Monday, 3 November 2008

Kampot cement plant delayed by crisis

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Monday, 03 November 2008

A move to invest US$200 million in the Kampot Cement Co that would triple output by the end of 2009 has been temporarily shelved because of the global downturn in financial markets, a company stakeholder told the Post Sunday.

"Both my companies and a foreign partner, the Siam Cement Group (SCG) in Thailand, have been affected by fluctuations in world markets, so we have decided to delay expansion of operations in Kampot," said Khaou Phallaboth, president and minority stakeholder of the company.

SCG is one of Thailand's largest conglomerates and has interests in construction materials, transportation and retail.

Kampot Cement was launched in January of this year as a $127 million joint venture with Thailand's largest conglomerate SCG, which controls a 90 percent share, and Cambodia's Khaou Chuly Group, which holds the balance of shares.

The company currently produces one million tonnes of cement each year, Khaou Phallaboth said.

Market surveys indicate annual demand for cement in Cambodia is nearly three million tonnes, generating about $270 million.

" Demand has declined about 30 percent because of a fall-off in construction. "

"Currently, demand has declined about 30 percent because of a fall-off in construction projects," Khaou Phallaboth said.

He added that political instability in Thailand, as well as financial losses and new restrictions on development projects in Cambodia has added to instability in the capital's once booming construction sector.

Slower demand

Slower global construction demand has driven down cement prices this year.

Siam Cement Pcl has been hit hard by a slow construction and petrochemicals marker.Thailand's largest maker of building materials recently had its rating cut to "sell'' from "hold" by Chaiyatorn Sricharoen, an analyst at Bualuang Securities Pcl, who cited falling petrochemical prices and declining demand for cement and building materials.

In October, SCG posted a 21 percent year-on-year fall in third-quarter net profits to baht $119 million due to divestment tax gains.

Sales increased 15 percent and operating profits in paper and cement grew up by 69 percent and 29 percent respectively, the company said in a statement.


Rice millers hope to achieve int'l export standards by 2009

A rice farmer works in Takeo province. Authorities hope that better milling will bring Cambodia's locally produced rice up to international standard and increase exports to the West.

The Phnom Penh Post

Monday, 03 November 2008

A new US$7 million processing plant is expected to raise the quality of Cambodian rice, boosting exports to the Western markets

CAMBODIA expects to begin producing international standard rice for export to European markets in January 2009 with the construction of a new, large-capacity rice mill, an official told the Post Sunday.

Phou Puy, president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association (CRMA), said the German-built mill was purchased by the group for US$7 million in August and is expected to go online early next year.

"It is capable of processing 300 tonnes per day, or 100,000 tonnes each year," he said.

Cambodia produced 6.7 million tonnes of unprocessed rice last year, with a capacity of between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes of simple and polished rice per year, Phou Puy said.

He added that the association is concerned that Cambodia will be hit by shortages as consumption in Thailand and Vietnam increases.

"We are concerned about having to purchase rice at higher prices from mills in neighboring countries, given the limited resources of the CRMA," Phou Puy said.

Chan Tong Yves, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, said last week that Cambodia had exported about 5,400 tonnes of organic rice to European markets in the first nine months of 2008.

Exports to Western countries, which must adhere to strict standards that demand that milled rice has no impurities or chemical additives, are expected to rise when the new plant starts operations.

"When the mill is installed, our rice will be as good as any on the international market, and we will be able to export to more European countries," Phou Puy said.

Poor quality has limited Cambodia's rice exports, with much of the harvest suitable only for Asia and Africa.

Mao Thora, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters last week that Cambodia would export some 3,000 tonnes of rice to Senegal early next year.

Trade delegation

The deal followed a Cambodian trade visit to Senegal by rice millers and farmers from six Cambodian provinces last month. Senegal placed initial orders for 3,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice.
But Phou Puy said Senegal was not the target market for Cambodia's rice exports.

"Exporting rice to Senegal is not our main priority. The big target is the European Union," he said.

The trade trip was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and the UN Development Program.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), expressed concern that over-emphasising the export market could lead to shortages at home.

"It is good to export a better standard of rice to international markets, but we have to consider local demand," he said.

"We need to think about food security and price stability, both of which could be negatively affected by increased exports."

From brothel to boardroom

Somaly Mam at her organisation, anti trafficking NGO Afesip's offices in Phnom Penh last week.
As a child, Somaly Mam was sold into a brothel and never knew her real name. When she escaped from prostitution she chose the name Somaly, meaning "the necklace of flowers lost in the virgin forest", as it fit NWEidea of who she was at the time. In 1996 she and Pierre Legros, a French human rights worker, founded the anti-trafficking NGO Afesip ,of which Somaly Mam has been president of for the past 12 years. She is an internationally acclaimed activist: In 2006, she was Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year and this year, won the World's Children's Prize. In Cambodia, she is a more controversial figure. Afesip, has been criticised for its cooperation with law enforcement agencies and for allegedly not allowing sex workers to leave the NGO's safehouses. Last year Somaly Mam released a critically acclaimed English-language translation of her memoir, The Road of Lost Innocence, which chronicles her rise from sex slave to activist.

The Phnom Penh Post

Monday, 03 November 2008

Somaly Mam counts Tyra Banks, Hillary Clinton and the pope as acquaintances but still strives to help ‘victims' of prostitution

How do you feel about your newfound fame?

I'm not famous. We're still Afesip as normal. I feel normal. I just hope we can change the country, and we can get more people to pay attention to trafficking. People tend to keep talking and don't do enough acting. I'm fed up. I don't think I'm famous, but I'm here letting people know about what's going on in trafficking. People outside the country have to know too. Afesip does our work, and we are still small. We try to find solutions. We are a local organisation; we cannot find all the solutions. We have to have the political commitment to change.

Where does Afesip get its funding?

A lot of funds come from the Spanish [government], but also from the [United] States. We have funds from Queen Latifah and Barbara Walters. I was also lucky to meet Susan Sarandon, who helped me a lot.

What is your opinion about Cambodia's new anti-sex-trafficking law?

