Friday, 7 November 2008

Meeting during the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008

(L-R) Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand and Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar arrive for a meeting during the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

(L-R) Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam wait for the arrival of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand for a meeting during the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and Laos' Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh leave after attending the opening ceremony of the ACMECS summit in Hanoi November 7, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L), Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein (C) and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung greet each other before a meeting during the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) applauds as Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat walks past during the opening ceremony of the ACMECS summit in Hanoi November 7, 2008. The third summit of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) were held in Hanoi this week.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen adjusts his headphones during the third summit of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) shakes hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat before a meeting during the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Sacravatoons : " the Royal Siem's Kathen "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Thai military sought permission to hold a Kathen ceremony in Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak

The Cambodian monks tried to enter their pagoda which is guarded by Thai soldiers. Thai soldiers, seen here in the background, forcibly occupied Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak on the 15th of July, 2008.

Kampuchea Thmey newspaper
6th November, 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

The Cambodian people will, on the 12th of November 2008, organise a Kathen ceremony (a religious fund raising event) in order to raise funds to support the Cambodian monks who reside in Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak, near the Preah Vihear complex, during the rainy season.

While the Cambodian side plans to organise a Kathen for Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak, the Thai side has also requested to organise their Kathen for this pagoda as well. Their request has been turned down because the Khmer officials use the reasons that if the Thai people want to make merits they should not have caused trouble with Cambodia. One other reason is that, according to Khmer traditions, each pagoda can only accept one Kathen in a year.

Government officials said that, on the 12th of November 2008, Gen. Hing Bunheang, Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit, Mr. Sou Phirint, Governor of Siem Reap Province and Mr. Preap Tan, Governor of Preah Vihear Province, along with other government officials will march to Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak to take the money raised in a Kathen to give to the monks who reside in the pagoda. The Kathen was planned for 12th November, after Unesco had put up the Unesco signpost on the 7th of November.

At the same time as there is news that the Khmer side plans to organise a Kathen in Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak, the Thai commanders had made a request to meet with the Cambodian commanders to seek permission to organise their Kathen for Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak on the 12th of November as well. According to sources, both Cambodian and Thai commanders have met but there were no decision made whether to allow the Thai side to organise a Kathen for the pagoda.

According to Cambodian military sources based in the Preah Vihear area, during the meeting, the Thai commanders promised that, during the Khmer Kathen, their troops will not be present near the pagoda. The same sources said that, from the 5th of November, Thai troops have already begun to withdraw gradually from the frontline. The sources said that, this withdrawal might be a ploy by Thailand to hide its troop presence from the Unesco officials when they come to put up a Unesco heritage signpost at the Preah Vihear temple on the 7th of November.

Mr. Khieu Kanharith, Cambodia’s Minister of Information and government spokesman, said that the decision whether to give the Thai side permission to organise a Kathen in the pagoda is not up to the local Cambodian military commanders, but it is the decision of the leaders of the Cambodian government.

Mr. Kanharith said that whether Cambodia grants permission for the Thai side to organise a Kathen or not is not important. The important thing is that, according to the Cambodian ancestral traditions, each pagoda can only accept one Kathen. Furthermore, Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak is not just an ordinary pagoda. It is a hotly contested and confrontational site where both Khmer and Thai soldiers are tensely facing each other. He added that, the Thai side has never thought of making merits in this temple in the past and if they wanted to make merits in this pagoda they would not have caused trouble for this temple until today. So, while the Thai side was the one who caused the present military standoff, a Thai Kathen for this pagoda would be meaningless.

Mr. Thun Saray, president of the human right organisation ADHOC said that, according to Khmer traditions, in one temple there can only be one Kathen in a year, so the abbot of Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda must inform the Thai side accordingly. Furthermore, the area is a Khmer territory, so before the Thai people can enter they must seek a permission from the Cambodian side. Mr. Thun Saray suspected that the Thai want to use a Kathen for this pagoda as a ploy (to allow Thai people to gain entry to the area).

Cambodia: HIV-positive Man Arrested In Teen Sex


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: An HIV-positive Cambodian man was arrested after allegedly paying an underage orphan to have unprotected sex with him at a rural treatment center for the disease, police said Friday (7 Nov).

Phat Sarath, 37, was arrested Thursday (6 Nov) after his wife informed police she had walked in on her husband having sex with the 15-year-old girl, said Ngan Sary, a district police chief of Takeo province in southern Cambodia.

Phat Sarath and his wife are both HIV positive and have been receiving life-prolonging treatment at the local center, which provides care for HIV-AIDS patients and also houses orphans, he said. Takeo province is 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of capital, Phnom Penh.

The girl was an orphan who lived at the center. Phat Sarath is accused of having paid her 5,000 riel ($1.25) on three occasions in October to have sex with him, the policeman said.

"He knows that he is HIV-positive and still had sex with the girl without using a condom. His act is unforgivable," Ngan Sary said. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

Under a Cambodian law on HIV/AIDS prevention and control, the man could face 10 to 15 years in prison for having unprotected sex while knowingly infected with the HIV virus.

Sex with a minor under age 18 carries a sentence of up to 15 years, Ngan Sary said. The man has not been formally charged.

In 2006, an HIV-positive Cambodian man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for intentionally trying to infect his wife with the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)

MySinchew 2008.11.07

Germany contributes to Khmer Rouge tribunal

Submitted by Sahil Nagpal
on Fri, 11/07/2008
Phnom Penh - The German government committed 1.5 million euros (1.9 million dollars) over the next two years to provide legal assistance to victims of Cambodia's genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, officials said Friday.

The German foreign office has charged the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) with the task of allocating the funding, which will go towards the victims unit of the UN-backed court.

GTZ Cambodia branch director Jurgen Schilling and the court's administrative director Sean Visoth signed the funding agreement on Thursday.

The tribunal was established in 2006 and is being jointly run by the United Nations and the Cambodian Government.

The court is currently suffering a 40-million-dollar shortfall after the UN withheld a large amount of donor funding amid allegations of corruption in the Cambodian side of the court.

It is the first court of its kind to allow victims to fully participate in the trials, which investigate crimes that took place under the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979.

The court has received more than 2,500 complaints and civil party applications from victims of the Khmer Rogue, whose brutal agrarian policies led to the death of up to 2 million people through starvation and overwork.

Five former Khmer Rouge leaders will face trial, with the first expected to begin in January 2009. (dpa)

Mekong PMs discuss development amid global financial turmoil

Asaina prime minsters at a summit in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) — Leaders from Southeast Asia's Mekong region met in Vietnam on Friday to discuss joint development initiatives amid fears that global financial turmoil may dry up foreign aid and investment.

Prime ministers from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam sat down for a summit of the group named after the region's three major rivers, the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) forum.

Vietnam's Nguyen Tan Dung, who opened the meeting in Hanoi, said the five developing countries should strengthen their transport, trade and investment links at a time of international economic uncertainty.

