Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Military to meet over border row

Photo by: Heng Chivoan A mourner places incense sticks at a memorial ceremony in Phnom Penh Tuesday for the three Cambodian soldiers who died in last week's fighting on the border.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Vong Sokheng
Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Top commanders will hold talks Thursday in Siem Reap

CAMBODIAN military commanders who will meet their Thai counterparts Thursday for high level talks on the border crisis have said that only increased dialogue will prevent a repeat of last week's deadly violence, as mourners in Phnom Penh commemorated the three troopers who died because of the fighting.

"The more we talk, the better the situation," said General Chea Morn, commander of Military Region 4, on Tuesday, calling for daily talks between the two sides.

Chea Morn, who will lead the Cambodian delegation to the meeting in Siem Reap, told the Post that the situation on the border has improved significantly since the shootout a week ago between Cambodian and Thai troops, who he said were now communicating with each other across the frontlines.Neang Phat, secretary of state at the Defence Ministry, said Tuesday that Cambodia "does not want even one inch of Thai land", adding that it only wanted Thailand to respect the Kingdom's borders.

The two countries have been engaged in a standoff over disputed border territory since mid-July and, despite pledges not to inflame the situation, continue to reinforce their lines with more troops and weapons.

At Phnom Penh's Wat Botumwadei Tuesday, local artists and journalists organised a ceremony to "express our gratitude to the soldiers who sacrificed everything defending the nation", Neang Phat said. Two soldiers were killed in the fighting, while a third died the day after, reportedly from smoke inhalation.

"We bitterly regret the loss of our soldiers, and our sympathy goes to their families," Neang Phat said. "I hope the meeting [Thursday] will be fruitful because what we want is peace," he added.

Tensions flared in July after Preah Vihear temple, which is claimed by some Thais, was listed as a Unesco world monument.

No Role As Mediator Over Thailand-Cambodia Issue, Says Malaysia

By D.Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has no plans to interfere in or become a mediator to defuse the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over the disputed border areas as it believes that the ongoing bilateral mechanism is working well, its foreign minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, said Wednesday.

"By coming here, we are in no way interfering, and the question of mediator does not arise. But what we are doing is within the Asean solidarity and spirit, and to show the international community that Asean is capable of handling problems like this," Rais said after meeting Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, and his counterpart and deputy prime minister, Sompong Amornvivat, here.

Instead, Rais said, it was to express Malaysia's and other Asean members' concern over the skirmish on Oct 15 along the Thailand-Cambodia disputed border near the ancient Preah Vihear Hindu temple which left two Cambodian and one Thai soldiers dead, and several injured on both sides.

"As Asean members we cannot simply leave this matter to be discussed during summits. When Surin Pitsuwan (Asean secretary-general) called me, I suggested shuttle diplomacy and I briefed the Cabinet on this matter," he said.

Rais said Somchai, who is scheduled to meet his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Beijing on Friday and Saturday, was very grateful to Malaysia for its initiative in coming here and expressing its concern over the matter.

Rais said he handed over a letter from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who suggested that Thailand and Cambodia de-escalate the strained relations between them, find an amicalbe solution to the problem, have no armed conflict, uphold Asean solidarity and work within the international law.

The reaction from the prime minister (Somchai) and foreign minister was very encouraging, he said, adding: "I told them Malaysia felt that it was just proper and fitting to express our concern over the incident, especially with casualties on both sides as we don't it to escalate."

Rais said plans are also being made for him to meet Hun Sen in Phnom Penh next week.

The Preah Vihear temple, known as Phra Viharn in Thailand, was named a World Heritage site at a Unesco meeting in Quebec, Canada this year, despite Thai opposition to the listing.

The skirmish came a day after Hun Sen gave an ultimatum for Thai soldiers to be withdrawn from the disputed border area or face war.

Rais said the initiative taken by Malaysia and supported by other Asean members was also a good test for the regional grouping's solidarity and friendship, especially with the Asean Charter which would come into effect once all the members completed their ratification process.

"At the moment, Asean appeared surprised...Asean don't have the necessity experience and instruments to deal with it. So it's a good test that we allow the bilaterial mechanism to work first and at the same time examine how the Asean Charter can work under such circumstances," he said.

Rais said the charter had provisions to deal with such disputes and settlements but could not be tested yet as Thailand and the Philippines had yet to deposit their instruments of ratification.

"Under the charter, we will have a high panel on international law that we can utilise to the fullest," he said.

But he said Malaysia was pleased that both Thailand and Cambodia had taken measures to deal with the problem through amicable means, which he expected to be one of the key issues during the Asean Summit in Bangkok in December.

"We appreciate that the situation has de-escalated. Both the prime minister and my counterpart informed me the the situation is improving, despite the issue of landmines in the area and casualities," he said.


Border dispute hits casinos


PHNOM PENH - HUNDREDS of Thai gamblers are avoiding Cambodian casinos a week after a territorial dispute between the neighbouring countries turned deadly, a tourism official said on Wednesday.

The months-long military standoff at the border between the two countries escalated into shooting on October 15 that killed one Thai and three Cambodian soldiers near Cambodia's ancient Preah Vihear temple.

'Since the gunfight erupted, Thai nationals who come to visit casinos have dropped significantly. Only around 20 per cent of gamblers remain at the casinos,' said Mr Bou Vibol, chief of the Cambodian tourism office at Poipet border checkpoint, where there are several casinos catering to Thais.

'In the past, normally on Friday, Saturday and Sunday thousands of Thais came to play. Now, the difference is like the earth and the sky,' he told AFP by telephone from his usually-bustling checkpoint.

Mr Bou Vibol said Thai tourists also appeared to have stopped visiting Cambodia's famed Angkor temples in northwestern Siem Reap province.

'Since the day of fighting erupted, it is quiet now. No more Thais crossed (Poipet) border to Angkor Wat,' he said.

The Poipet border crossing, in Cambodia's north-west, is the country's key gaming centre and trading hub with Thailand.

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand flared in July when Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of land surrounding the temple.

Thai and Cambodian military officials are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday in Siem Reap aimed at calming the territorial dispute, while both Thai and Cambodian prime ministers plan to meet later this week in China. -- AFP

Rais Meets Thai PM On Cambodian Issue

By D.Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Bernama) -- Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim met Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on Wednesday to relay a message from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi suggesting that Thailand and Cambodia de-escalate strained relations between them and avoid an armed conflict.

Dr Rais, who arrived here yesterday, met Somchai at the premier's office at the Don Muang Airport before meeting his Thai counterpart and deputy prime minister Sompong Amornvivat at the same location.

Last Friday, the Malaysian cabinet decided that the prime minister send a message to his Thai counterpart in the Asean spiritas any military conflict between Thailand and Cambodia would have consequences on the region.

Both countries were involved in skirmishes along their disputed border near the Preah Vihear temple on Oct 15 that left two Cambodian and one Thai soldiers dead, and several injured on both sides.

The Preah Vihear temple, known as Phra Viharn in Thailand, was named a World Heritage site at a Unesco meeting in Quebec, Canada this year, despite Thai opposition to the listing.

The skirmish came a day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gave an ultimatum for Thai soldiers to be withdrawn from the disputed border area or face war.

Both Somchai and Hun Sen are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Asian and European Summit scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Beijing.

We provide

PM meets Army chief, Supreme commander to discuss border issue

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat held a meeting with Army Commander-in-chief Gen Anupong Paochinda and Supreme Commander Gen Songkitti Jakkabatra Wednesday morning to discuss the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.

The meeting was held at 7:40 am at the temporary government seat at the Don Muang airport.

Weerasak Futrakul, permanent secretary for Foreign Ministry, also attended the meeting which lasted about over an hour.

The Army chief and Supreme commander refused to answer reporters' questions after the meeting.

The Nation

HM the Queen grrants wreath for Thai trooper

By The Nation
Published on October 22, 2008

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously granted a funeral wreath to the Thai paramilitary trooper who died yesterday from shrapnel wounds to the head received in a clash with Cambodian troops near Preah Vihear Temple on October 15.

