Friday, 3 October 2008

Boozing elemetary school teachers drive away students

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 02 October 2008

Angry parents remove their children from classrooms run by teachers who are more interested in rice wine than their lessons

Svay Rieng province

ANGRY parents in a Svay Rieng village are pulling their children out of school in response to what they say is rampant drunkenness among the teaching staff.

"How can my children learn from a drunk teacher?" complained Men Sophea, who said that after the P'Chum Ben holiday, she would move her children to the village's other primary school, Ar Nouvath, whose teachers are not known to share the same foibles.

Parents say teachers at Preah Sihanouk elementary school regularly miss class and show up to class drunk.

"My kids last year said their teacher would just teach a couple hours and then give an exam to keep them busy while they left early to drink rice wine," she said.

Ruos Ratana, a local butcher, said he had originally enrolled his daughter at Preah Sihanouk because of its strong reputation.

He also plans to move his daughter to a different primary school in the area.

Cut from a different cloth

"In my day, it was unthinkable for me to even smoke in front of my students," said Kim Gnouy, a retired teacher who lives in the area.

He railed against what he described as a severe decline in the credentials and morality of the country's teachers today. "We are supposed to be educated. How can students respect us if we act so terribly? In the past, students respected their teachers so much they wouldn't dare even look them in the face."

Phe San, director of the maligned school, insisted that the drunken teachers had already been purged from the staff.

"This happened last year, especially in the Saturday evening classes. But I spoke to those teachers about it."

" If teachers get drunk [students] will think their teacher is a drunkard. "

But the school's derelict instructors have caused the enrollment of its first graders to plummet from 1,026 last year to just some 600 this year - a drop Phe San attributed to the popularity of Ar Nouvath for teaching classes in both the morning and afternoon.

Pen Sarin, director of the province's primary school department, said the school's problems were limited but acknowledged the bad influence the teachers may have had on their pupils.

"If teachers get drunk, it has an impact on students because they will think their teacher is a drunkard."

He attributed the teachers' drinking escapades to jealousy between staff members.

"Some were leaving early to drink because they were jealous since there were a lot of teachers who got the same salary but didn't teach, and just sat around in their office."

He said the teachers had not been dismissed because they are allowed three warnings.

P'Chum Ben ends


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Thursday, 02 October 2008

A young boy puts money into a sand mountain Tuesday at Wat Lanka as the celebrations for the festival of the dead drew to a close. During the P'Chum Ben festival thousands of visitors bury their donations in the sand to bring good luck and future prosperity. P'Chum Ben celebrations ended Tuesday with many Cambodian returning from the provinces to the capital.

A last gasp intervention by King Sihanouk

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Thursday, 02 October 2008

KING Norodom Sihanouk is expected to arrive in Phnom Penh on Monday, October 5, following the breakdown of the September 29 tripartite talks on the formation of a coalition government.

The Chinese embassy confirmed Sihanouk's planned trip to Beijing had been cancelled. "Everything has been arranged," said one anonymous Palace source. "He will arrive at 10:30am Monday."

Opposition delegates at the talks maintained their parties' call to revisit the running of July's election. They refused to acknowledge the sole CPP agenda, which was to form a coalition.

The opening of parliament has now been delayed, but Sihanouk is expected to persuade Funcinpec dean Ieng Kieth to open the first session and the CPP seems to be counting on a bloc of Funcinpec MPs falling in behind the King, rather than Prince Norodom Ranariddh, one diplomat said.

This assumes, however, that Sihanouk has a genuine desire to see Funcinpec in a coalition subservient to Hun Sen, one that many within the royalist party believe could be the end of them.

"On the Friday [September 25] before [Ranariddh] left for Thailand, he told Rainsy there would be no deal with Hun Sen," said one informed source.

The other whisper campaign around Phnom Penh is how successful the CPP has been in buying or threatening opposition MPs to split from their parties. The CPP only needs 18 NA seats to secure a two-thirds majoirty in parliament and form a government alone.

One diplomat said: "I think the King knows his responsibility... If he left for Beijing the country wouldn't even have a head of state, let alone a government."

"If Ranariddh stays in Bangkok, then Funcinpec are staying firm. If he comes back that's a bad sign for them. It means he has to come back to prevent a split," said another source.

If the CPP cannot strike a coalition deal, Hun Sen said the party would amend the Constitution to run the country alone or would continue governing with Ung Huot.

"I can imagine a scenario of Funcinpec splitting ... Ieng Kieth and others could find that perfectly justifiable," said one analyst. "Ieng Kieth could not refuse the King."

"This can't go on, either politically or economically," he said. "Hun Sen is very calm ... [but] Ranariddh could lose everything."

Sacravatoons : " The Retirees "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons : " Thai History Texbooks "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons : " Clown-Funcinpec "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons : " The Waiting trial "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Cambodian prince quits politics after return from exile

Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh

Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh (left) talks to journalists

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh has announced he is quitting politics, days after receiving a royal pardon on fraud charges and returning from self-imposed exile in Malaysia.

Ranariddh, sentenced in absentia last year for his part in a illegal property scheme, made the announcement Thursday night and called on opposition parties to support the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"I am no longer an opposition party leader," the prince told reporters during dinner at a hotel in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

"I met the king this morning (Thursday) and I told him that I quit politics," he said.

The resignation ends the prince's 17-year political career, which began with great promise when he won Cambodia's UN-sponsored election in 1993 as head of the royalist Funcinpec party.

However, he was later forced into sharing prime ministerial duties with Hun Sen, and was finally ousted in a coup in 1997.

In succeeding elections, Ranariddh's voter appeal diminished as he entered into coalition agreements with Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

The prince said Thursday he would choose one of his deputies to be the new leader of his eponymous Norodom Ranariddh Party, which he formed after being ejected from Funcinpec in 2006.

Ranariddh's new party won two parliamentary seats in Cambodia's July 27 general election, despite him living in Malaysia.

He returned Sunday from exile after his half-brother King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal pardon, forgiving Ranariddh after he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for his part in a 3.6 million dollar illegal property scheme.

The court ruled Ranariddh improperly sold the Funcinpec party headquarters and used proceeds from the sale to purchase another property in his own name.

But his pardon last week came on the orders of Hun Sen, hours after the region's longest-serving premier was officially re-elected to another five-year-term.

Ranariddh faced jail once before in 1998 but was spared by a royal pardon from his father, former king Norodom Sihanouk.

He had been sentenced to 35 years for allegedly plotting a coup with the Khmer Rouge a year earlier while acting as co-prime minister with Hun Sen.

Ex-Khmer Rouge on trial for killing British deminer

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Five former Khmer Rouge soldiers went on trial Friday in the Cambodian capital, charged in the 1996 murders of a British deminer and his Cambodian translator.

Briton Christopher Howes and his interpreter, Houn Hourth, were abducted along with a group of Cambodian co-workers in March 1996 by Khmer Rouge guerrillas while clearing mines near the Angkor Wat temple complex in northwestern Cambodia.

Howes, 37, a former soldier, was said to have behaved heroically during the ordeal, persuading the kidnappers to free all his colleagues except himself and Hourth.

Their fate remained a mystery for more than two years, but Scotland Yard confirmed in 1998 that they had been killed in the remote, northern former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng.

Among the defendants at Friday's trial was Khem Ngun, a former rebel commander who defected to the government soon after the killings. He is accused of ordering the killings.

The abduction was just one of a spate of kidnappings by the Khmer Rouge during the mid-1990s when the embattled group was attempting to shore up the movement financially with hijackings of cars and trains, abductions of foreigners and other brutal crimes.

The suspects have been charged with premeditated murder and illegal confinement and face life in prison.

The Cambodian government was accused at the time of being slow to make arrests in the killings because negotiations for Khmer Rouge leaders to defect were at a crucial stage. In November, police arrested two accused ringleaders, grabbing three more men in May.

Cambodian trials usually take one day, but judges often reserve verdicts for weeks.

Adoption: procedures still being fine-tuned

Cambodge Soir


Thursday 2 October, the French Ambassador to Cambodia, Jean-François Desmazières, wished to set the record straight, in front of a group of journalists, concerning the adoption procedures in Cambodia which are sometimes subject to misinterpretations.

