Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gandhi, Sihanouk get Soekarno Prize

Ni Komang Erviani
The Jakarta Post , Denpasar
Wed, 11/12/2008 Bali

Two leadership figures from Asia, Mahatma Gandhi of India and King Father Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, received the 2008 Soekarno Prize on Monday to honor their contributions to the ideologies of Indonesia's first president.

The prizes, received by Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Arun Gandhi, and Sihanouk's daughter, Samdech Norodom Arunrasmy, were awarded in conjunction with the inauguration of the Soekarno Center at the Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud, Gianyar.

The Soekarno Center is an institution which examines the ideologies of Soekarno, known affectionately as Bung Karno, Indonesia's first president and one of its most controversial figures.

Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, Soekarno's daughter and head of the Soekarno Center's Guiding Council, said the awards were given to honor Gandhi's and Sihanouk's dedication towards building Asia.

Soekarno's leadership, Sukmawati said, was heavily inspired by both figures who struggled together with Soekarno in achieving a stronger Asia.

"(Soekarno's) words showed the spirit of the great soul Mahatma Gandhi. His words showed the great vision of King Father Norodom Sihanouk," she said during the award ceremony.

The ceremony, she added, would become an annual event to celebrate the figures whose struggle reflected Soekarno's leadership qualities and teachings.

"I hope the Soekarno awards can further spread Bung Karno's great work as a figure who remained true in igniting the spirit of Asians in international politics," she said.

Tushar Arun Gandhi said he was honored to be able to represent his great-grandfather in receiving the award, saying the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Soekarno must be passed on to Asia's younger generations.

"My great grandfather Mahatma Gandhi said Asia had a responsibility to provide leadership to the world," he said.

"President Soekarno was one such leader who had the vision and the abilities to provide a dynamic and profitable leadership, not only as the president of Indonesia, but through his titanic statesmanship.

"He became one of the larger than life leaders of Asia," said Tushar, who founded the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in honor of his great-grandfather.

Samdech Norodom Arunrasmy said the award was an extraordinary recognition of her father.
"My country, Cambodia, had a special place in Soekarno's affections," she said.

"And I remember that (Soekarno) visited us in Cambodia several times where he enjoyed our traditional dishes and the hospitality of our people."

CAMBODIA: "Sometimes I get regular women, sometimes I hire lady-boys"

Male commercial sex worker in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, 11 November 2008 (PlusNews) - At the end of each day, Lux, a construction worker in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, goes home for supper with his wife and young children. At the weekend he leads a different life, cruising the city's most notorious male brothels, where he regularly has group sex with men while watching pornographic videos.

"I think it's pretty common. A lot of men I know do this in secret without their wives knowing," he told IRIN/PlusNews. When asked about using condoms during sex, he said, "Sometimes, but never with my wife."

After police cracked down on the brothels he visited, Lux turned to the streets, taking nightly strolls through Hun Sen Park, where he pays transsexuals for sex at least once a month.

"Sometimes I get regular women, and sometimes I hire lady-boys," he said. He has never been tested for HIV and does not think it an issue, given Cambodia's falling HIV rate.

HIV prevalence dropped to just 0.9 percent in 2006 from 3.7 percent in 1997. But among men who have sex with men (MSMs), the rate remained an uncomfortably high 5.1 percent nationally, and 8.7 percent in Phnom Penh in 2006, the most recent year for which UNAIDS data is available.

Advocacy groups warn that the lack of outreach programmes to educate MSM about HIV risks could undo the progress that Cambodia as a whole has achieved.

"There are underestimated contributions of MSM to the overall environment of HIV," Tony Lisle, UNAIDS Cambodia country coordinator, told IRIN/PlusNews. "The HIV epidemic has been largely ignored among MSM."

Cambodian MSM see themselves as belonging to two distinct groups, which complicates outreach efforts. They define themselves as either "short-haired" - masculine-acting MSM who tend to have sex with each other - or "long-haired", transgender MSM, whose sexual partners can be from either group.

