Thursday, 13 November 2008

Good News: Cambodian TV star saved in Vietnam, so she can bring the criminal to justice

Cambodian TV star DJ Ano


VietNamNet Bridge – The French-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital on Wednesday confirmed that Cambodian television star DJ Ano had been saved and left the hospital.

DJ Ano or Suon Pheakdei, 26, is the host of channel TV3, Phnom Penh TV. She is a famous TV host, actress and model in Cambodia.

Ano was the victim of a brutal jealousy case which has stirred up the Cambodian public the past two weeks.

According to some Cambodian newspapers, DJ Ano’s entire body was lacerated by tens of dozens of cuts from razor blades and she lost a lot of blood. The hit-men had been hired by the wife of a senior police officer.

The FV Hospital said that DJ Ano had been hospitalised in very serious condition but the hospital refused to provide further information.

DJ Ano was taken to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh for first aid but she was flown to Vietnam subsequently. At first, doctors said her survival was doubtful.

After one week of treatment at FV Hospital, DJ Ano recovered and left the hospital. With the injuries to her body, it has been said DJ Ano will be unable to continue her career on TV.

DJ Ano’s going to and leaving the FV hospital was kept secret. According to Cambodian newspapers, the information released by the hospital was the first accurate information about DJ Ano. Even TV3 channel hadn’t had any information about their staff in nearly three weeks.

Nobody knows whether DJ Ano has returned to Cambodia or not.

DJ Ano is the second entertainment star in Cambodia to be treated at a Vietnamese hospital. In February 2007, Cambodia’s number-one pop star Pov Panhapic was saved by doctors at HCM City-based Cho Ray Hospital after she was shot, also in a jealousy case. She is now living in Vietnam.

(Source: PLTPHCM)

Women get larger role in boat races

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Thursday, 13 November 2008

ONCE a festival for broad-chested Angkorian kings to test the fighting prowess of their warriors, the Bon Om Tuk boat races today are slowly becoming a more accurate reflection of Cambodia's mixed-gender strengths.

This year, about 300 women joined the boat racing tournaments during the three days of the Water Festival, challenging its male-dominated tradition.

"There are 424 boats attending the races this year, eight of which are rowed by women," Chea Kean, deputy president of the National and International Festival Committee, told the Post Tuesday.

"Among these eight boats, three are rowed by women in seated positions and two in standing positions. The other three are short boats for women. They are all from the provinces," he added.

Women have had an increasing presence in the festival since they were permitted to join in 1992. "The number of women in the boat races this year is more than last, and I am very proud that Cambodian women have been able to join," Chea Kean said.

Khan Sopea, a boat head and performer from Kampong Chhnang province, said she was happy to represent women in the competition.

"We have two boats this year. One is for men and the other one is for women. Last year, the women's boat won first place," she said.

"I feel happy because, as a woman, I am able to join the boat-racing twice, last year and this year. Moreover, I have a chance to join other entertainment activities during the festival as well."

Hoy Sochivanny, a local women's rights expert from the NGO Peace and Development, said she commended the women.

"The ministry should set up policies that support and encourage women, especially the provision of proper accommodation for them during the Water Festival," she said.

Sy Define, secretary of state at the Ministry of Women Affairs, said Tuesday that she would consider such support next year.

Hok Lundy loyalist tipped to become next police chief

General Neth Savoeun grieves at Tuesday’s memorial service for Hok Lundy.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith and Sebastian Strangio
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Neth Savoeun is only name on the shortlist, police brass say, but the official word has yet to come on his appointment

NATIONAL Police General Neth Savoeun is the most likely successor to top cop Hok Lundy, police officials said Wednesday, but said that no official appointment has been made.

"It is just a plan. It will not be official until a royal decree is released," said Teng Savong, deputy director of the National Police.

An assistant to Neth Savoeun who did not want to be named told the Post Wednesday that, while the appointment is widely expected, neither he nor Neth Savoeun had seen an order by King Norodom Sihamoni formalising the arrangement.

Hok Lundy was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash while flying to Svay Rieng province in bad weather. Mechanical failure, which officials say caused a fire, is the most likely cause of the mishap.

His death raised speculation of a power struggle within Cambodia's National Police, which Hok Lundy, a close ally and relative by marriage to Prime Minister Hun Sen, had commanded since 1994.

He was frequently the target of human rights groups, who accused him of a vast array of abuses, including human trafficking and murder. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Neth Savoeun was unlikely to be any better.

"[He] should be under investigation by the police, not be the National Police chief. He will almost certainly continue to politicise the work of the police," said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

"This is a very disturbing appointment.

"Neth Savoeun, 52, who is married to Hun Sen's niece, joined the police force in the 1980s, rising to the post of Phnom Penh municipal police chief during the early 1990s and head of the Justice Department in the Ministry of Interior's Penal Crimes Division.

Border talks end with tentative agreement to withdraw troops

Cambodia's border commission head Var Kimhong said 29 border markers dividing Cambodia and Thailand are undisputed, but that the position of an additional 19 still need to be determined. Twenty-five remain missing, he said.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Drawdown that could ease standoff between Cambodia and Thailand depends on Bangkok accepting a single map to define frontier

CAMBODIAN and Thai officials said Wednesday that they had tentatively agreed to troop withdrawals from around Preah Vihear temple, a move that could end a long-running border standoff if Thailand's parliament accepts the terms.

Foreign ministers from the two countries also said they would propose using a single map to demarcate the frontier - a point of contention that has kept many parts of their shared border undefined for decades.

Cambodia has long maintained that its borders were defined by a 1904 map drawn up by its then-colonial ruler France.

Thailand, meanwhile, has insisted on using its own map, putting the two sides into frequent conflict.

"I can tell all of you that we have had remarkable results.We have had only small points of disagreement that I will bring back to the Thai parliament for debate and to make a decision on," said Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat following daylong talks in Siem Reap with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong.

"Our next steps will be smoother and faster," he said.


The talks were the culmination of three days of meetings between border officials in what was another round of crisis negotiations since the border standoff began in July and erupted in violence last month in a brief gunbattle that left three Cambodian troops and one Thai soldier dead.

Tensions flared after Preah Vihear temple, which was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the World Court, was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, enraging Thai nationalists and helping to spark political turmoil in Thailand.

The military buildup on both sides of the border has been the biggest in years. Although troops have been gradually withdrawn from various points along the frontier since the October 15 clash, Hor Namhong said Cambodia would only pull back completely if Thailand's parliament accepted the conditions of what he called Wednesday's "temporary agreement", including using the 1904 map.

"I hope this document to which we have temporarily agreed will be honoured," he told reporters, in comments broadcast on Cambodian television.

"I want to stress that both sides are working patiently to avoid conflict on the border as before," he added.

"We have a clear road map to keep the peace with our neighbours, but we will definitely protect our territory."

Siem Reap set to host 2nd annual CamboFest

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Peter Olszewski
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Cambodia's first internationally recognised film festival will kick off in December as organisers scramble this month to secure venues

Siem Reap

Preparations are under way for the second annual CamboFest, Cambodia's first internationally recognised film festival, to be held in a very crowded Siem Reap from December 26 to 30.

The X Bar, the original CamboFest 2007 venue, will again be a focal point, decking out its rooftop with a massive screen and a 4,000-lumen projector. This venue will screen "out there" and cutting-edge features, shorts, animation and experimental films.

Another confirmed venue is FCC Angkor, which will screen art flicks, documentaries and worthy social issues material.

There will also be an "online venue", namely A complete schedule is expected soon.

The three-day festival will show 50 international films, including independent features, documentaries, shorts, animation and films dealing with social issues.

The Golden Buffalo awards will also be announced at the end of the festival.

This year's festival has also received a boost from overseas coverage, being picked up by the Hollywood Reporter, which wrote, "Director Jason Rosette said the event would be ‘extremely grassroots and lo-fi' because of limited funding. He did not specify the size of the budget, some of which was provided by the US Embassy in the capital, Phnom Penh."