"Given the recent upsets of the regional and global economy, especially the global financial turbulence, energy and food security (issues), ACMECS countries should work more closely with each other," Dung said.

Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat also stressed that the region's countries are "not immune to the recent global financial crisis and have been affected by volatile oil and food prices."

"As major commodity producers and exporters, we have witnessed both surges and slumps in commodity prices," said Somchai, who planned to discuss rice prices with Dung as leaders of the world's two top rice-exporting countries.

Cambodia's Hun Sen warned that finding sources of funding for development remained a "challenge for all of us" and called for debate among the premiers on a "creative and innovative mechanism for project financing."

Except for middle-income country Thailand, the Mekong nations remain among Asia's poorest and hope to build prosperity through closer regional transport and commercial links, both with each other and with China.

The Asian Development Bank has overseen a programme to link the region through a network of transnational highways and Mekong river bridges, to turn former conflict zones and backwaters into so-called economic corridors.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were cold war battlegrounds until the Vietnam war ended in 1975, and conflict raged on in Cambodia until the 1990s. Army-ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, remains diplomatically isolated and poor.

Thailand's Somchai, on his first Vietnam visit since taking office in September, said joint initiatives had already borne fruit and that "during the last few years, we have seen a sharp increase in trade, investment and tourism."

His foreign minister, Sompong Amornvivat, on Thursday reaffirmed that Thailand would help finance a third Mekong river bridge to Laos between the northeastern city of Nakorn Phanom and Kam Muan.

Bouasone Bouphavanh, the premier of Laos -- a landlocked country that is the region's poorest and hopes to benefit most from greater regional links -- said the grouping should speed up its integration process.

"We need to swiftly address the impediments," he said, urging his neighbours to streamline trade and investment, border inspection and customs rules.

The ACMECS group looks to boost ties in seven areas -- telecommunication, tourism, trade and investment, agriculture, industry and energy, human resource development and public health development.

Dung said the premiers planned to endorse a declaration on boosting trade, investment and tourism in border areas. The countries have also worked on a "Five Nations, One Destination" tourism initiative.

Tour operators laud Cambodia visa exemption pact

The majority of local visitors travel to the neighboring country via Moc Bai border gate in the southern province of Tay Ninh for trips to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap during four to five days, and each of them is now charged a visa fee of between US$20 and US$25.


VietNamNet Bridge – Many local tour operators have run into rapture at the news of visa exemption for holders of ordinary passports between Vietnam and Cambodia, saying the pact would be a springboard to spur travel between the two countries.

Vietnam and Cambodia on Tuesday inked an agreement to this effect during the Vietnam visit by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Travel firms in HCMC said that the number of local people to travel to Cambodia is increasing quickly, and will be further bolstered once the visa agreement takes effect.

The majority of local visitors travel to the neighboring country via Moc Bai border gate in the southern province of Tay Ninh for trips to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap during four to five days, and each of them is now charged a visa fee of between US$20 and US$25.

Ta Thi Cam Vinh, head of Ben Thanh Tourist’s outbound department, which is arranging tours for around 2,000 Vietnam travelers to Cambodia this year, showed her happiness at the new agreement.

“The number of the guests will increase if tourists can travel to the country without visa,” she said. The number of travelers to Cambodia via her company this year is expected to increase by 100%.

“We think that we will combine with some Cambodian partners to launch a promotion program for Vietnam travelers on the occasion (of visa requirement being abolished)”, Vinh said.

Many travelers have complained about the high visa requirement, saying they felt it very inconvenient to spend much time and money for this procedure to enter to the neighboring country. Once the visa requirement is dropped, they can use the money to buy a one-way car ticket from HCMC to Siem Reap.

At Peace Tour, the number of local travelers to Cambodia this year is also expected to double. The company has obtained licenses from the two countries’ transport ministries for its vehicles to travel between the two sides directly, so the new visa agreement would give Peace Tour a strong boost.

“I really want to know when visitors can travel to Cambodia without visa. It’s good condition for our business,” said the company’s director Nguyen Thi Hoa Le.

Le expected a new wave of local travelers into Cambodia upon the new rule “because they can travel to Cambodia easily like to domestic destinations like Danang and Hanoi.”

Like Peace Tour, Sapaco Tourist is also carrying same services. However, Sapaco offers tours for its travelers on Thursdays only. On other weekdays the company operates as a transport company catering to travel firms and other guests.

“My company has over 700 Vietnamese and Cambodian guests per day. I hope the guests will increase strongly,” said Pham Van Toi, director of the company.

The company runs 12 trips between HCMC and Phnom Penh per day with a one-way ticket costing over US$12, and daily trips between HCMC and Siem Riep costing US$22 a passenger.

Saigontourist Travel Service Company has also had bookings from nearly 7,500 local passengers to Cambodia in 11 months this year, up 48% year-on-year. The company has two regular trips there per week.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of the company, said if the new rule takes effect before the Lunar New Year of 2009, “our company can woo more overseas Vietnamese to travel with us to Cambodia.”

(Source: SGT)

Unesco mission to survey Preah Vihear

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and Cheang Sokha
Friday, 07 November 2008

A UNESCO delegation is set today to begin marking out the boundary of Preah Vihear temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in July and has since been at the centre of a border dispute between Cambodia, which owns the monument, and Thailand, where nationalists claim the 11th-century ruins were unfairly taken from the Thais.

Both sides have faced off over contested territory near the temple and elsewhere along the border, with troops opening fire on each other last month in a brief clash that left at least four soldiers dead.
Although the border has remained quiet since then, tensions remain high and Cambodian military officials said Thursday they would protect the Unesco team.

"We are ready to provide security for the delegation when they post markers at the temple," Brigade 12 commander Srey Doek told the Post Thursday. "Security is good and well-organised."

Meas Yoeun, deputy military commander of Preah Vihear province, said that after Unesco had demarcated the temple border, troops guarding it would be withdrawn to another site.

"We will remove [the troops], but we are waiting orders from higher levels," he said.

He added that both Cambodian and Thai soldiers at the front line are considering declaring the demarcated area a protected zone after the departure of the Unesco team.

Yim Phim, commander of Brigade 43, said the situation was quiet at the front line ahead of Unesco's arrival.

"We are guarding the border 24 hours a day," he said. "It is our duty to protect our territory."

Annual rice production targets to be reached

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Friday, 07 November 2008

CAMBODIA looks set to achieve its rice production goal of seven million tonnes by year's end, government officials told the Post Thursday.

"This year is much better than previous years," said Nhim Vanda, first deputy president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

"We have not had any serious natural disasters like in previous years."

He said despite two months of drought in July and August, the country had received plenty of rain earlier in the year and throughout the rice-planting seasons.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries this year projected rice production would hit seven million tonnes nationwide, a slight increase from the 6.7 million tonnes reported last year.