Half of long-haired MSM and 38 percent of short-haired MSM reported having unprotected sex in the past month, according to a UNAIDS survey in 2006. "We need to achieve an 80 percent condom-use rate to have an impact," Lisle noted.

Hidden MSMs

Long-haired MSMs had double the number of sexual partners as short-haired men (5.7 male partners in a month compared to 2.9 partners for short-haired MSM), and were far more likely to have sold sex (60 percent to 36 percent of short-haired men).

"These hidden MSM are difficult to reach because they're not self-identifying," Lisle said. "Many also engage in unsafe behaviours, like injecting drugs."

Lux does not consider himself homosexual, or at a heightened risk of HIV. "I'm not a gay person. I just do this for pleasure, like a lot of men," he told IRIN/PlusNews. "From the TV programmes I've seen that are run by NGOs, I think gay people spread AIDS, but not people who just do this on the side."

Makara, a male sex worker, is aware of the HIV risk and wears a condom, but does not panic if his condom breaks. "If it breaks for a second, that's fine," he said. "I just get a new one. I don't worry about HIV for that short amount of time it breaks."

Over a three-month period in 2006, according to UNAIDS, 20 percent of long-haired MSM who engaged in risky behaviour reported condom breakage, but nearly half said they had obtained their most recent condom from an NGO, showing that targeted prevention efforts have been making headway.

"If NGOs can get more prevention services to this vulnerable group, we could maintain the great progress we've seen for the last five years," Lisle said.

Cambodia and Thailand continue border talks

12 November 2008

The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand are scheduled to meet Wednesday in Cambodia’s Siem Riep, aimed at resolving their border dispute. Officials of the two nieghbours made it clear they would make it a priority to demarcate territory around the 11th century temple as soon as it was cleared of landmines.

The Cambodain -Thai Joint Boundary Commission or JBC ended a two-day meeting on Tuesday, to draw up an agenda for discussions between their foreign ministers on Wednesday. The talks are aimed at ending a four month military stand-off, which escalated into a shootout near Preah Vihear temple, in mid October killing one Thai and three Cambodians.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. Officials need to be very careful in their survey operation to find boundary posts in accordance with an agreement between the two countries in 2000.

Thai officials from the Royal Thai Survey Department, which is responsible for working with Cambodian officials to conduct the survey, said the border demarcation was a painstaking process.

"Cambodian and Thai officials use the same maps in the joint operation to demarcate the border, but we sometimes have different opinions when we interpret maps and the treaty," Royal Thai Survey Deptartmenet official Col. Chakorn Boonpakdee said.

Thailand and Cambodia share an almost 800 kilometre land border 100 years ago, Thailand and France placed 73 markers along the border from Thailand’s Si Sa Ket to Trad. However, the marker were located far apart and almost half were destroyed or removed. As a result, the two countries have not been able to specify the border line at many point.

In 2006, Cambodia and Thailand started a new survey in line with the Siam- France Treaty of 1904 . According to the agreement between Thailand and Cambodia, the joint survey began in Sa Kaew and would later move north to other provinces including Si Sa Ket, where this year’s border dispute near Preah Vihear temple erupted.

"Our survey operation doesn’t aim to benefit any side but we do it for clear border demarcation and justice of the two sides," Royal Thai Survey Deptartmant official Col. Pratya Nakhonkao said.

The joint survey so far had found 48 of the 73 century old boundary posts and now the survey was under way in Trat.

Sompong discusses border framework in Cambodia

Bangkok Post
Wednesday November 12, 2008

( - Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat travelled to Cambodia on Wednesday to discuss the meeting framework concerning the Thai-Cambodian border row after both countries’ Joint Border Committee (JBC) meeting went smoothly earlier this week.

Before leaving for Cambodia, Mr Sompong said he and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen will determine further proceedings after the second round of the JBC meeting discussed different issues such as boundary demarcation and the reduction of arms and troops from the two sides.

The foreign minister said both sides will try to find an agreement on demarcating the border areas to prevent the two countries from making conflicting statements.

