Friday, 20 February 2009

Writing the Book on Human Rights

LOSS FOR ALL: Human Rights advocate Alison des Forges is shown here in a discussion panel at the Pierre Hotel in March 2005 in New York City. Her study of the Rwandan genocide documented the tragedy. She died in a plane crash last week. (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

TEXT OF REMEMBRANCE: A Buddhist monk stands near one of the killing fields under the Khmer Rouge regime in Takeo province. Cambodia released a textbook of the genocide this week. A U.N.-backed genocide court on Feb. 17 will begin the long-awaited trial of (Nicholas Asfouri/ AFP/Getty Images)

The Epoch Times

Feb 19, 2009

Supporters of Rwandan human rights causes lost a prominent advocate in a plane crash near Buffalo last Thursday. Historian Alison Des Forges was one of the 50 people killed when the plane crashed into a house and burst into flames.

Des Forges, 66, dedicated her life to studying Rwanda and wrote a definitive study of the 1994 genocide in which some 800,000 people from the country's ethnic Tutsi minority as well as Hutu moderates were slaughtered in 100 days.

A central thesis of her award-winning book, "Leave None to Tell the Story," was that the genocide was not an uncontrollable explosion of ancient tribal hatreds but carefully orchestrated by the government, which seized control of Rwanda in April 1994.

Des Forges appeared as an expert witness in 11 trials for genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as well as in trials in Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Canada, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Des Forges worked as a senior advisor to the organization's Africa division and was also an authority on human rights violations in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Her death is a tremendous loss for the human rights community, for Rwanda, and the Great Lakes, which are places that she loved so dearly," said Corinne Dufka, West Africa regional director for Human Rights Watch.

Des Forges also argued that the rebel army that defeated the genocide regime and is now in power should also be held accountable for crimes during and just after the genocide.

Genocide Remembered

On another continent, the Cambodian government unveiled its first textbook that tells about the human rights tragedy of the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975-79 in which 1.7 million people died.

Thirty years after the fall of Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist regime, many young Cambodians know little about one of the darkest chapters in the 20th century, education officials say.

"When we tell students about the Khmer Rouge genocide, they don't believe it and think it's fiction," Deputy Education Minister Ton Sa Im told Reuters. “But now when they see the United Nations help Cambodia put Khmer Rouge on trial, they start believing," she said of the first trial of a top Pol Pot cadre due to start on Feb. 17.

More than 500,000 copies of the textbook will be distributed in the impoverished Southeast Asian country, where more than half of its 14 million people were born after the Khmer Rouge were ousted in a 1979 Vietnamese invasion.

"For the first time in Cambodia's history, the genocide will be taught in high school," said Youk Chhang, director of the U.S.-funded Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), which has documented Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The center played a key role in bringing out the textbook, which includes chapters on other genocides such as the 800,000 people killed in the central African country of Rwanda in 1994.

Seng Nary, an 18-year-old student who only heard about the Khmer Rouge from her parents, said she knew little about the joint Cambodian-United Nations court set up in 2006 to investigate and prosecute Pol Pot's surviving henchmen. "I saw something on television about the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but that's it," she told Reuters.

A recent survey by the Human Rights Center of the University of California, Berkeley, found 85 percent of respondents "had little or no knowledge" of the tribunal. "On the eve of the first trial, more Cambodians should be aware of the court's work, especially as there is a strong desire for justice," director of research Phuong Pham said in the report, entitled "So We Will Never Forget."

It recommended that educational material combining historical texts and visual material from the forthcoming trials be created for use in primary and secondary schools.

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, head of the S-21 torture center under the Khmer Rouge, will go on trial this week for his role in the deaths of an estimated 16,000 people. Another four senior Pol Pot cadres have been charged with crimes against humanity but their trial dates have not been set.

China haunted by Khmer Rouge links

Asia Times Online
Feb 21, 2009

By Antoaneta Bezlova

BEIJING - The skeletons are tumbling out of China's cupboard of buried memories. The 30th anniversary of China's brief but bloody war with Vietnam may have gone unmarked but for the fact that February 17 also saw the start of the trial of the chief torturer of Cambodia's grisly Khmer Rouge.

China's role in Cambodia's bloody past is now little spoken of and this is how Beijing, Hanoi and Phnom Penh - all intent on trade and development - prefer it.

When in 1979 Vietnam ousted Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime, Beijing was so incensed by what it saw as defiance in its backyard by a political party it had helped create that it ordered an attack to "teach Vietnam a lesson" and keep Pol Pot in power.
During his 1975-1979 rule Pol Pot sought to replicate Mao Zedong's agrarian utopia, but the experiment left Cambodia deeply scarred and a quarter of its population - some 1.7 million people - dead.

Although aware of the atrocities committed by the regime, Beijing sided with the Khmer Rouge over the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and launched a massive offensive against Vietnam along the two countries' border.

The month-long border conflict claimed anywhere between 20,000 to 60,000 lives, and yet no commemorations were held on the 30th anniversary either in Beijing or Hanoi.

As the trial of Khmer Rouge's chief investigator Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, opened in Phnom Penh, China sought to downplay its role in supporting Pol Pot's regime.

"As everyone knows, the government of Democratic Kampuchea had a legal seat at the United Nations, and had established broad foreign relations with more than 70 countries," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular press briefing, referring to the former Khmer Rouge government.

Duch is being tried on charges of crimes against humanity. Under his watch, as commandant of the notorious S-21 prison, some 14,000 people were tortured and sent to their deaths in the killing fields outside the capital Phnom Penh. (Please see Trial and error in Cambodia, February 18, 2009.)

"China owes Cambodian people an apology," said Lao Mong Hay, former director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy in Phnom Penh and now a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. "It supported the Khmer Rouge before coming to power and continued to lend its support even after Pol Pot assumed power regardless of what was happening to Cambodian people."

According to Mong Hay, China had donated $1 billion to Democratic Kampuchea before 1979 and another billion dollars after 1979 in order to fight the Vietnamese invasion.

China often admonishes Japan to "face up" to history, insisting that Tokyo's unapologetic attitude regarding its invasionist politics of the past impedes relations with its neighbors. But when applied to China's own past, reckoning of history's fallacies is discarded as irrelevant to current and future developments.

"China and Vietnam have had a period of unhappiness in their past,'' Jiang Yu told reporters. "But what's important is that the leaders and people of both countries have a broad wish and consensus to create a bright future together. History has already reached its conclusions," she added.

The Khmer Rouge was a replica of the Maoist regime, said Mong Hay, and any probe into its record could throw unfavorable light on China's own historical blunders. "The Chinese communist regime hasn't accounted yet for the sufferings caused to its own people during years of political campaigns and persecutions," he added.

During Mao's rule China armed and trained rebel groups in almost every Southeast Asian country, including Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, even as it fostered warm relations with their official governments.

Beijing's generous support for revolutionary armies all over Asia rose during the Cultural Revolution when China's rivalry with the Soviet Union intensified and they competed for influence in the region as Western colonial powers retreated.

"In the end it was realpolitik, far more than ideological affinity, which brought China and Cambodia together," wrote Philip Short in his biography of Pol Pot, Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare. "There was near-perfect symmetry to the three countries' relations. China was to Vietnam as Vietnam was to Cambodia - a vast and powerful neighbor, which threatened hegemony."

While Beijing saw Vietnam as a Soviet bridgehead in Asia, it also saw "Cambodia as the one country on Vietnam's western flank which might be expected to resist the expansion of Vietnamese, and hence of Soviet power," Short wrote.

Now, as then, imperatives of ideology have given way to realpolitik. Economy and trade form the basis for Beijing's policies towards its neighboring countries these days. China is patiently rebuilding traditional ties with all of its Southeast Asian neighbors, using foreign investment, development aid and "soft power" to draw them back into its economic orbit.

The Greater Mekong Subregion intra-regional trade program, launched by the Asia Development Bank in 1992, has provided Beijing with the framework for expanding economic ties without arousing fears among its neighbors still wary of Chinese power.

"China actively participates in the development of the GMS because it sees it as the building of a passage to all of Southeast Asia," said He Shengda, researcher with the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.

In Cambodia these days, Chinese firms are engaged in mining and logging, and have built roads, bridges, garment factories, power plants, casinos and resorts, investing about $1.5 billion in 2007.

A Cambodian investment group and a Chinese textile firm have committed three billion dollars to a joint venture, in Sihanoukville, modelled along the lines of China's tax-free special economic zones.