Regarding the year 2008, Jean-François Desmazières indicated that the number of adoption visas delivered by the French Embassy in Cambodia remains relatively low, with only 12 cases. The year 2000 saw the highest number with 228 delivered visas, just before the halt of the adoption procedures.

Signed by the Cambodian authorities on the 1st of August 2007, the agreement protocol concerning child protection and international collaboration regarding adoptions came into effect, while respecting the international regulations of The Hague. It was ratified on 29 May 1993. However, the number of adoptions organised by French citizens hasn’t therefore increased. The French authorities seem to be very cautious in Cambodia. The dialogue with other western countries introducing demands, particularly Italy and the United States, is an important step concerning a possible new start of adoptions. But it looks like the efficiency of organisations authorised to organise adoptions is being questioned. There are only two at the moment, l’Agence francaise de l’adoption (AFA) and Les Amis des enfants du monde (AEM), which face difficulties in meeting the high demand of French people wishing to adopt.

Finally, other uncertainty, the capacity of the Cambodian administration to meet this demand from rich countries, without giving in to activities of embezzlement, well known during the previous years amongst the people wishing to adopt. All these uncertainties create doubts concerning the capacity of Cambodia to meet the demands of the foreigners wishing to adopt. For what concerns the French, it seems like internal reforms are taking place, and the presence of a voluntary concerning adoptions in Cambodia, according to the request of Rama Yade, French Secretary of State for Human Rights, shows that things are evolving in the right direction.

For what concerns the situation of French residents in Cambodia, who usually enjoy a higher tolerance concerning adoptions, the Ambassador wished to express his disagreement concerning “fake residents” who settled in the country for a short period of time with the intention to facilitate their adoption procedures. Furthermore, the various countries which authorise international adoptions aren’t following a joint policy. This way, an Australian residing outside Australia can adopt in any other country, while a French citizen can only adopt in his host country.

KRT: the five defendants will be allowed to communicate with each other

Cambodge Soir


The Pre-Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal supported Nuon Chea’s argument, who appealed the order of the co-investigating judges on 20 May.

Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Duch, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith will be allowed to communicate with each other as much as they wish, decided the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the KRT in a decision dating from the 26th of September.

“In the light of the case law of the International Criminal Court and of the European Court for Human Rights, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided that one can only restrict the contacts [between the defendants] in order to avoid pressure put on witnesses and victims, when there are sufficient proofs showing that there’s a serious risk for a defendant to collaborate with another in order to create such pressures during his detention”, announced the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber.

“This risk, they continue, has necessarily decreased during the course of the investigation.”

The Pre-Trial Chamber has also taken into account the fact that the prisoners aren’t isolated from each other in the Cambodian prisons and that contacts between them are only restricted for practical reasons of surveillance.

For the moment, only Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith obtained the right to communicate freely as the two defendants are married since 1951.

Under this circumstance, “it isn’t clear” that isolating the defendants from each other “protects the interests of the investigation”, states the Pre-Trial Chamber in its judgement.

Nuon Chea, who appealed the pre-trial order of the co-investigating judges on 20 May 2008, determining the conditions of detention, remains isolated from the other defendants since his arrest on 19 September 2007.

The NRP remains at the doorstep of the new Cambodian government

Cambodge Soir


The Prime Minister refused to accept a few members of this political party, suggesting them to find a job by themselves.

The dices rolled, the NRP lost. Not one of its members has been invited to become part of the country’s leading team, which includes almost 500 people.

The Prime Minister has put an end to all the recent speculations about whether some high leaders of this party would join the government. Thursday 2 October, on the occasion of the ceremony organised around the start of the new school year at the National Institute of Education, Hun Sen declared: “The head of our government is already too large. These is thus no space any more for any NRP members”. According to him, this message was transmitted to Prince Ranariddh as soon as he came back on the 28th of September, during a telephone conversation between both men.

The fact that Hun Sen is repeating this message today is only with the intention to help Norodom Ranariddh, as the NRP members are continuing to try their chances and to put pressure on the “prince” in order to obtain positions within the ministries.

“You can work in the fields or rice paddies, this is also a job. Otherwise you’ll have to find a job at private companies while you wait for the next legislature in five years”, suggested the Prime Minister on a slightly derisive tone.

Hun Sen’s comments about this subject happened the day after the publication of the list mentioning the 205 deputy secretaries who are completing the government.

Thai-owned museum weathers criticism

PETER OLSZEWSKI; Angkor National Museum executive director Chhan Chamroeun.

The Phnom penh Post

Written by Peter Olszewski
Thursday, 02 October 2008

A bit gun-shy following media barrage, Angkor National Museum tries to dress up its image

IT'S midmorning Monday and the P'Chum Ben festival crowds are pouring into one of Siem Reap's largest and most contentious commercial ventures, the Angkor National Museum.

Many of the Cambodian visitors are dressed traditionally and have come to the museum after their early-morning visit to a pagoda. Kids stare with wide-eyed wonder at the sheer modernity of this large, sprawling complex.

The visitors are here mainly because of a festival promotion that waives the US$3 entry fee for Cambodians on the proviso they donate unwanted clothing, books and other goods for five local orphanages.

As they pass through a small theatre that features a slick short film introducing the museum's displays, they enter a prayer area where a lone female figure kneels, clutching burning incense, intently praying and reverentially touching her forehead to the floor.

She is obviously fervently Buddhist, and she is the museum's managing director, Sunaree Wongpiyabovorn. Perhaps she's praying for guidance because she is about to engage the enemy, the media, in the form of The Phnom Penh Post.

It's taken over three months for her to agree to speak to the Post, and she is quick to decline being photographed, saying she wants to avoid "the flames of publicity".

She admits she feels that she's been burnt by the media, and since its inception the museum has endured a withering blast of bad press, culminating in a savage indictment in the International Herald Tribune on July 2.

She casts her eyes down and mutters, "The journalists who come here seem to only want to write negative things." She bites her lip, and adds, "The International Herald Tribune article was the worst."

And indeed it was. The Tribune accused the museum of misappropriating the names "national" and "Angkor", of being purely profit-driven, of being crass with a design that has "provoked some derision".

Criticism from expats

But the most trenchant criticism, almost exclusively from expatriate quarters, smacked off racism, attacking the museum over its Thai ownership.

But Sunaree has bigger problems to face other than just a bad press - she does need to turn a profit. The project is owned by Bangkok-based Vilailuck International Holdings, and its parent company is the Samart Corp, a major investor in Cambodia.

It opened well behind schedule, its display inventory is still incomplete, and reportedly the company had to triple its original investment of $5 million due to the cost overruns.

It has 30 years to make a profit because then its lease expires and management and financial control of the collection will revert to the Cambodian authorities and the Ministry of Culture.

To achieve budgetary goals and to overcome the "flames" of a bad press, Sunaree has embarked on a marketing blitz never before seen in Siem Reap.

About a hundred tuk-tuks are innovatively decked out with the museum's advertising material, and before that campaign was rolled out, almost all of Siem Reap's tuk-tuk drivers rolled into the museum for a party held for them.

Groups of traditionally dressed Khmer beauties wander the Pub Street precinct leafleting, and strategically-placed audiovisual stands spill the Angkor National Museum spiel at the touch of a button. The museum is also embracing expatriates with events such as art and photography exhibitions.

But it's not all about marketing. Chhan Camroeun, the museum's executive director, is responsible for the artefacts, and he said that most of the objects on display have been borrowed from Cambodian museums, collections and repositories, where they were locked away in dusty confinement.

Now they are on display, guarded by tight security, and serve as an introduction to Cambodia's history and culture, encouraging people to delve deeper.

Cambodian investment to boost pig-breeding, Netherlands
02 Oct 2008

A Cambodian investor is set to invest US$4 million in a new slaughterhouse and facilities to control the quality of imported pigs, in a bid to boost quality in the countries pig-breeding industry.

"This is an initiative which aims to revolutionise and bring, for the first time, international sanitary standards to Cambodia," Mong Reththy, a Cambodian People's Party senator and co-chair of the government's Agricultural and Agro-Industry Working Group, said to the The Phnom Penh post this week.

