Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thai troops hurt by mines

HENG CHIVOAN; Cambodian soldier Ly Sophan, 22, points to damage done during Friday’s firefight between Thai and Cambodian troops.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Preah Vihear provinceBlasts put border on edge following last week's shootings

TWO Thai soldiers were seriously injured Monday by land mine blasts in a disputed area on the Cambodian border, officials said, as tensions remained high following last week's clash between Thai and Cambodian troops.

The two blasts happened in quick succession around 10am in the Veal Antri area, near where Friday's firefight occurred, Cambodian commanders in the area told the Post. They added that a Thai military helicopter was seen arriving at the area a little more than an hour later.

"We have received information that two Thai soldiers stepped on land mines," said Yim Phim, commander of RCAF's Brigade 43.

He added that he feared Thai troops had been preparing to launch an attack on his positions when they were turned back by the mine explosions. "We were lucky not to clash," he said.

Council of Ministers Secretary of State Phay Siphan confirmed that two Thais were wounded by land mines, saying one soldier lost a leg while the other lost both of his legs.

"This is another invasion by Thai troops into Cambodian territory," he said.

Both governments have accused the other of violating an agreement not to engage in armed conflict after last week's incident, which broke out about two kilometres from Preah Vihear temple.

Tensions flared in July after Thai troops entered Cambodian territory near the Preah Vihear complex, a famed set of Cambodian ruins that shortly before had been awarded Unesco World Heritage status.

The incident escalated into the largest recent buildup of soldiers and military equipment, including artillery and tanks, along the border. More than 1,000 Cambodian and Thai soldiers faced off near the temple itself with thousands of others stationed at potential flashpoints along the border, Cambodian military commanders said at the time.

Since then, many of the troops have been redeployed away from the temple following several rounds of talks.

$10 million spent for PVihear heritage site

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

CAMBODIA spent nearly US$10 million on an emergency budget to get Preah Vihear temple listed this year as a Unesco World Heritage site, a government official told the Post on Monday.

Phay Siphan, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said the money paid for administrative and restoration expenses and not infrastructure development at the 11th-century temple.

"This is a normal expense for the Cambodian government," he said. "We used the money for technical work and travelling expenses for our delegates involved in the evaluation of the temple," he said by telephone.

The World Heritage Committee officially added Preah Vihear, which sits on an escarpment along the Thai-Cambodian border, to its list of World Heritage sites on July 7.

Preservation work

Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the special $10 million budget addition on July 23, officials said.Hang Soth, director general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said additional expenses were not limited to the listing of the temple but also covered preservation work at the temple complex, a large portion of which is in ruins.

"I think it was a big expense, but it was necessary to help prevent damage at the temple," he said.

Yim Sovann, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, said he approved the additional funding. But he added that the government has a responsibility not to be wasteful in its spending. "I think it was good if the money was spent properly on the temple," he told the Post on Monday.

Picture from Preah Vihear : 07/10/2008

Cambodian soldiers patrol Engel field on Phnom Trop mountain, near the Thai border and the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 7, 2008. Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines near the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the Preah Vihear temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier patrols Engel field on Phnom Trop mountain, near the Thai border and the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 7, 2008. Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines near the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the Preah Vihear temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers walk to Engel field on Phnom Trop mountain, near the Thai border and the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 7, 2008. Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines near the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the Preah Vihear temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier sits at Engel field on Phnom Trop mountain, near the Thai border and the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 7, 2008. Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines near the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the Preah Vihear temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian soldier (R) talks to a Thai soldier near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 7, 2008. Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines near the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the Preah Vihear temple.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Learning the fine points of Cambodian cooking

CHRISTOPHER SHAY; Mushroom amok, the vegetarian alternative to fish amok, is one of the recipes students learn at the Cambodian Cooking Class.

The Phnom Penh Post

Monday, 06 October 2008

Hun Li Heng and his Cambodian Cooking Class take the uninitiated on a hands-on tour through the subtle flavours of Khmer cuisine

SIX people wearing identical white aprons surrounded our cooking instructor at the Cambodian Cooking Class, a course offered through Frizz Restaurant.

Our instructor, Hun Li Heng, explained all the different herbs that went into a banana flower salad and passed them around for us to smell. There was broad-leafed fishwort, two types of mint and Thai basil, each with a distinct aroma and taste. Learning the proper balance of herbs is key to great Cambodian cuisine, Hun Li Heng explained.

The class highlighted the careful use of herbs and roots that give Khmer food its unique taste. Cambodian cuisine may not have the global profile that Thai or Vietnamese food enjoy, but it's certainly not from lack of flavour, sophistication or influence.

"Everybody knows Thai [food], but a lot of it comes from Cambodia," Hun Li Heng said.

Pre-dating the chili pepper

It was in the Angkorian courts at the height of the Khmer Kingdom that many of the prototypes for Southeast Asia's most popular dishes were created, according the recipe book that one receives at the end of the course.

"Thai food is like Cambodian food, not the opposite," Hun Li Heng said.

Despite may similarities between Cambodian cuisine and the food of its better-known nieghbours, there are still some important differences. Khmer recipes go back centuries - long before chili peppers were introduced in the region by the Portuguese. Consequently, Khmer food tends to be less spicy than Thai food, which thoroughly integrates the chili pepper. But the mildness of Cambodian food allows the full flavour of the ingredients to shine through.

Hun Li Heng - currently the only instructor of the Cambodian Cooking Class - is a former street kid who trained as a chef and discovered a knack for passing on what he had learned to others. In the Cambodian Cooking Class, he takes students through popular Khmer dishes from start to finish.

One should be sure to attend class with an empty stomach and open mind; one has many opportunities to eat and learn.

The class meets in front of Frizz Restaurant at No 67, Street 240, in Phnom Penh, and proceeds to the Psar Kandal market, where the instructor takes participants on a tour, answering questions about which fish makes for the best amok and explaining the different Cambodian fruits and vegetables.

" Everybody knows thai food, but a lot of it comes from cambodia. "

The class then heads to a nearby rooftop where the instruction begins. With burners arranged in a half circle around Hun Li Heng, we started our first dish - fried spring rolls. Squeezing the starch out of shredded taro root - the main ingredient of our spring rolls - is as satisfying as it is messy. Participants should be prepared to get their hands dirty, as everyone leaves with yellow fingertips from peeling and mashing turmeric.

Following spring rolls, we made fish amok, banana flower salad and mango sticky rice. The course has two menus, one for even days and one for odd.

Both classes teach how to prepare four traditional Khmer dishes - an appetizer, a main, a salad and a desert - and how to best present the dishes. Our class even learned how to carve an ornamental flower out of a carrot. Hun Li Heng told the class, "If you don't cut yourself making the flower, you're an expert." By that definition, we were all "experts", despite my own very sad looking "flower".

Missing ingredients

After every dish, there's plenty of time to relax and talk with the other participants as one eats one's own culinary creations. It's an intimate and laid-back class where one has plenty of time ask questions and get to know one's fellow classmates.

