Thursday, 20 November 2008

Cambodia won't declare war: PM Hun Sen

Thursday November 20, 2008

( - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed that Cambodia will not declare war against Thailand even though both countries have yet to settle the border dispute near Preah Vihear temple, which let to gunfights in October.

“Cambodia will not make war with any countries because Cambodia has had war experience and the country needed many years to recover. The political stability is good and we don’t want to destroy it,” said the Cambodian premier.

“We want to bring peace and avoid engaging in a war with Thailand, and both sides will continue to negotiate to promote unity,” added Mr Hun Sen.

Meanwhile, Cambodia has increased the budget for national security to 223 US dollars, or 64 per cent higher than last year’s fund.

Cadres to 'confront' each other

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins and Neth Pheaktra
Thursday, 20 November 2008

KR court defendants to testify against each other on S-21

EVEN as sources close to the court suggest that a new submission of suspects is only days away, two of the five Khmer Rouge leaders already indicted for war crimes are set to "confront" each other as part of investigations into their involvement in the deaths of up to 16,000 men, women and children at the regime's notorious Tuol Sleng prison, judges at the tribunal confirmed Wednesday.

Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, more commonly known as Duch, has accused "Brother No 2" Nuon Chea of ordering executions that occurred under his supervision at the school-turned-torture centre.

The two defendants will provide concurrent testimonies to judges, which are then expected to be used as evidence in Nuon Chea's likely trial.

The meeting, which will be held in private, was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed Tuesday at the request of Nuon Chea's defence team.

Co-investigating Judge You Bun Leng confirmed Wednesday that there would still be a "confrontation" meeting but was unable to provide a date or comment on its format.

Co-lawyer for Nuon Chea, Son Arun, told the Post Wednesday that the decision to postpone was simply a matter of readiness, saying: "My client and my co-lawyer and I are not ready [for the confrontation]. There are a lot of documents that need to be read first, so we have decided to postpone it."

Duch's co-lawyer, Ka Savuth, was unavailable for comment.

Suspects bear witness

Nuon Chea's prosecution will depend heavily on evidence elicited from Duch's testimony.

Duch, unlike Nuon Chea, has expressed a willingness to talk and has acknowledged his role as prison chief at Tuol Sleng during the 1975-79 regime. Since his arrest, the born-again Christian has fingered fellow detainees as people he took orders from, and proclaimed his readiness to provide evidence to the tribunal.

Both defendants face charges of crimes against humanity. Duch, who is the youngest defendant at 66, is expected to go on trial early next year.

Growth to slow for poor nations

The Phnom Penh Post

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Siem Reap

THE global economic crisis may reverse gains in poverty reduction and slash economic growth in least developed countries, World Trade Organisation Director Pascal Lamy told a conference in Siem Reap on Wednesday.

The comments came as trade ministers and delegates from 49 of the world's poorest nations gathered for two days of talks on trade liberalisation and the world market meltdown.

"We are seeing an unprecedented financial crisis with an epicenter in the USA, but now spreading to the real economy around the world," he said.

"Medium-term growth prospects for the LDCs are grim," he added.

With the political rift between rich and poor countries widening over protectionism in the developed world, the WTO chief urged a common approach to the crisis.

"There is a strong sense that we are all on the same boat and that we must act and coordinate together if we are to lift ourselves," he said.

But in his opening speech to the conference, Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out against protectionism in the West.

He said the world's poorest countries were suffering "strong trade barriers", with tariffs and strict controls hampering their access to world markets.

Monk arrested after British tourist raped and robbed

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Thursday, 20 November 2008

A 39-year-old British backpacker is alleged to have been raped and robbed by a 17-year-old monk at a resort in Battambang province

BATTAMBANG provincial police have detained a Cambodian monk accused of raping a female British backpacker at a resort near Phnom Sampov mountain.

Bun Sambo, police chief of Banan district, said that on Tuesday the alleged victim accused Than Sophoan, 17, of raping her on her visit to the area.

Bun Sambo added that on Wednesday, Than Sophoan was arrested after being defrocked and escorted into provincial police custody for further questioning.

Monk confesses

"He confessed that he raped and robbed her," Bun Sambo told the Post Wednesday. "We took the victim to the provincial hospital for an examination and they confirmed that she [showed signs of sexual assault]."

He said that the woman reported to the police that her cash, camera, mobile phone, passport and credit cards were stolen. The police have since recovered many of her belongings from the monk's lodgings, but her mobile phone and 1,500 baht have disappeared.

"We have returned the remaining properties back to her, and the suspect was charged with rape and robbery," he said.

Hun Sam Ath, chief of the tourism police officer in Battambang province, said that the police are collecting evidence before they send the suspect to court.

Tan Saroeung, the director of the tourism department in Battambang, said that the woman arrived at Battambang on Monday as a private tourist and traveled that day to Phnom Sampov mountain.

"We are really sorry about what occurred. Such a case has never happened before, and we do not want to see this case again," Tan Saroeung told the Post on Wednesday. "It will affect the number of tourists."

On Saturday, police in Kampong Speu's Baseth district arrested a monk as well as an ex-monk for raping two teenage girls in school rooms near the monk's pagoda.

Kampot land dispute hearing postponed due to absent judge

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Four villagers charged with robbery and the destruction of private property during a clash with the military in June to face court next week

KAMPOT provincial court has postponed until Monday the hearing of four villagers charged with robbery and vandalism during a land dispute, citing the absence of one of the case's three judges.

Nhek Chantha, 52, Vong Ma, 46, Moeu Sopheak, 19, and Noeu Kak-Kada, 18, were arrested in late June in Kbal Damrey village, in Kampot's Chhouk district, after protesting the subdivision of their land by troops from RCAF's Brigade 31.

The troops destroyed vegetable patches and nut plantations, saying they were making way for families evicted from the neighbouring hamlet of Anlong Krom, villagers and rights groups say.

The case was scheduled to be heard Wednesday.

"The case required three judges for the hearing, but one judge was in Phnom Penh for a mission so the case has been postponed," said Chin Lida, a defence lawyer from the Cambodian rights group Licadho.

Chin Lida said the four suspects are each facing one civil charge of damaging property and one criminal charge of stealing a soldier's mobile phone.

But Nhek Chanthol, the daughter of suspect Nhek Chantha, said the absent judge could have easily been replaced by another judge attached to the provincial court.

"The court intends to keep the suspects longer and longer [in detention]," she said. "The postponement is unlikely due to the lack of a judge."

Sun Sothea, secretary general of Kampot province, said that those arrested were reacting violently to Brigade 31 soldiers who were subdividing land in Kbal Damrey for 200 families evicted from Anlong Krom.

"Villagers were protesting violently at that time," he said. "So we use force to crack down on them."

Pech Chhoeurt, the case's presiding judge, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hok Lundy's family to buy crash site

A military police officer lifts a photograph of Hok Lundy at a ceremony commemorating the late National Police chief on Saturday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 20 November 2008

The former National Police chief's relatives will erect a monument to the late top cop

RELATIVES of the late National Police chief, Hok Lundy, plan to buy the land where his helicopter crashed and erect a monument there to guard his spirit, says a monk whose mother owns the property.

Keut Sophy, the chief monk of Svay Chek pagoda, near the crash site, said relatives inquired about purchasing the 90-metre-by-80-metre vegetable plot in Svay Rieng province's Romdoul district.

The monk said the land was haunted long before it became the death site of Cambodia's top cop. "At night I would dream about a dark magician from Svay Rieng town coming to use magic on my family's land," he said.

"One night I invited seven monks to bless the village, and then the next day Hok Lundy had his crash."

While the monk would not reveal to the Post the property's price tag, a local resident, 47-year-old Hing Phon, said the monk was insisting on the hefty sum of US$150,000.

"That is a very high price for simple agricultural land, but I think Hok Lundy's family is desperate to buy it because Khmer people believe that when someone dies, their spirit remains in that place," he said.

While area residents have been scrambling to catch a glimpse of the crash site, Svay Rieng provincial Governor Chieng Om said police were keeping people away out of respect for the late police chief's spirit.

Relatives of Hok Lundy could not be reached for comment.

