Monday, 1 December 2008

Situations in the disputed border areas on 30th November, 2008

Thai soldiers set up camps near the Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda on the 4th of October, 2008.

By Sav Yuth
30th March, 2008
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

A Cambodian military officer said that Thai commanders wanted to redeploy their soldiers inside Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda after those troops were withdrawn from the pagoda a long time ago. Recently they attempted to reinforce the troop numbers to set up camps in the frontlines.

Cambodian deputy commander of the Intervention Force of Division 12 based at Preah Vihear area, Brig-Gen. Yiv Vanthorn, said that on 29th November, the Thai commander of division 6 of the Suranaree Force, Col. Chayan Huay Songnern, has requested to Cambodian authority to station 10 soldiers, wearing onlycivilian clothes, inside the Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda at night time with the supervision of the Thai delegation.

The same Khmer military officer (Brig-Gen. Yiv Vanthorn) said that the Thai request has been rejected. But on the morning of Saturday, a group of Thai soldiers have crossed the borders by attempting to set up camps in the frontlines but they were forced to leave the areas by Khmer troops.

The same military officer (Gen. Yiv Vanthorn) said: “Yesterday Thai troops came to see us. Their forces that have been redeployed (withdrawn) from the Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda came back wearing civilian clothes and said to us that when their leaders came to monitor the situations there they wanted to stay inside the temple without carrying any weapons. We did not agree with their request. And they reinforced their troop numbers to the frontlines by attempting to set up camps there but we forced them to leave the areas.”

At the disputed border areas in Oddor Meanchey province, from Ta Moan to Ta Krabey temples, one police officer who wants to remain anonymous, said that on Sunday Cambodian border patrol unit saw a group of Thai soldiers have crossed the borders and set up two camps about 3 kilometres from O’Choup Koki district and they used these camps as their bases for patrols.

The police officer said: “Our troops are on around the clock patrols from Rumduol checkpoint all the way to Ta Krabey temple. They set up camps at a place called Chan Krohorp, about 4-5 kilometres east of O’Choup Koki. They built two huts there and sometimes they stayed there, sometimes they went back to their bases. But we are on constant patrols there as well.”

Some circles within the Khmer society and some Khmer politicians want the border disputes resolved as quickly as possible. But on the 28th of November, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that the political turmoils in Thailand have affected the border talks for the planting of border pillars between Cambodia and Thailand which was supposed to be held in December.

Please note that since Thailand sent troops to invade the Preah Vihear areas on the 15th of July, 2008 there were many talks between Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers but those talks were always faced with obstacles due to complicated political situations in Thailand.

Cambodia, UNESCO post sign of world heritage at Angkor Wat temple

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) on Monday unveiled the sign of World heritage at the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province, which was listed as a World Heritage in 1992.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Marcio Barbosa, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, were presided over the ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple.

"It is a great honor for Cambodian people and the world because the Angkor Wat temple is universal for humanities," Hun Sen said at the ceremony with live radio broadcasting.

"We want to use our culture to develop the country through tourism," he said, adding that the country has hundreds of ancient temples.

"We also want to see a ceremony like this at the Preah Vihear temple," he said.

He also expressed concern that local residents in Siem Reap are trying to pump underground water which could cause damage to the Angkor Wat temple.

Editor: Pliny Han

Cambodia looks to Japan as its next market for garment exports

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Cambodia's garment industry is now looking to Japan for its next targeted market after winning orders in the United States and European Union, a senior garment industry official said Monday.

Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, told Kyodo News that Japan is the world's third largest garment importer.

He said the United States, which buys about 70 percent of Cambodia's textile exports, has been hit by the economic slowdown and that has meant fewer purchase orders are coming to Cambodia.

Data from the GMAC showed about 30 factories have been closed this year and some 20,000 workers have been laid off in Cambodia.

Still, at a summit of trade leaders from the world's poorest countries held in Cambodia's northern province of Siem Reap on Nov. 21, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia's garment sector has so far had no "serious impact" from the global financial crisis.

But new markets are needed, and Van Sou Ieng led an industry delegation on a five-day visit to Japan through Sunday that resulted in a trade deal between the two countries.

"In a move to begin our trade exchanges with Japan, we will export 10,000 jackets and 100,000 pairs of shoes in early 2009," he said, adding, "We hope Japan will make more purchase orders afterward."

But, he said, it is clear Cambodia has to improve the quality of its products because Japan demands high quality in all imports.

Cambodia's industry, therefore, will dispatch garment entrepreneurs and union workers to Japan for study the quality needs firsthand.

According to government data, there are 319 garment factories employing 380,000 workers in Cambodia.

And garments are Cambodia's biggest export earners, with exports last year worth $2.9 billion.
According to Van Sou Ieng, Japan currently buys about 90 percent of its imported garments from China.

Safety, training behind Siem Reap flight ban: EC

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Hor Hab
Monday, 01 December 2008

SAFETY problems, insufficient training and a lack documentation were behind the European Union's decision to blacklist Siem Reap Airways, Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d'affaires for the European Commission, said last week.

He added that he hoped the ban on the airline flying to EU countries could be lifted by February 2009 pending a re-evaluation of its performance.

Although Siem Reap Airways currently has no routes to Europe, the EC implemented the ban last month amid concerns for its safety record after talks with Cambodian aviation officials, Moreno said Thursday.

The airline, which is owned by Bangkok Airways and primarily flies between Phnom Penh and the Angkor temple town of Siem Reap, was subsequently grounded on November 20 by the Cambodian Aviation Secretariat.

Moreno said that the EU will provide technicians to the help country's aviation sector.

The ban marks the first time a Cambodian carrier has been blacklisted, and is seen as a major setback for Cambodia's aviation industry.

Revisiting the Spirit of Ban dung in 1955

The original Cambodian flag used at the conference in 1955 is still kept with others at the Museum of the Asian-African Conference, as displayed by Desmond Satria Andrian. Inset: Sudan, which attended but was only "half free", did not have its own flag, so the conference organisers had one made in Bandung.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Michael Hayes
Monday, 01 December 2008

In the third of a five-part series of articles on Indonesia, Post editor-in-chief Michael Hayes looks at the historic Asian-African Conference that took place in Bandung in April 1955. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai attended, as did then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

BANDUNG, Indonesia-By 1955 the Cold War, pitting liberal democracy in the United States and Western Europe against communism spearheaded by the Soviet Union, was in full swing. The superpowers and their allies/proxies were engaged in a massive arms race, and the quest for nuclear weapons superiority was under way.

In 1948, the "Iron Curtain" hardened, resulting in the Berlin airlift to keep West Berlin from being strangled by the Soviets. The following year the Soviet Union announced it too had the atomic bomb. Depending on what side of the ideological divide you were on, by October 1949 China had either "fallen to the Reds" or had been "liberated" by Mao Tse-tung and the forces of international socialism.

Full-scale war broke out on the Korean peninsula in 1950 when the communist North invaded the US-backed South. The UN sided with the West and sent in a multinational force that was almost completely routed. US General Douglas MacArthur's bold Inchon landing prevented a military debacle, but the Chinese army eventually entered the fray, resulting in a military stalemate that exists to this day.

There was also during this time the ongoing issue of colonialism and the interests by subjugated peoples in Asia and Africa to achieve independence from Western imperial powers. Some states had been granted independence shortly after the end of World War II. However, from 1949 up until 1953 little movement had been seen on this front.

In 1954, after a protracted struggle, the Vietnamese forces under Ho Chi Minh surprised the world by defeating the French at Dien Bien Phu in May. By July 20 the Geneva Accords had been signed, which ended the French colonial presence in Indochina, but which left Vietnam partitioned.

