Thursday, 23 April 2009

Aid group says army wives fight own war at home

Siem Reap military wife Chea Soly and child.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Peter Olszewski
Thursday, 23 April 2009

With their men at the front, the women of Mondul 3 village struggle to care for their children with meagre incomes and few means of support.

WHILE their husbands serve the nation on the front lines of a months-long border dispute in Preah Vihear, a group of army wives in Siem Reap city have been waging their own war against the grinding poverty and squalid conditions of one of the most desperate parts of the city.

They live less than a kilometre from the lush acres of five-star hotels that line the road to Angkor Wat. But tourists never venture down their dusty road, lined with seedy karaoke shacks, that leads to the scrubby village of Mondul 3.

About 500 army wives eke out a lonely existence here, almost 100 of them under the care of the New Hope Community Centre.

On the Thursday prior to Khmer New Year, a black Camry pulled up in a cloud of dust, disgorging half a dozen troops that had returned home from Preah Vihear for the holiday.

Spotting the troops, Chea Soly squealed with delight and, waving her arms in the air, ran down the road thinking her husband Nuon Sea would be among the lucky ones on leave. But her husband hadn't come home. Her shoulders sagged, she began to sob and she trudged back to her shanty.

"The lives of these poor army wives are extremely tough," said former Australian real estate agent Kerry Huntly, now New Hope's director. "As well as having many children - they seem to be forever pregnant, for a start - they're forced to provide an income for themselves and their children, as well as coping with all the loneliness, the health problems, the emotional upheavals of being soldiers' wives.

"The soldiers earn about US$25 a month and some of the chief soldiers earn $40 a month. But they will, in fact, be lucky to receive that pay each month, and even so, the husbands use some money at Preah Vihear. So out of a wage of $25 a month, a wife will have to feed herself and maybe four or six children on $15 a month.

"They can't afford to repair their homes or buy anything for shelter or clothing for their kids - absolutely nothing."

To supplement their diet, the wives and children forage in the Angkor Park forest for fruits, berries and wild lemongrass, and at night they hunt for frogs, snakes and vermin.

Sometimes their incomes can be supplemented by doing laundry for the nearby karaoke shacks.

To add to the everyday burdens these women must confront, some of their husbands will return home from the front much altered from when they left. Mental health issues, an increase in violent behaviour or varying levels of physical impairment are just some of the problems soldiers' wives must contend with when their men come home.

"It's so sad for these army wives because without a shadow of doubt, this [is] the poorest village in Siem Reap itself," said New Hope's Huntly.

"The only other village I have seen as poor, if not poorer, would be at Tonle Sap among the Vietnamese [community]."

Gov't urges more Japanese investment

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Construction workers outside South Korea’s Phnom Penh Gyeongbuk Culture, Tourism and Trade Promotion Centre. The South Korean Ambassador, Lee Kyung-soo, has pledged to increase investment.

South Korea pledges to increase investment

SOUTH Korea has pledged to increase investment in Cambodia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Tuesday. The pledge was made by South Korea’s Ambassador to Cambodia Lee Kyung-soo during talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong Monday. The embassy would attract investments from Korean firms in the construction, tourism and garment sectors, Lee

reportedly told the minister. Koy Kuong also announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen would lead a delegation to Korea for the Asean-Korea Commemorative Summit on June 1-2. Korean investment in Cambodia fell to US$472.89 million in 2008 from $629.49 million in 2007. The decline came despite planned investment of $828.4 million in 2007 up to $1.257 billion in 2008 as investors delayed plans in the wake of the economic crisis. NGUON SOVAN

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Delegation from Japan meets with government officials and discusses more investment projects in the Kingdom.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has called for more Japanese investment in Cambodia, telling a visiting Japanese delegation that continuing peace and stability made it an ideal destination for foreign capital.

During a Wednesday meeting with the delegation, led by Akio Dobashi, chairman of the Japanese Trade Association, Hun Sen said Japanese investors should have confidence in Cambodia's economy.

"Many Japanese investors have come to Cambodia to study and look for investment opportunities but have not yet commenced their projects," the prime minister's spokesman Eang Sophalleth quoted him as saying.

Eang Sophalleth said the Japanese delegation is studying the investment climate and asking for advice during the current global financial crisis.

"Hun Sen reassured the Japanese delegation about the country's peace and stability as well as the potential for investment now that Cambodia has implemented its [1997] Investment Law," he said.

The Cambodian Investment Board approved over US$113 million of fixed asset investments from Japan in 2007, while bilateral trade topped $101 million in 2008, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Meanwhile, officials have hailed recent increases in trade and foreign direct investment between Cambodia and Russia. At a meeting Wednesday between Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and outgoing Russian Ambassador Valery Tereshchenko, both parties pledged to promote trade and investment.

"In 2004 bilateral trade between Cambodia and Russia was worth about US$3 million, but the number rose to $21 million in 2007," said Koy Kuong, spokesman at the ministry. "So far Russia has invested more than $600 million in Cambodia."

Tereshchenko told Hor Namhong that more Russian firms were interested in Cambodia and that on his return he would encourage Russian companies to invest, Koy Kuong added.


Sok San Palace trades sin and skin for family-friendly fare

Photo by: Kyle Sherer
The entrance to Sok San Palace, one of Siem Reap's nightclubs.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kyle Sherer
Thursday, 23 April 2009

SOK San Palace, the nightclub famous for its flexible dancers and its very flexible definition of "massage", shut its doors earlier this month, kicking off speculation that Siem Reap's most prominent girlie bar had been shut down by authorities.

But Harun, general manager of Sok San Palace, told the Post that the closure was due to extensive renovations, and that Sok San will reopen on May 8, with some big changes. He said the new and improved Sok San Palace will be clean, commercial and without a scantily clad dancer in sight. Or, in a word, unrecognisable.

"We have a new image, a new style," said Harun. "We want to change the concept of Sok San and make it more of a bar, and bring in more tourists."

But the abrupt decision to "change the concept" of the club, which only recently underwent major renovation, comes after a government crackdown on gambling and prostitution shut down scores of casinos and brothels throughout Cambodia.

Sok San management have obviously read the wind and decided on a pre-emptive strike at a new decency. Harun said the government had not been in contact with Sok San Palace and added that he hoped the changes to the bar would bring it in line with what he perceives to be new government requirements.

Thomas Tay, a Sok San consultant, said he was unsure how far the government was going to take the morality drive, and said that the smartest move was to play it safe.

"The next day, a directive might come from the top saying ‘No more karaoke bars' or ‘No more discos'," he said. "We don't want to offend people. The dancers offended people. They have been laid off and will not be coming back."

In the first week of April, signs were posted up around town claiming that Sok San Palace would be closed for the duration of the Sivutha Boulevard road works, which blocked access to the club. Harun said that they used the closure to clean house by renovating the rooms, turfing the dirty fish tanks and giving pink slips to the dancers.

Tay said that the road works was an opportunity to "take a step back and improve the operation with a new plan and a new direction".

He said the new Sok San Palace will place more of an emphasis on family-friendly entertainment, bringing in comedians, singers and guest DJs to perform on the bar's prominent catwalk.

Initiative to sell green products

Written by Tom Hunter
Thursday, 23 April 2009

THIRTEEN young executives from 23 countries are due to arrive in Phnom Penh next month, hoping to attract investment in community forestation projects by an environmental NGO.

Executives will formulate a business plan for Eco Biz Private Ltd, a Cambodia-based subsidiary of Groupe Energies Renouvelables, Environnement et Solidarites (GERES), which is looking at carbon-offset schemes, green charcoal and a charcoal by-product - Pyroligneous acid, commonly known as wood vinegar, that can be sold as a natural pesticide.

The scheme is part of the Global Young Leaders Program, an initiative of Hong Kong think tank Global Investment for Tomorrow (GIFT).

Companies such as Prudential, Meinhardt and Sonepar use the program to "broaden the skill sets of future corporate leaders through applying their business knowledge to social causes which benefit developing nations", Anita Yang, a GIFT consultant, said Wednesday.

GERES works in Cambodia to promote emissions-reducing technologies that benefit local communities. The trick for executives on the program will be to make the Kingdom's forestry products commercially viable.

GERES is working with communities to create renewable hardwood forests as a source for "green charcoal", which could also be used as carbon sinks for global carbon-offset schemes. "Carbon credit schemes are definitely an option," Charlotte Nivollet, deputy director of GERES, said Wednesday.

Phnom Penh alone consumes 90,000 tonnes of charcoal per year.

