Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The US Action Is Also Helping to Crack Down on Human Trafficking in Cambodia – Monday, 8.6.2009

Posted on 8 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616

“According to a report on human rights situation, by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, in 2008, human trafficking and sex exploitation seem to have been reduced, compared to the year before; and the Unite States of America decided to remove Cambodia from the blacklist on human trafficking.

“The report said that in 2008, the Cambodian government sent a draft request on controlling and suppressing human trafficking and about sex exploitation to the National Assembly, which was subsequently adopted. After the adoption, some actions were taken by the authorities targetting some brothels during the last months.

“The report added that human trafficking, especially of women and children, was still high. There were 74 cases of human trafficking, where 19 cases related to trafficking workers. The perpetrators cheated the victims by luring them with jobs, or caught them into their cars while the victims were coming home or when they were along their way to school.

“Human traffickers use different places, like the shops of hairdressers, guesthouses, or karaoke parlors, and some bring victims to be sold directly to hotels. Besides local human trafficking, also the human trafficking to foreign countries still continues, where the victims are lured to work abroad, cheating them by promising that they would gain much money and become rich.

“The victims were trafficked across the border to be sold in Thailand and in Malaysia, where some went abroad legally with proper legal document and passports. But some were brought out of the country illegally by avoiding the police, and traveling on trains, cars, and taxis until they sadly reach their destinations.

“According to an interview with officials of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, though it does not have clear data about the number of cases of human trafficking, relevant institutions are focusing on educating people, particularly those who migrate to seek jobs in foreign countries, as this group is especially targeted by human traffickers.

“Now, the United States of America ranks Cambodia in the Second Tier [of three] over human trafficking, but they did not conduct observations as they had done in 2007. Nevertheless, the number of victims of human trafficking does not decline much, because many problems have not been solved, like the situation that people encounter poverty and unemployment, and domestic violence still exist, so that the members of some families are easily cheated and sold.

“If the government continues the efforts to fight human trafficking effectively by strengthening the enforcement of existing laws, by educating citizens about the hazards of human trafficking, and by dealing with some social problems following the actual situation, the general public and human rights organizations believe that human trafficking can be reduced significantly.”

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #, 8.6.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 8 June 2009

Khmer Rouge followed communist icons: prison chief

A tree that was used to kill children is seen in Choeung Ek, one of the "Killing Fields" sites located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh June 9, 2009. Pol Pot's chief jailer told Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday that children of inmates at the regime's S-21 prison were murdered to keep them from seeking revenge later in life. Duch, the first of five senior cadres to face trial for the 1975-79 reign of terror in which 1.7 million Cambodians died, said he accepted responsibility for the children's deaths but was following orders.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- gives evidence during his trial in Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge's former jailer said the regime practised a "criminal" mix of the theories of Marx, Lenin and China's "Gang of Four" as it killed thousands of people in the 1970s.(AFP)

by Suy Se PHNOM PENH (AFP) – The Khmer Rouge's former jailer said Tuesday the regime practised a "criminal" mix of the theories of Marx, Lenin and China's "Gang of Four" as it killed thousands of people in the 1970s.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known by his nom de guerre Duch, is on trial for overseeing the torture and extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the hardline communist movement's notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

Duch told the UN-backed war crimes court that Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998, applied a mix of communist ideas to orchestrate extreme social reforms and empty Cambodia's cities.

But he said the regime had "more seriously cruel policies than those of (the) Gang of Four of China" since it enslaved the population on collective farms and began to carry out mass killings immediately after seizing power.

"The policy of (the Khmer Rouge) was criminal," Duch said. "The killing was widespread."

He added that only the "collective peasant class and collective worker class" remained throughout the country after the educated and elites were murdered.

The former maths teacher, 66, wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, told the court that the Khmer Rouge's policy was to root out all enemies who did not share its ideology.

Duch went on to dispute testimony from last month in which an American expert witness presented a list of prisoners who appeared to have been released from Tuol Sleng.

"The people who were arrested and sent (to Tuol Sleng), they were all killed," Duch said, refuting the idea that the list cast him in a more favourable light.

"I did not release anyone... It is not exculpatory evidence at all because I am responsible for my crimes. I cannot accept that document," he added.