Cambodia, after a determined campaign led by then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, secured its independence in November of the previous year.

During these years tensions were high as well in the Taiwan Strait. Two little-known and now barely remembered islands named Matsu and Quemoy could have been the flash point for full-scale war between China and the US, which had stated its determination to defend Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan.

Fears existed that conflict would result in the use of nuclear weapons, and many world leaders from countries that had achieved independence since the end of World War II were looking for ways to avoid more conflagration.

It was within this environment the moves arose to find alternative ways of dealing with an increasingly polarised and tense world order.

While diplomats were wrestling with details about the future of Indochina in Geneva in 1954, a separate meeting took place in Colombo, Ceylon, which included India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Pakistan's Prime Minister Mohammed Ali, Ceylon's Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala, Burma's Prime Minister U Nu and Indonesia's Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo, all representing newly independent nations.

It was here that Indonesia's Sastroamidjojo put forth the idea of a larger meeting of leaders from Asia and Africa to discuss ways of dealing with the dangers posed by the Cold War and how the newly independent nations from Asia and Africa should assert themselves in a fragile post-colonial environment.

Eight months later, a second meeting took place in Bogor, Indonesia, just outside of Jakarta, where it was conclusively decided to convene a conference to which all independent or self-governing countries from Asia and Africa would be invited. It was also decided that the site for this historic event would be Bandung.

Scratching the surface

"This is the first intercontinental conference of coloured peoples in the history of mankind," declared Indonesia's President Sukarno at the conference's opening address, delivered on April 18, 1955.

India's Prime Minister Nehru was quoted as saying that the conference "marked the political emergence in world affairs of over half the world's population".

Leaders from 27 nations were in attendance at the conference (see box).

On the surface the conference was a huge success. It had drawn major international media attention with over 400 reporters and photographers coming from abroad to cover the event, thereby giving voice to some of the world's newest, independent leaders.

However, behind the scenes, and not unlike all international gatherings of this nature, there were some serious issues that caused friction among attendees. One was the question of the Soviet Union. Was the USSR with its Eastern European "satellites" a colonising power? Some members thought so, including Iraq and Iran, whose representatives had mentioned it in their speeches.

But the issue was stirred up further when one of the conference's sponsors, Sir John Kotelawala from Ceylon, unexpectedly said in a speech:

"...those satellite states under communist domination in Central and Eastern Europe...Are not these colonies as much as the colonial territories in Africa and Asia? And if we are united in our opposition to colonialism, should it not be our duty openly to declare our opposition to Soviet colonialism as much as to Western imperialism?"

The comments drew an immediate protest from China's Premier Chou En-lai, and the issue simmered behind close doors.

Photo by: Michael Hayes
Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk, then age 32 and the youngest leader to attend the Bandung conference, meets with Indonesian Prime Minister Ali Sastromidjojo, shown in a photo on the wall of the conference museum.

The second issue that rankled attendees was that of being "aligned" or "non-aligned". Many smaller states felt that given the paucity of their military strength it behooved them to form alliances with larger powers. At the time the US was in the process of building collective security pacts; and several states present at Bandung, including Thailand and the Philippines, were already members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

India was dead set against such alliances and wanted the conference to issue a final statement saying so.In the end, after days of tough negotiations, the conference issued a final communique and what has come to be known as the Ten Bandung Principles, which reflect a rather diverse amalgam of ideals and principles advanced by different attendees.

With hindsight, historians generally agree that it was more important that consensus was achieved rather than the lofty substance of the declarations themselves.

While the Bandung Conference is considered the birthplace of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an organisation that continues to this day and which has almost 120 members, whatever sentiments expressed in 1955 concerning Asian-African solidarity ran quickly into the harsh realities of regional and local politics.

By 1961 India and China were at war over border issues. The Sino-Soviet split, which also developed at this time, added another confrontational dimension to global politics. Efforts to hold a 10-year anniversary Asian-African Conference in Algeria in 1965 fell apart after Algerian President Ben Bella was overthrown that year, Sukarno faced a coup and China's Chou En-lai's power was weakened by the onset of the Cultural Revolution.

Looking back, Australian professor Jamie Mackie sums up the conference as follows: "The Bandung Conference can best be seen today as a fleeting moment of convergence of various trends in the postcolonial history of the world. It produced a high-water mark of dedication to noble ideals, high hopes and also some shrewd politics among the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa. But that moment of convergence soon gave way to divergence and to disputes, recriminations and wars among them in the 1960s, as the world order became more fissured and multipolar."

Thai protesters win some hearts and minds - 30 Nov 08


Thai protesters have taken over Bangkok's main airport, crippling Thailand's tourism industry and stranding visitors to the country.

Step Vaessen reports from inside the capital's international airport.

Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.

Australians and others check in for a flight to Australia Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at a downtown Bangkok, Thailand, hotel. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Supporters of anti-government surround an alleged pro-government supporter at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Supporters of anti-government surround an alleged pro-government supporter and rough him up at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Two unidentified tourists from Britain check in for a flight to Australia Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at a downtown Bangkok, Thailand, hotel. From Bangkok, they will take a bus to Phuket, southern Thailand, then take a flight to Australia. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A People's Alliance for Democracy protester holds a portrait of Thai king and queen during a rally at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok on Dec. 1, 2008. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

People's Alliance for Democracy protesters shout slogans and dances during a rally at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok on Dec. 1, 2008. Thousands of travelers continued to be stranded in Thailand as its international terminals continued to be held by anti-government protestors.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

An anti-goverment protester dances in front of a poster of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the Suvarnabhumi airport compound Monday Dec. 1, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. Pro-government activists heightened Thailand's political crisis by converging on Bangkok in a counter to rival protesters who seized the city's two airports and forced the prime minister to run the country from outside the capital.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Govt tightens ban on vendors

Photo by: Vandy Rattana
Vendors from Russian market protest late in October after city officials told them they could not sell their goods on the streets surrounding the market.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Meas Sokchea
Monday, 01 December 2008

In its push to turn Phnom Penh into a more 'beautiful' city, the government has warned that it will continue to crack down on street-based vendors

CLASHES between police and street-based vendors are likely to increase in the upcoming months as the government continues its push to "beautify" the city, officials warn.

Lim Leang Ser, deputy chief of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cabinet, told the Post last week that a citywide "clean-up" was necessary if Phnom Penh wants to develop into a "good" city.

"We have planned to crack down [on vendors] throughout Phnom Penh because our country is developing, and as we know, improving a country depends on having a good city," he said.

"They sell on the streets because our country is not improved yet, so now we have to change."

Vendors across the city continue to protest the street bans, which were introduced in October, but say they have suffered from intimidation and bullying from police, including threats of court orders and violence.

Chhun Nary, a pork seller outside the Russian market, said that since she began protesting the crackdown she had received threats and abuse.

"The police threatened me and other vendors, saying that if we try to go and sell at the same place, they will arrest us and put us in prison," she said.

"They told me that I am a rebel, and that I am like a member of the Khmer Rouge. I am afraid now because they have taken notice of my face, and they took photos of me as well," she added.

The government has denied that their crackdown is taking the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to street beautification popular with authorities during Water Festival.

PM ‘not carefree' with poor"

The prime minister is not being carefree with poor people," Lim Leang Ser said. "He just wants to move them to a more suitable place. This is the law. City Hall has decided it wants to organise the city and make it better-looking. If they continue to protest, it will be useless," he said.

Am Sam Ath, a monitoring supervisor for rights group Licadho, said that though development was needed, the government must prioritise the rights of its people.

