Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Sacravatoons : " The Jumper,Neak Pros Keo Remy "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Cambodia gets $35 million in emergency food aid

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The Asian Development Bank announced Wednesday $35 million in emergency food aid to ease the burden of soaring food prices among some of Cambodia's poorest people.

The assistance will provide free rice, seed and fertilizer to 500,000 Cambodians, the poorest of the poor among the country's 14 million people, the bank said.

The recipients include slum residents in the capital, Phnom Penh, and farmers in seven provinces around the country's Tonle Sap lake.

"When the food price inflation spike came, these communities were already in a fragile state. It drove them more sharply over the edge into food poverty," said Arun Goswani, the bank's country director.

The program will run through September 2011.

Over the past year rice prices in Cambodia have doubled, the ADB said in a statement. It added that the price of meat and fish has risen 30 to 50 percent, and farmers have been hit hard by an almost tripling in fertilizer prices.

About one-in-three Cambodians live below the national poverty line of just 45 cents a day.

Mahfuz Ahmed, the bank official in charge of the food project, said that of Cambodia's 14 million people, about 2.6 million sometimes go hungry and suffer from malnutrition.

The bank said half the aid will be in grant form and the other half is a loan carrying an interest rate of 1 percent per year.

The project will also provide free breakfasts and take-home rations for poor children in primary schools.

FAO conducts bird flu research activity in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Wednesday started a three-day workshop on avian influenza research activities in Cambodia, said a FAO press release.

The workshop took place in Sihanoukville with support from the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with the aim of bringing together researchers from various disciplines to share the results of their HPAI H5N1-related research in Cambodia, said the release.

It also aimed to facilitate dynamic exchange of views between researchers and decision makers on epidemiological, social and economic issues relevant to HPAI H5N1 in Cambodia, according to the release.

It still aimed to identify and prioritize major knowledge gaps that research needs to fill and how to best address them in the near future and contribute to the development of a second generation of science-based HPAI H5N1 risk management strategies that carefully consider their impacts on the livelihoods of the poor, the release added.

Compared to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia was only mildly affected by HPAI. Nevertheless, Cambodia's animal and public health authorities heavily engaged in HPAI H5N1 control and monitoring, and many of the implemented measures are still in place, said the release.

Alongside these control measures, a wide array of field and laboratory research was initiated in Cambodia, both by national and international agencies, it said.

As much of this research is reaching completion or has been completed and as the HPAI H5N1 control paradigm is shifting from emergency reaction to longer term disease management, it is timely to collate, review and synthesize research carried out in Cambodiaon various aspects of HPAI to inform policymaking, investment and further research, it added.

Editor: David Du

Tense stand-off in Thai capital

Anti-government protesters were involved in clashes with police

One person died after a suspected car bomb exploded near the parliament

BBC News

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Troops are on the streets of Bangkok after its worst anti-government protests for 16 years left at least two dead and hundreds injured.

Demonstrators had set up a blockade outside the parliament building, which Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped by climbing over a fence.

The activists were trying to stop the inauguration of a government they say is run by ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

But as troops moved in, protesters pulled back from the blockade.

The appearance of troops outside parliament is a clear sign that the government is struggling to maintain its authority, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok.
Parliament blockade

The demonstrators - from the staunchly royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) - have been occupying the grounds of government buildings for weeks, but until Tuesday their demonstration had been largely peaceful.

An alliance of conservative and staunchly royalist academics, activists and business people, the PAD has proved to be a well organised and tactically savvy movement, our correspondent adds.

Clashes in the streets of the Thai capital Bangkok

Several thousand PAD protesters broke out of the compound where they had been staying and marched to the parliament.

They tried to seal off the building by putting up barriers of old tyres and barbed wire.

Police fired volleys of tear gas in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the demonstrators and around 380 people - including eight police officers who were reportedly shot or stabbed - were injured in ensuing clashes.

The protesters later regrouped, locking some lawmakers inside the building and cutting off the power supply.

Amid the worst street violence since pro-democracy activists challenged Thailand's army in 1992, one person was killed when a suspected car bomb exploded outside the building. A woman also later died, reportedly of chest wounds.

Troops were eventually brought in to help the police and, as army commanders took pains to ensure the public there would be no coup, most protesters pulled back to their camp in Government House.

Forced to flee

The violence prompted the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the government's chief negotiator with the PAD, who said police had failed to exercise the restraint he had requested.

Mr Somchai had been holding talks with military commanders on how to end the weeks-long stand-off, before he was forced to flee the parliament building.

The protesters accuse him and his recently ousted predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, of simply being proxies for Mr Thaksin.

The PAD wants to replace the one-man, one-vote system with one in which some representatives are chosen by professions and social groups rather than the general electorate.

Mr Thaksin, Mr Somchai's brother-in-law, was forced from office in a military coup in 2006.

The new government says it wants to start negotiations with the PAD.

However, it is also pushing ahead with controversial plans to amend the constitution - a key grievance of the protesters who see it as part of a plan to rehabilitate Mr Thaksin.

The alliance says the government must resign because of its links to Mr Thaksin, who lives in the UK and has requested political asylum there.

It accuses him of corruption and abuse of power while he was in office.

It has also suggested that Mr Thaksin and his allies have a hidden republican agenda, a serious charge at a time when the country is beset by anxiety over the future of the monarchy.

FARMS International starts needed program in Cambodia

Mission Network News

8 October, 2008

Cambodia (MNN) ― Cross-border gunfight between Thailand and Cambodia has created more unrest in the regions. This new wave of turbulence makes a new FARMS International program even more welcomed.

FARMS International is starting a new program in Cambodia this week to help guide Cambodians out of poverty. It will focus mainly on loan distribution to those who qualify.

"One of the great challenges of this program will be overcoming the mindset of dependency that has been instilled in the people," says FARMS Executive Director, Joseph Richter.

Cambodia has been a country of great unrest since the 1950's. Vietnam occupied Cambodia until the early 1990's and held many of Cambodia's citizens in camps, where the people learned to rely on someone else to provide their needs. Violence with Thailand will undoubtedly reignite dependent tendencies.

Although it will be difficult to break dependent habits, Richter is convinced the program will be extremely rewarding for Christians. "I think it's an opening right now to really show them that God's Word is true, that He can provide for them in any setting, that if they work hard they'll prosper and their churches will also prosper," says Richter.

An exciting aspect of the program is that the Cambodians have requested it. "This program has been asked for by the people themselves, and so this is a big step forward," notes Richter.

It is indeed a big step for the Cambodian people to be in favor of self-sufficiency. Preparations for this project have been underway for eight years but have not been implemented due to the people's apathetic view toward independence. If this new desire to move forward remains, the microloan project through FARMS should work beautifully.

The hope is that as believers receive loans, work to pay off those loans, and then make a profit, they will also begin to tithe and build up their churches. This presumably will offer a great deal of hope--and perhaps stability in the midst of turmoil--to Cambodian Christians.

Ultimately, FARMS is providing hope to the Cambodian people through the Gospel. "I really believe that the Gospel will be transformational for these people. The hope of those working there is that this program of giving small loans that have to be paid back will change their whole mindset."

Pray that the first recipients of these loans will be good examples to other believers of how this program can benefit the people and their church. Pray also that Cambodian Christians would not be deterred by calamity, but would stand firm in their Lord by serving Him with their hands.

Attacks & Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia 2007


Cambodia is a dangerous place for human rights defenders. During 2007, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) recorded more cases than ever before of threats and attacks against activists attempting to peacefully defend the rights of others.