It's complicated. We should have law. The problem is the people who implement the law. When we passed the law, no one understood it. They didn't talk about it to the people. Afterwards, there were people playing with the law - the police - who always manage to find a way to take money. I think we should have the law, but we have to work very strongly on the law enforcement.

A few months ago, sex workers came together to protest the new anti-trafficking law.

I know that the law is not easy to understand. I know the law is not perfect for protecting the victims. I know that some articles are not clear. What I don't like is people who take the victims - I don't want to call them prostitutes, they're victims - who use them to fight against law. I just want to say to them, "Stop using these girls". They have to make their own decisions. When I saw associations using victims for politics, I wanted to know, "Why do you have to use them to fight?"

What's the state of the sex industry in Cambodia right now?

If you go to the streets, everything is closed down, but they're just closed in front. Underground, we have the problem again. We cannot say that right now is better. In my opinion, it's getting worse and worse. We cannot see them [prostitutes]. We cannot access them to give them condoms or bring them to hospitals. They are afraid of the law.

Could you explain how you work together with the government?

We cannot work without them. It's not easy. Some of them are bad. There is corruption, but some them are good. Right now, we've identified the people who are working hard like the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the police. We still have a problem with justice. The problem is the court. We also have some problems with the police in the countryside. They don't understand law enforcement involving victims. In Phnom Penh, it's better now.

When police take sex workers into custody, do they bring them to your clinic?

We work with the anti-trafficking police. Yes, they bring them to us. We also work directly with the [Ministry of] Social Affairs. They have a shelter. When they save the girl, they'll call us. We go there and try to talk to the girl and tell them about Afesip. If they agree to come, we bring them.

If a sex worker decides to come in the clinic, what happens then?

If they want, they can come. Some of them, we just say, "You should come visit us". It's not our staff always going to talk to them. The victims themselves come. Sometimes they agree to stay one week, and then they make the decision to go home or stay longer. If they ask us to bring them home, we bring them home.

Do all the girls make the decision to stay at Afesip?

Not all of them. Some of the victims are young. They are underage. We cannot let them go back into a brothel because they are seven or 12.

They stay because they are children. What I like to see is them becoming children again. They take off their make-up. It's my dream to see them playing and laughing again.

How does your organisation, Afesip, do its brothel rescues?

We are not rescuing. We are cooperating. When we know something, our investigations team tells the trafficking police. They are the best.

They can work with us. We cannot go into the street. We work with them. When they have our complaint, they go into the brothel to make sure there is a problem. Then, if someone signs an agreement saying we can go into a brothel to save the girl, then we go in. We are not saving them. We are going with the police.

How does your organisation determine which women are sex workers and which are sex slaves?

A lot of them have been raped before they become part of the sex industry. A lot of them when I go to see them, and I ask, ‘Why are you in the brothel? Why don't you want to get out?' A lot of them have psychological problems. They agree to sell themselves. They are sex slaves, because they have to survive. A lot of them say they are free, but for me, they are not free. They are the victims of the situation.

Are all women in brothels victims?

Yes. It's really hard when someone comes to me and tells me, "I had more then 10 clients who raped me with a plastic bag. I tell them we have Afesip, but they tell me, "I cannot now". I am surprised at all the girls who do come to Afesip.

Many of the girls, they are destroyed. They have problems because they feel guilty themselves. Give the victims time and try to work with them and prove to them that you really want to help them. You have to have patience.

How has your background as a former sex slave affected the way you run Afesip today?

I work by my emotions. What I was denied, I want to give to others. I want to give them love and trust. I'm not a manager. I have my team who manages for me.

I work by emotions. I just want to take care of the girls. We need both. We have to have heart and patience. I can find money for Afesip. Normally when you're president, you have to stay in the office, but I hate staying in the office.

Interview by christopher shay

Cry for help


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Heng Chivoan
Monday, 03 November 2008

Police stand by Sunday as a distraught woman threatens to throw herself from an electricity pole on Norodom Boulevard. This is her fourth suicide attempt in two years, her mother said. Daun Penh Deputy Governor Pich Socheata said medical help will be provided.

Nation's first home for elderly opens in Prey Veng, owners say

The Phnom Penh Post

Monday, 03 November 2008

Built by eight young Cambodians concerned over the plight of the elderly in their village, the centre hopes to inspire similar projects

A GROUP of young Cambodians in Prey Veng province, concerned over the plight of the elderly in their commune who have no family to look after them, have built what they say is the Kingdom's first retirement centre.

"I think that most elderly people in Cambodia face a lot of problems when they get older - especially those who have no families or their family is very poor," said Kim Vuthy, the 25-year-old project manager of the NGO Cambodia Retirement Village in Kagn Chhreach's Chong Ampil commune.

He said he hoped that the project would serve as a model for other efforts to care for Cambodians with no family to rely on for support.

"We will provide them accommodation, food, basic medical care," Kim Vuthy said.

"We think about them as if they were our parents or grandparents, so we have to look after them. We should treat them well before they pass away," he added.

The centre has been built to house 12 people, but Kim Vuthy said he hoped to secure more funding that would allow him to expand.

"I really need help from the government to build a bigger building and to support the everyday operations," he said.

"I hope that we can make a big difference with this village and ensure that elderly people have a roof over their head," he added.

Proud to help

Pho Phal, 51, the chief of Chong Ampil commune, said that he is proud to have the retirement centre in his village.

"There are 125 older people in my village and some of them face hardships because they don't have enough food or medicine, and their children do not care for them," he told the Post.

"They have to earn a living by themselves," he added.

"They cannot go to the pagoda or have free time because they have to take care of their grandchildren," he said.

"I hope that when they have the centre they will be happy and won't face such difficulties."

" We think about them as if they were our parents or grandparents. "

Thun Saray, executive director of Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that it was important that the idea for the centre came from the community itself, rather than from an outside organisation - showing that the issue of elderly neglect was starting to be recognised.

"I think it is very good that Cambodian youths had the idea to build the elderly a centre, and this is the first time in Cambodia," he said.

"In Western countries, governments usually help take care of older people, but the Cambodian government usually leaves this to the NGOs to solve," he added.

