Tuesday, 4 November 2008

PM Hun Sen in Vietnam

Look at the picture; How much did they love each other??? We are brother for billion and billion years...... SAMAKI?
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hugs his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen before a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen shake hands at the Government Office in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (2nd L) and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen (2nd R) review the guards of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) reviews the guards of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) holds a glass of wine while chatting with Vietnamese diplomat Mai Phuoc Dung after a signing ceremony at the Government Office in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem (L) and Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong leave a signing ceremony at the Government Office in Hanoi November 4, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Thai PM To Head To Vietnam For Summit;May Talk To Cambodia PM

BANGKOK (AFP)--Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat will head to Vietnam this week to attend a meeting of Mekong river nations, the government said Tuesday, where he might hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand remain strained after a fire-fight erupted in a disputed border area last month. Foreign ministers from the two sides are due to meet for official negotiations later this month.

"I will go to Vietnam for a visit on the 6th and 7th when Vietnam hosts the ACMECS meeting," Somchai told reporters late Monday, referring to the Ayeyawady, Chao Phraya and Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy grouping.

"I may have a chance to see (Cambodian) Prime Minister Hun Sen, but the talks will not be official because we have already agreed on how to work together. Everything is following the process and going fine," he said.

A statement on the Thai government Web site Tuesday said leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam would meet Thursday and Friday in Hanoi.

Topics up for discussion include telecommunications, tourism, trade, investment, agriculture, industry and energy, the statement said.

It will be Somchai's first visit to Vietnam since taking office in September. He plans to visit the Philippines and India next week.

Thai foreign minister Sompong Amornviwat is due to head to Cambodia's tourist hub Siem Reap Nov. 12 for meetings with his counterpart aimed at solving their long-running territorial dispute.

Tensions began in July when Cambodia's 11th century Preah Vihear temple was awarded U.N. World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

The ensuing military standoff erupted into violence Oct. 15, with one Thai soldier and three Cambodians killed in a brief fire-fight.

China to increase cooperation with Cambodia in anti-drug work


BEIJING, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor Meng Jianzhu on Tuesday called for more cooperation with Cambodia in anti-drug work.

Meng, who is also Chinese Minister of Public Security, made the remarks during the talks with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

Hailing the sound growth of Sino-Cambodian relations, Meng said the police authorities of the two nations also enjoyed increasing exchanges and pragmatic cooperation in recent years.

He also hoped the two sides work together to fight against transnational crimes and illegal immigration, and increase cooperation in repatriating criminal suspects and law enforcement training, in a bid to safeguard domestic stability of the two countries and push forward bilateral relations.

Sar Kheng said the Cambodian government valued the relationship with China, and was ready to expand bilateral cooperation in anti-drug work and cracking down on transnational crimes.

The two sides signed a cooperation memorandum of understanding between the Chinese and Cambodian governments on prohibiting illegal trafficking and abuse of drugs.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Cambodia's first oil unlikely before 2010

Tue Nov 4, 2008
SINGAPORE, Nov 4 (Reuters) - U.S. major Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has yet to submit a plan for what was slated to be Cambodia's first oil development, a senior Cambodian official said on Tuesday, which would mean first oil is unlikely until the next decade.

The impoverished Indochinese country has been keen to tap its hydrocarbon resources like its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours but Chevron-operated Block A, once touted as Cambodia's route to riches, is unlikely to be onstream before 2010 at the earliest.

"Chevron is planning to do more exploration and appraisal. By the end of the year, they will submit a development plan," Ho Vichit, vice-chairman of state-owned Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Singapore.

The time lag between a development plan and first oil is usually at least a year and often take several years.

But Ho said the field would be developed, rejecting the suggestion that development could be shelved.

Chevron issued last year a downbeat assessment of the offshore block, after a second drilling campaign showed the block presented challenges, with hydrocarbons being dispersed rather than in one core field.

The company also said at the time it planned a third drilling campaign for late 2008-2009.
Chevron operates the block with a 55 percent interest, while Mitsui Oil Exploration, a unit of Mitsui & Co (8031.T:
Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), holds a 30 percent stake and South Korea's GS Caltex a 15 percent stake.

Cambodia has since toned down its oil ambitions and initial estimates of 400-700 million barrels are no longer discussed.

"We are still at the early stages of exploration," Ho said, when discussing plans to establish a national oil company.

For the time being, CNPA, which is regulatory body, acts as the government's representative in contracts.

Ho said it was too premature to discuss finds on other blocks as companies had just completed drilling.

Thai PTT Exploration and Production PTTE.BK said in a statement in July that exploration well Vimean Morodok MahaNorkor-1 on block B resulted in non-recoverable oil shows. The company said it would continue technical work to evaluate the block, which it operates.

Cambodia is keen to attract investors to develop both the upstream and downstream sectors, as it has no refinery and imports about 1 million tonnes of refined products a year.

The lack of geological data has limited interest in onshore blocks, with several yet to find takers.

But offshore, the continued border dispute with Thailand is preventing exploration in some areas.
Ho declined to comment on when the dispute could be resolved and whether the latest flare-up over the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple with Thailand was making things worse.

"This depends on politics," he said. (Reporting by Maryelle Demongeot; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)

Om bok for Om Tuk


The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Women crush rice into flakes to make a popular snack known as om bok to sell on the roadside to passing travelers in Kampong Thom province's Stuong district. Om bok is traditionally made in the area from September to November but is most popularly eaten during Water Festival celebrations. The flakes can also be mixed with coconut and sugar, palm juice or banana to make local desserts.

Border temple police claim starvation

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHEAN SOKHA
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

DESPITE a mass outpouring of financial support for the soldiers patrolling the Thai-Cambodian border, the heritage police guarding Preah Vihear temple itself have not been receiving enough food to eat or water to drink, officials say.

"Hunger became normal," said one of the policemen, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There is not enough here, and we have to manage our daily lives among ourselves."

Multiple other police officials who spoke to the Post said their monthly salary and rice rations were inadequate.

The 37 policemen from the Ministry of Interior's Department of Heritage were sent to the temple June 30, a week before the 11th-century temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Each policeman receives a ration of 22kg of rice and a monthly salary of US$50, but they claim that is not enough.

"We have not received generous donations like the soldiers," the policeman said.

"Buying drinking water is the main problem."

Soldiers at Preah Vihear temple and along the front lines have received numerous gifts in cash and kind from all across the country since tensions erupted in mid-July.

Hang Soth, director general of Preah Vihear Authority, acknowledged the food shortages that the heritage police faced, but he said it was not a big problem.

"It is a common issue as we are staying in a battlefield," Hang Soth said. "Protecting the temple is our duty."

Tann Chay, director of the heritage department at the Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment Monday.

Insecticide handouts cause dramatic fall in dengue fever deaths

Photo by: Cat Barton
A child seeks treatment for dengue at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by SAM RITH
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Early action by health authorities helped to prevent a repeat of last year's outbreak, which saw more than 400 deaths from the disease

DENGUE fever cases have dramatically fallen off this year, Health Ministry officials say, crediting the wider handout of the insecticide Abate with keeping the disease contained.

A total of 7,985 dengue cases resulting in 59 deaths were recorded through the end of October, compared to last year's outbreak that claimed 407 lives from more than 40,000 cases, said Doung Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

He said this year's dengue fever season was less serious than last year's, because health officials took measures to exterminate mosquitoes before an outbreak could occur.

"We provided Abate to people to put in the water. We educated people to feed small fishes and to clean the area surrounding their houses," he said.

He acknowledged, however, that Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Kandal provinces, as well as Phnom Penh still had high rates of dengue fever.

Reports of disease down

Srey Acha, the director of Me Sang district referral hospital in Prey Veng province, said they had only seen one mild case of dengue this year, compared to 30 cases last year.

"This year we almost had no dengue cases in our district," he said. "We provided Abate prior to the outbreak, and furthermore, most people in our district now know how to prevent the disease."

Hing Phan Sakunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, said in the entire province, there were only a handful of dengue cases, while last year, there were 75 cases and one death.