In Vietnam, the old theatres of war are now bustling with Chinese traders, facilitated by new highways, such as the one linking Nanning in Guangxi province with Hanoi. Within three years, another ADB-financed highway will shorten the drive between Yunnan capital Kunming and Hanoi to less than 24 hours.

Similar accelerated economic integration can be seen elsewhere in Southeast Asia where Chinese companies are providing capital and expertise in exchange for markets and valuable resources.

"The economies of the GMS and China are highly complementary," said Zhang Guotu, an expert on Southeast Asia with Xiamen University. "The sub-region has great potential in terms of resources and labor but its economies are lagging behind. This presents opportunities for Chinese state and private companies looking both for markets and investment."

Within the greater scope of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China is also pushing for enlarged economic interdependence. In a sign of its growing ambitions, last year Beijing appointed a special ambassador to the 10-member bloc.

In 2010, China and ASEAN are due to launch the first stage of a trade agreement, reducing tariffs on trade between China and the five founding countries of the bloc - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. In 2015, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma will also join the trade bloc. The exception is Brunei.

Nevertheless, China's relations with Southeast Asian nations remain prickly as history and politics often get in the way of economic integration.

"History should not be easily discarded," said Mong Hay. "It only takes a look at Cambodia and China relations, for example, to see that they have been like a yo-yo in the past - swinging from good to bad and back."

(Inter Press Service)

Meeting Incentive Conference Exhibition to See Growth in Siem Riep Cambodia

Luxury Travel has just launched a MICE Department and Specializes in Planning and Organizing Incentive Trips and the Company Spokesperson Says Meeting Incentive Conference Exhibition Sees Growth in Siem Riep Cambodia.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, February 20, 2009 --( Teeming with history, marvelous architecture and awash in natural beauty, Cambodia is fast becoming a must see destination in South East Asia. The largest religious monument ever built, Angkor Wat ranks at the top destinations in South Est Asia and top of globetrotting VIP business travellers - must see list of wonders in the world.

After a lengthy period of internal strife and civil war curtailed travel to Cambodia for the better part of three decades, the establishment of the peace has spurred a rise in tourism accompanies by a hotel constructions boom in the town of Siem Riep located just fine miles from Angkor Wat.

Cambodia now becomes a wonderful place to celebrate MICE smoothly, reaching both successful business meeting and negotiation and enjoyable holiday business.

Meeting Incentive Conference and Exhibition, MICE for short, is becoming increasingly important in business context as this model provides elegant facilities with a wide variety of recreational activities during the pleasure holiday business.

With its unique incredible and fabulous culture and nature destination's beauty, Cambodia can be a better place to celebrate MICE smoothly, reaching both successful business meeting, and enjoyable business stay.

“Cambodia is for everyone all sizes of MICE. The international standard hotel with modern conference facilities in a world heritage destination, resort and meeting rooms and variety of attraction suiting all taste for nature and culture lovers, golf, relaxation activities, health and spa enthusiasts, cuisine, day trip to marvelous Angkor Wat and Thom. Nature and culture is waiting to sustain ably serve and satisfy most discerning guests” said Tonny Pham, Mice Department Manager of Luxury Travel.

Luxury Travel Co., Ltd ( is a 100% fully registered and privately-owned Vietnamese company. Luxury Travel has just launched a MICE department and specializes in planning and organizing incentive trips and have been one of the leading MICE destination companies in the region for over 5 years.

The company’s depth of experience and large infrastructure enable it to create unique itineraries with the operational confidence to fulfill client expectations. Among Luxury Travel’s clients are ambassadors, French ministers, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada…and others.

Luxury Travel is headquartered in Hanoi and has offices around Vietnam and management offices in Laos and Cambodia. Luxury Travel has won numerous travel awards for excellence.

“Our company is the first travel company in Indochina specializing in incentive holidays. We have first hand knowledge on MICE, and excellent relations with suppliers in Mice industry for whatever event or incentive holiday you want. Name it we make it happen in style.” added Tonny.

Luxury Travel has everything you need to organize a successful MICE trip in Vietnam Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

MICE planers can go to for meeting incentive conference and exhibition options.

Cambodia says Thai delegation to apologize for artillery fire

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- A Thai delegation was to visit Phnom Penh to discuss an incident earlier this week in which Thai soldiers fired at least eight artillery shells into Cambodian territory, national media reported Friday, citing a Foreign Ministry official.

The shells landed near the ancient Ta Krabey temple in Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday, an RCAF commander said, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post Thursday that the local Thai military had apologized to their Cambodian counterparts immediately after the strike and promised to avoid any similar incidents in future.

"Now the delegation will come to Phnom Penh to apologize to the Cambodian government," Koy Kuong said.

"Thailand has agreed to take responsibility for the mistake, so we now consider this matter closed," he said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said officials from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), the Council of Ministers and the Foreign Ministry had launched an investigation into the incident.

"We will collect all the evidence including the direction of fire to evaluate whether this was accidental or intentional," Siphan said.

"We want to reduce the chances of conflict along the border, but we also need to protect our sovereignty," he said.

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia ratcheted higher in 2008 when troops from both countries clashed at the Preah Vihear Temple and soldiers on both sides died in fighting in October before an uneasy peace was restored.

An RCAF military commander based in the border region told the Post Wednesday that in this week's incident the shells had landed two kilometers inside Cambodian territory.

He said the 81 mm and 106 mm shells had come down near Ta Krabey Temple and Bos Thom village.

The commander, who requested anonymity, said six shells had exploded in the forest and another two had failed to go off. No one was injured, and no property was damaged.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Tribute to Cambodian classical dancer

Prumsodun Ok, 22, top, demonstrates dance techniques during Cambodian classical dance rehearsal at the Khmer Arts Academy Studio in Long Beach, on Feb. 14. (Carlos Delgado / For the Press-Telegram)

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram (California, USA)

As a Cambodian classical dancer, Chea Samy bridged generations.

She was schooled and trained in the Royal Cambodian Court as a child protege and later was the pre-eminent dancer of her generation.

After the Khmer Rouge genocide, Chea was one of the few surviving artists and students of the form. Her teachings, choreography and interpretations served to inform the practitioners of today.

On Saturday, the art and choreography of Chea will be performed by students of the Khmer Arts Academy. The dance and lecture are part of an ongoing "Salon Series" of Southern and Southeast Asian arts being presented by the academy and organized by local artist Prumsodun Ok.

Ok describes Chea as a woman who was integral in the pre- and post-revolution art worlds of Cambodia. That she survived the genocide was miraculous. And the oral, musical and gestural knowledge she carried with her out of the carnage were invaluable.

Chea's story is one of incredible contrasts.

"For me the important thing about (Chea) is she is an example of two worlds. As the rumored consort of the king (Monivong) and the sister-in-law of Pol Pot, she straddled two worlds," Ok says.

The cultural purge that marked the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 nearly wiped out the classical arts that dated back to the ancient Angkor dynasty and beyond.

Artists were among those targeted and killed by the regime. It is estimated up to 90 percent of Cambodia's artists died in the genocide that left upward of 2 million dead from execution, starvation, disease and deprivation.

Despite being the sister-in-law of Pol Pot, Chea received no special treatment. To survive, she hid her identity and occupation from the Khmer Rouge and posed as a simple market vendor.

In fact, Chea claimed it wasn't until three years into the Khmer Rouge regime, when a poster of Pol Pot was erected in her commune, that she learned he was the notorious Brother Number One.

When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979 and drove the Khmer Rouge to the hinterlands near the border of Thailand, it became the job of the few surviving classically trained artists to revive the feeble flicker of the ancient arts that had been passed down orally through the ages.

One of those who played a pivotal role was Chea.

Trained in the royal Cambodian court since early childhood, Chea had been the leading performer of female roles of her generation. Chea entered the royal court in 1925 at age 6 and by her teens was a leading performer.

After the downfall of the Khmer Rouge, Chea, at age 57, made her way back to Phnom Penh and was asked by the new government to revive classical dance. With the help of surviving musicians, Chea gradually rebuilt the ballet. She continued teaching until her death in 1994.

Ok says Chea molded and trained the next generation of dancers, setting upon them the traditional repertoire, as well as new choreographic works that faithfully employed the ancient gestural language of Cambodian classical dance.