Thousands get big on reading this weekend

Written by Eleanor Ainge Roy
Thursday, 23 April 2009

More than 700 people are expected to descend on the National Institute of Education next Saturday to take part in a global youth and adult literacy initiative.

Thousands more are expected to attend affiliated events throughout the country.

The Big Read event is the focal point of the Big Read Global Action Week organised by the Global Campaign for Education, which culminates Sunday.

Key stakeholders including education NGOs, donors, parents, teachers, children and senior ministry officials will attend the three-hour event, which will feature performances by musicians and comedians. It will also house a "mini bookshop" where disadvantaged children will receive reading materials for free.

Last year's event held at Olympic Stadium drew 600 people.

According to the Global Campaign for education, there are 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 75 million children out of primary school and 226 million children not in secondary school.

Nono Louise Harhoff, an adviser at NGO Education Partnerships (NEP) who is organising Big Read in Cambodia, said youth and adult literacy had been neglected in the country.

"It's not as trendy or cute as sending little children to school, but we feel that in the Cambodian context this is very important because they are missing out on the development and modernisation that is happening in Cambodia," she said. "So this is our kickoff event for the year and we will be monitoring the levels all through the year and focusing on following up after Saturday's event."

A 2007 UNESCO study found approximately 26 percent of Cambodian adults over the age of 15 were illiterate. Women are particularly vulnerable and will be targeted throughout NEP's year-long adult literacy campaign.

The public are welcome to attend the Big Read, which starts at 3pm.

Going online wisely in the workplace

Written by Sean Power and Sandra D'Amico
Thursday, 23 April 2009

By Sean Power and Sandra D'Amico

THE electronic age has revolutionised the way we do business. Email and the web are incredibly powerful office tools, providing a fast, cheap and effective way to collect and distribute information and communicate with work colleagues and clients.

However, these powerful electronic tools can be highly dangerous if they are used irresponsibly. Inappropriate use of emails and the internet can damage your company's reputation as well as your own career.

Being professional at work involves many things, including dressing appropriately, being punctual and treating your colleagues with respect. These things are fairly obvious to new graduates when they start their first job. When it comes to the use of emails and the internet, however, it is not obvious what is appropriate.

The golden rule is that emails and the internet should be treated as business tools, not a a source of fun and entertainment.

Many graduates forget this lesson and make one or two "e-mistakes" shortly after starting their job - which is an embarrassing first impression to make.

Here are some of the do's and don'ts when it comes to using email and the web at work:

- Don't send group emails that are not work-related, unless you are sure that the recipients will appreciate the message. While you might think the information is interesting, your work colleagues might consider it a distraction and a waste of their time.

- Be careful when replying to group emails. Don't click on the "Reply All" button by mistake. If you are accepting an invitation or thanking someone for their information, there is usually no need to let the whole office know.

- Don't email jokes or political statements during work hours or from your work email address. Sending jokes is a clear waste of your time. More importantly, somebody might be offended.Whatever you do, never send a joke or message that contains sexual, racial or religious references, no matter how innocent you think it is.

- Don't over-use email. A common mistake is to spend half an hour typing a detailed message to a colleague when you can just as easily pick up the phone or walk over to their desk. Face-to-face conversations are still the most effective way of communicating.

- Use professional language in your emails. In most cases, the tone of an email can be slightly less formal than the tone of a letter. However, it is still important to be professional. Pay attention to your spelling and grammar.

- Be very careful when emailing someone about a sensitive issue. When expressing your concerns or providing negative feedback, remember that the recipient often interprets these types of email more negatively than the writer intends. Be polite and choose your words carefully.

- Don't assume that the only people who read your emails are the ones you send them to. Once you send an email to someone, you don't know who that person will forward it on to. That is why it is always best to be careful what you write. Don't complain to somebody about another work colleague or a client because there is always the chance it will be forwarded by mistake. The potential consequences can be devastating.

- Never open, save or forward material from the internet that is clearly inappropriate, such as pornography or other material that is offensive. In some companies, this may be grounds for instant dismissal.

- Be aware of your company's policy on internet usage. Some companies strictly prohibit the use of internet for personal purposes, whereas other companies have a more relaxed approach that leaves things up to the employee's discretion. Remember that permission to use the internet for personal purposes is not permission to waste time. You will still be expected to keep such use to a minimum.

- Be careful how you use social networking sites such as Facebook. There are plenty of stories of people being fired after their boss has seen something inappropriate on their Facebook page. The safest option is to treat your Facebook page like a public document - don't write anything that would cause you problems if your manager, a work colleague or a client somehow got access to it.

Another option is to keep your Facebook page 100 percent social by never inviting work colleagues or clients to join as your Facebook friends. Finally, use the privacy settings on Facebook to restrict access only to your friends.

More generally, make yourself aware of your company's policies on email and the internet. If your company doesn't have written policies or guidelines, ask your manager, IT manager or HR manager to explain what type of behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable.

When in doubt, ask yourself whether such behaviour would be expected from a person who is 100 percent professional in their approach to work.
Sean Power is a consultant to HRINC, one of Cambodia's leading HR services firms, and Sandra D’Amico is the managing director. Contact e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

I wantto study at ... The National University of Management

Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG Students at the National University of Management campus

From the halls of the The National University of Management

Ty Lalin, 21, third-year economics and business student:"I have given great thought to choosing the right university, and I have chosen to study here because its educational quality is broadly recognised. Studying here I believe the university can give me real knowledge and a good chance of obtaining a job after I graduate. I have decided to study economics and business courses because my family are retailers."

Mon Sothy, 23, fourth year student: "I think the university has many good points. I think it stands proudly amongst the other universities, and it is good that that the institution is a combination of state and private. The degree I will obtain here is recognised by many institutions, and I see that many of my fellow students are very confident in this university, its quality and its reputation."

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Thursday, 23 April 2009

What is it?
The National University of Management (NUM) was established in 1983 as the Economics Science Institute. It was renamed the Faculty of Business in the 1990s and took on its current name in 2004.

It has six faculties: economics; accounting and finance; hospitality and tourism; management; law; and IT. It also has a foreign language centre.

The university has 4,937 students enrolled for the 2008-09 academic year, including 167 studying towards a PhD. It also has more than 700 students attending courses at its Battambang campus, where it offers a full bachelor of business administration degree program.

Running the show
Rector Iv Thong has been head of the school since it opened in 1983. He has worked in education since 1968 when he took a job as a primary school teacher. He worked hard to earn himself a position as a trainer at the National Pedagogy School and later became a state school lecturer. He took a break from teaching to enter the NGO world before taking on the position of NUM rector.

The university has 84 lecturers, each of whom must have a master's degree or higher to teach.

Getting in
Students must hold a high school diploma to be accepted to a bachelor's degree program. Those wishing to study for a master's degree must hold a bachelor's degree, and those wishing to study towards a PhD must complete their master's program.

Fees, scholarships and grants
A four-year bachelor's degree costs $360 per year. A two-year master's degree costs $1,500 in total and a three-year PhD program $4,500.

NUM accepts 400 full scholarship students every year; 50 are granted scholarships by the government, 50 by Prime Minister Hun Sen, and the rest are paid for by the university.

Onwards and upwards
Between 70 and 80 percent of NUM graduates reportedly secure jobs on leaving university each year. Although most of the graduates from NUM go on to work in the banking sector, others find work in companies such as Total, the rubber industry and in hotels, which have a high demand for graduates to fill accounting and management positions.

National University of Management
Corner of Monivong Boulevard and Street 96
Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Tel: 855 (0) 23 428 120/ 12 222 839
Email: num_highedu@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Caught offside in Cambodia

FOREIGN TALENT: Joe Morrison overseeing construction work in Cambodia (above) and trying to stay onside in a local football match. PICTURES: COURTESY OF JOE MORRISON

By Joe Morrison
April 23, 2009

I WAS IN Cambodia recently and by a twist of fate ended up playing football with the local team of Siem Riep which was playing the neighbouring town.

Now despite the fact that I was unable to speak any of the local lingo and they were not too good at the Geordie variation of The Queen's English, we still managed to win.

Now the reason I am telling you all this is that I love discovering how different cultures play the game because they all have different priorities on the pitch.

For example each week I play with a bunch of African lads who love to run with the ball. Great! Well not exactly, because they can't shoot and they never know when to pass.

So here I am on an uneven mud pitch watching the ball sail over my head.

This I understood because the pitch was so bumpy it makes sense to not indulge in playing it on the deck out of defence.

But there is another problem here because route one football is no good if your most advanced striker is 1.3 metres tall!

So I moved up front to provide the knockdowns and it worked. However, I was constantly caught offside.