Last month, his company Mong Reththy Group announced plans to spend $5 million importing pigs from a breeder in Yorkshire, England, in a move that aims to tap soaring pork demand in Cambodia.

The first phase of the project - quality control facilities to assess imported pigs - is now complete, Mong Reththy said. The facilities, located on five hectares of land in Phnom Penh's Dangkor district, cost $1 million to construct. They are now operational and have the capacity to process up to 10,000 pigs per day. The second phase is a state of the art abattoir.

Lengthy pretrial detention at KRT sets bad precedent: experts

AFP; Nuon Chea appears at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for his bail hearing earlier this year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Thursday, 02 October 2008

Lawyers for defendant Nuon Chea are preparing to appeal an extension of his pretrial detention, as legal experts express concern over what example this will set in the long run

AS the lawyers for former "Brother No 2" Nuon Chea prepare to appeal an extension of his pretrial detention, legal experts have expressed concern that pretrial detention is becoming a norm rather than an exception at Cambodia's Extraordinary Chambers.

This week Nuon Chea's defence lawyers will file an appeal against their client's extended detention, claiming that there is insufficient evidence to renew the octogenarian defendant's imprisonment.

"So far there is no evidence [to justify] Nuon Chea's detention," said Son Arun, his co-lawyer. "They cannot find anything."The former leader's detention was extended by a year earlier this month when his original one-year sentence came to an end.

Lawyers are concerned there is less of an imperative to follow the procedures of international law, which stipulates that detention before trial must be supported with evidence.

"When it comes to pretrial detention, the position in international human rights law is clear: Liberty is the rule and detention is the exception," Richard Rogers, head of defence at the ECCC, said in an email to the Post Wednesday.


"That means that the burden is on the prosecution to show that an accused person, who is presumed innocent, should be kept in detention pending trial."

The co-investigating judges claimed that Nuon Chea's extended sentence was necessary as there were "well founded" reasons to believe that he had committed crimes against humanity. His defence team will refute this, arguing that a factual basis for his detention has not been laid out.

Meet the conditions

According to the internal rules of the court, the provisional detention laws must set out the legal grounds and factual basis for a charged person's detention. They must also prove that detention is necessary to stop the accused interfering with witnesses or evidence or escaping persecution.

"Pretrial detention may be ordered only where [these] two conditions are met.... If the prosecution fails to satisfy these two conditions, the accused must be released pending trial," said Richard Rogers.

"Human rights bodies generally require that the factors justifying detention be discussed in a 'clear and specific' and not ‘stereotyped' manner. International and hybrid criminal courts have tended to accept more generalised justifications for detention,"Anne Heindel, a legal adviser for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) wrote in a recent article on Nuon Chea for the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor website.

Observers are concerned that the ECCC is following a worrying trend by international criminal courts to stray from human rights law.

"Human rights bodies ... disfavour[s] pretrial detention and place[s] the burden on states to justified continued detention," Heindel wrote.

"In contrast, international and hybrid criminal courts have treated pretrial release as the exception and in practice have placed the burden on the defence to show that release is warranted."

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre of Human Rights, told the Post Tuesday that he was concerned the extension defied a fair trial.

"The court needs to stick to the principles of fair trial for anyone, regardless of the crimes they commit," he said.

"The issue of burden of proof [at the ECCC] is a big issue for us," he added. "We believe the court is responsible to uphold the presumption of innocence, and if you put the burden of proof on the defendants, there is no longer this presumption."

Lawyers for Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, have argued continuously that their client has been held illegally since 1999 and that this was a human rights abuse.

Co-counsel Francois Roux claimed after Duch's hearing in November last year that his pretrial detention contradicted Cambodian law as well as international standards for civil and political rights.

"There were never any reasons given [for Duch's detention renewals], they just kept extending it," Heindell said.

But the greatest concern for observers was the precedent it was setting for the already troubled Cambodian legal system.

"What role model does it set for future governments? Will they do the same to activists? They will be able to make anyone a suspect," Ou Virak said.

Anne Heindell was also concerned about the legacy it left. "There is a long history in Cambodia of pretrial detention. If [the ECCC] wants to be transparent it needs to explain why [it makes its decisions]," she said.

"It's an important right, the presumption of innocence, and it's important for the court to take it seriously."

Oct. 10 benefit to feature "Holly," a film about child trafficking in Cambodia, Vietnam

Montgomery Advertiser
October 2, 2008

International Healing Project will have a benefit Oct. 10 to raise funding for and awareness about child trafficking in Cambodia and Vietnam.

The event begins at 6 p.m. that evening with cocktails at Stonehenge Gallery on East Fairview Avenue, and that will be followed at 8 p.m. by a showing of the film "Holly" at the Capri Theatre, which is next door to the gallery. Tickets are $25, $10 for students.

Presented in conjunction with Priority Films (NYC) and Transitions Cambodia, "Holly" stars Ron Livingston ("Sex and the City"), Chris Penn (in his last screen performance), Virginie Ledoyen ("The Beach") and Udo Kier ("Dogville," "Dancer in the Dark").

Livingston portrays an American dealer of stolen artifacts who has been "comfortably numb" for years in Cambodia. When he encounters Holly, a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl in the K11 red-light village, he learns that her impoverished family sold her. She was smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute, and her virginity makes her a lucrative prize.

Patrick, Livingston's character, embarks on a frantic search through both the beautiful and sordid faces of the country to bring Holly to safety.

All proceeds from the evening will benefit girls ages 12 to 18 who have been victimized by human traffickers in Cambodia and Vietnam. The money will also be used to provide art therapy programs at Transitions Cambodia, a transitional home for girls in Cambodia.

Stonehenge Gallery is at 1041 E. Fairview Ave., and the Capri is at 1045 E. Fairview Ave. Call 263-2630 for more.

-- Posted by Robyn Bradley Litchfield

Plan for new national air carrier put on hold: official

Heng chivon; Phnom Penh International Airport.

$50m The initial funding earmarked for the new airline
The government would hold a 51 percent stake in the new national airline, which is yet to be named. No launch date has been announced by planners.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Thursday, 02 October 2008

Negotiations continue with Indonesian partner Rajawali Group; govt wants to proceed slowly to ensure success

PLANS for a new Cambodian national airline, announced in May, have been put on hold as a result of difficulties with ongoing negotiations with an Indonesian investment group, government officials say.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was tapped to spearhead the deal in partnership with the Rajawali Group, but discussions with the Indonesian investors have not yet been finalised, he told the Post last week.

"We don't want our new national airline to fail like its predecessor Royal Air Cambodge," he said. "We need more time to discuss the project with our partners."

Prime Minister Hun Sen last year announced plans to re-establish a national flag carrier to compete with other private carriers and attract more foreign tourists to Cambodia.

"Our new national airline will be very competitive with other companies as tourism in Cambodia continues to grow," Sok An said during a signing ceremony with Rajawali in Phnom Penh in April.

"The new carrier is expected to be profitable because of the rising number of travellers coming to the Kingdom," he added.

The Ministry of Tourism projects that Cambodia will receive nearly three million tourists from overseas by 2010.

National need

Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the government should not delay the project too long if it wants to avoid greater competition from the private sector.

"I want to see the government move on the new airline as quickly as possible," he said, adding that the absence of a national carrier could give potential visitors the wrong idea about development in Cambodia.

The new airline will be funded by an initial investment of US$50 million, and the government of Cambodia will hold a 51 percent stake, with the balance held by Rajawali.

Cambodia's previous national carrier, Royal Air Cambodge, was established in 1994 through a joint venture with Malaysian company Naluri.

The government held a 60 percent stake before the airline went bankrupt in October 2001 after losses that year of $30 million.

Is it the right time?

The Cambodian government had initially sought a Chinese partner to establish the new airline, but talks collapsed.

Soaring aviation fuel prices, a softer international tourism market and stiff competition have also complicated efforts to establsh the new national carrier.

The International Air Transport Association earlier this year reported that the airline industry is facing one of its worse crisis in history.

The IATA represents airlines around the world.