Among Chea's students was Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, who founded the Khmer Arts Academy and oversees and trains a Cambodian dance troupe that tours internationally.

On Saturday, students from Khmer Arts Academy will present two dances. In one, "Robam Monosanchetouna," two lovers cross paths in a blissful garden. In the other, "Robam Neary Chea Chuor," young ladies in line celebrate the beauty of their art.

The performance will be followed by a discussion focusing on the narrative elements of this highly stylized dance choreographed by Chea.

The "Salon Series" will continue on the third Saturday of every month. Future performances will feature Balinese shadow puppetry, Indian classical music and other Asian performance arts.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 1364 Obispo Ave., Long Beach.
Admission: Free.
Information: (562) 472-0090,

Greg Mellen (562) 499-1291

Dropout rates mar Cambodia's MDG quest for 'education for all'

The Phnom Penh Post

Obstacles to educating Cambodia's children are examined in first of four-part series on the Kingdom's millennium goals.

Dropout rates mar Cambodia's MDG quest for 'education for all'

Adam Maream (right), a 14-year-old student at Phnom Penh's Chaktomuk Secondary School, says she wants to finish high school and go on to university. Experts warn that Cambodia may not meet its MDG for education, which includes gender parity targets.

Last year marked the midway point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, benchmarks for developing countries established in 2000 that cover everything from poverty to environmental sustainability. Last year also marked the five-year anniversary of the adoption of Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals, the localised versions of the global goals. In a four-part series, the Post looks at the progress made and the challenges that remain in achieving targets set for 2010 and 2015, drawing on government data as well as interviews with officials, NGO workers and Cambodians who stand to benefit from the effort. Part One looks at the goals for education and women's empowerment.


Total students 3,289,286
Total female students 1,538,279
Students grades 7-12 898,594
Female students, 7-12 403,689
Total teachers 79,823
Total female teachers 33,332


1999 value 82
2005 goal 90
2005 estimate 83.4
2015 goal 100


2001 value 33
2005 goal 52
2005 estimate 29.3
2015 goal 100


2001 value 48
2005 goal 59
2005 estimate 59.9
2015 goal 100


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Robbie Corey-Boulet and Mom Kunthear
Friday, 20 February 2009

In attempting to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for education, officials cope with the challenges of hard-to-reach children and a system widely perceived to be ineffective.

ADAM Maream, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Chaktomuk Secondary School, has already completed as many years of education as her mother did, and she is poised to go even further. Several factors have worked in her favour, not least of which being that her school, like many in Phnom Penh, has more resources than those in the provinces, including trained teachers, up-to-date textbooks and clean toilets.

But her experience has not been perfect. For instance, she estimated in a recent interview that she pays between 30,000 and 40,000 riel (roughly US$7.25 and $9.75) each month in "informal fees" collected by teachers for supplies - such as lesson paper and pens - that are supposed to be free.

"If I don't buy them, I will get a low score or I will not pass the exam, even though I am an outstanding student," she said last week, sitting in the school courtyard with a group of friends who nodded their agreement.

Adam Maream's mixed experience at Chaktomuk mirrors the uneven track record of the Cambodian education system as a whole as it works towards the Millennium Development Goal pertaining to education. Asked recently to assess the system's progress since the goal was adopted in 2003, government officials and NGO heads used adjectives including "encouraging", "improving", "slow", "incremental", "difficult" and "discouraging", often in quick succession.

All of these assessments are borne out by recent data, which paint a picture of a system at markedly different stages of development depending on the particular target - there are 10 under the goal - being evaluated.

The disconnect between enrolment and literacy offers a prime example: Cambodia was included among 63 countries reported to have achieved or nearly achieved universal primary enrolment in the 2008 Education for All (EFA) report published by Unesco. But it was also listed among the worst-performing countries with regard to literacy and was deemed at "serious risk" of not meeting the universal literacy target set for 2015. Cambodia was one of just five countries, and the only non-African country, to be included on both lists.

Education for all

Nearly everyone interviewed for this article pointed to enrolment gains as the most significant achievement made in the past five years.

"Today is the time of education for all," said Minister of Education Im Sethy.

One target under the goal calls for net primary school enrolment to reach 100 percent in 2010, starting from a base of 81 percent in 2001. The 2005 benchmark was 96 percent male enrolment and 94 percent female enrolment. Cambodia fell just short, achieving 93 percent and 90.7 percent enrolment, respectively, according to Ministry of Planning figures. Total net enrolment in the 2007-08 school year reached 93.3 percent, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.

Ang Sopha, national researcher at NGO Education Partnership (NEP), a networking organisation that facilitates communication between the government and education NGOs, said she expected primary enrolment to continue climbing slightly more than one percent each year, reaching 98 or 99 percent in 2015.

But several experts noted that primary-school-age children who had not yet enrolled despite recent recruitment efforts would likely be the most difficult to reach.

Unesco Country Director Teruo Jinnai said the remaining unenrolled students include ethnic minorities, children in migrating families and members of other marginalised groups.

"Today, to get another two percent - well, where are they? They are in very difficult circumstances," he said, "and the government is really concerned".

The survival question

While enrolment gains are commendable, the bigger problem facing the government seems to lie not in getting students to come to school but rather in keeping them there. Perhaps the most distressing trend documented by the 2005 Ministry of Planning report on education indicators was that the "survival", or retention, rate for grades one through nine had actually dropped from 33 percent in 2001 to 29.3 percent, falling far short of the 2005 target of 52 percent.

Ang Sopha said data recorded for the 2006-07 school year indicated a three-percent increase in the survival rate since 2005. She noted that the rate was higher than 50 percent for grades one through six but fell off sharply once students entered secondary school.

Leng Theavy, NEP's education and capacity building officer, said this trend is likely a function of parents concluding that children can better serve their families by working rather than by becoming educated adults.

"Parents don't understand the importance of education, and they don't see any immediate gains from it," she said.

Speaking of the survival rate generally, Jinnai said students drop out for "the same reasons they weren't in school a decade ago", including the fact that the education system is widely perceived to be ineffective.

The EFA report found that the average primary school pupil-to-teacher ratio in Cambodia was 53:1, making Cambodia one of only four countries outside sub-Saharan Africa to have more than 40 students in the average classroom, along with Mauritania, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Inadequate teacher compensation is another major contributor to poor learning environments, several experts said.

The "informal fees" Adam Maream described are the result of low salaries, according to a 2008 report prepared by NEP on "teacher motivation and morale". Citing research finding that Cambodian teachers receive a base salary of between $30 and $60 per month, the report states that many believe the pay they receive "is inadequate, not just because it fails to reflect the work that they do, but because it is not enough to support basic daily living".

A teacher at Chaktomuk Secondary School who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss teacher pay, said teachers there earned "less than $100", which led them to collect informal fees.

In rural provinces, where students are not able to pay informal fees, teachers are more likely to take on second jobs, said Judy Baldwin, NEP's management adviser. The NEP report found that 93 percent of teachers surveyed said they had second jobs that, in many cases, detracted from the amount of time they could devote to lesson planning.

The gender question

These obstacles aside, Adam Maream said she hopes to finish high school and attend university, though she said her ability to do so would depend largely on her grandmother's willingness to support her.

Her father was shot and killed in a robbery when she was five, and her mother died of cancer when she was 12.

She said her grandmother's views on the importance of education are likely influenced by the fact that she grew up in a time when women's education was less valued than it is today.

Adam Maream's mother, she said, had been encouraged to "just stay at home and cook".

Convincing parents that they should invest in their daughters' education is central to attaining gender parity through grade nine, one of the benchmarks under the education goal, Leng Theavy said.

The EFA report found that, as in other areas, Cambodia's performance in this regard had been mixed: It was included among countries that seemed likely to achieve gender parity in primary education by 2015 but also among countries at risk of not achieving it in secondary education by 2015 or even 2025.

Women's rights experts noted that gender parity in education would do much to facilitate the meeting of the third Millennium Development Goal: to promote gender equality and empower women.

Chan Kunthea, coordinator of the Committee to Promote Women in Politics, said educated women are much more likely to assume leadership roles and run for office.

Uneducated women, she said, "cannot talk and are not confident in themselves".

Minster of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said educated women are more likely to pursue high-powered jobs, contributing to a sense of economic empowerment that can improve how they are treated - for example, by lowering the nationwide incidence of domestic violence.