He said that his provincial health officials were still vigilant because the dengue season this year has not yet ended.

Doung Socheat said normally dengue season ends in October or November when the rain subsides, but this is year could be different.

"Nowadays due to climate change, we still have rain late in the season and the mosquitos can keep giving birth," he said. "We are still concerned and will keep [focused] to combat the dengue outbreak."

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in humans that in recent years has become a major international health concern, according to the World Health Organisation. In its worst, often fatal form, dengue haemorrhagic fever destroys the blood vessels, causing its victims to bleed profusely and go into shock.

Traffic accidents, fatalities up in 2008: NGO

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by SAM RITH
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

DRUNKEN driving and speeding have caused an eight percent increase in road deaths in Cambodia during the first six months of this year, compared with the same period in 2007.

The number of fatalities has risen from 755 people in the first half of 2007 to 818 this year, according to new figures from Handicap International Belgium's Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS).

"The number of people [who die in traffic accidents] remains high.... It is caused mostly by human factors such as fast driving, drunken driving and so forth," RTAVIS project officer, Ou Amra said.

Another 3,458 people were seriously injured on the roads during the first six months, Ou Amra said, adding that traffic accidents occurred mostly in Phnom Penh, where fatalities rose by 12 to 152 in the first half of 2008.

Phnom Penh's Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoeur acknowledged that there has been an increase in accidents, with more mishaps happening at night.

"We see people, especially youths, [who] drive while they are drunk," Tin Prasoeur said.

"Until now we have not had any intervention for these kinds of cases," he added

"We just stop them from driving until they recover from being drunk."

While Cambodia has approved new traffic laws, they are rarely enforced.

'Magic diamond' man still on the run

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

A WOMAN is suing a man in Battambang province who vanished with her daughter and two other women in July after selling 57 people fake diamonds he claimed were magic.

Battambang Police Chief Kong Sokhorn said that they had tried to find the alleged swindler but have not had any luck.

"We are not sure of the whereabouts of the women who were abducted by him, but it is our duty to find them," he said.

Chheun Seun from Oddar Meanchey province said that she has repeatedly called for police help.

"The police still cannot find him and my daughter up to today."

Independent rehearsals


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Participants practise their roles on Monday in preparation for the Independence Day march in front of the Royal Palace. Celebrations will also include traditional music and dancing to be performed Sunday in the parks in front of the palace and National Museum.

Border children evacuated

A boy watches a soldier at Preah Vihear temple in October this year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

A local NGO has taken in more than 150 children living on the front line at Preah Vihear, saying it will house and feed them until the conflict ends

MORE than 156 vulnerable children have been rescued from near Preah Vihear temple by the Street Children Assistance and Development Program (SCADP) following the October 15 border clash between Cambodian and Thai troops.

Yim Sokhary, the executive director of SCADP, told the Post on Sunday that they rescued children living on the de facto front line who lacked access to health care and education as a result of the conflict.

She said that SCADP plans to provide free education, health care and accommodation for at least three months and will cook about 72 kilograms of rice and 36 kilograms of dry fish and sausages every day to keep the children fed. SCADP has pledged continue to support these children for an additional three months if necessary, but they have no room take in more children.

Dragging on too long

"If the military standoff between Cambodian and Thai troops is not resolved in a short period, there will be a shortage of food for the children," Yim Sokhary said.

"I am concerned that if the negotiations between the two sides fail again and again, and Thai soldiers remain in Cambodian territory, then fighting will occur again in near future."

She said the SCADP safehouse is located in Sa Em village, which is about 30 kilometres from Preah Vihear temple, and that the children will be brought back to their parents once the border tensions end.

"The children cannot be safe if the country is not safe. If the country is not safe, it can not be a World Heritage site," an SCADP press release about the rescues said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that he was not aware of the rescues.

He added that he thought the government and the local armed forces were already taking care of the children in the area.

Bun Tean, a senior military official with Brigade 43 of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), told the Post that there were no children in the danger zones of the standoff and that the border situation was normal.

But according to SCADP, another 100 children are still with their parents in affected areas along the border.

Russey Keo flooding crisis takes on political edge as SRP insulted

Srei Sros floats atop an inner tube in flood-ravaged Russey Keo district in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

A former opposition member turned CPP official says Russey Keo's plight is proof of the SRP's indifference towards suffering of Cambodians

FLOOD-ravaged Russey Keo district became the flash point for a weekend row between Sam Rainsy Party officials and opposition defectors to the rival Cambodian People's Party over who could best serve the needs of residents living in the inundated community.

Russey Keo, where building projects' reclamation of nearby holding ponds have been blamed for heavy flooding that has blocked roads, polluted homes and forced children from their schools, has come to signify for some the impact of poorly-planned development in the rapidly growing capital.

An SRP delegation that visited the area came under attack from the Chrang Chamreh 2 deputy commune chief Chao Ostala, a former opposition member who quit the party prior to this year's national elections.

Chao Ostala charged the SRP with ignoring the plight of the people it was meant to be helping - not just in Russey Keo, but across the Kingdom.

"I used to live with them [SRP] for 13 years. When people are in trouble and seek their help, they just refer them to the commune chief," Chao Ostala said.

"I spent thousands of dollars to build roads as an opposition member. It makes me angry that I didn't get anything in return. But they are parliamentarians, and they have rights. I have rights also, and it is my right to say that I have suffered because of them," he added.

"What has the SRP done to help people ... parliamentarians get salaries from the people, and they must help as well," he said.

Following orders

But Ho Vann, president of the SRP's Phnom Penh branch, said Chao Ostala's complaints were only intended to make a name for himself in the CPP.

"We understand his position. He was ordered to insult the SRP, so we're not angry with him," he said. "He is just trying to show his new party that he really supports them."

Ho Vann added that Chao Ostala defected to the CPP primarily because the ruling party agreed to appoint his wife as deputy governor of Russey Keo district. Sam Rainsy said the party would move to stop the reclaiming of the ponds, which he said caused the flooding in Russey Keo.

"If we fail in that, we will invite all victims of the flooding to Phnom Penh to demonstrate."

Helmet laws to be enforced on PPenh roads, police say

Traffic on Phnom Penh's Norodom Boulevard on Sunday. Traffic police will soon begin fining those without helmets.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Motorists complain that traffic cops are simply being given a licence to extort as the number of finable offences increases

POLICE will begin enforcing Cambodia's helmet law, which was included in a raft of traffic regulations passed in late 2006 as the government grappled with increasing chaos on the Kingdom's roads, Phnom Penh's top traffic cop said.

Since March, police have collected some US$5,000 in fines from motorists driving without rearview mirrors - the first regulation to be enforced under the new rules, said Municipal Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoeur.

Motorcycle riders without a helmet will also be subject to the same 4,000 riel ($1) fine as those without mirrors, he said, adding that the law will be enforced in early 2009.

"We want all people to respect the law so that they can avoid traffic accidents," Tin Prasoeur said Sunday.

"Municipal authorities will run an education campaign before implementing the new fines. Radio and TV spots will be aired soon," he added.

On average, more than four people die each day on Cambodia's roads, according to figures from the NGO Handicap International Belgium.

But the new laws have only been haphazardly enforced, and motorists complain that they are just another chance for police to extort money from them, saying that the amount they are fined for minor offences is often more than the legal limit.

"The traffic police stopped me [and] demanded that I pay 6,000 riels," said university student Leang Chanla, who was fined for not having mirrors.


"Their acts are not those of a law-enforcement officer, but of extorters."

Tin Prasoeur admitted that among the 500 traffic police in Phnom Penh there are some who fine people too much.

"We have suspended many of them from work for taking extra money from people," he said.

Traffic officers often say they take extra money to supplement their meagre incomes.

Government impunity targeted by civil groups

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

LOCAL rights groups have lashed out Monday at the government for continuing delays in the investigation of high-profile assassination cases in 2008 which are, they say, feeding the Kingdom's culture of impunity.

"Even the current traffic in the street reflects the level of impunity still at large in the country," said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR).