OK I should have been more careful but the thing you must remember if like me you are ever caught in a situation whereby you are playing a game of football in a foreign land: Local Rules Always Apply.

So after I had managed to understand that there was no such thing as a corner-kick and that all throw-ins somehow were to be taken under arm, I had adapted to the match in question.

There is a moral to this story. The same principles apply to the English Premier League which is why fans should go easy on the likes of Pavlyuchenko, Quaresma, and Robinho to name just three, in the Premiership. Local Rules Also Apply and that means you have to track back and defend when without the ball.

Now, come to think of it, I believe the 200 or so 'supporters' who turned up to watch our match in Cambodia booed me off the pitch.

But I can't be sure!

Hope shines through at local film premiere

One of the film’s lead stars, Ung Thavedy (second from left), at the premiere of Sunrise: Hope Shines.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Jess Bernhart
Thursday, 23 April 2009

MORE than 130 children from Phnom Penh's Sunrise Children's Village waited in hushed anticipation for the curtain to rise on Tuesday on the Cambodian premiere of Sunrise: Hope Shines - a short film made by 31 of the children who live at the orphanage.

The 20-minute dramatic film follows the struggles of a young boy whose mother has disappeared. He is forced to forfeit his education to hold his family together and look after his two younger sisters.

The film is the product of 12 months of collaboration between advertising and marketing agency Bates 141, various industry professionals and children from the orphanage.

Australian filmmaker Platon Theodoris, who was invited by Bates 141 to run film workshops with the children, said the high quality of the film was an unexpected result.

"Originally, the workshops and the film were just a process - we weren't expecting much of a result. But then, as we started shooting, we realised that the kids were giving so much more, and it turned into something quite beautiful," he said.

Theodoris now hopes that the kids will be inspired enough to take up filmmaking.

"I want them to get involved and reignite Cambodia's film industry - to write their own stories," he said.

Marianne Waller, country director of Bates 141, complimented the children on their professionalism throughout the filmmaking process.

"Everyone naturally fell into their roles....They were really patient, really professional. They were a real film crew. I'd use them again in a paying job. They were just brilliant."

The film was laboured over by seven children working as writers, 13 children as film crew and 11 children as actors, with ages ranging from 5 to 17 years old.

The 8-year-old star of the film, Chim Sokheang, said that he felt happy to finally see the film on the big screen.

Louch Tai Eng, the film's slate man, said that he wants the film's audience to experience the film together and "to feel together, in community with each other".

Sunrise: Hope Shines will appear in festivals around the world and may also be released for public and charity screenings.

Epic Arts centre sets new standards for the disabled

Performers at the new Epic Arts centre in Kampot.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nora Lindstrom
Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Kampot-based organisation aims to showcase ability, not disability


What started as an idea among three UK friends 15 years ago has become a concrete reality this week as Epic Arts, the Kampot-based organisation for disabled people, opened its new centre.

The large white building, which combines traditional Khmer ornamentation with contemporary design, comprises a workshop studio, visual arts studio, resource room, library and office space.

Katie Goad, artistic director and co-founder of Kampot-based NGO Epic Arts, said the initial design was done with matchsticks, cardboard and cotton wool.

"The matchsticks have become cement - and we're in it," Goad said at the official opening ceremony. "It's quite overwhelming."

Her husband Hallam Goad, who created the original design, teamed with Khmer architect Hang Phyreak of Cambodian Architecture and Construction Company to complete the building within two years of the land purchase.

When we started designing the centre, accessibility was the key factor...

With its state-of-the-art access for people with disabilities, the arts centre sets an inspiring standard for accessibility.

Hang Phyreak said it should not be difficult for all new buildings in Cambodia to meet such standards.

"When you build a fully accessible building, there are a few more needs you have to consider than when making a regular building," he said. "But it's not more difficult to build by any means, as we already know what those needs are."

More than 500 guests, including British Ambassador Andrew Mace and Deputy Provincial Governor Tourn Bunthorn, attended the opening extravaganza.

One of the organisation's deaf students, Sovy, said he was very happy to see all the people at the opening.

"Our deaf community here in Kampot has never seen anything like it," he said.
Nadanh, who is in a wheelchair, has been a student at the organisation since 2005.

"We've been waiting for a long time for this new building," he said. "Before, our space was very small and it was difficult to go upstairs in a wheelchair. Now, I can go anywhere."

Epic Arts started its work in Cambodia in 2003 under the motto "See ability, not disability", and has grown steadily ever since.

Epic Arts General Manager Hannah Stevens said the new centre in Kampot, made possible through a donation from the UK-based Angus Lawson Foundation as well as individual contributions, was an important step towards achieving that vision.

"We have a big deaf community that we work with, but not actually that many people with physical disabilities because it was not easy for them to access our old space," she explained.

"When we started designing the centre, accessibility was the key factor. Now you can get anywhere in the building - apart from the water tank on the roof - in a wheelchair."

Epic Arts runs projects aimed at empowering people with disabilities, breaking barriers and normalising the idea of people with disabilities in society.

Goad said the organisation is based on the principle that every person counts.

"We do not want people to be hindered by their disability. Instead, we want to encourage society to see people's ability, not disability," she said.

Goad, who is trained in dance and performs with the students, said she was inspired by her disabled father and stirred by an integrated dance group in her native Britain.

"Through dance, you can communicate through different bodies, through different languages. You don't need words. You just find a common language through movement," she said.

Stevens said one of its key projects was performance advocacy.

"When people watch a performance featuring people with disabilities, they change their idea about disability," she said.

Nadanh agreed: "Sometimes, before I perform, people wonder, ‘Can he do that?'" he said. "But then, they see that I can."

Police Blotter: 23 Apr 2009

Written by Lim Phalla
Thursday, 23
April 2009

Armed burglars dressed in soldiers' uniforms fatally shot Chhit Chanthy, 55, and left three others severely wounded on Sunday during a robbery in Samaki village, Banteay Meanchey province. The victims say that nine robbers armed with six guns stormed the property, stealing jewelry, cellphones and 23,000 baht (US$647).

Police have sent two males to Battambang Municipal Court after two separate domestic violence incidents led to their incarceration by authorities on Monday. Nuth Siramay, 21, is accused of injuring his sister-in-law after a family domestic dispute while a second man, Chan Mom, is accused of dragging his wife onto the road during a dispute over alcohol.

Sok Phally, 23, died in an accident in which she was run over by a speeding truck
while riding her bicycle home from her garment job in Damnak Thom village in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district on Monday. Police want to speak to the truck's driver, Yeam Pov, 30, in connection with the accident. He drove off after the accident.

Ten women and two males have been arrested during a police raid on a massage parlor suspected of offering sex services on Sisowath Boulevard in Phnom Penh. The 10 women were sent to the municipal Social Affairs Department while both men were educated by police and released on Tuesday. The massage parlour was closed down by authorities.

A 51-year-old policeman, Sok Kunthy, of Trapaing Thlong commune in Ponhea Kraek district, Kampong Cham province, committed suicide by poisoning himself in his house on Monday. The reason for the suicide was not known, but police suspected it was connected to problems in his family.

Police found an unidentified female floating in Bayab Lake in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Two condoms in the woman's pocket led police to believe she was a prostitute.


The Phnom Penh Post News In Briefs

In Brief: Land border with Laos boosts visitor numbers

Written by Chun Sophal
Thursday, 23 April 2009

THE new land border crossing with Laos is boosting tourism, with the Stung Treng Tourism Department reporting on Wednesday that 1,000 Laotians visited since the agreement was signed this month. Ao Sary, director of Stung Treng Tourism Department, told the Post that the dolphin sanctuaries were a major attraction for Laotian visitors. Other popular sites were the beaches at Sihanoukville and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

In Brief: ADB announces agriculture training

Written by George McLeod
Thursday, 23 April 2009

THE Asian Development Bank announced a US$2 million grant to support agricultural training in post-harvest food handling, storage and processing, it said late Tuesday. The government and aid agencies have been working to increase Cambodia's processed-food exports by expanding storage capacity and boosting quality control. The training would include 3,000 agricultural producers, the ADB said in a statement. It said a Japanese grant would cover 86 percent of the program, with the rest coming from the government, NGOs and other organisations.

Cambodia Increased Debt to the Asian Development Bank in 2008 by More Than US$50 Million - Wednesday, 22.4.2009

Posted on 23 April 2009

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 609

“A new report from the Asian Development Bank shows that in 2008 Cambodian owes the Asian Development Bank up to US$53.8 million.