Eating one's own dishes after being involved in every step and then being able to discuss the end results made it much easier to parse out the different flavours and ingredients. One could see people begin to understand the effects of each ingredient, figuring out what substitutes could be made back in their respective countries if they couldn't find say taro root or galanga. The improvement of everybody's Khmer food palate was obvious.

The one problem with the class is the recipe book, which doesn't include the recipes for banana flower salad or mango sticky rice or list possible replacements for local ingredients that are widely available outside of Cambodia. With such a wealth of information provided in class, it's unfortunate that the recipe book is so sparse.

Despite the mediocre recipe book, the Cambodian Cooking Class is destined to play a valuable role in reviving Khmer cuisine, helping it find a global audience and doing it in a relaxed, fun and informative atmosphere.

Bookings for the class can be made at cambodia-cooking-class.com or by calling 023 220 953 or 012 524 801.

Anne Frank diary resonates with Cambodians

Sayana Ser reads a copy of the Khmer translation of the "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. Photo: Tibor Krausz

The Jewish Journal

October 6, 2008

By Tibor Krausz

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (JTA)—As a young girl in the early 1990s, Sayana Ser often spent the night cowering in fear with her family in an underground shelter her father had dug beneath their home on the outskirts of this capital city.

Outside, marauding bands of Khmer Rouge guerrillas battled it out with government forces. Meanwhile, brutal mass murder was still fresh on civilians’ minds.

A decade later, as a 19-year-old scholarship student in the Netherlands, Sayana chanced upon the memoirs of another girl who had feared for her life in even more dire circumstances.

It was “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, the precocious Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam until her family’s hiding place was discovered and she was sent to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“While reading the book I couldn’t hold my tears back,” Sayana recalls. “I wondered how Anna must have felt and how she could bear it.”

Sayana now is the director of a student outreach and educational program at a Cambodian research institution that documents the Khmer Rouge genocide. Between 1975 and 1979, up to 2 million people—a fourth of the population—perished on Pol Pot’s “killing fields” in one of the worst mass murders since the Holocaust.

Sayana, who wrote her master’s thesis about “dark tourism,” or touristic voyeurism at genocide sites in Cambodia and elsewhere, also visited several Holocaust memorials and death camps.

“I couldn’t believe how one human being could do this to another, whether they were Jews or Khmers,” she says.

On returning home, she sought permission to translate the Anne Frank diary into Khmer.

The Holocaust classic was published by the country’s leading genocide research group, the Documentation Center of Cambodia. It is now available for Khmer students at high school libraries in Phnom Penh alongside locally written books about the Khmer Rouge period. Such books include “First They Killed My Father” by Loung Ung, which recounts the harrowing experiences of a child survivor of the killing fields.

“I have seen many Anna Franks in Cambodia,” says Youk Chhang, the head of the documentation center and Cambodia’s foremost researcher on genocide.

A child survivor himself, Chhang lost siblings and numerous relatives in the mass murders perpetrated by Pol Pot and his followers.

“If we Cambodians had read her diary a long time ago,” he says, “perhaps there could have been a way for us to prevent the Cambodian genocide from happening.”

Anne Frank’s message, he adds, remains as potent as ever.

“Genocide continues to happen in the world around us even today,” Youk says. “Her diary can still play an important role in prevention.”

Although the story of Anne and her resilient optimism in the face of murderous evil has touched millions of readers around the world, it may particularly resonate with Cambodians, Sayana adds.

“Under Pol Pot, many children were separated from their families. They faced starvation and were sent to the front to fight and die,” she explains. “Like Anna, they never knew peace and the warmth of a home.”

Inspired by Anne’s diary, she adds, some Cambodian students have begun to write their own diaries to chronicle the sorrows and joys of their daily lives.

Children in Laos, too, can soon learn of Anne’s story and insights.

In the impoverished, war-torn communist country bordering Cambodia, almost a million people perished during the Vietnam War, while countless landmines and a low-level insurgency continue to take lives daily.

Yet with books for children almost nonexistent beyond simple school textbooks, Lao students remain largely ignorant of the world and history. In a private initiative, an American expat publisher is now bringing them children’s classics translated into Lao, including Anne Frank’s diary.

“I was describing the book to a bright college graduate here and gave him a little context,” says Sasha Alyson, the founder of Big Brother Mouse, a small publishing house in Vientiane, the Lao capital, which specializes in books for Lao children. He recalls the student asking, ‘World War II? Is that the same as Star Wars?”

Anna Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl,” he says, will provide Lao children with a much-needed lesson in history.

Reviving a lost heritage


Tuesday October 7, 2008

ARTISANS d’Angkor is an arts-and-crafts Cambodian company dedicated to preserving and reviving the country’s traditional savoir-faire.

Its focuses mainly on ornamental sculpture, lacquerware, silk weaving and silk painting.
Silk cushions and threads at the Artisans d’ Angkor flagship store in Siem Reap.

Workshops like the Angkor Silk Farm in the Puok district and the Chantiers-Écoles in downtown Siem Reap are open to the public.

According to its website, Artisans d’Angkor promotes fair and sustainable development of Cambodian arts and crafts which benefits rural communities.

It provides training for young locals, enabling them to redisco­ver lost ancient talents and make a living out of their skills while working in their home villages.

In more recent times, years of war and genocide had decimated a great number of heirs of these artistic traditions. With them, disappeared a vast body of skills and expertise.

The Chantiers-Écoles, a professional training school, was thus founded to help young Cambodians rediscover traditional handicraft and give them the opportunity to take part in their country’s rebuilding process.

The Artisans d’Angkor was established as a natural offshoot of the Chantiers-Écoles project as a school-to-work transition for young, trained craftsmen.

Over the years, since its establishment, it has created over 1,000 job opportunities for Cambodians in the 12 workshops it operates in Siem Reap.

It has also pioneered a new social policy in Cambodia with guaranteed levels of pay along with social and medical benefits.

As for the craftsmen, they have formed an association known as Artisanat Khmer, which holds a 20% share in the company.

Artisans d’Angkor hopes that by promoting Cambodian traditional savoir-faire, it helps to instil the pride of Cambodian people in their roots while giving them a sense of dignity for a better future.

- Source:

A fine weave


Story and photos by LIM CHIA YING

Hand-woven Cambodian silk not only makes a great gift, its purchase helps to support Cambodians and preserve their heritage.

THE work that goes into creating the fine quality of Cambodian silk is most painstaking, to say the least. Until one actually witnesses the entire process - from breeding the silkworms to spinning the single last thread - it’s difficult to appreciate the skill involved in producing these beautiful textiles.

A recent holiday to Siem Reap, Cambodia, allowed me to do just that. Half-baked from the searing heat of the sun after a visit to the famed Angkor archaeological sites and temples, my companion and I decided to take it easy the next day and made an out-of-the-way trip to the Angkor Silk Farm.

A worker is degumming the silk to unwind the thread from the cocoons which have been dipped in hot water to extract the raw thread.