Shedding Light

from TB meningitis is comforted by his mother at Svay Rieng Provincial Hospital, Svay Rieng, Cambodia.
James Nachtwey / VII for TIME


By Richard Stengel, Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 02, 2008

One of the jobs of politicians in a democracy--and our job too--is to help voters understand complex issues. After all, that's how you earn what the Declaration of Independence calls "the consent of the governed." As the financial crisis has deepened, Washington has done a downright lousy job of explaining things--of connecting the dots between Wall Street and Main Street. The simple fact is that almost every American--whether it's through his pension or her business or his 401(k)--is deeply affected by failures in the banking system. Time has been telling this story for the past several weeks, and in this issue, the cover story by the acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson puts the current crisis in historical, financial and global perspective. As Ferguson shows, there are similarities to the Depression of the 1930s, but history can also be a guide to avoiding another one.

To say that Jim Nachtwey is the world's most distinguished photojournalist doesn't convey the power of what Jim does or the intensity with which he does it. Since 1984, Jim has documented conflicts around the world for TIME and been our photographic witness to many of the planet's most tragic events in recent history, from the genocide in Rwanda to the famine in Somalia.

Awful as the diseases and wars are that he has covered, his images bear a haunting and austere elegance. His pictures can make you tear up, but they're never sentimental. Sometimes you gasp at the terrible beauty he finds in something that is simply terrible. In other words, Jim's work is something rare in journalism: art. Jim has spent a lifetime turning agony into imagery and giving, as he puts it, "voice to those who otherwise would not have a voice."

For the past five months, Jim has been traveling around the world to document the spread of an ancient disease that has a deadly new face: extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). The extraordinary pictures in this week's issue are the foundation for a unique collaboration with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design)--an organization devoted to "ideas worth spreading." Last year Jim won the TED prize--a grant of $100,000 and his "wish to change the world." That wish was to create a global-awareness movement around XDR-TB. Beginning Oct. 3, TED will unveil multimedia projects in major cities around the world, including London, Los Angeles and New York (at the Time Warner Center). There will be slide shows in public spaces on all seven continents (including Antarctica) and viral videos using Jim's images that will spread across the Internet. Thanks to Jim and ted, this hidden killer will be hidden no longer.

Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR

Officials balk at teen fashion

Tracey Shelton; Girls in hot pants and sexy tops are an increasingly common sight on the streets of Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 02 October 2008

Teens are following global trends and wearing sexier clothes – to the chagrin of the culture ministry, which calls them an affront to Cambodian culture

FASHION-obsessed teenagers like to say style matters and what you wear doesn't hurt anyone.

The Kingdom has long been concerned with the suspected impact of modern customs and technology on traditional Cambodian culture and morality. In recent years it has banned adultery and mobile phone pornography in a crusade to rescue the Kingdom from moral decline.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week also reiterated his opposition to the Miss Cambodia pageant, calling it a degrading waste of money which had a negative impact on traditional Cambodian culture.

But now, many young women are causing cultural controversy by abandoning traditional attire in favour of skimpy ensembles.Sok Sothun, chief of culture development at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, said that the sartorial choices of Cambodia's young women are undermining the Kingdom's traditional culture and morality.

"Our Khmer culture never had this before. People wore sexy or short clothes at home or to sleep but never in public places," he said. "Some girls go to the pagoda wearing short clothes. So what will happen when they kneel down to pray to the monk? It will not be suitable."

"We like wearing sexy clothes but we don't want to destroy Cambodian culture," said Srey Mon, a beautician at a Phnom Penh salon.

Srey Mon started following Thai actresses by wearing the same kind of clothes as them in 2001 but she now follows the style of South Korean actresses. But wearing mini skirts or fitted tops doesn't change her values, she says, adding that she still wants to get married in traditional Cambodian style.

"While we can't ban people from wearing modern clothes because our country is developing, we should do a spot on TV where young people will be able to see people wearing traditional clothes," admitted Sok Sothun.

The government needs to find ways of actively addressing the problem - but not through restrictive legislation, he said.

Sexy style doesn't hurt us

Many young Cambodian women excited by their new found freedom and independence have a very different idea on what is and what is not acceptable attire.

" Cambodia is a modern country now and i hope that we don’t go back to the past. "

Sophorn, 18, student at Santhoumok High School, said that wearing sexy or revealing clothes is "high calibre" and means that she can show off her slim body.

Sophorn says she is obsessed with keeping up with new trends and reads every beauty and fashion magazine she can.

"Wearing out-of-style clothes will show that I am not up to date and a peasant. I don't want my friends to look down on me," she said, adding that all her friends were just as concerned about staying abreast of the latest fashions - particularly if they happen not to conform with traditional sartorial norms.

"I am happy that we have stopped having to wear long skirts.... I hope that we don't go back to the past," she said, laughing.

Kim Vannara 17, student at Baktouk High School, said that she didn't believe wearing sexy clothes would impact on Cambodian tradition.

"We are only wearing modern clothes to fit in with the society around us, and Cambodia needs to go forward as a country instead of looking back to the past," she said.

Officials, operators eye ecotourism as growth sector

Photo supplied; Villagers preparing a traditional meal in Bantey Meanchey province.

16% of Cambodia's
GDP comes from tourism
Thailand, by contrast, earns less than 12 percent of GDP from tourism revenue, according to recent statistics. In 2000, 6.3 percent of Cambodia’s GDP came from the tourism sector.

The Phnom Penh Post

Thursday, 02 October 2008

But expert warns that ecotourism could be more about pandering to wealthy Westerners than actually helping local communities

CAMBODIA is keen to capitalise on the environmental craze by positioning the Kingdom as one of the world's most exclusive and uncharted eco-tourism destinations, officials say.

"The development of ecotourism in Cambodia has no limit," said Thok Sokhom, deputy director of international cooperation and Asean department at the Ministry of Tourism. "The Cambodian ecotourism sector is growing."

The Kingdom already sees more than two million tourist arrivals per year. That number is growing, but the government is eager to spread the benefits of the tourist dollar beyond the hub of Siem Reap and the Angkor temples.

Seven new tourism projects in the rural northeast are in the works, which will help diversify the Kingdom's top-earning industry and bring the benefits of economic development to isolated rural communities. Officials also hope transportation infrastructure and better sanitation in the jungle provinces of Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri will follow.

About 16 percent of Cambodia's gross domestic product comes from tourism, up from 6.3 percent in 2000, and tourism receipts have risen from US$347 million in 2003 to US$1.4 billion four years later, according to government figures.

Ecotourism on the rise

No specific statistics for ecotourism arrivals are available, but private companies and government officials insist the sub-sector of the industry is booming.

" Right now, ecotourism [in cambodia] is still in its early days. "

"About 30 percent of the total number of tourists in the country [last year] went to the northeastern provinces to see dolphins, forests and ecotourism villages," said Thok Sokhom.

Mark Ellison and Yin Chouleang, who founded Asia Adventures, a Phnom Penh-based sustainable ecotourism company in January 2007, say the industry is small but growing.

"Right now, ecotourism [in Cambodia] is still in its early days," Ellison told the Post, "It doesn't compare with Thailand, Vietnam or Laos, but the beginnings are there."

But it is not just about providing people with an amazing holiday, Ellison said.

"Ecotourism ... can help people in communities understand the value of nature and become an endless source of income for these people," he said.

No coherent policy

While the Ministry of Tourism is an active promoter of sustainable tourism, others, such as the Ministry of Mines and Energy, are less keen, Ellison said. "The areas where ecotourism are being promoted have more valuable [natural] resources. The other ministries are eyeing the areas for other things. There seems to be limited joined-up thinking between the ministries," Ellison said.

Another problem that Cambodia's ecotourism industry could face is the country's rapid deforestation.

"When people envisage ecotourism, they envisage forests. A decrease in forests will make Cambodia less attractive," Ellison said. Despite the potential drawbacks, ecotourism shows all the signs of becoming a significant part of Cambodia's growing tourism sector - with massive ancillary benefits for local communities.

Thailand has a sizable and lucrative ecotourism industry, and experts say it could serve as a model for Cambodia."Communities with natural beauty and culture want to develop ecotourism sites," said Thok Sokhom.