Headway in demarcation talks with Cambodia

Bangkok Post
Wednesday November 12, 2008


SIEM REAP : The Thailand and Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) yesterday agreed to give priority to surveying and demarcating the disputed border areas in and around the Preah Vihear temple. Vasin Teeravechyan, the Thai co-chairman of the two-day meeting, which concludes today, said the job would be difficult as the area has no boundary pillars.

Teams of experts from the two countries would be sent to establish the location where the first boundary pillar should be erected as soon as possible, Mr Vasin said.

''We have agreed to move our survey teams based in Trat to Si Sa Ket and Surin provinces for the job,'' said Mr Vasin.

Under the 2000 memorandum of understanding on boundary demarcation, the two countries agreed to divide the border into seven areas and survey the untroubled areas first.

But they agreed at yesterday's meeting that priority should be given to the area surrounding Preah Vihear, where armed clashes broke out last month.

Thailand and Cambodia share a 798km-long borderline. Most of the boundary was demarcated in 1904 and 1907 under the Siam-French treaties, but the borderline has changed naturally over time and some boundary pillars have been destroyed. The border conflict flared up anew in July when Thailand opposed the listing of the temple as a world heritage site with Unesco.

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong would today seek temporary measures to declare the disputed areas around the temple as awaiting demarcation, said Mr Vasin.

They will also discuss military redeployments and mine-clearing

Day 1 of Water Festival; Bon Om Touk

A boat decorated with Nagar floats on the Basak river on the first day of the annual Water Festival boat race in Phnom Penh November 11, 2008. About 29,000 oarsmen in more than 420 boats will compete in the three-day race from November 11 to 13.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia, Thailand make little progress in talks: negotiator

A graphic on the Preah Vihear temple, site of border spat between Cambodia and Thailand. Cambodian and Thai negotiators made little progress Tuesday in talks aimed at resolving a long-running and deadly border dispute, said the leader of Cambodia's delegation.(AFP/Graphic)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP) – Cambodian and Thai negotiators made little progress Tuesday in talks aimed at resolving a long-running and deadly border dispute, said the leader of Cambodia's delegation.

Officials from both sides met at a hotel in Cambodia's tourist hub Siem Reap to draw up an agenda for discussions between foreign ministers from the two countries, which are scheduled for Wednesday.

The meetings went five hours past schedule, and lead Cambodian negotiator Va Kimhong said both sides struggled to find points of agreement.

"We need more time and high-level decisions," Va Kimhong told reporters after meeting finished, adding, "what we have agreed is positive."

Both sides agreed to determine by December exactly where the border between their countries was drawn a century ago by French colonial officials, he said.

Negotiators also agreed that their countries would jointly remove landmines in the disputed area around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, Va Kimhong added.

The three-day talks aim to end a four-month military stand-off and begin the process of hammering out competing territorial claims.

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

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

The Cambodian government has since announced that it plans to double its military budget next year to 500 million dollars.

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

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

Cambodia, Thailand continue border dispute negotiations

Agence France-Presse

Cambodian and Thai negotiators met yesterday for a second day of talks aimed at resolving a long-running border dispute which last month erupted into a shootout that claimed four lives.

Officials from both sides met at a hotel in Cambodia's tourist hub Siem Reap to draw up an agenda for discussions between foreign ministers from the two countries, which are scheduled for today.

The three-day talks aim to end a four-month military stand-off and begin the process of hammering out competing territorial claims.

Cambodia's lead negotiator said the two sides made a "big step" when they agreed to an agenda to defuse tensions as talks began on Monday.

Shortly after earlier talks failed last month, troops from the two countries clashed on Oct. 15 on disputed land near Cambodia's ancient Preah Vihear temple, killing one Thai and three Cambodians.

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

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

JBC to focus first on border near Preah Vihear

By Suparak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation, Siem Reap
Published on November 12, 2008

The Thai-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) yesterday agreed to give priority to the disputed areas near the Preah Vihear Temple.

A technical team would survey and measure the areas near the temple first, said the Cambodian co-chairman of the JBC, Var Kimhong, after the meeting.