Chan Tong Yves, a secretary of state at the ministry, said production this year was in line with predictions.

"It may slightly increase over last year's yield," he said, attributing the rise to an increase in land devoted to rice planting.

"By mid-October this year, we had planted rice on 2,241,110 hectares."

Cambodian public in the dark on development goals

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Farmers plow their fields in rural Cambodia. Poverty rates in Cambodia remain high, despite international commitments under the Millennium Development Goals, which would see better services for the country's impoverished.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 07 November 2008

A survey found that 59 percent of the public is unaware of the country's UN-backed Millennium Development Goals to fight poverty

ASURVEY released on Thursday by the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) found that many Cambodians could not accurately define Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals (CMDG), and that the majority had never heard of them.

"The study found that the awareness about the CMDG at the local level was remarkably low, as most respondents were either not aware of them or had only a limited understanding," the survey said.

"Fifty-nine percent of respondents had never heard of them."

The survey also found that "only two percent of respondents could correctly explain the CMDG and their purpose". While awareness was low, almost all participants in the survey agreed that the program was important in guiding the development of the country, and that the media played an important role in spreading awareness about it.

EIC President Sok Hach told the Post the three-month study involved 317 people (30 percent of them women) comprising commune council officials, educators, health officials and monks from Phnom Penh and from Kandal, Kampong Cham and Battambang provinces.

Chea Chantum, director of the Planning Ministry's Social Planning Department, accepted the survey's findings but said there were problems in the study's methodology.

"The sample size was relatively small and could not fully represent a given province or the whole country, though the results seem to indicate they do represent the whole province or country," he said.

The EIC's Sok Hach acknowledged the sample size was small but said "our financial resources are limited, so we cannot conduct [studies] as big as those of the Ministry of Planning".

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said Thursday the groups selected for the survey were not the most appropriate targets.

"The survey of the CMDG must be conducted among parliamentarians and government officials, as well as provincial governors, because these groups are the ... doers to achieve the goals, not grassroots people," Son Chhay said.

He added that awareness of the millennium goals remain low among parliamentarians.

"According to my estimates, about 10 to 15 percent of parliamentarians have clear knowledge of the CMDG, and most ministries are not even interested in [them]," he said.

The UN's Millennium Development Goals are a list of eight international development goals agreed to in 2000 by 183 UN member nations that aim to address issues of poverty, health care, environmental sustainability, gender equality and the establishment of a global partnership for development by 2015.

The band marches on


The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 07 November 2008

A young Cambodian performer stands in line with other members of her marching band during a rehearsal for the upcoming Independence Day celebrations on Phnom Penh's Sothearos Boulevard in front of the Royal Palace.

Hydropower dams set to slash Pursat power costs: officials

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara and Eleanor Ainge Roy
Friday, 07 November 2008

As electricity prices tick over $0.50 per kWh, provincial authorities say four new dams will help alleviate Pursat's energy shortages

OFFICIALS in Pursat say planned hydropower dams will help alleviate the province's severe power shortages, but some are sceptical that local requirements justify the construction of such large-scale infrastructure.

Power shortages have seen electricity costs spiral upwards in the second half of 2008, with local residents saying they now pay as much as $0.56 per kilowatt-hour for electricity - among the most expensive power in the country.

Four hydropower dams were approved by the government in May, which officials say will provide up to 700mw of electricity. The first of the dams is expected to be online by 2010.

Spiralling costs

Yim Nareth, director of the Pursat Electricity Department, said power prices have risen because electricity in the province is generated privately.

"We buy electricity from the Pursat Power Supply Company at $0.33 per kilowatt-hour and we sell to the user at $0.46 per kilowatt-hour," she said. "We have been forced to buy from a private company because the government has not supplied the revenue necessary to develop our own systems."

She said that after failing to make a profit in three years of operation, the company threatened to withdraw from Pursat in early 2008, forcing the Ministry of Industry, Mines & Energy to let the company raise the price of power, which has led to an increase of $0.10 per kilowatt-hour since July.

"When the four dams begin operation in 2010, the private companies will move elsewhere and the price of electricity will decrease," she added.

Yim Nareth said Pursat's daily electricity demand is two mega-watts.

Pursat resident Ngean Leankkong said he is dissatisfied at the current state of the electricity supply in Pursat and awaiting the construction of the dams.

"The authorities have said the price has risen three times this year because of high petrol prices," he said. "But the petrol price has dropped now, so why hasn't the cost of electricity?"

Yim Nareth agreed the price of electricity was dependent on petrol prices, but would not comment on why prices have not dropped in line with the cost of fuel.

However, Tun Leang, deputy director general of the Department of Energy Development, said the construction of hydropower dams would not necessarily guarantee a drop in prices. "This is not something I can predict," he said.

Ngy Say, deputy executive director of NGO Forum, is also sceptical that prices will drop, and questioned the argument that the dams are being constructed to alleviate power shortages.

"These dams are not the saviours they are being promoted as," he said. "We are suspicious that the electricity created by these dams will be exported to neighbouring countries."

He added that there were many concerns about the potential impact the dams will have on local fisheries.

"The electricity demand in Cambodia does not warrant these constructions.... When we have to buy fish because the rivers are bare, how can that be seen as success?"

Concerns over Koh Kong hydropower development

Residents of Koh Kong province are likely to be affected by a new hydropower dam on the Steung Pongrul river.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Sebastian Strangio
Friday, 07 November 2008

Environmentalists fear the 18mw Kirirom III hydropower dam could wreak havoc on communities in the project area

AHYDROPOWER dam planned for the Steung Pongrul river in Koh Kong province will affect more than 5,000 people in the proposed project area, according to local residents and environmentalists, who say nearby communities remain in the dark about the project and its likely impacts.

According to a new report published by the Rivers Coalition in Cambodia and the American Friends Service Committee, the 18-megawatt Kirirom III dam will trigger deterioration in water quality, soil erosion, flooding and the loss of land in the project zone.

The Before the Dam report states that the dam will cause "the deterioration of the local environment systems that currently supply a range of natural resources to the local community", leading to a "decline in the local quality of life".

"Dams are the very antithesis of development for the poor ... placing the livelihood of people who depend on rivers at the disposal of those who have the power to exploit them," said environmental scientist Wayne McCallum, the author of the report, at a news conference Thursday.

Moeng Mean, a community representative from Sre Ambel district, said that between 500 and 700 hectares of community forest would be flooded by the dam, calling on the government to provide compensation.

"People in the area will face flooding in the rainy season and drought in the dry," he said. "The villagers do not reject the government's development projects, but they should provide proper solutions or compensation to farmers."

Among its recommendations, the report also calls for a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) involving local communities, and assurances of a "regular and transparent process of information exchange with the parties affected by the construction".

Small dam, small impacts?

Um Serey Vuth, research team leader at SAWAC, the technical consultancy handling the dam's EIA, said it had completed a full report on the project and was preparing to send the documents to the Ministry of Environment for review.

