Saturday, 11 April 2009

Thailand, Cambodia will communicate more directly and often, says PM Abhisit

MCOT English News

PATTAYA, April 11 (TNA) – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday announced that Thailand and Cambodia will communicate more directly with each other, and more frequently, to prevent possible border clashes caused by misunderstanding.

Speaking of a bilateral discussion with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on the eve of the ASEAN+3 and +6 summits being held in this eastern resort town, Mr. Abhisit said he had discussed with the Cambodian leader regarding more comprehensive cooperation between the neighboring countries.

“We shared a common view that the clash between soldiers of both countries, which occurred on April 3, was a misunderstanding or an accident. It won’t affect our bilateral relations and cooperation,” he said.

Mr. Abhisit emphasised both sides would attempt to negotiate and communicate more directly and frequently to prevent any similar undesirable incidents.

The premier said Cambodia and Thailand would forge their cooperation in key projects.

For instance, the deputy premiers of both countries have been assigned to find a common way to jointly develop overlapping marine areas.

An agreement on the matter must be reached soon because it would benefit both countries in terms of energy stability in the future, he said.

Other projects include construction of a hydroelectric dam and loan assistance for road building. (TNA)

Injured woman in Cambodian nightmare

Lisa Gatt (left) with her sister Lia

Times of Malta
Saturday, 11th April 2009

Cynthia Busuttil

The family of a 25-year-old woman are desperately trying to bring her back to Malta for treatment after she was badly injured in a traffic accident in Cambodia.

Lisa Gatt, a call centre worker from Marsascala, was riding pillion on a motorcycle last Tuesday when the accident happened.

"When she called home after the accident she said she had heard a loud noise and then everything went black," her sister, Lia, said.

Unconscious, the young woman was taken to a nearby clinic where she woke up some hours later in extreme pain.

"Her femur (thigh) bone is broken and one of her hands is so swollen that she can barely see her fingers," the distraught sister said.

The victim, who turns 26 in June, left for Cambodia in November to join a friend who was trekking in the South Asian country but the two later went their separate ways.

Having travelled without taking out an insurance policy, the young woman is now facing hefty medical bills. Surgery to pin her thigh bone back in place came with a €2,000 price tag, which her family had to borrow and wire over to her.

"She is in a small clinic in a rural village and we wanted to fly her to a military hospital in Bangkok. But just the helicopter ride would have cost €15,000 and another €10,000 for the surgery," her sister said.

The family is now appealing for help to fly the young woman back to Malta.

Writing on a Facebook page created specially to raise money to bring the young woman home, Lia Gatt wrote that her sister was in high spirits following the operation even though she was awake during the whole procedure.

"She saw everything that was happening to her, miskina (poor girl) and she also felt the pulls and tugs on her leg and could feel them drilling and banging on her bone. She tried to call out to tell them that she was still awake but was unable to make a sound," she wrote, adding that this probably meant the anaesthetic had not worked.

The young woman is still in severe pain, with her sister saying she "screams in agony" when they speak to her over the phone.

"We need to get her to Malta and admit her to hospital here to make sure she gets the proper treatment and avoid infections," she said.

But the young woman will need to be transported on a stretcher since she cannot move her leg, pushing up the price for a plane ticket.

"She has no control over her leg and will have to travel on a stretcher. We are in contact with airlines to try and find a way of getting her back to Malta," Lia Gatt said.

The girls' father is expected to travel to Cambodia as soon as arrangements are made to be with his daughter and help bring her home.

The family has asked for help from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which, since Malta does not have an embassy in Cambodia, has asked for the British authorities' assistance. Lia Gatt said the British Embassy had sent someone to check on her sister.

"Lisa did not get travel insurance before she left. She left in a hurry and was unaware of the dangers. She made a mistake as many others do and let this be a lesson to everyone. Let's raise the awareness so it does not happen again," her sister wrote.

Lia Gatt can be contacted on

LB exhibit shares visions of Khmer lives


By Greg Mellen
Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - On the walls are multimedia, photographic and painted works. In a side room is a photo collage of transgender life in Cambodia along with several books by Cambodian-American authors, including Long Beach's Navy Phim and Oni Vitandham. In the center of the main room is a traditional-looking Cambodian figure with the Superman "S" on its chest.

The 2nd City Council Arts and Performance Space is into all things Khmer with the debut of a new show called "Transformation II: Bringing Contemporary Khmer/American Art to Long Beach."

The show features Khmer and Khmer-inspired paintings, sculpture, photography, dance and performance art. There will also be documentary films and a writers' forum with published Cambodian-American writers.

The event is being presented at the 2nd City Council space at 435 Alamitos Ave.

The show builds upon a show that was presented in July, 2008, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at the Meta House Gallery.

That show paired the work of five California and five Cambodian artists, most of whom had never been in each other's countries.

Lydia Parusol, the art manager of Meta House, described the shows as the "first dialogue in an artistic way" between artists from the two countries.

In Cambodia, where most of the population is under the age of 30, in the wake of the Killing Fields Genocide of the late 1970s, a new and vibrant artistic movement is under way and artistic expression is

blooming from its ancient but often constrictive roots.
"In Cambodia there are young artists who are trying to go from traditional sculpture to more critical thinking," Parusol said. "They are reflecting society and themselves in the present Cambodian culture."

And on the walls of the gallery, the fusions of old and new Cambodia are represented in many ways, reflecting a "bridge between traditional and modern art," according to Parusol.

Denise Scott, who splits time between the United States and Cambodia, saw the original "Transformations" show and knew she had to bring something similar to the U.S. and specifically to Long Beach because of its large Cambodian-American population.

Furthermore, she wanted to present the show over the Cambodian New Year which occurs in mid-April.

"Transformation II" includes the work from the original show, but then builds on it with performance art and plans to show 12 documentary films that look at the vibrant emerging arts scene in Cambodia, including some major public arts projects and individual artists.

Scott says the two Transformation shows are just the beginning of what she hopes will be an ongoing exchange.

Plans are already in the works for another show at Meta House, with five to seven American artists traveling to Cambodia to not only show work, but engage in artistic exchanges and possibly working with Cambodian artists to create new works.

Scott also plans to have a return show in Long Beach next April.

At this year's Long Beach show, only one of the Cambodian artists was able to obtain travel documents.

The artists featured have studied at Cal State Long Beach, the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, the Chicago Art Institute and Brown University, among others.

Khmer art on display

Transformation II: Bringing Contemporary Khmer/American Art to Long Beach" will run until May 3.

Today's events: An artists' reception from 6 to 9 p.m. with entertainment.

Friday, April 24: From 6 to 9 p.m. a second reception will feature the screening of documentaries and a book signing.

U.S. Secretary of State wishes Cambodian people happy Khmer New year

PHNOM PENH, April 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday issued a letter to wish the Cambodian people a happy Khmer New Year, which falls from April 14 to 16, according to the U.S. Embassy.

"On the occasion of the Khmer New Year, I wish the Cambodian people peace, prosperity, and best wishes," she said in the letter made available to the press by the embassy.

"I look forward to the year ahead as our two nations identify even greater opportunities to strengthen our bilateral ties, as well as to work together on mutual areas of interest," she said.

"This past year has been marked by significant progress in our relations, including U.S. military humanitarian ship visits, new agreements to implement assistance programs in economic development and the rule of law, and Peace Corps volunteers in 11 provinces," she added.

This has been the first time in recent years that a U.S. secretary of state wrote to greet the kingdom on the occasion of the Khmer New Year.

In early March, U.S. Embassy spokesman John Johnson once told local media that Cambodia will host a multinational peacekeeping exercise in 2010 as part of a U.S. State Department program.