The news comes as Hok Lundy's replacement, Hun Sen's nephew-in-law and National Police deputy commissioner, Neth Savoeun, is set to be sworn in Friday, according to a source close to the process.

Police Chief seen as 'hero' to students

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 20 November 2008

DESPITE controversy over his track record on human rights, the late Hok Lundy will be mourned by students in his native Svay Rieng province, who say they worry his death will spell the end for many ambitious educational projects in their area.

"We saw him as our second father because of all the help he gave to us students in Svay Rieng," 24-year-old Penh Sethea, a fourth-year marketing student in the Royal University of Svay Rieng, said of the former National Police chief, who was killed November 9 in a helicopter crash while flying to his home province in bad weather.

"Svay Rieng never had a university before. He understood the difficulty facing students here, so he built the university in 2005," she said.

Another fourth-year student there, Bun Tola, expected the loss of its main patron would "create major problems for the future of the university".

Hok Lundy was the driving force behind starting the Royal University of Svay Rieng, using personal finances to foot the US$2 million bill for its construction and provide free tuition and learning materials for the nearly 800 students composing its first cohort, according to its vice dean, Loek Virak.

He said Hok Lundy's death could drain the school's finances and postpone plans for its expansion.

The concern was shared by Hab Channara, dean of the university's faculty of business, who praised Hok Lundy's vision to allow the province's youth to pursue higher education while remaining close to home.

"He was just about to sign on for his plan to have more classrooms built, but now, with his death, there will be problems with the school's development," Hab Channara said.

While opposition lawmakers and human rights groups point to a litany of unsolved political murders and alleged links to crime rings that they say cast a dark shadow on the late strongman's tenure, Svay Rieng provincial Governor Chieng Om called him nothing less than a "hero" for his patronage of local education.

DJ Ano appears live on TV3, fresh-faced and injury-free

A healthy, happy DJ Ano appears on TV3 on Wednesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Her appearance dispells more than a week of gruesome reports about an alleged razor attack by a government official's jealous wife

TELEVISION presenter DJ Ano on Wednesday put to rest more than a week of rumours that she had been attacked with razors by the wife of a high-ranking government official and had fled to Vietnam to recover from her injuries.

The TV3 presenter, whose real name is Suon Pheakdei, appeared live on her network in full health and showing no signs of the alleged 83 razor cuts that had formed the substance of the lurid rumours.

In addition to refuting stories of the attack, which began circulating more than a week ago when she failed to turn up for work, Ano said she has asked for a police investigation to determine who might be responsible for spreading false information about her.

"I will file a complaint against those who started the rumours," she said. "When I heard the information about me, I had no idea what to do."

Kha Puon Keomony, director general of TV3, said Ano had taken time off from work to visit relatives abroad but that at her request, he had not released the information to the media.

"I didn't tell anyone," he said. "She asked me not to speak about her."

Rockers Placebo to play anti-slavery gig at Cambodia's Angkor Wat

(Left-right) Musicians Steve Hewitt, Stefan Olsdal and Brian Molko from the band "Placebo"

BANGKOK (AFP) — Alternative guitar band Placebo are to headline the first rock concert at Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex, putting years of catering to their fans' teenage angst behind them to speak out against human trafficking.

The December 7 gig, held as part an of an MTV Exit campaign, will transform the 12th century Khmer ruins into a rock venue that will also feature US band The Click Five and a host of other international and Cambodian stars.

Lead singer Brian Molko, best known for his androgynous looks and penchant for black nail polish, told AFP he felt "honoured" to play at the historic jungle temple complex.

"It's just one of the most breathtaking and unique places I have ever spent time in really," the 35-year-old, who visited the ruins as a tourist three years ago, said in a telephone interview from London.

"It's also a very spiritual and quite calming place and so to be able to perform in front of it is just ridiculous."

But taking on the one-off gig at the crumbling ruins has presented some technical difficulties for the London-based three-piece, whose hits include "Nancy Boy" and "Pure Morning".

"We decided that since we don't have access to a massive wall of sound... we have been forced to deconstruct our songs, tear them to pieces and put them back together in novel and unusual ways.

"It's very challenging and very stimulating," he said, describing the end result as "more melody than bombast".

Molko said he hoped the show will attract Cambodians as well as international fans and highlight the problem of this "modern form of slavery".

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

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

"There may be people (in the audience) who wish to get more involved in trying to change things. That's all that we can do as a rock band. We are not politicians, we are not heads of police," Molko said.

The concert is part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organised by the anti-trafficking MTV Exit campaign and the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.

The last international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.

Molko said the rock concert, which is Placebo's only outing before their sixth studio album comes out next spring, is part of a change of focus for him after becoming a father three years ago.

"When you have somebody in your life that you care about more than yourself it's a massive shift in perspective in the way that you view the world," Molko said.

"It does make you want to become involved in the planet that we live on. It's the world that you are passing on to your children."

Fresh tensions over temple

CMAC deminer rests at Preah Vihear temple on November 7.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady and Sam Rith
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Following a flag-raising ceremony on November 7, Thailand seems likely to backtrack on previous support for Cambodia's claim to Preah Vihear

CAMBODIA'S flag-raising ceremony at Preah Vihear temple last week may have sparked a new series of diplomatic hostilities with its neighbour, as there is movement in the Thai government to backtrack on its previous support for Cambodia's right to lay claim to the ancient temple, according to Thai media.

The Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry announced Tuesday that it would ask the Cabinet to retract the original three resolutions from May and June giving Cambodia permission to unilaterally seek the listing of Preah Vihear as a Unesco World Heritage site, according to reports in the English-language daily The Nation.

But Koy Kuong, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post that Unesco's approval of the listing could not be amended.

He attributed the Thai Foreign Ministry's reported plans to "political infighting", and said they would not substantially damage negotiations over border demarcation.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that "Unesco is not involved in this kind of politicking".

"Cambodia's inscription is under international protection" and cannot be reversed, he added.

He said Cambodia's internationally-recognised ownership of the temple was reaffirmed by the November 7 ceremony at which its officials raised the national and Unesco flags on its grounds - a move that prompted Thailand to lodge an official complaint with Cambodia, claiming parts of the ceremony took place on Thai soil.

" UNESCO is not involved in this kind of politicking. "

The Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it was preparing a response to be released "as soon as possible".

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said the prolonged civil unrest in Bangkok has significantly hindered the Thai government's ability to advance consistent policies - a problem, he said, that will hurt its image as a reliable negotiator.

"The new constitution has been a major roadblock to the Thai government when trying to move forward in negotiations since it has created many new terms and conditions."

Most relevant to the border dispute, it requires that any treaty with a foreign government be approved by parliament, he said, adding that its struggles in adjusting to new rules of conduct would not excuse the Thai government from reneging on previously held agreements.

"When a country walks out of a treaty, its image is going to be hurt," he said.

Khem Sophoan, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), said Thai claims that Cambodia had established new land mine fields along the shared border were unfounded.

Cambodia will address the claims during meetings beginning Monday in Geneva with the UN and international organisations involved in de-mining, according to Heng Ratana, deputy director general of CMAC, who will attend the talks.

Dispense the same type of justice you demand

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Roger Nault
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Dear Editor,

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has properly conducted itself in a quietly confident manner as it implores Thailand, and indeed the international community, to ensure that the rule of international law is upheld - that is to reconfirm that Preah Vihear and other temples remain the sovereign property of Cambodia. While negotiations seem to be moving in a positive direction and there is a rare opportunity to appoint a new National Police Chief, the RGC might reflect on the benefits of upholding the rule of law within its own sovereign borders.

If the rule of law is the standard that the RGC (rightfully) implores of its neighbors, then certainly it must live to the same standard: "You can't suck and blow at the same time".

There is a rare opportunity for a seismic shift in law and order in Cambodia. Thousands of victims of land grabbing and other crimes implore the RGC to end the culture of impunity and dispense only the same level of justice that it demands internationally, within Cambodia's sovereign borders.

Roger Nault
Phnom Penh

New super hybrid rice expected to triple crop yields

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Camilla Bjerrekaer and Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Kampong Thom

A MALAYSIAN-Cambodian joint venture has unveiled a new hybrid rice strain to farmers and investors in Kampong Thom province that they say will triple rice yields.