Boonyarit Khandee, 40, of Paramilitary Trooper Company 23, slipped into a coma on Monday night and died at the Sappasit Prasong Hospital in Ubon Ratchathani yesterday morning.

Si Sa Ket Governor Seni Jitkasem presented the royal-granted wreath at Boonyarit's bathing ritual in the afternoon at Ban Na Truan Temple in Phu Sing district.

The Khandee family will get Bt300,000 from Boonyarit's life insurance, Bt100,000 from the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand, Bt20,000 from the Paramilitary Trooper Company 23 and disabled paramilitary compensation calculated by his salary times the amount of years he had served in the trooper company.

Public Health Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung offered his condolences to the Khandee family and said the ministry would pay Bt107,000 in medical expenses at the hospital for the family and accommodate the transport of Boonyarit's body to Ban Na Truan Temple.

Dr Monchai Wiwatanasithipong who treated Boonyarit, told Agence France-Presse the paramilitary trooper died from sudden kidney failure, which was one of the complications.

Two Cambodian soldiers were killed during the shoot-out, while a third died a day later of smoke inhalation and illness which authorities said were linked to the clashes. Six Thai soldiers were also wounded.

Tension between Cambodia and Thailand flared in July when the Preah Vihear Temple was awarded UN World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of land surrounding the temple.

In Bangkok, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he would meet with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen on Friday in Beijing to talk about the two countries' border dispute.

Thailand would reaffirm its good relations with its neighbour, Somchai told reporters after a meeting to prepare for the Asia-Europe Meeting in China from tomorrow to Saturday.

He would explain to Hun Sen that Thailand would rather use bilateral negotiations to solve what problems they had rather than table the issue on a grander stage.

Burapha Army deputy chief Lt Colonel Ekkarat Methawattananant said Thai intelligence had confirmed that the Cambodian government had announced a recruitment of new soldiers aged over 18 from many villages in Banteay Meanchey province's Ou Chrov district and the Poipet Market.

Malaysia Hopes Asean Summit Will Go On As Planned In December

By D.Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysia hopes that the 14th Asean Summit will take place in Thailand as scheduled in December as speculation is rife that the embattled government will postpone it or move the venue to Chiang Mai from the capital.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said it was important that the summit and other related meetings with dialogues partners went according to plan from Dec 14 to 18, as any postponement would damage the 10-nation regional grouping's reputation.

"If postponed, it will become a big issue and the international community will say we can't even hold our summit," he said after meeting Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, and his counterpart and deputy prime minister, Sompong Amornvivat, to express Malaysia's concern over the the kingdom's border conflict with Cambodia.

Rais said both the Thai leaders gave an assurance that the summit would be held as planned and that preparations were going on, despite the five-month anti-government protests in the capital and the seizure of the Prime Minister's Office at the Government House.

Asked if the Thai leaders had hinted of any change in venue, Rais said there was none.

"They have not mentioned changing the venue from the capital to another place. But for us, the place is immaterial because the most important thing is the summit must go on with Thailand as the host," he added.

Asean member countries and diplomats had raised concern over the security aspect of the summit and Thailand's ability to host it following two violent incidents in the capital, the latest being on Oct 7 when two protesters were killed after day-long street battles with the police.

Somchai, who was appointed on Sept 17, has to operate from a makeshift office at the Don Muang Airport as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) continued to occupy the Government House, seeking his resignation.

Somchai's People Power Party (PPP) is also facing dissolution for election fraud and the case is now pending at the Constitution Court, raising speculation that he would dissolve the parliament anytime.

Rais said that among the issues likely to be discussed at the summit were reorganisation of the Jakarta-based Asean secretariat to make it more productive and less bureaucratic, food and energy security, intra-Asean matters and the Asean Charter.

He said Malaysia would also push for the revamp of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) to make it more interactive and to allow more meaningful participation from foreign participants.


Women concerned about safety of their ranger husbands who work at Thai Cambodian border

Posted: 2008/10/22
From: MNN

In addition to army personnel, paramilitary rangers have played a vital role in the protection of Thailand`s sovereignty on the disputed Thai-Cambodian border.

While the rangers are carrying out their duties, their wives and children are suffering from sleepless nights for fear of their safety.

The troubled border area near the Preah Vihear temple is less than 10 kilometres from several villages in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province in Thailand’s northeast.

Many village women taking care of their children are on alert around the clock for a possible evacuation. In the meantime, they are worried about their husbands’ safety. Their husbands are paramilitary rangers fighting side by side with Thai soldiers on the border.

Buasorn Jorat’s husband is a ranger stationed on the front-line since the Thai-Cambodian border dispute started. In the past three months, her husband has been allowed only a few brief visits to the family while in town to buy provisions. Each visit lasts less than an hour.

When a major clash erupted last week, Buasorn learned Thai and Cambodian troops had exchanged gunfire at close range and her husband might have been killed. She was so tense she could not sleep.

"I’d like both parties to negotiate so the dispute will end and we all will be relieved. Then the rangers won’t have to carry on the burden and can stay out of danger," said Buasorn.

Pangsri Raksawas, the wife of another ranger, shares the same anxiety. She said her husband usually had seven days off per month. However, as the border conflict escalated, her husband had no days off at all.

Pangsri has been concerned for her husband’s well-being but it’s been impossible to hear news of him. Since the border skirmish took place, she said her mental condition had deteriorated and she could do nothing but pray for her husband.

"My husband and I haven’t seen each other since the clashes. It’s also impossible to contact him," Pangsri said.

Thai rangers on duty along the border area near the Preah Vihear temple have been confronting their Cambodian counterparts at a close distance of less than 10 metres.

In fact, Thai and Cambodian rangers have been deployed in the area for so long they know each other quite well. They realise their duties in protecting their respective countries but they would rather not be parted from their families.(TNA)

CAMBODIA: Human trafficking crackdown also hits HIV prevention

" A few years ago, people went to the brothels - it was just a fun weekend thing to do - but now a lot of my friends pick up sweethearts at the karaokes. "

PHNOM PENH, 21 October 2008 (PlusNews) - The Cambodian government's crackdown on human trafficking and sexual exploitation could reverse the progress made in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, as sex workers fleeing the police have been unable to access health services.

Legislation against human trafficking, introduced in March 2008, also covers formal locations such as brothels, so police implementing the new laws have also targeted sex workers, who are now forced to ply their trade on the street, in bars and informal karaoke bars.

"It's had unintended consequences that have interrupted HIV prevention services in the sex industry," said UNAIDS Cambodia country coordinator Tony Lisle. NGOs were having "significant" difficulty reaching sex workers to provide them with HIV/AIDS education and prevention, Lisle told IRIN/PlusNews.

Cambodia's HIV prevalence declined from 3.7 percent in 1997 to 0.9 percent in 2005, but this progress is now being threatened.

Sex workers called the crackdown a "moral crusade" in protests during June, after reports revealed that the police were detaining sex workers as traffickers and sometimes demanding sexual favours and bribes.

Srey Pov*, a sex worker in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, claimed the police had detained her for 18 days and demanded oral sex from her. "They stripped me of my clothing. We were powerless, because if we refused they could throw us in prison like we were traffickers," she told IRIN/PlusNews.

The Ministry of Interior, which oversees law enforcement, could not be reached for comment.

Police abuse of brothels mirrored government policies in the 1990s, when HIV prevalence was at its highest, Lisle added. This situation changed in 2001, when Prime Minister Hun Sen endorsed a 100 percent condom policy for sex workers over traditional law enforcement, leading to a decline in HIV prevalence among sex workers from a peak of 45.8 percent in 1998 to 12.7 percent in 2006.

"They [the government] realised they needed a more pragmatic approach. The brothels weren't going away, and they still won't after the recent anti-trafficking legislation. Many women [who] choose this work are not trafficked," Lisle commented.

"Legislation is a necessary component to stop HIV/AIDS, but now we need to make sure police understand the intent of the law, and that the laws criminalise traffickers, not consenting sex workers."

Sweethearts and karaokes

With the shift from brothels to bars, karaoke bars and beer gardens, new sexual behaviours are gaining momentum in Cambodia. "People in Cambodia say HIV/AIDS is a done story, a fight we've already finished," Lisle said. "But behaviours change - HIV has a way of finding new hosts and spreading.