Throughout 2007, the patterns of threats and attacks against human rights defenders observed in previous years have continued and intensified. Representatives of communities engaged in disputes over land and housing were targeted with threats, unwarranted criminal charges, and in some cases imprisonment. Trade union leaders were assaulted, arrested and prosecuted for their legitimate union activity; one such leader was murdered. Human rights NGO workers continued to be threatened and obstructed in carrying out their work, whilst private citizens legitimately assisting asylum seekers were harassed and imprisoned.

Japan to fund the destruction of ammunition

Cambodge Soir


The Japanese government has made a donation to an NGO in order to help with the destruction of ammunition and explosives which are still being stored in the Kingdom.

The Jmas (Japan mine action service) organisation officially received 884,955 dollars from the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, Katsuhiro Shinohara, during a ceremony assisted by Yamamoto Tadafumi, Jmas representative.

This donation is intended to support a program in the provinces of Kampong Speu, Kandal, Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham, where many people fell victim to non-defused ordnance.

Since 2002, Japan contributed 7.7 million dollars to the funding of 47 programs, set up by Japanese NGO’s. They involve the sectors of education, health and destruction of ammunition.

Armed robbery close to a bank

Cambodge Soir


While exiting his car, a Chinese citizen fell victim to an armed robbery in Phnom Penh.

The event took place on Tuesday 7 October at 11.30am. It seems like the man had been followed as he had just left a bank, the First Commercial Bank, where he had withdrawn 50,000 dollars in cash. The 52 year old man was robbed after he had parked his Mercedes on the parking of the Acleda bank on Monivong Boulevard.

According to witnesses, the robbers arrived on a motorbike and threatened their victim with a revolver and a hammer. But their prey had the reflex to throw the plastic pouch with the money on the booth of the parking guard. Alas, the criminals were nevertheless able to grab it after it fell from its perch. The guard intervened by shooting several times in the air but couldn’t stop the thieves from running away with their booty.

In Channy, General Director of Acleda, couldn’t be contacted by phone. However, a staff member declared that the security cameras might reveal useful information. According to some witnesses, a Lexus was following the thieves and might have been accomplice to the robbery.

Contacted by phone, Touch Naroth, municipal police commissioner, said that his services were investigating the case.

Cambodia and Vietnam strengthen their relationship

The number of border posts should be increased

Cambodge Soir


The Khmer-Vietnamese Commission for Economical, Cultural and Scientific Cooperation held a meeting on 6 October for its tenth session, in Da Nang, Vietnam. This offers the opportunity for both countries to take concrete measures in order to improve their relationship.

Presided by Pham Gia Khiem, Vietnamese Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hor Namhong, Cambodian Foreign Minister, this session focused first of all on the economic efforts which are necessary to intensify their commercial exchanges and service activities. Those should represent about two billion dollars by 2010. Next, the two neighbour countries listed their priorities: staff training for example, or the development of infrastructure, investments, energy and transportation services.

Both representatives pleaded for a better cooperation concerning the construction of a hydro-electric plant, and also regarding the gas and fuel reserves. Telecommunication services will be modernised and the number of border posts will be increased in order to facilitate the economic and cultural exchanges and to preserve the territorial integrity of each.

Pham Gia Khiem and Hor Hamhong also decided to improve their cooperation on matters of national security and the battle against international crimes. The Khmer-Vietnamese sea patrols will therefore continue their activities.

The session ended on an assessment of the previous year. Since August 2007, both countries made lots of improvement concerning their cooperation, particularly in the economic, commercial and financial sectors, but also on the field of education, tourism and health. The next meeting of the Commission will take place in Cambodia in 2009.

Chhang Youk: The Major Obstacle at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Is Disagreement about the Laws

Posted on 8 October 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 581

“Officials of civil society organizations criticized the extension of the detention of five high ranking leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, including Ieng Sary, Khiev Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thirith, and Kang Kek Iev – called Duch, the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief – as it impacts on the respect for human rights internationally; the Khmer Rouge Tribunal should discuss to begin the hearings of those five former Khmer Rouge leaders soon.

“Mr. Chhang Youk, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that the Documentation Center of Cambodia is organizing the second discussion of a project to create large documentations on specific criminal actions in the world, so that relevant institutions can use them to seek justice for the victims of such documented actions. He added that the Documentation Center of Cambodia has organized - for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal - many documents and has collected much evidence related to the massacre of nearly 2 million Khmer citizens during the Khmer Rouge regime, to use these documents and evidence for the trial of those who are highly responsible for crimes against humanity.

“Mr. Chhang Youk continued to say that the Documentation Center of Cambodia has sufficient experience to show some other countries how to organize documents related to serious human rights abuses. Also, the Documentation Center of Cambodia has cooperated with many countries to organize documents about human rights abuses, to be used in future.

“Mr. Chhang Youk said also that the Documentation Center of Cambodia has collected many documents related to the Khmer Rouge regime for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, including documents for judges, for co-prosecutors, for national and international legal people, to be used as evidence. He added that there are more than one million documents related to the Khmer Rouge Regime (on paper) and more than 200,000 mass grave sites where people’s bodies were dumped, as well as many voice tapes and films of surviving victims, for co-prosecutors and other legal people at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, to use them as documents and as evidence during the trials.

“Mr. Chhang Youk went on to say that so far, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal seems not to have any obstacle in collecting documents, witnesses, and evidence, for charging and for trying the five Khmer Rouge leaders. But there are disagreements on some points of the laws in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Therefore, national and international legal people have to discuss this, to find joint solutions to speed up the trial of those suspects soon, in order to provide justice to Khmer victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“Mr. Chhang Youk affirmed that now, legal problems are becoming a big obstacle for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal; problems do not result from the lack of evidence or witnesses. As for the health of the five former top Khmer Rouge leaders, no one can extend their life, but there are laws to extend the detention of those suspects. Therefore, the further extension of detention and not to conduct the trial soon, might invite criticism to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for detaining people illegally, and it might result that those five detainees die from whatever reason, because they are old and various illnesses are destroying their bodies. Therefore, people from the field of law must discuss this to find the central points to try them very soon.

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], the director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – said that legal problems at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are becoming the biggest obstacle, as decisions to extend the detention of the five top Khmer Rouge leaders is the right of judges and co-prosecutors, for the suspects responsible for serious crimes of killing Khmer citizens.

“She is concerned because of the age and the health of the former Khmer Rouge leaders; if there is a further extension of the detention, while they are old and sick, they might die before they are brought to trial, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would not be able to find justice for Khmer citizens. Therefore, co-judges and co-prosecutors of this tribunal must sit down and discuss with each other, to investigate Khmer and international laws, to find the central points which can lead to the trial of the five leaders soon.

“The Center for Social Development and the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – assist in writing documents for civil party participation in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, to demand compensation for the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal had been criticized for corruption, with the allegation that some Khmer officials and staff members were required to pay a part of their salaries to influential officials in this tribunal. Some donor country officials had warned the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to use international aid with consideration, after some Khmer staff had filed complaints publicly, to reveal corruption at this tribunal, while the administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is waiting for more funds from the United Nations for this more than US$100 million project, in order to continue the procedures of the trial of those former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“A lack of funds for foreign legal personnel is expected to happen during 2009, if the United Nations does not provide funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in time. However, the problem of funds is not likely a big obstacle, because the United States announced to grant nearly US$2 million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, linking this with the need to be careful not to let corruption happen.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3581, 7.10.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Cambodian military boosts presence in disputed border area

October 8, 2008
by pna

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 8 — The Cambodian army has reinforced troops in the disputed border area on Phnom Trop mountain where Thai and Cambodian forces clashed briefly Friday, national media reported Wednesday.

"We want to make a stronger frontline after the situation occurred Friday," Sar Thavy, Preah Vihear provincial deputy governor, was quoted by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as saying.