"As I see it, this project will have a small impact; it will affect a small area of community forest and a small number of households," he said.

But McCallum said that even though Kirirom III is small compared with other developments in the region, it could have adverse consequences.

"It's a comparatively smaller project, but it's going to have a big impact on the community in the area," he said. "The thing about dams is that a very little one can have as big an impact as one that is a lot bigger.

"Although dams create many problems, McCallum added that there was still time to mitigate the adverse consequences of the Kirirom III project.

"There is an opportunity with this particular project to manage things in a way where that doesn't happen, where the local community and Cambodia can both be winners," he said.

Dragnets defended by govt

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda and Eleanor Ainge Roy
Friday, 07 November 2008

Officials deny street people are being detained unlawfully

THE government has denied that it is keeping people unlawfully detained in two "rehabilitation centres" outside the city, saying that scores of people recently cleared from the streets have voluntarily entered re-education programs offered by authorities.

The centres at Prey Speu and Koh Kor have been filled under a "volunteer policy" by beggars and other people living on the capital's streets, said Say Siphonn, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The government was responding Wednesday to letters sent by the rights group Licadho in June and October demanding the centres be closed.

Other rights groups and the United Nations and have also questioned the government's ongoing dragnet against street people.

According to Licadho, "men, women and children have been unlawfully detained" in the centres, with 40 homeless people arrested earlier in the week in a pre-Water Festival crackdown that officials said was meant to beautify the city.

"This crude attempt to clean up the streets by rounding up poor people ... is completely unlawful. No one can be arrested or detained unless they are caught in the act of committing a crime, in which case they should be sent to court," Licadho director Naly Pilorge told the Post.

"In the past, people arrested in such round-ups have been detained in so-called social affairs centres where extremely serious abuses, including beatings and rapes, have occurred. These centres serve no humanitarian purpose. They exist merely to detain people unlawfully," she added.

Chea Sorn, former municipal director of social affairs with jurisdiction over the Prey Speu rehabilitation facility, has been transferred.But Say Siphonn said the move was not related to the recent criticism of the centres in the media.

Opposition hails America's 'choice of change' with Obama

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 07 November 2008

A statement from the SRP congratulates US president-elect Barack Obama, while party officials regret a lack of change at home

THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party on Thursday issued a statement of congratulations to United States President-elect Barack Obama, who defeated John McCain in national polls on Tuesday.

The message was signed by the party's 26 parliamentarians and stated that Obama's victory represented a triumph for democratic values.

"We, the members of Parliament of the Sam Rainsy Party, the leading opposition party in Cambodia, sincerely congratulate you and all Americans living in the United States and abroad for making the choice for change," the statement said.

"Obama's call for change was heard by millions of Americans, and the SRP is confident that actions will be taken in the months ahead to ensure that the message of hope ... will be realised," the statement said.

The statement also expressed solidarity in the cause of promoting human rights.

"Your election in America resonates deeply with the Cambodian people. America leads the world in the promotion of civil liberties, and Cambodia is its partner in this mission," it said.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said Thursday Obama was no ordinary politician and could be relied upon to understand the challenges facing Cambodia.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said Thursday that America made history with the election of the country's first black president in an election that saw voters choose change according to their needs.

But he regretted the same was not possible for Cambodia.

"It is unfortunate that the Cambodian people have not been able to vote for the changes they need," he said.

But Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap responded Thursday that the country has no need of a change in leadership.

"It is normal for us to have the same leader, because the Cambodian people love their leader. Why would we change?" he said.

A record 4m visitors set to arrive in capital for Om Tuk

A man cycles along the riverside with his guitar on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Friday, 07 November 2008

Officials say they are bracing themselves for a deluge of people, aiming for visitors to watch races from Chruoy Changvar

ARECORD four million people from provinces are expected to come to Phnom Penh for the Water Festival this year, officials say, making it the largest celebration ever.

"Even though we do not have much space on the riverbank at the Phnom Penh side, there will be about four million participants in the Water Festival this year," said Tin Prasoeur, Phnom Penh's traffic police chief.

Due to ongoing repairs of the riverbank at the Phnom Penh side of the river, spectators are invited to watch the boat racing from the Chruoy Changvar side, and the Phnom Penh Municipality has prepared ferries to transport spectators who would like to watch the races from Chruoy Changvar.

Chea Kean, deputy director of National and International Festival Committee, also expects more people to participate in the Water Festival in Phnom Penh this year compared with last year. He said in 2007, about two million people came to the city for the festival from different provinces throughout Cambodia.

"I expect there to be more people this year because we have many festivals simultaneously - Independence Day and the Water Festival," he said.

Four hundred and twenty four boats will be taking part in the races during the Water Festival, but this year there will be no foreign boats competing, Chea Kean said.

Kim Sophal, 73, arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday from Ampil village, in Kampong Cham's Krouch Chmar district. She said she had come to the capital to watch the Water Festival and to visit her children who are living in the city.

"This year, I will watch boat racing from my children's house because now I am too old to go to watch at the riverside," she said.

Blackouts plague flood zone

A Russey Keo resident climbs into a boat to get to work. The area has been plagued by severe flooding since September.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Friday, 07 November 2008

Residents of Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district have been under water since September, and now daily power cuts are proving the last straw for many

PHNOM Penh's Russey Keo district has been severely flooded since September and is now stricken with daily blackouts that are causing traffic chaos on the capital's major ring road and driving beleaguered local residents to despair.

Some 500 families living in the flood-plagued area have lodged a formal complaint to local authorities saying they are unfairly penalised by the capital's rolling blackouts.

Pich Pin, 67, a villager from Lou village, in the district's Svay Pak commune, said electricity in his village is cut off each day for two hours starting at 5:30pm.

But the peak-time electricity cuts in Russey Keo are upsetting more than local residents - the capital's major ring road runs through the area and power cuts mean traffic lights are out of operation, causing the roads to become nearly unmanageable.

"Electricity shortages in Phnom Penh are causing major traffic jams," Tin Prasoeur, chief of the Phnom Penh traffic police, told the Post on Thursday.

"We get a very bad headache when lamp posts and traffic lights on the major roads in this city are cut off as a result of no electricity," he said.

An Electricite du Cambodge official, who declined to be named, told the Post Thursday that the current capacity for power production in Phnom Penh is 190 megawatts, while demand is running at around 230 megawatts.

The power company manages this problem by cutting off the electricity in some areas on the outskirts of the city for one or two hours a day, he said.

" I worry about snakes, centipedes and black scorpions stinging me. "

"We cannot cut off the electricity in the centre of Phnom Penh because it is central to the economy of Cambodia," he said.

"In the first quarter of 2009 we anticipate an end to the electricity shortage because we have ordered from Vietnam about 200 megawatts of power," he added.