Adam Maream's own evolving career plans offer insight into how this process works: When she entered school, she said, she wanted to become a fashion designer. But her exposure to mathematics, on top of her family's seemingly endless struggle with limited financial resources, has fuelled her desire to use her university degree, assuming she gets it, to go into banking.

"I think that job is suitable for me," she said, "and I can get a high salary".


RCAF freelancers called back

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and chun sophal
Friday, 20 February 2009

Day jobs as guards for the wealthy ruled out under military reforms

PRIME MINISTER Hun Sen has ordered the new Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief to recall soldiers moonlighting as guards for wealthy officials, saying they should remain with their military units.

"I ordered General Pol Saroeun to gather them and take them from the places where they are working," Hun Sen said Wednesday, referring to the government's much-touted policy of military reform, which began with a shake-up of the senior military leadership last month.

"If they are deployed here and there, the military units will lack soldiers. The real soldiers have been stationed at homes belonging to this man or that man here and there. It is impossible from now on. We have to take action to stop it," he said during a conference at the InterContinental Hotel.

"I do not mean that they should be sent to brigades, but to their platoons and companies," he added, referring to demoting soldiers.

Hun Sen said also that Pol Saroeun had informed him that more than 10,000 soldiers - totalling nearly an entire RCAF division - were deployed in non-military positions, and requested that they all be sent back to their units.

Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun confirmed Thursday that more than 10,000 soldiers had been listed as absent from the Ministry of Defence, Command Headquarters and Infantry Headquarters.

When asked if they will be sent back to bases, Pol Saroeun said he was in the process of expediting the return of the men to their units.

"I know how to organise this. I can't give any details because this is military work," he added.
Deputy Commander-in-Chief Hing Bun Heang would not comment on the redeployment Thursday, saying he was stationed along the Thai border.

Bankruptcy looms over Cambodian side of tribunal

Photo by: Vinh Dao/Melon Rouge
Monks outside the ECCC courtroom where prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, appeared Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Neth Pheaktra and Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 20 February 2009

Without donations over the next month, Cambodian employees of the the Khmer Rouge court could be working for free

DONOR countries to the Khmer Rouge tribunal have commended the war crimes court for beginning its first trial on Tuesday, a step it claims moves Cambodia much closer to achieving justice and national reconciliation.

But as congratulatory messages flood in, donors remain silent on further pledges to the financially troubled chambers, failing to allay fears by officials that the court's Cambodian side looks set to become bankrupt by the end of the month.

In a press statement Wednesday, the French Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said they would continue to support the tribunal, but made no further pledges.

"France welcomes the starting of the first initial hearing at ECCC, a fruit of cooperation between Cambodian and international justice," it said.

According to a report released last week by court monitor Open Society Justice Initiative, the Cambodian side of the court could be bankrupt in a matter of weeks, despite recent donations.
Court officials Thursday confirmed this.

"We may not have any money to run the court next month," court spokesman Reach Sambath told the Post.

We may not have enough money to run the court next month.

According to the court's revised 2005 budget, the court needs an additional US$44.1 million on top of an original estimate of $56.3 million to see the court through to the end of 2009. This is allocated as $38 million to the United Nations to be raised by donor contributions, and $5.8 million to the Cambodian side of the court to be raised by the Cambodian government.

Congratulations, but no cash

The court's largest donor, Japan, also commended the court's achievements, but did not indicate any further pledges.

"Japan heartily welcomes the holding of the initial hearing of the Khmer Rouge tribunal," a press release from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

Raising additional funds for the court has long been a problem for the court, in part because of its failure to address concerns about corruption and independence, the OSJI report said.

This led the UN Development Program, which was administering donor funds to the Cambodian side of the court, to freeze funding last July.

"It will be difficult for some staff because they need a salary to support their daily life, but this is not new to us," Reach Sambath said, referring to a two-month period after the funding freeze last year in which employees worked unpaid.

"We trust our staff's commitment to keep working ... but I don't think the international side can support the running of the court [for long]," he added.

Vendors seek help from top court

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Friday, 20 February 2009

MORE than a hundred vendors from Memot Market in Kampong Cham province have appealed to the Supreme Court for intervention in a dispute with a private investor over part of a state-owned market being claimed as private property.

Since 2007, Ly Kimleng has ordered vendors to leave a section of the market he claims to own, so he can develop it as real estate. Vendors there have contested his right to obtain state-owned property.

The vendors arrived Monday in Phnom Penh to hear an Appeal Court decision, and, after a ruling against them, filed a complaint the same day with the Supreme Court, said Chhoeun Sokha, the vendors' representative.

"The Supreme Court is our last hope," he said.

According to Chhoeun Sokha, the market has existed as state-owned property since 1979, and vendors were required to pay a small rental fee to local authorities. But since 2001, vendors operating along a walkway renovated by Ly Kimleng have been required to pay him a US$150 to $280 fee every three years, and, since 2007, they have been asked to leave their stalls altogether, he said.

Memot district Governor Choek Sa Orn said by phone Thursday that the market has remained state-owned, but part of it was given to Ly Kimleng in a concession.

"He helped us renovate the market from a dirty place into a beautiful one," he said.

He said other vendors had the choice to simply move to stalls in the market not belonging to Ly Kimleng.

Ly Kimleng could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Child sex hearing adjourned as alleged victim flees court

Richard David Mitchell outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 20 February 2009

American national accused of abusing a 13-year old girl, but man's defense lawyer claims local police concocted charges.

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court suspended its hearing of an American accused of underage sex crimes Thursday after his alleged victim ran from the courtroom midway through the proceedings.

"I suspended the hearing with the consent from both the defence and victim's lawyers,"said Judge Chan Madina. "I could not continue questioning the victim, who seemed nervous."

US national Richard David Mitchell, 61, was arrested August 28 by Wat Phnom commune police while abusing a 13-year-old Cambodian girl at the Wat Phnom Public Park, police said at the time.

Samleang Seila, executive director of anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said the court charged Mitchell with soliciting sex from a minor and indecent acts against an underage individual on August 31.

But defence lawyer Dun Vibol denied his client had committed the crime, accusing local police of concocting the story to press charges against his client, whom he claimed was pick-pocketed by his alleged victim.

"I will fight in the court to prove that my client was innocent and has not committed indecent acts under the law," he said.

He added that during its Thursday hearing, the court had dismissed the first solicitation charge, leaving the accusation of indecent acts, which carries a potential jail term of between one and three years.

Teng Maneth, the victim's lawyer, said that she would let the court make its decision about the case, adding that after Mitchell's arrest, his case had been forwarded to the Ministry of Interior's Department of Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection for investigation.

She said a new hearing was likely to be held shortly, as Mitchell was experiencing health problems in detention.

Siem Reap looks to Great Lake for relief of groundwater supplies

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Chun Sophal
Friday, 20 February 2009

With Angkorian temples threatened by water shortages, Japanese government-funded project proposes to tap lakewater for local use.

AUTHORITIES in Siem Reap province last week announced plans to pump water from the Tonle Sap Lake in order to supplement the province's supplies as water shortages continue to tighten their grip on the region.

Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin said Friday that the government would implement the program under a soft loans package from the Japanese government worth between US$200 and $300 million, pending the completion of a feasibility study.


"A one-year-and-a-half feasibility study will be started in June to take water from the Tonle Sap basin to supply Siem Reap province," he said.

The province's water is primarily sourced from underground water tables, but Sou Phirin said the proposed project would supplant traditional sources, citing fears the draining of groundwater was endangering the foundations of Angkorian-era temples in the province.

"The new project will sustain a supply of clean water for the province," he said, adding that three new satellite cities currently under construction would also be supplied with lake water.

Chan Sengla, deputy director general of the Siem Reap Water Supply Authority, said the initiative to pump water from the lake was due to the growth in population and increased tourist traffic to the province.

"For the first phase, we plan to tap 20,000 to 30,000 cubic metres a day from the lake," he said.

"We are concerned that the growing demands for clean water will affect the possibility of tapping water from underground supplies [since] it affects the foundations of ancient temples in the province."

Water shortages

He said that currently the provincial town was using 8,000 cubic metres of groundwater a day, but that demand had risen to 15,000, and that the provincial Water Supply Authority was only capable of supplying 4,440 of the 18,000 families in Siem Reap town with water.

Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, which oversees the temples of Angkor north of the town, said Monday that the authority had capped at 8,000 cubic metres the amount of groundwater that could be pumped out each day, saying further extraction could endanger nearby temple foundations.