" The "sweetheart" phenomenon is also becoming common. This is a recent trend in which Cambodian men engage in long-term sexual relations - often without condom use - with hostesses working in karaoke bars and beer gardens.

In earlier outreach programmes promoting condom usage, NGOs and the government emphasised traditional, brothel-based sex work, but men in long-term relationships tend to trust their partners more, and see condoms as unnecessary for their "sweethearts".

According to a survey conducted between 2005 and 2006 by Population Services International (PSI), karaoke hostesses reported receiving money from 14.6 paying sex partners a year on average, yet only 42 percent of hostesses said they used condoms regularly.

Won Sopheap, a university student, said he had taken on two sweethearts in the past six months. "A few years ago, people went to the brothels - it was just a fun weekend thing to do - but now a lot of my friends pick up sweethearts at the karaokes. We can trust them more; they don't have diseases because they're long-term."

Brothel-based sex workers

Despite the trend in the sex trade to leave brothels, Lisle said sex workers in brothels still faced an "unacceptable" high risk of contracting HIV. This was aggravated by high HIV prevalence among sex workers at coastal and border provinces, where the infection rate is as high as 30.7 percent.

According to the survey report, clients in these regions are more mobile, making the spread of the virus more likely, while sex workers in these provinces tend to be more inexperienced and have lower levels of formal education, so they are less able to negotiate condom use.

"We need to target this group more," Lisle said. "A demographic that enters sex work already infected, and without proper HIV education, could spread HIV very quickly."

Australia helps bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice


I am pleased to announce a further $5 million Australian contribution to the United Nations (UN) for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

I advised Cambodia's Ambassador for Australia, Meas Kim Heng, of this contribution today.

Under an agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia, the ECCC will conduct trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes against humanity during the 1975-1979 period, in which it is estimated up three million people perished under the Khmer Rouge regime.

In 1997 the then newly formed Cambodian Government requested UN assistance in establishing a trial process to prosecute the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The Cambodian National Assembly in 2001 passed a law to create a Court to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime.

This court is called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (Extraordinary Chambers or ECCC).

While the court was created by the Cambodian Government and UN, the ECCC is independent and will provide a new model for court operations in Cambodia.

Australia has been a long-term supporter of Cambodia's efforts to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

This new funding will support the United Nations' contribution to the work of the ECCC over the next two years. Australia has previously provided over $4 million towards the ECCC's operations.

There has been significant progress since the ECCC began its work, with five individuals charged and held in provisional detention awaiting trial.

The ECCC provides an historic opportunity to achieve justice for the victims of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

Australia urges Cambodia and the international community to intensify their cooperative efforts to ensure that the trials are completed in a timely manner and according to internationally acceptable standards of justice, fairness and due legal process.

Asia and EU wrestle crisis in messy diplomatic dance

International Herald Tribune

Published: October 22, 2008

By Chris Buckley

Dozens of Asian and European leaders representing half the global economy gather this week confronting a world financial crisis but their talks are more likely to cloak differences than galvanise action.

At the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) opening on Friday, the 27 EU member states and the European Commission will trade views with Japan, China and India and 13 other Asian countries on the global downturn, climate change and international security.

Beijing, this year's host, has stressed the value of the biennial leaders' meeting in joining two regions that account for two thirds of world trade and 60 percent of global output.

"If everyone doesn't meet like this, then it's much easier for misunderstandings to arise," said Zhou Hong, an expert on relations with Europe at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Europe is fairly united on many issues, of course, but Asia is much more disparate, so achieving consensus among all 45 members is never easy. But we do need it now."

The meetings make no binding decisions, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose bailout of the British banking system swiftly became a model for the United States and many EU countries, will not attend.

Yet even a symbolic flourish of unity may help as governments seek to steady themselves in the financial turmoil: the two-day meeting will issue a closing statement likely to stress a shared purpose in the face of financial meltdown and economic slowdown.

"The main thing is to come out with strong united messages conveying confidence -- confidence that, yes, we can improve the international financial system," France's ambassador to Beijing, Herve Ladsous, speaking last week, said of the ASEM meeting.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso have said they would use the gathering to urge China and India to help shore up world growth and join a proposed summit on the financial crisis.

The meeting is also likely to produce a broad statement on climate change, with Europe seeking to coax China, India and other developing countries into firmer commitments on limiting greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming.

There will also be bilateral and regional get-togethers on the sidelines of the formal meeting that may issue sharper statements on the global economic woes and regional issues.

The ASEAN grouping of Southeast Asian states is set to meet along with Japan, China and South Korea to consider how to beef up a regional mechanism for emergency financial support.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, known for his hawkish views on China, is due to have his first meeting with the country's leaders since he recently took office.

With Europe struggling to pull together over financial policy and greenhouse gas goals, and with the Asian countries even more fractured, ASEM will be more a stiff diplomatic ball than a hard-nosed negotiating bout.

"The fact that the EU is not a very effective negotiating partner, that it can be so opaque and complex, is a frustration for China, I'm sure," said Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform in London. "But China is also a frustratingly opaque and rigid partner, so the EU is also frustrated."


The ASEM meetings began 12 years ago in an effort to narrow the diplomatic distance between Europe and Asia. As it gathered economic clout, Brussels has also sought to put its stamp on international affairs.

Japan, India and other Asian powers have also looked to Europe for more trade, investment and diplomatic support. And China has seen it as a potential counterweight to American power. But Beijing has felt frustrated by the uncertainties of negotiations involving the European Commission and the EU member states, with their sometimes competing demands and gripes.

In recent years its European diplomacy has focussed more on the major European national capitals -- London, Paris and Berlin. For their part, the Asian countries differ vastly in size, development and interests. Hostility divides many of them.

Thailand and Cambodia will attend, despite their sputtering border dispute. Myanmar, under the thumb of a military junta, is also a member. Rivals India and Pakistan will also be there.

When the leaders and ministers gather in the grandiose Great Hall of the People, they will bring all these differences with them. And even usually polite Chinese experts acknowledge the format does not make for dazzling diplomatic footwork.

Asian nations are "traditionally more accustomed to bilateralism, not multilateralism, and prefer to attend ASEM with their own respective stances," concluded a study of China-EU relations by Beijing scholars published in May.

Before each meeting, the Asian leaders gather to coordinate their positions.

"But compared to the relatively integrated EU, their voice is weak and messy." (Additional reporting by Alan Wheatley; Editing by Nick Macfie and Valerie Lee)

Thai PM sees possible bilateral talks with Cambodian PM at ASEM summit

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (TNA) - Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he expected to have an opportunity for bilateral talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen to discuss the two countries' ongoing border dispute on the sidelines of the Asia and Europe Meeting (ASEM) leaders summit that opens in Bejing on Friday.

The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7) will be held in Bejing October 24-25.

Mr. Somchai said it would be good opportunity if he could hold talks over the disputes with Cambodia's Premier Hun Sen.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said he was seeking the right time for Thai and Cambodian leaders to meet during the summit.

It would depend on adjusting time during the hectic schedule of the summit, he said, adding that the best possible chance would be during the evening of October 24.

An adviser to the Cambodian prime minister said Monday that Mr. Hun Sen planned to meet with Mr. Somchai during the summit and that the current stand off at the Cambodian-Thai border will be the most important topic of their talks.

The meeting would be the first face-to-face talks between the two leaders since a deadly gunbattle erupted October 15 between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at a disputed border area near the ancient Khmer Preah Vihear temple.

One Thai soldier and two Cambodian soldiers died as a result of the clash. ASEM 7 summit will be the first gathering of leaders of 45 Asian and European partners since its second round of enlargement in 2006.

The overarching theme of ASEM 7 is 'Vision and Action: Towards a Win-Win Solution'. During the summit ASEM leaders will focus their discussions on political, economic, social and cultural issues, including issues related to sustainable development.