Kasekor Khmer Rongroeung Co Ltd, a partnership between agricultural consultants in Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore, introduced the hybrid rice crop on small government-owned test plots in Kampong Thom province to farmers and international investors from Singapore and the Middle East, a company official said.

Early results show potential rice yields of seven to eight tonnes per hectare, compared with two or three tonnes from traditional types of rice.

"In Cambodia, hybrid rice can fulfill local demand as well as increase opportunities for export," said Thomas Chen, chairman of SunLand Agri-tec, a Singaporean agricultural consultancy company with years of experience in hybrid rice.

Kampong Thom provincial Governor Nam Toum said farmers' incomes and yields have increased following the introduction of the hybrid strain on 5,000 hectares of land earlier this year.

"With normal paddy rice, our farmers can get only three tonnes per hectare, but now they can get as many as eight with the new hybrid," he said.

The partnership has tested several hybrid varieties to find the one best suited for Cambodia, Chen said, adding that several hybrid strains are in use throughout Southeast Asia.

Hybrids, which account for as much as 60 percent of China's rice production, are the result of selective breeding that combines varieties with the best taste, texture and resistance to disease.

The hybrid tested in Kampong Thom is said to combine the taste of basmati rice with the chewy texture of Japanese sushi rice, officials involved in the project said.

Kasekor Khmer Rongroeung conducted its provisional tests by distributing rice and fertiliser to farmers free of charge in return for a share of the crop - a strategy they hope to continue in the future.

Chen said his company hopes to begin wider production by July 2009 and that training farmers would be crucial to the success of the venture, as hybrid rice requires different methods.

The company is training students at the Cambodian Agricultural Development Institute to maximise production and soil sustainability. The students, in turn, will train area farmers.

The partnership expects wide acceptance of the new hybrid.

"Next season, we will expand the [production] area," said Louis Kek, director of Malaynesia Resources, also a member of the joint venture, who added that the project aims to grow hybrid rice on 200 hectares in Kampong Thom next year and nationwide in subsequent years.

Some 80 percent of people in Kampong Thom province farm rice on about 300,000 hectares of land, and many have already taken to the new hybrid.

Kan Salan, chief of Kampong Tmor commune in Santuk district, told the Post that farmers in his commune are happy with the hybrid harvest results.

"We are starting to collect the hybrid harvest and are happy with the yields," he said.

"We need more study of the company's technology in order to ensure increased income and yields in the future."

EU highlights challenge of corruption, human rights

The EC's charge d'affaires Rafael Dochao Moreno at a news conference Wednesday.

The Phnom Penh post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Officials acknowledge progress, but urge civil society and government to work together to resolve pressing issues

THE European Union delegation to Cambodia has called on civil society groups, government officials and the international community to support the country's future development.

In a two-day political dialogue between the European Commission (EC) - the EU's executive body - and the government, EC officials highlighted major concerns in the areas of judicial reform, human rights, governance and democracy.

"Impunity of people in high positions with political and economic clout is a major concern," said a statement released by the EC.

"Corruption is widespread, undermining the entire fabric of society and hampering development."

The statement also added that each successive election has been marked by decreasing levels of violence but an increasing concentration of power in hands of the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

"We consider it is equally important for civil society to engage with the Cambodian government in order to support Cambodia's shared development work," said Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d'affaires of the EC delegation to Cambodia in a speech Wednesday.

Ouch Borith, secretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a speech that the government has made significant achievements in implementing comprehensive reforms and will soon pass an Anti-Corruption Law and the 2006 draft law regulating the operation of international NGOs in Cambodia.

But Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said that the lack of a role for the opposition in key areas of the National Assembly will remove checks and balances in the Cambodian political system and jeopardise the country's national development.

PM presses for unity in developing world

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Prime Minister Hun Sen, seen in this file photo, has urged poor countries to cooperate in trade negotiations with the West.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and May Kunmakara
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Hun Sen urges poor countries to band together for trade talks

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday appealed to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to collectively negotiate trade agreements with developed nations.

"For least developed countries like us, it is necessary to build solidarity and to speak with only one voice to ensure a joint triumph for everyone in negotiations," Hun Sen said during the opening of a two-day summit on trade liberalisation and aid in Siem Reap, which includes ministers from 49 of the world's poorest countries.

He said that developed countries have failed to deliver on previous commitments to poorer nations, including a promise to increase aid to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product. The prime minister also sharply attacked the West's trade barriers.

"We openly receive products from developed countries at higher prices, but when we export our products to them, trade barriers remain firmly in place," he said.

Developing countries have complained during World Trade Organisation negotiations that agricultural subsidies and trade barriers in the West are hindering growth.

"Tax issues are not always our concern, but [developed countries] impose sanitary conditions. Whatever items they say are substandard for their imports are subject to these conditions, which kills our trade," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen also criticised developed nations for failing to honour promises to stop agricultural subsidies, which he said restricted agricultural production in the developing world by forcing poor nations to compete with artificially cheap goods.

Meanwhile, Cambodia's premier expressed his support for a new mandate for Pascal Lamy, the current general director of the WTO.

"As negotiations continue, especially the negotiations in Doha, many problems remain. Pascal Lamy is directly in charge of the negotiations, so I think that it is good if LDCs join forces to support him as WTO general director for a new term," Hun Sen said.

"I am not lobbying on his behalf, but I see that poor countries get benefits from him. "We vote for him, but we have to ask him to serve us as well," he added.

Mechanical alarm forces Chinese aircraft to make emergency landing

SHANGHAI, Nov.20 (Xinhua) -- A Shanghai Airlines Boeing 737 with 149 passengers aboard was forced to make an emergency landing in south China's Hainan island on Wednesday while on a scheduled flight from Shanghai to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The airline said a "mechanical failure" occurred at around 11:22 p.m. on flight FM 833 and the aircraft was forced to land at Meilan International Airport, Haikou.

An airline spokesman said an alarm light in the cockpit had alerted the crew to a problem with a fuel pump.

The passengers were alerted to the problem and were asked to stay calm, said the spokesman.

None of the emergency equipment was used in the incident and all the passengers were safe and unharmed, he said.

The aircraft had left Shanghai at 7:40 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Phnom Penh at 12:45 a.m. on Thursday.

"After the emergency landing, the airline authorities ordered another aircraft be flown to Haikou to complete the flight, and provided the passengers with water and instant noodles," said the spokesman.

The replacement aircraft arrived at Haikou at 3:35 a.m. on Thursday, picked up all the passengers and took off at 6:28 a.m. It was scheduled to arrive at the Cambodian capital by 9 a.m..

Aviation authorities and the airline are investigating the cause of the mechanical failure.

Editor: An

Placebo to gig at Angkor Wat

The Straits Times
Nov 20, 2008

BANGKOK - ALTERNATIVE guitar band Placebo are to headline the first rock concert at Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex, putting years of catering to their fans' teenage angst behind them to speak out against human trafficking.

The December 7 gig, held as part an of an MTV Exit campaign, will transform the 12th century Khymer ruins into a rock venue that will also feature US band The Click Five and a host of other international and Cambodian stars.

Lead singer Brian Molko, best known for his androgynous looks and penchant for black nail polish, told AFP he felt 'honoured' to play at the historic jungle temple complex.

'It's just one of the most breathtaking and unique places I have ever spent time in really', the 35-year-old, who visited the ruins as a tourist three years ago, said in a telephone interview from London.

'It's also a very spiritual and quite calming place and so to be able to perform in front of it is just ridiculous'.

But taking on the one-off gig at the crumbling ruins has presented some technical difficulties for the London-based three-piece, whose hits include 'Nancy Boy' and 'Pure Morning'.

'We decided that since we don't have access to a massive wall of sound... we have been forced to deconstruct our songs, tear them to pieces and put them back together in novel and unusual ways'.

'It's very challenging and very stimulating', he said, describing the end result as 'more melody than bombast'.

Molko said he hoped the show will attract Cambodians as well as international fans and highlight the problem of this 'modern form of slavery'.