Sar Thavy said the troops now stationed at the site of Friday's skirmish, which left one Cambodian and two Thai soldiers injured, were taken from the contingent of troops already present around the Preah Vihear temple.

He declined to say how many soldiers have been moved into the Trop mountain area, though the Cambodian troops around Preah Vihear temple were previously reported to number at least 800.

The armed confrontation occurred about 2 km northwest of the Preah Vihear temple.

Meanwhile, Srey Dek, regional military commander at the temple, said troops had only been sent to patrol the area as he had received information that Thai troops had once again entered the area, which both countries claimed as their own.

The border row between the two neighbors erupted after Cambodia 's arrest of three Thai nationalist protesters on July 15, whom authorities allege crossed illegally into Cambodia close to the disputed Preah Vihear temple site.

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


Irrigation advances fuel Cambodian rice dream

Farmers plant rice seedlings in a paddy field in Kampong Chhnang province, 91 km northwest of Phnom Penh in this September 9, 2005 file photo. Cambodia's economy was devastated by civil war from the 1970s to the late 1990s, including four years under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, whose dream of transforming the country into a great rice power ended in the nightmare of the "Killing Fields". Now another agrarian revolution is under way as the government seeks to boost rice exports and cut poverty among its 14 million people. The key is better irrigation and fertiliser. To match feature CAMBODIA-RICE/ REUTERS /Chor Sokunthea/Files

A farmer carries rice seedlings in a paddy field in Kampong Chhnang province, 91 km northwest of Phnom Penh in this September 9, 2005 file photo. Cambodia's economy was devastated by civil war from the 1970s to the late 1990s, including four years under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, whose dream of transforming the country into a great rice power ended in the nightmare of the "Killing Fields". Now another agrarian revolution is under way as the government seeks to boost rice exports and cut poverty among its 14 million people. The key is better irrigation and fertiliser. To match feature CAMBODIA-RICE/ REUTERS /Chor Sokunthea/Files

Farmers plant rice seedlings in a paddy field in Kampong Chhnang province, 91 km northwest of Phnom Penh in this September 9, 2005 file photo. Cambodia's economy was devastated by civil war from the 1970s to the late 1990s, including four years under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, whose dream of transforming the country into a great rice power ended in the nightmare of the "Killing Fields". Now another agrarian revolution is under way as the government seeks to boost rice exports and cut poverty among its 14 million people. The key is better irrigation and fertiliser. To match feature CAMBODIA-RICE/ REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea/Files

Wed Oct 8, 2008

By Ek Madra

TRAMKOK, Cambodia (Reuters) - Sok Sarin flashes a toothless grin as he looks at his newly built house and remembers how the other farmers laughed when he pioneered new rice-growing techniques in his district in southern Cambodia.

Better irrigation, training in how to select seeds and cheap fertilizer made from wild plants and animal or bat droppings have more than doubled the yield from his rice fields to 3.4 tons per hectare from 1.5 tons.

"No one believed that this idea would work. Now they follow me and they have good harvests," said Sarin, 60.

Cambodia's economy was devastated by civil war from the 1970s to the late 1990s, including four years under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, whose dream of transforming the country into a great rice power ended in the nightmare of the "Killing Fields."

Now another agrarian revolution is under way as the government seeks to boost rice exports and cut poverty among its 14 million people, 85 percent of whom are farmers or members of farming families.

Thanks in large part to vastly improved irrigation, Sarin can get two crops a year from his fields, earning him an income of $1,500. Per capita income in Cambodia is around $500.

Sarin's neighbor, Long Yos, 50, said Cambodian farmers were also following methods honed in China, India and the Philippines to breed fish that eat the insects that destroy rice plants.

"The fish eat the insects; we eat the fish when they get bigger," said Yos.


Better irrigation and the expansion of land use are crucial to government ambitions to produce 15 million tons of rice by 2015, more than double the 7 million forecast for 2008/09 and 6.76 million in 2007/08. The main harvest is in November.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cambodia was the world's ninth-biggest rice exporter in 2007 with 450,000 tons. Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun says Cambodia could export 8 million tons by 2015.

Neighbors Thailand and Vietnam were in first and third places in the export table in 2007 with 9.5 million tons and 4.5 million tons respectively, according to the USDA.

One rice dealer with a trading house in Singapore estimated Cambodia exported 600,000 to 800,000 tons a year, directly or indirectly via Thailand, and could push that up to 1.5 million tons in one or two seasons if the government was focused.

"But 8 million tons is an entirely different ball game. Obviously, this has to come from increases in area and not just yield," he said.

Another Singapore trader said it would take a lot of money for Cambodia to push yields significantly higher.

"China is the only country in the developing world that has reached 6 to 8 tons per hectare. Thailand is at 3.5 tons per hectare while India is around 2.5 tons," he said.

Analysts in Thailand, while acknowledging how far Cambodia has come already, think its plans are just too ambitious.

"It's possible, but it would not be that easy," Paka-on Tipayatanadaja at Kasikorn Research said of the 2015 target.

"It would take more than a decade to develop not only an irrigation system, but also a logistics system and storage systems," she added.


Many Cambodian farmers harvest just once a year because of a lack of water. Vietnam and Thailand, with their superior irrigation, manage two or three crops.

Phnom Penh is investing about $49 million a year on irrigation, said Hang Chuon Naron, an official at the Finance Ministry, but much more is needed.

"Japan and South Korea are helping us but that's not enough," said Chea Chhun Keat of the Water Resources Ministry, adding 1.6 million hectares of 2.6 million under cultivation was irrigated.

Foreign investment is flowing into Cambodia thanks to its cheap labor and the political stability achieved under Hun Sen, prime minister since 1985.

In August, Kuwait agreed loans totaling $546 million, of which $486 million will be invested in irrigation systems and hydro-power on the Stueng Sen river in the northeast of the country.

A Kuwaiti newspaper said Kuwait had leased rice fields to secure food supplies. Qatar also plans to invest $200 million in Cambodian farmland.

Land under cultivation could be pushed up to 3.5 million hectares quite quickly, according to Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

He pointed to the area round Tonle Sap, Cambodia's biggest freshwater lake with up to 800,000 hectares of potential farm land, much of it unused as a lack of irrigation means farmers can't control water levels: In the rainy season, there's too much, which damages rice plants, in the dry season too little.

There is more land to be worked in the northeast and in the still-mined former battlefields of the northwest.

In all, Saing Koma said, Cambodia had 6 million hectares that might be cultivated for rice and other crops.

The average rice yield per hectare is currently 2.6 tons and he said that could be pushed up to 3.5 tons -- a yield that Sarin has in his sights thanks to the training, irrigation and bat droppings that have given him two crops a year.

(Writing by Alan Raybould; editing by Megan Goldin)

Police Blotter: 07 Oct 2008


Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Moeun Nov, a 20-year-old deaf girl, hanged herself in her family home at 6am on Saturday in Prek Tasak commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh. Moeun Nov's father told the police that his daughter seemed a bit upset with him because he sent her home when they were tending to their cattle on Friday. The neighbours said they saw Moeun Nov take a bath and put on new clothes before she went to bed the night before the incident. Moeun Nov's father said he did not know how angry his daughter was at him until she committed suicide.


Chhey Moa, 36, killed his wife Neat Saroeun, 28, by slicing her throat with a razor blade at 9pm on Friday in Kirivong district, Takeo province. The perpetrator, who had already been in jail twice for physically assaulting his wife, told the police that he decided to kill Neat Saroeun because he was jealous. The police said that Chhey Moa killed his wife not only because of jealousy, but also because she owed 600,000 riels (US$150) to the bank.