Cambodia's recent "Kingdom of Wonders" advertising campaign makes ecotourism one of the pillars of its campaign.

Appearing on CNN International, advertisements feature ecotourism sites prominently, an attempt to show the world Cambodia has more to offer than just Angkor Wat.

Customers, however, need to be careful when choosing an ecotourism trip. Not every ecotourism company delivers on these promises.

Tim Forsyth, from the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics, warned that tourism operators may claim to be sustainable, but their rainforest or cultural experiences may not be joint ventures with the local community.

Forsyth said that there's a possibility that "cultural or green themes pander more to what they [tourism operators] think rich, Western tourists want, rather than actually engage with local ecosystems and cultures."

For Ellison though, sustainable ecotourism is simple.

"It is just treating the country and the people you meet with respect."

Ecotourism: Just a marketing ploy?

Ecotourism is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Tim Forsyth, from the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics, warns that not every ecotourism company is a joint venture with the local community. Forsyth wrote “there’s a concern that eco-tourism is being used in many less developed locations as a springboard for unsustainable mass tourism.” This means that eco tourism can be simply nature-based tourism and not concerned with sustainability or local participation. “[Ecotourism] can actually wreak a lot of damage on fragile ecosystems or increase the pressure upon remote people,” Forsyth has said in a lecture, saying that communities can become dependent on tourism and not develop skills that give them flexibility in the economy. Forsyth emphasizes “sustainable tourism,” should take into account all aspects of tourism. Ecotourism is “the development of a niche product aiming to add value to tourism packages by focusing on green or cultural themes.” Forsyth is a UK-based tourism expert.


Cambodian ride for charity

Karitane couple Pat Sivertsen and her husband, David Shaw, rest after a training session for a 475km sponsored bike ride in Cambodia. Photo by Bill Campbell.

Otago Daily Times, New Zealand
By Bill Campbell
Fri, 3 Oct 2008

As part of a 60th birthday challenge to do something different, Karitane woman Pat Sivertsen (60) and her husband David Shaw (58) are training on East Otago roads for a 475km sponsored bike ride in Cambodia next month.

The nine-day ride will be undertaken with 20 other sponsored NZ riders raising money for a World Vision project to install a clean drinking water system in a village in the Koh Andaet district.

The rural areas in Cambodia lack clean drinking water and health services are limited.

About $60,000 will be raised from the NZ riders' sponsorship and other fundraising towards the cost of the drinking water project, Ms Sivertsen said To help raise sponsorship money the couple are running a second-hand book sale in the Karitane Bowling Club's rooms at Stornoway St, Karitane, on the Saturday of Labour weekend from 10am to 2pm.

This is their last fundraiser.

The couple have raised $8,500 through donations, an Easter garage sale, the collection and sale of obsolete NZ coins and corporate sponsorship.

Ms Sivertsen and Mr Shaw are cycling up to 100km a week in the Karitane area and between Karitane and Dunedin to get in practice for the Cambodian ride.

It will be a lot hotter in Cambodia, with temperatures likely to average about 30degC when the nine-day ride starts in mid November at the Ankor Wat temple, Mr Shaw said.

The countryside will be flat, a change from the hilly East Otago coast roads the couple train on.

The couple have long supported World Vision and sponsored children through the charity.

Cambodia celebrates the World Tourism Day under the topic of 'Tourism responding to the challenge of Climate Change'

2008-10-02 - As a member of UNWTO, Cambodia celebrates the world tourism day every year so as to contribute the hot issue information and find out the key addresses in tourism sector.

Tourism responding to challenge of climate change is the hot topic of United Nation World Tourism Organization for world tourism day celebrating on 27 September 2008. This topic has trigged tourism and related field the discussion how tourism contributes to challenges of climate change which are the world hot issue. As one of the principle services exports in the world's
poorest and emerging countries, tourism effectively on the common cause of climate change response, linking it closely with the fight against poverty.

To raise public awareness on tourism and climate change and congratulate to the World Tourism Day, Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia has proposed the tourism day‘s topic and called for discussion among tourism students under the topic of 'Tourism Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change'. This celebration aims to raise the tourism and climate awareness among publicity and also provide some recommendations, adaptations and strategies to minimize CO2 in tourism sector. Responding to the challenge of climate change, tourism officials suggested that ecotourism could be one of good tourism development solution that pay much attention of environmental conservation, which help deal with the climate change. As Cambodia has recently draft the National Ecotourism Policy, many articles in this policy has also mentioned about how ecotourism policy response to the climate change and develop in a sustainable manner.

Despite the fact that tourism sector has the potential to act the common cause of climate change, Tourism Sector is not the main cause to the climate change. Yet the industries that produce much green house gas are the main causes to the global warming and lead to climate change. Tourism, however, is still one among the others sectors that address keys solution to these challenges. With this context, Cambodia tourism sector has very little contribution in this global issue because Cambodia is a developing country and tourism is just a noticeable sector accelerating Cambodia economic in the last several years.

Ministry of Tourism represents its consideration in promoting the challenges of climate change and sustainable development among tourism development agencies, business and publicity in order to mitigate negative impacts and maximize profit in harmony with the codes of environmental responsibility. The Ministry also hopes all relevant stakeholders in tourism sector will help address this issue and make the balance between development and conservation while increasing the community welfare.

By CHHEM Samnang

British investors eye Cambodia investment

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 02 October 2008

The real estate sector was the major focus for a recent British delegation of business leaders

BRITISH investors are eager to get a slice of Cambodia's booming real estate sector with multiple delegations of businessmen arriving to scout out local partners in anticipation of expanding trade ties.

According to the chairman of the British Business Association of Cambodia (BBAC) Senaka Fernando, the most recent delegation to arrive was eyeing the energy, agro-industry, trade and real estate sectors.

They were particularly interested in Cambodia's skyrocketing real estate sector, where land values have risen 1.5 times in a year, Fernando told the Post Wednesday.

Brits abroad

Cambodia has attracted substantial British investments since 1995, and the BBAC currently has 77 members, Fernando said. No exact figures on British investment in Cambodia could be obtained.

"Investors from any foreign country can come to Cambodia and invest confidently and without restrictions," he said.

"More foreign companies should consider investments here because of our rich natural resources and the availability of a low-cost labour force," Fernando said.

Representatives for the CDC could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Ex Seng, a lecturer at Cambodia Mekong University, said a conference on the trade and investment climate in Cambodia last month attracted more than 40 Cambodian and British business representatives.

"We want to enlarge our relationship with British investors because we have so few of their businesses in the country so far," Ex Seng said.

"As we found at the conference, they are looking for local partners and evaluating investment potential."

Ex Seng said a partnership between the Mong Reththy Group and a British pig breeder, announced last month, shows the potential for creative developmental partnerships.

"We are proud of our country, and we have many Western investors with large-scale and long-term investments who feel the same about emerging investment opportunities," Ex Seng said. He added that British investment representatives expressed growing interest in future partnerships during last month's conference, and they expect to return to Cambodia later in the year to study the agribusiness sector.

Recovered Identity: Cambodian immigrant transcends her painful past, and helps others

Fredrick D. Joe / The Oregonian Mardine Mao came to Oregon as a Cambodian refugee in 1981 and has blossomed from a behind-the-scenes helper to president of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon. "We've seen what she's capable of, and we know she will inspire so many people," says Chanly Bob, the group's board chairman.


by Erin Hoover Barnett
The Oregonian
Thursday October 02, 2008

The years are like shadows she could never really grasp:

Growing up in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Her brother forever separated from her family. Her sister dying. Forced labor in rice fields. Then, at age 14, escaping to Oregon with her mother.

As a teenager in Milwaukie, Mardine Mao was happy to forget. She yearned to say she was from Hawaii or the Philippines, anywhere but Cambodia and the darkness she associated with it.
But as she matured, Mao, now 41, discovered that embracing her identity and sharing the details of that painful time is the road to empowerment.

Cambodians in the Portland metro area and beyond are coming to the same realization as a community. Most of Oregon's more than 5,000 Cambodians fled the Khmer Rouge, yet many have suffered silently with the rage and anxiety of post-traumatic stress, some struggling to assimilate and nurture American-born children and grandchildren.