"The Royal Government of Cambodia has agreed to host a multilateral peacekeeping training event in 2010 as part of the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), an annual Capstone training event attended by GPOI member nations and other regional and international partners," he said.

The event will provide training such as "field tactical and command post operations," but the formal planning and preparation for the exercise will not begin until late this year, he added.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Thailand cancels Southeast Asian summit

Thai anti-government demonstrators gather just moments before bashing their way into the meeting venue on Saturday.Photo: AP

PATTAYA, Thailand

Apr 11, 2009

Thailand declared a state of emergency in the city hosting a summit of Asian leaders and canceled the event for security reasons Saturday after more than 1,000 anti-government protesters stormed the venue.

The leaders were being evacuated by helicopter from the seaside city of Pattaya to a nearby military airport, a security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The red-shirted protesters, who are calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Abhisit Vejjajiva, smashed through the glass doors of the convention hall and ran through the building, overturning tables, blowing horns, waving Thai flags and screaming, "Abhisit get out!"

All the leaders were safe, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat. Nine leaders from Southeast Asian nations were in a nearby hotel on the convention grounds at the time the protesters broke in.

"The meeting cannot go on. We have to consider the security of the leaders," Thai government spokesman Supachai Jaisamuth said. "The situation is too violent and it is a security concern for the leaders."

The chaos dealt a major blow to Abhisit, who has been trying to project an image of calm and normality since taking power in a parliamentary vote four months ago after a court dissolved the previous government for election fraud.

It also scuttles a chance for the 16 regional leaders, including those from China, Japan and South Korea, to confer on ways to combat the global slump that has battered Asia's export-oriented economies. North Korea's recent rocket launch also was to be discussed at the weekend summit.

The protesters are supporters of former Tahi Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 military coup. They say Abhisit was not elected by the people and should step down so new elections can be held.

"We want to tell Abhisit himself that this meeting cannot go on," protest leader Arisman Pongreungrong said after leading the mob into the convention hall.

Abhisit, who has repeatedly refused to step down, went on national television and declared a state of emergency in the area surrounding the summit.

"I am using my power as the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in the area of Pattaya and Chonburi," he said.

The decree gives the military the right to restore order, allows authorities to suspend civil liberties, bans public gatherings of more than five people and bars the media from reporting news that "causes panic."

Earlier, organizers said all morning meetings at the summit had been delayed after protesters blocked traffic around the hotels where delegates were staying and amid clashes between anti- and pro-government groups. There were unconfirmed reports of protesters carrying guns.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said two or three people were injured in the clashes and that authorities were investigating reports of shots fired and an explosion.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was scheduled to meet with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Saturday morning. That was to be followed by meetings between ASEAN leaders and the president of South Korea, and later with Japan's prime minister.

A breakfast meeting of the foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea was also canceled.

After the protesters broke into the convention hall, a reporter saw at least three people with cuts from the glass and blood on the floor.

Panitan said protesters have been warned that "very tough standards will be applied to them very soon.

Key looking to get out of Thailand

NewsTalk ZB (New Zealand)

The Prime Minister is hoping to get out of Thailand as soon as possible, amid the chaos the country has descended into.

John Key arrived in Bangkok first thing this morning intending to drive to the beach resort of Pattaya, where the ASEAN summit was to be held.

He says protestors made the road trip impossible because they had surrounded both the hotel he was staying at and the hotel where the summit was to take place.

John Key says the protestors' actions gave Thai authorities no other option but to cancel the summit.

He is now waiting to get on the first plane out of Bangkok to Beijing, where he will launch trade operations.

Column: From Cambodia to Columbia University

Trading Markets (press release)
Fri. April 10, 2009

Columbia U., New York, NY, Apr 08, 2009 (Columbia Daily Spectator/UWire via COMTEX) -- UCL Quote Chart News PowerRating -- Through the phone, the voice sounded cracked and distorted, heavy with genuine concern, aged by more than enough traumatizing experiences for any one lifetime. Thinking of the crime, violence, and general danger present at the time in a war-riddled nation, my grandmother wasted no time making herself clear regarding an offer my father had received. She told him, "I want my granddaughter to still have a father."

This was my grandmother's reaction to my dad's announcement that he would be accepting a position in Cambodia's United Nations Transitional Authority in 1992. At a time when refugees were still fleeing from the postwar conflict in Southeast Asia, seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness anywhere but home, my father was among those headed in the opposite direction--to help, toward home (if you could even call it "home," seeing as he had not been there in 20 years). To my grandmother, I imagine that my father's acceptance of this job encompassed many negative doubts and fears. Accepting meant to abandon his stable post at Unocal, an oil company now absorbed by the corporate giant Chevron. It meant leaving Southern California, the place where most of the surviving members on my father's side had sought refuge from the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975-1979.

For my mother, my father's choice didn't translate easily either. She had just recently moved to the United States from France, where her side of the family found protection from the war. For her, it was only after countless garage sales, selling our car and our house, and transits in France, Switzerland, and Thailand, that she and I, a wide-eyed toddler at the time, finally reunited with my father in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.

Here in New York, nearing the end of my first year at Columbia, I've been flattered to see a rise in the number of people curious about my past, especially given the great diversity on our campus. Like high school students will be asking themselves this month, I've had my share of the typical "Why Columbia?" question. True, a lot of students choose their colleges because of the distance between their school and home. New York City is the ultimate destination for students who may be habituated to a small town--students thirsty for more everything, especially more freedom. But my grandmother had a point when she spoke to my dad 30 years earlier. Isn't moving halfway around the world a bit much?

The international student would know: College abroad means trading in real phone calls for Skype and IM at odd hours of the night. For some, this difference means sacrificing frequent visits from home for frequent packages from Lerner. It involves exchanging long transit hours at airports for even longer winters away from home. For my parents, their only child's choice of college probably led to a more severe case of Empty Nest Syndrome and accentuated their characteristics as protective, demanding parents. (Yes, Cambodians fit the Asian stereotype as well.) My father seemed most convinced that the crime, violence, and general danger of a big city automatically dropped Columbia from the list from which I was choosing. He also preferred Stanford and Berkeley for the fact that I would be closer to family. Ironic, no?

Maybe not. As the sun, squirrels, and acceptance letters come out again, existential questions begin to resurface in the classic Columbia fashion as I ask myself how I got here. I remember the plane ride, the excitement, how new and not quite familiar everything felt at first but how natural and comforting everything ended up being. Columbia helped, of course, by arranging a dinner for international students on our first night at school. Six months later, the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends, hailing from Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. These friends helped as well. I was lucky enough, as an international student, to be adopted by an American family for a weekend and get a chance to indulge in the American traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Hanukkah.

Looking back, perhaps the parallel between my father's move to Cambodia and mine to New York is not that unexpected. It's likely that the same thing that lured my father to Cambodia was exactly what I found in the City that Never Sleeps; a dynamic life, internationalism, and the ability to give back to our land of origin, still in dire need of assistance. I guess you could say the United Nations headquarters located here was also factor in my decision. But most importantly, another similarity is how well our seemingly arbitrary choices worked out. Raising me in the international environment of a developing country provided me with an interesting perspective. I feel lucky to have gotten the best of all three worlds, compared to American or French cousins whose parents did not return to Cambodia. Thinking of how strongly these three countries influence me now, I don't know how I ever imagined myself elsewhere else. Riding the subway downtown, walking across campus, or even just sitting in John Jay, I realize New York is the one place where nearly everyone here is also from somewhere else. But the fact I cherish most is this: It feels like home.

Thai protesters target Asian summit - 10 Apr 09


A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Thailand was set to focus on the global financial crisis, but the meeting has been over be overshadowed by political unrest.