Prey Veng provincial Governor Ung Samy said he did not know about the retirement home, but that he was happy to support it because he believed it could reduce poverty.

With no social safety nets in place, the elderly are especially vulnerable.

Street vendor crackdown leads to violence in B'bang

Photo by: AFP; A worker cuts sugarcane down in Kandal province. Vendors selling surgarcane juice say they are among the groups targetted by police.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 03 November 2008

Rights groups claim police are employing heavy-handed tactics in their bid to clear vendors from selling in public places

ASUGARCANE vendor in Battambang has filed a complaint accusing district police with assaulting him and his two adolescent daughters last week, adding to a series of attacks on street sellers that have reportedly occurred amid an ongoing government crackdown.

Kin Thina, 48, said as many as a dozen police officers attacked his daughters at 2pm on October 25 while they were selling sugarcane in Battambang's Sor Kheng park.

"My daughters ran from the police to get protection from me. I tried to defend them, but the police attacked me. They pulled me aggressively to their car and when I fell down, they kicked my head until I lost consciousness," he said.

"I want the court to punish the police for using violence against weak and poor people," he added. More than a dozen other vendors reported witnessing the attack.

Wider crackdown

According to the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, the attack on Kin Thina is the second assault on venders by police in Battambang during October.

While Yin Mengly, a local coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, also said the police brutality against Kin Thina was not an isolated incident.

"The police must face penalties for their actions. It is a violation of human rights. Cases of impunity must cease," he said.

Yin Mengly said he met with the provincial commissioner of police Tuesday to voice concerns about police abuses and to present statistics that showed such incidents are on the rise.

From January to October this year, the group documented eight cases of police brutality against vendors, compared with five last year.

But Thuch Ra, district chief of police in Battambang, said Kin Thina's claims were false and damaged the reputation of his officers. "I welcome the complaint from the defendant. I have enough proof to confirm to the court my police officers' innocence," he said. "I received a request in July from the provincial commissioner to clean up sellers around Sor Kheng park," he added.

"It is my responsibility to make sure we have a good environment in this area, and these sellers detract from that."

He added that the remaining sellers ignored police orders, so it was necessary to crack down, but denied using violence.

Kong Sokhorn, the Battambang provincial police chief, told the Post last week he had heard of several "little clashes" between vendors and police but denied any pattern of police violence.

In Phnom Penh, hundreds of street vendors protested against new beautification laws Thursday, saying that police forcing them to pack up their stalls had damaged their goods.

ADB food aid package being misused: villagers

RIce farmers bring in their harvest in this file photo.

The Phnom Penh Post

Monday, 03 November 2008

More than 1,000 complaints lodged against local officials, villagers say, as poor struggle against rising cost of food

MORE than 1,000 villagers in Banteay Meanchey province's Poipet commune have filed complaints against local authorities over the last three days, claiming that they have been unfairly cheated out of an ongoing emergency food handout by the Asian Development Bank.

Poipet commune resident Mean Sarith said many deserving people had missed out on rice because of blatant cronyism among local officials in charge of distribution.

"The commune chief is betraying his duty as a leader of poor people because he gave rice that was donated from the ADB only to his group and rich people. It is very unfair for poor people," he said, adding that people were being left off lists because of political affiliations.

"I want donors to provide to the poor people directly, because almost all leaders are from the Cambodian People's Party and they keep the rice for themselves," he said.

The US$38 million project that was launched last week is supposed to distribute rice to those the organisation believes have been the worst affected by soaring global food prices.

This includes approximately 341,894 people living in 200 communes around the Tonle Sap lake and Oddar Meanchey province.


San Seanho, chief of Poipet commune, denied that people were being excluded from the handouts, saying the issue was simply one of over-demand.

"The amount of rice and the number of people needing rice are not the same. There are too many people who have come to register, and that's why they don't get rice," he said.

"I don't know why they think I side with a particular political party, I work for all people."

Piseth Long, the project implementation officer for ADB's Cambodian mission, said that he was aware of complaints in the area, but that they were more to do with people not being on the beneficiary list rather than a matter of political bias.

"There have been some complaints against village chiefs," he said.

"When the distribution is complete we will look into these complaints," he added.

The distribution is the first phase of a project scheduled to end in 2010 that will also provide subsidised seeds and fertiliser to farmers.

Food-for-work programs will also have to be implemented as hundreds of thousands of Cambodians struggle with rising food costs.

PPenh braces for Om Tuk

Workers put up temporary stands along the river that will be used during next week's Water Festival, or Om Tuk, celebrations.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Monday, 03 November 2008

As Cambodians already begin filtering into the city for next week's Water Festival, traffic becomes a major concern for Phnom Penh officials this year

MORE than 10,000 security personnel will be posted on Phnom Penh's streets as the capital heads into a week of holidays that will see millions of visitors descend on the city, officials said Sunday.

Starting with Independence Day on November 9 and culminating five days later with the end of the annual Water Festival, city authorities say they will have to tackle a host of problems.

Chief among these are keeping order on the roads to preventing tens of thousands of revellers from packing too tightly into Phnom Penh's narrow riverfront to view the three days of Om Tuk boat races.

Ya Kim Ey, chief of Phnom Penh's Military Police, told the Post that street and building closures in past years have backed up traffic around key sites.

"According to previous reports, we have seen problems in areas where many people like to gather - particularly near the Royal Palace," he said.

Streets are closed on both sides and people get trapped in traffic jams," Ya Kim Ey added.

He added that police will be deployed at additional sites this year to lessen congestion caused by street closures.

Most of the riverfront will be closed to vehicle traffic during the Water Festival.

"We know the Royal Palace is the area of most concern, but we're also concerned about the Chruoy Changvar bridge, which is a major artery for travellers and also the site of many road accidents during holidays," Mom Sarin, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, told the Post. "But we have enough forces, so it would be better to close some areas to traffic," he added.


Phnom Penh's Unity Committee, which is responsible for helping organise the festivities, said in a statement that some 5,353 military police will join a contingent of 4,000 municipal police and 653 gendarmerie.

Protecting key areas

The Unity Committee said security forces will be concentrated in several areas where large crowds are expected to gather, including around the Independence Monument, along Sothearos Boulevard, at the park in front of the Royal Palace and at Wat Phnom.