Sorting the venues

Meanwhile, back on the home front, festival founder, producer and director Jason Rosette is canvassing businesses for sponsorship and told the Post, "I am working with my Khmer and barang colleagues in deft grassroots fashion."

The organisers are also still looking for venues and said they will even consider rice fields.

The origins of this small NGO-style festival sprung in part from the globalisation studies curriculum at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Rosette, from the film and television production company Camerado, has been in Cambodia since 2005. He did graduate work in development studies to augment his fine arts bachelor's degree in film and television from New York University.

According to the festival's website, organisers are embroiled in a brouhaha over their policy of legitimately securing performance rights.

On the website, organisers say, "CamboFest is also a notorious stickler for securing performance permissions to the movies we screen. We take intellectual property rights seriously, and our hope is that the public performance standards already observed by neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand will be encouraged in Cambodia ... with ultimate benefit to the Cambodian media sector and Cambodian movie industry".

Organisers claim they have "been receiving some flack and interference from folks locally" over their strict policy of gaining public performance rights.

They say they have been informed that this is a "trivial nonissue that ... only applies in the West or in developed countries".

But, having taken such a stance, organisers admit that last year they were caught out by inadvertently failing to secure music rights for the work of Cambodian musician Ros Sereysothea.

The music was part of the soundtrack for Greg Cahill's biopic, The Golden Voice, which won a CamboFest Golden Buffalo award for best short film at the festival.

Nation wakes up to slowdown

AFP. A motorcycle repairman sleeps through the afternoon as he waits for customers in Phnom Penh in this file photo. Joblessness is going to become an increasing problem for Cambodia as the effects of the global financial crisis start to bite, affecting mainly low-income workers, especially in the garment and construction sectors.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Officials are quickly realising Cambodia is not immune to the global economic upheavel and are brainstorming ways to save jobs in the key garment, construction and tourism industries

THE effects on employment of the global economic slowdown in the garment, tourism and construction sectors are a big concern for Cambodia, but it is not time to sound the alarm bell yet, analysts say.

"It is not only a huge concern for unemployed workers, but even workers who still have jobs," Kang Chandararot, director for the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, told the Post Wednesday.

"There is no system to help the jobless, so in the meantime, whoever loses their jobs, they will have to find jobs by themselves," Kang Chandararot said.

Cambodian unemployment has been affected indirectly by the world financial crisis, which has led to a slowing of the macroeconomy that will be felt in 2009 and 2010.

"It makes enough sense that Cambodia's GDP would go down to around seven percent this year and even lower in 2009," Kang Chandararot said.

" This situation could brew a general feeling of uncertainty and fear in workers.”

According to a CIDS study, data shows that the percentage of total employment absorbed by the garment industry has declined since 2006. The Ministry of Commerce figures show 62,000 garment workers have experienced unemployment since July 2008, including workers in factories that have permanently closed or temporarily suspended operations.

"This situation could brew a general feeling of uncertainty and fear in workers about their future," said Kang Chandararot.

But, he added, labour market programs are a tool to help improve industrial relations and enhance stability in the sector during this restructuring period.

"Labour market programs can remove workers' fears of income insecurity and make them feel like their employers care about their interests and protection," a CIDS release said.

Long-term impact

Cheath Khemara, a senior labour officer for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said the financial crisis will seriously affect the garment and textile sectors in coming years.

"Once Korean investors are affected by the financial crisis, so will be Cambodian garment factories, which are mostly operated by Korean business people," he said. "It is difficult for us in terms of protecting jobs and creating jobs for people."

Cambodia's garment sector employs a total of 350,000 people, mostly young women from the countryside. Cambodia exports 70 percent of its garment products to the United States, where the financial crisis first erupted before spreading to Europe and Asia.

Officials blame strikes as a major factor in the slowdown of purchasing by buyers.

Union disputes

The number of strikes have increased 37.5 percent in the first seven months of 2008 to 66 strikes, resulting in 169,439 working days lost, in which workers sought to gain income and job security through demands for higher wages, entitlement payments, non-discrimination against union members and rehiring of retrenched workers.

"Those strikes have been largely unsuccessful for workers, and consequently, more anxiety, adversely affecting industrial relations and undermining the capacity of factories and the stability of the sector," the CIDS release said.

Other sectors such as construction have also been severely affected by the crisis, in which 30 percent of a total 50,000 workers were laid off this year.

But the director of the Construction Department under the Ministry of Land Management and Construction, Lao Tip Seiha, told the Post recently that there was growth in the construction sector because of political stability and consistent economic growth.

"There are more jobs for Cambodian people working in the construction sector every year," he said.

He confirmed that there are 45,000 to 50,000 people currently working in the construction sector.

Tourism relatively safe

Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said that the financial crisis would definitely affect the tourism industry but was not likely to lead to any layoffs.

"We are worried about it, but we will come up with a strategy to keep tourism growing as usual by reducing the prices of services," he said.

"I have already had a discussion with the private sector to reduce the price of package tours and also urged airline companies to reduce the price of tickets, and will request the government to reduce the price of petrol," he said.

Representatives from the private sector and the tourism industry are scheduled to negotiate with the government on November 21 to come up with a strategy aimed at preventing unemployment in the tourism sector.

Additional reporting by Soeun Say

Govt urges HIV/Aids NGOs to get licensed

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Thursday, 13 November 2008

THE government has called on HIV/Aids NGOs to obtain government licences in an attempt to place their health services in the regulatory fold.

Nuth Sokhom, president of the National Aids Authority, told the Post last week that the licences would be aimed at increasing monitoring and improving quality in the sector.

"We need local NGOs who are working in HIV/Aids programs to get licences to operate in their field of work because we have had problems with them working with the communities unlicensed," he said.

He applauded the work of HIV/Aids NGOs, but said the government needed to ensure they were qualified to offer health advice.

"We have more difficulty providing care when NGOs do not have licences. If there is a problem, the government cannot help," he said.

"I have asked for more NGOs to cooperate with the government so that together we can try to reduce the prevalence of HIV/Aids."

There are currently 170 institutions working in the field of HIV/Aids in Cambodia, but not all groups are licensed.

"All NGOs should join together to work on a national program," said Kem ley, executive director of the HIV/Aids coordinating committee.

"I support the government's appeal, but once this happens, NGOs should discuss with representatives how to show real action in society."

That will teach you


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Phnom Penh traffic police prepare to hoist a confiscated tuk-tuk onto the back of a police truck Wednesday during a sweep of the capital's riverfront. One man who identified himself as an off-duty cop said the vehicles were being seized because their owners did not pay enough in bribes to the police for being allowed to operate during the busy Water Festival period.

Off to the races in Siem Reap

A team of dragon boat racers paddle their heavily loaded vessel toward the finish line during a race on the Siem Reap River Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Unn Sophary and Erica Goldberg
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Tens of thousands turned out to watch the gripping first day's heats in this year's Water Festival boat races along the crowded banks of the Siem Reap River

Siem Reap

THE Water Festival's annual boat race in Siem Reap started dramatically Tuesday afternoon when two boats sank.

Normally, this could have disqualified them, but Deputy Governor Chan Sophan told the Post the boats were permitted back into the race Wednesday.

The banks of the Siem Reap river were lined with almost 30,000 people at the beginning of the race on Tuesday.

Vendors selling sugar cane, fried goodies and balloons mingled among the well-behaved crowd, and at night children squealed with delight as fireworks lit up the sky, with the river transformed into a nighttime wonderland of beautiful lights.

After three days of racing, this year's winners will be chosen from the 28 all-male boats and six boats with female crews.

Choung Ratana, general secretary of City Hall, said the winners for both the male and female divisions will receive four million riels (US$1,000), second-place winners will receive two million riels and third-place winners will receive one million riels.

Also, because the same boat won both divisions last year and the year before, a special trophy will be awarded if that boat notches up a hat trick and comes first again this year.

Ouk Sareth, head of the race's technical committee, said boat teams of 22 individuals row 500 metres down river. The teams are divided into four groups, which compete tournament- style until a winner is selected.

Addy Otto, a Dutch tourist, said hype about the race had been building for days.