According to Ou Virak, private vehicles using military and police registration plates are constantly breaking the rules of the road and this attitude demonstrates that they consider themselves above the law.

Chan Saveth, a senior monitor at the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that law enforcement is conducted only at the behest of individual politicians, while many of Cambodia's less powerful continue to suffer injustice.

"Civil society is strongly concerned over the promotion of human rights, which is in serious decline," he said.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, however, insisted that the government was trying to strengthen the rule of law.

"We are making every effort to make reforms in the judicial system to strengthen justice in society," Ang Vong Vathana said.

"You can't just see everything as impunity, we have to have evidence of this."

Suspects arrested in military land dispute in Kampot to be tried

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHEAN SOKHA
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

FOUR villagers charged with robbery and damaging private property during a land dispute with the military's Brigade 31 in Kampot province will stand trial at the provincial court on November 19, rights monitors say, while friends and family of the accused insist that they did nothing wrong.

Chin Lida, the accused's defence lawyer from the human rights group Licadho, said that Kampot court judge Pech Chhoeut set the trial date after five months of investigation.

"I have received a letter from the court and will attend the trial," Chin Lida told the Post Monday.

Chin Lida said the four people arrested are Nhek Chantha, 52; Vong Ma, 46; Moeu Sopheak, 19; and Noeu Kak-Kada, 18. Soldiers detained them for three days at the Brigade 31 office before they were sent to the Kampot provincial prison.

On June 23, soldiers from Brigade 31 re-allotted the land of the 496 families living in Chey Sina village in Chhouk district in order to make room for 200 families who were evicted from nearby Anlong Krom.

Nhek Chanthol, daughter of one of the arrested villagers, said that each village family has owned about two or three hectares of nut trees, which were subsequently bulldozed and divided into 30m by 50m plots by Brigade 31 soldiers.

Nhek Chanthol said her mother was arrested only because she argued with soldiers posting land allotment signs that were soon pulled out by villagers. Soldiers claim that Nhek Chanta helped steal a mobile phone.

Food aid protests spread to Pursat, Oddar Meanchey

Pursat province villagers demand equal rice distribution on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Villagers are up in arms, saying local authorities only gave handouts to their friends, family and other CPP members

IN two simultaneous demonstrations, more than 300 people protested against the what they said was the unfair distribution of the Asian Development Bank's emergency food handouts in Pursat and Oddar Meanchey provinces Monday.

More than 220 people from Pursat's Thmey Ra village rallied in front of the commune office for the second time in three days, saying that they have not received any rice, because the village chief distributed only to his family, friends and fellow CPP members, a rights group said.

In Oddar Meanchey province, more than 100 people from Pa'ng and Krouch Sakhorn villages demonstrated against their village chiefs at the provincial office, a resident said.

"We are in front of the provincial office today to ask for rice, because the rice donations given by ADB have only been received by the village chiefs' relatives," Maing Sameth, 27, said from Oddar Meanchey province.

Kuoy Kakda, a Licadho monitor based in Pursat, told the Post Monday: "There was already a small protest by representatives of Thmey Ra village after they discovered that their names were not on the list to receive rice".

"The local authority was in charge, and he gave rice only to his friends, relatives and rich people - especially the members of the [CPP]," Kuoy Kakda said.

Srey Naren, Adhoc's coordinator in Oddar Meanchey province, echoed complaints from Pursat province that "village chiefs have always registered their relatives to get donations from officials and generous people".

Local village chief Soung Saroeun, however, denied allegations of improper distribution.

"I followed directions from the top, and I have the documents to confirm it," he said.

The acting Krakator district governor Ly Pon told the Post that the problem had been resolved.

"I called a meeting with six representatives of Thmey Ra village. It was agreed that they will receive 37 sacks [one sack equals 35kg].

Everyone agreed when the village chief promised to the crowd that he will distribute rice fairly next time."

Chantha Kim, external relations coordinator at the ADB, said they had not received complaints from Oddar Meanchey or Pursat provinces, but they had heard grievances about rice distribution in two districts in Battambang province.

Once this first component of ADB's three-year plan is over on Wednesday, they will review the complaints and come up with an improved distribution system in the future, he said.


Victims, survivors say they are still watching tribunal

A Khmer Rouge survivor looks at skulls at the notorious Choeung Ek killing fields outside of Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by SAM RITH
Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Despite the constant delays, survivors and victims say they are still hoping the UN-backed tribunal can bring justice

While most Cambodians are eager to hear updates on the current border crisis between Cambodia and Thailand, victims and survivors from the Khmer Rouge period say they are more concerned about news on the progress of Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Acclaimed Khmer artist and a survivor of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, Vann Nath, says that he has not stopped looking for updates on the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

"I look for updates on the news of the Khmer Rouge tribunal every day," he said. "I still have hope that the Khmer Rouge tribunal will find justice for the victims."

He said that when the Khmer Rouge put him in Tuol Sleng prison from 1978 to 1979, he had lost all hope.

At that time, I was just waiting to be executed. I had no hope in my life," he said. "Now, not only I but also other Cambodian people would like to know the result of the trial," he added.

" ...Cambodian people would like to know the results of the trial "

Up to 16,000 Cambodians were tortured and executed at the S-21 Tuol Sleng prison during the Khmer Rouge regime period.

According to Vann Nath, out of the seven survivors of S-21 prison he is aware of, only three, including him, are still alive today. One is a painter living in Kandal province and the other is a mechanic in Meanchey district and commune in Phnom Penh.

In total, at least 1.7 million people died of execution, hunger and disease during the Maoist regime.

Chea Veasna, 33, who lost his father and six brothers, said he was also constantly watching for updates on the tribunal. However, he said he had not seen any progress so far.

"The process of the trial does not move forward. We are always hearing that they are still investigating, and that the money donated has almost all been spent," he said. "We would like the court to speed up the trial."

Vann Nath said that before he had been happy to hear that there would be a trial for the head of the S-21 prison Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, in October. Now, since the delays, he says he has lost interest.

Court spokesman Reach Sambath said delays were due to the accused's lawyers filing an appeal. He said the court plans to have a trial management meeting in January to set a date for the trial of the Duch, who is charged with crimes against humanity.

Chea Veasna said he was concerned that constant delays could mean that the defendants may die before their time in court.

He says the victims who suffered under the regime still regret that Pol Pot and "the Butcher" Ta Mok got away, so it was even more important to make sure the remaining leaders were swiftly tried.

Growth to slow next year: govt

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Expansion estimated at only 6.5 percent on global crisis

THE government on Monday said Cambodia's economic growth for 2009 would slow to 6.5 percent after years of double-digit expansion.

The global economic crisis has hit exports and investment, already lowering growth over the first nine months of this year to an average of seven percent, and the downwards trend will continue on into the new year, Finance Minister Keat Chhon said.

According to Keat Chhon, the slowdown follows a drop in garment purchase orders from the United States, the principal market for Cambodia's textile sector.

"The purchasing power of US and EU consumers has declined due to turmoil in the financial markets, and this has caused international trade to slow," he told the Post Monday.

He added that he expects garment production to remain stable, but with manufacturers accepting lower profit margins.

Cambodia has seen economic growth double since 2004, primarily due to robust garment exports, rising tourism and agricultural diversification, according to figures from the Cambodia Institute of Development Study.

"The first issue is that we have serious structural issues on the economy because we aren't diversified enough.... the second issue is the financial crisis that has dampened demand in the export market and dried up sources of capital," said Kang Chandararot, head of the economics unit at the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies.

But according to Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, the primary cause of the slowdown in economic growth is not the global financial crisis but mismanagement of the economy.

"The government has not offered the guarantees for foreign investors which would allow them to keep their investments in Cambodia.... We are not making any progress economically," he told the Post Monday.

Thailand, Cambodia to confer on border dispute next week

BANGKOK, Nov (TNA) - Border negotiators from Thailand and its neighbour Cambodia will hold a two-day meeting, November 10 and 11, at the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) level for the first time to resolve border conflict, the Thai foreign ministry announced Monday.

Department of Information director-general Tharit Charungvat, in his capacity as spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the meeting will be held in Cambodia's province of Siem Reap.