Sok Sambath, deputy chief of Daun Penh district, said wherever people congregate, security forces also have problems with the accumulation of unauthorised vendors, who further add to congestion.

"Security forces have tried to maintain order in past years, but we have seen many vendors enter forbidden areas with no fear of police guarding the area," he said.

Petty crime is also a concern, with theft a common complaint in areas where thousands of festival goers are often packed shoulder to shoulder, officials said.

Mom Sarin said last week's meeting has allowed city and security personnel to better prepare for the coming days.

"Procedures will get better and better as we learn from past experiences," Mom Sarin said.

Picture From Koh Santepheap: Cambodian Army at Preah Vihear

The Royal Khmer Arm Forces stationed in Preah Vihear (Picture by Chom Chao)

Khmer soldiers standing guard at the frontline near Preah Vihear temple (Picture by Chom Chao)

Look at the Siamese soldiers (10 of them) at Wat Kiri Svarak, They are having fun of invading Cambodia (Picture by Chom Chao)

Ancient Angkor Wat to rock with MTV message against human trafficking

Channel News Asia

03 November 2008

BANGKOK: A host of international acts including the Click 5, are headed for the Asian region later this November to campaign against human trafficking.

Cambodia is the first stop of the campaign against human trafficking which will see a series of events and concerts across Asia organised by MTV Networks(Asia),MTV Europe Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

There will be four concerts in Cambodia with the highlight being a concert held at the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

The concert at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 December will feature US-band The Click Five, winner of the Knockout Award at the recent MTV Asia Awards, as well as other artists to be announced shortly.

Two other concerts will be held before that in November at Ochheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville and a Football Stadium in Kampong Cham, while the final concert will be held at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium on 12 December in recognition of Cambodia’s National Day to Combat Human Trafficking.

The Cambodian tour is the first of seven national campaigns in Asia that will continue into 2009 and draw support from well-known local and international artists who will make appearances alongside anti-trafficking organizations and government agencies to distribute information about exploitation and human trafficking.

The concerts tie in with the MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking)campaign, a youth-oriented initiative to stop human trafficking – defined by the United Nations as "the recruitment, transportation, and receipt of a person for sexual or economical exploitation by force, fraud, coercion, or deception" in order to make a profit.

The anti-trafficking and labor exploitation campaign will be part of a series of television programs produced by MTV EXIT to be broadcast in Cambodia and on MTV Channels internationally.

These specials will combine concert footage, interviews with the bands, NGOs and other activists about the dangers of trafficking, as well as clips from MTV EXIT’s other anti-trafficking programming, including documentaries, animated works and short films.

"Human trafficking is a critical human rights issue facing young people across Asia" said Simon Goff, Campaign Director of MTV EXIT.

"With these upcoming on-the-ground events, MTV EXIT is using the power of live music to educate youth across the region about human trafficking. The Cambodia live concert tour is a vital focal point in the wider education of those people most at risk."

The UN estimates that at any one time, there are 2.5 million people being trafficked in the world, mostly in Asia and the Pacific.

It is the second-largest illegal trade after drugs, with traffickers earning over US$10 billion every year through the buying and selling of human beings, mainly young men and women.

The MTV EXIT initiative is an expansion of the MTV EXIT European campaign, which has been helping to prevent trafficking and exploitation in Europe since 2004. The campaign expanded to Asia and the Pacific in 2007 in partnership with USAID.

Ho Vann: Dredging of Soil to Fill Boeng Kak Lake May Cause Phnom Penh Flooding

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Shukaku Inc., which got a concession for the Boeng Kak Lake area of 133 hectares in Srah Chak Subdistrict, Daun Penh District, has been preparing to connect a pipe to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill Boeng Kak Lake, in order to build a trade center. This makes a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian concerned that it could make the river embankment constructions and some buildings along the riverside areas collapse into the river, like some houses and the land of some citizens in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District in Phnom Penh, collapsed in December 2007.

“The Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Ho Vann from Phnom Penh expressed his concerns to journalists on 2 January 2008, that the dredging of sand from the river to fill the Boeng Kak Lake will cause an impact, like the dredging of sand by the Sok Kong company in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District, which caused some houses and some land of citizens along the Mekong River to fall into the river, and it also destroyed the property of these citizens.

“The Parliamentarian Ho Vann stated that before allowing Shukaku Inc. to dredge sand from the river to fill 133 hectares of Boeng Kak Lake, the Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources, which is managed by Lim Kean Hor, the Ministry of Environment, which is managed by Mok Mareth, as well as other relevant institutions must join together to study carefully the impact on the environment, if this company dredges sand to fill Beong Kak Lake, leaving only 10 hectares of the lake’s surface, in order to guard from damages like what happened when the Sokimex Company dredged sand from the riverbed in Koh Norea Village to an area of more than 100 hectares of Boeng Snao Lake, which caused the collapse of land and houses of citizens in Koh Norea Village.

“Mr. Ho Vann told reporters that the impact of the dredging of sand to fill Boeng Kak Lake could cause Phnom Penh to be flooded, because the whole lake will be filled, leaving only 10 hectares of its surface, and it will cause sewage problems in neighborhood areas, because there are not enough sewers; moreover, in the rainy season, small water reservoirs in some subdistricts in Russey Keo District had caused some houses of citizens to be flooded.

“Mr. Ho Vann continued that the Phnom Penh Municipality, which is managed by Kep Chutema from the Cambodian People’s Party, must discuss this clearly with the citizens - approximately 4,000 families - living at the Boeng Kak Lake area to find a solution, whether Shukaku Inc., which wants to develops the Boeng Kak Lake area, will also bring benefits also the citizens in any way. The Parliamentarian Ho Vann continued that to maintain good relations and the confidence of the citizens, the Phnom Penh Municipality and Shukaku Inc. must issue formal letters, providing housing to all citizens, so that they are not worried any longer. The dredging of soil to fill the lake makes many citizens lose their business of picking vegetables growing in the lake water, of fishing, and of growing some other crops on this Boeng Kak Lake area.