Life goes on

But in the interim, the lives of those in the blocks slated for blackouts - such as the Russey Keo area - are miserable.

"I'm worried about snakes, centipedes and black scorpions stinging me when I ride in an inner tube home from school," said Ngin Rathana, 19, a student at the Chea Sim Cham Reoun Rath High School in Russey Keo district, which closed two months ago due to the severity of flooding.

"But now we decided to stay home until the floodwaters fall because there is no electricity in the evening," Ngin Rathana said.

Some villagers, such as Seng Rithy, 35, from Boeng Chhouk village, in Kilometre No 6 commune, believe local authorities have conspired with power company officials to cut off the electricity as a warning to people in the area not to criticise the city's development plan.

The filling-in of nearby holding ponds for building projects has been blamed for causing the floods.

"I think that they cut off the electricity in our area ... because they want to punish us for complaining about the development plans that have, we believe, caused the flooding," Seng Rithy said.

Mom, son murdered in revenge attack: cops

The Bangkok Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 07 November 2008

A WOMAN and her three-year-old son were killed Tuesday in what police say is possibly a revenge killing involving the wife of a commune official.

Sou Veasna, 32, and her child, Sak Ronan, were found dead in Dangkor district's Kakab commune, commune police chief Born Sam Ath told the Post.

Both has been slashed with a knife, police said.

The dead woman's older brother, 49-year-old Kum Sok, was also severely wounded in the attack and may not survive, Born Sam Ath said, adding that the victim was suffering from severe head wounds.

"According to my investigation of the scene, the murdered woman is the second wife of a Kandal provincial commune chief, so maybe his wife is involved in the attack," Born Sam Ath said.

"It was a very brutal murder. The murderers even killed a boy," he added.

Born Sam Ath said district police were cooperating with provincial authorities to investigate the killings.

"We are now actively cooperating in the investigation for the murderers, although they may have escaped to other provinces," he said.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor with the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, told the Post on Wednesday that his organisation was monitoring the investigation.

"We will keep an eyes on the police action," he said.

"It is very shocking news that offenders have not only killed a mother, but a boy," Chan Soveth added.

Chan Soveth said since the attack was not politically motivated, he was not actively involved in the probe.

Finishing touch

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Friday, 07 November 2008

A boy adds a fresh coat of paint to the riverside railing in front of the Royal Palace on Thursday as the capital prepares for next week's Water Festival.

The opening ceremony of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS)

(lefrt-right) Prime Ministers Thein Sein from Myanmar, Samchai Wongsawat from Thailand, Nguyen Tan Dung from Vietnam, Hun Sen from Cambodia and Bouasone Bouphavanh from Laos at a summit summit in Hanoi(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening ceremony of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) summit in Hanoi November 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat speaks at the opening ceremony of the ACMECS summit in Hanoi November 7, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

ACMECS Prime Ministers (L to R) Thein Sein of Myanmar, Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Hun Sen of Cambodia and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos attend the opening ceremony of the ACMECS summit in Hanoi November 7, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

ACMECS summit starts in Vietnam

HANOI, Nov 7 (TNA) - Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on Friday participated in the official opening of the third Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) summit, held in the Vietnamese capital.

The summit is being attended by the five greater Mekong sub-region member countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

Thailand plans to propose the issue of capability in food production and agriculture and to grant 100 scholarships to country members for further studies in the kingdom.

Mr. Somchai said he believed that cooperation among the country members will bring about achievement of agreement and benefits to all.

Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said that at the ACMECS meeting will adopt a declaration on the facilitation and promotion of trade, investment and tourism. Thailand and Vietnam will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding to develop vocational training between the two countries, he said.

In addition, Thailand will push for transportation links, development of tourism, human resources, and cooperation in public health activities, he added.

Under the ACMECS cooperation framework, the private sector will participate in trade and investment and "One Stop Service" centers will be set up to facilitate border trade.

During unofficial talks between the leaders of the five countries on Thursday, they discussed their potential to be the producers of over half of the world's total rice production. Such cooperation could lead to cooperatively pricing rice and sharing technology to increase productivity. (TNA)

Cambodia Water Festival 2008


Phnom Penh, a capital city of Cambodia, is now ready to host the upcoming water festival, which bring a brilliant of colorful boat racers to the audiences and visualize the bravery of Angkorian Navy in water battle field during the great Khmer Empire. This festival will offer a great significance of its attractiveness particularly to the domestic tourists.

The Water Festival or 'Bun Om Tuk' in Khmer is a mega-event of the year which will be annually celebrated in Phnom Penh. This festival is celebrated at the end of the rainy season, the start of fishing season and when the changing of direction of the Tonle Sap's flowing- a unique natural phenomenon- and it coincides with the full moon, traditionally bountiful harvest of agriculture.

The Water Festival represents the powerful of the Navy of the King Jayavaraman VII that could defeat over the Cham invasion. The Festival not also remind the powerful of Navy of the great Angkorian Empire but also to religiously make the god of the river happy so as that he will provide more fish and the rice crop will be plentiful. So what will happen in Phnom Penh during the Water festival?

The upcoming mega-event will be held from 11 to 13 November in Phnom Penh. The selected boat racers from provincial town will meet each other to celebrate a three-day boat competition which composes of 395 registered boats. The festival provides a unique landscape of the year. Thousands of spectators move to capital city and make Phnom Penh a carnival atmosphere. With the carnival atmosphere, many business companies take this golden opportunity to hit the sale target and make a mass marketing campaign. ( )

During this occasion, a wide variety of creational activities is taken place in line along the river side such as a muti-product exhibition, hundred of food stands with DJ live show, live concert, and night of firework-sparking the sky to light up- game of chance, decorated light boat and other initiative entertainment activities which make the festival marvelous.

By CHHEM Samnang

Korean commits suicide after gambling away fortune in Cambodia

Monsters and Critics

Asia-Pacific News
Nov 7, 2008

Phnom Penh - A South Korean man committed suicide in a Cambodian hotel after gambling away his fortune in the country's casinos, media reports said Friday.

Police found Chae Geong Seok's body hanging in his Phnom Penh hotel room Thursday with a suicide note explaining to his family that his fortune was gone, The Phnom Penh Post said.

The man's body was taken to the city's Calmette Hospital to be collected by his family.

Mr. Ky Tech Recognizes that there Is Corruption in the Courts, while the Minister of Justice Tells Judges to Control Clerks Well - Wednesday, 5.11.200

Posted on 7 November 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 585

“Recently, the former president of the Bar Association, Mr. Ky Tech, stated that those who prepare documents and have important roles in court processes are the root of different problems that frequently bring criticism for the courts in the country.