"It is very good to take water from the lake for provincial usage and to replace the current usage of underground water," said Bun Narith.

Chhit Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum, agreed, saying that the use of lake water posed no serious threats to the biodiversity of the lake.

Seng Solady, a program assistant of the planning section of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a Japanese development body, said that the project's feasibility study is slated to start in June.

Thai border guards testing for malaria

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Tithara
Friday, 20 February 2009

LOCAL traders making day-trips into Thailand are coming under increased scrutiny, with a particular increase in medical checks - including blood tests - being applied by Thai officials, according to border guards.

Kim Sothy, an immigration official posted at the Cham Yeam international border crossing in Koh Kong province, told the Post that the new tests showed that Thai officials were "looking down on Cambodians".

He said that there had been no advance warnings of the new tests, which had put off local traders from doing business in Thai markets across the border.

"Three people were forced to do blood tests, and 30 minutes later Thai physicians come to apologise to us," he said, adding that the physicians had been told to give at least three days' advance warning to make it easier to inform local people.

Koh Kong Governor Yuth Puthong said the blood tests were unexpected, but that Thai authorities were screening border commuters for infectious diseases.

"There's no problem because the Thai physicians are testing blood to find malaria. But our people didn't know, so it made them afraid," he said. "If they tell us in advance, we will cooperate and work with them."

Suon Sovannarith of Legal Support for Children and Women, an NGO working with migrant workers in Thailand, said the new measures sounded unusual but had not heard confirmations of a new crackdown on infectious diseases.

Global shrimp survey highlights ill effects of illegal trawling

The international shrimp trade is valued at US$10 billion, or 16 percent of global fishery exports, according to a press release for the FAO report, which also notes that the industry generates "substantial economic benefits" for many developing countries.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Robbie Corey-Boulet
Friday, 20 February 2009

The existing limited ban on trawling is largely unenforced, notes an FAO report, which looks at the practice and the industry as a whole.

THE weak legal framework regulating the Kingdom's shrimp fishing industry has complicated efforts to curtail unlawful trawling, which has contributed to rising environmental and social hazards, according to a report published this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The limited nature of available data on the Kingdom's shrimp resources, moreover, makes it difficult to enact programs that would increase the industry's profitability and sustainability, the report states.

The 10-country survey, titled "The Global Study of Shrimp Fisheries", includes an overview of the Cambodian shrimp industry that highlights holes in the government's knowledge about it.

Researchers were unable to uncover, for example, the contribution of shrimp fishing to the GDP or the exact nature of the taxonomy of the Kingdom's shrimp catch.

But they were able to estimate that trawlers and other vessels bring in between 3,000 and 4,000 tonnes of shrimp annually, and the report notes that shrimp is "the most valuable fishery export of the country".

The trouble with trawling

With regard to trawling, the report states that the ban against trawling in water less than 20 metres deep is not widely enforced, in part because the majority of trawlers in the Kingdom are small and thus not suited for offshore operations.

Trawling in shallow waters leads to conflicts with small-scale fishers, as trawlers destroy the equipment of small-scale fishers and operators "often do not pay compensation".

Trawler crews "are usually under the protection of high-ranking military, police or political officials", the report states, adding that such crews killed 22 fishermen along the coast between 1989 and 2002.

Kong Chhoy, a fisherman in Kampot province, said he and other local fishermen had engaged in physical confrontations as recently as last year with illegal trawlers and had reported them to local police. Their complaints had been ignored, he said.

Nao Thuok, director of the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, told the Post Thursday that illegal trawling was largely carried out by Thai and Vietnamese fishermen using illegal equipment.

"We will increase our efforts to fight the foreign fishermen who have invaded to illegally fish in Cambodia," Nao Thuok said.

The FAO report does point to "a significant amount of foreign trawling in the Cambodian zone" but does not say foreign fishermen are primarily to blame for illegal trawling.

Ministry says Thai delegation to apologise for artillery fire

Cambodian soldiers look out towards Thailand at Preah Vihear temple in October last year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Thet Sambath
Friday, 20 February 2009

Thailand accepts full responsibility for what they deemed accidental fire, Foreign Affairs official says.

ATHAI delegation was to visit Phnom Penh today to discuss an incident earlier this week in which Thai soldiers fired at least eight artillery shells into Cambodian territory, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.

The shells landed near the ancient Ta Krabey temple in Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday, an RCAF commander said.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post Thursday that the local Thai military had apologised to their Cambodian counterparts immediately after the strike and promised to avoid any similar incidents in future.

"Now the delegation will come to Phnom Penh to apologise to the Cambodian government," Koy Kuong said. "Thailand has agreed to take responsibility for the mistake, so we now consider this matter closed."

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said officials from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the Council of Ministers and the Foreign Ministry had launched an investigation into the incident.

...[I] told him that if they continued to fire on us we would counterattack.

"We will collect all the evidence including the direction of fire to evaluate whether this was accidental or intentional," Siphan said. "We want to reduce the chances of conflict along the border, but we also need to protect our sovereignty."

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia ratcheted higher in 2008 when troops from both countries clashed at the Preah Vihear temple and soldiers on both sides died in fighting in October before an uneasy peace was restored.

An RCAF military commander based in the border region told the Post Wednesday that in this week's incident the shells had landed two kilometres inside Cambodian territory. He said the 81mm and 106mm shells had come down near Ta Krabey temple and Bos Thom village.

The commander, who requested anonymity, said six shells had exploded in the forest and another two had failed to go off. No one was injured, and no property was damaged. His soldiers had collected shrapnel as evidence, he said, and were continuing to look for unexploded shells.

"As soon as the shells were fired, I phoned the Thai military commander and told him that if they continued to fire on us we would counterattack directly with BM-21 rockets," he said.

He said Thai soldiers had told him that at the time of the incident they were conducting a military exercise using tanks and heavy shells in the border area of Thailand's Buriram province.

Sao Socheat, the deputy commander of Military Region 4, said that immediately after the incident officers were sent to the area to investigate.

"We were doubtful of the Thai claim that this was an accident," Sao Socheat said. "It was very strange because this happened twice on the same day at different times."

Provincial court hears illegal gold mining, poisoning case

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambat
Friday, 20 February 2009

Three men deny accusations in Preah Vihear that they poisoned local people, livestock and water supplies in illegal gold mining operation.

THREE men appeared at Preah Vihear's provincial court accused of poisoning livestock and local water supplies with chemicals that they used for illegal gold mining operations.

The men, who first appeared in court last week, were summoned after the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy brought the case against them.

"I filed a complaint against the three men because I believe they were destroying natural resources by using chemicals to mine gold," said Sam Leang Ny, the director of the department.

Sam Leang Ny said the chemicals used in the makeshift mines were responsible for killing about 100 buffaloes and calves within a few months, and poisoning local rice paddies and lakes, which made local residents ill.

"I have evidence and witnesses. It is not only us that have complained, but also villagers and local authorities," Sam Leang Ny said.

Denials from the accused

Appearing in court last week, two of the suspects claimed they had permission to build the gold mines. The third - Ny Him - denied involvement.

"I was in court on Thursday and I told the prosecutor that I did not operate these gold mines. I just sent machines there at the end of last year," Him Ny told the Post Tuesday. "So I am not worried because I haven''t done anything wrong. It was done by other people."

Prosecutor Keo Sim said Tuesday that the other men - Pen Soung and Mao Simoun - denied the allegations.

"They told me they did not use chemicals and that they had permission from relevant officials [to build the mines]," he said. "It is their explanation, but I am continuing to investigate."

Local rights group Adhoc previously accused Ny Him of running illegal mining operations in the past two years.

Mock trading launched

Dealers at the Korea Exchange Bank in Seoul. A new training system aims to teach Cambodians how the trading system works.

Exchange timeline

- May 2006 Cambodian and South Korean finance ministers sign exchange MOU
- Nov 2006 KRX signs joint venture MOU with government
- Sept 2007 First securities law passed
- Oct 2008 Government indicates project may be delayed
- Feb 2009 Mock trading system launched

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Friday, 20 February 2009

Joint venture agreement postponed as mock trading system opens

ASIGNING ceremony for a joint venture agreement on Cambodia's proposed securities exchange was postponed Thursday, but the launch of a mock trading system to educate market operators and participants went ahead as scheduled.