Duch apologised at his trial late March, saying he accepted blame for the extermination of thousands of people at the prison, which served as the centre of the 1975-1979 regime's security apparatus.

In Monday's proceedings, Duch acknowledged that his staff had murdered babies by smashing them against trees at a "killing field" near Tuol Sleng.

But he has denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge's iron-fisted rule, and maintains he only tortured two people himself and never personally executed anyone.

Duch faces life in jail if convicted by the court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

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

The court was formed in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the United Nations and the Cambodian government, and is expected next year to begin the trial of four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders also in detention.

But the troubled tribunal also faces accusations of interference at the hands of the Cambodian government and claims that local staff were forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

Duch: “I now realise that these crimes are punishable under the law”

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 08/06/2009: The court building on day 24 of Duch’s trial at the ECCC
©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

Duch’s trial entered its seventh week, which last day of hearing, Thursday, will not be open to the public, as it was announced on Monday June 8th. A trial management meeting in camera is scheduled to determine the next schedule of hearings and examine the request of Silke Studzinsky that civil parties be authorised to participate to such technical discussions. Monday’s debates were sometimes desultory and often repetitive in relation to what has already been said since the start of the trial. The accused did not fail to point it out and therefore used his right to remain silent. Duch also proved again his elephant memory when it came to date and figures.

Justifications for arrests came from above Duch
Interrogated by the Cambodian co-Prosecutor on the fate reserved for the detainees in S-21, Duch recalled Pol Pot’s saying: those who are sent to you, you must guard them. However, he recognised he was ordered by his superiors to release three individuals, all members of the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (UFLOR). The former director of S-21 added that in most cases, the people arrested were accused of being guilty of “moral misconduct.” Such was the case for the Khmer Rouge Minister of Commerce, Koy Thuon, brought to S-21 in early 1977 and accused of adultery… Duch concluded that the category of the alleged crime mattered little, as long as their perpetrators confessed. If people were arrested and sent to S-21, they had to be considered as enemies.

The justifications for the arrests were developed by the ruling sphere, Duch explained. He related a conversation with his then superior: “I told him that in the Northern zone, they starved the population, but my superior retorted that it was the enemies who starved the population.” The accused repeated at every opportunity: “We could not reject the orders given” and “I recognise my responsibility in those crimes,” in particular the killing of babies and children in his security centre. However, he stressed that he asked his superiors that artists detained in S-21 not be smashed and claimed he thus saved six lives. Without even looking at his notes, Duch cited from memory the documents relating to the issues being debated, even knowing their code number by heart.

“Sharpening the swords”
The television screen showed a black and white picture of a young and smiling Duch, posing in front of a microphone at the school of political training that opened near his house. “Yes, in S-21, I was the one who had authority over the microphone,” the accused acknowledged. He had full control over the training – which followed the party line and the principles of the class struggle and “quick attack, quick success” – of his staff, and more specifically, of his interrogators who were instructed to consider as enemies all those they interrogated to extract confessions. He specified that in the Khmer Rouge jargon, it was called “sharpening the swords.” “If we had strayed from the party line, we would have gotten into trouble… […] My work consisted in checking that the party line was applied properly.”

Duch disagreeing with Craig Etcheson
Later, Alain Werner, co-lawyer for civil party group 1, interrogated Duch and confronted him with statements or excerpts of the report of expert Craig Etcheson, who was heard during the last hearings. The accused thus explained that the process to pull out names of incriminated individuals in the confessions – to facilitate their reading by his superiors – had been established before he became in charge of S-21. He insisted that such lists of names were prepared only on the basis of the prisoners’ confessions, “I have never fabricated these documents for other names to be included.” He repeated that confessions were transmitted to his superior, Son Sen, who then annotated them for the attention of Pol Pot or Nuon Chea for them to take a decision. The document then returned to Son Sen before being sent to the zone secretaries.

When Alain Werner interrogated him on the specificity – highlighted by Craig Etcheson – of the confessions or torture practices in S-21, in comparison to other security centres, Duch eluded his questions. He had no communication with the other centres and did not know what happened there. Few or no documents have survived in other security centres to be able to make a comparison with S-21… “I think this is something that should be discussed. But I do not want to shy away from my responsibility in the extermination of 14,000 people.” However, he was ready to confirm he had read some 200,000 pages of confessions from the time he directed S-21, an assessment based on the number of hours he worked in this centre “where work never stopped.”