Ngor Khun, a 16-year-old Cambodian boy, died when he was struck by lightning on Friday in Kork Soung district, Sras Keo province in Thailand. The police said that Ngor Khun, who came from O'Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey province, was struck by the lightning while he was tending cattle with his friend during stormy weather. Ngor Khun's body has now been transported to his family in Cambodia.


TuyTi Pito, 18-year-old man from Tboung Khmum district in Kampong Cham province, was sentenced to a jail term for raping a 17-year-old girl on September 28. The girl told the police that TuyTi Pito attacked and raped her while she was sleeping at her family home. She knows the perpetrator because they live in the same village, and she told her grandmother about the incident the following morning.


Urban harmony essential, UN says


Written by Mom Kunthear and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

THE slogan of this year's UN-sponsored World Habitat Day was "harmonious cities", a message especially appropriate for Cambodia, organisers say.

"Right now there is a strong focus on rural development, but while you invest a lot of money in the rural areas, you do not stop people from moving to the city ... urbanisation is a very important issue," said UN-Habitat Executive Director Din Somethearith.

At a news conference Monday, Din Somethearith urged the government and donors to focus on Cambodia's urban challenges, particularly as the Kingdom's most recent census showed that one in five people now lives in a city - and UN documents predict that this figure will increase to some 37 percent of the population by 2030.

How to live together

UN-Habitat suggested three ways to a more harmonious urban future. Firstly, investment in residential areas in other cities such as Siem Reap and Sihanoukville should be encouraged as a means of preventing Phnom Penh from growing too fast.

Secondly, poor people in inner-city slum areas should be given better access to sanitation, job opportunities and security of tenure to prevent forced evictions. Thirdly, economic development and environmental concerns must be balanced.

Yap Kioe Sheng, chief of the Poverty Reduction Unit at the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said the government must recognise the fact that cities are for all - not just the wealthy.

"Cities need different kinds of workers, and authorities should make housing also for poor people," he said.

Arguing couple split up by sawing their house in half

Photo supplied; The remains of the house in Cheach commune, Prey Veng province after it was sawn in two by an arguing couple.


Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Financial costs associated with a legal seperation prompted the husband and wife to literally divide their house in two

ACOUPLE in Prey Veng province has simplified the messy legal task of divorce by literally sawing their house in two, according to local officials.

The house, situated in Cheach commune, Kamchay Mea district, was divided into two parts on Thursday after the couple who owned the property decided to separate following an argument.

Cheach commune chief Vorng Morn said the couple did not separate over anything "big", only the small problem of the husband feeling his wife had not cared for him when he became ill.

"His wife said that if her husband got sick and stayed at home, she was made to pay for his medicine, but if he stayed at his parent's house, she wouldn't have to pay. So they separated," he said.

"We tried to persuade them to think clearly before they did this because they had been married for nearly 40 years," Vorng Morn added. "But they did not listen."

The couple also decided to divide their land into four parts; two for their son and daughter, and two for them.

Side-stepping the law

Divorce has become an increasingly convoluted legal process in Cambodia, with couples now required to go through their commune chiefs who often pressure them to stay together. It can also cost a lot of money in informal fees.

Pok Chhon, deputy governor of Kamchay Mea district, said the couple should have followed the law.

"We tried to persuade them to deal with the problem through the law, that they should go to the commune office to negotiate and if they cannot settle the problem they can continue to provincial court," he said.

But Prak Phin, a lawyer from Legal Support for Child and Women (LSCW) in Prey Veng province, said that dividing a property was legal if both parties were in agreement."

But it does not mean that they are legally divorced," he said. "If in the future they have any disagreements, the provincial chief will not be responsible, as there had not been a judgment from the court."

Communities unite in bid to secure govt help in eviction cases


Written by Chhay Channyda
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Three city-centre communities facing eviction by land developers rally to petition lawmakers to intervene to save their homes

RESIDENTS from three separate central Phnom Penh communities facing eviction protested Monday in front of the National Assembly, requesting the government intervene to halt the forced relocation of their communities and pay full compensation for the loss of their land.

Representatives from Boeung Kak lake, Dey Krahorm and Group 78 in Chamkarmon district - all of which are facing eviction due to land developments - submitted complaints to the Assembly describing the situation in each of the communities.

Around 200 villagers stood outside holding banners requesting government intervention.

"While the UN holds World Habitat Day [on Monday], we want the world to know that we live under threat of eviction and need the government to take care of people's rights," said Lim Likean, a representative from the Group 78 community, situated just one block away from the Assembly.

Bunn Rachana, a human rights monitor for the Housing Rights Task Force, said: "The city is for both rich and poor living together in harmony."

She added that villagers who have been evicted from the city centre have never received market price compensation for their land. "Compensation is made by government policy, not at market price," she added.

Van Sengly, deputy chairman of the Assembly's Commission on Human Rights, Reception of Complaints, Investigation & National Assembly-Senate Relations, said his office had received the complaints and "will write a letter to relevant authorities to look into the case."

Women to play bigger role in NA

VANDY RATTANA; Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey votes during this year’s national election. The Princess is no longer a parliamentarian.


Written by Khoun Leakhana
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

But with just one in five National Assembly members a woman, civil society groups say political parties should be doing more to promote women to positions of authority

THE proportion of women in the new National Assembly has increased to around one in five - up from 13 percent previously - but political observers and women's rights advocates say political parties are still lagging behind in their responsibility to give women more active roles in government.

Koul Panha, executive director of Cambodian election monitor Comfrel, said the government had set official goals for women's participation in politics, but that there was no way to tell if steps had been taken to promote women to the national legislature.

"The goal of the government is to have about 30 percent women in politics by 2015, but we do not yet know about the government's framework to push women to participate in the National Assembly or in other institutions," he said.

"I want the government to sign a law that puts one or two women in each institution in order to give women more chances to participate in the workings of their country."

Thida Khus, executive director of local rights group Silaka, said that despite government targets, getting into politics was difficult for women, since men usually chose other men for government appointments. "The government plan for 2010 is 25 percent of women in the National Assembly and for 2015 it is 30 percent, but the numbers of women in Assembly are increasing slowly because positions are in men's hands," she said.

"We will advocate for 30 percent by 2015 because when women participate more, [politicians] will know that they are needed in relation to health and education."

Do not pigeonhole women

But US Embassy representative Piper Campbell said women should be engaged with the full range of political issues, adding that this year's national election campaign showed a wealth of talented female politicians ready for the task. "I was really impressed with the quality of some of the women who were candidates," she said Saturday, adding that the lack of women in politics was a net loss for the Kingdom.

"As a woman, I am disappointed not to see more women representatives in the National Assembly because I think women bring a very important perspective and some really important concerns," she said.

"[But] I think it is important not to think that women in parliament are only going to take on women's issues. All politicians have to be concerned with all the issues of the political spectrum."

Journalists bemoan barriers to information


Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

THE government is throwing up bureaucratic hurdles to restrict press freedom, Cambodian journalists have said.

Khieu Kola, a board member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, told the Post that while the media pass issued by the Ministry of Information should be sufficient to access all ministries, many required special passes.

"Many journalists have complained about restrictions on their access to information, especially for situations like public statements from the prime minister and other government officials," he said.

Some government institutions refuse to recognise the Information Ministry-issued press pass and instead communicate only with a selected pool of journalists they trust, according to Um Sarin, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists.

"Press freedom is still limited. It's been a good strategy for the government to hide information," he said.

Pen Samithi, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said security concerns were not a legitimate reason to restrict access to information because that reasoning could be used to deny press freedom around the world.

"If journalists with a media pass still don't have free access to information, then the Ministry of Information should reconsider the value of its media pass," he said.

Mannequins' mackintoshes



Written by Tracey Shelton
Tuesday, 07 October 2008
A Phnom Penh clothing store struggles to keep its plastic mannequins and display clothes dry during a downpour last week. Reluctant to remove the clothes from the plastic store dolls or carry them inside the shop, the owner of this Street 19 shop resorted to covering each of the mannequins with a plastic mackintosh.