Travel brochures don’t often mention the farm, and I stumbled upon it while running through pages of small advertisements inside a local guidebook.

Located about 16km outside Siem Reap town, our tuk-tuk driver initially looked lost when we asked for the farm, until we pointed him in the direction of the Puok district. You have to go through dusty laterite roads and a nondescript lane to get there but the Angkor Silk Farm is actually in a sizeable compound with several wooden workshops fronting row upon row of mulberry trees, with a placard in front of each one to indicate the different species.

We later found out that 18 species are grown at the farm, and besides a homegrown variety, they are also imported from places like China and Japan. Each species can be distinguished from the shape and size of its leaves, which are wafer-thin and delicate.

Meth Thong, who had just finished his lunch when we arrived, was more than glad to take us around.

“Mulberry leaves are natural food for silkworms to induce them to spit out their saliva and spin themselves into a cocoon,” he said.

At one of the workshops, staff were sorting out the different types of leaves and cutting them into fine pieces before scattering them over silkworm eggs that were laid in baskets.

A worker spinning thread before it is used for weaving.

These eggs are also covered up with cloth to keep them warm and to prevent flies or mosquitoes from attacking them.

A picture chart on one of the walls informs visitors of the life cycle of a silkworm.

“First, there’s the cocoon,” explained Meth. “After five days, the larvae inside hatches and become moths.

“After that, the male and female moths will mate within four to five hours, and once the eggs are laid the adult moths will die.

“These eggs will be incubated for 12 days, before they turn grey and the silkworms break out to feed on the mulberry leaves.”

A female moth can lay between 250 and 300 yellow eggs each time. The baby silkworms mature in four different stages; at each stage, the worms eat for three days and sleep for one day so their skin can shed and they can continue growing.

It is during the final growing stage that the worms spin themselves into cocoons to start the life cycle all over again.

To protect them, the wriggling silkworms are placed inside a tightly closed room, lined with mosquito netting.

Meth said 80% of the silkworms bred are used to extract silk thread, while the remaining 20% are kept to ensure continuous breeding and reproduction.

“Cambodian silkworms are unique, as they are yellow in colour compared to white ones in other countries,” he said.

In one of the workshops, the cocoons are dipped into boiling water and gently prodded to extract the raw thread. Once this process, called degumming, is done, the cocoon goes into another boiling pot to have the fine silk layer fished out.

One of the women working on this was happily munching away on some of the boiled worms.

She gestured to me to try one of her afternoon tidbits, and after much hesitation I popped one into my mouth. It had a rather watery texture, with a slightly salty aftertaste that lingered. It was not something I would try again!

Further down the line, women were spooling the extracted thread and wrapping it on big wheels to give it more tension.

Many of the women, said Meth, are rural local folks who have the opportunity to make a living from their skills and revive an ancient tradition and heritage.

According to Artisans d’ Angkor, the company responsible for running this farm and other skills workshops for local people in Siem Reap, silk weaving was introduced in Cambodia in the 13th century thanks to the Silk Road that once traversed South-East Asia. The craft is practised by women in rural villages using traditional looms set up below their stilted houses during the dry season when they are not working in the fields.

Another fascinating stage in the silk-making is when colour is added to the thread. The farm uses both chemical and natural dyes €“ the latter involves boiling ingredients like tree barks and rusty nails €“ items you would never think of.

During the weaving process, women dexterously use the tie-dye-and-dry technique that requires dyeing the weft thread (the one on the width of the fabric) to prepare the pattern.

For every extra colour included in the fabric, the tie-dye-and-dry step has to be repeated, and Meth said it takes between two and three days to dry one colour, depending on the weather.
“Silk in Cambodia is mostly woven by hand. It’s a time-consuming and meticulous process, but it’s a skill that Cambodians know best and something we must preserve.

“It’s our heritage, and one that we are proud to share with the world.”

Visitors can purchase handmade items like shawls, purses, apparel and even pillowcases at the Artisans d’Angkor boutique, which are produced straight from the weaving looms.
Prices are a little steep, but if you see first-hand the hours of labour and complex handiwork that go into every thread, you may find it’s all well worth the money you pay.

> The Angkor Silk Farm is open daily from 7am to 5pm. Guided tours are available in Khmer, English, French and Japanese, and are provided free of charge but a small token is always appreciated. For details, visit

Senior opposition party leader defects to Cambodia's major ruling party


PHNOM PENH, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Keo Ramy, vice president of Cambodia's second largest opposition party, here Tuesday defected to major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

"I decide to join CPP after I have opposed it for over 20 years," said the 45-year-old former leader of the Human Right Party (HRP). "We have opposed CPP for our whole lives, but we will not win CPP."

"We can see that through the general election on July 27. CPP won 90 of the 123 seats at the National Assembly. More (and more) people support CPP and I follow the decision of people," he added.

During the election, HRP won three seats, but Ramy failed to secure a seat as candidate for the Phnom Penh electoral constituency.

Ramy once served the co-ruling Funcinpec Party and the major opposition Sam Rainsy Party and later joined his friends to establish HRP.

Editor: David Du

Vietnam, Cambodia agree to strengthen relationship

The session was co-chaired by the Vietnamese Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, head of the Vietnam sub-commission, and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong, head of the Cambodia sub-commission. (Photo: VNN)


VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Commission for Economic, Cultural and Scientific-Technological Cooperation convened its 10th session in Da Nang City on Oct. 6 to discuss concrete measures to expand bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

The session was co-chaired by the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, head of the Vietnam sub-commission, and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong, head of the Cambodia sub-commission.

The two sides agreed to prioritise fields in which the two countries have potential, such as personnel training, infrastructure development, trade and investment, energy, transport, health care, mining, oil industry, industrial crop plantation and seafood processing.

They stressed the need to intensify trade and services activities to increase two-way trade turnover to 2 billion USD by 2010.

They pledged to facilitate the cooperation of businesses involved in projects to build hydro-electricity power plants, explore and exploit oil and gas reserves and develop telecom services as well as to encourage localities, particularly those lying along the borders of the two countries, to further their cooperation.

The officials agreed to upgrade several border gates to facilitate economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries and their localities, increase cooperation in matters of national security and the fight against trans-national crime, and continue conducting joint-patrols at sea.

The session appreciated that, following the ninth session in August 2007, the two countries saw significant developments in bilateral cooperation, particularly in the fields of the economy, trade and investment, education, tourism, banking and health care.

The border demarcation and landmark plantation work has been accelerated in order to be completed as scheduled in 2012.

After the session, the two Deputy PMs signed the session’s minutes and agreed to convene the 11th session in Cambodia in 2009.

(Source: VNA)

Vietnam, Cambodia join hands for bilateral development

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem and Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong signed Monday agreements to cooperate in areas of education, agro-forestry and fishery, and culture-sports and tourism.

Under the plans, Vietnam will provide 550 scholarships for Cambodian students to study in Vietnam and build a vocational school in its neighbor’s Mondunkiri Province.

