Sunday, 8 March 2009

South Korea To Continue Providing Aid to Cambodia


Phnom Penh,

The Republic of Korea will continue to provide assistance to Cambodia despite the country is being faced by the global economic crisis.

This was made known here on Thursday by South Korea Out-going Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Shin Hyun Suk during a farewell meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

The Korea diplomat expressed thanks to Premier Hun Sen and other government officials for their providing favourable facilitation and good cooperation for him to successfully fulfil his three-year diplomatic mission here. He also highly praised the kingdom’s economic growth.

In reply, Premier Hun Sen thanked the Korean diplomatic for his active mission in Cambodia, particularly, attracting many Korean investors to Cambodia as well as contributing to the rapid economic growth of the country.

He also thanked the Government of The Republic of Korea for its continuously providing assistance as well as its pledge to keep on assisting to Cambodia. AKP

(By Mr. KEO Chandara)

US helps Cambodia reduce poverty

MCOT English News

Phnom Penh (VNA) – The US has launched a 21 million-USD programme to help farmers and others in Cambodia's impoverished countryside alleviate poverty and increase earnings, local media reported.

The economic growth initiative, which will unfold over four years, also aims to create a better investment climate between entrepreneurs and local or national government offices, the Phnom Penh Post on Mar. 7 quoted a statement from the US Embassy as saying.

Previous economic development programmes, administered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have helped more than 1,600 small businesses in Cambodia increase their sales by as much as 500 percent, generating new revenues of 6.5 million USD on an initial investment of 1.5 million USD, according to the paper. (VNA)

Trials in Cambodia Expose the Cogs in a Killing Machine

The New York Times

Published: March 7, 2009

ANLONG SAN, Cambodia — “We were victims, too,” said Him Huy, the head of the guard detail at the Tuol Sleng torture house, who took part in the executions of thousands of people at a Khmer Rouge killing field.

As the prisoners knelt at the edges of mass graves with their hands tied behind them, executioners swung iron bars at the backs of their heads, twice if necessary, before they toppled forward into the pits.

“I had no choice,” Mr. Him Huy, 53, said. “If I hadn’t killed them, I would have been killed myself.”

As the trials of five senior Khmer Rouge figures get under way near Phnom Penh, the capital, they raise questions about the guilt — or victimhood — of lower ranking cadres like Mr. Him Huy, the people who carried out the arrests, killings and torture, who are unlikely to be tried.

As guard and executioner at Cambodia’s most prominent torture house, Mr. Him Huy personifies the horror of the Khmer Rouge years, from 1975 to 1979, when at least 1.7 million people died of starvation and overwork as well as torture and execution.

But in the severe and paranoid world of the Khmer Rouge prison, guards and torturers themselves worked under threat of death, and Mr. Him Huy saw a number of his colleagues kneel at the edges of their graves for that blow to the back of the neck.

“I used an iron bar about that long,” he said, spreading his hands wide as he told his story late last month, “and about as thick as my big toe.”

At night, sometimes two or three times a week, Mr. Him Huy said, he drove trucks full of prisoners to the Choeung Ek killing field, where he logged them in 20 or 30 or 80 at a time and then confirmed that they had been killed.

He asserted that he had personally killed only five people, as demonstrations of loyalty to his superiors.

At least 14,000 people were arrested and interrogated at Tuol Sleng prison, which was officially known as S-21 and is now a museum. Only a handful survived.

Mr. Him Huy is back home now in this village 50 miles south of Phnom Penh. A farmer and the father of nine, he is optimistic, hard-working and quick to smile, seemingly comfortable to be who he is and at ease with his memories. His neighbors seem to like him.

“Even the young people, when they have a party they always invite him,” said his wife, Put Peng Aun. “If there’s a party, he’s got to be there.”

Asked to describe himself, Mr. Him Huy said: “I’m not a bad person. I’m a good man. I never argue with anyone. I never fight with anyone. I have good intentions as a human being.”