Ethnic minorities protest clearing of their ancestral land

The locally owned CIV Co claims to have obtained legal rights to 700 hectares of land in Snuol district in 2002, when it was granted an economic land concession to develop a rubber plantation. District authorities confirm the company's ownership.


Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Camilla Bjerrekaer
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

A govt-sanctioned economic land concession has come under fire from villagers who say their forests and farms are being destroyed

MORE than 300 Stieng and Phnong ethnic minority members from five villages in the Snuol district of Kratie province have demonstrated against the clearing of their ancestral farmlands by a private company.

"The company has been building a 10-kilometre road from the national road into the economic concession land ... which is affecting people's farmlands," said Saraen Kaet, a community representative for the district's Srae Char commune. Saraen Kaet told the Post Sunday that the protesters had blocked the company's tractors, preventing them from clearing the land.

He added that villagers from Srae Char and Bi Thnou communes have been farming the land since 1979 and that the produce supports 1,200 people from surrounding villages.

" The CIV company has now stopped clearing the forest and farmland.’ "

"We have complained to the governor about the economic land concession given to the company" in 2002, he said, adding that the farmers had not been consulted before the clearing began and were still waiting for a response from the district governor over their concerns.

Temporary halt?

Snuol District Governor Ear Sophum confirmed that the locally-owned CIV Co had obtained rights to the land as part of the government's economic land concession scheme.

He said a study had been conducted by the government's ELC committee before the concession was granted and had authorised the project.

"Those villagers always pass over our authority and they have never complained to me. [Instead] they go to ask for help from NGOs ... which violates our authority," he said.

Suong Runaveth, a monitor for the Cambodian rights organisation Licadho, said several organisations have travelled to the site to monitor the protest and protect the people from any violence from the company.

"The CIV Company has now stopped clearing the forest and farmland and is waiting for a resolution from the local authority," he said.

Although there was no reaction from local authorities, the protesters went home after the company moved their tractors from the site on Sunday.

The protesters vowed to return if necessary. "If the tractors come back ... so will the people," Saraen Kaet said.

Buddhism is the basis of the rule of law


Written by Moeun Chhean Nariddh
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Dear Editor,

As Cambodian people are returning from P'Chum Ben, they might have fulfilled their traditional obligation to appease the ghosts of their ancestors who have been roaming different pagodas in search of food offered by their living relatives during the two-week-long festival.

However, probably very few people apart from the Buddhist monks and lay people have been able to please the gods by fully following the panca-sila, or the Five Precepts, they have repeatedly chanted during the ceremonies.

The panca-sila, or the Five Precepts in Buddhism, include:

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures).

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given).

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct).

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech).

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs that lead to carelessness).

Since at least the Khmer Rouge period, most Cambodians have committed sins by breaching some or all the Five Precepts in Buddhism.

Undoubtedly, the Khmer Rouge had committed the most severe sins by committing genocide on their own people. Some people have continued to repeat the Khmer Rouge's sin by killing other fellow Cambodians over malice, political conflicts, robbery or land disputes.

Many Cambodians have also breached the second precept by stealing other people's property and money in the forms of theft or corruption, while others have committed the more serious sin of sexual misconduct. Despite the recently passed adultery law, some people, particularly officials and rich businessmen, have continued to have fun with their mistresses who are other people's wives or daughters.

More or less, all people have committed another sin under the fourth precept of refraining from incorrect speech. Politicians have broken the swearing-in oaths and their promises with voters; some journalists have misquoted their sources; some judges have given unjust rulings by telling lies; while other ordinary Cambodians have committed this sin in various ways.

Last but not least, some Cambodians have committed another serious sin under the fifth precept by drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

As Buddhists, Cambodians should try to restore their religious morale by following the teachings of Buddha, particularly the panca-sila, or the Five Precepts.

Cambodia will have a peaceful and harmonious society if we can follow the Five Buddhist Precepts that are the basis of the rule of law.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh
Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh bridge plays host to increasing number of suicides

VANDY RATTANA; A young boy looks out over the Tonle Bassac from Phnom Penh’s Japanese Bridge - a popular suicide spot.

SUICIDE: If you need help, please contact

- TPO Cambodia - Community Mental Health Program:, Tel: 023-218-478 or 023-219-189 Offices in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Pursat, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom.
- Sunrise Mental Clinic Open 24 hours, Tel: 012-545-565 Offices at #112, Street, 432, Sangkat Toultompoun 2, Khan 7 Makara (Behind Chinese Embassy)
- CCAMH - Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health In Phnom Penh, Tel: 023-210-757 At Chey Chumneas Hospital, Takhmau, Kandal Province Tel: 023- 300- 534 Email:


Written by Mom Kunthear and Eleanor Ainge Roy
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Suicides are on the rise, but a lack of understanding of mental illness means it is often the untrained, ill-equipped police guarding the Japanese Bridge who deal with the despairing

TUESDAY evening, just as the light was beginning to fade, a young woman walked out across the Japanese Bridge. She made a striking silhouette in the dusk of the evening, leaning against the stout metal rail of the bridge, the breeze ruffling her skirts and carrying her scent across the road. To the casual passersby, she was simply a pretty young girl out da-leang, or promenading.

But the police on duty along the bridge said they knew better than most, having seen more than 25 people last year catapult themselves over the low railing, seeking a watery death below.

Alert, the officers slunk out of their guard posts and followed the young woman's increasingly erratic steps. Coming up close behind her they heard her cry, her body shook visibly with fear and, as she neared the edge of the bridge, the police knew their prediction was right.

"I could not control myself," said the woman, Chea Srey Phea, a 22-year-old waitress at a Phnom Penh restaurant who recently flung herself from the bridge but was pulled from the water by police.

"I was very angry with my boyfriend because he had betrayed me. I know killing myself is not good but I hate myself and I don't want to see or meet anybody ever again; that is why I chose to finish my life," she said.

The police stationed on the Japanese Bridge - also called the Chruoy Changvar Bridge - spotted Chea Srey Phea and stopped her from jumping, instructing her to return home immediately. Chea Srey Phea then went to her boyfriend's home and asked him for US$200. He refused her request, and so she immediately returned once more to jump from the bridge. This time she was successful.

"I was so scared when I jumped, and I thought I would die quickly because I cannot swim. But the police saved me and told me not to do it again. I wanted to die but now I don't know how," she said.

" We are seeing more suicides each year and more people Presenting with mental illness, particularly depression. "

A popular jumping point

Sem Saroeun, chief of police at Chruoy Changvar Bridge, said that suicides from the span are common.

"Most of the people who commit suicide here make an impulsive decision. They are disappointed with their lovers, or they are disabled people or HIV-positive people. However, the bridge is most famous for those suffering from heartbreak," he said.

"It is very difficult to save them because we can't always tell who will jump. Sometimes, though, it is easy. They are crying and look strangely at the people around them."

Sem Saroeun said that his team has requested training and assistance from City Hall on how best to deal with suicidal people. Though City Hall has said it will help, nothing has yet been done.

A rising trend

Yim Sobothtra, deputy chief of psychiatry at the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital, said suicide is on the rise in Cambodia.

"We don't have any statistics for how many people commit suicide year to year; there are no funds available for such research. But I can tell you anecdotally that we are seeing more suicides each year and more people presenting with mental illness, particularly depression," he said.

According to Yim Sobothtra, those most at risk of suicide are men aged between 25 and 45. But all high-risk cases will usually have a family history of suicide and mental illness and will have made previous attempts, he said.