“Mr. Ky Tech said during an interview with journalists, ‘They make courts corrupt.’ The former president of the Bar Association added that they informally communicate with each other and make decisions on different cases unjustly. People involved in court cases pay money to those who prepare the documents to send their names to court officials who then make decisions supporting those people. Mr. Ky Tech continued that they prepare the documents for different cases, instead of letting lawyers do this. The law states that no one can work on a court case except a lawyer. However, it is known that those who prepare the documents take bribes for themselves. If lawyers take money, they will offer receipts. If they cheat, it is not difficult to find them.

In addition to Mr. Ky Tech, also the director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, recognized that there is corruption in the courts. It should be noted that at present at the courts, in addition to those who prepare documents who stand on different sides, also defense lawyers prepare documents. A certain lawyer had been sued by a victim – who had hired him to solve a case – at the Ministry of Interior, because he did not solve the case after receiving his payment. A certain other lawyer appeared to help a victim where more than US$100,000 were handed over, and also armed persons were involved in 2008.

Regarding the corruption accusations by the former president of the Bar Association and by the director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Judge Chiv Keng absolutely rejected this, saying, ‘There is no longer such corruption’ (Sic!). Not differently, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana, the Minister of Justice with the Ministry as an institution having authority to revoke and assign judges and prosecutors, requested evidence about any case to be reported to him for investigation. Nevertheless, no one dares to sue, related to corruption of bribe taking to finish cases in courts, because there is no law to protect them. It should be noted that besides corruption committed by those who prepare documents, there are also irregular cases where judges of different primary courts allow their clerks to find money for them through procedures which are against the law, it appears that clerks question accused and plaintiffs without the presence of judges. Regarding certain procedures which are against legal procedures, taken by judges and clerks, the fourth term Minister of Justice of the Royal Government said that judges must control their clerks well. However, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana said to reduce mistakes by judges, that judges and clerks are not wrong, if judges are absent between 10 to 15 minutes, when busy with other duties (Sic!). But if judges do not attend the hearings, it is wrong that clerks ask questions alone. It should be noted that clerks are court official appointed by the Ministry of Justice.

“Mr. Tep Darong, the president of the Royal Academy of Judicial Profession [source: 'H.E Sok An Met with Guests" - Update : 07-10-08], said that recently, a special training course for clerks at the Royal Academy of Judicial Profession has just finished a six-month clerk training course for 81 students, and each of them was sworn in to take up their positions. He said they swore that they will do their work rightly, keep confidentiality, and do everything to maintain discipline. Mr. Tep Darong added that this 2-year-old special training courses have already trained 500 clerks from all over the country, who never before had received such training. Therefore, it is essential to train them about how to take notes and how to assist judges. Judges can not work alone.

Lawyer Ny Chandy, who administers the Model Court Program at Legal Aid of Cambodia, said that training is welcome, but corruption will always happen, as long as salaries are still small. On the other hand, some people from the legal profession stated that the increase of salaries for court officials is not the only way to help eliminate corruption. Other ways include a reform of the council, and holding hearings to select judges, while not allowing any member of this institution to be a member of any political party, or to be a judge in a firm, as a condition to be allowed to participate in such hearings for positions. If a football player would also function as a referee, it would not be just. Another critical problem is that there must be an anti-corruption law as a basis for reference. It should be noted that the second step of the Rectangular Strategy of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen stressed that different reforms are necessary, in view of good governance, but how the implementation would work, would have to wait to be seen in the next five years.”

Meatophum, Vol.52, #710, 5-8.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Defence lawyers urge Sok An to hand over KRT corruption info

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 07 November 2008

Defence lawyers for Nuon Chea say graft claims could threaten their client's right to a fair trial, with credibility of the court at stake

LAWYERS for former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea have written a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An demanding the disclosure of any communication between the government and the United Nations regarding corruption at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Post Thursday, is the second by the defendant's legal team, who claim that graft allegations could threaten their client's right to a fair trial. The first was sent in September to ECCC administration director Sean Visoth and United Nations coordinator Knut Rosandhaug, who both replied that they were unable to provide the requested information.

"Given the stated positions of the United Nations and the Cambodian side of the ECCC, it is left for us to seek assistance from your office," co-lawyers Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe wrote.

"We hereby request from the [government] disclosure of (i) any communications and/or reports from the United Nations relating to issues of corruption at the ECCC and (ii) any further details of allegations of corruption at the ECCC in your possession, including the positions and/or departments of the alleged malefactors."

The letter cited the UN's response, which claimed it would not oppose disclosure of the requested material "should the Royal Government of Cambodia agree to disclose such communications" as the basis of their request. Cambodian lawyer Son Arun's signature was absent from the letter.

Still no news

Allegations that Cambodian staff were kicking back a portion of their salary to their bosses were reviewed by a UN oversight body in New York in July. Since this time, no court officials have commented on the results, despite the UN claiming that they had finished the review and a government statement in September saying that they had seen it.

An August circular by Sok An indicated future graft complaints will remain confidential until reviewed by a government-led task force.

The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy

ASEAN Deputy General Secretary Soeung Rathchavy (R) poses for a photo with CLMV Prime Ministers Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, Thein Sein of Myanmar, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam and Hun Sen of Cambodia (L-R) before the CLMV summit in Hanoi November 6, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

ACMECS Foreign Ministers and delegates attend a ACMECS Ministerial meeting in Hanoi November 6, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the forth summit of the Cambodia - Laos - Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being be held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem attends a ACMECS Ministerial meeting in Hanoi November 6, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the forth summit of the Cambodia - Laos - Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (L) of Laos listen during the CLMV summit in Hanoi November 6, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Prime Minister Thein Sein (L) and Foreign Minister U Nyan Win of Myanmar listen during the CLMV summit in Hanoi November 6, 2008. The third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) are being held in Hanoi from November 4 to 7, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambofest set near Angkor Wat

December film fest to screen 50 films under the stars

By Joel Gershon
Nov 6, 2008

BANGKOK -- The second annual Cambofest, Cambodia's first internationally recognized film festival, will open under the stars on Dec. 26 in outdoor venues near the famed ancient Khmer temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

The three-day festival will show 50 films from around the world including independent features, documentaries, shorts, animation and films dealing with social issues, organizers said Thursday.

Festival director Jason Rosette said the event would be "extremely grass-roots and lo-fi" because of limited funding. He did not specify the size of the budget, some of which was provided by the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Rosette said that because there are no movie theaters in Siem Reap, venues would include outdoor open spaces.

The Golden Buffalo awards will be given out at the end of the festival on Dec. 28.

Chorn-Pond recounts genocide survival, plays flute

Donald M. Hoegg
Assistant Online Editor

The Etownian Online
Thursday November 06 2008

Thursday November 06 2008 Internationally-renowned peace activist and Cambodia native Arn Chorn-Pond returned to Elizabethtown Wednesday to address an audience of over 500 in Leffler Chapel. Chorn-Pond, of the critically-acclaimed documentary “The Flute Player,” is best known for his humanitarian work in Cambodia.