"We don't know who's racing against whom, but we like the hustling around," said Otto. "It's very exciting."

Ben Gyllan, a tourist from New Caledonia, likened the race to those he had seen in French Polynesia, with the teams' colours creating a brilliant spectacle.

Cambodia's gender index ranking rises

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio
Thursday, 13 November 2008

THE World Economic Forum has ranked Cambodia 93rd out of 130 countries on its annual Gender Gap Index, which measures the economic, legal and social indicators that divide men and women.

The survey shows a small improvement from 2007, when the country slipped to 98th place, but demonstrates that participation in political and economic matters is still a largely male affair.

Cambodia scored highest in economic participation and opportunity, with relatively equal numbers of men (82 percent) and women (78 percent) active in the labour force.

However, the involvement of women in work was not matched by their presence in senior management positions, just 14 percent of which are held by women.

Men are also ahead in literacy (86 percent to 68 percent) and tertiary education (six percent to three percent).

However, relatively equal numbers of men and women enroll in primary education (91 percent to 89 percent) and high school (33 percent to 28 percent).

Cambodia was rated third-lowest for gender equality in Southeast Asia, beating out Malaysia and Brunei. Norway was rated first for its efforts to close the gender gap.

Festival sparks advert boom

Punters at a prize giveaway booth at Phnom Penh’s Water Festival.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Businesses have boosted spending to tap into the millions of partygoers converging on Phnom Penh for this year's Water Festival celebrations

WITH millions flocking to the capital for the Water Festival, businesses have upped their advertising budgets for the three-day event, a senior government official told the Post.

Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said as many as 2,000 of the country's businesses will spend up to 30 percent of their annual revenues on booths throughout the capital for promotions that could pay off big in terms of sales during the coming year.

"I think this is a golden opportunity for business people to sell their products and the bigger the campaign, the better their sales and the more income they will earn," Mao Thora said.

He added that many of those visiting the capital were likely to bring goods back to their home provinces, further expanding the reach of some products.

A national event

Officials estimate that as many as four million people will attend this year's Water Festival in Phnom Penh.

Leang Meng, president of the Chip Mong Group, which sells cooking oil, packaged foods, soft drinks and beer, said he rented 10 booths and expects healthy sales during the festival.

"I think my company can sell about 20 times more than a normal day because so many more people will attend this year's events and most of them will buy something to take home with them," he said.

"We have participated in this event for the last 10 years, and we expect to sell about US$10,000 in goods on average per day this year. This is much more than we sold last year," Leang Meng said.

But Chan Theary, president of New Link Private Ltd, which sells milk, soaps and cosmetics, worried that most festival-goers were low-income families who could not afford to spend money on her products.

She said her company spent between $500 and $600 for a four metre-by-four metre promotion booth.

"I wouldn't say it is a golden opportunity for all kinds of businesses because buyers from the provinces will only buy cheap products, she said.

"High-income people will not crowd around to buy these products.

"She said Phnom Penh supermarkets have seen a bump in sales as retailers stock up on goods to sell at street booths.

On Neang, Phnom Penh's chief of commerce, said the municipality earns about $24,000 each in "donations" from several large companies, such as Attwood, Bayon Television and small industry associations.

"We do not limit the price or charge companies for advertising booths during the festival. We just accept small donations from the bigger companies," he said.

He added, however, that this year's festival has seen a drop-off in available promotional booths, as many areas of the city have been developed for other uses.

Booth advertising

Cambodian Economic Association President Chan Sophal said the booths allow companies to appeal directly to a national audience.

But he said farmers from the provinces have only just begun to harvest their crops, which is their principal source of income, and would not have much money to spend.

"If people purchase more products during this event, the overall economy will be better," he said. "But we worry that this spending could decrease people's savings in the future."Some, however, see the promotional booths as a way to encourage support for locally made Khmer goods.Men Sineoun, executive director of the Cambodian Handicraft Association, said the booths promote Khmer artisans."But many rural people don't understand this, and so profits often remain flat," he told the Post.

Booth advertising

Cambodian Economic Association President Chan Sophal said the booths allow companies to appeal directly to a national audience.

But he said farmers from the provinces have only just begun to harvest their crops, which is their principal source of income, and would not have much money to spend.

"If people purchase more products during this event, the overall economy will be better," he said. "But we worry that this spending could decrease people's savings in the future.

"Some, however, see the promotional booths as a way to encourage support for locally made Khmer goods.

Men Sineoun, executive director of the Cambodian Handicraft Association, said the booths promote Khmer artisans.

"But many rural people don't understand this, and so profits often remain flat," he told the Post.

Fortune tellers give insight

Photo by: Mom Kunthear
Ham Davy credits her skill in telling fortunes to unwavering assistance from the spirt realm.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Fortune tellers delve into the spirit realm to offer clients glimpses of what may lay in store at work, in marriage and even at the moment of death

Cambodia's many fortune tellers ply their trade in every corner of the country, from pagodas and private residences in the capital to the public squares of the provinces - offering patrons a chance to glimpse what might lay in store for them in the future.

Ham Davy, 65, tells fortunes in front of Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh, where locals and tourists alike often inquire about their futures.

"I have been a fortune teller since I was 12, and from this career I can feed my five grandchildren and pay for a rented house," she said.

But Ham Davy is quick to explain that her trade is not for those hoping to strike it rich.

"One can't get wealthy as a fortune teller because we receive only a small amount of money. I am very poor because I never cheat customers. Sometimes, I don't even take money from them," she said.

High accuracy

As for the accuracy of her predictions, Ham Davy is equally candid.

"I can't say what I tell my customers is always correct, but I believe that 90 percent of my predictions are correct," she said.

She charges 5,000 riels per session, but the number of customers each day varies.

"There are about five to 10 people who come to me each day," she said. "Mostly, they want me to make predictions about their work."

Ham Davy credits her skill in fortune-telling to unwavering assistance from the spirit realm."I can predict the future because I have a black spirit who stands behind me and helps me during every session. It tells me about the person who comes to seek my predictions," she said.

" I can predict the Future because I have a black spirit who stands behind me. "

Ham Davy says she learned her trade from the black spirit, who tells her all she needs to know about her clients.

She added that she is always honest in predicting the future. "I have never lied to anyone. Other fortune tellers don't have the black spirit to guide them, though they claim they have the spirit and can predict the future," she said.

And what of her own future? Has Ham Davy ever petitioned the black spirit to reveal her own fate?"I know myself and how I will be in the future. I know I can't become a rich woman. I can just help other people and earn a little money to support my family," she said.

The aging prognosticator hopes one day to retire but says she may have to continue for the sake of her family. "I want to stop this work and go live in the forest, but my children don't want me to go."

Family tradition

Fortune teller Ta Vannak, 47, works in front of the Royal Palace and says he has been in the business since the age of six.

"I learned from my grandfather, and I have a special spirit that stays with me," he said.

"I believe in myself and that what I say about the future lives and fortunes of my customers is true."

The knowledge provided by his spirit allows him to offer clients specific recommendations about the most important aspects of their lives.

"I can stop or allow couples to marry because I can see the problems they will face," he said. "I just look at their face or catch hold of their hand, and I can know about them.

"Telling fortunes is not as easy as it might sound, he said.

"It is a difficult job, but for me it is not too much of a problem. I have been doing this for nearly 40 years," he said. "Normally, I have 20 guests per day, but sometimes there are more than 100 guests who come.

"He added that his clients include many tourists, who believe firmly in his skill at reading their futures.

"I know when someone will die and what will happen to them during their life ... and I can predict a person's future from the moment they are born," he said.

In Brief: Former resident up for AUSSIE award

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Peter Olszewski
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Former Siem Reap resident Leigh Mathews, 27, founder of Future Cambodia Fund, is a Victorian Finalist in the Young Australian of the Year Awards. She lived in Siem Reap in 2004, volunteering for charitable organisations before returning to Melbourne to set up her own charity. According to an announcement of her nomination, "Over the last four years she has worked seven days a week in her determination to help Cambodia's children, and in a short time has made an enormous difference." The award will be announced Tuesday.