“Mr. Ho Vann shared his opinion about the Phnom Penh Municipality that it should not have given a concession for 99 years to Shukaku Inc. to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area, that the Phnom Penh authorities should have sold 10 hectares of land along the railway to Shukaku at $2,000 per square meter and that the municipality would have received $200 million to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area without causing any impact on the environment. He went on to say that the signing of the contract to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area for 99 years could turn the whole Boeng Kak Lake area in future into property of Shukaku Inc., and the company could manage to sell land to private companies at high prices.

“Mr. Ho Vann called the signing of the contract to grant the concession of Boeng Kak Lake to Shukaku Inc. seriously corrupt, involving senior officials in the government and in the Cambodian People’s Party, who do not think about the public interest and the impact on the environment. This huge development plan was not publicly announced so that other private companies could have participated in the bidding for the development of the Boeng Kak Lake area. He continued that even Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, who demanded many times to see the contract with Shukaku Inc. which invests in the Boeng Kak Lake are, demanding to see the master plan for the development of this area - but the Phnom Penh Municipality did not allow them to do so, but told the parliamentarians to first ask for permission from the Ministry of Interior.

“Shukaku Inc. belongs to Yeay Phou [Grandmother Phou, Chheung Sopheap, the director of the Pheapimex company] and her husband Lao Meng Khin, who advises Prime Minister Hun Sen on international affairs, and who suggested to cooperate with a Korean company, asking for an investment license in the Boeng Kak Lake area on 133 hectares, with a lease contract for 99 years at a price of more than $70 million. This price of the lease is considered by economists to be very cheap; moreover, the contract was signed quietly and secretly between the Council of Ministers, the Municipality, and Shukaku Inc.

“The citizens, who live in the Boeng Kak Lake area, had opposed this development plan by Shukaku Inc. many times , but they did not get any result, and now the company is connecting the pipes to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill the Boeng Kak Lake, by laying the pipes across the railway station into the Boeng Kak Lake, without studying the future impact on the environment.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #85, 3.1.2008

How Long Can Hope Keep Despair Away? – Sunday, 2 November 2008

Posted on 3 November 2008

The Mirror

On 29 October 2008 it was reported that the governor of Phnom Penh said: “In One More Week, Flood Water in Northern Phnom Penh Will Disappear.” Looking into the future, however, the following days brought Phnom Penh an unprecedented increase in floodwater, more sufferings, and the danger of an outbreak of water borne diseases.

The amount of rainfall is not predictable in detail, and some flooding happens every year during the rainy season. But recent flooding – already since a month ago – as regularly reported in the media, raises more questions than can be answered by referring to seasonal variations. Some schools have been flooded – and closed – for a month. A Phnom Penh road traffic police officer had complained some time ago that their office is flooded already for a month, without government intervention. The Royal University of Fine Arts – relocated outside of the city into a now flooded area, when its traditional location was “developed” for economic purposes, as well as several schools, cannot operate properly, because they have been flooded for weeks.

In contrast, there are more and more frustrated reports about the response by the authorities, as some of the long range concerns of experts with outstanding experience, like that of the architect Vann Molyvann, are not heeded. He claims that there is no systematical infrastructure planning for water management in Phnom Penh. Instead there are claims that the filling of several traditional flood water reservoirs, of ponds and of lakes, are the cause of floods: “…some houses collapsed and electricity and water was cut. Moreover, the company threatens and intimidates the residents.” Most recently, even the international media of China reported that flood victims who “took refuge in the Buddhist temple Wat Svay Popae, were ejected from a prominent corner park between the National Assembly and the Royal Palace. On Thursday, police used bullhorns to ask the villagers at the temple to return to their homes, and told some that they would be forcibly removed.”

Force cannot be the solution in such desperate situations.

The 200 residents from among the 4,000 families that are faced with removal from where they live at the Boeng Kak Lake region to make room for “development” and came to protest at the South Korean Embassy, to ask the Korean ambassador to intervene with the Shukaku company – supposedly from Korea - to stop dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak Lake, dispersed in distress when they were told by the Embassy that the “development” at the lake is not undertaken by a Korean company. Other rumors lead to the opinion, also wrong, that the Shukaku company is Japanese – following a tendency to look for the origin of problem somewhere else.

It is difficult to understand how the authorities are pursuing plans to open a stock exchange in Cambodia in the absence of transparency on the most simple level of publicly available information, information about publicly operating companies involved in most prominent activities, like having a 99 years release to fill in most of the biggest lake in the city. Or, to cite another example: also the administration of the national memorial of the Killing Fields in Chung Ek, was privatized and given to a supposedly Japanese company; but neither the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh acknowledges that this is true, nor were local news media so far able to publish much about the identity of those who operate this historical memorial now as a tourist spot, without showing much sense in their business for the nature of this place.

At the background of all these problems is an imbalance, which the the Prime Minister addressed in February last year. His “11 Point Recommendations: ‘Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources Caused by Business Activities Will Result in the Loss of Natural Opportunities’” had a wider focus, but they address the fundamental problem, that economic interests are allowed to replace the concerns for the common good. When this speech was published in the Mirror, we had added the following comment to the Prime Minister’s speech, which is as true now as it was last year:

“This text can have far reaching consequences for the future of the country if implemented, and they are also an important contribution to present public controversies relating to the environmental impact of some activities.”

“…if implemented” - as was said as a condition.

Court denies KRouge leader's bid for release

File photo shows former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan (C) standing in the court room at Extraodinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh. Investigating judges at Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court have refused to release Khieu Samphan nearly a year after he was arrested, said documents obtained Monday.(AFP/fILE/Pring Samrang)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Investigating judges at Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court have refused to release former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan nearly a year after he was arrested, said documents obtained Monday.

Former head of state Khieu Samphan, 77, stands charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role during the regime's brutal 1975-1979 rule.

His lawyers last month asked investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng not to renew his detention when it expires on November 19, on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to keep him in jail.

But investigating judges denied the request on October 28, saying confidential evidence gave "plausible reasons" to believe Khieu Samphan incited "murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution and other inhumane acts constituting crimes against humanity and intentional homicide."