“The report published by this bank on the Internet during the Khmer New Year’s days said that among the ten member country of ASEAN, Cambodia is also a country receiving loans from this bank.

“The country members of ASEAN are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The report added that only Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam owe this bank in 2008. However, the amount of money that Cambodia owes this bank is not much compared to others.

“Cambodia owes only US$53.8 million, while Vietnam has US$789.7 million, the Philippines US$940 million, and Indonesia up to US$1,085 million.

“Besides funds for projects owed by Cambodia, this bank supports also some projects with grant aid at a total amount of more than US$36 million. Those projects are road control projects worth US$4.8 million, health supporting projects worth US$1.8 million, a public finance administration project for rural development worth US$6.7 million, another public finance administration project for rural development worth US$4.1 million, an emergency food aid project worth US$17.5 million, and a project to promote standard toilets worth US$2 million.

“Since 1992, Cambodia received around US$1 billion in loans from this bank.

“According to the report, since 31 December 2007, Cambodian has approximately US$947.34 in debts. Therefore, if adding up to the debts of 2008, it increased to US$1,001 million.

“So far, among all ASEAN countries, the country that owes this bank the least is Singapore with owes approximately US$181 million only. Then, Burma owes US$530 million and Cambodia US$1,001 million. Laos owes US$1,211 million, Malaysia US$1,997 million, Thailand US$5,388 million, Vietnam US$6,294 million, the Philippines US$10,772 million, and Indonesia US$23,523 million. The country that has no debts is Brunei.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4874, 22.4.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Cambodian soldiers to join multi-national peacekeeping exercise in Indonesia

PHNOM PENH, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia plans to send 61 soldiers to join multi-national peacekeeping exercise Garuda Shield 09 in Indonesia in the near future, said the official Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) on Wednesday.

Details can't be given right now, AKP quoted Sem Sovanny, General of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Director General of the National Management Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and ERW (Explosive Remnants of War) Clearance, as saying.

Meanwhile, the agency quoted U.S. Ambassador Carol A. Rodley assaying that the United States will continuously help train Cambodian soldiers for their participation in the multi-national peacekeeping exercise in Indonesia.

The United States will also sponsor Cambodia to host a multilateral peacekeeping exercise in 2010, she added.

In early April, Prak Sokhon, secretary of state at the Cambodian Council of Ministers, told reporters that 2,000 troops from 13 countries will take part in the U.S.- and UN-sponsored exercise to be held in Kompong Speu province in 2010.

The event will be conducted in the framework of the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), an annual Capstone training event attended by GPOI member nations and other regional and international partners.

GPOI once held such exercises in Bangladesh in 2008 and Mongolia in 2007. Garuda Shield 09 in Indonesia is the upcoming GPOI serial exercise.

According to official files, Cambodia respectively sent 40 soldiers to Bangladesh and 43 to Mongolia to take part in these GPOI exercises.

Editor: Deng Shasha

Blaze Sweeping Through Provincial Forest

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
22 April 2009

A fire in two provinces has destroyed 2,000 hectares of forest and is still burning, with authorities unable to stop it.

The fire, in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey province, was caused by villagers burning their rice fields, and hot weather and dry conditions allowed it to spread, officials said Wednesday.

“Since April 19, the fire started in Preah Neak Preah district in Banteay Meanchey, and it spread to Preak Tol district of Battambang,” Kok Elen, chief section director of the Preak Tol fishery, told VOA Khmer. “We don’t have the capability to end it.”

No person has been injured in the fire, but the blaze has so far killed 10 monkeys and five turtles, he said.

Brig. Gen. Sar Theth, chief of Battambang police, said the authorities could not reach the fire by road with trucks. “I sent three fire trucks to that area, but we couldn’t reach the place.”

The fire has also destroyed 10 artillery shells at a former Vietnamese storage facility, he said.

Um Sakhon, governor of Ek Phnom district, Battambang, said Wednesday that commune officials there were trying to mobilize villages to beat the fire back with brooms, sticks and water buckets.

Tuol Sleng Conceived by Pol Pot: Duch

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
22 April 2009

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch told tribunal judges Wednesday that Pol Pot had created the concept for the Phnom Penh prison that would become the regime’s most infamous killing machine.

Duch, who is on trial for his role as chief of the prison, Tuol Sleng, known the Khmer Rouge as S-21, said Pol Pot had put him in charge of administration, but that the regime’s chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, was the supervisor.

Nuon Chea, top lieutenant to Pol Pot, is also in tribunal detention and awaiting trial, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Duch’s testimony shed official light on the hierarchy of the Khmer Rouge and the prison, outlining how Pol Pot had conceived of the facility, which became the regime’s main torture center, and had put in charge Nuon Chea and another Khmer Rouge leader, Son Sen, who led the secret police.

Son Sen could make decisions, Nuon Chea was supervisor, and Duch was in charge of administering the facility, he said.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder, for administering Tuol Sleng, as well as Prey Sar prison and the execution site of Choeung Ek, on the outskirts of the capital.

Prosecutors say more than 12,000 Cambodians were tortured and sent to the deaths at Tuol Sleng, while researchers estimate as many as 16,000 prisoners went through.

Duch has admitted to his role in the killings. However, he has said he did not do any himself, and he has sought during his trial, which began March 30, to demonstrate he was a loyal revolutionary following orders.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the trial’s look at Tuol Sleng itself; judges had previously examined Duch’s role as administrator of a jungle prison in Kampong Speu province ahead of the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power.

Fearful Monk Seeks Refuge in Thailand

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
22 April 2009

[Editor’s note: Tim Sakhorn, a former monk of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom ethnic group of southern Vietnam, who ran a pagoda in Takeo province, is now in Thailand, seeking political asylum from persecution in Vietnam. He was defrocked in Cambodia in 2007 and allegedly forcibly turned over to Vietnamese authorities, who put him in prison for a year. Allowed to visit Cambodia earlier this month, to attend a funeral ceremony for his mother, he fled the country. He spoke to VOA Khmer by phone from Thailand.]

Q. What was the reason you made your escape from Cambodia to Thailand?

A. I was very afraid the Cambodian government would send me back to Vietnam.

Q. What is your present situation in Thailand?

A. I’m still really scared.

Q. Because you’ve seen someone following you, or intimidating you, or what?

A. I haven’t seen anyone following me yet, but I have to be careful with my personal security.

Q. Who protects you in Thailand?

A. I don’t have anyone protecting me yet.

Q. Where is your final destination?

A. My plan is to go the United States of America.

Q. What were your conditions in jail?

A. The situation in Vietnam’s jail was like hell, very difficult.

Q. What kind of difficulties? Could you give a specific example?

A. I don’t want to describe it right now. As you know, I’m still scared about my personal security.

Q. Did you see any political prisoners being tortured?

A. I still don’t want to talk about it yet, because I’m still scared.

Q. Are there any Kampuchea Krom monks or Khmer Kampuchea Krom people being detained over there?

A. When I was there, I would see them come and go, some people who were charged with illegal border crossing or some other offenses. It is beyond my knowledge whether those prisoners are still detained or released. I don’t really know in detail about that.

Q. Trinh Ba Cam, the Vietnamese embassy spokesman in Phnom Penh, has said the human rights situation in Vietnam is progressing along a good path. He said there are no political prisoners in Vietnam. What do you think about his comment?

A. Peace and freedom in Vietnam are not full yet. A lot of people demanding freedom have been arrested and were threatened by Vietnamese authorities.

Q. I was told that there are five Kampuchea Krom monks being detained. Is that right?

A. This is true, as in my situation, for example. I was strictly surveilled by the Vietnamese authorities after I was released from prison. I had to ask a lot of permissions from a lot of different authorities to come to my mother’s funeral ceremony. They restricted me, not allowing me to stay in Cambodia for so long, and they did not allow me to contact any civil society groups or political parties critical of the Vietnamese government. I don’t think those five monks will be released soon.

Q. What is the charge against those five monks?

A. They are all involved with freedom demonstrations, like my issue, same thing.

Q. Regarding accusations against you from Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, of undermining solidarity between Cambodia and Vietnam, do you have any comment?

A. The Khmer Kampuchea Krom people in Vietnam do not have any problem with Cambodia at all. We are the same, Khmer. Our Khmer Kampuchea Krom people only need real freedom. We really don’t have issues with our Khmer people in Cambodia at all.

Q. After the Vietnamese authorities freed you from detention, did you have real freedom?

A. I doubt that I had real freedom. I still felt so scared, even when I arrived in Cambodia, so I needed to leave Cambodia for a third country.