Govt targets Aids, bird flu during festival campaign

AFP; Health officials show festival goers how to unroll a condom.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Officials, NGOs distribute condoms , avian flu warnings to provincial visitors

BIRD flu has joined HIV/Aids as the second health scourge to be targeted during this year's Water Festival, NGO and government officials said this week as millions of people converged in Phnom Penh for the annual celebration.

Safe-sex drives have long been a feature of the Water Festival, which sees masses of provincial Cambodians - many of them unfamiliar with condom use - crowding into the capital and, in some cases, frequenting the city's many brothels.

The riverfront and adjoining parks were again the scene of health workers handing out thousands of free condoms, which have been instrumental in Cambodia's rise from one of the countries in Asia worst-affected by HIV/Aids to one that has dramatically curbed the rate of new infections.

"I believe now that a lot of people understand about HIV/Aids," said Hor Bun Leng, deputy secretary of the National Aids Authority.

But avian flu, which has so far killed at least six people in the Kingdom since 2003, has become part of the good health message being relayed up and down the riverside this week.

"We've run the [condom] campaigns every year during the Water Festival, but this year we received support from Unesco and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which allowed us to hold one new program about bird flu," said Heap Vuth, director of the NGO Children Support Foundation (CSF), one of several organisations partnering with the government this year on a joint health initiative.

CSF volunteer Meng Vannak was making the rounds along the crowded Chruoy Changvar peninsula, which was teeming with boat crews and families.

"It's important for the government to enhance this campaign," he said.

Takeo's 'masters' of the Tonle Sap

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A vendor sells snacks along the Phnom Penh riverfront Wednesday as thousands flocked to watch dragon boats race on the second day of the Water Festival.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Kirivong Sok Senchey vies for an 11th-straight win

Boat number 356, the Kirivong Sok Senchey from Takeo province, has routed all comers in a decadelong win streak that marks it as the crew to beat during this year's Bon Om Tuk boat races.

Some 434 crews from across Cambodia have converged on Phnom Penh's Tonle Sap river to contest this year's Water Festival races, vying for cash prizes and, more importantly, bragging rights for themselves and their province.

The Kirivong crew have trained hard all morning. Their bodies are sweat-soaked and sore, but their attitude is predictably confident, even cocky.

"Nobody wants to compete with our boat," said Oum Chhun Streng, manager of the Kirivong crew.

" The only boat that dares [compete with us] ... is supported by prime minister hun sen, so of course they feel strong. "

"The only boat that dares is the Preah Phearon Sen Techeas, and that boat is supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen, so of course they feel strong."

The Kirivong was built in the forest-rich Preah Vihear province, as Takeo lacks the necessary timber. It took one month to build and cost US$7,000.

To the uninitiated, the Kirivong resembles just about every other boat on the water, but for the men who have powered it to victory over a ten-year stretch.

It runs 33.8 metres in length and holds a crew of 75 able-bodied Takeo rowers, who can propel it some 1,700 metres in four minutes. Manager Oum Chhun Streng calls it "the fastest boat on the river".

And despite his light mockery of Hun Sen's crew, Oum Chhun Streng and his crew also owe a debt to friends in high places. The Kirivong bears part of the name of Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who has also donated 120 kilograms of beef to feed the crew through the three days of racing.

The crew trained twice a day for two weeks in the lead-up to this year's race, and while in the capital they will sleep on the boat - a small price to pay for a chance to compete.

Crewman Soy Pormen, 42, said rowing comes as easy to him as breathing.

"Rowing is not difficult for me because I have done it for so many years. I get 3,000 riels (US$0.75) per day for coming to row here," he said.

"I must come to race in Phnom Penh because it is an old tradition that happens only once a year," he said.

It is tradition, in the end, that drives the Kirivong crew, as much as the glory of winning.

"It is very important for us to follow our old traditions," he said.

Officials estimate that as many as four million visitors will swell the streets and riverbanks of Phnom Penh during this year's celebrations.

But winning has become a tradition in itself for the Kirivong, and a strong source of pride that Soy Pormen hopes to reaffirm this year for the city's potentially millions of spectators.

"The Water Festival is a great chance for people to come together from all around Cambodia. We must try very hard to keep our No 1 place in the festival. It is a source of great pride for our province," he said.

Dragon boat elite race toward grand finale

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Thursday, 13 November 2008

A crowd gathers in front of the Royal Palace during the Water Festival in Phnom Penh Wednesday night. The festival enters its third and final day today, which will culminate in a showdown between the two top racing teams about 5pm, with King Norodom Sihamoni on hand to present prizes.

Cambodia, Thailand agree on provisional arrangements for border issue

People's Daily Online
November 13, 2008

Cambodia and Thailand on Wednesday moved a step forward to resolve the long-running and deadly border dispute.

Both sides agreed on some provisional arrangements, including joint mine clearance at the Preah Vihear temple area and starting border demarcation from areas near the Preah Vihear temple first, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong said at a press conference after a meeting with his Thai counterpart in Siem Reap.

Both sides also agreed to withdraw troops from the Keo Sihka Kiri Svara pagoda and its surrounding areas and the areas near the Preah Vihear temple, he was quoted as saying by CTN Television.

He added that legal experts from both sides will meet in January 2009 to measure the border for planting border posts.

"We need more time to resolve the border issue," he said, adding that they will sign agreement minutes in next meeting.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat told reporters that he needs approval from Thai National Assembly before signing any agreements.

This meeting proceeded smoothly and it succeeded 99 percent of all issues, he said.

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

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

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

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

In 1962, the International Court of Justice decided that the Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding area belong to Cambodia.


Cambodian water festival underway

The News International
Thursday, November 13, 2008

PHNOM PENH: Colorful water boats have been lined up in a local river here on the eve of annual water festival – being underway in Cambodia on Wednesday.

Fireworks looted the festival later on the occasion during an inaugural ceremony at the Tonle Sap River in the national capital, which was also joined by the King Sihamony.

More than 420 beautiful Dragon boats have also contributed to glitter the occasion while Rowers, dressed colorfully, gave the final touch to merry the participants.

The annual festival, participated by hundreds of thousands of merry makers, is based on water boat racing which lasts for three days.

'Progress' in Thailand-Cambodia row

Tensions near the ancient Preah Vihear temple had threatened to escalate into all-out war [Reuters]

Al Jazeera
Thursday, November 13, 2008

The foreign ministers of Thailand and Cambodia say they have made progress in resolving a festering border dispute, and have agreed on steps to begin demarcating disputed territory that sparked a deadly military clash last month.

Following talks in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, the two sides said they had also tentatively agreed to redeploy their troops and clear land mines in the area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

"We have made a big practical step forward," Hor Namhong, Cambodia's foreign minister, said at a press conference after the meeting.

It is not yet clear, however, when the redeployment would begin, because the Thai side will first have to submit to parliament documents it negotiated with Cambodia.

"We have achieved 99 per cent, but there still remain a few points on which I need to seek approval from the Thai parliament first," Sompong Amornvivat, Thailand's foreign minister, told reporters.

In October three soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in a brief but intense exchange of gunfire between Thai and Cambodian troops.

The clash had raised fears of a war between the neighbours who have argued over the disputed stretch of jungle for decades.

In 1962 the World Court awarded ownership of the 14 century Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, but sovereignty over the surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Khmer Rogue foreign minister's detention extended

The Earth Times

Thu, 13 Nov 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The former foreign minister of Cambodia's genocidal Khmer Rogue regime has had his detention extended for another year ahead of his trial before an international tribunal, national media reported Thursday. Ieng Sary, 82, was arrested with his wife, former Khmer Rogue minister for social action Ieng Thirith, last year amid fears they could flee the country, destroy crucial evidence and incite public unrest.

The Cambodia Daily newspaper quoted co-investigating judge You Bunleng as saying that the conditions of Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith's detentions would be outlined after this week's three-day Water Festival public holiday.

Ieng Sary is one of five former Khmer Rogue leaders due to be tried before an UN-backed court, which was established in 2006.

