Sunday, 2 November 2008

Cambodia says dates set for Thai border talks

Thai soldiers stand along the disputed Cambodia-Thailand border near the Preah Vihear temple

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to restart talks aimed at resolving a long-running border dispute that last month claimed four lives, the Cambodian foreign ministry said Sunday.

Foreign ministers and border negotiators from the two countries will meet November 10-12 in Cambodia's tourist hub Siem Reap to try to end a months-long military stand off, said Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Kuy Kuong.

The neighbours will also start hammering out a long-term solution to competing territorial claims along their joint border.

"We will talk about the technical issues and border demarcation," Kuy Kuong said, adding that Cambodia was "more optimistic than ever that the upcoming talks will have a better result."

An official from the Thai foreign ministry, however, told AFP that the dates and venue of the talks were still under discussion.

Shortly after a round of talks failed last month, troops from the two countries clashed in a border firefight on October 15 on disputed land near Cambodia's ancient Preah Vihear temple, killing one Thai and three Cambodians.

Thailand's parliament last week gave the Thai government the green light to launch talks with Cambodia aimed at settling the issue.

Two rounds of emergency talks after the October clashes made little progress, with both sides only agreeing not to fire on each other again.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The most recent tensions began in July when the 11th century Preah Vihear was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

Music returns to the stage in Cambodia

The nation's first rock opera, with a blend of modern and traditional sounds, debuts soon.

By Ker Munthit The Associated Press
November 2, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia's first rock opera will premiere in Phnom Penh next month, a cultural milestone in the Southeast Asian country where performing arts were banned during the brutal Khmer Rouge years.

"Where Elephants Weep" is an East-meets-West blend of traditional Cambodian music and Western rock that is modeled after "Romeo and Juliet" and inspired by the Broadway musical "Rent."

Organizers said Wednesday the show will open a 10-day run Nov. 28 in a converted movie theater in the capital, Phnom Penh, a year later than its planned debut at the end of 2007.

The show was commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts, a project of the Boston-based nonprofit organization World Education, which seeks to revive traditional Cambodian performing arts and inspire contemporary artistic expression among Cambodians.

Charley Todd, a co-president of the CLA's governing board, said the opera had a successful preview last year in Lowell, Mass., which has a sizable community of Cambodian refugees.

But producers needed extra time for fine-tuning.

It is expected to later tour in other countries, including the United States, South Korea and Singapore.

Arts and entertainment were banned when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia between 1975-79 and killed some 1.7 million people through starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

Execution sites from the time now serve as grim attractions for tourists visiting Cambodia.

"Where Elephants Weep" is an operatic take on "Tum Teav," the Cambodian version of "Romeo and Juliet."

It tells the story a Cambodian-American who lost his father during the Khmer Rouge era and returns home after Cambodia's civil war to trace his roots.

In Phnom Penh, he meets and falls in love with a Cambodian woman who works as a karaoke singer.

The music was composed by the Russian-trained Cambodian maestro Him Sophy.

He was inspired by the musical genre of the rock opera "Rent," which he saw twice during a trip to New York City.

Cambodian musicians in the performance use electric guitars, electronic drums, keyboards and traditional instruments like buffalo horns, bamboo flutes, gongs and the chapei, a long-neck lute with two nylon strings.

After seven years of work, Him Sophy said he expected a celebration — both on stage and in the country.

"It is going to be a big national cultural event," Him Sophy said. "And the entire team is committed to making it happen flawlessly and perfectly."

Cambodia, Thailand to convene special meeting for border issues

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand will convene a special meeting of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Border Commission on Demarcation and Land Boundary (JBC) on Nov. 10 and 11, said an official press release here on Sunday.

It will be followed by the third meeting of both sides' foreign ministries to speed up the border demarcation work in a reasonable time limit, said the release from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Cambodia expects that, through these successive meetings, "both sides will be committed to achieve a peaceful and just solution tothe border problem as soon as possible without any further delay," it said.

The meetings will be held in accordance with the determination that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Somchai Wongsawat made in October during the ASEM Summit in Beijing, it added.

In October, Cambodian and Thai troops exchanged fire on their disputed border area, killing two and wounding a dozen.

Prior to the clash, the ownership of the Preah Vihear Temple caused both sides to maintain military stalemate near the border for weeks.

During this period, rounds of meetings were held, but all failed to find common ground on the border issue to break the stand off.

The two countries have 790-km-long border line, but only with 73 border posts which were planted in 1907.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Still serving

Chantha Bob helps serve the last lunch crowd at the Anaheim Street site of Sophy's restaurant. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

Press-Telegram Long Beach

There's no rest as Sophy's restaurant moves to PCH site

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - While a worker was banging away in the kitchen at Sophy's Fine Thai and Cambodian Cuisine on Anaheim Street, a crew of painters several blocks away was busy working on her new place.