"The co-prosecutors believe that the release of the person charged could provoke demonstrations of indignation which could lead to violence," the document also said.

The former leader is expected to appeal the decision, and has long maintained he had no actual power under the Khmer Rouge regime.

Soon after his arrest, Khieu Samphan appealed against his pre-trial detention but that was dropped last month.

Khieu Samphan is one of five senior Khmer Rouge leaders, mostly in their 70s and 80s, in detention awaiting trial for their alleged roles in the 1975-79 atrocities.

Up to two million people died of starvation, overwork or were executed under the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.

Established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the UN, the long-stalled tribunal seeks to prosecute crimes committed 30 years ago by senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

Kiwi company gives all profits to Cambodian village

Cambodia benefits from kiwi generosity

TV3 New Zealand
Mon, 03 Nov 2008

Watch Video

From having his appendix removed in the Philippines without general anaesthetic, to being threatened by gang leaders in Sydney, Andrew Schick has experienced the challenges of charity work first hand.

Now Schick has found a way of helping people out of poverty from the comfort of his Auckland office. His IT company has launched a new service for home computer users to prevent data loss in the case of a computer meltdown, and he is donating 100 percent of its profits to a Cambodian village through World Vision.

Andrew Schick spoke to Sunrise.

The 4th Coronation Day of His Majesty Preah Bath Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni

The 4th Coronation Day of His Majesty Preah Bath Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni and the 86th Birthday of retired King

On the occasion of the 4th Coronation Day of His Majesty Preah Bath Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni (October 29, 2004-2008), King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, we wish His Majesty good health, longevity, cleverness and strong energy to symbolize the nation for prosperous Cambodia.

On the occasion of the 86th Birthday of retired King, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk (October 31, 1922-2008), a King Father, we wish Preah Moha Virak Ksat good health, longevity, cleverness and strong energy to symbolize the nation for prosperous Cambodia.

Sam Rainsy and other opposition Members of Parliament visit flooded areas in Phnom Penh

2 November 2008 : Sam Rainsy and other opposition Members of Parliament visit flooded areas in Phnom Penh (Russei Keo district)

The flooding is due to anarchic and corruption-ridden "development" projects involving the filling up of natural lakes.

Sam Rainsy brings some relief to the poorest victims.

The flooding is due to anarchic and corruption-ridden "development" projects involving the filling up of natural lakes.

Houses, schools and pagodas suffer from unusual (man-made) floods.

The flooding is due to anarchic and corruption-ridden "development" projects involving the filling up of natural lakes.

SRP Kathen (religious procession and ceremony)

November 1, 2008 : SRP Kathen (religious procession and ceremony) at Wat (Pagoda) Kiri Meanchey (or Wat Boeng Chraung) in Leach Leu village, Choam commune, Kompong Cham province.
Religious procession

Religious ceremony

Religious ceremony

Sam Rainsy helps build the Pagoda's fence, which is also Cambodia 's border with Vietnam, beyond a "grey zone" to be delineated

Insight: The ASEAN Charter and remodeling regional architecture

Jusuf Wanandi , Jakarta Mon, 11/03/2008

After six months of heated debate by the House of Representatives' Committee I for foreign relations, defense and information, the Indonesian Parliament has ratified the ASEAN Charter.

This endorsement was accompanied by a formal interpretation of several elements of the charter contained in the addendum to the ratification law. It stipulated that the charter has to reflect the "ideals of ASEAN", specifically with regard to: The improvement and protection of human rights through an effective ASEAN human rights body; the institution of sanctions, including freezing of membership in cases of serious noncompliance and obstruction of the charter by members; and greater public involvement in ASEAN's activities.

These points also have been strongly advocated by civil society groups (especially human rights bodies and scholars), and they want those points to be proposed as amendments to the charter as soon as possible. And that is also the parliament's wish with the addendum to the ratification law.

Indonesia is a functioning democracy and making treaties is the purview not only of the government but also of the people through the parliament. Rizal Sukma, my colleague at CSIS, has argued how irrelevant this charter is and how helpless ASEAN has been in dealing with the tension between Thailand and Cambodia in the Preah Vihear temple issue.

More importantly for ASEAN is whether it really can get its act together in facing future challenges (global or regional), for instance on the impact of the financial meltdown and the challenge of competing with China's and India's economic dynamism. It is also increasingly doubtful whether ASEAN will be able to take the lead in institution building in the East Asia region.

ASEAN can only play this role if its members cooperate more closely. But unfortunately, the charter is limited in its reach and is not equipped to make ASEAN a credible option for taking a lead role in East Asian regional cooperation.

The East Asian region is facing big challenges, especially the rise of China and India. The most effective way to maintain peace, stability and economic dynamism is to establish a regional institution that could accommodate the three big powers -- China, India and Japan -- in a kind of concert of power that will be able to maintain future equilibrium in the region, together with the United States.

Therefore, efforts to develop East Asian cooperation and institution building are critical to the future of the region. While ASEAN has a good chance of supporting and even leading the process, ASEAN's limited cohesion has become a limiting factor. That is why Indonesia should take the lead, in cooperation with several ASEAN members, northeast Asia and India, to push for the idea.

This also means that ASEAN will be maintained for good neighborhood relations in the future but will no longer be the cornerstone of Indonesia's foreign policy. The cornerstone should obviously be Indonesia's national interest.

In the meantime, the regional architecture in East Asia and in the Asia-Pacific needs consolidation. APEC, for instance, should again concentrate on economic cooperation led by the economic ministers. The APEC Summit has become a diversion and has in practice become decoupled from APEC. APEC also cannot include strategic and security issues because there are two nonstate members (Taiwan and Hong Kong) while the Latin American members are not interested in East Asian strategic and security issues.

That is why the APEC Summit should be abolished and instead the idea of an East Asian one should be entertained. East Asia also should decide what they want to do with the two East Asian regional organizations: ASEAN Plus Three (APT) and EAS (East Asian Summit). Either the APT should be absorbed into the EAS or the division of labor between the two should be made very clear.

APT should be for functional cooperation including economic cooperation (which they have been doing for more than 10 years) and should be open to the other three members of the EAS, in areas where their involvement is relevant, while the EAS should be a forum for strategic dialogues for the region.