" [Hun Sen] is not being carefree with poor people, he just wants to move them. "

"Before developing the country, the government should think about how it will affect the poor," he said.

"They don't have money to buy goods or a new place to sell, and if the government doesn't solve the problem for them, it could affect local economies," he said.

Chhun Nary said the clean-up threatened her livelihood and that, although new markets had been set up for street vendors, the government was charging US$3,000 for stalls, which was too much for most vendors.

"It really impacts my life because I don't have any income, and nowadays we can only afford to eat eggs. I am worried about this problem, but I don't know how much more I can do to fight it," she said.

Bangkok chaos threatens border talks

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Thet Sambath
Monday, 01 December 2008

THE ongoing political standoff in Thailand, which led to the shutdown of Bangkok's two main airports by anti-government protestors last week, could affect the upcoming talks between Cambodia and Thailand over their joint border, say officials.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said that the recent political crisis in Thailand could complicate the resolution of recent border troubles.

"The complicated situation in Thailand will have a negative influence on talks about border demarcation," Hor Namhong told reporters Friday on his return from the fifth Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam summit in Vientiane.

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border, but a meeting between Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart on November 12 yielded an agreement to scale down troop numbers and begin joint demarcation and de-mining operations from mid-December.

Hor Namhong said that the Joint Border Commission was scheduled to meet again the following month but added that the January meeting could be in doubt if the situation within Thailand continues.

"We cannot predict how long the crisis is going to last. We will wait to see," he said. "Both governments are willing to resolve the border issue peacefully and make progress as soon as possible.

"Yim Phim, commander of RCAF Brigade 43, said Sunday that the situation at the border remained calm amidst the upheavals in Bangkok.

"The situation in Thailand is their own internal issue," he said.

"We have a duty to protect the border, but the situation here is normal."

Chinese delegation highlights security

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Monday, 01 December 2008

A HIGH-RANKING Chinese security delegation led by Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu arrived Sunday in Cambodia for talks with Ministry of Interior officials, pledging to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the issues of terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and illegal immigration.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said Cambodia and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding during Sunday's half-day meeting, aiming to strengthen cooperation on security-related issues.

"We are very proud for your visit today, which can help build up our old friendship," Sar Kheng said in his formal address to the delegation.

He added that the Chinese government had also promised to donate US$300,000 to upgrade police equipment and boost human resources in the security sector. "This is not the first time we have cooperated, and we will step towards closer cooperation [in future]," Sar Kheng said.

A strong relationship

Last week, the Chinese government donated 33 ambulances, seven minibuses, one bus, three cars, one excavator and other materials to Cambodia's Ministry of Defence.

Cheam Yeap, lawmaker of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said that Cambodia is scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with China in early December by hosting another delegation of senior Chinese officials, including National Committee Chairman Jia Qingling, from Tuesday to Saturday.

"The visit of the most senior Chinese government officials will help to improve stronger diplomatic ties between Cambodia and China," he said.

House collapse at Boeung Kak lake injures resident

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A Boeung Kak lake resident shows his displeasure at the view of the newly filled-in section of the lake.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Monday, 01 December 2008

Owner claims that stepped-up reclamation efforts after a hiatus during Water Festival are to blame for the loss of her home

A BOEUNG Kak lake resident was sleeping when part of her house collapsed into the water Wednesday evening, a result, she said, of the quickening pace of reclamation at the lake following a hiatus during the annual Water Festival.

Hok Lang, the 46-year-old mother of five who lost her home, said she has been worried since sand-dredging company HSC began working late into the night, filling in the lake to prepare a controversial 133-hectare development.

"No one was injured except my mother, but some belongings like tables, chairs, wardrobes, were lost in the lake," she said of her family's 6.5-metre-by-3.8-metre wooden house, where over ten people live.

"We are now living under the shelter of another resident's home." Hok Lang's 25-year-old daughter, Sun Ratanak, said her mother filed a complaint on Thursday at the local commune office informing them of the damage.

Human rights monitors assisting the family said that their rights of access to information were violated when local police turned them away.

Chea Nara, a monitor with local rights group Licadho, said that two foreign staff approached the scene but were prohibited from taking photographs of the collapsed house by a dozen police officers stationed nearby.

"We are not allowed to visit them. The police said this place is under the authorities' control, so before visiting we have to ask permission from the municipal governor," he said. "They violated our rights of access to information, but we were just fulfilling our duty as an independent organisation."

An HSC official said the sand-filling operation had stopped temporarily on the Thursday morning after the incident but disavowed any responsibility for the house's collapse.

"It is not our responsibility. Developer Shukaku Inc and the authorities will be responsible for the damage," he said, adding that they are in the process of solving the problem with Hok Lang.

Hok Lang said Sunday that she met with Srah Chak commune and Daun Penh district officials Thursday and Friday to discuss compensation, and she was offered cash or housing at a relocation site.

PPenh police seek last remnants of Japanese terror organisation

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Monday, 01 December 2008

Officials say members of two Japanese leftist terror groups are suspected of hiding out in the Kingdom after 30 years on the run

POLICE are on the hunt for Japanese terrorists suspected of seeking refuge in Cambodia after decades on the run, according to law enforcement officials.

According to documents issued by the Phnom Penh police on Tuesday, copies of which have been obtained by the Post, 14 ex-members of the leftist Japanese Red Army militia and Yodo-go Group - best known for the May 1972 Lod Airport massacre in Tel Aviv - have come under investigation by Cambodian police.

Hy Prou, Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner and chief of the Central Security Office, said that after receiving requests from the Department of Immigration at the Ministry of Interior, police officials at all levels are on the lookout for the fugitives.

"We are not sure if they are in Cambodia or other countries," Hy Prou said.

"They are international criminals, so [the Japanese] need the cooperation of the countries in the region.

"Keo Vanthan, director of Interpol police at the Ministry of Interior, said that he was not aware of any request from the Japanese government asking for help locating the criminals.

"We have previously received one request from Japanese authorities seeking criminals, but not these ones," he said.

"I couldn't say whether those are dead or not, since I have not yet received the documents."

Japanese embassy officials and Immigration Police Director Thong Lim, who wrote to municipal police November 24 requesting help in finding the fugitives, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Anti-graft law likely to stall, NGOs say

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Monday, 01 December 2008

RIGHTS groups last week said an anti-corruption law slated for passage in 2009 would likely be held up, despite its being described as a priority by the Council of Ministers.

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, said Thursday the law could not be issued because it would target current government officials who have made substantial fortunes from corruption.

He added that even if the law were to go forward, it would not likely pass the courts, which he said have become political tools of the government.

"There are many corrupt officials in the government, so any law targeting them could never come from the government," he said. "I have no confidence that it will ever pass."

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the government has consistently ignored calls by rights groups to enact anti-corruption legislation, adding that wealthy officials will resist any such move.

According to the draft law, all high-ranking officials would be required to declare their personal wealth, he said, and that doing so could directly implicate them in corruption schemes.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said the government only began considering the law in response to demands by foreign aid donors for greater accountability and transparency.

Developers clash with residents

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 01 December 2008

Dey Krahorm residents accuse 7NG of bullyin

A CLASH between developers and soon-to-be evicted residents of the Dey Krahorm community in central Phnom Penh broke out Thursday after hundreds of people refused to leave their homes.

According to remaining residents of the community, around 30 staff members from private company 7NG arrived at the site Thursday morning and began tearing down houses. Residents protested and a clash followed. No one was injured.

"About 30 staff came to violently pull down my cottage," resident Phix Seang said. "Violence exploded for about 20 minutes. The staff beat us, and we only just protected ourselves. We dared not beat them back because we were afraid of getting an arrest warrant from court," he added.