And then there was the plumber - wait, where the heck's the plumber?

On Halloween afternoon, as the cooks and serving staff at the popular Cambodian restaurant waited for the dinner crowd to start arriving, Sophy Khut, the restaurant's owner and namesake, was in nonstop motion and dealing with inevitable devils that pop up in a quick move.

The popular eatery served its last meal Friday night. But fans will be happy to know that Sophy was planning to be open for dinner tonight at the new Sophy's, at 3240 E. Pacific Coast Highway.

For nearly eight years, Sophy's has been a mainstay for fans of authentic Cambodian and also Thai food. However, the landlord at the Anaheim Street site refused to renew the lease when it came up, forcing Sophy's to find a new home.

"We got lucky," says Chet Khut, Sophy's younger brother. "We didn't know where we were going to go."

One day Sophy was talking to a customer and learned that the owner of a site on PCH was looking for a tenant.

As Sophy sat at her restaurant in the 3700 block of Anaheim Street, all but one painting removed from the walls, she looked around wistfully.

"I'm sad, but I'm also excited," she said. "The sad part is I've been here for a long time and I started from scratch. This place gave me the opportunity to feel like I was able to do something successful in life."

For many members of the Cambodian community, Sophy's has also been like a small town hall where they gather and discuss issues.

Sophy opened the restaurant, then called Ruth's Country Kitchen, with $30,000 she cobbled together from family members. She moved into the cramped 1,200-square foot space on Jan. 1, 2001.

Chantha Bob, her longtime friend, had discovered the spot when he stopped for a cup of coffee at the breakfast and lunch place on his way to go skiing.

Sophy Khut watches workers get her new restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway ready for tonight's opening. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

Sophy was living in Portland, Ore., at the time and managing a Japanese restaurant.

After seeing the place, Bob urged Sophy to come to Long Beach.

He has been with Sophy every step of the way.

"I was here the day it opened and the day it closed," Bob said.

Together Sophy and Bobby, as everyone calls Bob, reminisce about the early days.

"It was a long road, it was tough," Sophy says.

"We used to have a $1.99 special," Bobby says.

"And no one showed up," both say in unison, then laugh.

"I'd make $30 in sales and $100 in tips because customers felt sorry for me," Sophy says.

After nine months, Sophy changed the menu, adding Cambodian and Thai food to the selections and began serving dinner.

Sophy's is now a popular eatery that can be packed on weekends. It is not only a hangout for Cambodians, who appreciate the authenticity of the food, but the rest of the Long Beach community.

Waiting for a table won't likely be a challenge at the new space, which at 5,000-square feet is more than four times larger.

Another bonus will be parking. At the old space, Sophy's had only four spots and the landlord was infamous for calling tow trucks when patrons used unapproved spaces.

In addition to the expanded space, Sophy is planning a bigger menu with about 20 more dishes, including traditional amok, fish, chicken or lobster, with coconut milk and tumeric, often served in banana leaves, and Nam Ban Chok, a noodle dish that can be made in an array of ways.

With the new facilities, Sophy also will be able to host large parties and corporate functions, which wasn't possible at the old space.

They plan to wait a couple of weeks and settle in before announcing a grand opening."

Still, had it been up to Sophy, Bobby and Chet, they would have stayed at the old place.

"People just think we're moving because we're getting richer," Chet says. But that's not the case.

In fact, Bobby says he wishes there was enough money to allow Sophy's to close for a few days, if only to provide relief from the seeming round-the-clock work of operating one restaurant while opening another.

"I'd wish I had time to make it right," he says of the new space. "We can't afford to be even one day behind."

Stopping is not something that's in Sophy's blood.

After fleeing from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975, hiking seven days and four without food, Sophy arrived in the United States as a 9-year-old in 1976.

Three days later she found work picking berries and has been working ever since.

And she is optimistic about the restaurant picking up where it left off.

"I have devoted customers and hopefully they'll follow me wherever I go," Sophy says.

Luckily, in this case, that's just about six or seven blocks.

Oh Khlen Phka Preah Vihear

Chinese Navy Chief to Arrive on First-Ever Visit

Saturday, November 01, 2008

(Source: The Times of India)NEW DELHI: In a first ever visit by a Chinese Navy chief to India, Admiral Wu Shengli will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday. He is slated to hold discussions with defence minister A K Antony and his Indian counterpart Admiral Sureesh Mehta to boost military confidence-building measures.

This comes at a time when India and China are jostling for the same strategic space in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to secure their energy and other needs. India, of course, does not want this "competition" to escalate into "conflict".