The leaders will face trial for their roles in atrocities committed during the Khmer Rogue's 1975 to 1979 reign, in which up to two million people died through execution, starvation or overwork.

Troop withdrawal promised

Thu, Nov 13, 2008

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA and Thailand pledged on Wednesday to start marking out disputed bits of border next month and withdraw troops in January to avoid a repeat of last month's armed clashes at the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

After three days of negotiations by a joint border committee in the Cambodian resort town of Siem Reap, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said '99 per cent' of the problems had been resolved.

He did not elaborate other than to say the agreement had to be approved by Thailand's parliament, as required by the constitution.

At a joint press conference broadcast on Cambodian television, Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong said the troop withdrawal would make way for joint teams to clear the thousands of landmines that litter much of the jungle-clad border.

'We have decided to plant border pillars in the disputed area first because we are trying not to have a repeat of the conflict,' Mr Hor Namhong said.

One Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in last month's exchange of rifle and rocket fire, which both sides accused the other of starting.

The Hindu temple, which sits on the escarpment that forms the natural border, has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, but the ruling did not determine the ownership of 4.6 square kilometres of scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement. -- REUTERS

Border survey to start next month

Bangkok Post
Thursday November 13, 2008

SIEM REAP : Thailand and Cambodia will start surveying their disputed border area next month to pave the way for demarcation of their border near Preah Vihear temple, Vasin Teeravechyan said yesterday.

Mr Vasin, who is the Thai chief negotiator on the Joint Boundary Commission, said in the Cambodian province of Siem Reap that the joint survey was expected to be held in mid-December.

The commission held another round of talks yesterday in the Cambodian province followed by talks between the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers, Sompong Amornvivat and Hor Namhong.

The two countries, however, could not settle on wording to refer to the 11th century temple in the agreement and on military issues.

A Thai delegation source said Thailand insisted on using Phra Viharn in the agreement but Cambodia argued that it must be called Preah Vihear. The Thais were concerned that agreeing to use Preah Vihear would violate the mandate given by parliament which ordered them to refer to the temple as Phra Viharn.

But Cambodia argued that Preah Vihear was internationally accepted, the sources said, adding that Thailand would have to consult parliament on the wording.

The reduction or withdrawal of troops could also be discussed.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle Wednesday to reduce troops and use a century-old survey map to help resolve a long-running border dispute

Cambodian LTG Chea Morn (right) and his Thai counterpart Wiboonsak Neeparn at a meeting in Siem Reap province. Thai and Cambodian military commanders have concluded talks aimed at easing border tensions after deadly clashes last week, but staunchly maintained their front line positions.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong (R) shakes hands with Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Sompong Amornviwat (L) at a hotel in Siem Reap province, some 314 kms northwest of Phnom Penh. Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle Wednesday to reduce troops and use a century-old survey map to help resolve a long-running border dispute.(AFP)

Thailand's Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat attends a ACMECS Ministerial meeting in Hanoi in this November 6, 2008 file photo.REUTERS/Kham

Some progress made over Preah Vihear

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The NationSiem Reap
Published on November 13, 2008

The Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers made some progress yesterday when they met for the third time to settle border disputes near the Preah Vihear temple. However, total agreement is being held up by some minor details.

Still, Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong came to a provisional arrangement over the disputed 11th-century Khmer sanctuary. Sompong said, since the issue was very complex, there were some matters still left to be resolved.

One of the issues is the name for the Hindu temple - Cambodia wants it called Preah Vihear, while Thailand prefers Pra Viharn.

The problem may seem minor, but Thais cannot subscribe to Khmer words because it goes against the Parliament's edict. On the other hand, Cambodia argues that the term Preah Vihear is an international term because all parties, including the International Court of Justice, used it when it was ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia.

The two sides agreed that this issue should be left until the next discussion because the Thai team needed to consult the parliament.

"I would like to express my appreciation for the Cambodian side's understanding of our obligations to the constitution," Sompong said.

The foreign ministers and the Thai-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary began new rounds of talks after a clash last month killed four soldiers on both sides and injured many others.

The two countries aim to make a provisional arrangement until a proper demarcation is agreed upon and the problem can be settled permanently.

An official source said that most of the issues were settled but declined to elaborate.

Buddhists in Rochester is abuzz about Buddha hive

The Associated Press - Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The Cambodian Buddhist community in Rochester is abuzz over what they believe is a miracle: a wasp nest in the shape of a seated Buddha built in the eaves of their temple.

The nest was spotted last week. Elder members of the community say they have never seen an apparition of the Buddha in their lifetimes.

Seventy-year-old Voeun Sor of Rochester says the hive shows the Buddha is trying to tell everybody to seek peace in their lives.

Robert Jeanne is an entomology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He says the Buddha-shaped hive could actually be four different nests formed over a couple of years. He says if someone wants to read miracles into that, that's their privilege.

Moeun Ngop is a 76-year-old monk. He has a more mystical take. He says the insects are trying to communicate Buddha's message.

Vietnam PM says rice export policy working

(L-R) 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 the ACMECS summit in Hanoi

November 12, 2008

Vietnam’s rice export policy has been effective, ensuring national food security, taking into account the effects of high inflation on farmers, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told a regional meeting in Hanoi last week.

“We need to deal with issues with long-term, overall benefits in mind, not just short-term or partial gains, and we have tackled the problems well,” he said at the end of the ACMECS summit Friday.

ACMECS (The Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Forum) is named after the region's major rivers.

The meeting included the prime ministers of ACMECS’ five nations: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Dung said the government had temporarily halted rice export contracts in March, when world prices were high, because the country’s output at that time was enough for the export of only 2.3-2.4 million tons of rice after setting aside enough for local consumption.

But he said that local exporters at the time had inked shipment contracts for nearly 2.5 million tons of rice, of which only 800,000 tons had already been delivered, he said.

If the government had allowed firms to continue shipping more rice abroad, there wouldn’t have been enough to meet local demand, rice prices would have skyrocketed and
the consumer price index (CPI) would have jumped, as food accounts for 42.84 percent of the goods basket Vietnam uses to calculate CPI, the prime minister said.

In addition, a large amount of paddy rice in the northern region had been destroyed by bad weather and disease, he said.

“I used to work in agriculture in the Mekong Delta and I love the farmers, but we have to consider the whole country’s interest, including that of paddy growers in the Mekong Delta,” said the prime minister.

As of November 6, Vietnam had exported 4.39 million tons of rice, he said, adding that the country expects to ship one million tons of the commodity abroad in the year’s last two months, raising the total export volume this year to five million tons, up about 25 percent over last year.
Now, the country has 900,000 tons of rice in stock, the prime minister noted.

Regarding agricultural cooperation among ACMECS’s five members, the prime minister said the countries wanted to cooperate in rice production and export, aiming to ensure food security and effective export markets.

Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are “the rice bowl of the Asian region,” AFP quoted Dung as saying.

“Our exports from the ACMECS countries account for about 50 percent of the world market,” Dung said. “So, the ACMECS countries have an important role to play in ensuring food security in the world.”

More than half of the total 22-23 million tons of rice annually sold in the world comes from the five countries, including eight million tons from Thailand, five million tons from Vietnam, and some one million from Cambodia.

Challenges to Peace in Cambodia

Peace & Conflict Monitor
November 12, 2008

Because the concept of peace is not a new phenomenon, there have been several definitions and classifications of peace from different perspectives across the world. According to Salomon and Nevo (2002), “[p]eace is often referred to as the absence of violence. It is often associated with security. Peace as a positive force implies the process of blessing others, respecting them, cooperating with them, and reducing violence of all kinds” (p. 17). Webel (2007) also pointed out that: “[p]eace is a linchpin of social harmony, economic equity and political justice, but peace is also constantly ruptured by wars and other forms of violent conflict” (pp. 5 - 6). He further stated clearly that:

“[p]eace ranges from what I shall call ‘Strong, or Durable, Peace’ (roughly equivalent to Johan Galtung’s term ‘Positive Peace’ – a condition in which there is relatively robust justice, equity, and liberty, and relatively little violence and misery at the social level) to weak or fragile peace… [o]n the other end of the spectrum is what I will call ‘Weak, or Fragile, Peace’ (‘Negative Peace’ in Galtung’s formulation), where there may be an overt absence of war and other widespread violence in a particular culture, society or nation-state, but in which there is also pervasive injustice, inequality and personal discord and dissatisfaction” (p. 11).