Amidst Thai-Cambodia spat, Asem meets in China

Bangkok Post
Wednesday October 22, 2008

By Bill Smith

NOTE: The Asia-Europe summit runs from Friday to Saturday

Beijing (dpa) - This week's largest ever gathering of Asian and European leaders was planned to focus on efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development, but those efforts now look likely to be overshadowed by the need to respond to the global financial turmoil.

The Thai and Cambodian prime ministers are expected to discuss their nations' recent border skirmish on the sidelines of the meeting.

Talks between the prime ministers of India and China, and between the leaders of South Korea and Japan, should be other highlights among the dozens of bilateral sessions expected.

But discussions on the financial crisis and economic recession are likely to dominate the two-day summit.

Talks on the financial crisis are expected to be "very intense" between leaders of the 27 European and 16 Asian nations at the seventh biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Beijing, Serge Abou, the EU ambassador to China, told reporters.

"The main thing is to come out with strong and united messages conveying confidence," Herve Ladsous, the French ambassador to China, said of the talks on global finance.

"China has made it very clear that they will contribute towards a common effort," Ladsous said.
Separate "clusters" of discussions are planned on banking and financial systems, he said.

Expansion of cooperation between Asia and Europe in trade and service industries could play an important role in resolving the financial crisis, Yi Xiaozhun, China's vice-minister of commerce, said on Monday.

"In addition to stabilizing financial markets, open, stable and fair international trade relations are very important for restoring confidence and getting over the economic difficulty," state media quoted Yi as saying.

Asia and Europe "really need an agreement on free trade," Abou said.

"We sincerely hope that this year's conference will give a push to the trade talks," he said.

This year's Asem summit includes several new members, notably India and Pakistan, meaning the delegates represent a combined 50-60 per cent of the global population and economy.

France, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, will present an Asem statement on climate change under the theme of "Vision and action: towards a win-win solution."

Host nation China has drafted another joint statement on the financial crisis, while the EU wants to mark the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration on human rights with a "summit commitment to implementing human rights," said EU officials in Brussels.

The officials said the EU would push for "the maximum commitment we can get" from Asia on signing up to a post-Kyoto deal on climate change at talks in Copenhagen in December 2009.

But China and other Asian nations appear unlikely to shift from their insistence that European and other developed countries must take the lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"China is a big energy consuming power in the world, so we face lots of pressure," Zhang Haibing, an economist at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The ruling Communist Party's promotion of leader Hu Jintao's "scientific outlook on development" reflects the importance that China attaches show to environmental issues, Zhang said.

China also wants to make more use of advanced environmental technology from EU nations, she said.

"The main difference between China and the EU is the idea of 'common but differentiated responsibilities'," she said, referring to China's support for the UN principle of different goals for developing and developed nations.

Despite the anticipation of several joint statements, Zhang said the Asem meeting was "not likely to reach any substantial achievement."

But she denied that bilateral meetings between the leaders would be more important than the main forum, except perhaps for "certain countries or under certain circumstances."

The Asian nations attending the summit are the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), China, Japan, South Korea and new members India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

"The recent turbulence in the international financial market has dealt a blow to the world economy and aroused the concern of the entire international community," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a speech to an Asem forum last week.

"No country in the world can expect to stay away from such issues as global warming, environmental degradation, resource shortage and the increasingly grave international economic and financial situation or address them on one's own," Yang said.

"In this connection, strengthened cooperation between Asia and Europe not only serves the immediate need but also has a long-term strategic significance," he said.

Beijing border talks?

Bangkok Post
Wednesday October 22, 2008

Post Reporters

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat hopes to discuss the border dispute with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit (Asem) in Beijing on Friday and Saturday.

Mr Somchai said on Tuesday the time and date had not yet been arranged.

He hoped the talks would return the relationship to normal and ease the tension over the 4.6 sq km disputed area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia.

Also on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry protested against the deployment of Cambodian troops in another overlapping area, at the Trimuk Pavilion, which Thailand claims as part of Ubon Ratchathani province.

Director-general of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department Virachai Plasai summoned Cambodian Charge d'Affairs Ouk Sophoin to receive the protest note.

It said the boundary in the area was still subject to tripartite negotiations between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The presence of Cambodian troops was causing unnecessary tension, said Mr Virachai.

The ministry says nine armed Cambodian troops have been deployed at the pavilion since Sept 18. Thailand claims it is in Nam Yuen district. Laos and Cambodia also claim sovereignty.

"The ministry delayed the protest because it wanted to the check facts first," Mr Virachai said, and called on Cambodia to promptly withdraw its troops.

The cabinet appointed Vasin Teeravejayarn the Thai chairman of the Joint Boundary Commission to demarcate the land border with Cambodia. He was nominated by Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat.

Government spokesman Nattawut Saikua said Mr Vasin is a former ambassador to South Korea and former director-general of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department. He will take up the post on Nov 10.

Meetings have not been scheduled because the government wants parliament to approve the talks for fear of breaching the charter.

One of the seven Thai soldiers wounded during the fighting on Oct 15 was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning.

Volunteer paramilitary ranger Bunyarit Kantee died at Sappasitprasong hospital in Ubon Ratchathani.

He was hit by shrapnel while guarding the border at Phu Makheu, near Preah Vihear.

His body was taken to Ban Natruan temple in Si Sa Ket's Phu Sing district for the bathing rite.

Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and HRH Princess Srirasm provided wreaths for the funeral ceremony. HRH Princess Soamsawali has provided royal bathing water.

A royal funeral rite will be held at the temple on Monday .

Second Army deputy commander Maj-Gen Veevalit Jornsamrit said the army has already given 800,000 baht compensation to the ranger's family.

CTN journalist’s surprise resignation

Cambodge Soir


Soy Sopheap, famous to Cambodian viewers for his positions resigned on Monday, October 20. The journalist gave hardly any explanation but implied that the office of Directors of the channel was not pleased with his performances
“Today at 4pm, I will hand out my letter of resignation at the CTN headquarters. I resign because I cannot perform my duty”, the journalist declared to Cambodge Soir Hebdo, but he did not go further into detail.
The past few years Soy Sopheap had become a celebrity in Cambodia. He worked for a CPP (Cambodia’s People Party) orientated channel but regularly exposed civil servants’ irregularities. Lately, he became the political mediator between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh, facilitating the return of the latter to the Kingdom following two years of forced exile.

Foreign Minister visits Cambodia to boost ties

LAOS, Oct 22 (KPL) - A high-ranking delegation of Laos headed by Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, LPRP CC Politburo member, Head of the External Relation Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid a visit to Cambodia on 15-17 October.

The visit was aimed at strengthening the friendly relation and co-operation between the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Cambodian People’s Party.

During the visit, the Lao delegation had a working session with its Cambodian counterpart, paid a courtesy visit to Samdech Chea Sim, President of the Cambodian People’s Party, and Samdech Hun Sen, Deputy-President of the Party.

During the working session, the sides discussed and shared their views on a number of issues relating to their future co-operation. They also expressed their satisfaction over the relation and co-operation made in the past and reaffirmed the continued strengthening of their friendly relation and co-operation in the future.

The visit took the Lao delegation to a number of cultural, historical and social-economic development sites in Phnom Penh.(KPL)

Thailand protests Cambodian troop deployment at Thai, Cambodian, Lao tri-border

BANGKOK, Oct 22 (TNA) - Thailand has protested to Cambodia against the deployment of Cambodian troops at the Trimuk Pavilion (Sala Trimuk) near the tri-border point where Thai, Cambodia and Lao land boundaries meet.

Director-General Virachai Plasai of the Thai Foreign Ministry's Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs met Tuesday with Cambodian Charge d'Affairs to Thailand Ouk Sophoin at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present an aide-memoire on a September 18 occurrance, during which seven fully-armed Cambodian troops were deployed at Trimuk Pavilion (Sala Trimuk), near the tri-junction point where the three countries' land boundaries meet.

According to the diplomatic note, Thailand expressed its concern over the unnecessary tension caused by such a deployment of troops by Cambodia into a boundary which is yet to be demarcated and still subject to tripartite negotiation among Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Thailand reiterated its commitment to settle boundary issues with Cambodia fairly through peaceful means under the existing framework of the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC).