Korea Exchange (KRX) Chairman and CEO Lee Jung-hwan put off the scheduled signing ceremony with the Cambodian government because of a back injury sustained last week, said KRX project manager Inpyo Lee. He said the agreement would be delayed until the CEO recovered and was fit to travel, but said no date had been set.

In the absence of the CEO, KRX representatives and Finance Minister Keat Chhon oversaw the launch of a computer training system aimed at teaching participants how to place bid and offer orders on the exchange, as well as how to conduct daily exchange and securities firm business.

The US$10,000 program, which was specially designed for Cambodia, aims to promote awareness of the exchange, Inpyo Lee said. He added he expected the exchange to launch by December.

However, the global economic crisis and the abysmal performance of exchanges in the Southeast Asian region over the past year have led to mixed messages from government officials on the timing of the bourse's launch, which was originally set for September 9, 2009.

The finance minister said Thursday there is "no change in our program for the stock exchange ... the global financial crisis has delayed the launch. We have to take into account the warnings of our prime minister."

The exchange will only use riels, he said, contrary to Inpyo Lee's statement last week that it would start operations in dollars with riels possibly introduced later.

Prime Minister Hun Sen raised the issue of the stock exchange launch at the Business Roundtable in Siem Reap this week saying that the absence of an exchange in Cambodia had helped the country escape the worst effect of the global economic crisis.

"If it is born just to die, we shouldn't let it be established at this time," he said.

The finance minister said that three Cambodian companies will be listed on the exchange when it launches this year, but would not confirm which companies they would be.


Central bank denies banking instability

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 20 February 2009

THE National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said Thursday that the Kingdom is not exposed to the global credit crunch. Speaking at the Banking Cambodia conference that kicked off Thursday, Neav Chanthana, deputy governor at the central bank, said that the Cambodian banking sector remained in a healthy state.

"The National Bank of Cambodia is very pleased ... to inform the public that our banking sector has had no direct exposure to the global subprime mortgage crisis ... [the bank] is committed to supervising all necessary areas [of the sector]," Neav Chanthana said.

Finance Ministry Secretary General Hang Chuon Naron said at the International Business Forum this week that nonperforming loans remain low.

Our banking sector has had no direct exposure to the global sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The government's reassurances come after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned in a report last week that "the global financial crisis has exposed vulnerabilities among Cambodia's banks and is beginning to affect their financial soundness".

It added: "The NBC has to increase surveillance of the banking sector."

The central bank said it had recently introduced a host of measures designed to better supervise the sector, including internal and external auditing, increased credit information sharing and improved classification of assets.

Neav Chanthana said it was time for Cambodian banking to modernise further "in order to integrate into global markets". She added that Cambodia's banking sector would discuss ways to maintain strong growth - part of the function of the two-day Banking Cambodia meeting - and forecasted the economy overall would expand by five percent in 2009. Prime Minister Hun Sen this month predicted six percent growth, the highest forecast to date.

Viettel launches service, 500,000 subscribers gained

A Metfone employee at Thursday’s launch.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Friday, 20 February 2009

Mobile network owned by Vietnamese military officially lauches its Metfone network after three-month trial period

THE latest mobile phone company to start up in Cambodia, Viettel, officially launched its Metfone service Thursday after a major nationwide drive to gain a foothold in the Kingdom's increasingly competitive mobile market.

Viettel - which is wholly owned by the Vietnamese military - has gained more than 500,000 subscribers in the Kingdom since beginning a trial launch three months ago, it said, largely by distributing free SIM cards. It already has more than 1,000 transmitter stations countrywide and 5,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable, including remote islands, according to a company press release to coincide with the launch on Thursday.

The company, which also plans to become an internet service provider, says it has established 50 stores countrywide. "Our target is 100 stores across the country," it said. Viettel obtained a licence to operate in Cambodia in June 2007.

One industry source said that the entry of Viettel could shake up a telecoms industry that has long been dominated by Mobitel.

"[Viettel] has close relations with the Cambodian military and will seriously challenge the existing companies," said the source, who requested anonymity.

Cambodia's major mobile operators are Mobitel with a 63 percent share of the market, CamShin with 18 percent and TMIC at 15 percent. Cambodia currently has 2.6 million mobile users.

Viettel - which is run by General Director Major General Hoang Anh Xuan - is among the top three telecommunications firms in Vietnam. The company is set to privatise, but a 51 percent stake will stay in the military's hands. Viettel is also active in Laos with plans to open offices in Myanmar, North Korea and Venezuela, Vietnamese state media have reported.

Invest more in farming, says research body

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Friday, 20 February 2009

AN agricultural research centre has urged the government to increase investment in the agricultural sector in a bid to guarantee growth, claiming that not enough was being done to modernise Cambodian farming.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Studies and Agricultural Development (CEDAC), on Thursday said the government should inject US$200 million to $300 million into the agricultural sector.

"If the government does not increase ... investments, we believe that the future of the agricultural sector will be more and more weak ... as productivity gets lower ... and as a result more and more young people will move from their homes," he said. "Nowadays, the government always says ‘develop the agricultural sector', but in reality not much is done.... We wish the government would do more sustainable work over the next decade so that Cambodian agriculture can accelerate."

Prime Minister Hun Sen this month called on the banking sector to offer more loans to the agricultural sector.

Yang Saing Koma said that Cambodia lacks an experimentation centre, training for farmers and irrigation systems.

"I do not understand why the government does not facilitate bigger investment in this sector," said Yang Saing Koma.

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said the government is trying to increase public investment, adding that rice production - which increased by 600,000 tonnes in 2008 over 2007 - would make even greater gains if irrigation were improved.

"Every year the government makes a public investment of $19 million on agriculture.... I think that the government has done enough," he said. "We are now training farmers in different provinces.... We train them in growing methods in the field."

But Pich Sophorn, secretary of state at the ministry of Labour Affairs, acknowledged that farming methods could still be improved.

"I think that if we use new methods to help farmers get a yield of two to four tonnes [of rice] per hectare, they will get double the income," he said.

The sector is also facing a manpower problem, he said, due to the low numbers of young people taking up farming - 60 percent of the workforce is in farming while only five percent of students study the subject.

According the Council for the Development of Cambodia, from 1994 to 2008, total private investment in agriculture reached $1.184 billion, compared to $12.79 billion in tourism and $5.8 billion in services.

'Hashers' ready to mark 900th Phnom Penh run

Phnom Penh's Hash House Harriers on one of their runs.
The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 20 February 2009

With a record number of participants, the capital’s Hash House Harriers have proven that their ‘drinking club with a running problem’ is here to stay.

Hashing only has one downside: It's addictive, says Ben Schultz, a regular ‘Hasher' since 1972, and better known as Blah-Blah among his fellow runners.

Kate Haber, aka Yogi Bra, agreed: "I love to run. I'm a serious runner now," she said, admitting that she only started running when she first joined the Phnom Penh Hash in May last year.

The long history of the now international network of Hash House Harriers, the noncompetitive running and drinking club, certainly suggests there is something compelling in the activity.

Founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1938 by British expatriates, the activity died out during World War II, but was continued locally in Malaysia by its founding members after the war. It was, however, not until the 1960s that the Hash went global, with local organisations springing up first mainly in the Asia-Pacific area but gradually also in Europe and North America.

"The Phnom Penh chapter was started in 1992," said Ben, adding that it is currently the only branch of the Hash in Cambodia. As a sign of its old age, the 900th run will take place on Saturday, February 21, followed by a festive barbecue at Club Evergreen.

"Unusually, it's a Saturday run - but that doesn't mean we won't have a Sunday run too," Ben said.

I started hashing as a way to meet people ... it's also a good way to get out of the city.

Fittingly, the Sunday run is named the 901st Hangover Run, and participants will have the option to complete the run in cyclos.

Uncompetitive fun

According to Ben, the number of Phnom Penh Hashers has recently increased to the extent that a second truck has been hired to ferry runners from the meeting point at the train station to the undeveloped outskirts of the capital.

"I started hashing as a way to meet people when I was new in town. Also, I don't drive, so for me it's also a good way to get out of the city," said Helen Rand, a novice Hasher.

Similarly, Kate Haber was drawn by the opportunity of weekly "mini-vacations" outside Phnom Penh.

Traditionally a male-dominated activity, Kate estimates that at least half of Phnom Penh's Hashers are now female. Ben, however, admits the club remains very male in "content".