Anti-government protesters are demanding the resignation of the prime minister, and the reinstatement of the previous constitution.

Al Jazeera's Tony Cheng reports from Bangkok.

Protests in Thailand force closure of ASEAN meet

Thai army officers get in position to block a protest of supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in Pattaya. (AFP Photo)

Thai army officers get in position to block a protest by supporters. (AFP Photo)

Supporters of Thaksin shake hands with soldiers blocking the road near ASEAN Summit venue in Pattaya. (Reuters Photo)

A supporter of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin shouts slogans as soldiers block a road in Pattaya. (Reuters Photo)

Supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin prepare to confront pro-government supporters in Pattaya. (Reuters Photo)

Thaksin supporters clash witn pro-government supporters near the venue of the 14th ASEAN Summit in Pattaya. (Reuters Photo)

Pro-government supporters clash with Thaksin supporters in Pattaya. (Reuters Photo)

11 Apr 2009

PATTAYA: The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea cancelled a meeting at an Asian summit here on Saturday after Thai anti-government protesters blockaded their hotel, officials said.

Hundreds of demonstrators calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva prevented the Japanese minister's car from entering the venue in the beach resort of Pattaya.

The meeting, which was set to discuss North Korea's recent rocket launch and economic issues, was called off after the ministers had waited for an hour, officials from the Chinese and Japanese delegations said.

"The meeting has been cancelled," a senior Chinese official said.

It was the first time that the red-shirted supporters of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had managed to disrupt the summit programme since they descended on Pattaya a day earlier.

About 2,000 demonstrators on Friday laid siege to the main venue of the meeting of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders plus their counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

They had dispersed overnight but returned early on Saturday to block the road outside the meeting of the three east Asian nations with taxis and at least two large trucks, witnesses said.

Protests disrupt ASEAN summit in Thailand

A Thai anti-government demonstrator walks past security in front of the meeting venue on Saturday, April 11, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand, at the 14th ASEAN summit. More than 2,000 anti-government protesters forced the postponement of the opening meeting of an Asian summit, demanding the gathering be canceled unless the Thai prime minister resigns.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Red-shirted supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra prepare to confront pro-government supporters near the venue of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya April 11, 2009.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

A masked Thai anti-government demonstrator faces off with security at the meeting venue on Saturday, April 11, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand, at the 14th ASEAN summit. A Thai official says morning meetings among Asian leaders have been delayed for 'reasons of safety' as thousands of anti-government protesters massed around the summit venue, disrupting traffic.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Friday 10th April, 2009

Clashes between anti-government and pro-government supporters Saturday delayed meetings at a summit of the southeast Asian leaders at the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya.

Meetings between South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ministers from China, South Korea and Japan were delayed, but will go ahead, Thai government spokesman Panitan Watanagorn said, rejecting reports that the meetings were cancelled.

Several people were hurt in the clashes and an investigation is underway he added.

'The safety of the leaders and the people attending the conference is of course of utmost concern to us, but we also care for the Thai people,' Panitan said.

The so-called Red Shirt protestors loyal for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are moving their protests to Pattaya from Bangkok as part of their campaign to unseat the government.

The Red shirts claim Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is an illegitimate leader because he came to power only after the military and the bureaucracy removed pro-Thaksin governments.

'Our people have been hurt but we have severely disrupted the conference. It will be canceled for the sake of democracy,' Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikua said in Bangkok.

Panitan, however, insisted the schedule was close to normal and the summit would not be severely disrupted.

Cambodians gathered at Choeung Ek memorial stupa to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79

A woman and a child pray at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 10, 2009, which displays 8,000 human skulls of victims. Buddhists monks and Cambodians gathered at the site to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA SOCIETY)

A woman prays at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 10, 2009, which displays 8,000 human skulls of victims. Buddhists monks and Cambodians gathered at the site to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA SOCIETY)

Buddhist monks and a nun bless some of the 8,000 human skulls of victims on display at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 10, 2009. Buddhists monks and Cambodians gathered at the site to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA SOCIETY)

A Buddhist monk blesses some of the 8,000 human skulls of victims on display at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 10, 2009. Buddhists monks and Cambodians gathered at the site to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA SOCIETY)

A Buddhist monk blesses some of the 8,000 human skulls of victims on display at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa, a "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh April 10, 2009. Buddhists monks and Cambodians gathered at the site to remember the dead who lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 regime.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA SOCIETY)

Thai, Cambodian leaders meet in wake of clash & The 3rd ASEAN Coordinating Council as part of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya

ASEAN Foreign Ministers join hands during the 3rd ASEAN Coordinating Council as part of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, in Pattaya resort April 10, 2009. Leaders from 15 other Asian countries began arriving in Thailand on Friday for a summit focusing on the global financial crisis, as anti-government protesters marched towards the venue. Pictured are (L to R) Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wiradjuda, Lao Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysia's Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, Philippine's representative Enrique Manalo, Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo, Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win, Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan.REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS BUSINESS)

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (L) talks with Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (R) during the 3rd ASEAN Coordinating Council as part of the 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Pattaya resort April 10, 2009. Leaders from 15 other Asian countries began arriving in Thailand on Friday for a summit focusing on the global financial crisis, as anti-government protesters marched towards the venue.REUTERS/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Pool (THAILAND BUSINESS POLITICS)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen makes a greeting as he arrives for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand summit, at the U-Tapao airport, near Pattaya, Thailand, on Friday, April 10, 2009.(AP Photo/Udo Weitz, Pool)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, and Teera Slukpetch, Thailand's minister for culture, left, share a laugh, as Hun Sen arrives for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand summit, at the U-Tapao airport, near Pattaya, Thailand, on Friday, April 10, 2009.(AP Photo/Udo Weitz, Pool)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, and Teera Slukpetch, Thailand's minister for culture, left, share a laugh, as Hun Sen arrives for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand summit, at the U-Tapao airport, near Pattaya, Thailand, on Friday, April 10, 2009.(AP Photo/Udo Weitz, Pool)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, is welcomed by Teera Slukpetch, Thailand's minister for culture, right, as he arrives for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand summit, at the U-Tapao airport, near Pattaya, Thailand, on Friday, April 10, 2009.(AP Photo/Udo Weitz, Pool)

Cambodia's Prime Minster Hun Sen (L) shake hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in front of a Khmer artefact in Pattaya April 10, 2009. REUTERS/Sakchai Lalit/Pool

Elray Resources, Inc. Provides Overview and Update of Cambodian Property
Friday, 10 April 2009

Elray Resources, Inc. (OTCBB: ELRA), a technically-driven gold and precious metal mineral exploration company, is pleased to provide shareholders with an update into its gold exploration properties.
The portfolio includes three properties totaling over 15,000 hectares in Cambodia, one of the last frontiers for precious/base metal discovery and development. Mining has exploded in mineral-rich Cambodia, and was only recently opened up to exploration using modern techniques.

The Company's portfolio includes multiple areas with history of small scale mining. Grab samples on these properties have ranged up to 71.9grams/tonne gold. The Company holds 100% of the license for these properties.

Investment demand for gold will rise to an all-time high of 52.3 million ounces this year, New York-based commodity researcher CPM said today in its annual outlook report. That compares with 43.3 million ounces in 2008. Demand for gold to make jewelry will drop 7.1 percent to 56.5 million ounces as consumer spending weakens, the group said.

Gold prices have gained for eight straight years as a declining dollar and instability in financial markets boosted the metal's appeal as an alternative asset. The price touched a record $1,033.90 on March 17, 2008.