Q. I heard that you were under house arrest and under strict surveillance by the Vietnamese authorities. Is that true?

A. That was true. The Vietnamese authorities are not careless about this issue. Whenever I wanted to go visit my relatives, a Vietnamese secret agent would go with me. They wore plain clothes and followed me every minute.

Q. Who else was involved in your defrocking? Was there any violence then?

A. They said if I didn’t agree to be defrocked, they would use military force. I didn’t agree at that time, but they forcibly defrocked me, they took away my monk’s robe, then they forced me to wear plain clothes, and after that they pushed me into the car.

Vietnam ups power supplies to Cambodia

VietNamNet Bridge – Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, will receive additional electricity from Vietnam later this month or by early May, helping to ease the city’s shortage of power for both industrial and domestic use, said Deputy Director of the Electricity of Cambodia (EdC) Chan Sodavath.

According to him, work on a transmission line connecting Vietnam’s An Giang Province via Takeo Province to Phnom Penh has been completed and once it becomes operational in late April or by early next month, the new line is expected to double the amount of electricity that Phnom Penh can now access.

Cambodia signed an agreement to buy electricity from Vietnam in early 2008, under which Vietnam will provide 200 MW of electricity for the Cambodian capital.

At present, the total electricity output in Phnom Penh is only 190MW, mainly from thermal power plants.


Cambodia’s Coastal Revival

April 22, 2009
Patrick McGrath

In Cambodia, where a decade-long tourism boom has been driven almost entirely by safe and easy access to the ancient Angkor Wat temples, the rebirth of a seaside resort town is helping to lure visitors to the country’s long-neglected coastline.

The sleepy town of Kep on the south-east coast has been earmarked as Cambodia’s first boutique tourism destination, but for now, it bares few of the characteristics of the countless backpacker meccas and resorts scattered throughout Southeast Asia.

Tourist numbers have surged in recent years, but this town of just a few thousand people has maintained its unhurried, pastoral character.

Unlike Sihanoukville, a lively huddle of guest houses, bars and nightclubs on the central coast, Kep seems to be taking a relaxed path toward developing its tourism sector.

But with its alluringly lush rainforests, crystalline waters and bountiful seafood, Kep is finding that the tourists don’t need much encouragement.

A three-hour drive from the capital Phnom Penh, Kep has become a favorite weekend retreat for expatriates and Cambodia’s burgeoning middle class.

The town is only 20 minutes from a recently opened Vietnamese border crossing, making it a perfect place to say hello or goodbye to Cambodia.

“They told us to expect fewer tourists in Cambodia this year,” a local taxi driver says. “But more and more come here every week, to see the mountains and the caves, and of course, to eat.”

Kep’s famous crabs were among the many treasures that helped the town become a playground for Cambodia’s French rulers in the early 20th century. Along with former king and independence leader Norodom Sihanouk, the French elite built dozens of mansions in the hills along the coastline and sailed their yachts in the calm, protected waters in the Gulf of Thailand.

But like many regions in Cambodia, Kep was ravaged by the United States’ secret bombing campaign during the Indo-Chinese War and was forcibly evacuated during the Khmer Rouge’s rule.

The ultra-communist group considered the town a symbol of bourgeois hedonism and colonial oppression, and destroyed most of its infrastructure.

Kep lay dormant for more than a decade, and the scars of its troubled past are still visible among the poor local population and neglected amenities.

The seaside villas left standing have become overgrown with vines and tree trunks and now only the smallest of fishing boats can dock in the once-bustling port.

But Kep’s striking beauty has not paled despite years of conflict, neglect and civil war. Guesthouses and hotels catering to all budgets have been built along the coast, including the exclusive Knai Banh Chatt hotel, which boasts views of the imposing Bokor Mountain from its infinity pool.

While the town has no beach and is separated from the sea by a strip of coarse red stones, a cheap 30 minute boat ride to Koh Thonsay, known as Rabbit Island, reveals one of Cambodia’s unspoilt, pristine beaches.

Budget accommodation is compulsory, as the island’s only available beds are housed in palm-wood bungalows, which can be rented for between $7 and $10 per night. The bungalows’ power generators are switched off at 10 p.m. and as the fluorescent lights along the beach fade, a spectacular night sky is revealed.

But Kep’s greatest attraction may well be the variety of seafood on offer in the restaurants and stalls downtown. Crabs cooked with local pepper sell for between $3 and $10, and grilled fish on skewers cost less than $5. For the more adventurous, or rather less eco-conscious, grilled sea horse is also available.

Driving past the various building sites, road workers and bulldozers on the road out of town, one gets the impression that the place is on the verge of a tourism storm.

A good road now runs straight to the nearby riverside town of Kampot, which is enjoying its own tourism rebirth, and there are signs of a coastal tourism trail emerging.

So as travellers look for cheaper tropical escapes in Southeast Asia, now might be the time to experience Kep and beat the rush.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Cambodian hotel is a poster child for responsible tourism

By Michael Wuitchuk, For the Calgary Herald

Think of Egypt, and the great pyramids come to mind. With France it is wine and the odd surly waiter, while London and Big Ben go together like a pint and fish and chips.

OK, now think of Thailand and Cambodia; do you think of beaches and the Angkor temples? Perhaps, especially if you stay within the tourist bubble. Look a little closer and it's not difficult to get the impression that Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have an apparently endless supply (and demand) for massage parlours and poorly disguised brothels.

The Calgary-based NGO, Future Group, has reported that the most conservative number of prostitutes and sex slaves in Cambodia alone is between 40,000 and 50,000, and higher estimates range between 80,000 and 100,000.

Many of the children are from communities so poor that girls and boys as young as six are actually sold to brothels by their own families.

The dark underbelly of southeast Asia is all the more reason to take responsible tourism seriously. If you go, consider taking a proactive approach.

On a recent trip to Cambodia, my son Daniel and I discovered that you can be an active witness to the magnificence of the region and still leave a positive footprint. Amazingly, we accomplished this not by joining an aid organization, but by staying at a hotel.

The Shinta Mani Hotel and Hospitality Institute is a lovely 18-room boutique hotel in Siem Reap. Facilities include spacious and well-appointed rooms, an atmospheric outdoor restaurant and air-conditioned indoor dining room, and a spa with the elegance and serenity one would expect of a five-star property.

Although the Shinta Mani is loaded with class and charm, there is a heart and soul to this place that was apparent from the moment we were greeted by the smiling young staff.

As responsible tourism goes, this hotel is a poster child.

Owner Sokhoun Chanpreda founded the Hospitality Training Institute in 2004 -- the first class of 21 young people selected from the poorest of families graduated in 2005.

Students, all of whom were considered "at risk" due to extreme poverty, can choose between cooking, serving, housekeeping, reception and spa services -- each are taught in nine-month modules.

The school is funded entirely with hotel funds and donations from guests and others from overseas.

We were so impressed with the Hospitality Training Institute that we extended our stay to accompany Theany, the hotel's "community liason officer," on one of her forays into the many poor villages around Siem Reap.

We drove in the hotel pickup truck loaded with treadle sewing machines, backpacks filled with school supplies, bags of rice, vegetable seeds and a bicycle -- and watched Theany and her staff do aid work, Shinta Mani style.

The model is simple -- use the labours of salaried hotel staff (who are dedicated to giving their time -- the communities are, after all, their own communities), donate $5 from every guest night to the community program, and provide an opportunity for guests to both see the program in action and donate to specific projects. Among the range of options, guests can contribute a mechanical water well ($100), a pair of pigs ($80) or even a small concrete house ($1,250).

We visited villages that had been working with the Shinta Mani staff for some time, and some that were new to the community program.

The villages that had received water wells had well maintained vegetable plots and a few small concrete houses -- in these communities the women and children turned out in numbers, their hands extended in prayerful thanks.

In a village new to the Shinta Mani program, we met a family that had been recently chosen to receive a well -- their entire worldly possessions were the clothes on their backs and a tired set of cooking pans.

These people and their neighbours seemed both desperate and skeptical -- they were clearly not used to receiving aid or good news of any kind.

Later, while sitting in the hotel's lovely outdoor restaurant, general manager and Sri Lankan ex-pat Chitra Vincent told us that Shinta Mani means "the gem that provides for all" in Sanskrit -- the place could not be better named.

- - -

Some numbers

- We met two teachers in rural schools -- each had four years of experience after teacher training and each made $20 a month.

- Theany's husband is a policeman -- she says he makes $25 a month.

- A student at the Shinta Mani Hospitality Institute receives a uniform, $10 a month and four kilos of rice per week for their families.