"It still has the public school, rugby team ambience," he said, referring to the customary hash names, drinking songs and beer penalties. "But we had a female general manager in the recent past, and people bring their kids, too," he said, adding that both male and female Cambodians join as well.

"One of the best things about the Hash is that no one takes themselves seriously," Ben said. "Also, you get to meet people not connected to your work, and if you're on a short-term foreign posting, you always have a readymade social group. It is all very international."

Among themselves, Hashers seldom use their regular names, but are instead baptised with new, less ordinary, Hash names.

According to Ben, aka Blah-Blah, this is more than just a fun and curious practice, as it also brings a sense of equality to the group, which may include ambassadors, high-ranking judges, local fishermen and volunteers.

"There are generally two ways of receiving a name: through a particular incident, or because of your character," he said.

Generally, the Hash meets on Sundays at 2:15pm at the train station off Russian Boulevard. From there, open trucks, also carrying water, beer and sodas, ferry the runners to a preset trail outside the capital.

There is a choice between running, walking or both. "The idea is to run together, there is no first place or last place," said Ben, referring to how bogus trail marks slow the faster runners down.

It is, however, after the run that the fun really starts. In fact, the Hash is often described as a "drinking club with a running problem", referring to the heavy focus on socialising and drinking beer.

"It is thanks to sponsorship from Anchor that we have been able to keep the cost per run at US$5 for foreigners [and $2 for Cambodians] since 1992," Ben said.

Do the hashle

Once all participants have completed their run or walk, everyone gathers in a circle and first-timers as well as visitors from other Hashes are formally welcomed through drinking and song.

This is also when runners accuse each other of breaking the rules, and punishments - generally in the form of drinking - are handed down. Not that there are any rules. "You usually get a down-down [hash jargon for drinking] for smoking in the circle - that's the only moral viewpoint we have," Ben said.

Once the beer has been consumed, the trucks head back into town, arriving in the capital around 7pm. Many Hashers then continue to the ‘on-on-on' - Hash jargon for post-run socialising over dinner and more beers.

Saturday's 900th run and barbecue starts at the train station at 10:30am and costs $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

The 901st run on Sunday starts as usual at 2:15pm, also at the train station, and costs $5 (for foreigners), $2 (for Cambodians) and 2,000 riels for children under 12.

Dramatic dialogue

Cast members of Breaking the Silence rehearse in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sarah Whyte
Friday, 20 February 2009

Breaking the Silence draws on the testimony of Khmer Rouge survivors to foster reconciliation

AGAINST the backdrop of the Khmer Rouge tribunal's trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, which opened this week, Amrita Performing Arts on Saturday will debut its newest production, Breaking the Silence, a play based on the memories of those who lived through the Khmer Rouge regime.

The play, which features four Cambodian women who each perform various roles, incorporates elements of drama, poetry, music and dance to recount the horrors of the Khmer Rouge era.

"This play is for a Cambodian audience and is all about reconciliation for those who suffered through the Khmer Rouge," said Fred Frumberg, director of the Amrita Performing Arts, who has more than 25 years of experience in the performing arts and serves as director of production for the Paris Opera.

Accompanying the new production will be an outreach program available to those audience members who wish to discuss their experiences under the Khmer Rouge with a trained professional, Frumberg said.

This will be particularly important when the production tours this month to eight provincial areas of Cambodia, he said.

Dutch director Annemarie Prins will head production of the play, which is based on more than 30 first-hand accounts from Khmer Rouge survivors that she collected over the course of more than a year.

"Annemarie arrived [in Cambodia] in January last year to interview about 30 victims of the Khmer Rogue, collecting hours and hours' worth of taped testimonies," Frumberg said.

When Prins returned to Holland, she drew on the collected testimonies to write Breaking the Silence, which was in turn translated back into Khmer.

Generating discussion

This is not the first play produced by Amrita Performing Arts that has tackled some of Cambodia's darkest historical issues.

Four years ago, Frumberg was astounded at the amount of discussion generated by his play Photographs of S-21.

"At the end of the show, we were so surprised to see so many people standing up in the audience to share their experiences," he said, adding that he hoped Breaking the Silence would generate as much conversation and discussion among audiences.

Increasingly, the arts and entertainment industries worldwide are taking more responsibility for societal and political issues, Frumberg said.

"[Plays often] provide entertainment for audience members, but [they] also provide a means of expression and education for both the performers and the audience members," he said.

Frumberg added that he has faith that the production will help the silence to be broken concerning the Khmer Rouge.

"Hopefully, the arts can now be a part of therapy transition in Cambodia."

In addition to the entertainment value and therapeutic merits of the play, Frumberg also stressed the importance of "capacity building" for the Cambodian arts sector.

"There are around 30 people involved in the show, all of whom are Cambodian, and are being given the opportunity to work with international set designers and directors - for us this is very exciting," he said. Breaking the Silence opens on Saturday at 6:30pm at Phnom Penh's Exhibition Hall on Sisowath Quay. Admission is free.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Brief

In Brief: Sam Rainsy meets with US diplomat

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokhea
Friday, 20 February 2009

Sam Rainsy said he brought up the anti-corruption law as well as the Kingdom's response to the global economic crisis in a Thursday meeting with United States Ambassador Carol Rodley. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Sam Rainsy Party president said it was only right for the US government to seek input from both the ruling and opposition parties on these and other issues.

In Brief: Hun Sen extends hand to opposition

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokhea
Friday, 20 February 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday he would entertain applications for civil servant positions from members of all political parties so long as the positions were not political. He said positions in the government would continue to be filled by political appointment and would only be open to members of CPP and Funcinpec. However, "for positions that are only for public function, I do not discriminate", he said during a speech concluding a two-day reform conference.

In Brief: ILO decries ruling in union killing

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Robbie Corey-Boulet
Friday, 20 February 2009

The International Labour Organisation said it was "disappointed" to hear of Wednesday's unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal not to overturn the conviction of Thach Saveth, who was found guilty of the 2004 slaying of union leader Ros Sovannareth. "The ILO has repeatedly called for Thatch Saveth to be released from prison and for the murder of Ros Sovannareth to be investigated in accordance with international standards of due process, so that the true perpetrators can be brought to justice," read a statement issued Thursday.

In Brief: Gaming makes $20m

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 20 February 2009

CHEA Peng Chheang, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy, said Thursday that government revenues from the gaming sector topped US$20 million in 2008, a 20 percent spike from the previous year. He added that the government aims to increase gambling revenues this year by a further 12.5 percent by improving revenue collection, though he did not provide details. Cambodia has about 30 casinos - employing more than 15,000 people - mostly along Cambodia's borders with Thailand and Vietnam. Chea Peng Chheang added that the global financial crisis poses a challenge to increasing revenues due to its effect on the tourism sector.

CACJE questions authenticity of the Vietnamese films on S-21 immediately following the Vietnamese aggression of Cambodia

Cambodian Action Committee for Justice & Equity (CACJE)
No: 3 Fountain Ave. Cranston RI, 02920 Web:,
“CACJE is an Alliance for People Power, Promote Social Justice and Support Human Equity”

Official Translation in English
No: 0044/CACJE

Immediate Press Release

Februay 19, 2009

Press Statement

Cambodian Action Committee for Justice & Equity (CACJE) expressed strong supports the position of Mr. KA SAVUTH, the co-defense attorney of Mr. KAING GUEK EAV alias Duch, ex-Director of TUOL SLENG Prison and the position of Co-Prosecutor against the use of a film documenting torture shot by Vietnamese soldiers shortly after they drove the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979 as evidence before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The document film served Hanoi political purpose. The orphan witness claiming living inside TUOL SLENG Prison raised more questions than answers.

Moreover, CACJE expressed displeasure relative to the declaration of CHHANG YOUK, Director of Cambodia Documentation Centre (DC-CAM) which is an organization financed by the American tax- payers. CHHANG YOUK had shown his no-professionalism, not independent, lack of deep understanding of the documentation, not be able to produce trustful documents and witnesses for the ECCC. Instead DC-CAM produces falsified, manipulated and fictive documents to serve political purpose in order to bury the truth about the Khmer Rouge. Therefore, DC-CAM induced in error the scholar studies of Khmer Rouge Era because of her published fabricated documents

To have a fair and transparent trial, and for the truth, the ECCC must reject all the documents and witnesses provided by Vietnam and China.