Others are experiencing a stressful life event, such as a relationship break-up or the death of a close family member or friend, or they might be suffering from drug/alcohol abuse, or a chronic physical disease such as HIV/Aids.

"The most popular ways people choose to kill themselves in Cambodia is by taking an overdose of medicine, jumping from a bridge or ingesting a poison," Yim Sobothtra said.

He said the causational factors behind suicide attempts can vary wildly, but there is usually an underlying feeling of despair.

"People decide to kill themselves for all sorts of reasons, but many cases have in common a strong feeling of hopelessness. They are disappointed people, feeing that their life is useless and they are very, very lonely."

In Cambodia, as in many societies, suicide and mental illnesses such as depression, which can predispose people to suicide, are widely misunderstood, he said.

"Society thinks people who commit suicide are bad, short- sighted and incapable. But they don't understand the difficulties of mental illness when they don't face these problems themselves," he said.

Throwing their lives away

Yav Sophal, 44, has lived beneath the Chruoy Changvar Bridge for three years. She says she often sees people jump from the bridge and pities their weakness.

"I think people who jump from the bridge must have mental problems. I think they are wrong in taking this action, and I wonder why they think suicide will solve their problems," she said.

"It is useless to take such action, and they are very cowardly people. Society does not encourage this practice, and it certainly does not force them to do it," she added.

Phan Chanpeou, professor of psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, says it is attitudes such as these that mean suicide and the factors contributing to it (such as mental illness) are not being adequately addressed at an early enough stage to prevent unnecessary suicides in Cambodia. This lack of understanding is compounded by a severe lack of resources - there are only 26 psychiatrists and 40 psychiatric nurses in the entire country.

How common is it?

The Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation - a mental health NGO that has worked in Cambodia since 1995 - estimates that some 30 percent of the population suffer from mental health problems, the majority of which go un-treated. In comparison, they estimate the current figure in most Western countries is four percent.

"People who decide to kill themselves usually suffer from serious mental problems," said Phan Chanpeou. "Such people feel they have no control over their life and view themselves as genuinely crazy.

"I have noticed that the government is paying more attention to educate those in society who work with people who suffer from mental problems. But I want the government to continue to push them to seek counselling and realise that they are not, in fact, crazy," Phan Chanpeou said.

Thai Thorn, 29, a monk at Unaloam Pagoda, looked suprised when the Post came to ask him about suicide, and sad when he has to speak of it. His voice rose quickly, filled with emotion, as he explained that committing suicide is against Buddhist beliefs.

"I think people who commit suicide do not know how to solve their problems and do not know how to ask for help - they must hate themselves," he said.

"According to Buddhist teachings, if someone commits suicide they will not be saved ... for 500 years. People should not commit suicide because the Buddha does not teach it," he said.

Buddhist teachings can help people who may be feeling close to suicide, he said.

"In order to divert people from committing suicide, they must remember that no one is perfect and there are other ways to solve our problems and help ourselves besides suicide," he said.

THe body hunter: Fishing corpses out of the water

Mat Chriya, 45, a fisherman who lives beneath the Chruoy Changvar Bridge, has been diving for bodies for nearly 30 years, he says. "I have taken nearly 1,000 dead bodies from the bottom of the river in Phnom Penh and also in the sea at Sihanoukville since I began diving in 1979," he says, "Sometimes when I dive to look for a body, I find 12 dead." Mat Chriya says he was initially frightened of the work, but his skill motivated him to continue: on his first jump 10 people dived before him and could not locate any dead bodies, but when he jumped, he was immediately successful. After that, he became sought after as a body diver. "I just want to help all those people who have died in the river. It is difficult when I get sick and I still have to dive. On those days I am afraid of ghosts, and one day I became unconscious after taking too many dead from the bottom of the river," he said. This year, he has found six dead bodies beneath the bridge. "I ask between US$100 and $2,000" according to the means of the families, he says. "I don't want to continue this work but I feel pity for the families who come to me and cry, begging me to help. That is why I cannot stop."


Former student speaks about importance of aid work

The Exponent, IN

By Mikel Livingston
Assistant Campus Editor
Publication Date: 10/07/2008

Purdue alumna Sally Brown spends time with children in Cambodia as part of Ambassadors for Children.

Thanks to a six-month stretch of rheumatic fever, Purdue alumna Sally Brown is now CEO of an organization that has touched thousands of lives.

Brown, the founder of the nonprofit Ambassadors For Children, was on campus Monday night to speak to the organization's Purdue chapter. The University is a special place for Brown, who graduated from Purdue with a hotel and tourism management doctorate in 2005.

But before that, in third grade, a case of rheumatic fever left Brown bedridden for more than six months. She began collecting postcards from around the world, dreaming of either joining the Peace Corps as a teacher or becoming a flight attendant.

She decided to do both, pursuing a teaching degree while working as a flight attendant part time. After receiving her bachelor's degree, Brown worked full time in the flight industry, eventually becoming president and CEO of Ambassadair Travel Club.

But something was missing.

"In 1998, I reflected on my favorite trips and I realized they were in the late '70s when I was taking trips to Honduras and Haiti when I got to do some humanitarian work," Brown said. "On one flight to Haiti, medical doctors were on the plane to Haiti and during the trip they asked us to come over and work. We put eyeglasses on people who wouldn't have had eyeglasses. Hundred and hundreds showed up to see these doctors."

The impact resulted in the formation of Ambassadors for Children, and Brown was surprised by the turnout of volunteers.

"When we offered our first trip, I thought we'd get maybe 30 volunteers," Brown said. "We ended up filling a jet."

Now Ambassadors for Children has more than 30 branches and has helped more than 50,000 children across the globe.

"It brings out the selflessness in people," said Lance Nelson, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and president of the Purdue chapter. "We, as students of a prestigious university, are fortunate to have the opportunities that we have. These children that we help do not have these opportunities, but they should."

The Purdue chapter of Ambassadors for Children offers trips to El Salvador every spring break, and there is talk of further expansion, including a trip to Africa in summer 2009.

Brown is proud of her alma mater but knows there is more work to be done.

In March 2008, Brown went to Cambodia where she met Scott Neeson, the former president of 20th Century Fox, who has now dedicated his time to meeting the needs of Cambodia's people.

"The first question he asked me was, 'Sally, have you seen extreme poverty?' I thought I had until he took me to one of the largest toxic landfills in the world. And here are children living and working in this dump for pennies a day," Brown said. "I will be forever touched by that experience and hopefully students who experience Ambassador for Children trips will have that same effect."

Germany gives 4.3 million dollars to Cambodian Khmer Rouge trial


Tue, 07 Oct 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The German government announced it is increasing its support for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders in a press release on the embassy website received Tuesday. Germany said it had pledged an additional 4.3 million dollars for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) 2009 and 2010.

"This significant contribution from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has already been announced to United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon," the press release stated.

"The German Government regards the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as an important step towards trying the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge during their reign from 1975 to 1979 and bringing to justice those responsible.

Furthermore the German commitment is linked with the expectation that the tribunal ... will become a model for the development of the legal system and legal culture in Cambodia."

It said the new donation brings direct German government support of the joint UN-Cambodian sponsored tribunal to about 10 million dollars in total, and Germany is also sponsoring a number of indirect support programmes.

It is the second-largest sponsor of the trials behind Japan.

Five former Khmer Rouge leaders are currently in custody for crimes they allegedly committed during their 1975-79 regime, during which up to 2 million Cambodians perished.

The first trial hearings are expected within months, according to court officials.