With China on course to acquire aircraft carriers, the one capability lacking in its otherwise potent naval force, its Navy chief is especially keen to get a first-hand look at India's operation of 'INS Viraat' and its Sea Harrier jump-jets.

"Apart from holding talks with Antony and Admiral Mehta during his visit from November 1 to 5, he will be visiting the Western Naval Command at Mumbai, the naval airbase at Goa and the upcoming naval base at Karwar," said an official.

Indian and Chinese armed forces have been incrementally building up their military ties, which in December 2007 led to the first- ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming, with the return exercise planned at Belgaum in India this December.

Apart from other concerns, India remains worried about strategic moves by China in maritime domain. In keeping with the "string of pearls" strategic construct, China is forging linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, in a bid to encircle India.

Myanmar's PM to attend two subregional summits in Vietnam

YANGON, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Prime Minister General Thein Sein will be visiting Vietnam to attend two subregional summits in the near future, an official announcement from Nay Pyi Taw said Sunday without specifying the date of his visit.

The two summits are those of the 4th of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) and of the 3rd of Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) which also comprises the four countries plus Thailand.

CLMV are the lesser-developed countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar, along with Laos, joined the regional grouping in July 1997.

In November 2003, four countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand held their first ACMECS summit in Myanmar's ancient city of Bagan, laying down ACMECS program which provides for cooperation in five main strategic areas of agriculture, industry, trade and investment, transport, tourist and human resources development.

Vietnam joined the ACMECS in 2004.

In May 2007, ACMECS foreign ministers met in Myanmar's Mandalay, pledging to work for greater competitiveness, narrower economic disparity and promoting socio-economic development in the subregion.

Calling for realization of their 2003 Bagan Declaration efficiently and effectively, the foreign ministers also expressed their desire to strengthen the aims and objectives of the declaration and work for attaining prosperity in the subregion through enhanced solidarity, mutual respect, goods neighborliness and active cooperation among the member countries.

Editor: Mo Hong'e

Culture of Impunity, Caused by Armed Persons, Spreads Seriously - Saturday, 01.11.2008

Posted on 2 November 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 584

“Officials of human rights organizations noticed the spread of the culture of impunity, where perpetrators are not brought to be prosecuted, and where cases are not investigated to the end. Things go differently related to crimes committed by powerful officials, who have weapons, and for innocent people, where the perpetrators of killings are not punished, while the victims die uselessly.

“This is called impunity - when perpetrators are not prosecuted. According to civil society organizations, there were killings caused by armed persons during the last months, for which nobody has been punished. This worries people, while perpetrators became freer to shoot innocent people.

“An investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – said that during the last five months, gunmen who are military officials shot dead people in five different cases, and those gunmen have not yet been brought to be prosecuted.

“An investigating official of LICADHO, Mr. Am Sam’ath, said that on 29 October 2008, the Cambodian government announced to strengthen the rule of law, but the culture of impunity still exists, and police should not let those armed persons go free, whatever position they hold.

“Mr. Am Sam’ath added, ‘In every of these crimes that happened, there is no perpetrator being prosecuted according to the law; there is only one case that happened near the riverside some days ago, where the judge Chhay Kong issued an arrest warrant, but the perpetrator has not been arrested and brought to court. It is seen that most shootings are ’settled’ out of court by compensation money - criminal cases, which cannot be settled by paying a compensation as if they were civil cases.’

“The following case was reported to have already been ’settled’ by compensation money. The victim’s family is poor and lacks legal support; therefore they decided to accept the compensation quietly, without confronting the criminal with the law. It is said that this is an agreement where the victim’s family accepted already a monetary compensation.

“According to the report of LICADHO, the shootings which killed and seriously injured many people include the case where a military official of the Constructing Unit 70 shot dead a woman, a garment worker on 31 July 2008. Another case is that a military official of the Construction Unit 70 shot a man after a traffic accident. Another case is that a police officer killed a driver of a remorque moto [a long vehicle pulled by a motorcycle] on 5 May 2008, and a case where a bodyguard shot dead a waitress at a restaurant on 4 September 2008.

“An investigating official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Chan Soveth, stated that there are some criminal cases caused by military officials or by bodyguards without prosecution.

“Mr. Chan Soveth went on to say, ‘If criminals are not prosecuted, it means that there is impunity, and if their cases are not resolved, it encourages other people, especially armed persons who use weapons, not to be afraid, so more crimes will happen. This might happen because some armed persons use their weapons without being checked in any way, and they are free from any prosecution, because they are backed by powerful officials in the government.’

“Officials of human rights organizations criticized such neglect, letting perpetrators go free from prosecution; it shows the decrease of the implementation of the law in the country.