- When hired as employees, they earn $50 a month while on three-month probation, and $80 a month when full time.

- - -

If you go

- Skip the air-conditioned cars to the temples -- take a tuk tuk. Far cheaper ($10-$14 and they wait at each temple), and far more fun.

- Avoid the cheap massages in Siem Reap -- and for the rest of Asia for that matter. Go to a reputable spa, pay $40-$50 for a professional massage as good as anywhere. I suggest the Shinta Mani or Victoria Spas in Siem Reap. The Victoria also has wonderful spas in Sapa and Hoi An, Vietnam.

- Tip: browse the booking companies, read the reviews, but always go to the hotel website itself -- I have found better rates than through internet "discounters."

- Read, The Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam, Virago Press.

- Check out,

- Accommodation: The Shinta Mani Hotel internet rates, about $100 plus tax double

- Junction of Oum Khum and 14th Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Phone (855) 63 761 998, Fax (855) 63 761 999.

Khmer Rouge defendant: Pol Pot feigned ignorance


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot was lying when he said he was unaware that his 1970s communist regime operated a torture center, the man accused of running it testified Wednesday.

Kaing Guek Eav told Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal, which is trying him for crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture, that he knew of no document authorizing the notorious prison, but that "whatever Pol Pot decided everybody had to implement."

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died under the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime from forced labor, starvation, medical neglect and executions.

Kaing Guek Eav, 66, better known by his alias Duch, commanded Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, also known as Tuol Sleng, where as many as 16,000 people are believed to have been tortured before being sent to their deaths.

Pol Pot said in a 1997 interview he knew nothing of the prison.

According to the interview by U.S. journalist Nate Thayer for the magazine Far Eastern Economic Review, Pol Pot claimed that S-21 was set up for propaganda purposes by the Vietnamese, who invaded the country and toppled his regime in 1979. Pol Pot died in 1998.

Duch said that he decided to talk about S-21 to journalists who found him in hiding in 1999 because he could not bear Pol Pot's false account.

"Pol Pot claimed that S-21 was a fabrication of the Vietnamese. I rejected Pol Pot's statement on this topic," he said.

According to Duch, even though there was no written order establishing the prison, "Pol Pot was the one who initiated the idea, Son Sen implemented it and Nuon Chea is the one who did the follow up. This is from my observation and from the surviving documents."

Son Sen was the Khmer Rouge military commander, killed under murky circumstance by his comrades as the group fell apart in 1997. Nuon Chea, the group's ideologist, is one of the four other senior Khmer Rouge being held for trial by the tribunal.

In other testimony Wednesday, Duch said that "Christ" led British journalist Nic Dunlop to discover him after he had disappeared and went underground in 1979.

Duch became a teacher and a born-again Christian after leaving the Khmer Rouge and gave lengthy accounts of his work to Dunlop and a U.N. human rights investigator before turning himself in to Cambodian authorities.

Duch is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. The other four in custody are likely to be tried in the next year or two.

KRouge prison chief says was duped by UN officials

Agence France-Presse

PHNOM PENH - The former Khmer Rouge prison chief told Cambodia's war crimes court Wednesday UN rights officials duped him into confessing and tried to take him away to be tried in a Belgian court.

Born-again Christian Duch, accused of overseeing thousands of executions, has apologised for his crimes and claimed in earlier testimony that "Christ" had led journalists to track him down.

But he later said he had been tricked into giving a recorded confession a decade ago.

Duch -- whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav -- was arrested by Cambodian authorities in May 1999, shortly after photojournalist Nic Dunlop found him hiding in a western Cambodian town.

On Wednesday he said that during questioning by journalists and UN officials in a hotel room before his arrest, local United Nations human rights worker Christophe Peschoux made him think he was obliged to talk.

"Mr Peschoux didn't have any permission from the government yet but acted like a thief who came to me," Duch told the court.

"The United Nations should be more well behaved, and not the way Mr Peschoux treated me," he said, adding that the official shouted at him during several days of interrogation.

Duch apologised last month when his trial started at Cambodia's UN-backed court, accepting blame for overseeing the extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the regime's Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21.

But he told the court Wednesday his interviewers gave him 50 dollars to cross into neighbouring Thailand in a plan to have him tried for his crimes in Belgium.

"The international police would arrest me and then I would be sent to Belgium," Duch said, adding he gave the officials a "gentle rejection".

"I asked, if I was to go to prison in Belgium, could my relatives visit me? How could they find the air fare to come visit me?"

Peschoux, now the country representative for the UN's human rights agency in Cambodia, could not immediately be reached for comment.

In earlier testimony Wednesday Duch said he believed Jesus Christ had guided journalists to track him.

"I told Nic Dunlop, 'Christ brought you to meet me.' Duch told the court.

"I said, 'Before I used to serve human beings but now I serve God.'"

Duch told the court he confessed to his role in the 1975 to 1979 regime after hearing Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot state that Tuol Sleng prison never existed.

"I could not bear what Pol Pot said so I had to show my face," Duch said.

"For S-21, I was the chairman of that office. The crimes committed at S-21 were under my responsibility," he added.

Although Duch says he oversaw the brutal prison, he has maintained he never personally executed anyone and has only ever admitted to abusing two people.

The former mathematics teacher has also denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge's iron-fisted rule.

Duch, 66, faces life in jail over charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and premeditated murder for his role in the Khmer Rouge. The court does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and many believe the UN-sponsored tribunal is the last chance to find justice for victims of the regime, which killed up to two million people.

The tribunal was formed in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the United Nations and Cambodian government, and is scheduled to try four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

But the court has been marred by corruption claims and talks between UN and Cambodian officials ended earlier this month without agreement on anti-graft measures.

Family, city turn 'new page' after devastating grocery fire

Bunny Svay, left, his son, Sipheng, and family patriarch Makara Thach are rebuilding their lives after a devastating grocery store fire in 2005, in which five family members died. Thach , whose wife was killed in the fire, spent time in Cambodia and, unexpectedly, came back to Canada with a new wife.
Photograph by: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen, The Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Citizen

By Kelly Egan
April 22, 2009

This month, in the heart of Chinatown, the Mekong Grocery was reduced to piles of brick and clouds of dust, leaving an audible sigh of relief among the ruins.

The building at 816 Somerset St., a burned-out shell since April 2005, is now gone and buried, the lot returning from whence it came -- to dirt and sky.

"Finally," said Jack McCarthy, executive director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, located around the corner.

"It was this reminder of a really painful, painful thing that happened. It was time to turn a new page."

Four years ago, on April 5, an early morning fire killed five members of the Thach family who lived above the grocery, an informal hub for the city's Cambodian community.

The ages of the victims only magnified the misery: Gary, 14, Danny, 13, Sunny, 12, and the older sister, Linny, 23, a new mother herself. The children's mother, Coli Yan, also perished.

Three members of the family survived, including Makara, his grandson, Sipheng, and his son-in-law, Bunny Svay.

Just as the building was crushed, so did the survivors rebound.

Makara, the shy patriarch, spent about six months in Cambodia in 2006. Unexpectedly, he came home with a new wife, Vesa, a member of a family that had long been friends with the Thachs.

They now live in an apartment near the St. Laurent shopping centre, with Bunny and the boy, now aged five.

It is a tiny place, a second-floor walkup. There are big bags of rice stacked in a corner, toys scattered about, a couple of visible laptops, fat Linux textbooks, a small Buddhist prayer area.

There is, too, an abundance of smiles.

The boy, nicknamed CoCo, seems to be thriving. He likes to play with cars and trucks and is scheduled to begin kindergarten in September.

His father, Bunny, told him his mother, Linny, "went up to the sky." When it rains, said Bunny, the boy sometimes asks if his mother is sending some kind of message.

Bunny has a hectic life. He is studying computers at Algonquin College, cares for his son and works three shifts a week in a bowling alley.

About three weeks ago, he became a Canadian citizen. He is here to stay.

Thach, meanwhile, has started his own cleaning business, with a mix of commercial and residential clients, and has a handful of employees.

He works long hours, evenings and weekends.

"He's never forgotten," said friend Vuthy Lay, acting as a translator. "They are always on his mind, 24 hours a day, unless he is sleeping."

Thach keeps the ashes of his lost loved ones in a temple in Montreal. Every year, at a date in April close to the anniversary, he travels to the temple for "a special ceremony."

Thach has avoided the Somerset Street area since the fire and had no strong reaction to the news of the demolition.

His dream is to help create a community centre and cultural hub for area Cambodians. But he has neither the means nor the plan to make it happen.