Cambodia, meanwhile, agrees to expedite the allocation of 100,000 hectares of land for Vietnam to plant rubber trees.

The two neighbors urged for closer collaboration between localities that host UNESCO’s World Heritage sites to boost local tourism industries.

Additionally, the officials also authorized deals to cooperate in fields of health, labor, transport and civil aviation.

The four-day meeting of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee in central Da Nang City, chaired by Khiem and Namhong, will wrap up today.

Reported by Dieu Hien

Cambodia Tourism-Peak Season: Bayon Heritage Travel and Tours ready to serve


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Free breakfast on menu for Cambodia school kids

A Cambodian teacher serves cooked rice for her schoolchildren during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program at Sangkum Seksa School, in Kampong Speu province, about 65 kilometers (40 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 29, 2008. The U.N. humanitarian food agency said Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008 it has resumed the free breakfast for hundreds of thousands of poor Cambodian schoolchildren after securing funds for running the program this year. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian schoolboy eats cooked rice during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program at Sangkum Seksa School, in Kampong Speu province, about 65 kilometers (40 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. The U.N. humanitarian food agency said Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008 it has resumed the free breakfast for hundreds of thousands of poor Cambodian schoolchildren after securing funds for running the program this year. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The U.N. food agency is resuming free breakfasts for hundreds of thousands of poor Cambodian schoolchildren after securing new funds for a program suspended due to high food prices, the agency said Tuesday.

Under the revived scheme, 450,000 schoolchildren in the countryside will be fed meals in classes before starting their daily lessons.

The new school year started Oct. 1, and food distribution is now under way for students in 1,344 rural schools in 12 Cambodian provinces, said Bradley Busetto, acting director of the U.N. World Food Program in Cambodia.

The program costs about $9 million per year, or about $20 per child, he said, adding that its resumption was made possible by donors responding to a recent WFP appeal.

The WFP was forced to suspend the school meals program in Cambodia in May due to high food prices. Its local suppliers defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they could get higher prices elsewhere.

Busetto said he was still concerned about the impact of high food prices on Cambodia's poor.

But "at the moment, we've managed to resume and we're hopeful that we can maintain this program through the entire school year," he said. "We're very happy about that."

The breakfast includes rice, sardines, yellow split peas, vegetable oil and salt — food items to help alleviate nutritional deficiencies among the rural population.

Rural Cambodian school teachers said the program, which started in 2000, has made children visibly healthier and improved their ability to learn.

At Sangkum Seksa School, about 40 miles west of Phnom Penh, principal Tan Sak said he was waiting for the food deliveries.

"I have already told my students to bring their plates and spoons next time they come to classes," Tan Sak said by telephone. "They are delighted."

Cambodia hosts an international HIV/AIDS forum

Cambodge Soir


The second consultation and coordination forum for the fight against HIV/AIDS is taking place in Phnom Penh from 6 until 8 October. It involves six HAARP countries (The HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Program).

Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines are holding a 3-day meeting in Phnom Penh in order to organise exchanges and reflections in the framework of HAARP, a structure funded by AusAID, the Australian agency for international development.

The opening of this meeting on Monday 6 October was highlighted by the intervention of the General Secretary of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD). Lour Ramin has indeed announced the start of a program, in collaboration with Australia, targeting drug users who are particularly affected by this phenomenon.

“The HIV/AIDS contamination risk is very high amongst drug users, particularly for the ones who are injecting the drugs. Moreover, once they’re under the influence of drugs, they often forget to use any protection during a sexual relationship”, he said, thus explaining the necessity of taking care of these people.

Hun Sen criticises UNTAC

Cambodge Soir


This morning, during the inauguration of the National Congress of Health, Hun Sen used a reference to this year’s elections to criticise UNTAC’s attitude in 1993.

During his speech, the Prime Minister praised the Indian ink which was used this year, an ink so resistant that many Cambodians had a black finger during several days. An essential quality which, according to Hun Sen, the UNTAC ink lacked in 1993. As he remembers, this ink came off quickly and allowed the voters to insert their ballot in the ballot box as much as seven times over the course of the day. According to him, this revealed UNTAC’s problems, as well of competence as of partiality. Relying on this conclusion, the Prime Minister formally advised the countries facing difficulties against asking for UNTAC’s help.

Preah Vihear: two soldiers step on landmines

Cambodge Soir


The incident happened this morning, Monday 6 October, during a new Thai incursion on Cambodian territory. It was communicated by Phay Siphan, spokesperson for the Council of Ministers.

Both Thai soldiers were part of a 100-man strong detachment which was on its way to the place where last Friday’s incident took place. They stepped on a landmine at 10 minutes interval, around 10.20am, at 150 or 200 meters from the area in question, still on Cambodian territory. A Thai helicopter picked up the victims. One lost a leg and the other one lost both.

However, the atmosphere remained peaceful. Neither Cambodia nor Thailand reacted after this event.

Hun Sen commits to improving health services

Cambodge Soir


During the opening of the 5-day National Congress of Health on Monday 6 October, the Prime Minister made an assessment of the results of the Kingdom’s health services. He highlighted a few weaknesses.

The government leader summoned the Minister of Health “to improve the services related to his sector and to fight against certain negative activities committed by the staff”. For what concerns Hun Sen, the lack of respect of the ethical code, knowing that the health care staff only thinks about earning money, resulted in a loss of confidence from the users and encouraged Cambodians to seek health solutions abroad. “One shouldn’t neglect the questions of ethics. During this mandate we’ll give more importance to public services”, said Hun Sen. He reminded the audience about a few examples which he qualifies as being “staggering”. “In some hospitals the doctor asks the patient for whom he’s voting. When a penniless patient arrives at the hospital, nobody takes care of him… The health care staff has to help people and they have to help society in its development”, insisted the Prime Minister.

Another negative aspect which he brought up is the one of ambulance services belonging to private clinics. Hun Sen sharply criticised the situation; the ambulances can be compared to taxis picking up customers. For the Prime Minister, unscrupulous health carestaff is responsible for those acts, and he asked the Minister of Health to take care of this problem.

Official Letter of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association to Welcome the World Teacher’s Day

Posted on 7 October 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 581

“Welcoming the World Teacher’s Day on 5 October 2008, the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association (CITA), with Mr. Rong Chhun as president, issued the following official letter :

“The Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association and all our members would like to welcome the World Teacher’s Day, which is held by [Education International, the major of several] international associations of teachers, for the implementation of their role to educate and to show ways to children, youth, and teenagers, who, in the course of their lives, go through studies.

“UNESCO [had convened a Special Intergovernmental Conference on the Status of Teachers which] adopted on 5 October 1966 a Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers [or as a 14 pages PDF file here: http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/TEACHE_E.PDF ], supported also by ILO which called for the encouragement from national and international levels, and was recognized by many governments as an important basis which needs improvement for the teachers and for the stability of strong public education systems.