Equipping the Cambodian people with a deeper understanding and broader knowledge of peace may have also played a vital role in arousing our intense curiosity about how positive peace or durable peace can be attained at a national level in this country. It is noteworthy that since the end of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime (1975-1979), in which nearly two million Cambodian innocent people and intellectuals were brutally killed, Cambodia, a young democratic country in Southeast Asia, has experienced a number of such obstacles and difficulties as political instability or deadlock, internal conflicts and protracted civil wars. These obstacles and difficulties have brought about two negative effects: (1) the way of the development has not been paved; and (2) the positive peace has not been promoted or achieved in the country. As a result, a simple, but difficult, question can be raised: what are the possible underlying hindrances to the development of the positive peace in Cambodia?

II. Key Challenges to the Positive Peace in Cambodia

It is evident that there have been three significant challenges or hindrances to the emergence of the positive peace in Cambodia that have deserved priority attention. The first central challenge is lack of good governance. “The concept of good governance is broadly characterized by transparency, responsibility, public participation, adherence to the rule of law and cooperation between government and civil society” (Council for the Development of Cambodia, n.d.).[1] Holsti (1991) also offered a short description of “governance (some system of responsibility for regulating behaviour in terms of the conditions of an agreement)” which is one the most important prerequisites for the positive peace (As cited in Ramsbotham, et. al., 2005, p. 37). As can be seen from the aforesaid core explanations of the governance, it simply means that in order for Cambodia to accomplish the positive peace, the government must promote strong governance, accompanied by independence, transparency and efficiency, at the national, provincial, and district levels. Nonetheless, the prioritized goal to promote the presence and emergence of the positive peace in the country has not been achieved yet since the government has failed to perform well and effectively and encountered many shortcomings and challenges including rapid population growth, high poverty and unemployment rate, widespread domestic violence against women, poor educational standards, and lack of medical facilities.

Asian Development Bank (2008)[2] also shared its focal emphasis on some aspects of the weak governance in Cambodia that: “[p]ublic servants are generally poorly paid and exhibit low productivity. Public administration is inefficient. Tax evasion is prevalent and domestic revenue collection is poor.” Furthermore, it is true to claim that the weak governance in the country has resulted in ineffective enforcement of Constitutional Laws. When the Laws are not strictly implemented, Cambodian high-ranking government officials enjoy abusing power and utilizing their powerful influence without being punished or imprisoned for their wrongdoings. A good example of the weak governance can be seen in a case of the enactment of Cambodia’s Land Law in 2001. The Law clearly stated that: “… any person enjoying peaceful, uncontested possession of a given property for more than five years acquires an in rem ownership interest, and can request a definite title of ownership over it” (Human Rights Solidarity, 2007)[3]. This Law, nevertheless, has not been effectively enforced in the Cambodian real-world situations due to the weak governance and mismanagement of all government institutions and agencies.

The second, and probably the most pervasive, hindrance to the positive peace in Cambodia is deep-rooted corruption that has led to economic insecurity and poverty. Despite the fact that there has been a petition, with genuine signatures of about one million Cambodian people along with a strong push from local and international non-governmental organizations in the country, requesting the government to adopt the enactment of Anti-Corruption Law, this Law has not been passed for several years; more importantly, a self-governing anti-corruption body and an independent and efficient judicial system have not been established owing to deep-seated corruption as well as lack of real effort and strong commitment at all levels in the country.

Calavan, Briquets, and O’ Brien (2004)[4] illustrated the possibility and the level of corruption involvement among Cambodian ministries that:

“[t]here is a hierarchy of ministries from the viewpoint of corruption opportunities. Finance, which signs off on transfer of funds to other ministries, and controls customs and the tax office, and Agriculture, which controls forest and agricultural concessions, are at the top of the list. Health and Education are presumably mid-level, with modest opportunities to manipulate construction contracts and procurements of medications and textbooks... Even the Ministry of Planning can manipulate contracts with firms that undertake research projects or surveys.”

Lao (2008)[5], a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong, also acknowledged that: “[c]orruption in Cambodia was already rife, affecting every walk of life… It was and still is prevalent in every public institution everywhere and at every level: in schools, hospitals, fire services, the police, the army, the civil service, the judiciary, the government and the Parliament”. For instance, throughout the public school system, students are expected to bribe their teachers to get good grades or to pass examinations, while in public health service, supplemental fees are paid behind closed doors by patients to doctors or other health care staff for their access to various medical treatments. In 2007, it was estimated that among all the public institutions and agencies in Cambodia the police and the judicial system were the most infamous for their involvement in serious corruption, and the country “ranked 162 out 179 countries in the TI [Transparency International] Corruption Perceptions Index” (Lao, 2008). In addition, Australian Government (2008)[6] also reported that:

“[t]he United Nations Development Program's 2005 Human Development Index ranks Cambodia 131 out of 177 countries in terms of quality of life and while gradual progress has been made in reducing poverty, current projections show that Cambodia will not meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living below USD1 a day by 2015.”

This accurate and reliable information reveals that Cambodia, which has been steeped in a long recorded history of widespread corruption, has not been able to promote a high level of economic performance and security, so the majority of its people remain poor living below the poverty line, which is equal to one U.S. dollar a day. This simply means that their basic needs including clean water, electricity, medical facilities, just to mention a few, are not met or are not sufficiently supplied, thus impoverishing their daily living conditions. In regard to the burning issue of corruption in Cambodia, BBC (British Broadcasting Cooperation) News (2006)[7] also added that 50 percent of the Cambodia’s national budget was from international donors, namely World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Despite this fact, Cambodia has failed to use international funds or foreign aids well and effectively. This failure can be addressed and examined in: (1) the mismanagement of funds in a project to demobilize 30, 000 soldiers revealed by the World Bank in 2003; and (2) the missing funds of US$1.2 million discovered by the World Food Program in 2004 (Lao, 2008). We would not be surprised that the missing funds go to corrupt government officials, but the burdens to pay back the funds are shouldered on Cambodian people who are obliged to pay taxes and who are exploited in every turn. As a consequence, the people are still poor or even become poorer, while the officials lead a wealthier life.

The third and last crucial challenge is social inequality and injustice. Edwards (2005) said that: “[a]t the level of the nation-state, equity/equality addresses the fair distribution of such resources as food, affordable housing, health care, education, job training and professional opportunities” (p. 23). From Edwards’s standpoint, the social equity or equality focuses mainly on the just and equal allocation of existing resources among citizens in the society. However, in the Cambodian society, the real concept of the social equity or equality goes beyond his point of view. Asian Development Bank (2008) showed that: “[t]he justice system is susceptible to political influence and does not in practice afford citizens equal access to the law”. Apparently, the court or legal system in Cambodia is used as a political tool, so the independence and efficiency of the judiciary are not promoted, and more importantly, the way for the development of the social equality and justice is not paved in the society due to lack of just and equal treatment among all citizens. In addition to the social inequality and injustice, human rights abuses that have ranked among the most serious issues have also hindered the development of the positive peace in Cambodia. Two major examples of the most recent human rights violations in the country deserve to be mentioned here. The first example is in relation to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Human Rights Watch (2006)[8] claimed that: “[g]overnment crackdowns on freedom of speech and public assembly --together with arrests and harassment of communities seeking to maintain their access to land and natural resources -- has created a repressive atmosphere, prohibiting many citizens from airing their grievances in public.” By law, the media in Cambodia can broadcast or spread any accurate information or news in a free and fair manner without being under pressure of any individuals or groups; in practice, nonetheless, most of the media outlets, though not all, particularly television and radio stations, are tightly controlled and influenced by the ruling government and authorities, and are used mostly to disseminate their political propagandas and to block any criticism or report on their power abuse and their threatening and violent behaviors towards citizens, especially social activists, thus concealing the reality in the country. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State (2008)[9] also observed the abuse of human rights in connection with freedom of assembly in Cambodia that:

“[t]he constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, but at times the government did not respect this right in practice. The government required that a permit be obtained in advance of a march or demonstration. The government routinely did not issue permits to groups critical of the ruling party or of nations with which the government had friendly relations. Authorities cited the need for stability and public security as reasons for denying permits. Police forcibly dispersed groups that assembled without a permit, often resulting in minor injuries to some demonstrators.”