Chhorn Vanna, 60, another resident who refused eviction, said it was not the first time that they had been intimidated by 7NG.

"It is about ten times that they have come to threaten us to leave the land, " she said.

Company denies violence

Srey Sothea, managing director of 7NG, denied the use of violence by his contractors but said that the houses were being pulled down because they had been sold already to his company.

"I deny the allegations that my laborers used violence ...only about 10 laborers went to pull down some houses that were already sold to our company," he said.

"For about three years, I have never used violence to crack down on [residents]. I have always just told them to leave voluntarily."

Govt approves 'community forests'

Photo by: Photo Supplied
A man stands in what will become a community forestry site in Svay Rieng.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thomas Gam Nielsen and Sam Rith
Monday, 01 December 2008

The allotment of more than 125,000 hectares of forest land in five provinces aims to improve livelihoods while also supporting greater sustainability and environmental protection efforts

THE government has approved 87 forested areas as potential "community forestry sites", in what local development groups have called a leap forward in the pursuit of protected and sustainable forests in the Kingdom.

The sites, which cover over 125,000 hectares and span five provinces, will put communities in charge of forests. This will, supporters say, help better protect the environment while also enabling sustainable timber and firewood production for local residents.

Ty Sokun, director general at the Forestry Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post Thursday that the community-managed sites would not only mean improved environments but improved living standards for communities.

"It provides people an opportunity to protect their own livelihoods , and [it] reduces poverty as well," he said, referring to the communities' rights to produce commercial forestry products in a sustainable way.

He added that the idea of community forestry was to help both poor communities living off forestry products and to protect the forests from illegal logging by handing over forest management to the communities themselves.

"They live in the area, so they can keep an eye on it much better. They will be allowed to confiscate chainsaws for a short period and call on the local forestry administration to pursue legal action," he said.

Community forestry management was first introduced in Cambodia in the 1990s, when over half of its forest land at one point was licensed to private companies, and forest degradation took place on a regular basis.

Power to the people

Once a potential area is approved as a site, it then gets signed over to the community, which happened for the first time in Cambodia last year when communities in Siem Reap were given control of 18 sites.

James Bampton, chief technical adviser for the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific, an international NGO working with community forests in Kampong Thom province, called the approval an important step towards legalising the sites.

"It basically means that the land is now prioritised for community [use]," he said Wednesday, adding that it would now be legally much more difficult to give the forest areas over to other land use that may be less sustainable.

Chhun Moeun, a member of the community forestry management committee in the Kampong Thom village of Prey Chueng, was happy with the decision.

"It is an important step in the formal recognition of our community forest area, and my villagers are also very happy because we need legal rights," he said, adding that his community had recently had a discussion about demarcation in the forest. "Companies are more likely to respect the boundaries of our community [now]," he said.

Evictees at Andong relocation site call for help from govt, NGOs

In June 2006, nearly 1,400 families were made to leave the Sambok Chab slum on the Bassac river in one of the largest single evictions in recent years. Municipal trucks dumped them off at an open field in Andong, where a new "village" was established.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Khoun Leakhana
Monday, 01 December 2008

Families say they are stranded in appalling conditions, and isolation from work and social services is forcing them to 'live like animals'

SOME 250 families at the Andong relocation site outside Phnom Penh are asking NGOs, donors and the government for immediate relief from living conditions that they say have become intolerable.

"My first need is food because I have nothing to eat," said 45-year-old Kong Savy, tears welling in her eyes.

"We need help because we are living like animals without any care from our government," she told the Post.

Those raising these most recent complaints about life in the relocation site represent the poorest of nearly 1,400 families who were violently evicted from the Sambok Chab slum in Phnom Penh in June 2006.

They were moved to land some 22 kilometres outside the capital with no sewage or waste collection, and poor access to health services and job opportunities.

" We need help because we are living like animals without any care. "

Chhan Sokhen, assistant to the head of the opposition Khmer Loves Khmer Party, said the government's development plans for Phnom Penh were overlooking the rights of the urban poor.

"It's not real development. It's filled with corruption and selfishness, and there's no thought to the suffering of people," he said.

He said his party would support the families with rice donations until other groups came to help.

Theng Sothol, deputy governor of Dongkor district, in which the Andong relocation site lies, denied claims that authorities there were negligent.

"We've never abandoned the villagers. We used to give them rice," he said.

But Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said villagers in Andong have endured tough conditions for too long, and called on the government to intervene.

"Development can be good, but the government has to take care of the people who are affected by it by finding suitable places for them," he said.

Situated on a low-lying rice field, Andong - a collection of shacks prone to flooding and plagued by disease during the rainy season - is an example of one of the worst relocation sites established by the government, rights groups say.

Families there live on four-metre-by-six-metre plots, and only about 400 residents have been given legal land titles, making the prospect of another forced relocation likely for most.
Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Prince Thomico in his house on the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, where he lived as a child.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio
Monday, 01 December 2008

Outspoken royal Prince Sisowath Thomico speaks about the monarchy, the 1968 riots, and why he still opposes the KRT

Tell me a little bit about your own past. Where did you grow up?

I went to France in 1956, and I spent only one year studying in Cambodia - in 1969. In 1968, I joined in the demonstrations with the French students and my parents did not really appreciate it, my going around with the leftist students, so they sent me back to Cambodia for a year. Otherwise, I did all my studies in France.

Did the 1968 demonstrations in France leave an impression?

I joined a Trotskyist group at the time, and all my thoughts - especially my political thinking - was marked by my experience of the 1968 events. My readings were in French, revolutionary people like Danton, Robespierre, Saint Just and afterwards Marx and Hegel. I was deeply and profoundly marked by my experiences.

When the Khmer Rouge took over in Cambodia in 1975, and your family was caught up in that, did your political views change?

I never believed in the Khmer Rouge, never. Even though I was considered an ultra-leftist, I never agreed with the direction the Khmer Rouge took, from the very beginning. I was non-violent, such as the French anarchist Proudhon, and I never believed that the use of violence could bring something new to the world.

Was it apparent at the time that the Khmer Rouge were as bad as later became obvious?

Many French philosophers, such as Andre Glucksman, backed the KR. Even I, in my own family and among my own friends, had a lot of big problems explaining the country was going in a good direction, but at that time the world was either black or white, it was either the free world against the communist world.

It was very difficult for me to explain myself, even with my own father. [In] late 1975, I drove my father to the airport - he was going back to Cambodia to be a diplomat for the KR, since he had joined up with Prince Sihanouk when he was overthrown in 1970. After he left France we had no news from him until the beginning of the 1980s, when people were coming out from Boeung Trabek [Prison] and arrived in France with news from him.

The last thing that my father told me was to apologise to me, and to say, ‘I'm sorry, I misunderstood you'. From my father, it is something I will never forget. I was the one who should have said I am sorry.

Following that period, in the early 1980s, did you return immediately to Cambodia?

No, I joined then-Prince Sihanouk in the fight against the Vietnamese occupation as one of the main leaders and founders of the Funcinpec party. I was appointed as the representative to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, but I had many contacts and exchanges with the resistance.

I was in touch with them even before Funcinpec was created, and it was only natural for me to go on talking with them about some of the political issues, such as the future of Cambodia after the victory, and the solution to the Cambodian problem.

Funcinpec and the Son Sann group [KPNLF] were in nominal alliance with the Khmer Rouge during this period. Did that worry you at all?