“The Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers of 5 October 1966, which was the day to celebrate the World Teacher’s Day [actually, World Teachers’ Day, to be celebrated on 5 October, was inaugurated by UNESCO only in 1993], were signed by many governments of states who were members [of the United Nations], and 5 October of every year is designated as a day to celebrate the World Teacher’s Day.

“The problems teachers face every day is that there are classes in Cambodia and round the world, where many teachers try hard to find the necessary space for teaching, especially teachers in Cambodia face this problem. And though they have difficult living conditions, they still teach, because they intend to transfer knowledge to children from one generation to the next, with affection and with the intention to help them to become experts who can help to improve the living conditions and the general livelihood… Teachers are the providers of ideas and of intelligence, or they are the advisors for people to become technicians or to become leaders.

“The government has to acknowledge the important role of teachers for the growth of the sector of education and the necessity of involvement in developing the human individual and the society. The Teachers’ Association is concerned that all teachers should have a guarantee that they will be properly sustained for their role. More than 15 years after the general election of 1993, organized by the United Nations, the Royal Government of Cambodia has not provided solutions according to the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers.

“The Teachers’ Association is aware that many citizens have demanded schools and teachers for their regions that face severe shortages (especially in rural areas). The lack of schools and of teachers requires that the new government considers the huge obstacles before the goal of Education for All by 2015 can be achieved.

“All teachers receive low salaries, which means that they face shortages in their lives. Teachers live in poverty and struggle to survive with difficulties; however, they work hard to educate children and citizens in their communities.

“The announcement by the government to increase the basic salaries for teachers, for civil servants, for police, and for soldiers by 20% per year does not correspond to the price increases of goods at the market; that is, the prices of goods are hundreds of times higher than the increase of the salaries. The Royal Government increases the salaries by 20%, but the Royal Government does not decrease the prices of goods to balance the salaries, therefore teachers still face serious problems in their lives.

“In order to implement the second-stage of the Rectangular Strategy [a schenatic graph is here] with success and with good governance, the new-term Royal Government has to solve the problem of salaries for teachers to be appropriate with recommendations related to the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers adopted during the Special Intergovernmental Conference on the Status of Teachers, organized by UNESCO with the cooperation by ILO in Paris on 5 October 1966, in which the Item 122 stated that the process of the increase of basic salaries from the minimum to the maximum should not extend longer than 10 to 15 years.

Item 122

1.Advancement within the grade through salary increments granted at regular, preferably annual, intervals should be provided.

2.The progression from the minimum to the maximum of the basic salary scale should not extend over a period longer than ten to fifteen years.

3.Teachers should be granted salary increments for service performed during periods of probationary or temporary appointment

“During the celebration of the World Teacher’s Day, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association demanded that the government solve the following teachers’ problems:

1.Increase the salaries to be balanced with the increase of the price of goods at the market.2.Decrease the market price of goods, particularly decrease the fuel price to Riel 4000 per liter.3.Provide good working conditions and stop the discrimination against the freedom of association at each school.4.Fully implement democracy and freedom of expression.5.Offer enough schools, teachers, as well as study materials and books to students.6.Eliminate corruption and adopt an anti-corruption law soon.”
Deum Tnot, Vol.1, #38, 6-7.10.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 6 October 2008

Cambodia - News : 2 Thais wounded by mines - 06.10.2008

Nobel Prize for Medicine

French researcher Francoise Barre-Sinoussi holds a glass of champagne as she smiles at the France Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday Oct. 6, 2008. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi is one of the three European scientists who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for separate discoveries of viruses that cause AIDS and cervical cancer, breakthroughs that helped doctors fight the deadly diseases.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi talks with journalists at French Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Oct. 6, 2008. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi is one of the three European scientists who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for separate discoveries of viruses that cause AIDS and cervical cancer, breakthroughs that helped doctors fight the deadly diseases.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

French researcher Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, right, toasts with French Ambassador to Cambodia Jean-Francois Desmazieres, left, and Cambodian Minister of Health Mam Bunheng at the France Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday Oct. 6, 2008. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi is one of the three European scientists who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for separate discoveries of viruses that cause AIDS and cervical cancer, breakthroughs that helped doctors fight the deadly diseases.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, left, makes a speech as Cambodian Minister of Health, Mam Bunheng, right, looks on at French Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Oct. 6, 2008. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi is one of the three European scientists who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for separate discoveries of viruses that cause AIDS and cervical cancer, breakthroughs that helped doctors fight the deadly diseases.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia Golf Courses Aim To Hit Tourists

Published by Ozgur Tore
Monday, 06 October 2008

Cambodia's efforts to attract high-end tourists by developing a world class golfing scene in the space of just a few years appears to have paid off, with a major regional golf tour company preparing to showcase the courses in Europe.

Golfasian, which is based in Thailand, said it would promote Cambodia alongside neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam at the International Golf Travel Market in Marbella, Spain from November 11-14.

Cambodia will be marketed as an exciting new regional golf destination at the event, billed as the world's premier golf travel expo and credited with making or breaking emerging hot destinations, it said.

At last year's event, neighbouring Vietnam won the International Association of Golf Tour Operators' World's Best Up-and-Coming Golf Destination award and has since reaped plenty in golfing tourism dollars. Cambodia is in the midst of a tourism boom and is keen to earn similar recognition in the lucrative golf tourism market.

"Golf holidays in Cambodia are a new introduction, yet pioneering golfers are finding it a fascinating country in which to play a few rounds," Golfasian says on its website.

"Cambodia doubled its number of luxury golf courses last year to four and hopes to have eight by 2010 in a bid to lure more high-end tourism from the fast-growing sport in Asia."

Golfing legend Nick Faldo's company designed a PGA-standard course in Siem Reap, the country's tourist hub about 300 kilometres north of the capital, where golfers are offered the chance to tour the world-famous Angkor Wat temple complex between rounds.

And Arnold Palmer Design Company, named after its famous founder, is currently building a 36-hole course for a new billion-dollar five-star resort in Bokor, 200 kilometres south of the capital.

Source: Bangkok Post

CAMBODIA: Coastal development threatens livelihoods

Photo: Geoffrey Cain/IRIN
Along Cambodia's southern coastline, beaches and slums will be cleared to make way for tourist attractions


SIHANOUKVILLE, 6 October 2008 (IRIN) - The beach looks idyllic with its white sand and seagulls but soon it will be populated with high-end resorts. Sophal, who requested his family name not be revealed, does not know what will happen to his home once the evictions begin.

“This entire area will be cleared out,” he said. “I don't know when, or why. They [the government] don't tell us anything. Just that a big buyer came and bought it.”

“Some powerful people in the government are taking all the land ... and soon we'll have nothing left,” he said.

Those 192 hectares of land were allegedly ceded to high ranking military officer Sar Soeung, who uses the space as private property, a report by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission revealed.

According to Cambodian officials, Sihanoukville, one of Southeast Asia's popular backpacker resorts, is poised to become the region's next big tourist destination.

