action.”

“We can’t prevent them,” he said.

Police Chief Inks Australian Security Pact

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

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Cambodia’s national police chief, Gen. Hok Lundy, renewed an agreement with Australia on Saturday to combat transnational crime.

Hok Lundy spent four days in Australia, ultimately signing a cooperation agreement with the Federal Police, said Lt. Gen. Sok Phal, a member of the delegation.

Cambodia has had a security relationship with Australian police since 2001, when the country’s own police commissioner, Michael Keelty, traveled to Cambodia to discuss policing issues with Hok Lundy.

Australia is seeking regional partners to combat transnational crime and terrorism.

Hok Lundy and Cambodia have enjoyed strengthening relationships with Western nations, including the US, in recent years.

The US FBI has opened a liaison office in Phnom Penh, and in 2007 the US resumed direct aid to the country.

A team of FBI investigators is now in Phnom Penh to help Cambodian police investigate the July 11 murder of opposition journalist Khim Sambor.

‘No Development, No Democracy’: HRP

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
30 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 29 September 2008 (5.40MB) - Download (MP3)
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Cambodia’s development and democracy must grow out of internal political stability, a leading opposition official said Monday.

Kem Sokha, whose Human Rights Party won three seats in July’s election but who has refused to join the government, said Monday there would not be growth without political stability.

“No political stability, no democracy,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party must also respect the views of the minority party, for stability to take root, he said.

The CPP won a sweeping majority of National Assembly seats in July’s national parliamentary elections, which were followed by weeks of political wrangling.

The opposition Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties held out for weeks on joining the new government, saying the elections were fraudulent and flawed.

Last week, the Sam Rainsy Party brought its 26 lawmakers into the National Assembly, but the Human Rights Party maintained a boycott.

The resulting government saw the CPP take control of all 26 ministries and all nine committees of the National Assembly. Several government posts were given to the former coalition partner in the government, Funcinpec, which won two seats in July. No positions were offered to the Norodom Ranariddh Party, which won two seats as well.

Kem Sokha said Monday his party had won three seats and that “no one” could take them away.

Meanwhile, the party has continued its boycott of the National Assembly, leaving only 120 of 123 seats filled. However, the party has requested a separate wearing-in from the now-formed National Assembly, Kem Sokha said.

The party has maintained a position that the election was fraudulent, that voters were prevented from casting ballots and that false names were added at polling stations.

Kem Sokha also called on reform of the National Assembly to better reflect multi-party politics, as well as a judiciary “to serve the people’s interest.”

Govt set to establish career centre in bid to get jobs for youth

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

With thousands of new graduates struggling to find jobs, the government is proposing a centre to link young people to employers

THE government will soon open a job market information centre and career centre to help solve the challenging problem of Khmer youth unemployment, said Var Sim Samrith, the undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Labor on Friday.

"We hope these two new centres will help direct youth to places where they can learn the specific skills needed to meet future job market demands," said Var Sim Samrith.

Only about 30 percent of new college graduates can find a job, because they have not obtained the specific skills needed to meet employment demands, according to a 2008 study conducted by the BD Link Co on 2,194 youths in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampong Cham and Svay Rieng.

Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, an industry group that represents garment factories, said, "Youths face problems [job finding], because they lack knowledge about jobs and the job market."

Van Sou Ieng said the government should quickly create an information system about labour demand in each sector in order to ensure that youths are provided with the skills that the labor market demands.

Job seeking

"We don't want to see so many youths trying to find jobs," said Van Sou Ieng. "The government should orient education towards the garment, hotel and construction industries.

"In 2006, 92 percent of the 94,310 university students studied service-related fields in Cambodia, five percent majored in business and only three percent in agriculture, according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

Norng Ratana, an associate consultant of BD Link, said the Kingdom's population was overwhelmingly young.

"We think that the right education provided by public and private institutions combined with the study centre can help youths get a job," said Norng Ratana.

"I think the current, main challenge for youths is finding a job," said Norng Ratana.