That was not until 1982. The KPNLF was created on October 9, 1979. At that time, Prince Sihanouk was asked to lead the KP, but just because it was founded on the October 9, which was the anniversary of the declaration of the republic in Cambodia in 1970. Just for that reason, Sihanouk could not lead the KP. October 9 was not chosen by Son Sann himself. It was imposed on him by the Thais: At that time they did not want to see Prince Sihanouk around, and they tried to drive him away.

In your time at the palace, how have you seen the role of the monarchy change?

The Cambodian royal family has always been very involved in contemporary politics. My uncle, Prince Yuthevong, was the founder of the Democratic Party and headed [it] in the first elections in 1947, when the Democrats won and he became prime minister. Another prince, Prince Norodom Monireth, was the head of the Liberal Party and also became prime minister at that time.

I want the royal family to stand as a symbol of Cambodian unity, and I have to say that King Sihamoni has done a great job ever since he was elected. First of all, he changed the way the monarchy was thought of by the people in Cambodia. The only figure that people had in mind was King Sihanouk, and Sihanouk was a tremendous personality in Cambodian politics as well as on the international stage, so it was very difficult to succeed him. [Sihamoni] has given another direction to the monarchy: He is not involved in politics, he has never made any comment about the political situation. And that's the way the king should be. King Sihanouk is a special case, a very special case.

Some people in the ruling party have said just that - that it drags down the King if royals get involved in politics.

Until 2006, when I created my own party [the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party], I was not involved in politics, I just wrote papers stating my own point of views. But I was threatened at that time, around 2005, and I was just a private secretary to King Sihanouk. On the one hand, the CPP cannot say that the royalists should stay away from politics and then on the other threaten them when they give their vision of Cambodian society and politics. I have to be respected for what I say, otherwise I will have to be involved just to give me a justification.

Was Sihanouk's abdication the end of an era, in terms of the involvement of the royals in politics?

[They succeeded] because they only used King Sihanouk's name, instead of explaining his vision. The main difference between 1960s Cambodia and today's Cambodia is the lack of vision. During the 1950s and 1960s Cambodia had a vision: that was the reason that Cambodia was seen as a model.

Lee Kuan Yew, after Singapore gained independence in 1965, declared he wanted to develop Singapore on the Cambodian model. It was a real compliment from somebody who has been leading Singapore since then. Just compare Singapore now and Cambodia now, and where Cambodia could have been if there were no war and if Prince Sihanouk was not overthrown in 1970. Now we have a strong leader, but I'm not sure that Cambodia has a vision. It looks to me like Cambodia is just a big vessel, floating on the sea, going here and there.

I have heard that you are planning to start a new royalist party. Are these plans still on the cards?

If royals can be respected for what they say and what they do, then it is useless for me to get involved in politics. I can just give lectures and so on, sharing my vision about what has to be done. But if it is not accepted, and if I am threatened for what I do, then the only way around for me is to set up my own political party, just to have the possibility to defend my ideas. And so far there is no sign of the royals being respected, so I am still thinking of setting up my own party.

You've have been quite outspoken in your views about the Khmer Rouge tribunal that had you removed from Funcinpec last year. Is that something you regret?

No, not at all. I don't believe in the KRT. I think that spending US$100 million just to try Duch is a big problem, because I don't think Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith will ever be tried. We have two million victims of the KR era, but we don't have the means to determine responsibility. Those people have been put in jail ever since 2006. I feel that they will be left in jail until their death, and the only one that will be tried is Duch, because we have testimonies.

The second reason is that Cambodia used to be colonised by France [which claimed] it had a duty to colonise under-developed countries, to bring them "civilisation". And to me, it appears the KRT is just another way to bring "civilisation" to Cambodia, because the KRT was not asked for by the Cambodian people; it was imposed as part of the so-called "international moral order".

But the international moral order should cope with Darfur before taking care of our own history. In 1977, it was known to every Western government that the genocide was going on in Cambodia, and the international community did nothing to stop it.

Interview by Sebastian Strangio

PAD allows aircraft departures; THAI Airways resumes operation

Thaoland's national carrier THAI Airways starts operation on Monday to pick up passengers at U-Tapao airport after the People`s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) allowed aircraft to take off from Suvarnabhumi Airport, according to acting THAI president Narongsak Sangapong.


From: MNN

BANGKOK, Dec 1 – All passengers must rebook the flights, THAI president Narongsak Sangapong said.

Of 30 THAI Airways aircraft, about 15 planes will serve passengers at U-Tapao airport, 190 kilometres southeast of Bangkok.

In cooperation with the Immigration Bureau and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Airports of Thailand (AoT) has opened check-in counters for international passengers transiting U-Tapao Airport at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Bang Na in eastern suburban Bangkok after the airport was crowded with stranded passengers.

Four X-ray scanning machines were set up at BITEC, which offers check-in services around the clock. International passengers can contact 02 749 3974 and 02 749 3982 for more information.

Bangkok Airways offers special flights from Huahin to Samui twice a day for passengers to travel to Samui and catch a plane to Singapore or Hong Kong.

The airline also provides bus service from Bangkok to Huahin to facilitate tourists.

Bangkok Airways normally arranges excursions from U-Tapao to diverse destinations including Siem Reap in Cambodia, Maldives, Guilin in China, and Samui and Phuket in Thailand.

For more information, contact 1771 and 02 265 8777 or log on to www. (TNA)
Photo by: AFP
Anti-riot police walk in formation outside the closed Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on Sunday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by AFP
Monday, 01 December 2008

Annual Asean meeting could be pushed back over protests

THAILAND'S foreign minister said Sunday the kingdom may have to postpone a regional summit until March as anti-government protesters continue their occupation of Bangkok's two airports.

Sompong Amornviwat said that the Thai Cabinet would make its final decision on Tuesday over whether to go ahead with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting scheduled for December 15-18.

"Thailand may have to postpone, but the postponement would not be long - it may be postponed to early March," Sompong said on Thai state-run NBT television station.

"But it depends on the Cabinet's decision, because the postponement would not only affect Thailand financially, but more importantly it will affect the country's image."

Thailand, the current chair of Asean, is in the grip of political chaos, as protesters trying to topple the government on Tuesday seized the nation's main Suvarnabhumi airport and forced its closure.

Supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) took control of the smaller Don Mueang airport a day later, and have also been occupying premier Somchai Wongsawat's Cabinet offices since August.

The worsening political situation in the kingdom has prompted Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to suggest postponing the Asean summit, and the bloc's secretary general travelled overland to Thailand on Friday to assess the situation.

Thailand announced in late October that the Asean meeting would be moved from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, a government stronghold where Somchai is currently running the country from as the protests drag on.

Authorities said it was because of northern Thailand's cooler climate, but the anti-government protests are believed to be a key factor.

In December 2006, the Philippines postponed that year's Asean summit on the island of Cebu until the following month.

Thailand's crisis could cost Cambodia $100m: minister

Anti-government protesters stand guard while blocking the entrance at Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Monday, 01 December 2008

The occupation of Bangkok's airports has closed Cambodia’s main tourist transit point, putting the choke on foreign travel

CAMBODIA stands to lose more than US$100 million in tourism-related revenue if the political deadlock gripping Thailand's capital - a major transit point for visitors to the Kingdom - does not ease in the next three months, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon told the Post Sunday.

The minister estimated that 1,500 tourists arrive daily by air and land from Bangkok, accounting for nearly 30 percent of total travellers, and that foreign visitors spend $770 on average per trip.

He added that the government expects the turmoil in Bangkok could last for at least a few months."At least 10 to 12 flights arrive every day in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh via Bangkok," Thong Khon said. "We are sure to lose substantial numbers of tourists."

The anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy last week stormed Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in an attempt to bring down the government of Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

Thai government officials have since declared a state of emergency at both airports, which have cancelled all flights.