To expedite the process, the government regularly hands land concessions to government-tied elites at the expense of poor residents, claims Cambodian human rights watchdog Adhoc.

“These concessions and evictions are mostly a problem of corruption,” Cherp Sotheary, Sihanoukville coordinator for Adhoc, told IRIN. “Most of the private investors who got concessions are affiliated with the ruling party, coming in the form of joint ventures with foreign companies.”

The Sihanoukville governor's office was not available for comment.

Rabbit run

The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) announced on 13 September it had granted permission to the Cambodian Pol Cham Group to develop a five-star resort and golf course on Koh Tunsay, or Rabbit Island, reported the Cambodian English daily, the Phnom Penh Post.

But that project will require the eviction of 14 families, who claim they were compensated only US$900 when they demanded $20,000.

“In Sihanoukville, the fishermen and their communities depend on the environment to earn their living, usually by farming vegetables,” Sotheary told IRIN. “When the investments come, they clear the land and locals lose their income.”

Other islands have been ceded to British, French, Chinese and Russian investors, but residents claim the government did not inform or consult them about the purchases.

Sihanoukville governor Say Hak, however, guaranteed residents the right to stay with legal documentation under Cambodia's 2001 land law. The central Cambodian government also declared the coast and islands public property that could not be developed.

According to a 2008 report by Yash Ghai, the UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, land laws are “regularly” violated “with impunity by influential individuals, companies and government entities”.

FM plays down landmine case on Cambodian Border

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on October 7, 2008

The anti-personal mine that injured two Thai rangers on the border with Cambodia yesterday was left over long ago, and was not intended to prevent Thai armed forces from crossing the border, Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said yesterday.

Military on the ground said earlier the mine had been planted recently as the area, which had been full of land mines, had already been cleared.

Sompong tried to play down the tense situation before his visit with Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on October 13, following the border skirmish in Phu Ma Khua, the same place where the rangers stepped over the mine.

The area is an overlapping territory claimed by both sides, situated about one kilometre west of Preah Vihear Temple. The temple is still the core conflict between Thailand and Cambodia.

The border skirmish on Friday injured two Thai para-military rangers and three Cambodia soldiers, which was followed by an exchange of diplomatic protests by both sides on Saturday. Sompong said he would seek to settle the border dispute when he meets his Cambodian counterpart in Phnom Penh.

The two countries need the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) to draw a clear boundary of 798 kilometres.

The JBC is headed by deputy foreign ministers on both sides. But as Sompong does not have a deputy, he will need to appoint any of his advisers or aides to head the JBC.

"I will appoint a person who is keen on legal and diplomatic affairs to head the Thai JBC," he said.

The JBC also needs a mandate from Parliament before beginning negotiations on the territory issue in accordance with the Constitution, Sompong said. The mandate framework has already been submitted to Parliament but the minister has not been able to make the case as the government has yet announced its policy to Parliament, he said.

The government will announce its policy to Parliament today and tomorrow. Sompong begins his first bilateral visit to Laos on October 10 before heading to Burma and Cambodia.

Landmines wound Thai soldiers on Cambodian border

A Cambodian soldier stands guard after hearing two explosions from anti-personnel landmines at Engel field on Phnom Trop mountain near the Thai border and the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple October 6, 2008. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Mon Oct 6, 2008

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines along the Cambodian border on Monday, the army said, three days after a brief exchange of fire near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

The army rangers, each of whom lost a leg, were patrolling on Thai territory and stepped on the mines only 400 metres (430 yards) from where soldiers from both sides clashed on Friday, Colonel Sirichan Ngathong told Reuters.

"We don't know whose mines they were, but we have dispatched a mine expert to check out the area," she said.

Phnom Penh said the mines, believed to have been laid years ago by the Khmer Rouge, were on Cambodian soil.

Bangkok and Phnom Penh have accused each other of unprovoked aggression in Friday's contact between two border patrol units in which two Thais and one Cambodian were wounded.

It was the first clash since the two sides agreed in August to withdraw most of the 1,000 troops that had been facing off for a month near the historic Hindu ruins that sit on the jungle-clad escarpment dividing the countries.

Sompong Amornvivat, Thailand's fifth foreign minister in a year, told reporters he would discuss the issue with his Cambodian counterpart next Monday during a visit to Phnom Penh by Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

"I plan to talk to my counterpart in great detail during the visit and hope to end this misunderstanding," Sompong said.

The two countries agreed in July to find a peaceful end to the spat, which centres on 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub near the temple.

The argument started when protest groups seeking to overthrow the Thai government criticised Bangkok's backing of Cambodia's bid to list Preah Vihear as a U.N. World Heritage site.

Tensions have eased considerably since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's victory in late July in a general election in which the temple, and nationalism, featured heavily.

Both sides have claimed Preah Vihear for decades. The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, and the ruling has rankled in Thailand ever since.

Landmine hurts Thai soldiers near Preah Vihear

(BangkokPost.com) - Two Thai field soldiers lost their legs on Monday after stepping on a landmine in the lower northeastern province of Si Sa Ket near the Thai-Cambodian border area.

It was the same spot about three kilometres from the 11th century temple of Preah Vihear where soldiers from both sides clashed briefly last Friday.

Landmines in the site were previously dismantled and removed, and it is believed that new landmines could be activated in the area, according to a bomb rescue unit stationed in Si Sa Ket. One of the rangers lost a leg while the other lost both of them, he said.

After the explosion, more Cambodian troops were deployed to the border area.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, said he had talks with the Cambodian counterpart and everything is going well. However, he avoided talking about the details of their discussions.

Gen Chavalit said he and Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat will travel to Cambodia on October 13 to work out the Preah Vihear case.

“Thailand and Cambodia are neighbouring countries with close relations. There could be some minor issues, but they can be solved,” Gen Chavalit believed.

Gold sales slide as lower land prices keep investors away

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Monday, 06 October 2008

Gold sellers have seen sales fall more than 50 percent as property prices stabilise and land owners see a drop in real estate sales

GOLD sales in Cambodia have slumped in recent months on a drop in property market earnings, suggesting the global financial crisis may have tangentially affected the Kingdom's economy.

Kim Hong, owner of a jewellery shop in Phnom Penh's Central Market, told the Post that sales have fallen more than 50 percent compared with earlier this year.

"I currently sell about 15 damlung [26.67 damlung equals one kilogram] a day, which is less than earlier this year, when I could sell more than 50 damlung a day ... even though the land market was booming and the price of gold was high," he said.

Gold, rather than bank accounts, is a traditional store of wealth for Cambodians. But investment in gold often corresponds to the property market.

"The fluctuation in the price of gold has not affected customers' decisions. The land market has been more important," Kim Hong said.

The price of gold reached nearly US$1,250 per damlung in March 2008 but stabilised during the P'Chum Ben holiday at $1,060 per damlung, he said.

Kang Chandararot, president of the Cambodian Institute of Development Study, attributed the slump in Cambodia's property market to dwindling investments from Korea and China.