The second example of the human right violations is related to forced evictions in the country. Thousands of poor urban families, who have lived in their homes or community for several years, have been violently forced to leave their settlements without any lawful action or due process of law by the armed military police. With no choice and power, they are provided with either insufficient compensation for their removal or a poor living condition at the undeveloped and isolated relocation sites with no clean water supply, electricity, medical conveniences, and other basic needs. “ADHOC [Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association] reported receiving 382 land‑related cases affecting 19,329 families during the year. During the same period, LICADHO [Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights] received 98 land‑related cases in Phnom Penh and 13 other provinces affecting a total of 6,048 persons” (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State, 2008).

III. Recommendations for the Promotion of the Positive Peace in Cambodia

In conclusion, it is so clear that there are three significant challenges to the development of the positive peace in Cambodia: (1) weak governance followed by ineffective enforcement of Cambodia’s Constitutional Laws; (2) deep-rooted corruption alongside economic insecurity and poverty; and (3) social inequality and injustice and human rights violations. In order for the positive peace to be promoted in the country, the following recommendations corresponding to the abovementioned major challenges must be taken serious consideration.

Firstly, it is a fundamental step to enact an anti-corruption law and establish an independent anti-corruption commission and efficient judicial system with their full authority to implement the law and to fight against the widespread corruption at all levels in the country. High qualification and professional accountability of commission and judiciary members as well as good management and effectiveness of working procedures should be taken into account. With no doubt, the enactment of the law and the creation of the commission and the judiciary will contribute to curbing the deep-rooted corruption, to securing economic growth and alleviating poverty, and to upgrading the social equity and justice and the respects for the civil rights. In addition, the strict enforcement of the Cambodia’s Constitutional Laws, which has led to the good governance, must be promoted at all levels and equally applied to every citizen in the society so that any individuals or groups, regardless of their social statuses or positions, who are involved in the power abuse or any other wrongdoings, will be punished or imprisoned.

Secondly, the international donors, especially World Bank and Asian Development Bank, need to make certain that foreign funds or aids must be properly, transparently, and effectively used to provide real benefits for the poor and the vulnerable in the country. Moreover, the donors should also provide financial and technical support to found the independent and non-governmental research institutions to offer effective ongoing assessment and monitoring for better government reforms, accountability, and transparency in the country.

Lastly, but importantly, freedom of speech and of public assembly must be ensured in such a young democratic country like Cambodia, so that people can demonstrate their needs and concerns publicly and freely. Furthermore, the media, particularly televisions and radios, must be independent and free from any political pressure or influence to expose such burning issues as the apparent power abuse, corruption, impunity, and forced evictions in the country. As a result, an intense awareness among Cambodian people as well as international community of the issues will be raised, and the viable solutions to the issues will be addressed and promoted accordingly.

Cambodia, Thailand promise border troop withdrawal

Thailand's Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat attends a ACMECS Ministerial meeting in Hanoi in this November 6, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Kham)

The Star Online
Wednesday November 12, 2008

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia and Thailand pledged on Wednesday to start marking out disputed bits of border next month and withdraw troops in January to avoid a repeat of last month's armed clashes at the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

After three days of negotiations by a joint border committee in the Cambodian resort town of Siem Reap, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said "99 percent" of the problems had been resolved.

He did not elaborate other than to say the agreement had to be approved by Thailand's parliament, as required by the constitution.

At a joint press conference broadcast on Cambodian television, Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong said the troop withdrawal would make way for joint teams to clear the thousands of landmines that litter much of the jungle-clad border.

"We have decided to plant border pillars in the disputed area first because we are trying not to have a repeat of the conflict," Hor Namhong said.

One Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in last month's exchange of rifle and rocket fire, which both sides accused the other of starting.

The Hindu temple, which sits on the escarpment that forms the natural border, has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, but the ruling did not determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the ruins, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

Cambodia and Thailand agree outline border plan

A graphic on the Preah Vihear temple, site of border spat between Cambodia and Thailand. Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle Wednesday to reduce troops and use a century-old survey map to help resolve a long-running border dispute.(AFP/Graphic)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP) – Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle Wednesday to reduce troops and use a century-old survey map to help resolve a long-running border dispute.

The agreement between Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornviwat was the result of three days of negotiations.

They said they would make a priority of delineating the border area around 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where troops have been in a standoff since July, and will use a 1907 French colonial survey map to do so.

However the Thai foreign minister said his country's parliament would first need to approve both actions, which could help defuse tension and resolve competing territorial claims.

"Only two small issues remain, but I need a decision from (the) Thai parliament," Sompong told reporters in a press conference at the conclusion of talks between the two countries in the Cambodian tourist hub Siem Reap.

Cambodia's Hor Namhong said: "This is a clear and quick step forward. The delineation of the border at Preah Vihear will start from mid-December."

Another round of negotiations will take place in January, the foreign ministers added, but the two countries will also form a border task force that will stay in constant contact to avoid more conflict.

Shortly after similar talks between the foreign ministers failed last month, troops from the two countries clashed on October 15 on disputed land near the ancient Khmer 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 Khmer temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

Norwegian dies from drug overdose in Cambodian hotel

Monsters and Critics
Asia-Pacific News
Nov 12, 2008

Phnom Penh - A Norwegian tourist died from a drug overdose in a Phnom Penh hotel room, media reports said Wednesday.

David Senkut Winddy, 52, was found dead Sunday in his room at the Diamond Hotel in the Cambodian capital's central business district, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

The man's body was taken to a nearby hospital to be collected by his family and returned home.

Cambodia, Vietnam to build processing plant to boost trade

November 12, 2008

Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to build a new industrial processing factory aimed at boosting the two countries' agricultural exports, national media reported Wednesday.

The factory will promote cooperation between the two largely agricultural countries and raise quality standards on export goods such as beans, corn, palm sugar and cashew nuts, the Phnom Penh Post said.

Officials say the products would be aimed at the local and export markets.

"The factory will be constructed near the border between both countries in order to capitalize on each country's resources," HorNamhong, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was quoted as saying.

News of the partnership follows Prime Minister Hun Sen's return from a state visit to Vietnam, where he signed a trade agreement to increase cross-border commerce.

Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam reached 1.7 billion U.S. dollars through the first eight months of this year, Hor Namhong said, up from 1.19 U.S. dollars billion in 2007.

"Vietnam has more modern technology, capital and human resources than Cambodia, so (the new factory) will offer a significant tool to develop our economy," he said.

Le Bien Cuong, the commercial counselor at the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia, said hopes were high that the factory would be completed soon, and that the plant would raise the quality of local products to international export standards.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodian, Thai foreign ministers hold new border talks

November 12, 2008

The foreign ministers of Thailand and Cambodia held fresh talks Wednesday to try to resolve a long-running and deadly border dispute.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornvivat at a luxury hotel in Siem Reap province, home to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

In a press release issued ahead of the meeting, Cambodia's Foreign Ministry said it hoped both countries will be committed to achieving a "peaceful and just solution" to the border problem as soon as possible without any further delay.

The ministers were scheduled to discuss issues including clearing land mines along the border, troop redeployment and demarcation of the border, said Sin Bunthoeun, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Koy Kuong, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Phnom Penh Post that the foreign ministers' meeting would build on the progress made since the start of the week between Cambodian and Thai border committees.

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

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

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

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

In 1962, the International Court of Justice decided that the Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding area belong to Cambodia.