The meeting is being organised after a joint session of Thailand's House of Representatives and Senate on October 28 gave the green light to the proposed framework and approved a clear mandate for the JBC to negotiate with Cambodia on talks to settle the disruptive border dispute between the two countries.

Discussions dealing with the short-term problem will focus on avoiding confrontations between soldiers of the two countries at disputed border areas, especially in the vicinity of the ancient Preah Vihear temple which was the scene of the latest clash on October 15.

Mr. Tharit said foreign ministers of the two countries will meet on Nov. 12 also in Siem Reap to discuss border conflict between the two countries.

Both men may also confer on Ta Muen Thom and Ta Kwai temple ruins, two other disputed sites which sit on border of the two countries, said Mr. Tharit.

He said officials of the two countries may discuss troop reductions before or during the next week's JBC meeting.

Border demarcation between the two countries has never been fully implemented due to landmines planted along the border during decades of war inside Cambodia.

Cambodia uses a French colonial map to demarcate the border, which Thailand says favours Cambodia. Thailand relies on a map drawn up later with US technical assistance, which Cambodia says favours Thailand. (TNA)

Push Burma on democracy

Bangkok Post
Tuesday November 04, 2008

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat began the obligatory nine-nation Asean tour yesterday. The first country he visited was Laos, and he will be heading shortly for Vietnam. He must travel to Cambodia - protocol alone demands that - but he met Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of the Asean-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Beijing late last month.

That puts the primary focus on the eastern side of Thailand, where trade is the major topic, as well as the vital border talks with Cambodia. This is slightly encouraging. For a few moments there in Beijing, it looked like Mr Somchai was going to squander more goodwill on another unpopular campaign on behalf of the odious Burmese dictatorship.

In Beijing, Mr Somchai already went far beyond any necessary fawning over the brutal rulers of Asean's unhappiest member-state. One cannot choose one's neighbours, but the prime minister indicated far too strongly that the Burmese government is Thailand's friend. On the contrary, it is at best an embarrassment and at times a downright unfriendly neighbour. For the benefit of Asem, whose European members have applied the world's strongest sanctions on Burma, Mr Somchai dragged out that tired old canard: If the world pours respect, praise and aid on the dictatorship, the generals will respond with democratic reform and freedom for the heavily oppressed opposition.

The history of Asean, of course, proves the opposite. The regional group finally held its nose and admitted Burma as the 10th, last member in 1997, and appealed to the generals to cut out its worst anti-democratic excesses and consider moving towards a free and democratic regime. Since then, Burma has imprisoned hundreds of political prisoners, kept the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest and, in September 2007, murdered monks and other demonstrators who were protesting against steep price increases.

Mr Somchai had a point when he told the Europeans that the terrible human and economic toll of Cyclone Nargis in May had also brought some positive effects. The United Nations, Thai officials and international aid agencies battered down the cruel and bureaucratic walls of the dictatorship. The generals were shamed or forced into changing their minds, and aid was finally allowed into the devastated delta and Rangoon regions.

The prime minister saw this as a progressive step. Unfortunately, it is not. Cyclone relief is not political progress. The Burmese authorities have allowed aid, but no political advance. The Tripartite Core Group of Burma, the UN and Asean have been able to deliver help to some of the storm victims. On the other hand, the Burmese government last week arrested another group of members of Mrs Suu Kyi's political party for no reason other than peaceful political protest of the sort that goes unremarked even in undemocratic countries such as Vietnam or Asem host China.

It is difficult to know why Thai foreign policy is so supportive of the Burmese dictatorship. Mr Somchai's predecessor Samak Sundaravej was full of praise for the "good Buddhists" who rule Burma. The prosecutor has charged Mr Somchai's brother-in-law Thaksin Shinawatra with helping Burma too much, in the form of hugely generous, possibly illegal loans.

Just in recent times, Burma has flooded Thailand with drugs, refused to cooperate in discussions about its estimated one million illegal immigrants, and used Thai territory to attack its separatist groups. For the sake of peace, Thailand needs correct relations with Burma. But it shouldn't pander to the junta.

Thai and Cambodian FMs to hold 3rd meeting on border dispute issues

Thaindian News
November 4th, 2008
by Amrit Rashmisrisethi

Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers plan to conduct the 3rd meeting on border dispute issues and further discuss on the JBC meeting which will be concluded on 10-11 November 2008, while expecting to figure out on Preah Vihear Temple’s boundary allocation first.

Department of Information director-general and Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mr. Tharid Charoongwat (นายธฤต จรุงวัฒน์) revealed that Chairman of Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), Mr. Vasin Teeravechyan (นายวศิน ธีรเวชญาณ), would travel with Thai representatives to discuss about Thailand-Cambodia boundary allocation at Siem Reap, Cambodia on 10-11 November 2008.

Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that the 3rd Thai-Cambodian foreign ministerial meeting will be taken place on November 12 following the JBC meeting, to discuss on issues of Ta Muen Temple and Ta Kwai Temple.

Source : National News Bureau, Public Relations Department of Thailand

UPDATE: Many Challenges To Cambodia's Oil Upstream Hopes

November 03, 2008

(Recasts, adding details on technical, legal and diplomatic challenges the government faces in attempting to develop the sector)

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Cambodia is facing a wide range of challenges in developing its oil and gas upstream sector, even as it moves cautiously ahead with an offshore exploration project led by U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. (CVX), a senior government official said Tuesday.

The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority is also pushing for construction of the country's first oil refinery and mulling the establishment of a national oil company, but global interest in the country's hydrocarbons potential is lacking, progress on a petroleum law has been slow, and a long-running maritime acreage dispute with neighboring Thailand has yet to be settled.

"It's very difficult - when we opened (upstream blocks for) bidding in 1991 or 1992, nobody was interested," CNPA Vice-Chairman Ho Vichit said on the sidelines of the Asia Oil and Gas Investment Congress.

"So, we approached companies...to do direct negotiations," he said, attributing the poor investment interest to Cambodia's limited track record in terms of oil and gas reserves.

The country only started formal seismic surveys in January and has yet to finalize results, Ho said.

More than 10 foreign companies are drilling in Cambodia's six offshore blocks, including China National Offshore Oil Corp.

The government is optimistic that a consortium headed by Chevron remains on track to begin producing oil from offshore Block A next year, but the U.S. company has downplayed any firm timetables.

Ho said there are some technical challenges to overcome as reserves are spread over a wide are in small pools, but he said the project won't be shelved.

Earlier, Ho told the conference in Singapore that "it's premature to speculate" how much of the oil or gas discovered in 2005 can be pumped from offshore Block A, about 200 kilometers off the southern coast.

"It must be recognized that hydrocarbons shows (evidence) alone do not make...an oil or gas field, let alone an oil or gas field that might be viable for commercial development," he said.

The idea of a national oil company - the CNPA would play the role of regulator in such a scenario - remains at "a very preliminary stage," Ho said.

Cambodia's draft petroleum law, which would provide a legislative framework for extracting oil and gas, also remains "complicated" and is still some way from reaching the ministerial level, a step required before any approval by the national assembly. Ho also cited the need to translate the final document into languages suitable for potential investors as another factor contributing to the delay.

Meanwhile, the government is still negotiating with Thailand to jointly develop three offshore areas near Block A following a 2001 memorandum of understanding; a fourth area is claimed entirely by each side.

Ho wouldn't comment on whether the political upheavals in Bangkok have slowed progress in the talks.

For the downstream sector, Cambodia has contracted Japanese firm Toyo Engineering Corp. (6330.TO) to assist with a feasibility study to build a refinery.

A 50,000 barrel-a-day facility is being considered, tiny by international standards but perhaps an important first step to ease pressures from high petroleum import prices.

Cambodia, which doesn't subsidize domestic fuel prices, imports about 1 million metric tons a year of refined oil products, Ho said, pegging the country's economic growth around 7% a year.