In the note Thailand asked Cambodia to promptly withdraw its troops from the Trimuk Pavilion area and refrain from further troop deployments in the area to preserve goodwill and trust between the two countries pending completion of the boundary demarcation.

In addition, Thailand informed Cambodia that on Tuesday the cabinet confirmed the appointment of Vasin Teeravechyan, former ambassador to the Republic of Korea, as Chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundaries (JBC).

It was also expected that Thailand's House of Representatives will consider the negotiating framework on the provisional arrangement between Thailand and Cambodia and the negotiating framework of the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) next week. (TNA)

Thai-Cambodian border committee set to meet

Wednesday October 22, 2008

( - Thai army and government officials will attend Thai-Cambodian Regional Border Committee (RBC) meeting, aimed at seeking peaceful solutions to the ongoing border row between both countries.

The RBC meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday and Friday in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The previous meeting was held between Thailand’s Second Army commander, Lt-Gen Wiboonsak Neeparn, and Cambodia’s Fourth Army commander, Gen Chea Mon, following the armed clash between both sides near Preah Vihear temple on October 16.

Meanwhile, the Second Army deputy commander, Maj-Gen Veevalit Jornsamrit, said the Thai troops have beefed up security along the Thai-Cambodian border area to prevent armed confrontations with Cambodian soldiers from happening again.

Thailand, Cambodia to hold RBC meeting on Oct 23-24

Thaindian News
October 22nd, 2008

ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi

Thailand and Cambodia will hold regional border committee (RBC) meetings between October 23-24 to try to resolve border conflicts.

Major General Vivalit Jonsomrit the deputy commander of Army Region 2, has stated troops deployment along Thai and Cambodian border at the Preah Vihear Temple area was more discipline and strict in the regiments to prevent recurring of unintentional clashes between both nation’s troops.

He made the statements during his chairing the royal bathing ritual of the corpse of volunteer ranger, Bunrit Kanti, who died from being ambushed. The ceremony took place on October 21.

As the situation at the border areas was still liquid, he said that commanders of both sides agreed to hold regional border committee meetings regarding the border dispute between October 23-24. He hoped that the meeting would resolve the conflicts leading to peaceful bilateral settlement.

Source : National News Bureau, Public Relations Department of Thailand

Local demand fuels Cambodian child prostitution - 21 Oct 08

Al Jazeera English

The problem of child prostitution in Cambodia is often depicted as an industry which serves predatory foreign tourists.

But the vast majority of customers who pay for underage sex are local, Cambodian men.

It has been suggested that one in 40 Cambodian girls is sold into sex slavery. David Hawkins reports from the capital, Phnom Penh.

Soldiers' deaths could've been prevented

Pacific Daily News

October 22, 2008

In Cambodia, known as the land of the gentle smile and big heart, the rise of totalitarianism in the form of Hun Sen, Inc. is threatening the people and the country. Sen's power grabs are ignored by the international community and sanctions are absent.

While looking backward to historical events does not move us forward, history tells us why we are where we are. Its lessons can guide our future.

Ironically, Hun Sen, Inc. was created as a result of the failure to implement the 1991 United Nations-sponsored Paris Peace Accords. In brief, the non-implementation left the Hanoi-backed runaway Khmer Rouge faction in complete control of Cambodia's institutions after Pol Pot was knocked out of power.

The Accords stipulated that a neutral interim government would be put in place until the "free and fair general elections" of 1993, and the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General was to promote and protect human rights in Cambodia.

The neutral interim authority was never established.

I am reminded of a column in the New York Times two decades earlier by former Khmer diplomat Pheach Srey, who asked if replacing the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge by the Vietnam-installed regime, in which current Premier Sen was then a Khmer Rouge regional commander, was not the same as asking Cambodians to choose between "the plague and cholera."

Despite Cambodia's declining rate of economic growth from 10.1 percent in 2007 to 7.2 percent in 2008, and a crippling rate of inflation, which rose from 18.7 percent in January to a record high of 22 percent in July, and reported famine around the Tonle Sap Great Lake, Sen's Cambodia has ended forced labor camps and built roads. The newly rich populate the cities and resorts with large villas, and in this environment, many Cambodians report in recent polls that they feel the country is headed in "the right direction."

But Hun Sen, Inc. has grown so powerful that it has sidelined competitors, eliminated potential threats, and has established itself as the only source of employment. Without shame and at a cost to the struggle for freedom and human integrity, some members and leaders of the opposition parties have left those ranks for jobs in Hun Sen, Inc., which has become the only center for allocation of resources in the country.

Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge gang crushed the soul, killed and mutilated the bodies of Cambodians to stay in power and to transform society. Hun Sen, Inc. may not be using the same brutal methods as his predecessors, but Hun Sen and his associates maintain unrelenting control of the land and the people. It can provide anything, for a price. It sells islands and beaches. It helps evict people from their homes and their land.

On Oct. 17, the Asian Human Rights Commission reported Hun Sen, Inc., which has leased out Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak Lake to a private company for development for 99 years for $79 million, has flooded homes and turned off the area's fresh water supply, forcing thousands of families to leave the area.

Hun Sen, Inc. had made life so impossible for former Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General Yash Ghai to do his job effectively that Ghai was obliged to resign his post. ABC Radio Australia reported Ghai's words on Oct. 3, "My deep conviction is that the (Cambodian) government has absolutely no interest in the promotion of human rights; the whole state exists on systematic violations of political, economic, social rights ... And I really can't see that there is going to be any change of heart just because there is a new representative."

When dictators rule, they don't act responsibly. So irresponsible was Hun Sen, Inc. that it chose to put the nation in danger when Sen vowed on Oct. 3 to turn 1.8 square miles of disputed land surrounding Preah Vihear Temple into a "death zone" if the 84 Thai soldiers "camping" some 30 meters from Sen's troops in Veal Entry did not leave the area in 24 hours.

Nationalism was whipped to a frenzy on both sides of the border. Nationalists from Thailand and Cambodia vowed to die to keep the Temple theirs. Yet the Temple Preah Vihear was already Khmer by history, and legally, with the 1962 verdict of the International Court of Justice. There are recourses other than a "death zone."

On Oct. 15 a firefight broke out between the two forces. After three Cambodian soldiers were killed and several soldiers from both sides were wounded, Thai Premier Wongsawat declared it his policy "to resolve this conflict through negotiations." The author of the "death zone" maintained silence, but Sen's foreign minister's statement says the fighting incident was actually "not an invasion by Thailand." In the field, Cambodian and Thai commanders held a five-hour talk that left troops from both sides where they are. Back to square one.

Nationalist Cambodians, quick at professing undying love to protect the Motherland, need to put a brake on Hun Sen, Inc. The deaths at Preah Vihear could have been prevented.

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

Judge jails ex-temple director for contempt

COURTS: Siphann Tith refused to release financial documents to a receiver.

Press-Telegram Long Beach
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - The former executive director of a Cambodian Buddhist temple in central Long Beach was jailed Monday for contempt of court in a long-running dispute over who runs the religious organization.

Siphann Tith, who represented himself at the hearing in front of Superior Court Judge Joseph Di Loreto, went in expecting only to file an ex-parte motion, which typically asks for a court order before the other party has had an opportunity to be heard on it.

Instead, Tith wound up in jail Monday night. His bail, initially set at $50,000, was later revoked.
The case is to be continued Friday.

On Monday, to the surprise of some onlookers, Di Loreto demanded Tith turn over previously ordered financial documents to a court-appointed receiver. When Tith refused, Di Loreto found him in contempt.

Since August, Tith has faced a contempt complaint for his failure to produce financial information about the temple and its $4 million in assets.

The rift dates back to January when a dissident group, supported by temple monks, staged an election for a new board of directors for the nonprofit agency that runs the temple.

The group charged the board of directors with mistreating the monks, restricting their movement, opening personal mail and threats of expulsion.

In a disputed election, a new board of directors was elected in January.

The existing board invalidated the results, claiming the election was not in keeping with bylaws and was fraudulent.

While the sides worked on the process for a new election, Di Loreto ordered financial control of the temple be given to receiver David Pasternak.