Vasin Teeravechyan co-chair of the JBC on the Thai side said the area near Preah Vihear, 168 km in length, had not been demarcated yet.

Technical teams would be dispatched to find the location of the first boundary pillar as soon as possible, Vasin said.

Thailand and Cambodia have a 798-km boundary. Most of the boundary line, with the exception of the area near Preah Vihear, was demarcated since the 1904 and 1907 Siam-French treaties. However, nature has changed the boundary line over the years and some boundary pillars were destroyed.

Based on the memorandum of understanding on boundary demarcation in 2000, the two countries made a series of surveys to search for the old boundary pillars in 2006.

The JBC meeting yesterday also acknowledged the result of the survey to locate the 23rd-51st of the boundary pillars, Vasin said.

The meeting was held in a good atmosphere and both sides can reach common ground, both Vasin and Var Kimhong said separately.

The area in Preah Vihear's vicinity became a priority after the recent military clash. It was at the core of the conflict since July when Thailand opposed the nomination of the Khmer sanctuary as a World Heritage Site and both sides boosted troop presence in the areas.

A border skirmish last month killed four soldiers on both sides and injured many others.

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong will discuss today the issues of provisional arrangement for the disputed areas near Preah Vihear, including military redeployment and de-mining, Var Kimhong said.

Hun Sen Relative Tapped as Police Chief

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

Khmer audio aired 11 November 2008 (1.07 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 11 November 2008 (1.07 MB) - Listen (MP3)

A police general who served under the late Hok Lundy and is an in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been selected to lead the nation’s police force, following a deadly helicopter crash Sunday.

Gen. Neth Savoeun, who has served in the police as well as the Ministry of Interior and is married to Hun Sen’s niece, was officially decreed as national police chief late Monday.

The former chief, Hok Lundy, a powerful Cambodian People’s Party general who continually faced allegations of serious human rights abuses, died Sunday night, when a helicopter transporting him to his home province of Svay Rieng crashed.

“King Norodom Sihamoni officially signed the decree to appoint Gen. Neth Savoeun late Monday as the national police chief to replace Hok Lundy,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said Tuesday. “I and all Cambodian police welcome the new appointment. Neth Savoeun has a lot of experience in the police.”

Neth Savoeun, 52, was police chief of Phnom Penh during the State of Cambodia, served as the head of the justice department in the Interior Ministry’s Penal Crimes Division after the 1993 elections, and recently became a deputy national police chief under Hok Lundy. He married Hun Sen’s niece, Hun Kimleng, in the early 1990s.

Contacted Tuesday, Neth Savoeun declined to comment on his appointment, saying he was busy with funeral ceremonies for Hok Lundy, who is scheduled to be buried in Svay Rieng’s Rumduol district Saturday.

“I’m not thinking about who [specifically] is appointed,” Chan Soveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc said. “But I want the person appointed as the new general of national police to have a good background, not to be involved in corruption, not be involved in human trafficking, or drug trafficking, or involved in killings. So I hope that the government has decided to appoint Neth Savoeun because his background is not involved in these.”

During his 14-year tenure as chief, Hok Lundy was accused of all these crimes, including collaboration in the 1997 grenade attack on opposition supporters, which killed 16 people, and extrajudicial killings during the 1997 CPP coup. He was denied US entry on suspicion of human trafficking in 2006, but had in recent years become an ally of the FBI for regional counterterrorism.

Under Hok Lundy, the national police force was routinely criticized for torture, corruption and abuse of power.

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said Neth Savoeun lacked qualifications.

“As I’ve known him before, he has not graduated from the Police Academy, and his rank comes from his relations to a high-ranking official, or nepotism,” said Kem Sokha, who was arrested by the national police in 2006 and spent 17 days in jail on charges of defamation.

Asked whether Neth Savoeun could reform the national police, Kem Sokha said, “I don’t think it depends on Neth Savoeun. Whatever the national police chief did before, it was dependent on the government. [Police] weren’t independently allowed to do anything.”