But some of those who knew him at the prison remember him harshly. One survivor, Bou Meng, said Mr. Him Huy beat and tortured him, poking at his wounds with a stick. “His face was so mean,” Mr. Bou Meng told the Documentation Center of Cambodia, a private research center. “Today he looks gentle.”

Two of Mr. Him Huy’s co-workers at Tuol Sleng, quoted by the historian David Chandler in his book on the prison, “Voices From S-21,” remembered him as “a seasoned killer, an important figure at the prison and a key participant in the execution process.”

Mr. Him Huy is evasive about the extent of his duties at the prison. But whatever he did there, he said, he performed on pain of death.

“I am a victim of the Khmer Rouge,” he said without hesitation. “I did not volunteer to work at S-21.

“We were all prisoners, those who killed and those who were killed,” he said. “And in fact, for a lot of the staff there, the day came when they were killed, too. In the daytime we’d be eating together, and in the evening some were arrested and killed.”

In a 2001 book about the prison staff called “Victims and Perpetrators?” the Documentation Center calculates that at least 563 members of Tuol Sleng’s staff, about one-third of the total, were executed while working there.

In a distilled and horrific way, Tuol Sleng was a microcosm of the nation, where half-starved and overworked people lived in constant fear of being arrested and killed, often for reasons they never learned.

The first defendant in the United Nations-backed tribunal is Mr. Him Huy’s former boss, the commandant of Tuol Sleng prison, a tough, sharp-eyed man named Kaing Guek Eav and generally known as Duch. His trial began two weeks ago.

It was Duch who signed execution orders for both prisoners and errant staff members. Indeed, Mr. Him Huy rose to become fifth or sixth in the chain of command after his superiors were pulled from their jobs and killed.

“Yes, I did kill people,” he said. “I did transport people to Choeung Ek. I did verify lists of people at Choeung Ek. But Duch ordered me to do all of that.”

Many Cambodians appear to accept this common defense among former Khmer Rouge cadres: that they had no choice but to be cruel, fearing for their own lives. It is a defense Duch himself has offered in the past.

Chum Mey, another survivor of Tuol Sleng, described 12 days and nights of torture and terror, but without bitterness toward his abusers. “My thought is not to put the blame on Him Huy because I don’t know what I would have done in his place,” he said. “I don’t think I would have been able to disobey.”

Like most other guards and torturers at the prison, Mr. Him Huy was recruited young — easily molded, brutalized and indoctrinated into the paranoia and extremism of this closed world.

The son of a clerk at a fishing company, he joined the Khmer Rouge insurgency at the age of 12 and was transferred to work in the prison when he was 18.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he spent a year in a local jail as punishment for his role in the regime, as many former Khmer Rouge cadres did.

Thirty years have passed since the Khmer Rouge were ousted by Vietnam. Mr. Him Huy is no different from his neighbors, raising a big family and tending to his beans and corn and rice.

At the end of a long interview, he headed back to his bean field, filling a canister with pesticide and marching down the rows of long yellow beans, swinging a hose from left to right.

He made sure, he said, to walk with the wind behind him so that none of the pesticide would blow back in his face.

Pilots accept local mission

Vital transport: Pilots like Brad Sinclair help the Mission Aviation Fellowship bridge the gap of isolation for people living in remote communities. He is pictured with a GA8 Airvan, CARE International staff and children in East Timor. A similar Airvan will be on show at Camden Airport this weekend.

Camden Advertiser


IT'S a long way from Cambodia but missionary pilots will take time out from their flying schedule to visit Camden Airport this Saturday for Discovery Day.

The pilots fly for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a Christian ministry that provides air transport for people living in remote communities of Papua New Guinea, North Australia and Cambodia.

They will talk about life as missionary pilots.

There will be free flights for the first 20 children aged 8-12, a free sausage sizzle, jumping castle, colouring competition, face painting and a paper aeroplane competition. There will also be a display of old and new aircraft including the Fellowship's GA8 Airvan which is flown throughout Papua New Guinea, Arnhem Land, Aceh, East Timor and Cambodia.