The ASEAN Regional Forum could be maintained for human security (or nontraditional security) cooperation, but to be credible must include defense ministers, have a non-ASEAN co-chair and a secretariat and become an action-oriented institution (not only a talkshop for confidence-building measures).

But above all there is a need for an East Asian institution as an overarching body for strategic dialogues and for hard traditional security cooperation. Here the United States and Russia should be invited. And it should not be a large group. Based on size, strategic importance and GDP as criteria, the countries to be considered would be Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA.

ASEAN should be included, represented by the chair and the secretary-general, as an associate member. This could become the future concert of power for East Asia (the G8 for East Asia).

While the EAS will be only for East Asian countries, this G8 for the region would include important strategic countries such as the United States and Russia.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has given a new impetus to the idea of shaping the regional architecture through regionwide discussions at the highest level. It is not likely to lead to a totally new architecture but it will be shaped by the consolidation of existing ones plus, hopefully, a new overarching structure (East Asia's G8).

The writer is vice chair of the board of trustees, CSIS Foundation, Jakarta.

Cambodia Thailand Border Commission To Meet

(RTTNews) - Monday, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced that Cambodia has agreed to hold the 5th meeting with Thailand to discuss measures to resolve their border issues.

The meeting of the two countries will be held in Thailand on November 10-14, the ministry press release said. The Cambodian delegation would be led by the Advisor to the Cambodian Royal Government in Charge of State Border Affairs, Var Kim Hong, the report added. However, an official from the Thai Foreign ministry said that the dates and venue of the discussion were still under discussion.

According to the Cambodian official, the discussions between the two countries would center on the borderline investigation and the demarcation based on an MOU signed in 2000. The two countries would also discuss the establishment of a provisional group that would take charge of the issues related to border areas disputed by the two countries, including the Preah Vihear temple.

In October, shortly after a round of talks failed, one Thai and three Cambodians were killed in a border clash between the troops of the two countries. The most recent tensions began in July when the Preah Vihear temple was awarded the United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling dissent over the ownership of the land.

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Thaksin therapy

Nirmal GhoshThailand Correspondent

November 02, 2008 Sunday

Nirmal Ghosh asks if Saturday's event has changed the Thai political equation.


In Bangkok

THEY started pouring in midway through Saturday morning, and were still coming in the evening to pack the Rajamangala stadium.

In the end, easily around 70,000 people were on hand, all in red shirts, turning the stadium into a sea of crimson.

The merchandise and the slew of information materials, as well as the packaging – even the chairs outside the stadium proper were red – clearly showed the pro-government, pro-Thaksin Shinawatra camp had after months of fumbling, finally had its act together.

An organiser surveys the packed stadium.Source: Nirmal Ghosh

ST Thailand Correpondent Nirmal Ghosh (left) with government spokesman Nattawut Saikuar (in red shirt) at the backstage of the event on Saturday. Source: Nick Nostitz

There were shades of the marketing and branding acumen of the erstwhile Thai Rak Thai political machine that Thaksin Shinawatra had rode to power from 2001-2005 before it was demolished in 2006.

It was a calibrated response to the yellow-shirted, royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) which still occupies Government House demanding that the ruling People Power Party (PPP) mentored by Thaksin – a wanted fugitive from the law in Thailand – resign to pave the way for sweeping political reform.

And Thaksin played to the gallery. Swirling lights and epic music provided a buildup to a phoned in question and answer session with Thaksin – reputedly in Hong Kong – followed by a pre-recorded video.

''I have grown old'' he said – and he did look tired.

In a measured address, he said he had been invited to invest in many countries – but was not welcome in his homeland. He mentioned the economic damage Thailand is enduring because of the long political conflict coupled with the growing global recession.

He was ''on message'' as political handlers would say. The crowd listened with rapt attention. And erupted in cheers when he ended.

The show of strength – the PAD has been hard put to muster more than 10,000 people on the streets, much below their halcyon days of early 2006 when Thaksin was in power – meant the battle has been joined.

The taxi driver who took me back home to write up my report, was wearing a red T-shirt and was almost giggling with delight on the long drive from Ramkhamhaeng to Sukhumvit. Like many taxi drivers in Bangkok, he was from Isan – Thaksin's stronghold. As he dropped me off, he announced that he was going right back to the stadium.

The mood at the event – under the banner of the pro-government Truth Today TV station (which if truth be told is considered boring government propaganda by many viewers) the mood was festive but importantly, also orderly.

There was no bad-mouthing or rabble-rousing, and the feared violence did not occur. Most of the crowd was pro-Thaksin, but several I spoke to seemed to resent being branded pro-Thaksin and said they were in favour instead of one person, one vote democracy – and definitely against the idea of military intervention.

The crowd dispersed happily after Thaksin's speech. On the pavements outside the stadium they chattered and sometimes continued cheering, clearly elated by what was a cathartic night after months of pressure from the right wing, royalist PAD.

In contrast late Saturday night - or more accurately in the wee hours of Sunday morning - a group of young men out for the night took a wrong turn and reportedly found themselves stuck among some tyres and barbed wire laid out by the PAD to protect their protest site at Government House. The boys, upset, yelled at the PAD guards who promptly shot at them, hitting one of them in the back. Earlier on Saturday as I arrived at the stadium around 5pm, I spotted former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama in from the cold. Noppadon – forced to resign earlier this year when a court found he had violated procedure in agreeing that Cambodia could apply for World Heritage status for the disputed Preah Vihear temple – was at a stall busily signing copies of a freshly minted autobiography.

In another stall former cabinet minister Jakrapop Penkair was signing red T-shirts with the word ''Dictator'' on them crossed out in black. The man has a charge of lese majeste – insulting the monarchy – hanging over him, but was grinning from ear to ear as the crowds flooded in.

Former cabinet minister Jakrapop Penkair.Source: Nirmal Ghosh

Chaturon Chaisang autographs T-shirts.Source: Nirmal Ghosh

Next door was a stalwart of Thai politics, Chaturon Chaisang, a cabinet minister in successive Thaksin administrations and briefly leader of the Thai Rak Thai party before it was dissolved by the courts after Thaksin had been removed from power by the military. Chaturon was signing everything in sight and was being besieged as if he was a rock star.