"Continued volatile and weak financial and economic conditions are expected to be supportive of strong investment demand this year," CPM said today in a summary of some parts of the outlook report. "Gold prices are expected to surpass last year's record."

About Elray Resources, Inc.

Elray Resources, Inc. is a junior exploration and development Corporation which has successfully accumulated a portfolio of highly prospective, heavily mineralized mining tenements in South East Asia. Elray Resources, Inc.'s, primary objective is to source projects, conduct geological assessments and seek Joint Venture partners to develop the properties.

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks associated with gold & precious mineral exploration risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, government regulation and taxation. More information about factors that potentially could affect the Company's financial results is included in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Khmer New Year

US Department of State

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State
Washington, DC

April 10, 2009

On behalf of the American people, I wish to congratulate the people of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the occasion of Khmer New Year.

This past year has been marked by significant progress in our relations, including humanitarian ship visits by the U.S. military, new agreements to implement assistance programs in economic development and the rule of law, and Peace Corps volunteers in 11 provinces.

I look forward to the year ahead, as our two nations identify even greater opportunities to strengthen our bilateral ties, as well as to work together on mutual areas of interest. We value Cambodia's commitment to further its social, economic and democratic development.

On the occasion of the Khmer New Year, I wish the Cambodian people peace, prosperity, and best wishes.

Banteay Srei in Angkor, Cambodia

D.B. Kim

Interior Design
April 10, 2009

“We find that between the past and the future there is an extremely thin line—something that can not really withstand analysis.” –Dalai Lama
Driving through the area of Angkor in Cambodia, I saw rural fields and people surviving in intense humid weather conditions. The locals are familiar with the extremes; me, not so much. With a swelling heart, I also saw firsthand the struggles of people living here in Cambodia. This was the only downside of my trip, feeling unable to help.
Soon I arrived at a place where red sandstone is a predominant building material: the Banteay Srei temple site. The temple was built in the 10th century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temple was built in miniature scale, and it is extremely popular with tourists due to the elaborate, decorative wall carvings widely praised as a precious gem, or the jewel of Khmer art.

I was inspired while observing and learning from these elaborate aesthetics of the past. I also realized that these ancient artisans produced something preciously modern, and the result is timeless. All the carvings and elaborate layers narrate stories, often exalting certain figures and moments in Hindu teachings. Walking through the spaces, my observations of the visitors’ reactions were inspiration alone. People do seem to appreciate the creations of the temple, labeling them as expressions of Khmer art, instead of ancient relics of the past.

I hope you enjoy this last installment of photos from my trip to Cambodia.

Concert Benefits Organization Devoted To Helping Abused Cambodian Children

SPREAD THE WORD: Kenny Rigsby, a member of the “For the Silent” organization, speaks during the benefit concert.

Church goers raise their arms in praise during a benefit concert at the Rose Heights Church of God on April 5 in Tyler. The concert was held to raise money and awareness for victims of human trafficing.

Tyler Morning Telegraph

Religion Editor

Could a trafficked child standing on a dirty street in a far-off foreign country have an inkling that hope was coming to them from Tyler, Texas? Could they imagine a modern American church packed to the balconies full of worshippers asking God to rescue them?

Could they imagine a new life, far from the cruel hands of exploitive adults?

Hang on, hope is coming was the message that resounded April 5 at Rose Heights Church of God. Lindale transplant and international "worship" leader Paul Baloche made a hometown stop with his band to give a mighty push to Tyler native Kenny Rigsby and the "new generation nonprofit organization" For The Silent.

SPREAD THE WORD: Kenny Rigsby, a member of the “For the Silent” organization, speaks during the benefit concert.
In a loud affirmation to For The Silent, a ministry to sexually exploited children in Cambodia, nearly 1,000 worshippers gathered to hear the band belt out the best of the Baloche catalogue of modern worship favorites, then take a break to hear Rigsby describe what life was like for rescued children.

"It's amazing you guys," said the 27-year-old Rigsby, who'd been in Cambodia with his wife, Julie, in October researching ministries reaching out to children. Dressed in century running shoes, jeans, casual shirt and a loose tie, Rigsby said, "The hope in the eyes of these children as they're being restored is unbelievable. This is the hope of Jesus. This is the kind of power of hope possible when the Body of Christ rises up and begins to work out what we're saying here tonight, when we go out and bring hope and live the way Jesus told us to live."

Church goers raise their arms in praise during a benefit concert at the Rose Heights Church of God on April 5 in Tyler. The concert was held to raise money and awareness for victims of human trafficing.
The plight of trafficked children, Rigsby told the Tyler Morning Telegraph, is compounded by a Cambodian culture reeling from economic distress, cultural mores that permit certain types of exploitation and stretched thin law-enforcement agencies that can't fight the tide of sex trafficking.

At the Baloche concert Rigsby showed a video of a young girl rescued from life of slavery in a Cambodian brothel who said Christ saved her "so my life can start being a blessing, and become beautiful again." The girl said her "life was like a lotus plant" that grows out of mud and becomes a flower.

In the now silent building, Rigsby paused and added the painful kicker.

"Out of the tens of thousands of exploited children, fully a third of them are boys," he said. "All the efforts to help the children are made towards the girls, but there are zero programs anywhere in the country trying to help the boys. No one is helping them. They have no hope. It's almost impossible to find funding for boys but we know God loves and cares for boys and girls."

That disparity will change and more than a modicum of hope will soon be on its way to the forgotten, overlooked and silent children who cannot speak for themselves, if Rigsby can do something about it. Up to 12 ministries will implement a yearlong training program for long-term counseling, educational and restorative programs aimed exclusively to boys with financial help from For The Silent.

"You paid for this benefit concert," Rigsby quietly said, "but there is an opportunity tonight to give more. All of the money given, 100 percent, will go to funding the training programs. Nothing will be skimmed off the top."

It's a worthy effort from a "trustworthy ministry," said Baloche, who said he liked the "next-generation aspect" that For The Silent represents.

"There are so many wonderful nonprofit organizations in Tyler," he said, "but I want to commend Kenny and Julie. Their effort has moved me because it's the next generation, the heart of the 20-somethings. It gives me hope for the future and lot of hope for America."

Baloche called for Christians to make use of the short time they have.

"Pray and give God the few short years we have," he said. "Then your light will shine forth like the noon day. He loves children in Cambodia, Thailand, Asia, Africa and North America. The Lord still loves the world and we've got to be part of it. It's not hopeless, but if we don't do it, no one else is going to do it. Unless people do what Jesus said, there is no hope. Nothing happens until we pick up our cross and follow him."

Thai PM to hand over ancient Khmer artifact to Cambodian PM during ASEAN summits

PHNOM PENH, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajivawill hand over an ancient Khmer artifact to his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during the ASEAN summits to be held in these days, a senior adviser said here on Friday.

"If the schedule does not change, this afternoon, the two premiers will meet to discuss the bilateral ties and the Thai prime minister will hand over a piece of our ancient Khmer artifact to Prime Minister Hun Sen as a symbol (of our friendship)," Sry Thamrong, advisor to Hun Sen, told reporters prior to the departure of a senior Cambodian delegation for the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summits in Pattaya of Thailand.

Later when Abhisit Vejjajiva visits Cambodia on April 18, at least 7 out of 24 pieces of ancient Khmer artifacts will be returned to Cambodia, he said.

"Those Khmer artifacts were stolen and trafficked out of Cambodia, but finally arrested by the Thai authorities. We have shown the Thai side with our documents as proof, so they will return them to us," he said.

During the two premiers' talks, they will also discuss the border issues between the two countries, said the advisor.