The temple's existing board of directors dissolved the temple organization and divested all assets to the new organization called Wat Khmer Vipassanaram.

While applying for nonprofit status, the new organization became a charter of the Church of the Revelation, a Gnostic church run from a post office box in Orange.

The church's leader, John B. Ramirez, also known as Johnny Rhondo, has also been issued a contempt claim to produce financial documents. Ramirez, who was linked to a massive insurance fraud scheme in 2002, said he has no control over the new Buddhist charter or its finances.

Tith also claims not to have the documents nor the authority to produce them as they belong to a new entity. He also disputes the court's authority over the new organizations as it is not a party to the original suit.

After bail was set, according to local attorney Evan Braude, who has been assisting Tith, supporters of Tith went to post bail and learned it had been revoked.

Savorn Pouv, a former member of the board of directors at the Wat, was dismayed when he heard of Tith's incarceration.

"At this point, we don't know what to do," Pouv said. "We went to court to get justice and this is what happened."

Cabinet approves Foreign Ministry appointment of border commission head

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (TNA) - At its regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Thai Cabinet approved the Foreign Ministry's proposal to appoint former Thai ambassador to South Korea Wasin Teeravejayarn as chairman of the Joint Boundary Commission of Thailand (JBC), according to a government spokesman.

Mr. Wasin would be responsible for the border talks with Cambodia and Myanmar.

The boundary commission post is normally occupied by the deputy foreign minister, but as the Somchai government has only the minister himself supervising the ministry, Mr. Wasin is being appointed to fill the position.

The Wasin's appointment is seen as somewhat urgent, as the Thai-Cambodia border disputes must be resolved. One Thai and two Cambodian soldiers were killed and six other Thai troops were wounded in the border skirmish near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple last week.

The border dispute has yet to be settled. Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat may hold informal talks on the issue with his Cambodian counterpart during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in China to be held later this week (October 23 to 25).

Mr. Wasin is a career diplomat who specialises in international law, and was once Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs before being appointed ambassador of the Hague in the Netherlands in the year 2000. His last position was as ambassador to Seoul before officially retiring on September 30. (TNA)

Sacravatoons : " The Internal-Conflict of the Land of Smiles "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

More violence 'unlikely': M'sia

Asia One News

Tue, Oct 21, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR - VIOLENCE is unlikely to erupt again along Thailand and Cambodia's disputed border after South-east Asian leaders appealed for peace, Malaysia said Tuesday.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said Thailand would avoid further conflict as it was due to chair the 10-member Association of South-east Nations (Asean).

'The message (to stop violence) has been transmitted to them,' Mr Rais told reporters ahead of his meeting with Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Malaysia will dispatch Rais to Phnom Penh to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen with a special message from Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the two countries to avoid military confrontation and restart peace talks.

'Prime Minister Abdullah earnestly hopes there would be a settlement ....,' Mr Rais said, adding that 'we should not resort to skirmishes or violence or the use of arms to settle disputes'.

He said Malaysia hoped the two countries would restart their peace talks quickly and Monday warned that the conflict could embarrass Asean which describes itself as a harmonious grouping.

Two Cambodian soldiers died during the shoot-out, while a third died a day later of smoke inhalation and illness which authorities said was linked to the clashes.

A Thai soldier who sustained shrapnel wounds to the head during a firefight died on Tuesday.

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand flared in July when Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of land surrounding the temple. -- AFP

Thai former PM Thaksin convicted by court

Supporters of Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra hold a banner and his portrait outside the Supreme Court in Bangkok on October 21, 2008. Thailand's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had violated a conflict-of-interest law while in office and sentenced him to two years in prison.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

supporter of Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra holds his portrait outside the Supreme Court in Bangkok on October 21, 2008. Thailand's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had violated a conflict-of-interest law while in office and sentenced him to two years in prison.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Malaysia to ask for Thailand, Cambodia to settle conflicts peacefully

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia is expected to ask for Thailand, Cambodia to solve their conflicts peacefully in the spirit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a senior official said on Tuesday.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Dais Yatim made this remark at a hotel in Putrajaya, administrative center of the Malaysian Federal Government, after he had a luncheon with the heads of missions of Americas in Malaysia.

Dais said that he would travel to Bangkok and, if possible, to Cambodia, to convey a message from Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi suggesting the two countries solve their conflicts without resorting to the use of arms.

He also hoped that more ASEAN countries would join to ask for Thailand and Cambodia to discuss ways to solve the problem between them without involvement of arms.

Dais told reporters that he believed that the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia would not widen.

Dais was scheduled to visit Thailand late Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.

Seventy of the More Than 900 Health Centers Do Not Have Midwives - Tuesday, 21.10.2008

Posted on 22 October 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 583

“Phnom Penh: While the number of midwives is still a priority concern to reduce maternal and child mortality, Dr. Mam Bunheng, the Minister of Health, has set it as a priority to increase the number of midwives, and to install electricity at all referral hospitals and health centers countrywide.

“During a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel with the heads of the [provincial] Departments of Health from all over the country, and with partners in development late last week, the Minister of Health said that during this fourth term of government, the priority for health care is to deploy midwives to all health centers around the country. He added that to have midwives assigned at all health centers is fundamental, because if women, who come to give birth to their babies, are assisted by midwives who have been trained properly, this will contribute to reduce maternal and child mortality. Dr. Mam Bunheng went on to say that to deploy midwives cannot be done by just following some easy ideas, adding, ‘To deploy midwives requires to consider the strengthening of the health care infrastructure, especially the budgetary requirements, therefore I would like to request all development partners to help support this work.’

“Together with the general work for maternal and child health as a major problem, the Minister also encouraged to regularly conduct three pre-natal examinations for pregnant women, to build up sufficient human resources, to reviews procedures for the time before and after giving birth, to prepare the foundation to send pregnant women to health centers when it is time to give birth, to award a midwife Riel 60,000 [approx. US$15] after assisting a birth to a baby safely at a health center, and Riel 40,000 [approx. US$10] for midwives at referral hospitals.

“Mr. My Sambo, the director of the Department of Personnel of the Ministry of Health, said that at present, we have 3,113 midwives, but this number cannot meet the needs of the 900 health centers countrywide. Now, 70 health centers do not have a midwife. He continued to say that normally, one health center needs two midwives, where one is the primary midwife and the other is an assistant midwife. According to the director of the Department of Personnel, each year, Cambodia needs around 400 new midwives, that means that from 2009 to 2015 we need 2,489 [??] midwives.

“With the present maternal and child mortality rate, it is not possible for the Ministry to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. Professor Kum Kanal, the director of the National Mother and Child Health Center, pointed out that the rate of maternal and child mortality has not declined, that is, 472 out of 100,000 infants being born die. However, the mortality rate of children under the age of one year declined from 95 to 66 among 1,000 children, while the mortality rate of children under the age of five declined from 124 to 83 among 1,000 children.

“Regarding the reasons for maternal mortality when giving birth, Mr. Kanal explained that the major reasons are loss of blood, other cause of diseases, postpartum fever, and giving birth assisted by traditional midwives without proper training, which still is the case in 50% of births given in the country – mostly in rural areas.

“Together with the goal to improve the health infrastructure, Dr. Mam Bunheng encouraged all health centers and referral hospitals to create access to electricity, and he encouraged the citizens to practice birth spacing, which also contributes to reduce maternal and child mortality.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4721, 21.10.2008

The UN Millennium Development Goals are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges – three are concerned especially with the situation of women:

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower womenGoal 4: Reduce child mortalityGoal 5: Improve maternal health

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 21 October 2008

On Thai Border, a Return to Tense Normality

A handful of families sought refuge inside Preah Vihear temple following violent military clashes last week.

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Preah Vihear province
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (1.41 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (1.41 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Just a few days after one hour of military clashes at Preah Vihear temple last week, villagers are returning to their homes along the border and life is easing back to an uneasy status quo.

Along the red, muddy road that leads to the temple, the villagers are returned to their wooden shacks, households quickly returning to a kind of normal after gun fights between Thai and Cambodian soldiers Wednesday drove them away.