Before the Communist Khmer Rouge overthrew the Cambodian government in 1975, Chorn-Pond lived with his large family in the city of Battambang. Although the family was poor, the children were able to live a marginally normal life, blissfully unaware of the horrors of war.

“I knew there was a war going on, but I didn’t care. I was just a little kid,” Chorn-Pond recalled. “I remember seeing a movie about the World War II, and I thought it was cool.”

That would all change, however, once the Khmer Rouge took power. Soldiers forced the family from their home, and eventually put Chorn-Pond in a work camp with hundreds of other children, aged six to 14. They were forced to work 20 hours per day and suffered through beatings, disease and starvation. Chorn-Pond pointed out that, from a group of 500 prisoners, only 50 survived.

Coming from a long line of musicians and performers, Chorn-Pond survived the 1975 Khmer Rouge genocide by playing the Communists’ propaganda music. Of the five musicians chosen by the guards, three were killed after a week.

In addition to playing for officers, soldiers forced him to aid with the executions of his countrymen.

“Doctors, teachers, anyone connected to the west … they killed them,” Chorn-Pond said. “I thought I was going to be killed because of my light skin.”

As the genocide continued, Chorn-Pond was charged with disrobing the corpses before moving them to mass graves. For those still clinging to life, soldiers forced him to use a small axe to kill them with a blow to the back of the head. Had he shown any emotion, he would have suffered the same fate.

“I knew it was the wrong thing to do,” Chorn-Pond said, “but it was life or death.”

When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1975, the Khmer Rouge forced Chorn-Pond and thousands of other children into service on the front lines. Fighting the Vietnamese (who were hardened by a decade of combat with American forces) meant almost certain death. Though Chorn-Pond survived, many of his comrades were not as fortunate.

“The worst feeling is holding your friend as he dies,” he said with a faltering voice. “There’s not much you can do.”

Weakened by malaria and years of malnutrition, he fled into the jungle to escape death on the battlefield.

“I went crazy,” Chorn-Pond said, referring to the weeks he spent walking through the jungle. “All I could hear was my family’s screams … I just kept walking.”

Eventually, he reached a refugee camp in Thailand, where he met his American father, Peter Pond. He returned with Pond to New Hampshire, along with two other Cambodian boys. Chorn-Pond struggled to adapt to American culture, and explained that he acted out against his American parents out of frustration and emotional anguish.

However, Chorn-Pond was able to find his calling in helping others. He returned to Cambodia to help troubled youths by teaching them to play traditional Cambodian music, which was all but forgotten after years of war and genocide. He urges students to learn about the injustices of the past so that they are not repeated. He has dedicated his life to helping Cambodian children escape the lifestyle he suffered.

“The money I got today I use tomorrow to help 100 kids for a month … girls who would have to prostitute themselves,” Chorn-Pond said.

He concluded his presentation by playing his flute for the audience to resounding applause.

ASEAN nations remove aviation restrictions

ASEAN groups Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
World Bulletin
Thursday, 06 November

Southeast Asian countries signed agreements on Thursday that will remove restrictions on air and air freight services and allow regional airlines to fly to any of the capitals of member countries by 2010, the Philippines said.

The multilateral agreements on air services and the full liberalisation of air freight services are part of plans drawn up by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to foster economic cooperation and growth.

Under the agreements, unlimited fifth freedom rights, allowing member countries the right to fly to each other's capital cities, will be in place by 2010. By 2015, all of ASEAN will be a unified aviation market, a statement said.

"Air transport is a vital component of the proposed ASEAN economic integration because it would allow exchange of people, it would facilitate trade and cultural exchange," said Porvenir Porciuncula, deputy director of Manila's Civil Aeronautics Board.

ASEAN groups Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.


Next week's Thai-Cambodian talks to improve border situation

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Nov 6 (TNA) - The situation at the disputed border areas between Thailand and Cambodia, especially in the vicinity of the ancient Preah Vihear temple, has remained calm some three weeks after an armed clash near the temple, a senior Thai army officer said Thursday.

Lt-Gen. Wiboonsak Neephan, commander of the Second Army Region responsible for security affairs along the northeastern border, said the military of both countries posted near the ancient temple seemed to understand each other better than before and they were trying to avoid confrontation.

His remarks were made as negotiators of the two neighbouring countries planned to hold a two-day meeting, starting Monday (November 10), at the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) level for the first time to resolve border conflict, in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat will confer with his Cambodian counterpart on Wednesday, also in Siem Reap, while committee members from the two countries will discuss troop reductions and the removal of landmines along the border.

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

The border conflict is caused as 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.

Meanwhile at the disputed Ta Muen Thom temple ruins, which Thailand claims sits in the border province of Surin, Lt. Gen. Wiboonsak said Thai soldiers are now posted inside the temple while Cambodian soldiers have withdrawn. Ta Muen Thom is now open to tourists, including Cambodians, he added. (TNA)

Global Challenges | Businesses in Cambodia Should Address Unsafe Practices in Commercial Sex Industry, AIDS Authority Says
Nov 06, 2008

As Cambodia's commercial sex industry increasingly moves away from brothels and into businesses such as karaoke bars and beer gardens, the country's National AIDS Authority is calling on private businesses to address unsafe sex practices in the industry, the Phnom Penh Post reports. According to NAA Secretary-General Teng Kunthy, a focus should be placed on ensuring that private businesses provide sex education and are more integrated into health services. "We think that the change of behaviors is a new challenge, as high-risk behaviors become associated with beer promotion and mobile work," Kunthy said, adding, "As a result, we need to make connections with the private sector."

According to a recent report from NAA, although Cambodia in 2002 adopted HIV/AIDS-related legislation, "enforcement and implementation in workplaces and the private sector is weak." It added, "This is especially important to gain access to businesses where there is a high reluctance to implement HIV prevention measures."

In particular, the construction industry in Cambodia poses an issue, according to NAA. The industry primarily is based on small companies that hire male workers who are mobile and work on short-term construction projects, making it difficult to ensure that the industry is providing workers with appropriate HIV/AIDS information -- including the risks of engaging in sex with commercial sex workers (Sokheng, Phnom Penh Post, 11/5).

4th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit closes in Hanoi

People's Daily Online
November 06, 2008

The 4th Summit of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) closed in Hanoi on Thursday after issuing a joint statement.

According to the joint statement, the four countries will work together to facilitate trade and investment, and further strengthen cooperation on transport, agriculture, industry and energy, tourism and human resources development.

"CLMV will strengthen close coordination in trade and investment promotion through organizing trade fairs in member countries to increase trade and investment flow within the four countries," said the statement.

The four countries will facilitate investment by the CLMV investors in terms of licensing, labor procedures and others in areas including agro-industries, industrial crop processing, mineral industries, hydropower, infrastructure development, logistics and services, the statement said.

Leaders attending the summit have agreed in the statement to encourage development of air linkages among major cities, cultural and natural heritage sites in the four countries to expand trade, investment and tourism flows.