In addition, Hun Sen will join the summit meeting of CVL (Cambodian, Laos and Vietnam ) with Japan, which will focus on the development of the Mekong region and the triangle area among the three ASEAN countries, he said.

While in Thailand, Hun Sen will also meet with the Chinese Premier, UN secretary general, Malaysian prime minister and Australian premier over issues of bilateral cooperation, he added.

According to an official press release, the Cambodian delegation for the ASEAN summits includes Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Nam Hong, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and other governmental officials.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Thai-Cambodian Relations On The Mend

PATTAYA, April 10 (Bernama) -- Thailand and Cambodia, whose relations have been frosty over the past year because of border disputes, took a step forward to improve bilateral ties, following a meeting between Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, on the sidelines of the 14th Asean Summit and related summits here today.

Abhisit described the latest border skirmish on March 3, this year, near a 900-year-old Hindu temple as having been due to a misunderstanding and vowed to improve relations between the two nations.

Thailand also took a step forward today by agreeing to hand over seven artifacts belonging to Cambodia, which had been smuggled across the Thai-Cambodian border and seized by the Thai authorities in 2000.

Abhisit handed over one of them today to Hun Sen while the rest would be presented when the Thai prime minister makes an official visit to Phnom Penh on April 18.

The artifacts were among 50 intercepted by Thai Customs officials as they were smuggled across.

On Feb 24, this year, the Thai Cabinet adopted a resolution to restitute the seven artifacts to the Cambodian Government, in accordance with an agreement signed between the two governments in 2000, to combat against illicit trafficking and cross-border smuggling of movable cultural property.


The United Nations Warns They Will Stop Negotiating about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal - Friday, 10.4.2009

Posted on 11 April 2009

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 607

“After three days of discussions between the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers and chairperson of negotiating team to establish the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Sok An, to agree on a mechanism to prevent corruption, which seriously occurred at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, there was nothing achieved and the UN representative warned they will not continue negotiations with the Khmer government. [This had been the third visit for the same purpose - and all three meetings failed to achieve a final agreement.]

“The U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs in charge of relations with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, said in his statement in English at night of 8 April 2009 after the three-day discussions, meeting journalists, that the Cambodian side and the United Nations did not reach an agreement.

“Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, an official of the United Nations, said, ‘We could not agree, though at last, it seemed we almost reached an agreement. And I left a request on Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s table, asking for his consideration. From now on, we will not negotiate any more. I will release a statement tonight (8 April 2009) about our position.’

“Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen’s statement, which represents the United Nations position, reads as follows: ‘The United Nations continues to believe that for the ethics monitoring system to be credible, the staff should have the freedom to approach the ethics monitor of their own choice and put forward complaints without fear of retaliation. Such freedom of choice is an important element of a trustworthy ethics-monitoring system.’

“Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen added, ‘It is still important for the United Nations that corruption accusations and other allegations of wrongdoings are solved effectively. Therefore, we will strengthen anti-corruption mechanisms further at the court, which is trying some former Khmer Rouge leaders. For the time being, ethics monitors from the United Nations side will advise staff about ethics monitoring, and send all complaints that it had received to the UN headquarters in New York, to be monitored there and to take measures to be consistent with genrally acceptable complaint mechanisms, and the United Nations side will report to the Cambodian side about complaints it had received, without mentioning the names of staff, in order to avoid any retalliation against those who lodged complaints.’

“Regarding the statement of Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen at the night of 8 April 2009, the Deputy Prime Minister and chairperson of the negotiating team to establish the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Sok An, did not make any comment to journalists, and he referred this task to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, told reporters that the three-day discussion between the Cambodian side and the United Nations was completed successfully and had achieved four important results: to release a joint statement concluded on 23 February 2009, the creation of effective mechanisms by both sides, and to ensure to maintain the trial proceeding of former top Khmer Rouge leaders effectively.

“Mr. Phay Siphan said, ‘Yes, it is a success. In every meeting, there is always mutual understanding; understanding about what Cambodia wants in order to maintain the effectiveness of the mechanism to strengthen ethic standards, but not only on the Cambodian side alone, it is to strengthen ethical standards for all, even for the foreign side. And each administration, whether of a small or of a big country, may sometimes face a crisis, or make mistakes.’

“A program coordinator of the Open Society Justice Initiative, Mr. Long Panhavuth, asserted that corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal affects the trial proceeding of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Mr. Long Panhavuth added that there should be an agreed mechanism for the trial proceeding of Khmer Rouge leaders to clear those accusations.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, set up in cooperation by the United Nations, suffers from serious corruption allegations among officials from the Cambodian side. Recently, the foreign co-lawyer of the suspect Khiev Samphan, Mr. Jacques Vergès, also charged that some Khmer officials had offered kickbacks to higher ranking officials to receive positions at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“However, the Director of the Office of Administration of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia from the Cambodian side, Mr. Sean Visoth, denied that there is corruption as alleged so far, as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has not received any clear complaint about corruption, and even though letter boxes were set up at all stories of the building of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to receive anonymous or open letters, still there is no such letter.

“The president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO, Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], expressed concern about the warning of the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, not to indict additional suspects who were former top Khmer Rouge cadres, saying that he would rather let the Khmer Rouge Tribunal fail, and he wished it would run out of money soon, but he will not let war erupt, since if war would erupt, the trial of those former Khmer Rouge leaders will not be possible, and tens of thousands of people will die. ‘Who wants to be responsible for this?’

“Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek strongly reacted to this, saying that Mr. Hun Sen should not get involved in the affair of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and let the court decide to indict more suspects or not. If ten more former Khmer Rouge leaders are indicted of killing nearly two million Khmer citizens, the mind of Khmer citizens will probably be put at rest.”

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #56, 10.4.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 10 April 2009

Failed Corruption Talks Worry Some

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
10 April 2009

Cambodian officials gave guarded reaction to a UN statement following failed corruption talks over the tribunal on Wednesday, a statement that said in part the UN would pursue its own anti-corruption measures at the UN-backed court.

UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen left three days of talks with Council Minister Sok An Wednesday with no agreement on how to address the nagging allegations of corruption and mismanagement that have led to a dearth of funds and a cash-strapped Cambodian side of the court.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, pointed to the ongoing trial of Duch, the former chief of Tuol Sleng prison, where 16,000 Cambodians were sent to their deaths, as proof of the success of the courts.

Duch, the revolutionary name for Kaing Kek Iev, is the first of five defendants to be tried at a tribunal that was established in 2006 after a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the UN.

“We have to ask whether this success can be separated from those of the administration,” Phay Siphan said. “It is not unless the administration team provides sufficient service that the trial is as smooth as what we have seen now.”

Duch’s trial has coincided with dire straights for the Cambodian side of the jointly administered tribunal. The Cambodian side, from where allegations of staff kickbacks to senior officials come, struggled to pay its employees in March. That’s because many donors to the tribunal are either waiting for corruption allegations to be resolved or are giving their money to the UN side of the court. A UN investigation into allegations made in 2008 has not been made public.

Taksoe-Jensen said in a statement after failed talks on Wednesday that it had been his goal to establish a system of monitoring that would have re-established credibility for the Cambodian administration. No agreement was reached.

“I have submitted to H.E. Sok An–for his consideration–a draft Exchange of Letters setting out an ethics monitoring mechanism acceptable to the United Nations,” said Peter Taksoe-Jensen in his statement issued late Wednesday, adding that he thought the system would also be acceptable to the government.

Taksoe-Jensen also said the UN side of the tribunal would strengthen its own ethic monitoring, forwarding complaints to UN headquarters in New York and informing the Cambodian government “as appropriate.”