Nearly all the villagers near Preah Vihear temple, the center of a three-month military standoff, fled after the clashes.

"I was inside a trench, but I was still afraid," said Chan Son, the 40-year-old wife of a motorcycle taxi driver. "So my husband and I decided not to stay, because we heard loud noises of fighting."

"When I saw on the road a Thai flag, I jumped off the moto and my husband admonished me," she said.

The two fled as far as Sa Em, 30 kilometers from her home at K-1 village at the base of the Dangrek mountains near Preah Vihear temple.

"But now we are back, because we had nothing to do there," she said Sunday at her small home in K-1 village.

About 340 of 473 families had returned to the area, said Prak Phi, chief of Sa Em, Svay Chroung, K-1 and Prasat villages. The families had gone into Preah Vihear and Siem Reap towns, as far as 100 kilometers from the fighting, he said.

For people in K-1 village, the jumping off point for a climb up the mountain to the temple, a return meant coming back to a livelihood, vending from a small collection of buildings at the bottom of the mountain or driving motorcycle taxis.

Most tourists are gone now. Only soldiers remain, scattered throughout the forest along the roadway.

Higher up the mountain, in Prasat village, people have a harder time making a living, but, since the fighting began, a handful have sought refuge in Preah Vihear temple itself, sharing a small sleeping space, leg on leg and head to head.

Some have been able to earn money by selling soft drinks and vegetables to soldiers on the mountain.

The non-governmental organization CARITAS Cambodia on Sunday began assessing the needs of such people living near the fighting. They found people short on food and water and in need of health assistance.

By Sunday, no further violence had been reported since Wednesday's fighting. Military officers promised to prevent further clashes and plan to set up more discussions between commanders on the front line.

However, both sides have again begun digging trenches, as well as sending more soldiers, supplies and ammunition to the front.

Cambodian soldiers on Sunday returned confiscated B-40 rockets to the Thai side and re-equipped 10 Thai soldiers staying at the Keo Sakha Kiri Svah pagoda, west of the temple, where the military standoff began on July 15.

Commanders for Cambodia's Military Region 4 and Thailand's Military Region 2 will meet on Thursday in Siem Reap, while Prime Minister Hun Sen hopes to meet his Thai counterpart this week during international forums in Beijing.

Schools Reopening After Border Violence

By Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (887 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (887 KB) - Listen (MP3)

More than 100 schools along the border in three provinces reopened Monday, following closures in the wake of military clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers last week.

More than 150 schools in Bantheay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces were closed last week, after an hour of gun battles near Preah Vihear temple led to the deaths of at least three Cambodians and fueled worries of widespread violence.

Bleng Saruth, director of Banteay Meanchey’s education department, said Monday all of the 89 schools in Malay and O’Chrouv districts, which had been closed last week, were reopened.

“Since the 20th [of October] until now, the schools are 100 percent open, because people are no longer afraid,” he said. “They are coming back home. They were afraid on the 16th and 17th, but now all the schools have been opened.”

Many people living near the site of Wednesday’s fighting, including teachers, fled last week, leaving the border regions for urban centers in the interior. With no further clashes reported, and with Thai and Cambodian military commanders expected to meet in Siem Reap Thursday, many people are now returning, and sending their children back to school.

Around 50 schools in Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear, near the Preah Vihear temple, have remained closed, as well as other schools scattered through the three border provinces.

Among 20 schools in Chom Ksan district and the surrounding area, 16 have been opened, said Horn Chhorn, director of Preah Vihear’s education department.

“About 70 percent of the students have come back to school, while the remaining four [schools] cannot be reopened until today because some parents fear that their children will be injured,” he said.

In Oddar Meanchey, 21 out of 23 schools in four districts remained closed Monday, said Ing Borath, director of the province’s education department. He urged parents to send their children back to school.

“In fact, in the remaining 21 schools still closed, there are very few students coming in, so the teachers just let them go back home, because the number is too small,” he said.

He hoped more students would return later this week, he said.

Ratanakkiri Families File Deforestation Suit

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (871 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (871 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Nearly 80 minority families in Ratanakkiri province filed suit in provincial court Monday, alleging that a military official and businessman had deforested state land to install a plantation.

The 79 families, from Lumphat district, alleged through two representatives that since 2003, Khim Khengchou, 50, a military official, colluded with local businessman Sman Slesh, 51, to produce 600 hectares of rubber and bean plantation.

The two cut down trees in protected forest, near where the families live, according to the complaint.

In a brief statement by phone Tuesday, Sman Slesh denied the accusations. Khim Khengchou could not be reached for comment.

Deputy provincial prosecutor Ros Saram said he had received the complaint, which was filed with the help of the human rights group Adhoc, and would act on it soon. His office was backlogged with many other complaints, he said.

Adhoc meanwhile is planning a march in Ratanakkiri town Oct. 27 to demand further implementation of the law and a crackdown on deforestation in the province.

The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday agreed to permit the march.

Hun Sen Hopes To Meet Somchai in Beijing

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 October 2008 (758 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 October 2008 (758 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Prime Minister Hun Sen hopes to meet with his Thai counterpart during several international meetings in Beijing this week, following military clashes on the border and continued political turmoil in Thailand.

Hun Sen left for Beijing Monday, to attend an Asean meeting and a round of ASEM talks between European and Asian leaders.

Adviser Sri Thamrong told reporters at the airport Hun Sen would meet with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and hoped to meet with Thailand’s new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat.

Somchai is facing increasing pressure from opposition protesters in Bangkok to step down, as Thailand’s months-long political upheaval continues and in the wake of gun battles last week that left three Cambodians and an unknown number of Thais dead.

The Bangkok Post reported Somchai as saying he would attend the meetings in Beijing and would meet with Hun Sen if there was opportunity.

Sin Sen, General of Failed Coup, Dies at 60

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (649 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 21 October 2008 (649 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Gen. Sin Sen, a political and military leader who participated in a failed 1994 coup, died Monday, due to stomach complications and illness, police and family said.

"He vomited with blood, and he did not let me as the wife know about his sickness," said Meas Vy.

Sin Sen, who was 60, was once the national police chief and belonged to the ruling Cambodian People's Party. He joined a coup attempt led by Sin Son, the former Minister of Interior, and Prince Norodom Chakrapong, which failed to topple the government following UN-organized elections.

Sin Sen was later pardoned by King Norodom Sihanouk for the attempt, and he went on to hold key government positions, including parliamentarian, for Funcinpec. He left his position as secretary of state in the Ministry of Interior following July's election.

Sin Sen leaves behind four children and a wife. He was 60. His remains will be cremated on Thursday under the supervision of Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

‘Hero’ Meets Challenges for Dump’s Children

Phymean Nuon, founder of the People Improvement Organization

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
21 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 October 2008 (5.16 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 October 2008 (5.16 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Around 1,500 families live around Phnom Penh’s largest dump site, Stung Meanchey, including many children who should have an education, no matter how poor, according to the founder of an organization who helps hundreds of children at the site.

“Some of them have no homes,” said Phymean Nuon, whose work creating the People Improvement Organization has been honored by the television news network CNN and who was a guest on “Hello VOA” Monday. “They put up tents, and every day they collect trash, such as cans and plastic.”

“Even though they are street children and have no money, they should know how to read and write,” she said. “Sometimes I cry because I see these children and these women sleeping at the trash dump. Each time I come here I see them eating spoiled rice. The place is like hell, and they should not wait for the next life.”

The People Improvement Organization offers free schooling to children at the site, and Phymean Nuon has been chosen to compete with 10 other CNN honorees for “Hero of the Year.” She was already featured as one of its “Heroes,” and if she is selected, she will win $100,000, which she said would go toward further helping the children.

The children work at the dump site between 10 and 12 hours a day, making less than a dollar, and sometimes making no money at all, Phymean Nuon said. They do not receive an education and live in hazardous circumstances; some of them have been killed by garbage trucks, she said.

Phymean Nuon started her organization four years ago, recruiting children to come to the center. The organization has classes from grades one through nine, and works under Ministry of Education guidelines that allow students to continue education in government schools.