"The gold business is slow. Their money is buried in land," he said. "It is hard to predict what will happen in the future because everything depends on the government's policy on national development projects."

Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuation Association of Cambodia, blamed the Kingdom's slowing land market on recent legislation requiring investors secure additional licences and larger cash reserves for development projects.

Cheng Kheng, managing director of Cambodia Properties Ltd, said the gold and land markets are closely connected.

"I think the money of most business people is invested in the land market, and if current trends continue, the land market could collapse."

Cambodia's silk industry could face collapse: prince

Heng Chivoan; Cambodian silk weaving is less competitive than in neighbouring countries.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Chun Sophal
Monday, 06 October 2008

Prince Pheanuroth warns that a drop in domestic silk farming and threat of declining imports could kill a vital industry trade

CAMBODIA'S silk weaving industry could face colapse, with supplies from Vietnam and China expected to dry up, Prince Sisowath Pheanuroth told the Post last week.

"We want the government and concerned NGOs to help expand the cultivation of mulberry trees and silkworms [in Cambodia] without delay," said Prince Pheanuroth, who coordinates the Phnom Penh-based NGO Cambodian Sector-Wide Silk Project.

Cambodia imports about 700 tonnes of raw silk a year from Vietnam and China, at a cost of US$28,500 per tonne, or $20 million every year - a 10 percent increase over last year, Prince Pheanuroth said.

But with large silk factories in China and Vietnam coming online, local silk producers may be starved out of feedstocks.

About 400 tonnes go to local manufacturers, while the balance gets exported to Thailand, he added.

"The import of large amounts of raw silk is not good because imported silk is poorer in quality than Cambodian silk," Prince Pheanuroth said.

The local industry has become dependent on the low-quality imports, he said.

"Vietnam and China ... have been focusing their silk industry on textile factories," he said.

"When demand increases in those countries, they will no longer be able to satisfy the Cambodian market."

The prince called for greater government involvement to prevent the decline of the silk industry.

"We know that Cambodia cannot compete in the silk sector because [Vietnam and China] have a much greater capacity for silk production. The government must encourage more silk production at home if it hopes to avoid shortages in the future," he said.

The prince said that prior to 1998, Cambodia had about 2,000 silk-producing families.

That number has fallen to 700 today as farmers turn to more easily produced crops or decide to sell their mulberry plantations - the principal source of food for silkworms - to capitalise on rising land prices.

Domestic farmers produced about 50 tonnes of raw silk per year during the 1960s, he said, but the turbulence of the 1970s and the civil war that followed effectively ended the manufacture and trade of silk.

A vital sector

Men Sineoun, executive director of the Cambodian Handicraft Association, said imported silk is vital to the sustainability of the silk sector.

He said the association, which comprises 43 NGOs and some 2,000 members, accounted for about $2.5 million of exports in 2008 to 16 countries in Europe, North America and Asia."Ninety-five percent of our finished goods use imported raw silk," he said.

"If there were no imports, we would face difficulties. Cambodia's silk market should be a priority because foreign markets still desire handmade products," he added.

Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said Cambodia needs about 400 tonnes of raw silk per year to sustain the industry and called for greater investment from the private sector.

"Cambodian farmers can only produce about three to five tonnes per year," he said.Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, agreed that private investment was important but stressed a greater governmental role in bolstering the sector.

"The government should encourage private companies to invest in this sector ... and encourage farmers through start-up capital, new mulberry plantations and an increase in silk worm farming," he told the Post.

More money needed to treat young HIV/Aids patients: govt

In 2007 there were approximately 1,008 children who were tested for HIV and 592 HIV-positive children who received anti-retroviral treatment at the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh, said Chhour Y Meng, the hospital’s director.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Monday, 06 October 2008

Despite generous funding from various global funds, tackling the growing problem of children with HIV/Aids will require $7 million a year

CAMBODIA needs at least US$7 million per year to strengthen HIV and Aids services and treatment, particularly for children, said Mean Chhivoan, the director of National Centre for HIV/Aids, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS).

"So far, we have received funding from three different sources, including the Universal Fund, the Clinton Foundation and from the national budget," to provide HIV/Aids services, he said. "We are trying hard to find more funding," he added.

The Clinton Foundation has been funding NCHADs since 2005 and has guaranteed funding until 2009, Mean Chhivoan said, adding that he hoped that the support will continue due to the successful implementation of services.

" For every 1,000 HIV-positive children, we only have enough drugs to treat 600. "

"To date, the Clinton Foundation has provided Cambodia with treatment drugs worth approximately $2 milllion to $3 million," he said.

"We have a lot of organisations supporting us, however, the Clinton Fund is very important because it specifically helps children with HIV," he said.

"They have also provided four specialist staff to help HIV-positive children at the National Paediatric Hospital."

More funding required

But Mean Chhivoan said that Cambodia needs to find further sources of funding to support continuing HIV and Aids treatment programs.

"We have applied for $120 million from the Universal Fund to support three NCHADS projects over the next five years: HIV, tuberculosis and malaria," he said. "We lodged the application in June 2008 and have been told that we will need to wait two or three months" to find out whether this has been approved.

According to a report compiled by NCHADS, in 2003 there were 2,805 HIV-positive children receiving treatment in 27 health centres nationwide, compared to 26,661 HIV-positive adults receiving treatment from 50 health centres.

Chhour Y Meng, director of the National Paediatric Hospital, said the facility received anti-retroviral treatment drugs from both the Clinton Foundation and the Universal Fund.

However, he said that the supply has not been enough to treat all children. "For every 1,000 HIV-positive children we only have enough drugs to treat 600 and that is not enough."

Pneumonia vaccine offers new hope for Cambodia's children

HENG CHIVOAN Loeth Hnorb, 10, receives treatment for pneumonia at the Angkor Hospital for Children.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Camilla Bjerrekear
Monday, 06 October 2008

Siem Reap

The government has applied for funding for a Hib vaccine that could help prevent childhood pneumonia and save more than a thousand lives a year when it is introduced

NINE-month-old Mom Losh pants for breath as a simple device - a nasal tube connected to an oxygen tank and a bottle of water - puts just enough pressure on his lungs to keep them from collapsing when he exhales, while the antibiotics fight the infection in his lungs.

The child's mother watches over him, helpless to calm her ailing son.

"I knew he was sick because he had a high temperature, diarrhoea, was very tired and coughed many times," said Mom Den, 22, from Srah Khvav commune in Siem Reap province.

She travelled a day and a half to get her son to hospital after he fell ill three days earlier. She said her son had been sick before, but this time looked more serious.

Mom Losh - too exhausted to stay awake - drifts into a troubled sleep that offers no relief from the pneumonia attacking his lungs.

At the intensive care unit at the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, this scenario is far from uncommon. The hospital sees 350 young patients each day, many of them suffering from pneumonia.

" This vaccine... is expected to prevent 1,200 deaths in Cambodia every year "

"[It] is one of the top two diseases we see in kids admitted into the hospital," said Dr Varun Kumar, medical adviser and the only foreign doctor on staff at AHC. He said in the intensive care unit, where the sickest kids go, it is the leading diagnosis.