Without commenting directly on the statement or exchange of letters, Phay Siphan said that during negotiations this week, the Cambodian side had suggested including the real name of complainants in any allegations brought forward, to avoid groundless accusations. The UN would not agree.

“The UN does not understand this issue. They don’t know Cambodian culture. We want the complainant to put their name with real ground so that we can look at the complaint together, but what they want tends to dominate [us],” he said. “They just want this or that, so as an independent and sovereign country, and since the court is in the Cambodian jurisdiction, Cambodia must preserve its right to maintain discipline, orders and work effectiveness.”

Taksoe-Jensen said in Wednesday’s statement it was crucial that complainants remain anonymous: “the United Nations continues to believe that for the ethics monitoring system to be credible, the staff should have the freedom to approach the Ethics Monitor of their own choice and put forward complaints without fear of retaliation. Such freedom of choice is an imperative element of a trustworthy ethics monitoring system.”

Taksoe-Jensen’s statement was quickly welcomed by an organization monitoring the court process.

“I support both the UN and Cambodian measures to get rid of the corruption scandal, otherwise at every court hearing or legal process it will become a forum for lawyers and defendants to raise every time,” Long Panhavuth, a program coordinator for the Open Society Justice Initiative, told VOA Khmer by phone.

OSJI was one of the first organizations to air concerns of kickbacks, in 2007.

Staff members allege they must pay a portion of their salaries to senior officials in the Cambodian government in order to work at the tribunal—a not uncommon practice in other sectors of Cambodian government.

“The corruption allegations not only tarnish the government, but the whole court, which is comprised of both the UN and Cambodia,” Long Panhavuth said.

Other civil society organizations expressed concern that short funding would derail the court process. They suggested the UN and Cambodia finalize their differences as soon as possible to ensure transparency in spending donor money and to secure donor confidence.

“We are concerned and sorry,” Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, told VOA Khmer. “We want to see the court finish its work by at least putting on trial the five defendants so that people are able to know the truth.”

“From what we witnessed at Duch’s hearing, the court is doing their work at an international standard,” she said. “We want to see such a court.”

No date has yet been scheduled for another round of talks, though the government has said it still welcomes a UN return to the table.

Thais To Hand Over Statue to Hun Sen

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Cambodia
10 April 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen will return from an Asean summit in Thailand Sunday carrying a symbolic statue that signals the return of a handful of stolen artifacts from Cambodia’s ancient past, an official said Friday.

Hun Sen is attending the Asean summit in Pattaya and was scheduled to meet with his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Friday afternoon, to reclaim one statue constructed during the rule of King Jayavarman VII, Chuch Phoeung, secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture, told VOA Khmer Friday.

Jayavarman VII built the Bayon temple inside the Angkor temple complex.

The statue will be the first of seven artifacts to be returned, all the heads of gods or giants, taken from Cambodia by artifact thieves and confiscated while in transport in Thailand.

“All seven of the statues were stolen and trafficked out of Cambodia during the war,” said Sri Thamrong, a senior adviser to Hun Sen. “Finally, they were arrested by the Thai authorities and we have shown the Thais documents to prove with evidence that all seven artifacts belong to Cambodia.”

Thai authorities are holding 24 artifacts that are claimed by Cambodia.

Abhisit is expected bring the six remaining statues to Cambodia on a visit later this month.

“We will hold the hand-over ceremony for the ancient Khmer artifacts at the National Museum on April 17,” Chuch Phoeung said.

Justice Still Possible for 1997 Attack: Opposition

Sam Rainsy, president of Cambodia's opposition party, SRP.

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
10 April 2009

The ongoing trial for jailed prison chief Duch has demonstrated that in Cambodia, though the wait may be long, the pursuit of justice is possible, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Thursday.

The UN-backed tribunal trial of Tuol Sleng prison chief Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, which began March 30, was part of a trend that started some 20 years earlier to punish those responsible for Khmer Rouge crimes, Sam Rainsy said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Similarly, he said, the investigation into the perpetrators of a grenade attack on opposition supporters in March 1997 is still underway.

“When the Khmer Rouge tribunal is all over, I believe we will be able to bring those responsible for the grenade attack in 1997 to justice,” Sam Rainsy said.

At least 16 people were killed and more than 100 were injured, when unknown assailants threw grenades into a crowd amassed in front of the old National Assembly building on March 30, 1997.

No one has been arrested for the attack.

Development Must Mean Compensation: Expert

Am Sam Ath, an investigator for Adhoc, on 'Hello VOA' Monday.

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
10 April 2009

Evictions in Cambodia are not resolved at a scale equal to the development of Cambodian, a rights activist said Monday, at a time when yet another community in Phnom Penh is facing eviction.

Residents of Reak Reay say they are will be uprooted from their home in the Tonle Bassac commune of central Phnom Penh.

While “development is good,” authorities must also meet the needs of the people, said Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“Residents wish that authorities will develop [further] by balancing the interest of the villagers with the interest of the company or state,” he said.

“We can see during each eviction people crying, and they don’t want to leave their location,” he said.

Out of 209 Reak Reay families, 150 have agreed to leave the site new construction for Canadia Bank.

Families bought the land from the military after 1999, and Cambodian law stipulates residency of property after possession of five years, he said. But since 2006, the families have been facing pressure to leave. More negotiations with the city are expected after the Khmer New Year.

“Article 44 of the constitution says that the property of someone can be withdrawn for the interest of the public, and the owner must have reasonable compensation,” he said.

Pressuring people to leave constitutes an abuse of human rights, he said. “Authorities must remain in a neutral stance and serve the interests of both residents and investors.”

Phnom Penh’s rapid development has left the outskirts—where many displaced families end up—without infrastructure.

“They cannot find jobs or school for their children,” he said. “They must come to Phnom Penh and rent a house to work a job.”

Nationalism is a Dangerous Poison


Friday, April 10, 2009

Fatal clashes erupted in the early hours of April 3 between Thai and Cambodian troops near Preah Vihear Temple on the two countries’ border, leaving two Thai and two Cambodian soldiers dead and several injured. It was not the first time gunfire was exchanged between the two Southeast Asian nations.

The first deadly clash took place in October 2008 at the height of the territorial dispute over the temple, resulting in a number of deaths and causalities.

The armed clashes between Thailand and Cambodia were seen as one of the most serious incidents in the region since the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, 43 years ago. It is a very dangerous flashpoint that could have a tremendous impact on regional security.

What are the underlying causes driving the Thai-Cambodian confrontation? In 1962, Thailand and Cambodia took their claims of ownership over the 900-year-old temple to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The court ruled the case in Cambodia’s favor. Thailand was instructed to remove its troops and military arsenals from the area. Almost 50 years on, although the bitter memory on the Thai side has lingered, there had been no attempt by Thailand to challenge the court’s ruling.

In 2007, Cambodia officially launched its campaign to have the temple listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Samak government, seen by its opponents as former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s proxy, endorsed the Cambodian request to UNESCO.

Noppadon Pattama, the foreign minister and a former personal lawyer for Thaksin, signed a joint communiqué with Cambodia, expressing the Thai commitment to support the UNESCO listing of the temple.

But from that moment on, the fire of Thai nationalism was fanned.

Anti-Thaksin forces, led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), grasped this opportunity to stir up a sense of nationalism against the Samak government in order to serve its own political legitimacy. The PAD linked the Thai support for Cambodia to the issue of lost territories, as a basis for its nationalistic protest against the Thaksin-backed government.

The concept of lost territories is powerful. Thailand, despite being the only country in the region to have escaped colonialism, has portrayed itself as a vulnerable state which had to surrender part of its territories to European powers in exchange for its overall independence.