Tourism drops

Despite an increase in arrivals from other countries, the number of overall visitors has dropped, Thong Khon said.

"There are many passengers travelling via Hanoi, Japan and Korea, but not as many as we had coming from Bangkok," he said.

"Cambodia wants Thailand to return to normal. If [the situation in] Bangkok continues to deteriorate, it will impact our tourism sector," he said.

Thong Khon urged tourism operators to continue marketing Cambodia as a safe travel destination.Tes Chhaya, a tour guide in Siem Reap, said the crisis in Bangkok has taken a toll on local businesses, including hotels, tourism packages and taxis.

"At this time last year, I would have bookings for nearly 15 days out of every month. Now, we are getting only about five days of bookings per month," he said, adding that his profits have dropped more than 50 percent.

Independent economist Sok Sina said the political turmoil, as well as the global financial crisis, has affected Cambodia's tourism sector this year, making it unlikely to achieve the growth projected by the government.

"Cambodia will not likely reach its target of two million visitors this year," he said, adding that a drop in visitors to Siem Reap would also hurt local farmers who supply produce and meat to area hotels.

Analysts expect the crisis in Bangkok to drag on with the army and police refusing to act on government demands to disband the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, pro-government groups have threatened to directly confront the People's Alliance in what observers fear would be an eruption of bloodshed that could spark a coup.

Garment makers look east for sales amid US downturn

Photo by: Chun Sophal
GMAC President Van Sou Ieng arrives from Japan at Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday night.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Monday, 01 December 2008

Textile sector leaders seek markets in Japan, other nations to bolster flagging exports as global financial crisis begins to hit industry profits, GMAC says

THE Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) announced Sunday that new purchase orders have been inked with Japan, amid growing concerns that one of the Kingdom's key industries is too reliant on the US market.

The deal represents an important step forward in trade relations between Cambodia and Japan, GMAC President Van Sou Ieng told reporters after his return from Japan.

"We will export 10,000 jackets and 100,000 pairs of shoes in early 2009 to mark the beginning of trade exchanges with Japan," he said.

"We hope that Japan will make more purchase orders for Cambodian garments because Japan is the third-largest garment market in the world after the US and European Union," he added.

Van Sou Ieng, along with officials from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), union representatives and a delegation from the Commerce Ministry, made the trip to Japan at the government's urging in a move aimed at shoring up the garment sector, which last year was worth some US$2.9 billion.

" I think Japan is a good market ... but we have to seize opportunities in russia. "

US exposure

The garment sector has been hit hard by the economic slowdown in the US, which buys about 70 percent of Cambodia's total textile output.

Japan, on the other hand, buys about 90 percent of its garments from China, Van Sou Ieng said. Chea Vuthy, deputy secretary general at the CDC, emphasised on Sunday the importance of developing closer trade relations with Japan and other nations in the wake of declining US and European sales.

One of those new markets, he said, is Russia.

"I think Japan is a good market for Cambodia's garments, but we have to seize opportunities in Russia as well to preserve the sustainability of this sector," Chea Vuthy told the Post.

"Our garment exports to the US are showing signs of decline, so our best option is to find new markets," he added.

Tan Eng Teo, managing director of Thaipore Garment Manufacturers, said, however, that factories would have to increase quality control standards to appeal to Japanese buyers.

Better quality

"The Japanese market demands high-quality products, so we have to face this challenge and try to meet their standards," he said.

"The Japanese market has no confidence in Cambodia, so we have to overcome this barrier and change their minds if we want to have an opportunity to expand there," Tan Eng Teo added.

Cambodia's garment sector employs more than 380,000 workers in 319 factories, and exports are expected to reach US$3 billion this year, according to government estimates.

But independent analysts suggest export revenue will be lower than expected as the global financial crisis takes a larger bite out of revenues and spending, particularly in the US.


Chinese delegation highlights security

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Monday, 01 December 2008

A HIGH-RANKING Chinese security delegation led by Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu arrived Sunday in Cambodia for talks with Ministry of Interior officials, pledging to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the issues of terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and illegal immigration.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said Cambodia and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding during Sunday's half-day meeting, aiming to strengthen cooperation on security-related issues.

"We are very proud for your visit today, which can help build up our old friendship," Sar Kheng said in his formal address to the delegation.

He added that the Chinese government had also promised to donate US$300,000 to upgrade police equipment and boost human resources in the security sector. "This is not the first time we have cooperated, and we will step towards closer cooperation [in future]," Sar Kheng said.

A strong relationship

Last week, the Chinese government donated 33 ambulances, seven minibuses, one bus, three cars, one excavator and other materials to Cambodia's Ministry of Defence.

Cheam Yeap, lawmaker of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said that Cambodia is scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with China in early December by hosting another delegation of senior Chinese officials, including National Committee Chairman Jia Qingling, from Tuesday to Saturday.

"The visit of the most senior Chinese government officials will help to improve stronger diplomatic ties between Cambodia and China," he said.

A young Prince addresses Asian and African leaders

Photo by: Michael Hayes
Then-Prince, now King Father Norodom Sihanouk is shown being welcomed to Bandung in April 1955 in a photo that now hangs in a museum honoring the event. Today Sihanouk is the only surviving leader to have attended the Asian-African Conference.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Monday, 01 December 2008

Prince Norodom Sihanouk's speech – transcribed from a taped version – to the Opening Session of the Asian-African Conference, April 18, 1955

Mr Chairman,

The world's attention has been centering for the last few weeks upon the present Conference which, for the first time in history, brings together all our nations.

Eminent voices have already defined the main features and revealed the objectives of the present Conference.

I will take the liberty to offer Cambodia's small contribution to this first task.

We do not think that we are meeting at Bandung for our trial. Our ideal and aspirations are well known. But what should characterise our conference, is that:
(a) It puts in concrete form, for the very first time, the solidarity of African and Asian peoples, in their common love of freedom, equality, peace and welfare.

(b) It shatters the frontiers which separated two worlds: the communist and the non-communist. In this respect, our conference appears to be an Afro-Asian offspring of the United Nations Assembly and offers an opportunity for regretting that the United Nations have not yet opened their doors to some nations having already obviously fulfilled the conditions of sovereignty and capacity required for membership.

(c) It is capable of contributing considerably towards international security and co-operation, by fostering all over the world two ideals which most typically mark mankind ie, first of all, freedom and independence for all the peoples of the world, and then world peace, which comes as a corollary and even a consequence of the first ideal.

I will lay emphasis on the peace which, though not being atomic power - and precisely because we are not atomic powers - we may have the privilege of achieving, as a result of the unprecedented union of our countries, and thanks to our policy which is based on equally shared liberty and equality, on non-interference and co-existence principles, and which will be made practicable by the destruction of political and racial barriers and more particularly of the barriers created by suspicion and mistrust.

There is another way by which Cambodia would like to contribute to this conference and it is that which results from her present cast, which might be used to test the practicability and the possibility of accomplishment of the aims laid down at this Conference.

The Cambodians are proud of having, all by themselves, struggled for and obtained full independence before the event of the Geneva Conference and through their union and their gallant determination.

I am proud of having had the privilege of leading my people in their struggle for independence and to have, after the Geneva Conference determinedly steered our national policy towards the Pancha Shila, towards the community of neutral nations - among them: India and Burma.

Independent and neutral Cambodia now finds herself on the separating line of two civilizations, of two races, of two political worlds ... and as such, she has the dangerous privilege of standing the test and the application of the principles of the Pancha Shila.

My country has adopted these principles and wishes to apply them to the fullest extent. In so doing, she only requests an absolute reciprocity. She requests that her independence, her integrity, her security, her traditions and political ideology be not threatened.