Cambodian reconciliation a slow dance

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

Pacific Daily News

October 8, 2008

A Cambodian reader sees Cambodia's political development as the Khmer Lakhon Preah Chinavong, a dramatic stage show that is long in ending. I am reminded of a ranking official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations who, in the early 1980s in the United Nations, dubbed Cambodian factions' enduring political negotiations, the Ramvong, a popular Khmer traditional circle dance, with participants moving continuously in a circle, around and around, with hand movements and simple footwork. "There is an end, be patient," he said.

The Lakhon and the Ramvong may have had their intervals, but continue.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords to end Cambodia's conflicts and develop and promote human rights saw the investment of some $3 billion and 22,000 U.N. "peacekeepers" to bring stability and prepare for the 1993 general election.

Nine out of 10 registered voters voted for Prince Norodom Ranariddh to lead the country. But, the U.N. never put in place a neutral interim government, so Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party were in control of Cambodia's governmental apparatus. Ranariddh, the winner, was forced, with the approval of world's nations, to accept Sen's power-sharing demand, making Cambodia a country with two heads, the winner as first premier, the loser as second.

"Ban, Ban," the ASEAN official used to say in Khmer, meaning "Can do, Can do." "National reconciliation" was pronounced by the world community and by Cambodians as a peaceful answer.


I wrote in the Sept. 30 1993 Far Eastern Economic Review about "an illusion of national reconciliation, a lull after the storm, a time to align, realign, regroup and devise new strategies. It benefits each faction to come together. ... " Some thought I was too cynical then.

In 1997, Sen, the second premier in control of Cambodia's institutions since the Khmer Rouge were driven out of power in 1979 by Vietnamese tanks, staged a bloody coup against the country's elected leader, killing many, and sending Ranariddh and his supporters fleeing the country.

It took Western pressure to bring Ranariddh back to Cambodia, to prepare for the 1998 election. Yet, Sen said he would not accept any election result not sanctioned by the National Election Commission, which he controlled.

I wrote in the July 25, 1998, South China Morning Post's "Why back flawed polls?" that the world's nations "have resorted to an election to legitimize a dictatorship" and that "Forsaking fundamental principles and ideals that underpin human behavior will support continued injustice and oppression and diminish peace and stability in Cambodia and in the region."

When the July 1998 general election came, Sen and his CPP won the election, a victory repeated in 2003 and recently in 2008. How would anyone expect otherwise? Sen vowed to stay in power until he's 90.

The Sept. 12 Liberation newspaper of the French Left called the electoral fraud "grotesque" and produced samples of documents of fraud to show.

Strong words had been used. Sen was angry when Radio France International broadcast opposition leader Sam Rainsy's "I maintain my position against the unfair election," and his threat to boycott the swearing-in ceremony with "an Assembly of thieves, ghosts and Yuons (i.e. Viets)." Sen revealed, the opposition actually negotiated seats in the National Assembly: "It is a shame to ask the thieves to share power," declared Sen.

"Compromise" was struck through which Sen agreed to officially "recognize" the elected opposition! Rainsy joined the swearing-in ceremony. Even Ranariddh who had been in self-imposed exile in Malaysia since March 2007, returned to Cambodia with the King's royal pardon and Sen's nod.

One hears again of "national reconciliation" between two enemies who now call one another "brother."

But it provided a needed period of respite. And, again, the respite allows "time to align, realign, regroup and devise new strategies," until a new storm appears. "National reconciliation" seems improbable among former enemies in a culture that feeds the traditional "remembrance" for wrongs for "muoy cheat," a period that lasts from great, great, great grandfather to grandchildren -- seven generations.

Ugly politics

Cambodian politics can be very ugly.

Mao Zedong wrote, "Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." Winston Churchill said, "In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times."

A college textbook reads, "From the cradle to the grave, we live our lives in the midst of politics." For Charles de Gaulle, "I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." And the great philosopher Plato wrote, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."

Yet, a former comrade-in-arm writes with resignation, "A duck is a duck, you cannot and can never transform it into a handsome peacock." But Lord Buddha says there is nothing permanent in life.

Asian and Western powers are eager to do business in Cambodia, and Sen knows it. Showing the same Lakhon and doing the same Ramvong will bring no change to Cambodia's political landscape.

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

Viet Nam, Cambodia agree on co-operation, border marking


DA NANG — Viet Nam and Cambodia have agreed to focus on co-operating in areas that the two countries are good at while continuing to speed up work on border markers.

This was decided at the tenth meeting of the Viet Nam-Cambodia Joint Committee for Economic, Cutural, Scientific and Technological Co-operation held in Da Nang City yesterday.

In attendance was Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, chairman of the Vietnamese sub-committee, and his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong.

Khiem told his guest that the meeting was taking place at a time when relations between Viet Nam and Cambodia had been developing well in economy, politics, culture, national defence and security.

Yet much remained to be done to make the two sides’ co-operation more comprehensive and effective, he said.

The two sides decided to give priority to developing human training, infrastructure construction, trade-investment, energy, transport, healthcare, mining, oil and gas, cash crops and seafood processing.

They agreed to create favourable conditions for trade and services activities in an attempt to raise the two countries’ trade turnover to more than US$2 billion by 2010.

They also want to strengthen co-operation in agriculture and encourage businesses in the two countries to invest in building hydro-electricity plants, exploit and develop oil and gas and telecommunications services.

The two deputy prime ministers examined the upgrade of some international border gates to pave the way for economic and cultural exchanges between two countries and between localities in border areas.

They agreed to continue co-operating on national defence and security, anti-trans-national crimes and joint naval patrols.

The meeting reviewed the implementation of agreements obtained at the ninth Joint Committee meeting.

Meeting participants heard work on planting border markers had been sped up in order to complete marking the border between the two countries by 2012.

It was noted that some projects agreed to at the ninth meeting were being implemented at snail speed and had to speed up.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said the tenth meeting was a favourable condition for future co-operation.

He said he believed it would be a new step to meet the desires of leaders and people of both sides.

The eleventh meeting will be held in Cambodia next year.


Nobel Medicine Prize Awarded for HIV, Cancer Research

French scientists Luc Montagnier (file photo)

By Lisa Bryant Paris, France
07 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 07 October 2008 (1.09MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 07 October 2008 (1.09MB) - Listen (MP3)

Three European scientists who discovered the viruses behind AIDS and cervical cancer shared this year's Nobel prize for medicine. Lisa Bryant has more on the prestigious award for VOA from Paris.

The Nobel medicine award was handed to two French scientists: Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier - for their discovery of HIV, the virus leading to AIDS, which has killed at least 25 million people worldwide. Another 33 million others are living with the deadly virus.

German doctor and researcher Harald zur Hausen shared the $1.4 prize for his work on cervical cancer, which poses a major threat to women.

Contacted by France-Info radio in Cambodia, Barre-Sinoussi said she was delighted by the news.

Barre-Sinoussi said being awarded the Nobel was an enormous surprise. She acknowledged her discovery was important, given the extent of the epidemic.

Alice Dautry, the head of the Pasteur Institute in Paris where Barre-Sinoussi works, told French radio she was moved and overjoyed by the award after watching the institute's AIDS researchers battle for years for a breakthrough on the virus research.

The medicine prize is the first of six Nobel awards that will be announced during the next week.

UN Ranges from Shanghai Expo to Literacy Lunch, UNESCO's Friendly Face

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- Even with the UN General Debate concluded, the wine and dine season of the UN is just getting started. Things are always for a cause. Monday night, for example, the UN lobby was taken over by a promotion for the 2010 Expo in Shanghai, China. China's new Ambassador to the UN was there, along with the highest UN official from China, Under Secretary General Sha Zukang, with an entourage. The seal of the wider UN was delivered by Kiyo Akasaka of the Department of Public Information, who praised the good working relationship between DPI and the Chinese mission.