-By Yee Kai Pin, Dow Jones Newswires; kai-pin.yee@dowjones.com; +65-6415-4062

The Opposition Party Blames the Government for Not Encouraging Local Farmers and Investors - Tuesday, 3.11.2008

Posted on 4 November 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 585

“The president of the opposition party blamed the government for a lack of encouragement for local investors, and for not finding markets to sell the products of the local agriculture of citizens who put efforts into increasing their income.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the Sam Rainsy Party, said during the Forum-for-Listeners Program of Radio Free Asia in the evening of 31 October 2008, that the Cambodian government fails to encourage local investors. He added during the program that the government does not encourage local investors to be able to compete with investors in neighboring countries; therefore many goods from neighboring countries flow into Cambodia.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy went on to say that Khmer investors who invest in workshops, in industry, and in services, face difficulties to compete with products imported from foreign countries, adding that the government should focus on developing the field of agriculture, like by contributing land to citizens, and to help find markets for farmers and for investors to sell their products.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy continued to say that for Cambodia to progress, the government should implement some special measures, like by focusing to encourage agricultural development, providing land transparently, finding markets to sell local products, and preventing the import of goods from outside of the country into markets in Cambodia. Responding to a question by a listener of Radio Free Asia from Kompong Speu regarding agricultural products of farmers during this new term government that keeps on implementing the Rectangular Strategy, he asked whether or not the government can keep the citizens away from poverty. Mr. Sam Rainsy said that according to his observation, the Rectangular Strategy of the government has only achieved little improvements. He added that the government must have clear plans to promote the agriculture and to distribute land to citizens, especially the government has to find markets to sell local products in order to encourage local citizens and investors. The government must hurry to find solutions for these problems as soon as possible, like by helping competition on the market; also the present global economic crisis will affect the economy of Cambodia in the future, and this requires that the government starts to find solutions from now on.

“Some economists say that the Cambodian real estate market is facing a dramatic drop of the prices, because of the global economic crisis and of the border dispute between Cambodia and Siam [Thailand] since 15 July 2008. They added that the prices of real estate, which were previously fairly high, fell sharply after the global economic crisis started. At the same time, this strongly affects also investors in the field of banking, because some banks depends on money from foreign partners.

“Economic experts said that even if Cambodia achieves 10% of economic growth, the global economic crisis will result in some Khmer citizens loosing their income and their jobs; furthermore, local investors will face financial problems because of belated transfers of money.

“As for the competition between the markets in Cambodia and in South Korea, it is seen that South Korea has imported all kinds of goods into the Cambodian market year after year, and earns nearly US$2 billion. However, the export of goods from Cambodia to the South Korean market earns only little more than US$40 million; this shows that local investors cannot compete in markets outside of the country.

“As for the competition between the markets of Siam [Thailand] and Cambodia, it is seen that Siam exports fertilizer into Cambodia for more than US$1 billion each year, but Cambodia earns very little by selling agricultural products to Siam, including mats [woven from many different kinds of grasses], pepper, garlic, river fish, and cattle, but some cattle is re-loaded to be sold to Malaysia. Because the government does not provide encouragement for local farmers and investors, as mentioned by Mr. Sam Rainsy, goods from Yuon [Vietnam], China, Korea, and Siam are imported more and more into the Cambodian market, discouraging local farmers, craftsmen, and investors to continue their businesses, since their products have no foreign market to be exported to, and they even face competition in the local market with foreign products which are sold at cheaper prices than the Khmer farmers’ products.

“As for the agriculture of the country, besides paddy rice, which has a markets outside of the country, other agricultural products, such as pineapples, mangoes, bananas, sugar cane, tiep [custard apples], and pumpkins, are worthless on the international markets, and Khmer agricultural products must compete at the local market with products imported from Yuon and Siam also, discouraging Khmer citizens to make products and to do cultivation.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3604, 3.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 3 November 2008

VN, Cambodia strengthen links


HA NOI — The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Hun Sen, is on an official visit to Viet Nam today and tomorrow to re-inforce traditional friendship and comprehensive co-operation between the two neighbours.

The Cambodian PM is making the visit at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung.

The two PMs will discuss measures to boost co-operation in all fields, particularly the economy, trade and investment; accelerate land-border demarcation and placing markers; and promote co-ordination at regional and multilateral forums.

The first visit of PM Hun Sen during his fourth term (September 2008-2013) is in the context of growing bilateral relations under the motto "best neighbourliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive and long-lasting co-operation".

The two countries have witnessed a number of exchange visits by high-level delegations. After his coronation in October, 2004, the Cambodian King, Norodom Siha-moni, twice visited Viet Nam, first in March, 2006, and again in June, 2008.

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet visited Cambodia last February.

The two sides convened the fourth meeting on co-operation and development of their border provinces in February this year, and the 10th session of the Joint Commission for Economic, Cultural and Scientific-Technological Co-operation in October this year. The two countries have enjoyed significant progress in economic, trade and investment co-operation. Two-way trade has increased from US$180 million in 2000 to almost $1.2 billion last year. The target is $2 billion by 2010.

Viet Nam’s investment in Cambodia reached the $100 million last year.

Co-operation in education and training, energy, health care, transport, and national security and defence have advanced considerably.

The two sides have enjoyed a good working relationship in dealing with issues related to the border line and border security and order, and have agreed to complete the demarcation and marker plantation project by 2012.

The two countries have also worked to increase co-operation within a number of regional organisations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other regional and international co-operation mechanisms, including the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the East-West Economic Corridor Development Programme (EWEC), and the Ayeyawady-Chao Praya-Mekong Economic Co-operation Strategy (ACMECS). — VNS

Fresh talks on border squabble

Tharit: Patience is essential

Bangkok Post
Tuesday November 04, 2008


Thailand and Cambodia will hold border talks next week followed by a meeting of foreign ministers in a fresh attempt to resolve the land border dispute.

The Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) has been set for Monday and Tuesday in Siem Reap, and the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre area surrounding Preah Vihear temple is high on the agenda, foreign affairs spokesman Tharit Charungwat said yesterday.

Mr Tharit said patience was needed. An agreement could not be expected overnight, despite the best intentions to resolve the problem through bilateral negotiations.

"I'm glad both sides have agreed to bilateral talks, but we all must exercise restraint because many rounds of talks can be expected," said Mr Tharit.

Field survey teams from both countries may be going to the borders during the talks, he added.

Both countries claim sovereignty over the disputed area. Thailand says it is in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket, but Cambodia insists it is part of its Preah Vihear province.

The JBC meeting comes after parliament last week approved a negotiation framework with Cambodia.

Vasin Teeravechyan, the retired Thai ambassador to South Korea, heads the Thai team to the JBC meeting. He yesterday attended the preparatory meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

The Cambodian side is led by Senior Minister Var Kim Hong.

Mr Tharit said Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong will meet on Nov 12 in Siem Reap after the JBC forum.

He said Cambodia may also raise other disputed areas, such as Ta Muean Thom and Ta Kwai temples, during the ministerial talks, as it had previously intended to at the last meeting in August.

The Holes in My Heart

Teen Ink Magazine

By Lea S., N. Merrick, NY

As a child in Cambodia, life was difficult. It went from bad to worse when my mother got sick. As usual, my father left us and went someplace else. I hardly ever saw him. I loved my ­father and maybe I still do. He wasn’t a nice man, though. He used to hit us, especially my mom. I never knew what we did wrong. Maybe the alcohol took over his mind.

One time after he left, I overheard people talking about how he had fallen in love and gotten married all over again. I never saw him after that.

Meanwhile, my poor mother’s heart was slowly melting. She was paralyzed because my dad hit her so much. She couldn’t move half of her body. So, at the age of six, I took care of her and my two brothers and sister. We had no money and lived in a very rural area without electricity and water. I had to cook, clean, beg for rice, and be the mother of the family. I rarely went to school.

I think my mom had seen me suffer enough. I’d had enough too! So, to make things easier, my mom sent my sister and one of my brothers to live with relatives in another village. People in Cambodia often take care of relatives’ children. I missed them but knew they were being cared for. I was the oldest, so I stayed; my mother needed me to take care of her and my baby brother, Long.