Source: Xinhua

HIV Testing for Global 'One Million Tests' Campaign Begins During Cambodia's National Water Festival

Wednesday November

AHF Cambodia CARES Donates 20,000 Kits to Government Testing Programs and Commits to Test 10,000 Individuals; Hard-hit Country Will Test 30,000 People Throughout November

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As part of an ambitious global effort to test one million people for HIV in observance of the One Million Tests World AIDS Day 2008 campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES launched its inaugural testing effort during the annual Water Festival, the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar which marks the end of the rainy season. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS group in the US which currently provides AIDS medical care and services to more than 83,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, spearheaded the worldwide initiative to test one million people in conjunction with the observance of this year’s World AIDS Day.

AHF Cambodia CARES, which operates 11 free AIDS treatment clinics throughout the country, has taken a leadership role in Cambodia’s HIV testing efforts by donating 20,000 kits to government HIV testing programs. In addition, AHF Cambodia CARES has also committed to testing 10,000 individuals. As a result, one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region that has been hardest-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic will test 30,000 people for HIV throughout the month of November.

“With the beginning of the Water Festival today, AHF Cambodia CARES was pleased to get an early start and launch our country’s participation in the World AIDS Day 2008 One Million Tests campaign. At four sites in Phnom Penh, AHF Cambodia CARES tested 250 individuals. Of these, three people were found to be HIV-positive, and each has been counseled and linked to a clinic for follow up care and access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment,” said Chhim Sarath, M.D., AHF Country Program Coordinator for Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in Asia and also has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. The HIV epidemic has spread beyond high-risk groups such as sex workers, male police officers, factory workers, mobile populations, injection drug users and men who have sex with men, to the general population.

The number of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers in Cambodia has increased dramatically over the last 5 years (only 12 sites in 2000 to 199 sites by the first quarter or 2008). Of the current 199 VCT centers, 180 are supported directly by the government, while 19 are supported by non-governmental organizations.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation’s largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 85,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at

Police Chief Inherits Slew of Grievous Cases

Relatives of opposition journalist Duong Daravuth grieve before his portrait during his funeral in Phnom Penh, following a deadly 1997 grenade attack that has never been solved.

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

As he begins his work as national police chief, Gen. Neth Savoeun will face a pile of open cases that his predecessor was accused of ignoring, impeding or perpetrating. Rights workers Wednesday wondered whether the new chief would make progress on any of them.

The former police chief, Hok Lundy, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday, failed to solve a number of high-profile cases that pained the nation: extrajudicial killings in the July 1997 coup, a grenade attack on opposition demonstrators that killed 16 in March 1997, and the murders of actress Piseth Pilika, Funcinpec lawmaker Om Rasady and opposition journalist Khim Sambor.

Hok Lundy, a powerful Cambodian People’s Party official close to Prime Minster Hun Sen, was routinely accused of collaboration in most of the cases. His death also left two men in prison widely considered innocent in the 2004 murder of labor leader Chea Vichea.

Rights workers were split on whether a police force under Neth Savoeun, who was a deputy of Hok Lundy and is married to a niece of Hun Sen, would be able to solve any of the cases.

“I don’t believe the appointment of Neth Savoeun as new national police chief will solve the crimes that happened in recent years,” Ou Vireak, chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said.

Even if Neth Savoeun had a will to investigate them, Ou Vireak said, he could face incarceration like Heng Pov. The former Phnom Penh police chief fingered Hok Lundy for a litany of crimes after Heng Pov fled the country in 2006, only to be extradited and imprisoned.

“When Heng Pov knew of these crimes, the government arrested him and put him in jail,” Ou Vireak said.

Heng Pov is now serving more than 50 years in a Cambodian prison and faces yet more charges for his alleged involvement in crimes while he was city chief under Hok Lundy.

Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, doubted Neth Savoeun would make major changes to the police.

“He would almost certainly continue to politicize the work of the police and tighten Hun Sen’s personalized control over the national police,”Adams said.

Am Sam Art, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said he believed the appointment could lead to breakthroughs in all the serious cases.

“I believe Neth Savoeun will reform the national police force to have a good reputation, not like Hok Lundy,” he said. “That’s why he should do everything in the interest of the people.”

Chea Mony, brother of slain union worker Chea Vichea and president of the Free Trade Union, said he hoped Neth Savoeun would find “justice” in that case. Two men believed innocent, Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun, are serving 20-year prison sentences for the murder.

“I think Neth Savoeun could find the real killers involved in the murder of my brother,” Chea Mony said. “We are ready to cooperate with him and give him the evidence if the police force needs the local NGOs to help.”

Vorn Phonn, 63, father of Sok Samoeun, appealed to Neth Savoeun to reexamine the case.

“I request to the replacement of Hok Lundy to urge the Supreme Court to judge the cases of my son and nephew Born Samnang,” he said. “I filed a complaint in May 2007, and until now it has been more than a year, so I hope Neth Savoeun can be able to push the judicial process.”

Gen. Neth Savoeun could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said, “Those cases have not been closed by the Ministry of Interior.”

“We will be investigating those crimes to find justice for the people, for the victims,” he said.

Province Laments Death of Chief Benefactor

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Svay Rieng province
12 November 2008

In the home province of the late national police chief Hok Lundy, his reputation as a reformer, fundraiser and benefactor overshadow any of the human rights complaints leveled against him.

As he rose through the ranks of the Cambodian People’s Party and its political positions, an increasing amount of development came to Svay Rieng, where Hok Lundy was born and raised—and where he perished in a helicopter crash Sunday night.

According to longtime residents of the province, Hok Lundy’s father was a policeman during the regime of Lon Nol. The Khmer Rouge killed his mother in Bavet commune. Village elders helped him escape death at the hands of the regime, leading him to Vietnam with other villagers. He returned in 1979, as a soldier in the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea, led by Heng Samrin.

He served as deputy secretary of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea, a precursor of the Cambodian People’s Party. In 1987, he was appointed governor of Svay Rieng province, a post he held until he became governor of Phnom Penh, from 1990 to 1994.

In 1994, he became chief of national police, a title that earned him a reputation as a powerful CPP official and condemnation for alleged collaboration in many serious rights abuses, including murder.

A gloomy Pen Phen, 60, white-haired and seated in the shade of his home in Bavet commune, Chantreav district, where Hok Lundy was raised said: “We very much regret the death of Hok Lundy, because Hok Lundy helped to develop 60 percent of the commune in his homeland, like building roads, bridges, infrastructure, schools, Buddhist pagodas, as well as helping attract foreign investment.”

“After I heard of Hok Lundy’s death, feeling left my body, and I thought I was a man who had lost one arm or one leg,” Pen Phen said. “Hok Lundy’s death will affect the development project in this area. He planned to enlarge Bavet to become a modern border city.”

According to “Twenty-Six Years in the Participation of Svay Rieng Development,” a booklet by former high school director Tea Hun, Hok Lundy spurred 53 development projects, from pagodas, schools, a university, district offices, district police posts, border protection buildings, roads, bridges, infrastructure and playgrounds.

Hok Lundy, in the role of national police chief and the province’s CPP deputy chief, had ambitions to develop Bavet commune as a model town and center of trade, said 45-year-old resident Mo Sin Yi. Hok Lundy hoped to increase his influence in the promotion of the development of the province, he said.

“We appreciate the achievements of Hok Lundy’s developments in Svay Rieng,” he said. “And we are very concerned for the development of the province after him.”

Hok Lundy had initiatives to fundraise for the construction and furnishing of Svay Rieng University, where more than 2,000 students now study, half of them on a “Hun Sen Scholarship.”

“When Hok Lundy became the national police chief, he helped develop Svay Rieng better than before,” said Kong Kakakda, a 21-year-old student of agronomy at the university who was discussing the news of Hok Lundy’s death with his friends in their dormitory.

Mot Savat, 20, a third-year student of rural development at the university, said he did not believe reports that Hok Lundy violated laws or human rights.

“His activities were for the people and the students,” he said.