“He continued that not to implement laws not only make people lose confidence in the judicial system, it also makes investors to hesitate, or not to come to invest in Cambodia.

“It is expected that the judicial system in Cambodia will be strengthened, and the culture of impunity will be reduced little by little, building up a Cambodian society that properly follows the rule of law. Otherwise hundreds of people’s lives will suffer from shootings by powerful people who have weapons and who kill people just as they like. It is expected that the government will not let this problem spreading any more.”

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3435, 31.10.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 01 November 2008


By D.Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Nov 2 (Bernama) -- Max Chong, who is on a five-country cycling expedition to create awareness and raise funds for cancer patients, has completed 1,660km of his four-month journey, with strong encouragement from the local folk and support for joint efforts with other countries.

Chong, 39, said he was glad that there were problems and challenges throughout his journey from Ipoh, where he was flagged-off on Oct 18, until his arrival in the Thai capital yesterday.

"It was easier than expected as I was expecting some dangerous situation along the way...but there were some problems like tyre puncture. But the people whom I met along the way have been very helpful and generous," he said before continuing on his journey to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam from the Malaysian embassy here today.

Chong said he hoped to complete his 82-day expedition, covering 4,320km, in Hanoi on Jan 4 next year, with the proceeds going to the National Cancer Council (Makna).

"I wrote in Thai about my expedition on a donation box and this attracted car drivers, motorcyclists and local people. Many donated while hotels and guest houses along the route gave discounts to me," said Chong, who was hosted by the Perwakilan Bangkok, an association comprising embassy staff and their family members.



Chong said he was now on a solo journey as planned as Chuah Yew Lay, 50, a former national cyclist who lost his right leg in a car accident some 20 years ago, had left for home after accompanying him up to Lang Suan.

From Bangkok, he will cycle to Prachin Buri and Aranyaprathet before crossing into Cambodia.
Chong said there was a lot of enthuasism from the Thai volunteers who are helping cancer patients to link up with their Malaysian counterparts.

"The Thais also have cancer awareness programmes and associations. They are keen to work together with Makna and share their experiences with us," said Chong, who himself had painful experiences of seeing relatives and friends dying of cancer.

Chong said Makna president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin would wait for him in Hanoi where Makna was planning joint research projects on cancer with the National Cancer Institute of Vietnam besides expansion of its services to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.


Stop all this violence - for the good of the country

Bangkok Post
Sunday November 02, 2008

Thongbai Thongpao

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple flared again last month and a confrontation across the border culminated in a fatal exchange of fire. Fortunately, the situation improved when the two sides agreed to return to the negotiating table.

At home, however, the tensions between rival political groups that have gripped Thailand for quite some time show no sign of abating. Our leaders and fellow countrymen _ who all speak the same language and vow to respect the same head of state _ have refused to talk to each other. Political orientation or ideology should not be a problem because both sides claim to uphold democracy.

There has been a lot of talk about a new constitution. If indeed there is one, it will be promulgated by the authority of His Majesty the King and, like its predecessors, Section 1 will provide that Thailand is a kingdom that is one and indivisible; Section 2 will state that Thailand is a democracy, with the King as head of the state.

Surely these principles will not be amended.

If the two sides agree to these fundamental principles, what's the point of the confrontation today? Why is it that we can no longer talk? Cambodians and Thais speak different languages and the rules of their nations are different, yet negotiations are possible and a war has been averted. How come the two groups of Thais who are under the same rule and respect the same king turn down all proposals for reconciliation and refuse to talk to one another? Why do they keep their fellow countrymen on edge with the prospect of bloodshed and even civil war?

I would like to say this to the people in the streets, and especially to their leaders:

''Don't shout in the face of your opponents just because you have the equipment to do so. Has it ever occurred to you that ordinary people are so fed up with your speeches, which focus on the same language and content every day? Have you ever realised that other people who have no part in this struggle have the right to hear something more creative, something that won't drive them mental?

''Nowadays, the majority who bran dish no colour feel insecure and are deprived of the liberties people in other democratic countries take for granted. Our constitution endorses these rights and freedoms also, but they are now violated and there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done about it. People cannot travel freely. Passengers dare not talk to taxi drivers because they have no way of knowing to which side the drivers belong. They have to put up with whatever radio broadcasts the drivers tune into, depending on their political tastes, until they reach their destinations. And of course they dare not ask the drivers to turn the broadcast off for fear of being viewed as belonging to 'the other colour'. It's as if we are in a state of war.

''My question to you is, 'what are you doing? Does the country belong to you and only to you?'

''My plea is for you to think of ordinary people who simply want to live in peace. You have done enough talking already, and we all understand your points.

''Isn't it time you stopped speaking for once and listened to other people?