One UN staffer in attendance snarked, "This is basically promotion." Well, yes. China is a Permanent Five member of the Security Council. Russia, too, was given space to promote its bid for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. At the Chinese event, the finger food were swept up as by locusts.

Eighteen hours later, four floors in the Delegates Dining Room, an A List crowd including Ambassadors of Egypt, Finland and Spain -- always ready to party -- the Observer of Palestine and two representatives of UNESCO, dined politely during a speech ranging from literacy to AIDS. The press, lured to the event by the promised later appearance of First Lady Laura Bush, sat in the corner taking notes on the diplomats' table manners.

When last we met UNESCO, sponsor of the event, they were excluding Tamil Tiger-affiliated groups from their human rights conference in Paris. Before that, in July, a UNESCO-related body agreed to Cambodia's request to list the Preah Vihear temples as a World Heritage site despite Thailand's protests, soon followed by a military stand-off. The lunch appeared to be going more smoothly, as least as of this writing.

Another China exhibit, with USG Sha and Mr. Ban, Laura Bush not shown

The head of UNESCO sent his apologies, he had to attend to the member states on his Executive Board. They are discussing the process for selecting his successor. Perhaps the interviews will include, how would you have dealt with Preah Vihear, and the Paris conference issues?

The question for Laura Bush, assuming she accepts one, is whether the UN's Ban Ki-moon should even consider going to Myanmar unless Aung San Suu Kyi is released. Ban was asked the question at a press conference earlier on Tuesday, which will soon be reviewed on this site.

Laura Bush arrived and began speaking at 1:50 p.m., thanking among others the UN's First Lady Mrs. Ban, long-time U.S. USG Joseph Verner Reed -- who it should be noted is close to Ban's Myanmar envoy Ibrahim Gambari -- and the Permanent Representative of Mongolia, a co-sponsor of the lunch. The country's president recently met with Mongolian expatriates on the second floor of the Millennium Hotel. He was asked, if Mongolia has so many resources, why is it underdeveloped? He was not asked about literacy, or this lunch. Laura Bush praised Mongolia for using radio and CD-ROMs to promoting reading to nomadic herders. Who knew?

Cambodian official says Thai troops were warned of landmines


Tue, 07 Oct 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia has not planted any new landmines and had warned Thai military commanders that a disputed border area was heavily infested and dangerous well before two Thai rangers were seriously wounded by mines this week, an official said Tuesday. Cambodia Mine Action Centre director, Khem Sophoan, said Tuesday that Cambodian officials and soldiers had warned Thai troops in the area that it was only partially demined and that walking off clearly marked paths around the disputed border area was dangerous.

"Cambodia does not have landmines to lay and has absolutely not laid any new mines," he said.
"The mines that hurt Thai troops are left over from our civil war."

Cambodia ended 30 years of war barely a decade ago and remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

Two Thai rangers lost their legs as they stepped on landmines while patrolling along the Thai-Cambodian border near the disputed Preah Vihear temple Monday, drawing some Thai media reports sourced to Thai military that Cambodian forces may be planting new mines.

The rangers were the second and third men respectively to have been wounded by mines since the border stand-off began in June. Reports Cambodia might have fortified its border with mines have upset Cambodian officials.

The explosion happened three days after soldiers from both sides were wounded in a brief exchange of gunfire near the disputed area.

Preah Vihear, an ancient Hindu temple built on a cliff on the Dongrak mountain range that defines the Thai-Cambodian border, has been a source of conflict between the neighbours for decades.

In 1962, the two countries agreed to settle joint claims to the temple at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Cambodia won, but the court stopped short of defining the border in the area.

Thailand claims that a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land adjoining the temple is still disputed.

In July, UNESCO agreed to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site despite Thailand's protests, and in mid-July Cambodia alleges Thai troops entered its sovereign territory - claims Thailand denies.

Efforts have since been made to solve the dispute diplomatically - a route Cambodia insists it is intent on following - but have been slowed by political turmoil in Thailand.

Government presses local exporters to certify goods

TRACEY SHELTON; Cambodian exporters say the certification system being pressed by the government will eat into profits while failing to improve quality.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 07 October 2008

Officials claim inspecting and certifying goods will help build Cambodia's brand image, but producers say the move is little more than a money-making scam

OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy on Monday urged manufacturers to apply for product certification to improve export quality during a meeting with manufacturing industry officials.

Ith Praing, secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, told a group of about 100 sector representatives that they could obtain certificates through the ministry's Department of Industrial Standards of Cambodia (DISC).

DISC received accreditation in March as a review body from Norwegian Accreditation, a Norway-based organisation that offers accreditation for various certification bodies, he said.

"Accreditation is vital for producers in promoting their goods to regional and international markets," Ith Praing said.

He said that factories and handicraft businesses needed to upgrade the quality of export goods to promote Cambodia's reputation abroad.

He added that certified products will carry a sticker or seal on their packaging to show that they have been inspected and approved.

"Cambodia became a World Trade Organization member in 2004. [Nearly] five years on, the country has received no significant advantage from it, especially in the export sector," said Pong Sivlay, director of DISC, during the meeting.

He said Cambodian products have not conformed to international standards and that the country has lacked a proper compliance mechanism.

" Accreditation is vital for producers in promoting their goods. "

"From now on, DISC can issue product certification to show that Cambodian goods meet the necessary quality standards for international trade," Pong Sivlay said.

But Puk Leakreasey, president of the Khmer Natural Handicraft, which produces wine and vinegar from palm juice, said Monday he has little interest in the program because the government has inspired no confidence in it. Officials, he said, use it as a pretext to bilk companies for extra money.

Some products that carry the accreditation seal fail to meet quality standards, he said. "I think implementing the program without a thorough evaluation [of products] is useless," Puk Leakreasey said.

"If they want their standards recognised locally and internationally, they must focus on technical issues rather than money.

"Pong Sivlay denied that the program exists merely to collect money.

"For product accreditation, a company is required to pay only US$100 per product for three years [accreditation]. We do not charge anything beyond this, so the allegation is groundless," he said.

Pong Sivlay said 31 companies have been accredited through the program.

High U.S. tariffs hurt Cambodian garment sector

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- High U.S. tariffs are hurting Cambodia's garment sector, with the industry complaining that high import costs and a slowing U.S. economy could sink the Kingdom's key industry, state media reported Tuesday.

In 2007, Cambodia paid 419 million U.S. dollars in tariffs on 2.46 billion U.S. dollars worth of exported goods, meaning the industry is paying an average 17 percent tariff, the Phnom Penh Post said, citing a new report by the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist U.S. think tank.

The average U.S. tax on imports is 1.3 percent, while Saudi Arabia pays only 0.1 percent on the goods it exports to the U.S., the Post said.

Cambodia has already seen a 500 million U.S. dollars drop in exports to the U.S. in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year, said Kaing Monika, externalaffairs manager at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC).

He added that the sector has suffered a loss of about 20,000 workers.

Garments have been hard hit by the U.S. slowdown, with clothing sales down in 2008.

Cambodia sells about 70 percent of its clothing to the U.S. market, making it highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the U.S. economy and Washington's trade policies.

Editor: David Du

PM discuss Preah Vihear dispute at Army HQ

( - Prime Minister and Defence Minister Somchai Wongsawat together with his entourage left the parliament and arrived at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters via a helicopter at around 3.10pm Tuesday.

The premier planned to discuss the disputed border around the ancient temple of Preah Vihear between Thailand and Cambodia with relevant units, including the Supreme Commander, Gen Songkitti Jaggabatara, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Gen Anupong Paochinda, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sompong Amornvivat.

It is expected that the top government and army officials would discuss the current political situation in the country after the police fired tear gas at the anti-government group in front of the parliament on Tuesday morning.

Mr Somchai is scheduled to visit Cambodia on October 13.