MAF NSW Area Representative Tom Teale-Sinclair said the Airvan was used to transport staff to more than 2500 destinations around the world more than any other airline.

``We're a lifeline for isolated people,'' he said. ``The situation is different in each country we work in but we're a means of access to health and education services as well as disaster relief.''

The MAF has also transported royalty.

When Australian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visited Uganda last year as patron of the Danish Refugee Council, she flew with MAF.

Discovery Day starts at 10am with an opening address by MAF pilot Andrew Jenkins.

A barbecue will follow at 10.40am, joy flights at 11.45am and a series of forums will be held throughout the day until 4pm.

Idaho jobless rate hits 21-year high

Idaho StatesmanTyler Chorn fills out unemployment forms Friday at the Idaho Department of Labor while his wife, Pidor, and his 2-year-old daughter, April, wait. Chorn was laid off Friday morning from his job as a machine operator at Micron Technology. He started working at Micron in 1991.

People come to an unemployment office looking for a job that will bring hope. But they don't always find one.

The Idaho Statesman

Published: 03/07/09

Tyler Chorn got the bad news Friday. His job as a chip maker at Micron Technology was gone.

By 10 a.m. he was at Boise's Idaho Department of Labor office filling out paperwork for benefits.
"I may go to school (or) try to look for a job," said Chorn, 43, who came to this country from Cambodia in the 1980s and has a wife and toddler. "There is a job out there."

Chorn is among the faces of Idaho's increasing jobless.

The February unemployment rate for the state hit a 21-year high of 6.8 percent, two-tenths of a percentage point higher than January. In the Boise-Nampa area, unemployment leaped six-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7 percent, coming close to the national rate of 8.1 percent.

The total number of jobless Idahoans broke through the 50,000 mark for the first time in February to 51,000. That doesn't include 2,000 Micron layoffs planned by August that the company announced late last month.

But the state's unemployment rate has yet to exceed 9.4 percent reached during the recession in 1982-83 - the highest level in the past 30 years.

Economists expect joblessness will continue to rise nationally for the rest of the year and into early 2010, with the unemployment rate reaching 9 to 10 percent before it turns around. But even then, with so many job losses centered in manufacturing, economists say many positions will not be coming back.

That's not good news for Boisean James Rowan, 60, a machinist who was laid off from his job in the electronics industry Monday along with nearly 40 other employees.

His job paid between $10 and $11 an hour. But jobs with similar skills on the Department of Labor's Web site are paying $8 to $10, he said. He needs the additional money to help support his wife, who cannot work.

Even those lower-paying jobs can be hard to get because Rowan is competing with people less than half his age.

"There are a lot of things they can do I can't do anymore," he said.

Meanwhile, his resources will last only a few weeks - except for a military pension he earned after serving as a medic.

His $214 a week unemployment check helps. But he bought a car last fall, shortly before the economy tanked. And he's got bills to pay.

If he can't find a job, he said, "I'm going to be in serious trouble."

Monique Huelker, 54, of Boise, has already had to make cuts in her life. Her full-time job with a nonprofit group was reduced to part time in November.

She not only lost part of her salary, but also health care benefits for her ailments that include rheumatoid arthritis.

At home on a recent chilly Boise evening, she didn't turn her heat up above 50 degrees. She bundled up in a coat because her monthly utility bill had more than doubled from $75 to $155.

Huelker, like Rowan, comes to the employment office several days each week looking for a full-time job with health benefits.

But she's discovered there are some things she needs to learn first. She's not up-to-date on all the computer programs for a job as a clerk or secretary, she said.

And she's not familiar with networking - finding a job by getting your name in circulation or going through friends or acquaintances.

She tried, when a friend lined her up with a job prospect. But the company got 400 applications and she never learned that she hadn't made the cut until she called.

"I want to do more," she said.