''This week, a group of academics proposed the so-called 'Three Stops' to help ease the situation. The first is to stop mobilising people to confront one another. Second, they want a stop to the favouring of the People's Alliance for Democracy. The third is putting an end to all efforts that would plunge the country into a state of anarchy and create conditions for a coup.

''This should not be hard for you to do. Can you for once listen to reason? Please regard the Three Stops as a request from the people, people who want peace and democracy, not more anarchy and coups. Are you aware that if you do clash, that scenario will be unavoidable because it will justify the use of force by the army?

''Statesman and former prime minister Gen Prem Tinsulanonda also urged both parties to be patient, tolerant and sacrifice. This is no cryptic statement. We'd all like you to think twice before retaliating to any offence. We want you to stay calm when you don't get your way. And we want you give up some of your moral high ground to make way for negotiations and reconciliation.

''Let's restore peace. What will the country get out of this long struggle? What do you stand to gain? Don't let time and exhaustion catch up with you. We all have seen what you stand for. At the same time, we also see how you are slowly succumbing to nature's rule of impermanence, from which no one and nothing has ever been spared.

''So for the sake of peace and democracy, as well as the people that you claim to fight for, please give your thoughts to this plea.''

Damaged Road and Floods

Road 598 called Chea Sophara Road is damaged from floods in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh city. Dirty water is released into Tonle Sap River.

For the Ears and the Eyes

Master Chorale Presents an Artistic Feast With Cambodian Dancers and an Incredible Instrument
by Julie Riggott

Los Angeles Downtown News

Oct 31, 2008

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Music Director Grant Gershon said the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s latest commission, Chinary Ung’s “Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth,” is “a great project, really inspiring, and also one of the most challenging commissions that we’ve brought to fruition - on just every level.”

Executive Director Terry Knowles said the Nov. 9 world premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall, along with a performance of Lou Harrison’s “La Koro Sutro,” “will be the most visually interesting thing we do all year.”

Our interest was piqued.

Ung’s “Spiral XII” brings a 62-member chorus together with six soloists, including sopranos Elissa Johnston and Kathleen Roland; 11 musicians, including a Cambodian percussionist; and seven Cambodian dancers led by dancer/choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. Harrison’s piece calls for chorus, organ and harp and required shipping in a special instrument, an “American gamelan” inspired by the traditional Indonesian percussion instrument but designed by Harrison with unusual objects such as brake drums - the ones from cars.

This Sunday’s Downtown Los Angeles concert is the third installment in the L.A. Is the World series, a project developed by the Master Chorale to commission new work from master musicians who have immigrated to Southern California and composers also experienced in non-Western techniques. These collaborations allow the Master Chorale to be more innovative and expand its range from the traditional repertoire.

Meditation on the East

For “Spiral XII,” Ung was inspired by “Sathukar,” which he calls “the most sacred piece of music in Cambodian culture,” and a monument in the northern part of the country with pools representing the four elements and two intertwined dragons rising from the middle. The chorus sings, not a narrative, but a combination of words in many languages, including Cambodian, English, Latin and French, that signify compassion, spiritual creation, meditation and other Buddhist concepts. Cambodian vocal techniques are also employed. Sometimes, the voices sound like drumming, other times like chanting.

“From a purely musical standpoint,” Gershon said, “it’s about the sound and the evocations of individual words and phrases. “The individual words have meaning, but… they exist also purely as transmitters of sound and color.”

String, wind and percussion musicians - many from Southwest Chamber Music and one percussionist, Ros Sokun, from Cambodia - play music that Gershon describes as “complex, fluid and evocative.” Some are asked to use their voices as well, a characteristic of Ung’s music that “harkens back to Cambodian traditional classical music where there really is no clear distinction between instrumentalists and vocalists,” Gershon explained.

Ung, who was born in Cambodia, immigrated to the United States in 1964 and is now a composition professor at the University of California at San Diego. He said his music is “all about Western techniques,” but a trip to Cambodia in 2001 gave his composition a “renewed purpose.” From then on, his music was not just personal, but also “included the elements of my culture.”

The dance also draws on and expands traditional Cambodian forms. Cheam Shapiro, artistic director of the Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach and Cambodia, is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, and her experiences and those of a nation oppressed by tyranny inform her choreography. (Nov. 9, coincidentally, is Cambodian Independence Day.)

At the end of the piece, the dancers and some singers will form a spiral. Gershon called it “a visual representation of Chinary’s idea of a musical spiral, something that bridges the abyss, as the title suggests, between heaven and earth.

“The whole thing is certainly breaking new ground for the Master Chorale, and I think for Disney Hall as well, to have a piece conceived from the beginning as music and dance completely intertwined.”