It will be the task of more powerful nations to set the example, to give proofs and guarantees to smaller nations, and thereby to take the only course of action that is necessary to overthrow those barriers of suspicion and mistrust I have mentioned.

Looking forward to this, Cambodia through my voice, will express her conviction of the beneficent issue of this Conference and her faith in its most important contribution towards the liberty, equality, welfare and, above all, the peace among peoples.

My country fully realises the primary importance of this Conference with regard to mankind at large, and will take this opportunity to pay a public homage to the five sponsoring powers, to Indonesia which has kindly accepted the heavy responsibility of organising this meeting, and finally with your permission to this great Asiatic: Jawaharlal Nehru, who has done so much for the junction and the mutual understanding of peoples in freedom and in the mutual respect of their national rights and also for world peace.

Collected Documents of the Asian-African Conference, April 18-24, 1955. Published by the Agency for Research and Development, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Indonesia, 1983.

Restarting Bangkok Aiport To Take At Least A Week

Policemen officers stand guard on the main road to Bangkok`s Suvarnabhumi Airport

Author Reuters

Restarting Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport will take at least a week from the end of the current sit-in by protesters because of security and IT system checks, airport general manager Serirat Prasutanond said on Monday.

"Normally, checking the IT systems takes one week. We have to check, recheck, check, recheck," Serirat told Reuters, adding that the delay would be even longer if any of the airport's massive computer systems needed repair.

"I think some systems are damaged," he said, but he declined to provide further details.

Once Airports of Thailand, the site's operator, was satisfied that everything was working as it should, it would invite the Department of Civil Aviation and airline representatives to do their own checks, Serirat said.

It is not known how long those third-party checks will take.

The closure of the $4 billion, 125,000 passenger-a-day airport since Tuesday has stranded thousands of foreign tourists and is threatening the tourism- and export-driven economy with billions of dollars of damage.

The misery is being compounded by the parallel closure by protesters of Bangkok's Don Muang airport, which served as the capital's main air hub until Suvarnabhumi's opening in September 2006 and is still important as a domestic hub.

Serirat did not talk about Don Muang.

Some international flights are now departing via U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era military airfield 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Bangkok.

The other options for travellers trying to get flights out of the country are via Chiang Mai, 700 km (435 miles) to the north, or Phuket, 900 km (560 miles) to the south.

Some are also driving overland to Cambodia to get flights out of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.

Chinese State Councilor Meng Jianzhu meets with Cambodian King

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu met here on Sunday with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni on bilateral ties and cooperation.

The king asked Meng to relay his greeting for Chinese President Hu Jintao, saying that the Cambodian-Chinese friendly ties were hammered out by both countries' previous leaders and has been highlighted consistently in recent years.

As the bilateral cooperation scored achievement in various sectors, Cambodia expected to join hands with China to push forward the Cambodian-Chinese relations and make them much closer and everlasting.

He also expressed appreciation for the long-term support and help that the Chinese government and the brotherly Chinese people have given for the kingdom's independence and construction.

Meng relayed Hu Jintao's greeting to the king, saying that the Chinese government attaches much attention to its relationship with Cambodia, which had a long history and has flourished in recent years.

Both sides exchanged many high-level visits, enhanced mutual political trust, and widened the cooperation in various sectors, including that of justice work, said Meng.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Cambodia, China is willing to join hands with Cambodia to lift the bilateral friendly and cooperative relations to a new level, he said.

Meng also expressed appreciation for the support that the Cambodian royal family and government have extended to China over the issues related to China's core interests, such as those of Taiwan and Tibet.

Meng and the 19-member delegation arrived in the kingdom on Nov.28 for an official visit at the invitation of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

On Nov. 30, Meng met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and held talks with Sar Kheng.

He will leave for Vietnam on Monday for the second and final leg of his regional tour.

Editor: Deng Shasha

Viet Nam calls for closer links with UN

HA NOI — Viet Nam wished to enhance co-operation with United Nations organisations, President Nguyen Minh Triet said yesterday while receiving UN Resident Co-ordinator in Viet Nam, John Hendra.

Triet said Viet Nam supported multilateral institutions, particularly the UN, in handling international relations. He said it also backed the general reform of the UN system in the country.

Viet Nam was one of the first countries to adopt the "one UN initiative", a reform programme he said needed to be strengthened.

Triet said he appreciated the contributions made by UN organisations to socio-economic development in Viet Nam, adding that Hendra had played an important role in enhancing the international community’s understanding of Viet Nam.

Hendra said Viet Nam had made significant contributions to the reform process of the UN Security Council, and the UN hoped it would make more contributions to UN activities.

He said UN organisations planned to provide financial consultancy to Viet Nam and enhance its assistance.

He added that UN programmes had many targets, such as improving judicial systems and state management, and that the UN wanted to help Viet Nam learn from other countries’ experiences in these fields.

Cambodian visitor

On the same day, President Triet received the Cambodian Chairman of the Council for Judiciary Reform, Dith Munty, who is on a working visit to Viet Nam until tomorrow.

Triet spoke highly of co-operation between the courts of the two countries, particularly in sharing experiences and training.

He said Munty’s visit would bring practical results for the two court sectors and foster traditional ties.

He said Viet Nam’s foreign policy was to expand co-operation with all countries, particularly between Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.

The State leader congratulated achievements made by the Cambodian people in raising the country’s position in the international arena.

Chairman Munty said he admired the achievements made by the Party, State and people of Viet Nam, and said Cambodia would never forget the great sacrifice of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers in helping Cambodian people escape from genocide.

He briefed Triet about the results of a working session with the People’s Supreme Court of Viet Nam, during which the two sides agreed to increase exchanges of delegations, share experiences and provide mutual training opportunities. — VNS

Airport protests put Thai economy in peril

The siege of Bangkok's international airport by anti-government protesters could be a crippling blow for Thailands economy.

Not only thousands of travellers are stranded. The protests have also paralyzed the countrys international air freight to the tune of millions of dollars.

China builds South East Asia ties

That Luang monastery is a symbol of Lao nationhood.

BBC News
Monday, 1 December 2008

China's top political adviser, Jia Qinglin, has arrived in the Lao capital Vientiane, on a goodwill visit.

Separately, Chinese State Councillor Meng Jianzhu arrived in Cambodia and met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen highlighted the importance of China - and its powerful economy - to South East Asia.
Long under Vietnam's umbrella, Laos and Cambodia have been receiving more Chinese investment, aid and migration in recent years.

Chinese state media reported Hun Sen as saying that the fast economic development of China was an encouragement not only for the Chinese people, but for people in the region.

Laos and Cambodia have been willing recipients of growing amounts of financial and other assistance from China, from the building of roads to the migration of traders.

Cambodia appreciated the long-term support and help that China has given for the economic and social development of Cambodia, Hun Sen said.

Officials then signed agreements to promote co-ordination of security between the two countries, part of which will involve China donating police equipment to Cambodia.

Project criticised

In Laos, China is funding several large construction projects, including the now completed road from northern Laos into southern China.

Thousands of Chinese workers have been brought to the country to work on these projects.

Correspondents say that criticism has emerged of what some see as overly close ties with China.

They cite the example of the stadium under construction in Vientiane which is financed by the China Development Bank.

The bank brought in the Suzhou Industrial Park Overseas Investment company from China, which was then granted a 50-year lease on 1,600 hectares of marshland to build a special residential zone in an area of ecological and national significance near That Luang monastery.

Opponents of the That Luang Township have said that the plan to turn a large marshland into a new "Chinatown" cedes too much sovereignty to the large neighbour to the north.