Now refugees such as Mao -- a child during the Cambodian genocide and so best able to move on -- are leading the cause to build the community's future by unburdening its past.

Mao became president of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon this summer and is launching an oral history project. As a U.N. tribunal in Cambodia finally brings members of despot Pol Pot's killing machine to justice, Cambodian youths in the metro area will record their elders' experiences under the Khmer Rouge.

Courtesy of Mardine Mao
Mardine Mao (then Mardine Ung) stands with her mother, Sa Im Thun, for their official photograph at a Thai border camp in 1980 after escaping Cambodia. Mardine was 13.

The city of Portland has gotten behind the project with a small grant and has asked the Cambodian participants to share the documentary they produce with neighborhood associations, educating a wider audience about the genocide, recovery and resilience.

For Mao, a resident of Washington County's Cedar Mill area, the project offers a chance to unlock her own story and tell it to her teenage sons for the first time. The story of how she came to lead this project shows not only her blossoming but the blossoming of her community.

"We're not excited about opening up," says Mao. "But I think we have a responsibility to educate the general public and the world -- and especially our own children."

Mao sits at a friend's downtown coffee shop in a blue silk top and jeans. Her calm face, framed by dark hair, offers little hint of her troubled past.

She is still piecing her story together, drawing out her stepfather, in whom her mother confided. Mao's mother died in 2002 before Mao had the courage to ask about their time in Cambodia.

Mao was born Mardine Ung in 1967 in Phnom Penh, the capital, where her father directed a government-owned newspaper. Her father hoped to move the family to Oregon but died before it was possible, leaving his wife to fend for three children when Khmer Rouge troops took over in April 1975.

Mao's mother gathered Mao and her younger sister, Srey Touch, for the forced march to a village 30 miles away. Mao's older brother, Sovathara, was with relatives. They never saw him again.

Mao, just 8 then, believes she was sent to a school to learn the regime's philosophy and work in a rice field. Her mother was also pressed into field work. Mao learned from her stepdad that when she was allowed to visit her mother, she brought ambok (rice cereal) that she had squirreled away. Mao knew her mother was starving.

The only clear memory Mao has is of lying ill on the floor of a thatched hut with many other sick people. Someone gave her a pink pill.

"I'm like blank," she says. "I keep asking people, 'When you're 8 or 9 years old, do you remember everything at that age?'"

The regime targeted the educated and upper classes. An estimated 1.5 million Cambodians -- one-fifth of the country's population -- were starved, worked or shot to death in what became known as the killing fields.

The Vietnamese invasion in 1979 plunged the country into chaos. Mao's mother fled the village with Mao and Srey Touch. They returned to the city only to find that their relatives had all perished.

Returning to the village, the family squatted in a machine shed. Srey Touch fell ill. When she died, they rolled her small body in a woven mat and buried her.

With nothing left, Mao and her mother followed others to the Thai border, fearful of Khmer Rouge soldiers hiding from the Vietnamese.

"I imagine her holding my hand and running at the same time, barefoot in the jungle," Mao says, a flicker of pain passing through her dark eyes.

A friend of Mao's father from Oregon traveled to the refugee camps and found Mao and her mother.

Mao arrived at her uncle's home in Portland, in the Mount Scott neighborhood, knowing no English. But at 14, she knew one thing: She wanted to put the past behind her.

"I think for a long time I thought I was a bad person," she says, "because I wanted to erase my identity and, as a result, my memory."

Mao and her mom settled with another relative in Milwaukie.

Mao kept quiet in class at Milwaukie Junior High, afraid to ask questions. She remembers scrambling to look up words such as "cell" and "dissection" in science class while her peers cruised through the text.

Yet she took in a lot. She looked in awe at women driving cars with one hand on the steering wheel. She had never seen women drive.

Mao pursued accounting after high school. She felt comfortable in the background.

She married Mony Mao, a civil engineer and fellow refugee, in 1987. Two years later, Mony helped form the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon.

Mardine Mao steered clear of leadership roles. Speaking up in Cambodia was never rewarded. Politics meant corruption and power-seeking. So when her husband rose in the late 1990s to chair the Cambodian community's board, she stayed on the sidelines, buying raffle prizes, cooking and cleaning up after events while raising the couple's sons, Perrin, 13, and Davin, 18.

"I still had the mentality that this is something that is a job for a man," she says.
Then something changed.

Davin Mao, 18, mixes an active school and social life at Sunset High School with his leadership of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon's youth organization. He says he's proud of his mom and her new leadership role. Here, he talks with his mom about schoolwork in the family's home in Washington County's Cedar Mill area.

In 2006, the state removed a young Cambodian girl from her parents in Washington County and thrust her into foster care. The family didn't know where she was taken or how to get her back.

Community leaders asked Mao to help the family. Mao learned that the girl had gone to school with a bruise after an older brother threw a Coke can at her. Authorities got involved when the girl, bright and precocious, told a school counselor that her parents disciplined her by smacking her hand with chopsticks.

Mao explained to the social worker that this is common in Cambodia and that the parents didn't understand that it was considered abuse in the U.S. After three months, the state let the girl go home.

The family's attorney, Ronault "Polo" Catalani, says Mao made all the difference in the emotional, adversarial process.

"She listens carefully. She lets them get all of that breath out and then she'll talk," Catalani says. "She doesn't shout. She just tells you. There's something just very factual about the way she presents and very fair."

Mao shared the experience during Khmer Heritage Night at a Southeast 82nd Avenue banquet hall in December 2006. She was a minor speaker on a roster that included former Gov. Barbara Roberts and Mayor Tom Potter. She read a prepared speech and says no one expected much until she opened her mouth.

"Something happened to me earlier this year that changed how I feel about volunteering and my outlook on life," she told the hundreds gathered. She relived for her audience the moment when the little girl walked back through her family's front door.

"Her whole face lit up the entire room. She couldn't stop smiling," Mao told them. "I was overcome with joy."

The experience, she said, crystallized her realization that she could make a difference and helped her see that embracing -- not shunning -- her heritage is what emboldened her.

"Now I am more confident and more outspoken than ever," she told them. "Ladies and gentleman, we have a community that provides all these opportunities."

The audience burst into applause.

Mao still carried a burden.

She never got to process with her mother those years in Cambodia. She never got to ask her mother how she survived.

She shared that regret last year at Portland's Khmer Rouge Tribunal Forum at Portland State University, an event that Mao and the community organization helped to organize.

The event gave local refugees a chance to talk about their memories, many for the first time. Mao encouraged attendees to pass on the stories to their children before it's too late. The children need to know their family history, she told them, to know who they are.

"That's what I was struggling a long time with in my early days," Mao says now. "I wanted to be somebody else. Now, with just being part of the community, I kind of found myself. I'm a Cambodian American."

Mao also believes that a wider audience can benefit from knowing the stories of immigrants in their midst. She challenged herself to broaden her audience in classes this year at PSU. For one project, she told classmates about her mother's struggle in Cambodia and how hard her life was compared with Mao's.

Afterward, classmates surrounded her with praise. Instructor Vicki Reitenauer says some of them didn't know about the Khmer Rouge atrocities.

"They left knowing some bit of it and, in a more subtle way, being more enlarged human beings than they were when they went in," Reitenauer says, "and Mardine was a big part of that."

Mao will graduate from PSU this spring after 20 years of taking classes. She changed her major from accounting to human resources. She says she wants to work more with people.

And she is ready to help more members of her community tell their stories.

The community will begin the oral history project this winter with 20 youths and elders. More will follow. A PSU history professor is training participants to elicit memories sensitively.

Catalani, the attorney, co-chaired a city of Portland committee that chose the project for a $10,000 grant. The Northwest Health Foundation is considering a $50,000 grant.

"Cambodians have done an incredible job of caring for their own as the tension of their experiences simmers as depression or boils over into rage," he says. "Now they can share what they endured with a larger audience. ... We are all humanized by the sorrow of these people and the persistence of people. We recognize in those faces our beauty and our pain."