"We were trying to get a community centre built where the store was," said Lay, secretary of the Cambodian Association of the Ottawa Valley.

A meeting was held with then-mayor Bob Chiarelli, he said. "We came this close."

In the weeks following the fire, two Citizen reporters, Andrew Duffy and Hayley Mick, put together a remarkable history of 816 Somerset, tracking every owner to 1897, when a lumberman first erected a house.

One house, one patch of ground, told of much.

It burned in The Great Fire of 1900, which swept across the Ottawa River from Hull and laid waste to much of the neighbourhood.

In 1901, a new brick structure was erected and a dozen years later, 816 begins its long history as a storefront, with residences upstairs.

It was a grocery store, a tobacco outlet, a pool room and Italian coffee shop. Its owners were butchers, fruit and vegetable vendors, grocers, tab-keepers and almost always immigrants.

The common thread among the shopkeepers was a story of survival in the face of war or poverty or persecution in their homelands. So it was for the Thachs, who fled Cambodia via Thailand, arriving in Canada in 1990.

The owner of the lot at 816 said he's yet to decide what to do with the property, one of seven or eight vacant along the strip.

Grace Xin is the executive director of the Somerset Street Chinatown Business Improvement Area, which has 120 members. She, too, was glad to see the building come down.

She said the structure had become an eyesore, not just because of its derelict condition, but because of the work of vandals and graffiti-makers who attacked the boarded windows.

"Not just for the BIA, but the whole neighbourhood. It's a sad memory."

Contact Kelly Egan at 613-726-5896 or by e-mail,

ADB, Japan to Boost Rural Incomes, Youth Job Skills in Cambodia


The FINANCIAL -- Cambodia’s drive to boost rural incomes and provide job skills for unemployed youth in some of its poorest communities are being supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Japan.

ADB’s Board of Directors approved a US$2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) to the Government of Cambodia for a pilot program that will train agricultural producers in post-harvest food handling, storage and processing techniques. It will also fund skills training for jobless and out-of-school youth. The JFPR is financed by Japan.

"Cambodia’s economy grew at double digit rates between 2004 and 2006, helping to reduce poverty and improve school enrolment rates. However, poverty incidence is still over 30% in rural areas while an estimated 2 million young people are unable to continue schooling or undergo vocational training, mainly because of financial constraints. The lack of available training, particularly in rural areas, and the country’s shift towards more labor-intensive industries, such as garment factories, has left a sharp mismatch between the needs of industry and the skills of new entrants into the labor force," ADB reports.

ADB’s pilot program will help address that gap by training specialists who will then teach about 3,000 agricultural producers, including 1,500 women, post-harvest food skills designed to boost their incomes and reduce poverty. The skills bridging component will target about 700 young people who have never enrolled in secondary school or who have little formal education, and give them access to training and employment opportunities through the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certificate-level program. Funds will be given to community-based groups, non-government organizations (NGOs) and public and private skills providers to draw up the training program. The grant will also be used to build up the skills and capacities of the staff managing and implementing the program.

“The assistance is designed to create new earning and income opportunities among poor agricultural producers in the pilot communes during on and off farm seasons and to create business opportunities and access to training and employment opportunities for out-of-school youth. It is a very relevant response in this critical time for the Cambodian economy,” says Sophea Mar, Social Sector/Poverty Officer with ADB’s Cambodia Resident Mission.

The program puts a strong focus on working with the councils of the 44 target communes to ensure that the training caters closely to their needs and maximizes the number of participating producers. The program will be the only one of its kind in the country and could potentially become a model for future technical vocation and training skills projects.

The total cost of the pilot program is estimated at $2.32 million, with the JFPR grant covering 86%. The balance will be provided by contributions from the Government, relevant international organizations and NGOs, community-based organizations and communities.

The executing agency is Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.

L.A. man charged in gunfire at Cambodian fest

Minneapolis Star Tribune

April 21, 2009

A 29-year-old Los Angeles man, Keng Nera, was arraigned Tuesday in Dakota County District Court for allegedly exchanging gunfire with another man during a Cambodian festival attended by about 2,000 people in Hampton on Saturday. Nobody was injured.

Bail was set at $150,000 for Nera, who was charged with second-degree assault and discharging a pistol where it endangered public safety. Bail will be reduced to $100,000 if he meets conditions, including staying away from gangs, alcohol and the Watt Munisotaram Temple, just off Hwy. 50. Several cars were struck by bullets when eight to 10 shots were fired in the temple's parking lot about 3:30 p.m., authorities said. Nera was arrested later Saturday.

Authorities are looking for at least one other man. They surmise that the shooting could be tied to gangs. Anyone with information is asked to call the Dakota County Sheriff's Office at 651-438-4720 or the TIPS line at 651-438-8477.

Rough weather over Khmer Rouge Court: misunderstandings and technicalities

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 21/04/2009: Heavy rainfall interrupted the hearing on the 9th day of the Duch trial at the ECCC. ©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

Tuesday April 21st marked the ninth day of the trial of Duch, while a feeling of stalemate somehow pervaded the hearing over the mentioning of the M-13 security centre. The day was generally chaotic and summed up hopes that the trend would change rather sooner than later, that translation issues would be tackled during the hearing and things would at last get to the heart of the matter, in other words S-21. Witness and former guard at M-13 Chan Khan seemed more relaxed than he was the day before, but the audience saw all sorts of happenings in the courtroom. Indeed, a Civil Party lawyer turned up and asked to go back to the very beginning of the story, another Civil Party lawyer was snubbed for not respecting a decision of the pre-Trial Chamber, judges were commanded by parties to do their job and a deafening thunderstorm beat down on the premises of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), thus leading debates nowhere and causing a short recess in the hearing.

On Tuesday April 21st, Chan Khan continues to come up with flexible answers - he tells the international assistant co-prosecutor that the pits where prisoners were detained contained between four and ten people and later claims it is ten to twenty... The questions he is asked by magistrates and international lawyers suffer from obvious mistakes in the translation process into Khmer and confuse him. The witness, who found himself called up as a teenager to serve the Khmer Rouge revolution by becoming a guard at M-13, was visibly and understandably exhausted at the end of the day.

“M-13 was not a school but a Khmer Rouge prison!”
Mr. Khan, the British co-lawyer for Group 1 of Civil Parties who was absent during the first two weeks of the Duch trial, asks the accused to confirm whether conditions of detention at M-13 were “cruel and hateful”. But Duch gets him on that point: “Today I note your presence, a new face!”, he says. Mr. Khan insists: “It is true to say that conditions of detention at M-13 were particularly tough..?” Duch finishes him off: “Absolutely, they were even cruel! M-13 was not a school but a Khmer Rouge prison!!!”

Seeing that the tone in the lawyer's voice is becoming slightly more sardonic, the international co-lawyer for Duch calls out to the Chamber for his fellow-lawyer to be reminded that he should behave in a less aggressive and more respectful way with the defendant: “We are standing in a judicial building, not on a ring!” Mr. Khan retorts: “Your Honour, I am not wearing gloves!” The president of the Chamber then tells Mr. Khan that some of the questions he asked were already mentioned during the hearing. Shortly after, as a response to Mr. Khan, Duch uses the catchphrase again: “I have already said so a hundred times but as you are new, I will repeat it!”

Court urged to make decisions
German co-lawyer for Group 2 of Civil Parties Silke Studzinsky is allowed to take the floor and decides to question the witness on the basis of an interview of Chan Khan carried out by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam). Judge Lavergne reminds her that the Chamber announced that a decision would be made later as to the use of documents from DC-Cam during hearings, following an incident which cast doubt upon the reliability of a document from this NGO which was read out by judges on April 7th.

Then, a storm breaks, making thundering noises, unfortunately amplified by the tin roofing of the courtroom, a material which is not very suitable in tropical countries... Judges take off their translation headphones and decide on an inevitable recess of a dozen minutes, just enough time for the skies to become more favourable.

The debate over the admissibility of documents from DC-Cam resumes. Mr Roux engages in the controversy. “Despite the merits of DC-Cam, this organisation has never been a judicial body”, he points out, echoing what he already said on April 7th. “Not all of the procedural guarantees appear in those documents, and on top of that, there are translation issues. [...] It is time we put things right, in the right order. Those documents mistakenly happen to be in the case file, they should never have been there!” he says, adding that he awaits the Chamber's precise decisions over those questions.

Also eager for the Court's decisions, Mr. Canonne, the French co-lawyer for Group 3 of Civil Parties, clearly presents the issue in front of judges: “With all my respect, Your Honour, I think it would be good judicial management for the Chamber to tell us once and for all whether or not DC-Cam documents will be used! [...] I insist once more and particularly on the need to tell us how we must proceed for now and in the future. Failing that, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in a week's time or in three months' time, we will still be - forgive my language - quibbling over the same old difficulties!”