Unofficial estimates of about 300,000 new Chinese residents in Laos are impossible to confirm as many Chinese live without documentation, correspondents say.

The Xinhua news agency reported Mr Jia as saying that China and Laos have enjoyed "frequent contacts between leaders, ever-deepening economic co-operation and trade, mutual support and close co-ordination in international and regional affairs and expanded exchanges and co-operation in diverse areas".

Mr Jia said he hoped that this visit will "promote continuous progress in China-Laos relationship featuring long-term stability, good neighbourliness, mutual trust and comprehensive co-operation".

Sacravatoons : " Siamese Twins "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon

Rising number of NZers trapped in Bangkok

Anti-government demonstrators armed with clubs and iron bars stand watch near a checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Photo / AP

New Zealand Herald
Monday Dec 01, 2008

The number of New Zealanders stuck in the Thai capital Bangkok is growing, with officials now putting the figure at over 200, Prime Minister John Key says.

The Government is working with foreign airlines and the Australian government to get New Zealanders, trapped by the anti-government protests that have paralysed Bangkok's two main airports, out of the country.

An official estimate last night of the number of New Zealanders stuck in Bangkok was 195, but Mr Key said that number had grown.

"There are at least 200 that are stranded at Bangkok airport as I understand it and there may well be more," he said on Newstalk ZB.

"As each day goes by more holidays and things come to their end so in theory there is a greater backlog."

Mr Key said officials were working to get New Zealanders out and he would have more details on possible solutions this afternoon.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was still warning people to stay away from Thailand as the situation was likely to get worse before it got better.

"There is no real break in the protests that are going on and you never really know where those things are going to end up," Mr Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast programme.

"There are issues there, so unless you really need to go to Thailand I wouldn't go ... Obviously it's a risk we think people shouldn't take."

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully last night told NZPA there was the possibility of using airports beyond the main Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.

New Zealand officials were also discussing alternative options with other airlines.

"The situation is complicated by the fact that not all (the New Zealanders) are headed home.
Some are heading the other way, not all are literally trapped there, and some have made arrangements to go elsewhere."

A group of Australians left from U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era naval airbase 150km east of Bangkok, for home yesterday.

He said that was an option for ticket holders of Thai Airways or its partner airlines.

One of the other options was to catch a flight out of tourist resort Phuket - 900km by road from Bangkok and involving a 14-hour bus trip.

Subject to approval by Thai authorities, Qantas is planning to put on an A330-300 - which can hold close to 300 passengers - from Phuket to Singapore tonight local time.

But it has said Qantas and British Airways ticket holders will get first priority for seats, followed by other Australian nationals.

Mr McCully said chartering an Air New Zealand plane to fly New Zealanders home was the least practical answer.

"Anything involving a carrier that does not habitually fly from the airport they would leave from has complications," he said.

Mr McCully said he believed New Zealanders were not at risk but without intervention it could take weeks to get home.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat has said it could take a month to clear the backlog.

"The levels of frustration are going to rise and we are keen to do everything we can to assist," Mr McCully said.


PAD releases 88 stranded airliners

More than 400 haj pilgrims stranded at Suvarnabhumiairport pick up their belongings yesterday before being taken to U-tapao airport for a flight to Saudi Arabia early this morning. SOMCHAIPOOMLARD

Bangkok Post
Monday December 01, 2008

Planes will help get passengers back home

International and local airlines were removing their aircraft from Suvarnabhumi airport last night after the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) agreed to release 88 planes stranded there, at the request of Airports of Thailand (AoT).

AoT acting president and Suvarnabhumi airport director Sereerat Prasutanont yesterday urged the PAD to free the fleet, both local and foreign-owned, so the airlines can take home passengers who have been marooned by the closure of the airport.

He said foreign airlines were ready to remove their planes immediately.

To ease congestion at U-tapao airport, where foreigners are queueing for flights out of the country, AoT plans to turn Bitec convention centre in Bang Na into a temporary check-in terminal or city terminal, he said.

The Bitec facility is expected to be ready soon.

Suriyasai Katasila, PAD coordinator, said the alliance had no problem if the airlines wanted to take their planes back. The PAD was also concerned about the security of the aircraft.

Airlines began flying out of the airport about 10 o'clock last night.

Earlier, Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kohsurat said about 300,000 passengers had been left stranded. These included 100,000 foreign tourists caught in Thailand, and 60,000 Thais who were overseas trying to get home.

The rest were foreigners who planned to travel to Thailand but cannot get here.

Flights operating from U-tapao airport have so far sent only 30,000 passengers back to their home countries. It will take 10 days to send back all passengers.

Thai Airways International plc (THAI) yesterday arranged 31 special flights from U-tapao airport.

Hat Yai airport has begun sending flights to U-tapao airport, for passengers in the South who would like to get to Bangkok.

THAI would put on one flight a day from the southern airport to U-tapao.

The government is spending 40 million baht a day taking care of passengers left stranded following the closure of the two main airports.

Earlier yesterday, a PAD member said PAD had dispatched security guards to prevent people entering the area where aircraft are parked. The PAD has also asked AoT to send officials to guard aircraft and runways at the two airports.

PAD leader Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang yesterday wrote to Mr Sereerat asking him to beef up security for aircraft and runways at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

Tourists wanting to leave the country are also flocking to Songkhla's Hat Yai district to catch buses and vans to neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysian and Singaporean tourists visiting the South are catching buses and vans in Hat Yai back to their countries.

Some tourists from European countries are also heading for Hat Yai, where they catch vans to Malaysia and Singapore for flights to their countries.

Foreign govts frustrated by Thai airport siege

BANGKOK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Australia's foreign minister expressed frustration on Sunday at the closure of Bangkok's international airport and said his government was pressing Thai authorities to do more to get stranded tourists out.

Other foreign governments are increasingly concerned at the closure of Suvarnabhumi airport since Tuesday by political protesters as part of their campaign to topple the government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. [IDn:LT697926]

Australia's Stephen Smith said hundreds of Australians were still stranded in Thailand and national carrier Qantas (QAN.AX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) had offered to put on additional flights to take them home.

"It's very frustrating for us and it's very frustrating for those stranded Australians," he told Australian television.

Qantas said it will operate a special service from Phuket to Singapore on Monday night for Australian tourists stranded in Thailand.

The Thai government is shuttling tourists to U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era air base 150 km (90 miles) east of Bangkok, as an alternative landing site for airlines, but travellers have complained of long delays and confusion.

Several major Asian carriers have announced special flights to pick up passengers and crew from U-Tapoa or other Thai airports.

China's official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday the first return flights from Thailand reached Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou early on Sunday. Xinhua cited estimates that over 3,500 Chinese tourists have been stranded in Thailand.

The U.S. embassy in Bangkok said it had asked the Thai foreign ministry to provide "appropriate compensation" to U.S. citizens stranded by the closure of Suvarnabhumi and the older Don Muang airport, a big domestic hub.

It said "large numbers" of Americans were unable to leave Thailand and expressed its deep concern to the Thai government.

The European Union also voiced concern in a statement issued in Bangkok by EU ambassadors.

"While respecting the right of protesting and without interfering in any way with the internal political debate in Thailand, the EU considers that these actions are totally inappropriate. They are seriously damaging the international image of Thailand," it said.

"We urge the protesters to evacuate the airports peacefully without delay in order to avoid a major consular crisis and its economic consequences for Thailand," it added.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and advised Canadians to stay away from areas where protests were going on, although he noted in a statement that people were free to move around Bangkok.

(Reporting by Alan Raybould; Editing by David Fox and Valerie Lee)