Classes are tailored to the schedules of the children, so they can continue to scavenge and earn money, she said.

“Some children at my school collect trash until late at night and fall asleep in the classroom,” she said.

Phymean Nuon tells the children not to give up hope.

“Even if we are poor and struggling and don’t have any money, we can go to school,” she said.

“Some children are injured from broken glass, needles and razors,” she said. “If they don’t have an education, they will collect trash until the day they die.”

Armed conflict unlikely to erupt at Thai, Cambodia border: Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21, 2008 (AFP) - Violence is unlikely to erupt again along Thailand and Cambodia's disputed border after Southeast Asian leaders appealed for peace, Malaysia said Tuesday.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said Thailand would avoid further conflict as it was due to chair the 10-member Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN).

"The message (to stop violence) has been transmitted to them," Rais told reporters ahead of his meeting with Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Malaysia will dispatch Rais to Phnom Penh to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen with a special message from Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the two countries to avoid military confrontation and restart peace talks.

"Prime Minister Abdullah earnestly hopes there would be a settlement ....," Rais said, adding that "we should not resort to skirmishes or violence or the use of arms to settle disputes".

He said Malaysia hoped the two countries would restart their peace talks quickly and Monday warned that the conflict could embarrass ASEAN which describes itself as a harmonious grouping.

Two Cambodian soldiers died during the shoot-out, while a third died a day later of smoke inhalation and illness which authorities said was linked to the clashes.

A Thai soldier who sustained shrapnel wounds to the head during a firefight died Tuesday.

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand flared in July when Preah Vihear was awarded UN World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of land surrounding the temple.

Japan warns nationals on trips to disputed area in Cambodia, Thailand

Japan Today
Tuesday 21st October

TOKYO — The Foreign Ministry on Monday raised its travel alert for areas near Cambodia’s ancient Preah Vihear Temple, advising Japanese nationals to think carefully before traveling there, due to an ongoing military standoff.

The travel advisory, the second lowest of four warning levels, also applies to areas in Thailand along the disputed stretch of the border. It urges Japanese who plan to travel to or stay in the region to choose reliable travel agents and take appropriate safety measures.

Asian leaders in talks to end spat
From correspondents in Bangkok
October 21, 2008

THE Thai premier has agreed to talks with his Cambodian counterpart this week in China after a long-running border spat escalated into a deadly shootout, a Thai government spokesman said today.

THAI Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat confirmed he would hold talks with Cambodian premier Hun Sen on the sidelines of a Beijing meeting between leaders of Asian and European nations on October 24 and 25, spokesman Nutthawut Saikua said.

"The prime minister had informed his cabinet during a meeting that he made an appointment to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen while both are attending the (Asia-Europe) meeting in China,'' Mr Nutthawut said.

An adviser for Hun Sen told reporters Monday that the Cambodian premier was expecting to meet with Somchai in Beijing.

Somchai, who has only been in power for one month but is already rattled by local political turmoil, was forced to cancel traditional familiarisation visits to neighbouring Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, and Myanmar this month.

Thai and Cambodian military officials meanwhile are scheduled to hold talks Thursday in Siem Reap aimed at calming the territorial dispute which last week erupted into fighting that killed one Thai and three Cambodian soldiers.

The firefight erupted between soldiers stationed on disputed land near Cambodia's ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Emergency talks the day after ended with Cambodian and Thai officials agreeing to joint border patrols - which have not started yet - but offered no lasting solution to the military stand-off along the border.

Tensions between the neighbours flared in July when Preah Vihear was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling long-simmering tensions over ownership of land surrounding the temple.

President of LB Buddhist temple held in contempt

Monks pray at Wat Vipassanaram, a calm that contrasts with the dispute between most of the monks and the board of directors, which transferred the temple's assets to an ambiguous nonprofit linked to a gnostic church.
(Luis Sinco, xx)
October 9, 2008

Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Head monk Khoeun Pang lights candles for evening prayers. Observers in the Cambodian community say the conflict is part of a larger factionalism, including disputes over the designation of Cambodia Town in central Long Beach.

San Jose Mercury News

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—The president of a Cambodian Buddhist temple in Long Beach has been held in contempt of court and taken into custody for refusing to turn over financial documents in a fierce legal battle over who controls the temple.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Di Loreto had repeatedly demanded that 44-year-old Siphann Tith turn over the temple's assets to a court-appointed receiver.

Tith says he no longer has the temple's books, and that the board has dissolved the nonprofit that ran it.

The judge didn't accept the argument and on Monday declared Tith in contempt.

Two factions of the Long Beach Cambodian community have been fighting over the temple. A group of monks elected its own board in January after Tith had agreed to an election but a dispute arose over who would be able to vote.

Thai-Cambodian border trade returns to normal

BANGKOK, Oct 21 (TNA) -- Cross-border trade between Thailand and Cambodia returned to normal Tuesday as Thai businessmen urged the governments of both countries to quickly settle the boder dispute, which they said serves no one.

Trade had come to a virtual standstill following last week's border skirmish near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, but now has returned to normal as of Tuesday as Thai traders and entrereneurs NS Cambodian market vendors make their way across the once again busy border bridge which connects the two countrties with an official checkpoint.

Sa Kaeo Chamber of Commerce vice president Prasert Sotthipattanapong said after a meeting of Thai chamber committee members that cross-border trade between the Thai border district of Aranyaprathet and Cambodian Poi Pet has now returned to normal following the clashes between soldiers of the two neighbouring countries on October 15.

Two Cambodian and one Thai soldier died and six other Thai troops were wounded in the skirmishes in Thailand's border province of Si Sa Ket that day.

Average daily trade in Sa Kaeo province bordering Cambodia is around Bt100 million while about 9,000 persons, including tourists, cross the border on workdays and the number rises to approximately 12,000 on weekends or public holidays, said Mr. Prasert.

He urged governments of the two countries to quickly settle the border dispute and misunderstanding in order to boost trade and tourism like before.

People living along the border understand well about the real situation but not people living in cities, said Mr. Prasert.

Echoing his views was Duangchai Chantorn, vice president of the Trat Chamber of Commerce, who said average daily trade amounting Bt100 million in the border coastal province is now back to normal with between 3,000-4,000 people crossing the border on a daily basis.

"Cambodian businessmen are afraid to invest in Thailand due to the political problems here," Mrs. Duangchai said, noting that many Cambodian businesspersons had spoken with her.

She said their reluctance to invest in Thailand was mainly political but observed that misunderstandings could be settled through negotiations. (TNA)

Malaysia to consult with Asean on Thai-Cambodia summit

The Star Online
Tuesday October 21, 2008


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will have to consult with its Asean colleagues to see if there was a chance of hosting a summit between Thailand and Cambodia over their border dispute.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said such a suggestion would not be well-received by either country at the moment however.

“I know there are some quarters in Cambodia who would not take too kindly to the efforts of a friendly nation to come in and help resolve the border dispute.

“In fact, such a summit would be desirable but matters to be tabled for discussion will have to be carefully considered,” he told reporters after meeting with heads of mission from the regions of America and Caribbean at the Marriott hotel here on Tuesday.

His remarks came before his trip to Bangkok Tuesday night, where he would bear a personal message from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to his Thai counterpart Somchai Wongsawat suggesting Thailand and Cambodia de-escalate the strained relations between the two countries to avoid an armed conflict.

Cambodia and Thailand have been engaged in a border dispute, with reports suggesting that they are on the verge of war.

Malaysia’s visit would be the latest in a series of overtures from Asean members, most recently Indonesia, for both countries not to resort to armed conflict but sit down at the negotiating table.

“It is multi-effort on the part of Asean. It is my opinion that the unilateral attempts by the different Asean countries in asking for a peaceful resolution be given priority before we hold such a summit,” he said.

He said it was unlikely that violence to spread, particularly when Thailand would be the next host for Asean meetings.

“I’m also waiting for a signal from Cambodia to see if I can also go see Prime Minister Hun Sen with the same message,” he said.

Dr Rais said Asean members might have to come out with a required code of conduct for its members in the future as currently it had very little capability to deal with crises of such nature between members.