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

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

'There may be people (in the audience) who wish to get more involved in trying to change things. That's all that we can do as a rock band. We are not politicians, we are not heads of police', Molko said.

The concert is part of a series of music shows in Cambodia organised by the anti-trafficking MTV Exit campaign and the US Agency for International Development to raise awareness in young people about human trafficking in the region.

The last international recording artist to perform at Angkor Wat, which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, was tenor Jose Carreras who sang for a charity gala dinner there in 2002.

Molko said the rock concert, which is Placebo's only outing before their sixth studio album comes out next spring, is part of a change of focus for him after becoming a father three years ago.

'When you have somebody in your life that you care about more than yourself it's a massive shift in perspective in the way that you view the world', Molko said.

'It does make you want to become involved in the planet that we live on. It's the world that you are passing on to your children'. -- AFP

Cambodia to attend Asean summit

The Phnom Penh Post

Thursday, 20 November 2008

CAMBODIA will not boycott next month's Asean Summit in Chiang Mai, despite the ongoing border dispute with Thailand, senior government officials said Wednesday.

"We will not boycott the summit in December because we regard this [border] problem as a Cambodian and Thai dispute," said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

He was speaking at a conference on the border issue.

"We want to maintain friendship and good cooperative ties with our neighbouring countries," Phay Siphan said.

"Cambodia and Thailand still have a good friendship, despite the gunfire exchange on October 15," he added.

Clashes erupted last month after months of border tensions boiled over, killing at least four Cambodian and Thai soldiers.

Phay Siphan said Cambodia would continue negotiations over contested border territory, despite the ongoing military standoff there.

Pressuring the host

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said Cambodia could use the December 15 summit in Chiang Mai to raise regional awareness of Thai border violations.

"We must attend the Asean Summit because we are a member of Asean," he said. "It is a good opportunity to show other Asean members about the Thai invasion of our Cambodian territory.... We can put pressure on Thailand because Thailand is the summit host."

Bloc members meeting for the 14th annual summit are expected to ratify the Asean Charter - the forum's constitution, and the Basic Law that guides Asean's operations.

Local Toyota sales down almost 50pc as crisis hits Cambodia

10% cut in outlet’s expenses
Cambodia's sole Toyota distributor says it will not layoff staff but will cut expenses by a tenth after selling only 1,200 vehicles so far this – well short of the 2,000 previously anticipated.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Hor Hab
Thursday, 20 November 2008

More sales drops expected in coming year as a worsening economy keeps buyers from opening up their wallets for new cars

SALES of Toyota vehicles, among the most popular in Cambodia, have plummeted almost 50 percent since May, according to Kong Nuon, president of Cambodia's only Toyota distributor TTHK Co Ltd.

"The real estate recession is the main cause for the sales decline because people are not earning extra cash from land sales," he said Monday. "Demand for cars has declined a lot."

He said Toyota had hoped to sell about 2,000 cars this year, but has achieved sales of only 1,200 so far.

He said he expected next year's sales to decline by another 20 to 30 percent. Despite the slump, the company expects to be able to withstand the tough economic climate, he said.

"We ‘don't plan to lay off our staff, but we will cut expenses by about 10 percent," Kong Nuon said.

Ngorn Saing, deputy general manager of RM Asia Co Ltd, the second largest automobile importer, said Tuesday that sales of Ford brand cars have declined about 10 percent within the last few months.

"I think it is hard to say how bad the effect will be. Our sales normally fluctuate, so we will have to wait to see how bad we will be hit," Ngorn Saing said.

"We have seen a 10 percent decline in our car sales over these last few months resulting from the recession in the land markets in Cambodia because some of our customers are from the provinces," said Ngorn Saing.

Ngorn Saing said the company expected to sell 500 Ford cars in 2008, but has cut its forecast to 450. Despite the slower economy, he said his company hopes to sell 600 Ford vehicles next year.

Ngorn Saing estimates that annual automobile demand in Cambodia stands at about 2,500 for new cars and 40,000 for secondhand cars.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, said Tuesday the decline in automobile sales is mainly due to the slow real estate market.

"In the past, the auto demand has been high because people had money from selling their land and from speculation, but now the land market is in crisis.

"People who bought can't sell it and land speculators have lost everything, so some of the first things they cut back on are new vehicle purchases," he added.

He said that it is hard to predict when the sales will recover. "It could be six months, one year or longer - depending on whether the global financial crisis ends."

Global declines

The problems in Cambodia's auto market are being seen throughout the world, with car companies scrambling to adjust to the recession.

In the US, Toyota recently announced its first sales drop in 13 years and a Christmas-New Year closure at its US and Canadian plants will be extended by two days, spokesman Mike Goss said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg.

Toyota cut its annual profit forecasts by more than 50 percent.

Ford reported a 30 percent drop in car and light-truck sales from a year earlier, and Toyota's declined 23 percent.


RIGHTS-CAMBODIA: Khmer Rouge Through Blinkered Eyes

Swedish activist Bergstrom supported the Khmer Rouge regime but regrets it. Credit:Andrew Nette/IPS

By Andrew Nette

PHNOM PENH, Nov 20 (IPS) - When Gunnar Bergstrom stepped off the plane into the sweltering heat of the Cambodian capital in August 1978, he did not even begin to suspect the fate that had befallen the country whose struggle he had supported from afar.

Part of a delegation from the pro-Khmer Rouge Sweden-Kampuchean Friendship Association (SKFA), and one of the few groups of Westerners allowed to visit Democratic Kampuchea, Bergstrom and his friends were greeted by a group of black-clad Khmer Rouge officials.

"We knew that the Khmer Rouge had emptied Phnom Penh and other big cities, that was no surprise," Bergstrom told a seminar here this week.

What they did not know was that the people were being overworked, starved, tortured, and executed as part of an ultra-radical social experiment that would ultimately lead to the deaths of nearly two million Cambodians.

"We did not see the murders and killings, we had no idea about [the interrogation centre] Tuol Sleng."

"I understood that some things were arranged but not everything," he says of their 14 days in country, during which they travelled widely and had dinner with the secretive Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and his foreign minister Ieng Sary.

"Now I think the whole trip was propaganda and we should never have made it,’’ said Begstrom. "It is still a mystery about how you can delude oneself so much. We were fooled by smiles but what fooled us the most was our own Maoist glasses we wore."

The agenda behind Bergstrom’s current visit, his first since the delegation 30 years ago, is very different from that which inspired the 27-year old Maoist in 1978.

With the assistance of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, an non-government organisation (NGO) dedicated to archiving the history of the Khmer Rouge, he will retrace the delegation’s journey, hoping to get the life stories of the people they met all those years ago.

As part of this, he will showcase a display of photographs he took during the visit, entitled ‘Gunnar in the Living Hell: Democratic Kampuchea, August 1978’.

He hopes it will shed light on the final days of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, and generate wider debate about the nature of truth and propaganda with Cambodians, the majority of whom have no memory of the Khmer Rouge in power.

Like thousands of intellectuals in the sixties, Bergstrom supported the revolutions in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and thought the new regimes would usher in better societies.

"I was active in the movement against the war in Vietnam when I was 19," he remembers.

"The first demonstration I went to was about Cambodia. We were young and many of us were recruited after a while into the Maoist movement."

"People did not want Soviet communism, but we young people thought China was different, that it was an ideal society where there were no oppressors."

"When the Khmer Rouge won in April 1975, we celebrated."

Soon after the Khmer Rouge took power, the SKFA asked permission to visit but were knocked back.

Then in April 1978, permission was granted, part of a broader public relations drive undertaken at the time by the regime.

The delegation returned to Sweden where they undertook a speaking tour and wrote articles in support of the Khmer Rouge. "After six months I left that movement because I realised I had been wrong about the Khmer Rouge," recalled Bergstrom.

Although most other members of the delegation feel the same as Bergstrom, one member continues to defend Pol Pot, and their visit remains controversial today.

Bergstrom and his delegation were not the only Swedes to visit Democratic Kampuchea.

"In 1976, the country’s Beijing ambassador and a senior official from the foreign ministry came, returning with positive reports of what was going on," says Eskil Frauck of the Living History Forum, a quasi-government think tank in Sweden that is co-sponsoring Bergstrom’s visit.