In Festivities Lurk Worries of HIV's Spread

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

With millions of spectators and hundreds of boat racers in the capital for this year’s Water Festival, health officials say they are worried about the spread of HIV and other diseases, as well as drug abuse.

A coalition of more than 100 health organizations, in collaboration with the national AIDS authority, has undertaken a three-day awareness campaign, distributing 250,000 free condoms to revelers and racers.

Authorities expect up to 5 million visitors to Phnom Penh for the three-day festival, which got underway Tuesday.

Health workers worry that festival-goers will use this opportunity to have unprotected sex with thousands of brothel workers, hostesses, beer girls and other prostitutes, or with “sweethearts” leading to the further spread of HIV.

“The people at risk for HIV are the youth, who like having sex outside [their homes],” said Choub Sok Chamreun, director of technical support and best practices department for the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance. “If no measures are taken to educate them and promote HIV awareness, we think that more than 10,000 people would face HIV during these three days.”

Ly Po, vice president of the National Anti-AIDS Authority, echoed those concerns.

“During the festival, my authority provided about 2 million T-shirts throughout the country, so that people understand HIV education. The T-shirt says, ‘We must prevent ourselves from being infected with HIV/AIDS’ and ‘Don’t take HIV/AIDS home.’”

Meanwhile, authorities have hung a banner over Mao Tze Tung boulevard reading, “Condoms are a weapon to prevent HIV/AIDS infection.”
Sex workers at a brothel in Tuol Kork district who asked not to be named said they expect more clients during the festival, including boat racers.

“Whoever doesn’t use a condom, I don’t have sex with him,” said a 23-year-old woman, who said that during the 2007 Water Festival, she turned away several clients who didn’t want to use a condom.

Boat racers said Tuesday they had been educated about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect themselves from falling into the water and drowning.

“I must take caution, even though I come from a far-away area,” said Kem Sophath, a racer from Kratie province. “If I feel sexual, I must use a condom properly.”

Islanders Begin Protection of Their Waters

Koh Rong's residents have joined together in a fishing community to save coastal waters, like this river, and sea habitat.

By Vohar Cheat, VOA Khmer
Original report from Sihanoukville
11 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 08 November 2008 (1.59 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 08 November 2008 (1.59 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The 437 families living on Koh Rong have established a fishing community to preserve 5,000 hectares of ocean and rivers, hoping to protect the aquatic creatures and plants that have made life on this island sustainable—and could even make tourism here prosperous.

The community’s chief, Yun Mon, said the group was established two months ago to stop illegal fishing, after a survey by Sihanoukville’s fishery department showed a major depletion of the once-rich sea life around the island.

“The survey shows that a day’s catch for a fisherman on average dropped from 30 kilograms last year to 15 kilograms this year,” he said, adding that the livelihood of Koh Rong islanders is reliant on the sea.

The decline in marine life was due to an increase in local populations, illegal fishing and mangrove clearance on the coast, he said.

Choung Sam At, a Sihanoukville fishery official, said the boundary of the Koh Rong fishing community was designed around water areas up to 20 meters in depth, which are home to seaweed species, reef and a variety of fish that may prove to be attractive to divers.

“It is necessary to protect them; the seaweed and reefs are attractive for tourist divers,” he said. “Where there are seaweed and reefs, there are combinations of colorful fish.”

The areas are protected from big commercial fishing, but limited catches on a small scale or through traditional means are allowed for the islanders.

Illegal fishing remains a problem. Trawlers, which are definitely banned from the 20-meter waters, are often seen drifting in at night.

However, concrete pilings up to a meter in diameter have been laid underwater as a deterrent, which is helping keep the bigger boats out of the protected areas Choung Sam At said.

The preservation efforts could take between five and 15 years to renew the richness of the sea areas, he said.

Ung Nit, deputy chief of Koh Rong commune, said the percentage of fishermen on the island had dropped from about 70 percent of the population of 1,400 to 30 percent. Some fishermen had given sold off their tackle and boats to jobs as construction workers or woodsmen. Those who have kept fishing sell their catch in Sihanoukville markets. (Duch Sokhom, chief of the commune, disputed the decline, saying around 70 percent of the islanders remain fishermen.)