For a while it was just Long, my mother, and I. But then my brother, who was less than a year old, was very sick and skinny. One day I came home and Long wasn’t there. My mom said she had given him away to someone who said they could take care of him. He wasn’t coming back.

I was sad and confused but didn’t ask too many questions. I knew it must have been difficult for her, and we had no money for food or doctors to help Long. We didn’t know where he had gone, but my mom trusted the stranger who took him away, and hoped – we both hoped – that he would be safe and healthy.

My mom and I went on with our lives. We loved each other very much, but we suffered silently day ­after day. We were still struggling with hardly any money or food, and we missed Long terribly but ­never talked about him.

One afternoon, about a year after Long left, we ­received some good news. A man from the city came to our village and told us that a family in the United States had adopted my baby brother. He showed us pictures. My brother, now named Shane, was smiling, wearing nice clothes, and looking very healthy. Even though we missed him and life was hard for us, my mom and I were so happy to know that my brother was okay.

My peace did not last long. One night I had a horrible dream that my mom left me. I was crying and I couldn’t stop. I cried for such a long time that I woke my mother. I told her what I had dreamt. She said that she would never leave me.

Weeks passed, and then my nightmare came true. My mother died of a stroke. I blame my dad because of the injuries he gave her. Thinking about it now, I hate him.

I wish I could have done something. But when I saw my mother collapse, time passed so quickly I didn’t know what to do. I was only eight! The day my mother died, I didn’t cry because I didn’t know what death was. I did cry when they buried her. I knew at that moment that I would never see her again.

After my mother died, one of my aunts took me in. She was very poor, just like my mother. She was mean, and I think she was mad that she had to take care of me, but I had nowhere else to go.

One day the man who had brought the pictures of my baby brother came to visit again. It had taken him a long time to find us because I had moved. He was sad to hear that my mother had died. Then he gave me new clothes, a doll, and more pictures of my brother. My aunt asked him if the family who adopted my brother would want to adopt me too. The man turned to me and asked if I wanted to go live with my brother in the United States. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, I said yes. He said he would find out if it was possible. I waited for what seemed like forever. I started to think that maybe the American family did not want me.

But that wasn’t the case.

About a year later, the Americans who had adopted my brother finally came for me. As I now know, there is a lot of paperwork involved with adoption. They had to get permission from my family, the Cambodian government, and the United States government before they could come to get me.

The first time I saw my new parents was in a hotel lobby. I told the translator that they had long noses. I didn’t know I was being rude; I just wasn’t used to seeing Caucasian people. I was really nervous around them. I think they were nervous too. I didn’t smile until we went to the hotel room and my new mom showed me the clothes she had brought me. My face lit up fast! We didn’t talk much because I didn’t know how to speak English, but she made flash cards with pictures to help us communicate.

The day we left Cambodia I was filled with emotions. I was eager, worried, upset, and confused because I didn’t know where we were going and I had never been on a plane before. All I remember about my trip was that I threw up for most of the 21-hour flight. It was like the plane was a gigantic sickening machine. It felt as though the trip would never end.

When we landed in the United States I was so ­happy. After we waited in a bunch of lines, we walked out of the airport. The air was a lot colder than in Cambodia. In the distance, I saw a strange man waving at us. He looked excited and happy. I ­also saw a little boy next to him. I knew immediately it was my brother. I didn’t act excited to see him ­because I was still feeling so sick from the plane, but I was really thrilled.

My new grandpa drove us to my new home. In the car I looked out the window and saw strange yet beautiful houses. I kept peeking at my brother. He was now three years old and looked so clean and healthy compared to the last time I had seen him. At that moment I knew that I was going to be happy again.

And that is where I am now. The nightmares have ended because of two wonderful people who adopted my brother Shane and me. Adjusting to life in the United States wasn’t easy, but getting adopted is the most beautiful feeling. Even though we are not related by blood, I knew from that first day that my dad and mom cared about me very much. They filled up all the holes in my heart.

FM to visit siem reap for border talks

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on November 4, 2008

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat will join his Cambodia counterpart Hor Namhong in Siem Reap on November 12 for another round of talks on resolving the Preah Vihear border dispute.

It would be the third such meeting following the two in July and August between former foreign minister Tej Bunnag and Hor Namhong.

Sompong, who succeeded Tej more than a month ago, would discuss the areas with overlapping claims near the Khmer sanctuaries of Ta Muen Thom and Ta Muen Kwai.

The agenda was set at the second ministerial meeting in Thailand's resort beach town of ChaAm in August, ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said yesterday.

"We are glad to see the restoration of a good atmosphere and resumption of negotiations between the two countries," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been engaged in a war of words since July after the Preah Vihear Temple was inscribed on the list of world heritage sites. The tensions escalated into a border skirmish last month that claimed the lives of four soldiers on both sides and wounded many others.

A new round of ongoing boundary demarcation talks with Cambodia would be held from November 1014 after Parliament gave the goahead.

Vasin Teeravechyan, former ambassador to South Korea and cochairman of the ThaiCambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC), would lead the Thai team.

The JBC might pick the disputed area near Preah Vihear Temple as a priority, Tharit added.

Amazing Race: "I Like A Tuk Tuk Driver That Knows Everything"

Reality TV Calendar

Episode 6 Commentary by Jessi K.
November 3, 2008

In this week’s Amazing Race, the six remaining teams set off from Siem Riep, Cambodia, which has survived the horrors of war and now an American reality television show production, to Delhi, India, a country that is no stranger to the horrors of The Amazing Race.

As teams ventured off from the pit stop in Cambodia to the travel agent to obtain airline tickets to India, we learned from Dallas that there’s a bit of attraction between him and Starr. How anyone on this race has eyes for anyone other than Phil I’ll never understand, but I find this romance very interesting indeed. What I also find very interesting is the music played when the two share the screen together. Starr sat next to Dallas while at the internet café and suddenly the music changed to “bow chicka a bow wow.” Yes, things got pretty steamy when they shared a mouse.

While love is blossoming between Dallas and Starr, Ken and Tina’s relationship seemed to be hanging on by a thread. “Our relationship has been a struggle, it’s gotta start moving forward and quickly,” Ken said. Unfortunately, their marriage seems to only be moving in a positive direction when they’re doing well in the Race. Last week’s third place finish has now filled the two with doubts again about where they stand with one another. Ken had all sorts of strategy for how to fix their issues but at this point, their relationship is about as permanent as Tina’s eyebrows.

Terence and Sarah started their leg thirty minutes behind due to Terence’s speeding infraction in last week’s episode and the two dashed off to catch up with all the other teams at the travel agent. Sarah asked her tuk tuk driver if he knew the location of the agency. “I know everything,” he replied. Sarah smiled at his response and said, “I like a tuk tuk driver that knows everything.” Apparently she also likes her boyfriends like she likes her tuk tuk drivers.

Once in Delhi, teams tried to make their way to Moon Light Motors. In the cab Nick and Starr couldn’t help but laugh at Kelly and Christy’s clothing—or lack thereof. Culturally sensitive Nick tried to tell them to cover up. Starr added, “I would not be comfortable wearing what they’re wearing,” while clad in a shirt of which her own “tuk tuks” were anything but tucked away.

As in seasons past of the Amazing Race in India, confusion abounded as teams tried to find their first destination in Delhi. Nick and Starr were first to arrive to the road block which required one member of the team to paint a tuk tuk. Ken and Tina were the last to arrive as their cab driver and well, most of Delhi had no idea where the roadblock was located. This didn’t stop Tina from repeating the destination or the address over and again with a little more force and volume each time she asked someone though: “MOONLIGHT MOTORS. 16 DD A.” This seemed to fall on deaf ears over and over again and for all we know, that address may have well been Ken’s shoe size. Nothing seemed to be working for the two of them and it was painful to watch. Every clueless Delhi dweller seemed to push Ken and Tina closer to divorce. I was actually holding my breath during various sequences, silently chanting to the universe “Come on, help a marriage out.”