Though also inspired by Buddhism, Harrison’s piece has a completely different sound, one Gershon characterized as bright and rhythmic. Harrison, one of America’s great contemporary composers, was known for his innovative compositions infusing world cultures. He actually wrote 50 pieces of gamelan music, and his 1973 “La Koro Sutro,” his most famous, uses Esperanto (a universal language created in the late 19th century) text translated from the Heart Sutra.

In addition to the opportunity to hear the impressive Disney Hall organ, Harrison’s piece utilizes the aforementioned American gamelan, a huge apparatus played by six percussionists. It has gongs, drums and maracas, as well as metal pails, a baseball bat and other found objects - “just about everything but the kitchen sink,” Gershon said, laughing.

“It’s as much fun to watch as it is to hear.”

Concert starts at 7 p.m. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., (213) 972-7282 or

Contact Julie Riggott at

Commodity FTA with Cambodia Takes Effect


Saturday, November 1, 2008

A free trade agreement for commodity trade with Cambodia has taken effect.

The Korean Finance Ministry says Cambodia has completed the necessary procedures for the implementation of the product trade agreement between Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

Starting Saturday, tariffs will be lifted on over ten-thousand products imported from Cambodia.

But tariffs will remain on 108 items that will affect domestic industries, such as fruits and meat.

The Korean-ASEAN product trade agreement went into effect in June of last year. With the Cambodian implementation, the pact will now affect all nine ASEAN member countries.

The trade volume between Korea and Cambodia reached three hundred million dollars last year. Korea posted a 270 million-dollar trade surplus with the Southeast Asian country.

Reported by KBS WORLD Radio , KBS
Contact the KBS News

Cambodia plans to set up rice store for export

Small Business VoIP
November 01, 2008

Phnom Penh, Oct 31, 2008 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) --? Cambodia will set up a rice store capable of stocking about two million tones of rice for export in 2009, officials said on October 31.
The move is seen as an effort by the Cambodian government to prevent price shocks and shortage rumour like in 2008.

In April, 2008, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a temporary ban on rice exports. The order was misunderstood that Cambodia was lack of rice, driving prices in Cambodia?s market uncomfortably high.
Addressing a forum on rice on October 30, Cambodian agricultural officials stressed that they would seek to prevent a similar scenario in the future with their exports stock, which would be put under the control of the Ministry of Commerce. ?

At a Temple in Indochina, Placid Days, but No Peace

The New York Times
Published: November 1, 2008
PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia — Brightly colored lines of washing hang by the gray stone walls. A vendor offers sunglasses, shampoo and cigarettes from a plastic sheet under a tree. A man with a Polaroid camera sells souvenir photos to the Cambodian soldiers camped on the temple grounds.
At the main gate, where an hourlong firefight with Thai troops broke out less than three weeks ago, the commander of a Cambodian border police unit is playing cards with his men.

It is a sleepy interlude here at the Preah Vihear temple, on the Thai-Cambodian border, where this summer a dispute over sovereignty became the most volatile international confrontation in Indochina in 20 years.

Cambodian troops occupy the swooping cliff-top temple, which is in Cambodia but is most easily reached from the high ground on the Thai side. The Thais, who claim parts of the territory around the temple, are mostly out of sight in the hills or in camps nearby in Thailand.

But the Cambodian government seems to be digging in for a long siege. A new budget expected to be approved in the coming week would double the country’s military budget to $500 million — or 25 percent of all government spending.

“We cannot sit and watch Thai troops encroach on our border,” Cheam Yeap, deputy head of the finance commission of the National Assembly, was quoted by Reuters as having said. “Our army needs to be more organized, better trained, with newer bases and well-fed troops.”

The encampment here has the village feel of Cambodian deployments throughout conflicts in recent decades.

A small market has opened under red and blue tarpaulins; a barber has put out his chair by a temple wall; a satellite dish brings in both Thai and Cambodian soap operas for the officers to watch.

Soldiers calling their families wander the cliff’s edge searching for a cellphone signal, which switches between Thai and Cambodian carriers as they walk.

At the bottom of the great stone causeway, giant loops of silver razor wire close off the main entrance, which is guarded by armed men wearing sandals; the 900-year-old temple, with its sagging walls and tumbling columns, is empty of tourists.

The commander of the forces here, Gen. Chea Dara — a man who looks to be in his 50s and wore a white tank top along with his gold wristwatch, and held a dripping red dragon fruit — claimed a great victory in the little skirmish that took place on Oct. 15.

“They left with their hands in the air!” he said of a group of 10 Thai soldiers whom the Cambodians captured and returned. He raised his arms and shook them, adding: “They were trembling! They thought we would kill them.”