Mao hopes the project will provide an important piece of family history for her own sons. Her oldest, Davin, is president of the community's youth organization and will be among the first to conduct interviews, drawing out his parents, his mom's stepfather and his dad's parents.

Davin says he has always thought his father's experience under the Khmer Rouge was more difficult than his mother's. But he admits he doesn't really know much about what his mother endured because she doesn't talk about it.

He has, however, noticed the change in his mom. He remembers her speech at Khmer Heritage Night.

"Maybe," he says, "she's found her calling."

Thai, Cambodian Leaders To Meet Over Temple Dispute


(RTTNews) - The leaders of Thailand and Cambodia are scheduled to meet in Cambodia in two weeks time to resolve the disputes over Ta Muen Tom and Ta Kwai temples, media reports said.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman confirmed discussions would centre on a dispute over the two temples currently occupied by Thailand when Prime Minister Somchai Wangsawat visits his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen in Phnom Penh October 13.

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

Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said the next Joint Boundary Commission meeting would be held after seeking parliamentary approval for the meeting to avoid any violation of the constitution.

ASEAN foreign ministers, who held talks Monday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly were satisfied Thailand and Cambodia would be able to handle the issue through the bilateral talks, he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon agreed it was unnecessary for the two countries to bring the issues to the U.N. Security Council, he added.

by RTT Staff Writer

Gulf States' Aid for Cambodia's Cham Muslims Raises U.S. Concerns

Geoffrey Cain
01 Oct 2008
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- U.S. policymakers have raised security concerns about radical Islamic charities in Cambodia after delegations from Kuwait and Qatar promised $700 million in soft loans and investment for the country's embattled infrastructure. In an August speech, U.S. ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said militant groups are vying for influence over the country's Cham Muslims, and that Gulf states should "be careful" where the money goes.

Gulf delegates dismissed U.S. worries, claiming their interests in Cambodia -- garnering food security by investing in Cambodia's unused rice fields -- are economic, not cultural. But with $5 million of the loans earmarked to build Muslim institutions, the cultural element is certainly there. Pakistani ambassador to Cambodia Mohammad Younis Khan responded to the concerns over the funding by telling the Phnom Penh Post that Gulf states "simply like to help their Muslim brothers."

The loans are the latest demonstration of Middle East-Cambodia ties that began in 1991, when Cambodia's government was established by the Paris peace accords after years of civil war. At the time, Cham Muslims -- nearly wiped out by the Maoist Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979 -- had little left in the way of religious and moral authority. Islamic charities, some affiliated with militant Saudi Wahhabism, moved in to fill the void, constructing hundreds of religious schools.

The U.S., meanwhile, set its counterterrorism sights on Cambodia in 2003, after Muslim insurgents from southern Thailand allegedly tried to bomb three embassies in Phnom Penh and authorities made arrests at a Cham school where Riduan Isamuddin (a.k.a. Hambali), the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings, was offered refuge. The ongoing insurgency in southern Thailand is also a source of concern, with some U.S. authorities fearing that Cambodian Chams might send students to the Thai south, as well as to Pakistan, for indoctrination and training.

But many scholars argue that the southern Thai conflict, like most Islamic insurgencies in Southeast Asia, is a local conflict, hardly a front in the global "war on terror" in which the U.S. need take serious interest. Cham scholar Agnes de Feo also argues that, unlike their Thai counterparts, Chams have shown little inclination to violence because they have no claim to an independent state against Cambodia. And they're unlikely to embrace a militant movement now that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warmed up to Cham practices in recent years, calling for a Muslim prayer room at Phnom Penh's airport and offering significant radio airtime to Cham leaders.

Rather, the main threat in Cambodia, according to FBI Director Robert Mueller, is that its weak law enforcement and security capabilities allow extremists to use the country as a transit point for their operations. But Mueller's opinion, expressed at the January 2008 opening of the FBI office in Phnom Penh, doesn't quite match Mussomeli's repeated expressions of U.S. concern over Cham radicals under the influence of Islamic charities inside Cambodia.

Some analysts think the sudden surge of American interest in Cambodia could be a result of the growing influence of China, which eyes untapped markets in Southeast Asia and Africa to satisfy its thirst for resources. China has offered Cambodia more than $600 million in annual aid since 2005, topping all Western donors combined. On top of that, Chinese aid rarely comes with demands for democratic reform like that of Western counterparts, making it favorable for Hun Sen's scandal-ridden government. Cambodia has in return awarded Chinese companies billions of dollars in contracts to build dams that will power the Cambodian countryside, which, according to the World Bank, faces the highest energy costs in the world.

At a meeting last week in Washington between U.S. and ASEAN leaders (see
Prashanth Parameswaran's WPR piece), Cambodian Foreign Minister Norodom Sirivudh summed up his view that Southeast Asia should not have to decide between the U.S. and China. With a growing U.S. security presence in the region, and Chinese aid flowing into Cambodia at an unprecedented level, the Chams could simply be a pretext for galvanizing U.S. influence in the Asian country.

Geoffrey Cain is a Phnom Penh-based contributor to the Far Eastern Economic Review and Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a U.N.-run news wire service.

Cambodian politician Prince Ranariddh announces retirement

Submitted by Sahil Nagpal
Thu, 10/02/2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who became the country's first democratically elected prime minister in memory in 1993, announced his political retirement Thursday.

He announced his decision at a formal dinner in the capital.

Ranariddh, a son of former king Norodom Sihanouk, said he had told his half brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, Thursday morning that he believed he could serve the country better in another capacity.

"This morning, I told the Cambodian king that ... I will no longer be involved in politics. I told the king I want to retire. I have served Cambodia for 25 years," he told reporters in the capital.

The prince has been in self-imposed exile in Malaysia following a conviction in absentia last year. He was sentenced to 18 months of jail for embezzling 3.6 million dollars from the sale of the headquarters of the Funcinpec party.

Last week, Sihamoni granted Ranariddh a royal pardon - a move supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In 1993, Ranariddh narrowly won the nation's first democratic elections since before the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime with the Funcinpec party and formed a coalition with Hun Sen.

He was ousted in 1997 "factional fighting."

After Funcinpec sacked him over the sale of its headquarters, which Ranariddh maintains was a politically motivated charge, he set up the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

That party won two seats in the July 27 national elections. However, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party collected 90 out of a total of 123 seats.

Ranariddh did not say who would take the reins of his self-named party after his retirement. (dpa)

Rule by decree in Cambodia must end

UPI Asia
By Lao Mong Hay
Column: Rule by Fear
Published: October 01, 2008

Hong Kong, China — The office of the prime minister of Cambodia in April this year issued a notification letter awarding 72 hectares of land to four private individuals. The land belonged to a fishing community of 64 families in a coastal area of Kampot province, and ownership was transferred without reference to the country’s land law of 2001.

When the affected families protested against the award, it did not take long for the ruling party’s provincial committee to directly intervene, fearing that the protest would have an adverse effect on the party in light of the approaching parliamentary elections. In May, the committee hurriedly sent a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen, requesting him to rescind the notification letter.

It did not take long for Hun Sen, either, to heed that petition. In early June, some six weeks before the election, the affected families got back their community land.

However, more than 200 families living in a village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh were not that fortunate in their efforts to have a plot of land, which they consider community land, returned to them. The land was vacant in the mid 1980s when the villagers claimed it as community property to stage communal religious functions. A fellow villager, however, somehow succeeded in making that land his private property. Other villagers protested and filed a complaint in court to claim it back.

The Court of First Instance and later the Court of Appeal ruled against the villagers. However, in July 2005, they won their case in the Supreme Court, Cambodia’s court of final appeal. The court awarded the land back to the villagers to serve as their community land. At first, the loser agreed to comply with the Supreme Court’s judgment, but somehow, in November 2006, secured a notification letter from the office of the prime minister. The Supreme Court’s judgment has not been executed since then.

The villagers have since protested against the continued possession of their community land by the fellow villager. On Sept.17 hundreds of villagers gathered and put their thumbprints on a petition to Hun Sen, requesting him for justice to get their communal land back.

The use of notification letters is not unique in the two cases above. Rather, it is a common practice for settling disputes by bypassing legal procedures and court judgments.