Once they did arrive to Moonlight Motors however, it still wasn’t smooth sailing. Tina was full of opinions and nagged Ken through the entire task. Though, maybe this strategy worked as he finished quickly beating Kelly and Christy, and Terence and Sarah, who had issues of their own. Terence badgered Sarah through the entire task which probably contributed to their being last. “I need you to do this quickly, I need you to go all the way around,” he instructed. “I am telling you what you want to know and you’re not listening to me.” He was just short of taking her hand and spraying the car himself. How she managed not to resort to childhood tendencies and spray him with the paint gun I’ll never know. And how he manages to be employed as a coach I’ll also never know. Who hired him? PAU: Passive Aggressive University? When Sarah finished the task he let her open the next clue’s envelope: “Open it. You deserve it,” he told her. Wow, could he be any more kind?

When teams had finished painting their tuk tuks, they had to make their way to the Ambassador Hotel to receive their next clue from an Indian Doorman. Their clue revealed their next detour: launder clothes or launder money. In launder money, teams had to make a wedding necklace using 10 rupee notes with the sum of 780 and present it to an awaiting groom. In launder clothes, teams had to make their way to a laundry shop and iron 20 pieces of laundry, of which had to be approved by a laundry lady. Nick and Starr, Christy and Kelly, Dallas and Toni and Andrew and Dan all chose launder clothes. I imagine this Indian laundromat was called anything but “Scrubby Bubbles.” My jeans trembled as I watched men beating the denim dry in the background. And seeing the charcoal irons with handles so hot that teams needed gloves, I vowed never to complain again about the fact that Downey’s Wrinkle Releaser squirt bottle pinches my hand.

Terence and Sarah and Ken and Tina found themselves laundering money at a wedding banquet hall. They were greeted by an elephant and throngs of people while the others laundering clothes were only greeted with stern looks by their laundry attendants. As I understood it, the crowd of people was there for the racers to exchange money with in order to have the right combination of rupees for the wedding necklace, but both teams bypassed the crowd (and the elephant!) at the reception and desperately sought out citizens on the street.

While Ken and Tina and Terence and Sarah were in search of smaller bills, Dan and Andrew were fighting their way through the task, literally. Andrew tried to argue with the laundry attendant that he couldn’t possibly get any more wrinkles out of a garment. Dan continued to wallow in the fact they had left the previous roadblock first only to be passed by other teams. As he complained, the wind picked up and blew all of his hard work to the ground causing him to throw a tantrum. Andrew looked bewildered at his friend in the midst of a meltdown. He tried to give him a pep talk, “Just keep going, you’re doing a great job,” but you knew he was really thinking, “When I get home, I am totally deleting this dude off my Facebook page.”

Back at the reception hall, teams tried to make their way through the crowded wedding reception to find the groom. But the lower level of this reception hall was jam-packed making it extremely difficult to navigate as well as to find the person the necklace was intended for. Terence was knocked around like a rag doll which was amusing but watching Sarah, Ken, and Tina try to pass through such chaos made me feel claustrophobic sitting in my living room alone.

At the pit stop, Phil greeted Nick and Starr Baha’i! first and they were awarded electric cars for winning the leg. (I would’ve been more impressed had they won electric tuk tuks.) Christy and Kelly, Toni and Dallas, Terence and Sarah, and Andrew and Dan all finished before Ken and Tina who arrived to the Baha’i House last. It was no real surprise that this week was a non-elimination leg and Ken and Tina will have one more chance to stay in the Race, however, they’ll encounter a “speed bump” on the next leg. The last thing these two need is another bump in the road.

What they could’ve used this episode, however, was a Keoghan bear hug. Where’s Phil’s dad when you need him?!

Jessi K. is a freelance writer from Iowa who has a penchant for reality TV, carbonated beverages, and boybands. She can be reached at

The Great Asian Cycling Challenge

Local charity Gulf for Good's first challenge in 2009, The Great Asian Cycling Challenge, will take a group of intrepid cyclists from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formerly known as Saigon), to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, from March 26th to April 4th.

Elite Tower

United Arab Emirates

Six days of cycling, mainly on good back roads, will take participants around 450 kilometres through unspoilt national forests, farmland and villages.

'The challenge, while not technically difficult, will as always be a physically and mentally demanding adventure,' said G4G Chairman Brian Wilkie. 'However, as with the last similar trip, when 23 of us cycled from Bangkok to Angkor Wat in 2005, we'll get to see these wonderful countries from a viewpoint rarely experienced by ordinary tourists, plus we'll meet and help kids much less fortunate than ourselves.'

The beneficiaries of this 25th Gulf for Good challenge will be orphanages run by the charities 'Children of Vietnam' and 'CAMKids' in Cambodia. Participants will be able to visit at least one of the projects to see for themselves the wonderful work these local charities are doing for underprivileged children of the region.

According to G4G's Challenge Director, Ravi Chandran, challenge participants average around 50/50 male/female, have ranged from 17-73 years old, and from athletes to couch potatoes! 'I did the last cycling challenge', he commented. 'Some people pushed their bikes up the hills, some people raced up them, but all had a great time - and I can tell you there were plenty of tears when we met the kids at the orphanages we were helping and realized just how big an impact our funds would have'.

In line with previous events, participants will be required to pay a registration fee of AED1,850 and then raise minimum sponsorship of AED17,000. To date, G4G Challenges, with over 500 participants from 36 countries including many Gulf nationals, have raised almost one and a half million dollars for schools, hospitals, orphanages, and medical equipment in 17 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Gulf for Good helps with fund-raising ideas; training and fitness suggestions; as well as clothing and equipment advice. On the challenge, it provides flights and transfers, accommodation, food, guides and medical backup. Other 2009 G4G adventure challenges include The India Adventure in May (hiking and cycling), the Inca Trail (Peru) in July, and the Annapurna Circuit Trek (Nepal) in October.

Sompong to visit Siem Reap for border talks

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat will join his Cambodia counterpart Hor Namhong in Siem Reap on November 12 for another round of talks on resolving the Preah Vihear border dispute.

It would be the third such meeting following the two in July and August between former foreign minister Tej Bunnag and Hor Namhong.

Sompong, who succeeded Tej more than a month ago, would discuss the areas with overlapping claims near the Khmer sanctuaries of Ta Muen Thom and Ta Muen Kwai.

The agenda was set at the second ministerial meeting in Thailand's resort beach town of Cha-Am in August, ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said Monday.

The Nation

US rockers The Click Five to play Cambodia's Angkor Wat

The Click Five lead singer Eric Dill performing in New York City in 2005. The American rock band plans to play a concert at Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple next month as part of a campaign to fight human trafficking, organiser MTV music channel said Monday.(AFP/Getty Images/Brad Barket)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – American rock band The Click Five plans to play a concert at Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple next month as part of a campaign to fight human trafficking, organiser MTV music channel said Monday.

The December 7 concert by the group, who are popular in Southeast Asia, is part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organised by MTV and the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.

"What we have is the chance to reach out and create a lot of interest about human trafficking," Matt Love, spokesman for the MTV Europe Foundation, said of the concert.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as soft on human trafficking, and earlier this year suspended marriages between foreigners and Cambodians amid concerns they were being used to traffic poor, uneducated women.

The US State Department refused a visa to Cambodia's police chief Hok Lundy in 2006 due to allegations he was involved in trafficking prostitutes.

The previous international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.

US-Cambodians Say They Lack a Voice

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 01 November 2008 (1.80 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 01 November 2008 (1.80 MB) - Listen (MP3)

A leading advocate of Khmer Kampuchea Krom rights in the USinsists that members of his organization and other Cambodians must act as a group in elections, such as the Nov. 4 national race.

Other groups have proven a strong voting block in elections, said Prak Sereyvuth, vice chairman of the Kamuchea Krom Federation, which has branches in nearly 20 states.

Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, for the Democracts, and John McCain, for Republicans, have run a tight race, leading to increased interest in politics by many Americans. But when it comes to having a voice heard, Cambodian-Americans can learn from many different groups, he said.