Other tales are told on the Thai side, and the origins and outcome of the clash remain unclear. Soldiers here say that three Cambodian soldiers died, two by gunfire and one from a heart attack. The Thais admit to one death and several wounded.

Tiny marks of shrapnel fleck the great stone staircase that rises from the Thai side to the temple, along with two stone dragons that flank the steps. But nothing seems to have been gained or lost in the fighting.

The dispute flared in July, when Unesco, the cultural agency of the United Nations, declared the temple a World Heritage site, based on a Cambodian government proposal. Domestic politics in Thailand fueled a nationalist response, and troops, artillery and tanks were moved into position.

The confrontation echoes with the history of the rise and retreat of empires over the centuries, and old fears and hatreds still burn between Cambodia and its more powerful neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand.

The dispute also draws together the tangled strands of more recent conflicts, with roots in the Vietnam War and the brutal decades of massacres and civil war involving the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.

One Chinese-made 85-millimeter artillery piece at the lip of a precipice was brought to Cambodia by invading Vietnamese soldiers in 1980, and it may have been used against American troops a few years before that. Since then, both Khmer Rouge and government soldiers have fired it as control of Preah Vihear changed hands.

After the Cambodian civil war ended a decade ago, the Khmer Rouge were integrated into the government army, and the combined force is facing off now against Thailand.

The Thais, armed and equipped mostly with American weaponry, have the advantage in firepower as well as air cover from fighter jets. Their 300,000-strong military is three times the size of the Cambodian armed forces.

But the Cambodians, with their more tormented history, are more hardened soldiers. Some of them have fought on one side or another — or on more than one — since they were boys in the 1960s.

“They wanted to test us, to see if Cambodian troops are easy to intimidate,” said Col. Meas Yoeun, 48, a ranking commander in Preah Vihear Province.

“They curse us and mock us and look down on us,” he said of the Thai soldiers. “They say we have old weapons and ask us if they really fire.”

According to the Cambodian soldiers camped here, the Oct. 15 battle began with taunts as Thai troops across a small stream shouted at them, “Come on, let’s fight!”

Touch Socheat, 39, a captain in the border police, said he had come to know some of the Thai soldiers by name over the weeks as they called back and forth, and he felt betrayed when they started shooting.

“One guy got hit right over here as he was taking a bath,” he said, pointing to an open pump. “I’m not going to trust them anymore.”

Srum Mao, 45, a deputy post commander for the border police, said the two sides were keeping a close eye on each other now, waiting for some new surprise.

“We watch what they do,” he said. “When they carry ammunition, we carry ammunition. When they dig a bunker, we dig a bunker. When they put down their weapons, we put down our weapons. We are watching each other.”

Cindy McCain fits the role of first lady

Sat Nov 1, 2008

By Deborah Charles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With her elegant clothes and perfectly coiffed blond hair, Cindy McCain looks the part of a U.S. first lady.

She is also well prepared for the role.

Heiress to a fortune estimated at more than $100 million and chairwoman of one of the largest privately held companies in Arizona, McCain has traveled overseas extensively with different philanthropic organizations, visiting Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Angola, India, Vietnam and other countries.

She has dealt with U.S. government agencies, championed relief work through her charities and overseen the family business, gaining valuable experience that would serve her well as first lady if her husband, Republican John McCain, wins the presidential election on Tuesday.

"Despite the fact that she hasn't been in Washington, D.C., all that much, her actual experience in foreign countries would be the greatest attribute to serve her well," said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, author and historian for the National First Ladies Library.

Anthony said McCain's international experience as the medical charity's founder and board member for a non-profit land mine removal group, will give her a boost at the White House.

"She's had to deal with government agencies ... and I think in the process she has developed a certain level of diplomacy that I think is along the lines of what might be asked of her were she to be first lady," Anthony said.

McCain, 54, has indicated she would continue her philanthropic work if her husband wins, although it is unclear what she would do with her role as chairwoman of the family business, Hensley & Co., one of the largest U.S. beer distributors.


McCain is a former rodeo queen and cheerleader who holds a master's degree in special education from the University of Southern California.

Eighteen years younger than her husband, McCain has an independent streak. She never moved to Washington although her husband has been in Congress for most of their married life.

She likes to tell a story of how she came home from a trip to Bangladesh with a baby she planned to adopt. She only told her husband when she landed in the United States.

McCain also decided to learn to fly and even bought a plane before telling her husband.

It was only when they applied for their marriage license that the McCains realized they had both lied about their age when they met in 1979 -- Cindy, then 24, said she was older and McCain, 41, a married father of three, said he was younger.

Cindy Lou Hensley and John McCain married in May 1980, five weeks after McCain divorced his first wife, Carol.