The only answer he receives is from the president of the Chamber, who urges parties, from then on, to inform him beforehand whenever they wish to refer to a document during the court hearing. Lost in the procedural debates, the witness says he does not remember the interview Mrs Studzinsky mentioned, which he granted to a DC-Cam investigator a few years ago. But it does not matter much as she resumes the interrogation and keeps basing her questions on the document... she is interrupted straight away by the president of the Court. Then, against all odds, the Office of the co-Prosecutors announce they want to submit a document to the consideration of judges, still regarding M-13, which will be dealt with on Wednesday.

Duch has “not said enough”
It is Mr Canonne's turn to present his questions. He tries to put forward Duch's role as a “guide”, beyond the role of instructor with his teenage inductees at M-13, with some of whom, by the defendant's own admission, he established bonds of affection. Ready, the lawyer asks him if he ever considered, once, “to tell his organisation that the prisoners could be re-educated and trained for a new society rather than be eliminated” purely and simply. Duch does not answer the question. He nevertheless explains that teaching prisoners the notion of logic or the Declaration of Human rights was not allowed and repeats the principle according to which not obeying orders simply meant signing his own death warrant.

Mr Roux gives his client the final word. Duch mentions his “promise”: that of writing a document, “about twenty paragraph-long” to mention the crimes he committed against the people from the commune where M-13 was located, and to apologise. He adds that he will try to find a means to “confess” to his people, since, he stresses, he has “not said enough”.

Child sponsorship update from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

22 Apr 2009

With great pleasure we would like to share with you the latest happenings and recent developments that have taken place in the SOS Children’s Village Phnom Penh during the last 6 months. Without donations from the supporters our work would be impossible, and every money we are given is a great help towards the work we do.

A half years SOS Children’s Village Phnom Penh has been a home for 165 children among whom 125 are presently under our care in the Village. Currently, two Youth facilities are functioning nearby the village. 20 youngsters are living in the I Youth Facility, 20 youngsters in the II Youth facility where they still study at high school. At the SOS Nursery School inside the village you can hear children laughing in every group. The SOS Nursery School is attended by children from the community as well as from the SOS Children's Village. This is a place which is never quiet! Up to 120 children between the age 3-6 attend SOS Nursery School, out of them 11 are from SOS Village and 24 scholarship students whose family absolutely poor. The availability of suitable classrooms, games and toys ensures that the children are given the optimum conditions for developing their social, intellectual and creative skills and they are prepared for the primary school.

To make children’s life more interesting, purposeful and to promote their development a lot of activities and events are organized within as well as out of the Village. Education was the challenging part in the working process of children development program. We prepared for activities to educate our children. All our children from grade 3 to grade 8 were started reading book such as school, histories, joke, proverb books in our SOS library in everyday work in order to improve their basic and social knowledge which was leaded by our educator. Therefore, our educators have trained directly and smoothly cooperation with SOS mother to training the children by each family in everyday work in order solving their education problem and others additional training.

Developments at Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In addition, our children tried very hard in learning from school and others additional training classes like sewing, dancing Karate-Do and football. We have two football teams that trained by Cambodia Federation football. For football, our children’s football team under 13 years old had matched with children’s football team from High School as a result, they won second prize. This match have organise by Cambodia Federation Football especially, out of them 03 were selected to National team and they joined Asian Football Confederation under 14 Festival 2008-South East Region which was held in Kota, Sabah-Malaysia from May 31, 2008 to June 07, 2008.

Additional, Our 09 children have successful finished Karate-Do with black belt and 26 children were passed Karate exam from green to blue beltFor sure you are pleased with the information and developments that took place in our Village during last 6 months. We hope that you will continue to sponsor our Village and witness how children grow up and turn into independent happy persons only thanks to your generosity and kind will. Helping children in need is the responsibility of all the people. Your generous contribution helps us make our vision a reality, enables us to provide children with hope and opportunity for a better tomorrow. Together we can let the children know that they are not forgotten and they are still in our hearts. On behalf of all the children and the whole SOS organization we would like to express our gratitude for your help and support.

Wishing you all the best
Sincerely yours,
Mrs.Meas Mala
Senior Co-worker-Sponsorship

Weapon market in southern border area

A Cambodian border check-point in Bray Chusa, Ta Keo province, Cambodia

VietNamNet Bridge – Swords, knives, electric rods, gas and iron-ball guns and slings are sold like food at Go Market, in Takeo province, Cambodia. Notably, this market mainly serves Vietnamese customers.

Go Market can be reached in around 30 minutes by boat from Chau Doc town, southern province of An Giang, Vietnam. The market is known as the “warehouse” of smuggled goods and weapons, serving Vietnamese customers.

At 7am on a Saturday, we left Chau Doc town, An Giang province in a small boat, with five other people, for Ta Keo province, Cambodia, without passports or visas.

An old man asked me: “You going there for money or shopping?” A little surprised, I answered “Both”.

“So you must be a rich man,” the old man laughed, and continued: “Local people go to Go Market for two purposes: purchasing goods or gambling.”

I didn’t know how to answer him, so only smiled, until the boat landed in Pung Xang, Bray Chusa district, Ta Keo province, Cambodia.

In front of me was a border check-point, a house-on-stilts, roofed by iron sheets, with a white word: Police. However, there was no guard inside. A small boy, around 10years old, agreed to take me around Go Market by boat, at the price of VND50,000.

Go Market is a place for trade between Cambodians and Vietnamese so the Cambodian Riel, Vietnamese dong and US dollar are accepted.

The market comprises nearly 40 small houses-on-stilts but it supplies various kinds of goods, from MP3 players to laptops, electric bicycles. However, its most special product is weapons and porno disks.

At a house-on-stilts selling electronic wares, I saw two big plastic boxes containing porno VCDs and DVDs. The owner, a man in shorts and singlet, was telling his customers the price of each disk.

“I must tell you in advance that these films only have Thai language,” he spoke in Vietnamese.

Seeing me look unfavourably at the porno disks, he took me inside to introduce a “unique” product: electric rods.

He opened a cardboard box to show me around 10 electric rods and advertised that the 1800 volt rod could put anyone in a swoon.

To prove how the rod worked, he pulled out a black, rectangular box, a little bigger than a cigarette pack, and pushed the button. The box shot out electric sparks, which made the dog chained at the house corner bark.

Being surprised to see electric rods, a tool of policemen, offered for sale like vegetables, I refused to buy, explaining that I wanted to check the price at other shops.

The boy who gave me the boat trip, named Shi, who is illiterate, introduced to me all kinds of goods sold at Go Market and said if I wanted to buy, he would take me to the right addresses.

I was again surprised when another shopkeeper invited me to buy Japanese swords, specialised gloves to catch knives, and gas, iron-ball guns, which can kill cats and dogs.

Shi told me that most Vietnamese customers at Go Market buy electric rods, Japanese swords or guns.

Taking me to an electric bicycle store, Shi told the shopkeeper something in Cambodian, then he told me to enter the shop to choose goods. While I was there, he went to the nearby store to talk to other boys.

I entered the house and saw a big cardboard box containing three sets of Japanese swords and five long electric rods. Three other Vietnamese customers were considering the goods.

A young man in that group said they came from HCM City and they wanted to buy a special Japanese set of swords, named Shoushou, which can cut iron.

The shopkeeper said the store didn’t have that kind of sword right there and the customers had to pay in advance, VND2 million. After seven days, they would have the product.

A man explained to me that the swords at this store were also Japanese Katana swords. However, they were made from white Sanma steel, 1.2m long, and this kind of sword was not as sharp as Shoushou.

I pretended to not pay attention to swords to ask about guns. Immediately, the shopkeeper showed his prudence.

He said he didn’t sell guns with real bullets, just only colt guns using CO2 technology, or guns with plastic and lead bullets.

After considering what the shopkeepers introduced, the group of Vietnamese young people decided to buy three small electric rods, priced VND500,000 each and Yakizashi 0.9m sword, with an oak handle, at the cost of $50. The sellers covered these things with a big piece of cloth and gave it to the Vietnamese customers. The customers put the weapons in a box, covering them with bags of candies, cookies, shampoo and bath-oil bottles.

A man pulled out a mobile phone and made a phone call to the owner of the boat who brought them from An Giang to Ta Keo.

Less than a half an hour later, the boat came to take these customers to An Giang.

Quoc Quang