CACJE urges the international judges and Co-prosecutors to investigate more people, widening their scope to reach all the Khmer Rouge rulers from the top Chief of State to the region (DAMBAN) chief security forces. International judges and co-prosecutors must focus notably on the documents and witnesses. The polygraph machine might be used to sort out the witnesses.


Khmer Rouge Trial Lawyers Clash

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Prosecutors take their seats at the opening of the Khmer Rouge trial, Feb. 17, 2009.

Radio Free Asia

Lawyers clash at pretrial hearings in Khmer Rouge trial.

PHNOM PENH—Lawyers preparing for the long-awaited trial of the Khmer Rouge’s lead torturer clashed in court this week over whether footage shot by Vietnamese soldiers inside his notorious prison may be admitted as prosecution evidence.

The seven-minute film—shot in black and white by Vietnamese troops after they ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979—shows inmates’ emaciated bodies, some still in chains, inside S-21, or Tuol Sleng, prison.

Ka Savuth, a Cambodian lawyer who is part of the team defending Kaing Guek Eav, known by the alias Duch, protested during pretrial hearings the prosecution’s bid to use the films, which he described as fabricated.

Duch, now 66, served as commandant at Tuol Sleng during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule. On Tuesday, he sat silently as hundreds of victims crowded the court’s galleries.

Defense lawyers say the investigating judges should have vetted the film, along with new witnesses and documents described as interrogation reports bearing notes allegedly written by Duch ordering the deaths of inmates.

They also cited alleged discrepancies in the film that they say indicate tampering.

Chhang Youk, director of the nonprofit Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he received the film from Vietnam and defended its neutrality and authenticity.

“Places and pictures—pictures of the prison and children, and documents regarding the deaths—aren’t political. They are factual. They are not political, but are facts. We must not politicize facts,” Chhang Youk said after the hearing.

On the eve of the trial, two members of the Vietnamese crew said they had also found five child survivors of S-21 hiding under piles of prisoners' clothing. One child died soon after from malnutrition, they said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh meanwhile said that Washington has now sent U.S. $1.8 million in promised aid for the trial to the United Nations, which will disburse the money.

Duch, now a born-again Christian, is accused of overseeing the deaths of up to 16,000 men, women, and children at Tuol Sleng. He has expressed remorse for his actions.

The trial constitutes a landmark in this impoverished country, in which nearly everyone lost relatives, friends, or neighbors as Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, known as "brother number one," pursued his dream of an ethnically pure, agrarian utopia.

Years of wrangling

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was established in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling over legal procedure between Cambodia and the United Nations.

The court will announce a start date for the trial once the witness list is settled.

The trial is widely seen as the last chance to bring the Khmer Rouge's surviving leaders to justice.

It has been called an "experiment in international justice," with domestic and foreign judges working side-by-side to try to ensure its independence.

But critics say its integrity is threatened by allegations of corruption and political interference, and many Cambodians have questioned its independence.

Only 12 people held at Tuol Sleng survived, according to the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

Most inmates were forced to make confessions, then taken from the prison for execution at a nearby orchard called Choeung Ek.

Duch is one of five ageing senior cadres facing charges and is expected to testify against “brother number two” Nuon Chea, ex-Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan, and ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife.

All face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Original reporting by Leng Malyand Huy Vannak for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Uon Chhi. Khmer service director: Sos Kem. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Bugged in the right direction

Photo by Courtesy Photo / William Daniell.
Nurse practitioner Anne Hall examines a villager with arsenicosis in Preak Ruessei, Cambodia. Daniell was in Cambodia this month, studying health problems caused by pesticide use.

Photo by Courtesy Photo / William Daniell.
Boys from the Kien Svay district in Cambodia take a ride on an ox cart.

Photo by Courtesy Photo / William Daniell.
A boy from the village of Preak Ruessei in Cambodia gathers water from a well.

Photo by Daniel Kim.
William Daniell lectures about risk communication in his evironmental health class. Daniell was recently named the Rhom and Haas professor of public health sciences.

The Daily

By Natasha Lee
February 20, 2009

Sometimes it takes a compassionate outsider who’s interested in karaoke to recognize the need for an environmental change.

William Daniell, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, started working with colleague Matthew Keifer on his Fogarty Grant that dealt with global health problems in Southeast Asia and Central America. In 2005, they decided to specifically focus on Southeast Asia; in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. During a visit to Cambodia, Daniell found his passion.

“I was attracted to the country even though it was a short stay,” Daniell said. “There was no shortage of environmental and occupational health problems. I was drawn by the people and the plethora of problems in Cambodia.”

Environmental health has grown apart from public health, but in developing countries, environmental problems are big factors contributing to public health, Daniell said.

He was recently granted the Rohm and Haas Award. The award pertains to researching, teaching and analyzing health issues related to chemical exposure. It is an internal competition specifically for the UW public health department. Each sub-department in the public health department nominates a faculty member for the award.

The recipient is given a no-strings-attached endowment for five years to engage in research pertaining to chemical problems that are health related.

Daniell’s research will primarily focus on environmental health problems in Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia. He has been working on multiple projects, such as exploring the naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water, which he would like to integrate into the Rohm and Haas research — his chief objective is on the country’s pesticides problem.

“My focus will be on pesticide use, pesticide exposure, pesticide poisoning particularly in farmers and their families, policy aspects and vendors that sell pesticides,” Daniell said.

Native Cambodians are often exposed to pesticides, and Daniell would like to explore how often they are exposed and the quantifiable amount they are exposed to. He wants to look at pesticide poisoning due to the lack of information on products, such as warning labels.

Daniell is interested in the issue of a language barrier. Information on products may be written in a different language, such as Chinese, and this causes difficulty for farmers who are illiterate.

“Very few farmers have special training on pesticides,” Daniell said.

The policy aspect of pesticides is another concern he will look into. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies pesticides based on their toxicity into three levels: I “extremely hazardous,” II “moderately hazardous” and III “slightly hazardous,” according to their Web site. The Cambodian government currently has bans on level I and II pesticides.

“People recognize the need for rural regulation, but it doesn’t happen, because there are barriers to the rules, opposition from industries, the government is not fully functional or there’s poor communication between branches of the government,” Daniell said.

Through his research Daniell wants to look at what happens when new information is given to branches of the government, such as the Cambodia Ministry of Health, and see if it results in any significant policy changes.

“It’s a chance to test the system to see what works and doesn’t work,” he said.

A separate interest of Daniell’s is to look at the effectiveness of nontraditional health communication. While in Cambodia, he worked with Resource Development International (RDI), a non-governmental organization, who found an unconventional way of communicating to the rural audiences of Cambodia: karaoke.

Karaoke is a major part of Cambodian culture; even the most rural of villages will have a set up of karaoke, Daniell explained.

RDI explores different avenues of communication such as karaoke, puppet shows for all ages and television shows that teach villagers about the dangers of arsenic in water and as well as other important health messages.

But Daniell is not just focused on his own research. He assists organizations that need help conducting research or organizations that could still use a lending hand, such as RDI and the Cambodia National Institute of Public Health.

By serving as a mediator, he can connect different organizations that are working on similar projects and have compatible interests.

As a mediator, it’s easy to find things for both students and faculty to participate in, Daniell said.

Erica Finsness, a recent graduate in public health from the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, traveled to Cambodia and worked with RDI for a month with the help of Daniell and other faculty members in the same department. Daniell was Finsness’ faculty adviser and mentored her in aspects of her trip to Cambodia.

“I think he’s very supportive of student ideas even if they’re somewhat unconventional,” Finsness said. “He has a real dedication to research that is readily applied and to make an effort to make himself accessible to students.”

Continuing with his passion for working with students and global health, Daniell was asked by the Department of Global Health to develop an environmental health course that will emphasize the importance of the environment in developing countries.

“What [Daniell will] be able to do is bring to the global health course a level of awareness on the pervasiveness to the problems in global health,” Keifer said.

A majority of people spend their lives working and hazards come with the job, Keifer said. The potential for something in work to affect health is enormous; it’s potentially worse in an international setting.

“[The course] creates an opportunity for [the students’] sensitization to be raised in environmental and global health issues,” Keifer said.

Daniell hopes that the class will be ready in the next academic year.

“The main goal is for students to appreciate how important the environment is in developing countries,” he said.

Reach contributing writer Natasha Lee at