Later he and Jakrapob sang songs on stage before Thaksin's appearance.

A police intelligence officer sat prominently videotaping everyone who came to the event. When I paused to take a picture of him he good naturedly moved the camera to focus on me. The police are probably pleased that the pro-government groups – loosely called the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have begun putting out their alternative version of the events of recent weeks. One booklet featured pictures of police being battered by PAD security ''guards'' on October 7.

Police surveillance at the event.Source: Nirmal Ghosh

At 6pm when the national anthem played, the stadium reverberated with the sound of 70,000 voices. At the other end of town the few thousand yellow-shirted PAD supporters still occupying Government House were doing exactly the same thing. But the Rajamangala event has changed the complexion of the game.

''Huge show of strength'' the pro-PAD daily The Nation said in its story under the banner headline ''Thaksin: Reconcile'' with the report focusing on his speech.

The front page was dominated by a fish-eye picture of the full stadium taken around 6pm, with the bleachers still empty. The Bangkok Post had a similar picture but taken later, with all the seats full. The paper led with the headline ''Only royal kindness can get me home'' – a line from Thaksin's speech, interpreted as a plea for clemency from the King.

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More youth going on mercy trips

Mon, Nov 03, 2008
The Straits Times

by Tan Weizhen

TRAVELLING with a conscience, it seems, has become a must-do for many Singaporeans.
A growing number of young volunteers are coming up with projects to improve the lives of the needy, while at the same time opening their eyes to foreign cultures.

While building schools or digging wells for poor communities are the usual standbys, teens and young adults are now doing everything from giving away medicine to building mobile science exhibits.

Their work often sees them travel from village to village in countries like Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, China and India. Some groups are also starting to branch out to places like Vietnam and Africa.

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF), which recruits volunteers to help overseas communities, said that young people are the fastest-growing segment of the volunteer spectrum.

The SIF also said new trends are emerging in volunteer work. An increasing number of projects involve young people closing the so-called digital divide by giving away computers and teaching young villagers how to use the machines.

Another youth-centred group is Books To Read, comprising 11 working adults in their 20s. Their aim is to collect 1,000 books suitable for secondary school students in Nigeria and Sudan.

The group was formed this year. Co-founder Kaushal Dugar, 25, said Africa is chosen because children there are in desperate need and the continent is not a place where many Singaporeans volunteer.

Another team, Project L.O.V.E, made up of mostly undergraduates, is putting together for Cambodian children mobile science and technology exhibits which it plans to showcase next month.

Other projects include building homes for slum dwellers and distributing food rations to poor villagers.

Singaporeans are also starting to pay to go on volunteer trips organised by travel agencies that link them with needy communities.

Foreign Ministry Says Ruom Chet Pavilion in Tri-Border Area Belongs to Cambodia

(From top) Ruom Chet Pavilion is located in Toek Kraham commune of Choam Khsan District and Cambodian troops stationed at the point of Ruom Chet Pavilion at the tri-border area (, 29 October)
Koh Santepheap Daily News
Translated from Khmer by Anonymous

The tri-border area was in the limelight last week after the Thai Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 21 October claiming that Cambodia had deployed seven troops in the contentious area. Thailand called that point Trimuk Pavilion. It is located in an area where Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand meet, requiring the three countries to hold talks to divide the territory clearly first, before determining which point belonging to which country.

Anyway, in its reaction, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, issued a diplomatic note pointing out that it is in Cambodian territory and that in 2003, the Thai side even already recognized the point called the house or pavilion of Ruom Chet.

Lt. Col. Duong Chan, commander of the Land Border Defense 401st Unit stationed on the tri-border front line in Preah Vihear Province, reported that after the Kingdom of Cambodia had included Preah Vihear Temple in the World Heritage list and following the invasion by black-uniformed Thai troops of the area of Kev Soekha Kiri Svarak Monastery called Preah Vihear Temple Monastery on 15 July 2008, Thai black-clad soldiers in the 23-02 Unit had intruded into and captured Cambodian territory at the point of Ruom Chet Pavilion in the tri-border area and other points. The Thai side had also moved its forces to confront our troops in the sense of threatening us and breaking our moral with the map that they had drawn unilaterally to claim that those areas belonged to it.

The lieutenant colonel added that on 19 September, a team of 10-15 fully armed Thai black-uniformed soldiers from the 23-02 Unit came and remained with our troops at the point of Ruom Chet Pavilion. They then threatened the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces [RCAF] troops and forced them to leave the area, which is actually Cambodian territory, but the latter refused to comply.

It should be recalled that the distance from Ruom Chet Pavilion to the Cambodian-Thai border is 900 meters and that the forces of the RCAF 401st Border Unit in the area is firmly defending it at present.

Duong Chan also said that the sentries of the 401st Unit stationed in the area had thwarted every attempt by Thai troops to violate and grab Cambodian territory. The Unit had also had dialogue with the Thai side and demanded that it respect agreements on the two countries' territorial integrity and refrain from violating each other's territory.

It should be pointed out that the tri-border area is where Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand meet. The area, abounding with high mountains, deep cascades, and dense forests, is part of the Dangrek Mountain range extending to Mekong River, at the point of Tonle L'poeu on the Lao-Cambodian border.

Lt. Col. Duong Chan further said that although Thailand had moved scores of its forces to the area to confront our troops in the sense of threatening to take control of our Cambodian territory, the RCAF officers and troops of the 401st Unit had not feared the intimidation in the least. On the contrary, they had become increasingly courageous, daring to sacrifice everything for safeguarding Cambodia's sovereignty and territorial integrity forever.

Moreover, Duong Chan said that concerning Cambodia's border with Laos, our two countries' forces have been in very good cooperation; there has been no problem at all.

The 401st Unit commander also said that although there is geographical difficulty in this area where streams, cascades, and high mountainous slopes had be crossed to reach it, our border defense troops stationed here had managed to plant crops and raise animals in order to improve their living conditions.