“Sometimes we hate Vietnamese nationals, because of their country’s politics,” Prak Sereyvuth said. “But sometimes we have to learn from them. Why have their communities in California, Texasand Virginiamade tremendous progress and our communities progress too slowly?”

Vietnamese communities “gather all their forces for elections,” he said. “And just close to the election, the businessmen all do party fundraising, to help any congressman who has succeeded in helping their society.”

“For our nationals, we have only by heart, but obviously no implementation,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t think the election is important, but it’s most necessary.”

An estimated 10 million Khmer Krom, who have cultural ties to Cambodia, live in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, where advocacy groups claim their basic rights are abused, a claim Vietnamdenies.

Prak Sreyvuth said he encourages members of his organization, which lobbies for greater rights of the Khmer Krom, not only to vote for presidents, but congressmen and senators, across party lines, as well.

Thach Berong, a Khmer Krom monk in San Jose, Calif., who became a citizen in 2003, said he had already voted in early balloting.

“We vote because we are thankful to the USfor allowing us to live and giving us equal rights,” he said. “So when the USneeds to pick a great leader, we participate.”

As a member of the Kamuchea Krom Federation, he helps organize groups of voters and get messages to other members, he said.

Thach Thong, another member of the group in San Jose, said about 50 percent of the local Cambodian community did not vote. The community lacked media and leaders to explain the important issues, he said.

“It’s not like the Vietnamese community,” he said. “They have their own media to tell the community, and leader as binding. So if they want to help their country, it’s better, as they have a strong voice.”

As for the candidates, Thach Thong said either man as president would push for human rights, “so whoever wins, it doesn’t matter.”

Real Estate Prices Continue to Fall

Cambodia is watching its property boom carefully following the onset of the global financial crisis.

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 03 November 2008 (809 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 03 November 2008 (809 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Property prices in Cambodia's once-booming real estate market haven fallen by as much as 20 percent since June, a real estate expert said Monday.

The global financial crisis, the Thai-Cambodia border standoff and loan restrictions set out by commercial banks were all contributing to a fall in prices, said Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia.

"The drop may continue for a long or short time," he said in opening remarks at a real estate investment training course in Phnom Penh. "It is up to the reform of the Cambodian situation. Some crises will be solved."

Between June and October, values in property fell between 10 percent and 20 percent, he said.

"When the decline is going on and on, we are very concerned about the real estate price in Cambodia," he said. "But we hope it will recover soon."

Cambodia in recent years has experienced a boom in property prices, leading many rural and urban residents to sell off their land at very high prices, raising rents and values, and boosting the construction sector.

But the property bubble was now of concern, especially considering the bust of the US housing market, which has led to a global financial crisis, said Finance Minister Keat Chhon.

"The real estate market in Cambodia is also indirectly affected by this world crisis," he said. "Starting from this bad experience facing the world, Cambodia is paying her critical caution in the process of the developing real estate sector in Cambodia."

The falling property prices are expected to stunt Cambodia's economic growth, he said, acknowledging that both the economic crisis and the border standoff, which has continued since mid-July, were factors in the drop.

Neither were in the hands of Cambodia to fix, he said.

"Cambodia is a political hostage to Thailand's internal conflict," he said, referring to a mass movement of opposition supporters who are calling for a change of government in Bangkok.

Hundreds Protest Unfair Rice Distribution

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 November 2008

Hundreds of families from Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces protested Monday against unfair distribution of millions of dollars in emergency food aid.

“It is hurtful when we are the real poor and we cannot get rice aid,” said Prak Chuop, a villager in Bantey Meanchey, who joined other protesters in front of provincial headquarters.

Local authorities have been handing out rice, rice seed, fertilizer, in both provinces since Oct. 30, part of a $40 million aid package meant to offset the costs of inflation. The ADB provided $35 million, with the government matching $5 million.

But villagers now say they aid is not reaching the most desperate.

“When I saw [the family of the village chief] going in a group, I asked them where they were going. They said, ‘To a meeting,’ but when they came back, they carried between six and 10 bags of rice,” said Ok Nonn, a protester from Pursat, where around 200 villager sat in protest at the headquarters of Thnoth Chum commune, Krakor district. “But we were not told.”

The ADB expects to distribute 120,000 tons of milled rice to 340,000 people in 200 communes for the emergency aid.

Under the ADB plan, each member of a family should receive one 35-kilogram bag of rice, but monitors for the rights group Adhoc said they received complaints from more than 200 villagers in Banteay Meanchey of much less.

“Some families received only 35 kilograms of rice [total], and some others received only 30 cans of rice,” said Sum Chankea, provincial coordinator of Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey. Thirty cans make about 7 kilograms of rice.

Long Piseth, project officer of the ADB, said he recognized the possibility of the problem. The emergency assistance was prepared in only three weeks, he said. The ADB has received 33 complaints on its hotline since the beginning of distribution, he said.

The government is responsible for unfair distribution, but the ADB will also consider how it can help the poor who missed the emergency aid, Long Piseth said.

“If we run out of emergency rice, we will take action at the end of distribution, when we have received other reports from [our] NGO monitors,” he said.

For those who miss the emergency rice, the ADB could provide rice under its “food-for-work” program or sell rice seeds at low cost, Long Piseth said.

Vorng Sandap, deputy secretary-general for the Ministry of Finance, who is in charge of the aid distribution, said Monday that the poorest people would be ensured rice under the food-for-work program.

“But it is too early to predict our actions against authorities, because the program is not finished yet,” he said.

Sky-High Fuel Prices Hammer Mondolkiri

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 November 2008

At his small wood-and-thatch home in Mondolkiri province, Nuon Vanna stared at his Korean-made motorcycle, which had gone neglected for days. The 41-year-old laborer from Lao Ka village said extra-high fuel prices made riding the thing prohibitive.

Prices in Modolkiri have reached 7,000 riel per kilogram, about 2,000 riel higher than in Phnom Penh. Many here blame it on a fuel monopoly in the province’s capital, and even roadside fuel vendors say they cannot lower it further.

When the fuel hit the already high price of 5,500 riel per week, he could still take his motorcycle to the woods and collect resin, he said. “But when the gasoline price became higher, I went …only once.”

The high fuel costs cut his income in half, he said, to about 12,000 riel, or $3 per trip to the forest. Now he goes on foot.

One seller in Lao Ka village, Khun Samnang, said the high prices were hurting her business, as potential customers like Nuon Vanna opted not to drive. Selling at 5,500 riel per liter, she would sell 60 liters of fuel a day, for a total of 330,000 riel, about $82.50. By last week, at 7,000 riel per liter, she was selling half that amount, earning a total 210,000 riel, about $52.50.

“When gasoline costs are higher, we have more difficulty to sell it,” she said. “My clients complain that gasoline is very expensive, and on the other hand they say they have much difficultly making money.”

Khun Samnang said she’d been importing fuel for the past two years from the only dealer in the province, a man named Leng Hour, who, other villagers say, seems to adjust the fuel price arbitrarily.

Leng Hour could not be reached for comment, and members of his staff in the provincial capital declined comment.

But residents here question the wisdom of having only one fuel distributor.

“I wonder, why does only one petroleum distributor operate his business here, and why don’t other businessmen come to distribute petroleum here?” asked Em Sopheak, coordinator of the Community Legal Education Center in Mondolkiri town.

The fuel is imported from Vietnam and distributed throughout the province’s districts, but the prices seem arbitrary, Em Sopheak said.

Mondolkiri Governor Lay Sokha told VOA Khmer he had never received a bribe from Leng Hour.

No company has ever built a petroleum station in the town, he said, and if it were not for Leng Hour, there would be no fuel to buy.

Meanwhile, the local company Tela was hoping to begin operating in the province in the next few months, Lay Sokha said, hoping to sell prices consistent with those in Phnom Penh.

Meanwhile, Hang Chuon Naron, secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance, said Monday the fuel prices in Cambodia are coming down, thanks to international market rates and government subsidies. The government paid an estimated $250 million to petroleum distributors so far this year, he said.

“We organize meetings with those petroleum companies every two weeks and ask them to bring down the petroleum price,” he said.