In 1907, Siam, the former name of Thailand, signed a treaty with France. Accordingly, Siam gave up its possession of Cambodia’s Batambang, Sri Sophon and Siem Reap provinces to France. The contentious Preah Vihear Temple is located within this area.

With the Thai treaty with France and with the ruling of the ICJ, the PAD persistently claimed that Preah Vihear, known in Thai as Phra Viharn, still belongs to Thailand. And that Prime Minister Samak and Foreign Minister Noppadon betrayed the motherland in their support given to the Cambodians to claim their ownership of the temple. The PAD claimed that Thaksin was behind the government’s decision because he had business interests in Cambodia. The Thai support was described as “selling the national property” at the interest of private politicians.

In fact, this was not the first time the PAD accused Thaksin for selling national assets to foreigners. In 2006, Thaksin was condemned for selling his Shin Corp to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings without paying tax. The PAD view was that because Shin Corp dealt with telecommunications, it was deemed as a sensitive industry to national security, therefore Thaksin accumulated his own wealth at the expense of jeopardizing national interest.

The “selling the nation” taboo, or khai chart in Thai, has been used to whip up nationalistic fervor against Thaksin. It was employed to unseat the Samak government too. Nappadon was forced to resign from the foreign minister position. But the nationalistic feeling has never subsided.

The PAD also encouraged an armed conflict with Cambodia in order to bring back the so-called Thai territory. In his speech in July 2008, Sondhi Limthongkul, a leader of the PAD, even suggested that war was the only suitable solution to the temple crisis. In this process, the PAD painted the image of the Cambodians as national enemies. History was also distorted to conveniently serve Cambodia’s new role as the country’s adversary.

Now that the current foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, a member of the Democrat Party and a well-known sympathizer of the PAD, takes his turn to manage the temple issue, the fire of nationalism, lit by the PAD, has been rekindled.

Kasit’s opponents circulated his interview given to televised media in October 2008 (Kasit was then a shadow deputy prime minister) expressing his negative view of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Kasit, during the interview, referred to Hun Sen as a tramp and a vagrant. He thought Hun Sen was dotty, deranged and mentally imbalanced. Kasit also said that Hun Sen did not want good relations with Thailand because he was a slave of Thaksin. His remarks infuriated Hun Sen. In the same month, the first armed clash took place along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Recently during a no-confidence motion in the Thai parliament, Kasit was grilled by the opposition for not practicing good diplomacy vis-à-vis Cambodia and as a result bringing about escalating tension along the border. In his response, he once again referred to Hun Sen as a gangster. This sent another wrong message to Cambodia.

The Khmers now believe that Thailand, under the Abhisit government, continues to treat Cambodia as its enemy.

The conflict over the Preah Vihear temple, indeed, has very little to do with the real territorial issue, and more to do with an absurd nationalistic craze enflamed by Thai political factions.

The deaths and casualties in the recent clashes were simply the victims of a powerful nationalism run amok. The unrest at the border should by now remind the Thai leaders and the opposition that nationalism is a dangerous poison. It can turn extremely lethal once they lose control of it.

Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun is a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Thailand, Cambodia agree to work closely to prevent new border clash

Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva (1st L) meets with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen (1st R) in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 10, 2009. (Xinhua/Zhang Fengguo)

PATTAYA, Thailand, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Thailand and Cambodia agreed here on Friday during their bilateral meeting that the two neighboring countries will work more closely in order to prevent new border clashes, according to Panitan Wattanayakorn, Thai Prime Minister's Deputy Secretary-General.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met on the sideline on Friday of the ASEAN Summit and related summits April 10 to 12, in beach resort Pattaya of Thailand's central province Chonburi.

The two sides have agreed to better organza future security border patrol of their own in a way to avoid misunderstanding and prevent new clashes," said Panitan.

The latest two rounds of border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia broke out last Friday when soldiers from each side fired at each other near the ancient 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, causing casualties on both sides.

However, Panitan conceded that the border dispute between the two countries will take time to solve since the conflict has existed since the colonial period.

The two neighboring countries have disputed over the border demarcation in areas around Preah Vihear temple, which the Haegue International Court ruled in 1962 to belong to Cambodia. The temple in July last year listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, bringing fresh protests in Thailand and border military clashes.

Apart from the border issue, the two leaders also agreed to boost their bilateral trade and investment and to mutually invest in infrastructure projects, including road construction, said Panitan.

Abhisit plans to officially visit Cambodia on April 18, said Panitan.

Editor: Fang Yang

Thai, Cambodian leaders meet in wake of clash

Cambodia's Prime Minster Hun Sen (L) shake hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in front of a Khmer artefact in Pattaya April 10, 2009. The prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia met briefly on Friday, a week after border clashes killed two Thais, and expressed sorrow over the incident, but a Thai official said there may be future "hiccups".REUTERS/Sakchai Lalit/Pool (THAILAND POLITICS BUSINESS)

The Star Online
Friday April 10, 2009

PATTAYA, Thailand (Reuters) - The prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia met briefly on Friday, a week after border clashes killed two Thais, and expressed sorrow over the incident, but a Thai official said there may be future "hiccups".

Soldiers from the two Southeast Asian countries exchanged rocket and rifle fire last Friday on a disputed stretch of their border, the latest flare-up in an ancient feud over the 900-year-old Preah Vihear Hindu temple.

"We don't expect to solve the problem in the next few days, or the next few weeks. Occasionally there will be certain hiccups," Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn told reporters after the meeting.

"What we have to do is make sure that the security agencies and forces in the area, that are in and out of the area all the time, understand each other."

After the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of an Asian summit in the Thai beach town of Pattaya, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva presented Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen with an ancient Khmer artefact.

The two shook hands, then Hun Sen leaned over to kiss the artefact, a large smiling face apparently made of terracotta.

In February, after an earlier border skirmish, Hun Sen reportedly threatened not to attend the East Asia Summit, which brings together 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Thailand, Cambodia to Cooperate Over Overlapping Sea Areas

Dow Jones Newswires Friday, April 10, 2009

PATTAYA (Dow Jones Newswires), April 10, 2009

Thailand and Cambodia will push for greater cooperation in developing overlapping sea areas along their shared border which are believed to be rich in oil deposits, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Friday.

Abhisit said he and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen agreed that energy security has become critical, hence the need for greater cooperation.

The area in the Gulf of Thailand is believed to have enormous potential for petroleum, but exploration has been limited because who has control over parts of the seabed along their shared border has never been clearly defined.

Thailand, Cambodia promise to mend fences

Earth Times

Fri, 10 Apr 2009
Author : DPA

Pattaya, Thailand- Thailand and Cambodia Friday agreed to strengthen cooperation and make greater efforts in future to prevent violent incidents along their common border. Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and Cambodian leader Hun Sen met at the sidelines of a regional summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the resort town of Pattaya.

It was the first high-level bilateral meeting since clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops near a disputed temple area that left several soldiers dead earlier this month.

"We agreed that the accidents [last week] were the result of a misunderstanding that it should not be allowed to affect our relations and cooperation," Abhisit told journalists after the meeting.

Mechanisms are now in place to resolve the conflicts along the border and prevent problems flaring up again, the Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn told the German Press Agency dpa.

The Cambodia-Thailand Joint Border Committee met earlier this week and approved significant steps to defuse the tension along the border near Preah Vihear temple, among them an agreement to establish a joint military monitoring group.

The 11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple, or Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, is situated on an escarpment that forms part of the natural border between the two countries and has been a source of tension between Cambodia and Thailand for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded the site to Cambodia in 1962, but the ruling did not determine the ownership of some 5 square kilometres of scrub land next to the ruins.