The statement reaffirmed that efforts of the CLMV countries were the decisive factor in their respective development and integration. It also said support and assistance from the international community are highly appreciated.

It called on members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and concerned development partners to substantiate their assistance to complement the resources in CLMV for development and integration.

The one-day summit is attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Myanmar Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and representative from the ASEAN Secretariat.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese Warship Makes Friendly Port of Call

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2008

The Chinese warship Zhenghe docked in Sihanoukville Wednesday and will stay five days as part of a goodwill visit, a Chinese official said.

Members of the Zhenghe’s crew of 400 will meet Cambodian officials and play football with members of the Cambodian navy, said Man Zhong He, military attache at the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The visit “is to improve the relationship between the Cambodian and Chinese navies,” he said.
Cambodian naval officials were not available for comment.

Sihanoukville has been host to a number of international naval visits in recent years. In October ships from both the French and American navies made ports of call.

Cambodia has been receiving direct military aid from the US since 2007, while China annually contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in mostly unconditional aid to the country.

‘Clean’ Businesses Seek To Beat Corruption

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 05 November 2008 (1.56 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 05 November 2008 (1.56 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Facing ongoing corruption that is hurting their livelihoods, around 40 companies have joined together in a “clean business” endeavor.

The initiative, which officially began in September, seeks to join companies together to promote transparency in business dealings and avoid informal taxes or fraudulent prices, said Ka Ki, director of Morison Kak and Associates, a member of the initiative.

“We must strengthen the implementation of the law, because we do not have a culture that respects the law appropriately,” he said.

“Clean” businesses will avoid paying exploitive charges, undertaking corrupt practices, or selling fraudulent products.

In Channy, president of Acleda Bank, another member of the initiative, said he believed the initiative will lead to increased transparency and cooperation in commerce.

“Clean business will improve confidence and help encourage trust” of customers and the public, he said.

The initiative was even more important as Cambodia moves toward a 2009 stock market.

Cambodia loses an estimated $500 million a year in state income to corruption, and companies routinely cite corruption as a major impediment to creating competitive businesses.

At the announcement of the initiative in September, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh acknowledged Cambodia’s need to attract foreign investors and strengthen the rule of law.

Mong Reththy, who Mong Reththey Group has not joined the initiative, said he supports it but would wait to see if it would succeed.

Local Banks Boosting Their Deposit Rates

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2008

Cambodia's large commercial banks have begun competing with each other by raising deposit rates, with the annual rate at several banks rising to 8 percent in November, a record high.

Experts say the annual deposit rate was as low as 5 percent prior to the global financial crisis, which saw a tightening of credit among lenders in the wake of a sub-prime mortgage collapse in the US.

Facing limited capital from outside lenders, commercial banks are seeking to bring in more local capital, experts say.

"To avoid the financial crisis, we have to increase our local deposits," said Phan Soneary, vice president and executive director of Acleda Bank. "Not only can [the capital from deposits] support loans, but also other missions of the bank."

Foreign lenders have restricted their loans, while the number of new depositors has fallen, she said. Acleda recently raised its annual deposit rate 1 percent, to 7.5 percent.

Meanwhile, banks such as ANZ Royal, Cambodia Public and Canadia have also increased their deposit rates, to 8 percent annually.

It is not uncommon for banks to adjust their rates up or down, said Pal Nay Im, general director of the National Bank, but currently banks have to make themselves stronger.

The deposit rates are climbing, but annual interest rates on loans remain between 12 percent and 15 percent.

The increase of local deposit rates is the only way to help banks extend their capital when foreign partners are reluctant to provide loans, said Chheang Meng Heak, banking and finance expert at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

"Foreign lenders aren't offering any loans now, because they are worried about lacking their own cash," he said. "They do that just because they are concerned that their financial system could face a crisis."

However, Oung Ming Tech, deputy director-general of Cambodia Public, said his bank was not facing a financial problem, because it depends wholly on its parent bank in Malaysia. Cambodia Public had increased its deposit rate to maintain local customers, he said.

"You have to look at market demand. It is a very competitive market," he said. "We have increased the rate so that we can get more money deposits. If not, we will lose our customers."

Nearly 640,000 Cambodians deposited money in local banks in the first six months of 2008, an increase of 12 percent over the same period the year before, according to the National Bank.

However, the continuing worldwide financial crunch will likely reduce the number of depositors, said economist Kaong Chandararoth, head of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study.

Banks who cannot compete with the rising deposit rates will be forced to close, he said.

Jeremy Ha, director of Phnom Penh Commercial, said his bank would not be able to follow the rates of the larger banks.

"As a new bank, we have tried to attract new customers, but we have no plan to increase the deposit rate because we cannot do like other large banks," he said. "I am also worried about this problem."

Other small banks, however, said they were preparing to increase their deposit rates as much as they could—and hoping the world's financial woes soon will pass.

Big Election Turnout? Not for Cambodians

US voters like this man surged to booths in record numbers Tuesday, but the turnout was much lower than Cambodia's worst.

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

The victory of US president-elect Barack Obama surprised the world Tuesday, but another surprise was the high number of US voters, perhaps the most in 100 years.

The high number was amazing for the US, but if Cambodia put up the same numbers in an election, election experts say, it would be worrisome.

“The worry is that when the [Cambodian] participation rate is down, it is usually linked with intimidation and threat,” said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. “But [US citizens] are in a democratic country; they have full freedom to express their opinions.”

US citizens have been voting for more than 200 years, 44 presidential election cycles, he said.
According to Real Clear Politics, a monitoring group, an estimated 64.1 percent of registered voters participated in Tueday’s US election. That is higher than in any presidential election since 1908, when William Howard Taft won and 65.7 percent of voters turned out.

By comparison, the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy saw a 63.8 percent turnout, while the election of George W. Bush in 2004 drew 55.3 percent.

In Cambodia’s national election this July, turnout fell to 75 percent from more than 90 percent in the 1993 Untac polls.

Members of civil society and opposition officials say the lowered turnout has a negative effect of the democratic process here.

“The turnout of more than 60 percent is a high score in the US presidential election, compared with the past US elections,” said Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections. “But for Cambodia, like a country in transitional democracy, the absence of voters is due to buying votes and other problems that prevent voters from deciding to vote.”

“If the turnout in Cambodia is down, it’s because the people do not have any more confidence in the election process,” said Ke Sovannaroth, acting secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, which sent a letter of congratulations to Obama and US voters Thursday. “They lack information for voting. They receive threats and intimidation.”

However, National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nitha said the threats and intimidation was not the real cause of the lower turnout in July.

“There were many threats during the 1993 election, and the turnout was more than 90 percent,” he said. “But in 2008, voters were safer, but the turnout was down. It is different, compared to the US election. In the US election, they voted for change.”

In 2008, more than 8 million Cambodians registered to vote. In 2013, that number is expected to reach 9.5 million.