"Delegations from the United States and other European countries returned with positive stories,’’ Frauck said. "This all made it easier for the world to believe life in Democratic Kampuchea was much better than it was."

Bergstrom’s delegation was taken to factories, agricultural cooperatives, schools and a hospital. They went to the port of Kompong Som, now Sihanoukville, where they saw rice being loaded onto ships for export to China.

"We thought this was proof they were self sufficient, that they were able to grow more rice than they needed."

For their audience with Pol Pot, they had to submit questions in advance. "We gave him nine. One was about the accusations of genocide. He denied it was happening and said it was just Western slander."

"I had no strong impression of Pol Pot. People asked me if he seemed crazy. At the time he seemed normal. That was even scarier in retrospect because it meant he was a rational killer."

One part of the dinner that makes Bergstrom laugh today was a brief conversation he had with Ieng Sary in French. "He asked me who should be allowed to come to Cambodia, should they let in journalists from the Swedish media."

"I told him of course they should, that they had nothing to hide," he says, smiling at the irony.

It is what Bergstrom and the other members of his delegation did not see during their time in Cambodia that haunts him.

By late 1978, not only had the Khmer Rouge leadership purged those suspected of being intellectuals or supporting the old regime, but also ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese, and large sections of their own movement deemed not sufficiently loyal to Pol Pot. This had resulted in open rebellion in parts of the country.

Large parts of Cambodia were experiencing severe famine, and relations with Vietnam had completely collapsed over repeated border incursions by the Khmer Rouge. Hanoi was only a few months off a full-scale invasion, which occurred on Christmas day 1978.

"Since we did not speak Khmer we had to speak to people through an interpreter," says Bergstrom. "That’s one of the main reasons they were able to make sure we saw only what they wanted us to see."

"Anytime I saw something disturbing I was able to fall back on the excuse that the revolution was young and they will learn," he admits.

The photographs taken by Bergstrom and another member of the delegation are a haunting reminder of the manipulation they faced trying to interpret the truth of what they were being shown.

In addition to overt propaganda shots of cultural performances are pictures of smiling children, factory workers, men and women eating in communal halls, and people planting rice against the backdrop of the lush Cambodian countryside.

Age has given the pictures a washed out, grainy feel. The colours are muted and much is clocked in shadow. The country they depict is poor but functioning. There are no pictures of torture, starvation or violence.

"I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was fake and real," says Bergstrom. "The hospital we visited was definitely fake, as there were no hospitals."

"We were taken to a technical high school in Phnom Penh, which was either a fake or a school for the children of senior cadres."

"Certainly the cooperatives we visited were model ones that they must have shown all visiting delegations."

"I cannot undo the trip. I can only make things right now. For my part I am sorry. If you ask me did I feel guilt, yes."

Send your comments to the editor

Rong Chhun Encourages the Prime Minister to Keep His Promise - Wednesday, 19.11.2008

Posted on 20 November 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 587

“The President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, encouraged Prime Minister Hun Sen on 18 November 2008 to keep his promise - he should not make promises and then not keep them.

“It should be noted that yesterday, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was elected in a combined ‘package’ vote, to remind him, ‘Before the general elections on 27 July 2008, Samdech Prime Minister publicly promised to provide Riel 20,000 as a special payment per month, to teachers and other civil servants starting from July to the end of 2008.’

“The letter of Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say, ‘So far, the leaders of ministries and the relevant municipal and provincial departments have not yet released these Riel 20,000 per month to teachers and to other civil servants.’

“The letter of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association said that according to reports from teachers in the provinces and cities, there are only two provinces where teachers had received this special payment for four month.

“It is said that the words of prime ministers in other countries are considered very valuable for a nation and for its citizens, but the words of the Khmer Prime Minister Mr. Hun Sen, they are ‘like tadpoles’ cries in a clay pot.’ Therefore it would be better if Mr. Hun would keep his promise.

“Frequently, Mr. Hun Sen blames politicians of other parties that they just make promises to the citizens, but do not do anything.

“However, at present, the promise Mr. Hun Sen has made since before the elections for the fourth term, Mr. Hun Sen has not kept it. Therefore why does Mr. Hun Sen not blame also himself?

“In order that the words addressed to Mr. Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister, can be seen directly as they were expressed, the editorial group of Khmer Machas Srok would like to publish the letter of the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in its original version [the Khmer newspaper brings here a facsimile version of the letter]:

Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association

Letter Number 47 Phnom Penh, 18 November 2008

To Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Respectful Greetings to Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor,

Before the general elections on 27 July 2008, Samdech Prime Minister publicly promised to provide Riel 20,000 per month as a special payment to teachers and other civil servants, starting from July to the end of 2008.

So far, leaders of ministries and relevant municipal and provincial departments have not yet released the special payments of Riel 20,000 per month to teachers and to other civil servants. According to the reports that the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association received from teachers in different provinces and cities, only two provinces reported that teachers had received the four months special payments.

As reported above, I hope that Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor will check and solve this for teachers and for other civil servants, according to this announcement.

With the expression of my respect,


Rong ChhunPresident

Copied to:

. Cabinet of the King
. Secretariats of the Senate and of the National Assembly
. Relevant institutions. Embassies in Cambodia
. Organizations in Cambodia
. Archives

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #285, 19.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Cambodia will not 'wage war' with Thailand over border: PM

Cambodian soldiers at the Preah Vihear temple

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday repeated his country would not "wage war" with neighbouring Thailand over a long-running border dispute that erupted into violence last month.

The premier urged patience from both sides as negotiators attempt to demarcate an agreed border between them.

"We don't want to wage war. We want only peace, but please don't trespass," Hun Sen said. "What we want is patience, no war," he said.

Hun Sen said a military stand-off on the border had eased since an October 15 shootout that claimed four lives.

But he warned Cambodia would act in "self defence if needed."

"Not only our side but also our opponents should not try to benefit from blood and human life," he added.

Thai and Cambodian officials agreed in principle in a meeting last week to reduce troops at the disputed border and to form a border task force. They plan to meet again in January.

They also agreed to start delimiting the border area around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple from mid-December, where troops have been facing off since July.

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.

Plotting a vengeful return to power via mob rule?

Bangkok Post
Thursday November 20, 2008

Nattaya Chetchotiros

It may have come as a big surprise for People Power party (PPP) MPs when deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told them last Friday that he had divorced his wife, Khunying Potjaman. However, for those keeping an eye on the couple's political endeavours and how they have dealt with political problems, the divorce was not something out of the blue.

It was just another tactic employed to pave the way for their fight to return to power.

Mr Thaksin told his close aides, "[We divorced, so that] my wife and children would not have to keep moving from one place to another. From now on, I won't have to be worried about them. I have no choice. Even though I've stopped, they did not stop killing me."

Of course, "they" meant his enemies, and "kill" did not literally mean murder, but political assassination.

Fighting the privileged elite and anti-Thaksin people in the country remains a major challenge for the globe-trotting fugitive and his cronies at every level.

On Nov 1, when he phoned into Kwam Jing Wan Nee (The Truth Today) talk show, Thaksin was overwhelmed by the positive response from his supporters.

However, the government of the United Kingdom where he and his family had lived in exile consequently revoked his and his wife's visas on Nov 7. After that, he divorced his wife on Nov 14.

After the visa revocation, Thaksin has been more cautious. He delayed and reduced the frequency of his phone-in talks on community radio programmes in the North and Northeast.

Initially, Thaksin planned to phone in to talk to his supporters at the Truth Today gathering to be held at Wat Suan Kaew on Nov 23. The plan was eventually postponed to Dec 14, and the venue will now be the National Stadium in Bangkok.

Thaksin seems to have concluded that his political games in the past were not aggressive enough. As a result, his political opponents in Thailand had grabbed the upper hand and revved up their game in the hope of completely toppling his so-called regime by the end of next month.

In his opinion, the first strike from his opponents would be the possible dissolution of the PPP by the Constitution Court and subsequent five-year political ban on its 37 executives, similar to that faced by the 111 former executives of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai party.