Some 30,000 children die before their fifth birthday each year in Cambodia. Many of them die from preventable or treatable diseases such as pneumonia, which causes one in five of these deaths annually.

However, these numbers could soon change.

Expanding immunisations

Cambodia has applied to the GAVI Alliance, a public-private organisation, for funding to expand its National Immunisation Program to include a new vaccine against haemophilus influenzae type-b (Hib), a bacteria that causes pneumonia, as well as several other infections.

Physicians believe that more than half of all cases of pneumonia in Cambodia are caused by only two bacteria: Hib and the pneumococcus bacteria.

"Highly effective vaccines are available against both agents, but they have until recently been too expensive for developing countries," said Dr Niklas Danielsson, the World Health Organisation's medical officer for child and adolescent health in Cambodia. He believes the Hib vaccine could make an important contribution to reducing the number of child deaths in Cambodia.

"Hib is a [principal] cause of pneumonia, and therefore deaths, in young children," he said. "This vaccine that the government has now decided to introduce is expected to prevent 1,200 deaths in Cambodia every year."

But Hib doesn't just cause child pneumonia. It can cause infections like meningitis, which attacks the brain and spinal cord.

Hib can also cause infections of the throat and bloodstream, according to the AHC's Kumar. "It is a bacteria that causes a wide variety of disease, and the vaccine will target all of those," he said.

The GAVI Alliance was created in 2000 to improve access to immunisation in poor countries. Its partners include national governments, Unicef, WHO, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the vaccine industry, and research and technical health institutions.

The alliance currently provides infants free tetravalent DTP-HepB vaccines at six, 10 and 14 weeks to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and hepatitis B.

But the vaccine is funded by GAVI only through 2010, making this an ideal time to introduce the new Hib vaccine, the WHO's Danielsson said.

"We have sent our application to GAVI and now we are waiting for approval. We plan to introduce [the Hib vaccine] in early 2010," said Dr Sann Chan Soeung, director of the National Immunisation Programme, or NIP.

Danielsson said he is confident that the application will be approved.

Free vaccines

HENG CHIVOAN; A young patient in the intensive care ward at the Angkor Hospital for Children.

Beginning in 2010, the nearly 400,000 babies born in Cambodia each year will get three shots of a five-to-one pentavalent vaccine, adding Hib protection to the current vaccine.

The Cambodian government will co-fund the program, an initiative the GAVI alliance introduced in 2007 to make immunisation support more sustainable, Danielsson said.

Danielsson added that the vaccine with Hib protection normally costs US$3.50 per dose, but that Cambodia can purchase it through the alliance for $0.20 per dose.

In 2011, the cost will rise to $0.30 per dose."According to government policy, vaccines are free of charge for patients, and we want all parents to take their children to health centres to get the vaccine," said Veng Thai, director of Phnom Penh's Department of Health.

The free vaccinations, available through the NIP, cover immunisation against tuberculosis, measles and polio, as well as the DTP-HepB vaccine.

The NIP has seen great progress in recent years and a WHO/Unicef Review of National Immunisation Coverage, released in August, found that 82 percent of newborns in Cambodia received all three doses of the DTP-HepB in 2007, compared with only 60 percent in 2001.

The WHO's Danielsson said health care service in Cambodia is more equitable than in other poor countries.

"Vaccines are an important part of the interventions we use to reduce child deaths because [they] can prevent the disease instead of having to treat it," Danielsson said.

"Pneumonia is becoming more and more difficult to treat, as more ... cases do not respond to antibiotics because the bacteria has become resistant," he added.

But childhood deaths have dropped substantially in Cambodia in part because of an increase in the availability of vaccines, Danielsson said.

"[Child deaths] dropped dramatically in the last five years, and we hope Cambodia will be able to achieve its Millennium Development Goals for 2015 by reducing the number ... by two-thirds. The new Hib vaccine, and hopefully in the future the pneumococcal vaccine, will be an important contribution to that," Danielsson said.

The Angkor Hospital for Children

Although the public’s attention is often focused on the Kingdom’s Kantha Bopha network of children’s hospitals, the Angkor Hospital for Children, after 10 years, has quietly become one of the leading paediatric centres and training hospitals in Cambodia. It started in 1998, with just a handful of Cambodian nurses and doctors, a host of foreign medical volunteers and an influx of 10,000 patients. Today it is a paediatric teaching hospital where volunteers have been replaced by well-trained Cambodian paediatricians, doctors who write international medical articles, and the patient load has reached some 100,000 children a year – many from homes that rank among the poorest and most vulnerable in Cambodia. The AHC has trained hundreds of Ministry of Health doctors and thousands of nursing students. The hospital has 20 medical doctors and three surgeons on staff. It offers care for an optional 500 riel donation, and on average it treats 350 children per day. CAT BARTON

France showcases naval abilities

TRACEY SHELTON; A French soldier demonstrates how to use a helicopter as part of a maritime rescue mission on Saturday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Monday, 06 October 2008


A French warship docked off the coast of Sihanoukville gives a demonstration of a helicopter rescue, but a French officer denies the trip is linked to any donation of equipment

THE French warship Novose docked off the coast of Sihanoukvile this weekend in a visit highlighted by an ocean rescue mission demonstration for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) involving helicopter-borne troops.

Officer Eth Sarath, chief of training for RCAF, told reporters after the demonstration that French navy experts had showed RCAF staff advanced water-survival techniques that the Cambodian military hoped to someday use.

"The RCAF and French navy showed their capabilities in Sihanoukville by using helicopters to save victims from drowning in the sea," he said.

He added that the two sides took part in a friendly game of football after the demonstration. "There was also a [helicopter rescue] demonstration at Brigade 911 [headquarters] on the outskirts of Phnom Penh," he said.

Cambodia and France have been exchanging military expertise for more than a decade, Eth Sarath said.

"The French government also assisted Cambodia in training its military police," he added.

But Gerard Valin, commander of the French Navy's Indian Ocean Maritime Area, told reporters that this was the first time that French naval expertise has been on show in Cambodia.

"I am very proud to come here today ... we [France] have been cooperating with RCAF for more than 10 years," he said.

"The helicopter is used to help victims who are drowning in the sea or hostages kidnapped by ocean thieves," Valin said.

"The Marine 503 helicopter, fully equipped with onboard medical facilities, can also help prevent international drug smuggling," he said.

Valin added that the French government has not yet made any plans to donate equipment to RCAF.

A helicopter captain for RCAF who identified himself only as Karkaya told reporters that the demonstration was a success and RCAF was now hoping to acquire helicopters of its own to use on similar missions.

"Our most important mission is against drug smuggling and illegal weapon smuggling," he said.The helicopters, he added, would help RCAF to patrol the coastline for any illegal activity.

The French warship is to depart Cambodia for Kuantan in Malaysia on Wednesday.