McCain has said she spends more time with her husband of 28 years during political campaigns than any other time -- the opposite of what most political spouses would say.

While she has few rallies of her own, McCain is a regular fixture at her husband's side. She stays away from talking about policy, preferring to stand behind him clapping and smiling on cue after she introduces her husband.

But she occasionally speaks strongly, saying in Tennessee recently that she thought Democrat Barack Obama had "waged the dirtiest campaign in American history."

She has also attacked Obama by saying he did not support troops in Iraq, telling supporters "The day that Sen. Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body."

In a dig at Obama's wife, Michelle, who was criticized for being unpatriotic after she said she was proud of her country for the first time in her life, McCain said: "I'm proud of my country. I don't know about you, if you heard those words earlier, but I'm very proud of my country."

In 1994, Cindy McCain dissolved her medical charity after admitting she had been addicted to painkillers, some of which she had obtained from the charity's doctor.

McCain has publicly acknowledged her drug addiction, which she at first kept secret from her husband and family.

She has also made a full recovery from a stroke that nearly killed her four years ago.

(Editing by Patricia Zengerle)

Cambodia's Missioners Gather To Discuss Their Role

Indian Catholic
October 1, 2008

PHNOM PENH (UCAN) -- Foreign missioners serving in Cambodia shared their sense of mission as relationship, with the local people and culture, when about 65 of them gathered here.

The missioners from many of the more than three dozen Religious congregations and missionary societies working in the country came together in the capital for a forum on Oct. 23 to mark Mission Sunday, which fell on Oct. 19.

"To be a missioner is a matter of relationships, to share your life with others," said Father Alberto Caccaro, a panelist at the forum held in the auditorium of the Catholic Social Communications center.

The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest shared that he realized this after "slowly learning the language, the culture and discovering the seeds of the Gospel in Cambodian society."

A missioner here for eight years, the Italian priest is based in Prey Veng, 45 kilometers east of Phnom Penh, where he cares for a community of 30 ethnic Vietnamese Catholics and runs a youth center that provides accommodation for students.

In his encounters with people, Father Caccaro said, "the main interest is to let them know the love and grace of God, even for those who have never known Jesus." In this way, both parties can discover the meaning of being human, and how God works in each culture, he added.

Another panelist, Marie-Laure Ayala, serving with the Canada-based Quebec Missionary Society, shared Father Caccaro's view.

"Mission is a relationship," the laywoman affirmed, and missioners "are here more to listen to others than to speak." Reflecting on her experience, she said: "What we will really remember is how we lived together, our testimony, the reconciliation with each other, the love we expressed to each other."

For panelist William Burns of the Maryknoll lay missioners, being a missioner means "having an ordinary life with ordinary people."

"The people I live and work with here are very vulnerable. If they get sick they cannot go to Bangkok," he observed. Foreigners in Cambodia usually seek medical treatment in Bangkok, the most easily accessible city with up-to-date medical facilities.

"To accept the vulnerability, to be as vulnerable as the ordinary people here, is the challenge for me, and it is what I am trying to work on as a missioner," Burns said.

Other forum participants expressed similar views of mission to UCA News.

Father Hernan Pinilla, local superior for members of the Colombia-based Yarumal missionary society, pointed out their mission is not only for small groups of Catholics. "It is extended to the whole population, because we have to spread the Good News of Jesus to all."

However, spreading the Good News in predominantly Buddhist Cambodia is not limited to Scripture and the sacraments, according to Maryknoll Father Charles Dittmeier. During eight years working with deaf children here, "I have not baptized even one Cambodian person," he said. "And I don't give bibles." Yet he described his work "bringing the Good News to the deaf people" as evangelization nonetheless.

Paris Foreign Missions Monsignor Antonysamy Susairaj, apostolic prefect of Kompong Cham, said at the forum, "We all should always be aware of the immense importance of being together, create community life, strengthen relationships and share the ordinary life with ordinary people." The other two Church jurisdictions in Cambodia are Battambang prefecture and Phnom Penh vicariate.

During discussions, participants stressed that missionary societies have given a very concrete and meaningful contribution to the Church by leading mission work. The forum explored the question: "What is the role of missionary societies in the mission of the Church in our world today?"

Earlier, forum convener Father Omer Giraldo stressed the need for missioners from different backgrounds, cultures and missionary societies to come together to share "our common goal of being witnesses to Jesus in Cambodia."

"The beauty of being a missionary in Cambodia is that each of our missionary societies does not have its own autonomous project," the Yarumal missioner told participants. "We share our efforts, working together with the local Church in a common apostolate."

Cambodia now has more than 150 foreign missioners. They started coming in the early 1990s to help rebuild the local Church after two decades of civil war and religious persecution.