The second strike would be the National Anti-Corruption Commission's (NACC) charge against 28 members of the Samak Sundaravej cabinet, which includes incumbent Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, for alleged negligence of duty and violation of the Constitution in relation to its support for Cambodia's bid to have the Preah Vihear temple listed as a World Heritage site.

In the latter case, Thaksin and his cronies know well that the Samak cabinet will not survive the NACC axe.

"They must try to kill us all," Thaksin was quoted telling his PPP members and followers who flocked to visit him in Hong Kong both before and after his divorce. Thaksin has since left Hong Kong for Dubai.

Thaksin is convinced PM Somchai will either be banned from politics or charged by the NACC. What he could not be sure of, is which would come first.

Anyhow, he has plotted a plan to accommodate the dissolution of PPP. The new prime minister would be someone who can avoid the legal traps and over whom he can exert complete control.

An immediate way out for the PPP after its dissolution could be the transferring of MPs who do not face a political ban, to the newly-founded Puea Thai party. This way out would not be a long-term solution for the party, however.

Thaksin views the new set of Puea Thai executives to be appointed soon, as the fourth generation of his political heirs. Among them are his younger sister Yingluck, his younger brother Payap and his cousin Gen Chaisit, who was appointed Army chief while Thaksin was the prime minister.

Thaksin is aware, though, that all of them would have to struggle through a tough time in politics.

He believes it is very likely they will encounter yellow or red cards, or even another party dissolution verdict, just like that of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai and possibly the PPP.

For the 111 former Thai Rak Thai executives, apart from the five-year political ban, many of them are defendants in a number of alleged graft cases indicted in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, including one related to the two- and three-digit lottery scheme and the Agriculture Ministry's purchase of para rubber saplings.

If convicted and sentenced to jail, those 111 former executives would not be able to run for a political post ever again.

Twenty-eight members of the Samak cabinet would face a similar destiny. Most of them are also in the Somchai cabinet. Once the NACC formally charges them, they would no longer be able to keep their cabinet posts.

The 28 Samak cabinet members would not be able to follow the action of former deputy prime minister and finance minister Surapong Suebwonglee, Labour Minister Uraiwan Thienthong and former deputy transport minister Anurak Jureemart - all of whom refused to step down from their positions even though the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions had accepted the case for deliberation. The three reasoned that the court had not ordered them to step down.

The Samak cabinet members would not be able to follow this path because of the resignation of Democrat Apirak Kosayodhin from the post of Bangkok governor. Mr Apirak, after having just won an election to run City Hall for a second term, resigned immediately after being charged by the NACC on allegations of graft related to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's purchase of fire trucks. Mr Apirak's resignation has set a new standard for correct political conduct.

After calculating what might happen to Puea Thai party and its executives in the future, Thaksin would rather draw more support from people who empathise with his family's situation following his divorce, and embark on a mob-rule strategy to force his way back to power. His aim would be to get an amnesty law passed, for himself and his cronies who have been - and who are likely to be - convicted and sentenced to jail terms.

Those in the know believe Thaksin would dare to do all this - even if several other countries refuse him entry, and even if his acts of vengeance result in a civil war in his motherland.

Nattaya Chetchotiros is President of the Thai Journalists Association and Assistant News Editor, Bangkok Post.

Blogger Gary Arndt Visits Thai-Cambodian Conflict Zone

Gary Arndt, author of the Internet\’s most popular travelogue, blurs the distinction between traditional journalism and blogging by making a trek to a disputed border zone where few mainstream journalists have dared to go.

Phnom, Cambodia (PRunderground) November 17, 2008 – One year and a half into his around the world trip, Gary Arndt, author of the internet’s most popular travelogue, visited the disputed temple of Preah Vihear on the Cambodia - Thailand border.

On October 6, 2008, Gary traveled to Preah Vihear from Siem Reap, Cambodia to assess the border conflict first hand. He traveled through rural Cambodia on motorcycle to reach the disputed temple, which lies 250km from the world famous Angkor Wat.

“Despite the recent fighting between Thailand and Cambodia, I felt no real danger”, said Arndt. “The Cambodian soldiers I met were very relaxed and many were sleeping in the middle of the day. It was the opposite of a state of emergency. My guide was also armed incase we ran into trouble.”

“There were no weapons beyond rifles and rocket propelled grenades, including basic military vehicles such as jeeps. All transportation appeared to be done by pick-up truck or motorcycle”, Arndt elaborated. “The temple itself had a Cambodian flag prominently displayed facing Thailand with several propaganda signs in the area written in both Khmer and English. The Cambodian military presence seemed more to reinforce their claim to the area instead of a real armed defense.”

A landmine killed a Thai solder the day that Arndt was at the temple. Since July, almost a dozen soldiers on both sides have been killed or wounded in the conflict.

Even though the conflict has gained international attention, very few members of the mainstream media have ventured into the area. Arndt, who writes for his own travel blog, was one of the few foreigners to travel to the conflict zone.

“Having been to over 40 countries in 20 months, I have a unique, independent perspective on the world. I hope more people come to realize that bloggers can provide unique perspectives that mainstream media cannot or will not offer”, concluded Arndt.

About Gary Arndt

Gary is a former Internet executive who sold his house and set out to travel around the world in March 2007. Since then he has traveled to over 40 countries and territories around the world.

Sex Slaves Being Bought, Sold In South Fla.

WPBF News 25 Investigation Uncovers Human Trafficking On Streets, Online
November 19, 2008

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Sexual slavery is common in third world countries. But what many might not know is that it happens in the United States as well.

Every year, at least 2 million children are sold into sex slavery worldwide. The ones who get out alive tell stories of horrific torture.

On a human rights Web site, Karin writes how she was forced to have sex with 15 men a day or night in Cambodia, and Viola was told if she didn't work as a prostitute, her family would be raped and killed.

It's the seedy underworld of sex that's become an overseas trade.

Raymond Bechard is the founder of Ahava Kids, a nonprofit human rights organization. He said Johns are taking their search for sex to the Internet.

"South Florida is one of the hottest of hot spots," Bechard said.

Humans are trading hands in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

Just last month, 35 people were arrested for selling and buying sex on Craigslist. The youngest arrested was 19 years old.

"Every day, night after night, day after day, they're abused by people," Bechard said. "There are people coming after them for sex or money."

Bechard said children are a profitable product for criminals. As Bechard put it, a drug dealer can sell a drug just once a day, but a trafficker can sell a person five to 20 times a day over and over.

Anyone 17 and under is considered a trafficking victim. Bechard and his outreach team rescue children, teenagers and adults and put them in safe houses. So far, he's saved more than 3,000.

"They're modern-day slaves," Bechard said. "Their destiny is not their own. They don't get paid. They can't leave if they want to."

Ahava Kids has two safe houses in New England. A third one is set to open in South Florida in a few weeks.

Cambodia not to boycott ASEAN Summit in Thailand

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- The bilateral armed clash at the border area in October will not stop Cambodia from attending the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Thailand, Chinese-language newspaper the Jian Hua Daily on Wednesday quoted an official as saying.

"We will not boycott the summit in December, even as we have border dispute," Phay Siphan, secretary of state of the Cambodian Council of Ministers told a seminar here on Tuesday.

The clash in October killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded two others, after Thai troops entered the disputed area over sovereignty claim.

"We want to keep the friendship and cooperative ties with our neighbor countries," said Phay Siphan.

The official said both Cambodia and Thailand currently need to realize their border demarcation in accordance with the conventionally recognized maps 100 years ago by the French colonialist.

The map was made with the agreement of the Thai authority then, he added.

There are now 73 demarcation posts along the 805-km border between Cambodia and Thailand, 50 percent of which are recognized by the Thai side. Cambodia still plans to plant hundreds more posts there in order to specify the border line.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Cambodian monk arrested, defrocked for tourist rape: police

A Cambodian Buddhist monk has been arrested and defrocked for allegedly raping a British woman at a tourist site

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A 17-year-old Buddhist monk has been arrested and defrocked for allegedly raping a British woman at a tourist site in Cambodia's northwest, police said Wednesday.

Thorn Sophoan, a monk for just one month, was held on Tuesday after a 39-year-old British woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in Battambang province, local police chief Mey Chhengly told AFP by telephone.