This practice is a kind of “rule by decree,” where notification letters serve as simple notices to concerned persons of the decisions made by the prime minister or his office. They have no official status as executive orders or regulations – such as royal decrees signed by the king, sub-decrees signed by the prime minister or ministerial orders signed by ministers – and are not subject to parliamentary debate or judicial review.

Furthermore, they are not necessarily issued and signed by the prime minister himself, but more often by senior officials in his office, invariably with references to his decisions annotated on the case file. The number of people authoring such letters causes confusion and creates more problems for the concerned parties.

In April this year a notification letter was issued by a senior official in the prime minister’s office awarding a piece of disputed land to a group of litigants. In May, the same land was awarded to another group of litigants by another official in the same office, who issued another notification letter. In July, the first group of litigants made a plea to Hun Sen to get the land back.

This practice is unconstitutional, where institutions other than the courts have the power to adjudicate disputes. Furthermore, it is an offence of interference in the judicial functions of courts and appears in the current draft of the Cambodian penal code.

This form of rule by decree has bred corruption and contributed to the centralization of power in the hands of the prime minister. It has long obstructed the establishment of the rule of law, which, according to its Constitution, is supposed to govern Cambodia.

This rule by decree must end, and the penal code should be adopted as soon as possible to criminalize interference in the judicial function of the courts.

(Lao Mong Hay is a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. He was previously director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a visiting professor at the University of Toronto in 2003. In 1997, he received an award from Human Rights Watch and the Nansen Medal in 2000 from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.)

PM calls for Cambodian workers in Thailand to return home

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed to Cambodian workers in Thailand to return home, saying that labor markets in Cambodia are eager for workers and that wages have gone up significantly, national media reported Thursday.

"Wages in Cambodia are currently higher than in Thailand," Hun Sen was quoted as saying in the Phnom Penh Post.

"If they work (here), they will not be looked down on by (Thai) employers or have to work illegally," he said.

"The government will improve working conditions in Cambodia and strengthen labor laws and stability as well as guarantee investment opportunities," he added.

Some 18,300 Cambodians work in Thailand, and between 100 and 150 workers enter Thailand daily for short-term employment, according to the Ministry of Labor.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labor, said most workers who entered into Thailand illegally are being cheated by employment recruiters and are taking unnecessary risks by not having proper work documents.

Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand are working in the construction, agricultural and fisheries sectors, according to the Chiang Mai-based Migrant Assistance Project.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Cambodia's genocide trial delayed until next year


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The start of the first trial at Cambodia's genocide tribunal is likely to be delayed until early next year because more time is needed to deal with an appeal for more charges against a Khmer Rouge defendant, officials said Thursday.

The news is likely to fuel further frustration among many Cambodians, who have been waiting for justice for nearly three decades after the Khmer Rouge held power in the late 1970s.

The communist group implemented radical policies considered responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal is attempting to establish accountability for the atrocities committed in 1975-1979, and the first trial had been expected to start last month.

The latest delay was caused by an appeal by prosecutors to have additional charges lodged against Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who headed the former S-21 prison, the Khmer Rouge's largest torture facility.

"The chance to have a trial for Duch could be in 2009, early next year," said Reach Sambath, a tribunal spokesman, but he was also unable to give a specific date.

The tribunal's pretrial chamber set Dec. 5 for a ruling on the prosecutors' appeal, said Helen Jarvis, the tribunal's public affairs chief.

"So there won't be anything before that," she said, also declining to be specific when asked about a possible starting date for a trial. She had previously said the trial for Duch was to open in September.

Youk Chhang — director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group researching Khmer Rouge crimes — was not happy with the delay.

"What a shame. They surely can prolong the trials but not the lives of the defendants, including Duch," he said. "The hopes of the victims remain scattered at this moment."

The 65-year-old Duch is the youngest of the five Khmer Rouge who have been indicted, and all have health problems.

In August, the investigating judges concluded their yearlong investigation into Duch's case, ordering the defendant to stand trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

But afterward the prosecutors objected, saying the charges were insufficient as they might prevent a full accounting for Duch's criminal responsibility during his tenure at the prison.

They said they wanted Duch additionally charged with homicide and torture — crimes under Cambodian national law — and also with joint criminal enterprise for actions that occurred inside S-21 prison.

Officials of Opposition Parities and of Civil Society Organizations Call on the Fourth Term Package Voted Government to Create Anti-Corruption Laws So

Posted on 2 October 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 580

“Officials of opposition parties and of civil society organizations call on the fourth term package voted government to soon adopt anti-corruption laws, which have been delayed for long, in order to avoid criticism that the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, again has no intention to fight corruption. The appeal by officials of political parties and of civil society organizations was made after Prime Minister Hun Sen stated during the first session of the Council of Ministers on Friday during the previous week that the fight against corruption remains a priority agenda item of the fourth term government.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen stated during that session that the government is still strongly committed to organize and to adopt anti-corruption laws, depending on other major laws as a basis to be adopted in advance. The fourth term package voted Prime Minister said, ‘When we will have created a one-way counter system, the operation [of multiple counters] for corruption will be closed. Before, investors had to go to this ministry a bit and to that ministry a bit, and the gap in approach between the different ministries was the gap of corruption to enter.’

“It should be noted that anti-corruption laws were drafted in 1998 by the opposition party and then, the government redrafted them. Now, the Council of Ministers is checking and editing them again before they are sent to the National Assembly to be adopted. A high-ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party said that the Sam Rain Party will demand that the government will adopt the anti-corruption laws soon with no further delay, so as to serve the benefit of the citizens and of the nation. The government must not just promise without setting a clear time line by raising different reasons as pretexts like it did previously.

“Regarding the above issue, Mr. Yim Sovann, a member of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party, said that the government talks very little about measures to fight corruption in its political program, compared to the third term government. Mr. Yim Sovann added, ‘The leaders of this term government do not have really the political will and sufficient commitment to fight corruption – that is a concern for Cambodia. The promise to adopt anti-corruption laws appears on paper only, but to stamp out corruption remains ineffective, because anti-corruption draft laws lack many points, so that they cannot lead to efficient enforcement.’

“Mr. Ny Chakrya, the head of the Monitoring Unit of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that anti-corruption laws are abundant for ruling the country towards transparency and trust. Mr. Ny Chakrya continued, ‘These anti-corruption laws do not need to wait for the adoption of additional criminal laws, because these laws have their own penalties and procedures. These laws would be better adopted early during the present mandate in order that the process of the fourth term government is transparent from early on until the end of the mandate.’

“Previously, Prime Minister Hun Sen, the head of the Cambodian government, had promised in front of the international community and donor countries to have anti-corruption laws adopted by 2006, but there is no result from Hun Sen’s promise. As for important institutions granting aid to Cambodia, they do not urge the Hun Sen government to take action to eliminate corruption effectively, especially the World Bank. Therefore, an international organization publicly criticized that the World Bank smiles at the corruption in Cambodia.

“People who observe the political and the economic situation in Cambodia said that if Hun Sen does have the will to fight corruption, anti-corruption laws according to international standards might be created early by the fourth term government or even late in 2008. If there is further delay, it means that the fourth term government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, again does not have the intention to fight corruption, which is deeply rooted in Khmer society; this will lead to corruption and bureaucracy spreading stronger in important state institutions, and the Cambodian economy might not develop like the economy in neighboring countries.

“Recently, Transparency International, with it’s headquarters based in Germany, published a report showing that Cambodian ranked 166th among 180 countries worldwide with serious corruption. This report said that Cambodia was the worst corrupt country in Southeast Asia after Burma, a dictatorial country, even worse than Laos. Such serious corruption makes Cambodia to not progress, even though this country has received loans and has received huge amounts of aid from the international community.

“Observers assessed already that if Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, does not care to adopt anti-corruption laws early during the fourth term government, corruption might become more serious than during the third term government, because corrupt officials who steal from the nation continue to administer important state institutions, like during the third term package government – most of them are people from the ruling party. Therefore, if anti-corruption laws cannot be adopted soon, there is nothing to cope with the strong corruption during the fourth term package voted government.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3577, 2.10.2008
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Thursday, 2 October 2008