Chorn, the laid-off Micron worker, had known he might be cut. He has saved a bit of money. But he also thinks his wife may have to get a job to help out.

If he's forced to take an economic step backward, he's prepared to do it. He has a perspective many Americans don't: His family fled Cambodia in the 1970s to escape the murderous Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot and responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths.

"That was worse," he said. "This is OK. I've been here before."

The New York Times contributed.

Learning to nail the job interview

Xiu Ying Lu goes through her mock interview with Jenny Lisle, a volunteer, at the International Institute of Boston. (Globe Staff Photo / David L. Ryan)

Mock sessions aid language skills
By Jesse Nankin
Globe Correspondent
March 8, 2009

Saungam Touch came to the United States from Cambodia 25 years ago. For 18 years she worked at Teradyne, a leading maker of equipment for testing microchips. She was laid off in 2008 and faced the frightening prospect of needing to find work in an economic downturn without having mastered the English language.

Now she is a student at the International Institute of Boston, where she and more than 100 others participated in a mock interview day on Feb. 26. It was part of a program to help immigrants and refugees improve their English skills and receive employment training.

"We are here trying to better ourselves so we can get jobs and give back," Touch said in her halting English. "People should like that we are here."

The 85-year-old nonprofit institute, based downtown, helps immigrants and refugees settle into their new lives. Along with employment training and placement, and English and literacy classes, the institute provides refugee resettlement services and legal aid.

The students represent a range of ages, educational backgrounds, and skill levels - from Iraqi refugees who worked as physicians to those who are not literate in their own languages.

Mock interview day simulates the interview experience right down to the business attire, resume, cover letter, and follow-up note.

It is done in a way that challenges the students' safety zone without taking them out of it entirely, said Jude Travers, workforce development director of the institute.

Each student is interviewed twice by volunteers, who participate in the event either through their company or a volunteer organization such as United Way. The questions asked and the length of the interview depend on the level of the student.

Even though it was a simulation, many students still found it nerve-racking to practice their interview and language skills with a stranger.

"I was very nervous; questions make me nervous," said Maria Barbosa, a Cape Verdean who has lived in the United States for 33 years. "But as it went on I forgot about the butterflies inside."

Many of the volunteers come from companies in the area, including Genzyme, Coldwell Banker, and MFS Investment Management. Some of them have also been laid off recently.

"It's a real eye-opener for participants," Travers said.

It gives volunteers a better understanding of the barriers immigrants and refugees face on a daily basis, and how that might explain why they barely speak English despite living in the United States for several years.

A lot of the students landed jobs with others from their home country with whom they could continue speaking in their native language, said instructor Shereen Russell-Ahmed. "Speaking English is not their first priority - finding a job is," she said.

There are other obstacles. Many new arrivals find it difficult to keep up with the adult ESOL classes, and requirements to stay in a program often work against the daily lives of working adults, Travers said.

That's assuming they can find a program that has space. At the International Institute of Boston the waiting list is often a year long for one of the evening adult education classes.

In January and February, there was a 12 percent increase in students signing up for ESOL classes over last year. The day program saw a 9 percent increase. Travers attributes the rise in enrollment to the economy.

"We are seeing people who have been laid off - even clients we had just recently placed, clients who had not been easy to find jobs for in the first place," Travers said.

Volunteer interviewers are also exposed to cultural differences that could lead to misunderstandings. For example, Muslim women may be uncomfortable shaking hands because it violates principles of their religion, Travers said.

Ann Krantz, senior staff consultant at MFS Investment Management, observed that a couple of the students she interviewed became very personal and commented on her appearance.

Students get feedback on how they presented and learn that they do not have to answer certain questions from potential employers, such as their age or religion, and whether they have children.

Travers and her colleagues, too, are given feedback about ways they can improve their interviewing preparation or offer direction in matching particular students with jobs. One volunteer left the event with the resume of a student to share with recruiters, and others spoke about mentoring and hiring as positions open up at their companies.

Jesse Nankin can be reached at