"While the monk was guiding the British woman to see caves on the top of Phnom Sam Pov mountain, he raped her," Mey Chhengly said. The monk had allegedly confessed to the crime, he added.

Thorn Sophoan was defrocked immediately after his arrest and police are compiling documents so they can prosecute the man, who faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted of rape, Mey Chhengly said.

Many young Cambodians become monks for short periods of time without necessarily devoting their lives to the clergy. They could be briefly ordained to pay gratitude to their parents, honor a dead relative, or study Buddhism.

Cambodia stresses security, education in 2009 budget

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- A draft of the 2009 national budget indicates that the Cambodian government intends to increase funding for the country's defense and education sectors, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said on Wednesday.

The 2009 national budget totals 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, 19 percent of which, or 223 million dollars, will be reserved for national defense and internal security, the paper quoted official source as saying.

Most of the money will go toward salary increase for military and police officers and marks a 64 percent increase on such spending compared to the 2008 budget law, it said.

The increased defense budget will be used to reform Cambodia's defense sector and implement a conscription law, parliamentarian Cheam Yeap told the paper.

"We can't reduce the budget. Even during a time of peace, we must prepare for war," he added.

The improvement of military budget was widely reported during the last couple of months, right after an armed clash in October at the border area with Thai troops killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded two others.

Due to the Thai side's massive military presence, the confrontation immediately stirred up arguments about the Cambodian troops' true power and equipment situation.

Meanwhile, the 2009 budget also allocates 34 percent of the total, or 399 million U.S. dollars, to the ministries of health and education, a 22 percent rise over last year.

The National Assembly is set to discuss the draft budget law with non-governmental organizations on Thursday in preparation for its final approval at unspecified date.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Lamy says trade deal more vital than ever for poor

Wed 19 Nov 2008
By Alan Raybould

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Reuters) - World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Wednesday a deal on the Doha trade round was needed now more than ever to help poor countries withstand the economic crisis.

Applauding the recent political impetus given by world leaders to the trade talks, Lamy told a meeting of poor nations in Cambodia that WTO member countries have it within their grasp to reach the outlines of a deal.

"The international community must deliver on both trade and aid," he told the ministers meeting in the tourist town of Siem Reap to discuss how aid can be used to develop trade and industry.

The Doha round was launched in the Qatari capital seven years ago to free up world trade by cutting farm subsidies, and tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, with a clear mandate to help developing countries.

But it has hit deadlock amid differences between rich and poor nations and exporters and importers.

"In the present economic turmoil, what was necessary yesterday has now become indispensible," Lamy said.

"I think there is a growing consensus that only multilateral solutions can address the challenges facing the global economy today" he added.

Lamy did not say if it would be possible to gather ministers at the WTO's headquarters in Geneva to thrash out a framework deal before the end of the year, a target set by the Group of 20 rich and developing countries at a weekend meeting in Washington.

The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) represented in Siem Reap would be big gainers from a successful Doha round, since the bulk of their goods would then have duty-free and quota-free access to markets around the world.

The talks stalled in July over demands by India that its huge farming sector should be given protection from any surge in imports that followed the freeing up of markets.

Relatively wealthy India was not represented in Siem Reap.

While appreciating what the WTO and Lamy were doing, ministers at the meeting stressed the need for aid to develop their industries so they could compete in free markets.

Lamy acknowledged their problems, especially with remittances likely to slow and the market for trade finance deteriorating sharply, especially since September.

He noted that international donors would be meeting in Qatar on financing for development aid in just over a week's time.

"I hope sincerely that the signals from Qatar will be in line with the determination which the G20 leaders have shown in Washington to keep to their commitments in development assistance, notwithstanding the obvious difficult economic and budgetary circumstances today," he said.

Cambodia urges unity among poor nations on trade

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday poor countries like his must continue speaking with one voice in the Doha round of global trade talks to ensure their competitiveness with developed countries.

He also lashed out at wealthy nations for maintaining trade barriers that hurt poor countries, such as farm subsidies and high food safety standards.

"Poor countries are always open to products from developed countries, but when we try to enter developed countries, we often are faced with very strong trade barriers," Hun Sen said.

He spoke in a speech opening a two-day conference of industry and trade ministers from 49 so-called least developed countries in Siem Reap province, Cambodia's tourist hub.

Hun Sen called on the countries "to bind together in solidarity and a united voice to lead us to our common success in negotiating" a revival of global trade talks.

The World Trade Organization's Doha Round talks that began in 2001 broke down in July because of a dispute among India, China and the U.S. over tariffs to protect farmers in developing markets.

Hun Sen called for a "win-win" solution to all but said poor countries "must send another clear message" to key players in the negotiation process to ensure "the principle of free and fair trade of the WTO, which is the heart of the development."

Protectionism will only cause more pain to the development prospects of poor countries that are now facing "profound and possibly prolonged effects" from the global financial crisis, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said at the conference.

"They will be left with no means to resort to, especially after the initial squeezes of a general economic slowdown," he said in a speech.

He urged WTO members to agree by the end of the year on methods for settling disagreements on agriculture and industry in order to provide "a stepping stone" toward the conclusion of the Doha Development Round in 2009.

Cambodia supports WTO director general for new term

Wed. November 19, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Nov 19, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodia supports World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Pascale Lamy to work at his current position for a new term, said Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday.

"Thus he can continue to join the efforts of solving the problems that the least developed countries (LDC) are facing," he told the opening ceremony of the two-day LDC Ministerial Conference, which is organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and WTO in Siem Reap province.

"We vote to support him to continue his work as director general of WTO. We requests him to serve our benefits," he told the delegates who came from a total of 49 counties to discuss issues related to international trade.

The director general will be able to contribute to solving the problems and challenges that we are facing and we need him, national television TVK quoted him as saying at the ceremony.
"It is a good thing and suitable for us that LDCs join together to support him," he said, adding that "Lamy knows our matters."

A joint press release from UNIDO and WTO said that the meeting aims to help LDCs integrate their economies into the global trading system .

One of the main topics is "Aid for Trade" (AfT), a package of incentives designed to help overcome structural and resource constraints of least developed countries in exchange for more speedy trade reforms, it added.

Cambodia needs a neutral police force

By Lao Mong Hay
Column: Rule by Fear


Hong Kong, China — Cambodia’s national police commissioner, Gen. Hok Lundy, was killed in a helicopter crash on Nov. 9, Cambodia’s National Day. Hok was a member of both the Central Committee and Standing Committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and a close ally and senior advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose son is married to Hok’s daughter.

Commenting on Hok’s death, Cheam Yeap, a senior party official and parliamentarian, said, “The CPP and all Cambodians have suffered a huge loss.”

However, Hok’s death has brought relief to many, considering his record on human rights. Under his 14-year tenure, Hok was accused of failing to resolve many serious human rights violations implicating the rich and powerful. This failure has since developed into a culture of impunity in Cambodia.

Hok was also accused of violent acts such as the March 1997 grenade attacks on a peaceful anti-government demonstration, which killed 20 people and injured hundreds, as well as the extrajudicial killing of some 40 members of a rival party in a July 1997 coup.

Under Hok’s leadership, the Cambodian police showed little respect for human rights. They banned peaceful public demonstrations and protests, took part in forced evictions and used brutal force against demonstrators, recalcitrant evictees, suspects and ordinary people.

The ruling party has selected Neth Savoeun, Hok’s deputy, to replace him. However, Hun Sen had the final say in the selection of the three-star general, who is married to his niece, according to parliamentarian Cheam Yeap.

Neth’s appointment has been received with mixed feelings. Some welcome it and see better prospects for human rights in Cambodia. Others do not share this optimism, saying he will not be able to resolve cases of human rights violations inherited from his predecessor and that the police force will continue to be politicized, with the prime minister exercising personal control over it.

The Cambodian police are already politicized, as loyal members of the ruling party staff all positions of responsibility. Officers are slow in investigating crimes of a political nature that affect the opposition or government critics, but they act fast and more effectively if they affect senior party members or their families.