Fighting erupted along the border last year after the temple was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO despite Thai objections.

The border had been quiet for months as the neighbours sought jointly to demarcate the jungle area around the temple. But tensions rose again last month when Thai troops crossed into a disputed area near the temple and were stopped by Cambodian soldiers.

"Both countries agreed to exercise extreme caution in future and not allow such incidents to re-occur," Abhisit told journalists.

The two prime ministers discussed several major projects which involved substantial Thai investment, including improving the highway that connects the two countries and the construction of hydro-electric dam that would provide electricity in Cambodia and provide water to parts of south-eastern Thailand.

The Thai prime minister is scheduled to visit Cambodia later this month

François Bizot at Duch trial: "Trying to understand is not trying to forgive"

CAMBODIA. Kambol (Phnom Penh). 9/04/2009: Testimony of Francois Bizot, author of Le Portail (The Gate), on 7th day of Kaing Guek Eav trial at the ECCC. ©John Vink/ Magnum.


By Stéphanie Gée

he fact that Frenchman François Bizot, who is currently the first witness to come forward at the trial of former Khmer Rouge torturer Duch, became aware of the duality of the S-21 head does not stain the nice image he described about the man who detained him for nearly three months at M-13 in 1971. The EFEO (Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient - French School for East Asian studies, Paris) researcher, however, insisted on Thursday April 9th on clearing any misunderstanding before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and was careful not to set himself up as another lawyer for Duch. After him, a Cambodian survivor from the same detention camp painted a much darker picture of M-13 and its supervisor.

“There is no forgiveness whatsoever”
François Bizot may be approaching the trial with the aim of understanding the complexity of the human soul and, beyond that, of the Khmer Rouge tragedy, but he does not for all that allow himself to claim the status of victim. “Trying to understand is not trying to forgive”, the Frenchman stresses. “It seems to me that there is no forgiveness whatsoever here. Forgiving in the name of whom? Of those who died? I don’t think so. And the horror of what has been done to Cambodia, which is unfortunately not exclusive to this poor country, is unspeakable horror. And the cry of victims must be heard without ever thinking of it as excessive, the hardest words we may use against the accused are words which will never be hard enough. This is not about willing to forgive what was done, but it is about, from my own approach – which has no reason for being that of victims – trying to understand the tragedy which took place in the forests of Cambodia...”

According to the researcher, forgiveness is not accessible, but relief for victims proves as hard to find. “If I try to put myself in the place of survivors and those who died under or after torture [as a Civil Party lawyer asked him to do], I think that the mechanism that might be mine in order to relieve my constant suffering, my hatred, would be to feel even, to be able to see that I get something out of the suffering which is today inflicted on the accused. However, I wonder about the possibility for victims to find any relief today, within the realms of possibility...”

Release was achieved via human bonds
François Bizot owes his life to Duch. And this is here a part of his own tragedy. During the hearing, François Bizot mentions again the process which according to him allowed a happy end for his detention by the Khmer Rouge. “If I myself got from that ordeal of incarceration a shock that I cannot forget, which is to have seen the man behind the executioner, I think that [Duch] did with me what no torturer should do, and in a way, this is also because he was led to see the man behind the spy, the man behind the prisoner. And one of the reasons which led Duch to consider my case with the attention he did not have for other cases of prisoners who were presented to him in the camp might also be that those interrogations lasted for so long that they created a sort of human bond between us. By doing so, sending someone to death became a lot more difficult than sending to death people he did not want to humanise.”

Duch’s room for manoeuvre was “null”
The international co-Lawyer for Duch particularly worked on pointing out in the defendant’s written declarations, quotes which in a certain way minimised the liability of the former director of M-13 and later S-21 supervisor, by presenting him as an element in a machinery which he could not escape. In his book entitle The Gate, as Mr. Roux recalls, François Bizot indicates that “Duch only obeyed orders given by Angkar. Similarly, you told Investigating Judges: ‘I think his room for manoeuvre was absolutely null. His only job was to collect information from people who were arrested and on whom he drafted reports. These people were from then on condemned and the point was to make them talk before executing them, so as to as to show that their arrest was worthwhile.” You also said: ‘the Khmer Rouge regime was a terror regime and it was probably very difficult for those who had a position within it to backtrack’”.

The witness, echoing excerpts from the Statement of Offence, repeated that it was “not his business any more to prove or show that this Khmer Rouge regime was a regime of terror, and as far as I am concerned and about my release, there was not a single moment when I saw that this type of decisions was taken at Duch’s level as he had to refer them to his superiors”.

Cynicism on the part of Duch...
Opposite, for his part, the international co-Prosecutor emphasises extracts in François Bizot’s book which betray the perverse nature of Duch. He quotes two anecdotes from The Gate which are to him an account of the mental torture inflicted on prisoners. In his book, the EFEO researcher recounts that Duch allowed himself to make a tacky joke by announcing him that he had been unmasked as a spy. The Frenchman, distraught and angry, fell down on his knees in front of him and the camp supervisor then told him it was a joke and that he was going to be released soon… Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit then quotes another similar example he found in the book, thus taking François Bizot by surprise and having him say: “I should have read my book again before coming here; I can’t remember what I wrote!”

The second witness is called up. Ouch Son, 72, was detained at M-13 for a year and also describes the cynical trend of Duch. He recounts having once seen Duch beating a female detainee with a whip, slapping her posterior and starting to laugh in front of the sight of the woman lying on the ground, writhing in pain. “I was very scared of Duch”, he later declares, “I did not dare come into contact with him, I did not dare look at him. [...] But I am not scared of him any more today, he is a toothless tiger!”

The 72 year-old, during his moving account, told about the M-13 detention centre, where “not a day went by without prisoners dying”, where dogs dug bodies up – they had not been buried deep enough underground as prisoners were too weak physically to dig deep - , and scattered bones and human remains around the camp, where he witnessed summary executions of prisoners, and particularly that of a woman who suffered blows that were supposed to be deadly. She passed out and was eventually buried alive in a grave dug up especially for that purpose...

Duch, impassive and unshaken
At the beginning, Ouch Son finds it hard to see the accused. The camera zooms on Duch and he recognises him, at last. As for Duch, he does not remember the face of the former detainee. The survivor concludes his testimony by saying he is “very happy that this tribunal tries to establish the truth and the responsibilities of the crimes committed during the era of Democratic Kampuchea”. “I wish justice to be given to Cambodians who survived this horrible tragedy!”

Duch is then invited to confront the testimony of the former detainee. “Of course I did not know him before and I see him for the first time today; I understand his testimony is the reflection of his suffering.” He reckons the witness’ account is “essentially true” generally speaking, but adds that it is not exempt of inaccuracies or mistakes. Thus, he denies having beaten a female detainee, having “spanked” her or having laughed at her pain. “When I beat, I made sure that no detainee could see me. Then, I never hit a woman...” The witness confirms he did see the scene and makes the account of it once again. Duch puts his hands before him and shrugs out of surprise, his face showing wincing incredulity, at which the audience laughs. Dogs digging up bodies? Duch points out that dogs were not very numerous in that area... Is the number of deaths in the camp claimed by the witness correct? Duch assures that figures given by Ouch are excessive...

The trial ends and will only resume on Monday April 20th, as Cambodia will celebrate next week the coming of the Khmer New Year.

The fate of François Bizot’s assistants
François Bizot’s two Cambodian assistants, who were arrested at the same time as him and were also transferred to M-13, did not come back alive from the Khmer Rouge hell. The researcher could not obtain their release when his own was pronounced. Duch explained to him that they were free, but as they were Cambodian, they must stay within the Khmer Rouge area. They died in a camp other than M-13.