Koh Rong fishermen hold out hope that an island resort development planned by Phnom Pen’s Royal Group will bring them better business.

“I think I will get more benefits if I sell my fish to the company here, rather than going to [Sihanoukville],” said Si Sanh, a 39-year-old islander. “I keep losing 10 liters of gasoline by piloting my long-tailed boat to Sihanoukville to sell my fish.”

Jacov Mentross, business and finance manager for the Royal Group, said the preservation work by the fishing community will rehabilitate some of the marine life. He expects the new resort to buy fish from the locals.

About 120,000 people will begin working on the hotel and casino project, he said.

“A lot of people on the island are fishermen, and they may chose to continue to be fishermen,” he said. “Then it will be great for us…. Instead of selling their catches at Sihnoukville, there will be a large industry on the island where they can sell their catches directly to the island.”

‘Elephants’ Composer Sought Culture Push

Him Sophy, composer of “Where Elephants Weep”

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
11 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 10 November 2008 (5.06 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 10 November 2008 (5.06 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodian-born and Russian-educated, Him Sophy is the composer behind “Where Elephants Weep,” a modern rock opera that has its roots in both Cambodia and the West and is coming soon to Phnom Penh.

The story is a modern version of the “Tum Teav” fable, where a man named Sam returns to post-holocaust Cambodia and becomes a monk before falling into a tragic love affair.

Him Sophy, a professor of music at Phnom Penh’s Royal University of Fine Arts and the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he wanted to incorporate rock-and-roll both conceptually and artistically. He typically has not written for rock or traditional Cambodian music, but the show, which debuts in Phnom Penh later this month, incorporates both.

“We played together with the rock band, sometimes separately,” he said Monday, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “Sometimes the solo is only rock, sometimes only Cambodian traditional, and then they come together and have another sound that you never heard before.”

The hope was to blend the styles and push contemporary Cambodian culture forward, Him Sophy said.

“Where Elephants Weep” showed in the US last year.

“It was a journey of both tragedy and hope, and one that involved cross-cultural collaboration among many people behind the scenes,” Samkhan Khoeun, co-chairman for Rock Opera Khmer, in Lowell, Mass., who was also a guest on “Hello VOA” Monday.

The rock opera, which was started six years ago, is the latest undertaking of Cambodian Living Arts, a project of World Education, he said.

Cambodian Living Arts was founded in 1998 by John Burt, the show’s executive producer, with Arn Chorn-Pond, a Cambodian refugee who was adopted by Americans and lived for a time in Lowell.

The goal of the organization is to revive and support Cambodian arts, which were nearly eradicated under the regime of the Khmer Rouge.

Rower missing as annual Cambodian Water Festival begins
Submitted by Sahil Nagpal
Tue, 11/11/2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's annual Water Festival, or Bon Um Tuk, began in the capital Phnom Penh on Tuesday amid fears for a boat racer who went missing the previous day during training session for the traditional regatta.

The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported 38-year-old Sin Sang from Pursat province in the country's west fell from his team's race boat 50 metres from the shore of Tonle Sap river on Monday.

The man's teammates were reportedly unable to enter the water to save him due to dangerous currents. The man's body still had not been found on Tuesday afternoon.

Five racers from Singapore drowned during last year's festival when their boat capsized while returning to the racing berth.

Officials estimate more than 4 million people have descended on the capital for the three-day festival, which celebrates the reversal of the flow of Tonle Sap and rivals Khmer New Year as the country's most important national holiday.

Tonle Sap, a river-lake system which changes its flow twice a year, is of huge importance to Cambodia. During the dry season, the Tonle Sap drains into the Mekong river at Phnom Penh, but reverses its flow during the rainy season. (dpa)

Chopper Crash

File photo showing Hok Lundy's helicopter flying over the Waiko River. The Helicopter Model is Eurocopter AS350 B2 Ecureuil or called Squirrel

Pieces from the exploded helicopter
Click on image to zoom in
Photo by Koh Santepheap News Paper