The appointment of the new national police commissioner can, however, create a break from the department’s poor record. It has opened up a good opportunity to move forward in policing. The new police commissioner, the Ministry of the Interior and the government should work to reform the police to improve performance, curb human rights violations, win public trust and meet the country’s international human rights obligations.

In order to attain these goals, the Cambodian police should not pledge loyalty to any political party or group. They should become a truly national police force, not a police force for the ruling party, as they currently are. They should strictly adhere to the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, which is incorporated into Cambodia’s criminal law, but has so far been overlooked. And, most of all, they should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons,” as stipulated in the code.

By law, the Cambodian police should treat all persons equally. Citizens are entitled to protection without discrimination, as called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cambodia has explicitly agreed. The police need to be impartial and respect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their origin, social status or political, religious or philosophical convictions.

This will require the Cambodian police to be politically independent and neutral, without affiliation to any political party. The national police commissioner should be placed directly under the authority of the minister of the interior, as he is supposed to be, and not under the prime minister. The police should be answerable to Parliament, through the minister of the interior and the prime minister.

Good conduct, political independence and neutrality of the police, as well as accountability to the Ministry of the Interior, should be explicitly incorporated into the police law that is currently being drafted. The same law should have penalties for any misconduct or breach of political independence and neutrality, and also create an independent institution to deal with complaints from the public against the police.
(Lao Mong Hay is a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. He was previously director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a visiting professor at the University of Toronto in 2003. In 1997, he received an award from Human Rights Watch and the Nansen Medal in 2000 from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.)

Cambodia depends on bilateral mechanism to settle border dispute with Thailand

November 19, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 19 — The bilateral mechanism between Cambodia and Thailand can facilitate both sides to settle their months-long border dispute, Chinese-language newspaper the Jian Hua Daily on Wednesday quoted an official as saying.

However, the time is not ripe yet, as Thailand has to cope with its political turmoil first, Phay Siphan, secretary of state of the Cambodian Council of Ministers, told a seminar here on Tuesday.

An armed clash in October at the border area killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded two others, after Thai troops entered the disputed there over sovereignty claim.

Both sides then initiated rounds of diplomatic and military talks, but achieved none significant developments.

The Cambodian government has been improving the roads leading to the Preah Vihear Temple, which is the focus of the bilateral border dispute, in order to provide more convenience for its people to visit the site, said Phay Siphan.

"We are worried that the road renovation might become the latest excuse for more Thai troops to enter the area," he said.

"We would report any change within the area to the concerned international organizations (for help and justice)", he added.

The International Court of Justice decided in 1962 that the temple belongs to Cambodia, which has rankled some Thai nationalists who believe in the ownership of the 900-year-old historical site by their own country.

There are now 73 demarcation posts along the 805-km border between Cambodia and Thailand, 50 percent of which are recognized by the Thai side. Cambodia still plans to plant hundreds more posts there in order to specify the border line. (PNA/Xinhua)

Cambodian PM criticizes rich countries for setting trade barriers against poor ones

Wed. November 19, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Nov 19, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday criticized rich countries for setting trade barriers against poor ones, while addressing the opening ceremony of the two-day LDC (least developed countries) Ministerial Conference in Siem Reap province.

"Poor countries are always open to products from developed countries, but when we try to enter developed countries, we often face with very strong trade barriers," national television TVK quoted him as telling the delegates from a total of 49 countries to discuss issues related to international trade.

Poor countries like Cambodia must speak with one voice in the Doha round of global trade talks to ensure their competitiveness with developed countries, he added.

The Doha round World Trade Organization (WTO) talks began in 2001 but broke down in July this year.

A joint press release from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) said that Wednesday's meeting aims to help LDCs integrate their economies into the global trading system.

One of the main topics is "Aid for Trade" (AfT), a package of incentives designed to help overcome structural and resource constraints of least developed countries in exchange for more speedy trade reforms, it added.

For full details for SLDDF click here.

Doctors provide free eye surgery for Cambodian patients


VietNamNet Bridge – Doctors from the Military Hospital 175 and other hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City have performed free eye check-ups and operations on hundreds of patients in Cambodia.

The free eye-care was on offer at the Phnom Penh-based Pres Ke Komala Hospital from Nov. 15-17 as part of a cooperation programme between the healthcare sectors and the Ministries of National Defence of the two countries.

Pres Ke Komala Hospital Director Ly So Vana said this is the third time since 2006 that the Vietnamese doctors have provided free eye check-ups and treatment for local patients.

The doctors also held a seminar to share experiences and expertise with their Cambodian colleagues, whilst the leaders of the two hospitals discussed plans to construct a dedicated eye-ward at the Cambodian hospital.

Santen and Alcon, both pharmaceutical companies, also contributed to the charitable activity by donating various medical equipment and medicine, according to Nguyen Phuc Quoc, an official with Military Hospital 175.

(Source: VNA)

Cambodian government accused of brutally evicting villagers

e-News 2.0
By eNews 2.0 Staff
November 19th 2008

Cambodian human rights
groups accused the government and military Wednesday of brutally evicting hundreds of families and torching their homes in a rural southern village early in the week.

Rights monitors said at least three people were seriously injured by beatings when soldiers, police and forestry officials forcibly evicted up to 300 hundred families from the 20-hectare site Monday.

Authorities torched about 130 homes on Monday and another 170 on Tuesday in the second such eviction in the area this year, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights said in statement.

"The ownership of the land in question is unclear, but authorities claim that it is protected state forest. Some of the people living there say they have been there for several years, while others settled there more recently," the statement said.

The group said soldiers also blocked a road leading to the village in Kompot province Monday, preventing medical workers and rights groups from reaching the site.

"They used the armed forces to evict people. It was violent and brutal," Try Chhoun, provincial coordinator for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, told The Cambodia Daily.

Try Chhoun said soldiers and police told villagers they had stolen land belonging to Prime Minister Hun Sen and warned that the area would soon be occupied by disabled soldiers.

Bokor National Park Director Chey Ulterith, who administers national parks in the area, accused the villagers of trying to occupy and then sell state-owned land, and then repeat the process at another village, the newspaper reported.

Land ownership and "land-grabbing" has been a source of intense conflict over the past few years in Cambodia's provinces, where property values have skyrocketed.

Human rights groups have accused the government of leaving thousands of villagers homeless by seizing parcels of rich agricultural land to hand over to politically connected companies.

Buddhist monk arrested for rape of British tourist at mountain-top shrine

Cambodian monks at the historic temples of Angkor Wat (file picture). A monk has been arrested on suspicion of raping a British tourist in the north of the country

MAIL Online

By Richard Shears
19th November 2008

British tourist he was guiding to mountain-top temples.
Police said the orange-robed novice had been arrested after the 39-year-old unnamed British woman told police he had attacked her at a tourist site in the north-west of the country.

The monk, Thorn Sophoan, 17, confessed to the crime, according to local police.

Police chief inspector Mey Chhengly said details of the sexual attack were still sketchy.

The British woman had gone alone to the summit of the Phnom Sam Pov mountain where there is a temple and three natural springs.

According to the inspector, the monk had befriended the woman when she arrived to look around the area.

He added that she and Sophoan, who had joined a temple only one month earlier, were still giving their sides of the incident.

'He admitted to the rape as soon as we arrested him,' said Chhengly.

The inspector continued that when senior monks heard about the alleged attack, Sophoan was defrocked immediately.

The monk faces up to 25 years in jail if he is convicted of rape.

Many young Cambodians become monks to escape widespread poverty, but they do not always devote their lives to the clergy.

Sometimes they are briefly ordained so they can pay gratitude to their parents, honour a dead relative or study Buddhism.

They are a common sight on the streets of most towns as they walk around carrying pots to collect alms to pay for their temple food.

Cambodia is becoming increasing popular with Western tourists, although officials advise it is still a 'risky' country, where robberies are common.

Last month, four men, former members of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge guerrillas, received lengthy jail sentences for the murder of British mine expert, 37-year-old Christopher Howes.

Last January, an eight-year-old French girl was molested by a monk at the famous Angkor Wat ruins and he was instantly defrocked.

Seven months later, a monk was arrested after being accused of the rape and murder of a Cambodian child, aged 10.