Duch said he did not understand the conclusion reached by the American, that is the analysis of the confessions extorted from the S-21 detainees and Duch’s work fuelled the paranoia of the regime and supported the purge policy. He added that he referred to the Trial Chamber who will rule on this matter. Also, he refuted the assertion by the expert – an investigator with the office of the co-Prosecutors – that he had “direct, personal and daily” relations with leading figures of the regime, his superiors Son Sen and Nuon Chea, unlike the other security centre directors. “My superior was a meticulous person who worked hard and demanded that his subordinates work hard. […] There were no personal or private relations between us, but a monitoring and implementation of my duties.”

The treatment of prisoners
Interrogated later in the day by Silke Studzinsky, co-lawyer for civil party group 2, who returned to the process of dehumanisation of the detainees, Duch admitted that interrogators spoke to prisoners with contempt, sometimes forcing them to worship pictures of dogs in order to debase them. “Back then, I thought it was good to teach such a method to avoid the beating of detainees. In hindsight, I recognise that it was a criminal act and I accept my responsibility. […] I realise today that these crimes are punishable under the law…”

Cambodia: Control That Violates Human Rights

Independent News
New Zealand

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission

Cambodia: The Government Must Ban Social Control That Violates Human Rights

Cambodian society was under communist rule for some 15 years before the international community helped it to embrace liberal, pluralistic democracy with rule of law and respect for human rights at the beginning the 1990s. It has in many ways become an open society where people can enjoy property rights, freedom of enterprise in a free market economy, freedom of movement inside and outside the country, access to education and other public services, and a number of other rights. However, many forms of social control and the dysfunction of the institutions for the rule of law have limited or denied altogether the enjoyment of such rights and freedoms.

A recent story of the search by an NGO for a venue to hold a public forum in an area in Phnom Penh is a starkly insidious instance of such control.

Upon requests from residents of the Boeung Kok Lake, Srah Chak commune, Daun Penh district, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) planned to hold a public forum for the residents, municipal and other concerned officials, to meet and address the issue of eviction without just compensation. The municipal authorities have leased the natural lake called Boeung Kak and its surroundings to Shukaku Inc., a private development company owned by a Senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), for a period of 99 years for US$79 millions.

Shukaku then started to fill in the lake. This filling has subsequently flooded and destroyed houses and roads in the area and the dispute over compensation has not been resolved. The authorities have ignored the repeated requests of the residents for just compensation and also their request that the company should cease filling the lake. The authorities have instead pressurised the residents to accept the compensation package they set for them. Such pressure, together with the continuing filling of the lake is but a slow forced eviction of those people.

The CCHR is widely known for the public forums it has organised across the country for people with grievances and concerned government officials to come together in an effort to address these grievances. On 20 April 2009 the CCHR assigned an officer to contact different people in the lake area to find a venue for the forum. He identified the big mosque in the area as a very suitable place. The officer approached the caller of the mosque who was, at that time, willing to accommodate their request and let the CCHR use its yard for the forum. However, the caller instructed the CCHR officer to first secure an authorization from the local authorities, and an endorsement from a prominent Muslim leader and member of the mosque’s committee named Ahmad Yayha. This prominent committee member is a former Member of Parliament who defected from the opposition party to the CPP.

The next day the same officer together with a colleague was looking for other venues and approached a Buddhist monastery, also not far from the lake. The monastery’s secretary rejected his request out of hand and refused to allow them the use of the monastery’s yard. His reason was his fear of losing a big grant from two prominent ladies who were sponsoring the construction of a building within the monastery. One lady is the widow of the country’s top police officer who was a prominent member of the CPP. The other lady is the wife of a current deputy prime minister.

The two CCHR officers then tried to secure the venue at the mosque and followed the instructions the caller of the mosque had given. On 24 April they managed to contact Ahmad Yahya and asked him for permission to use the mosque. He told them to contact a Senator named Van Mat also from the CPP and chairman of the mosque’s committee. They contacted Van Mat who then told them to secure a permit from the Municipality, implying that with this permit the mosque’s yard could be used as the venue of the forum. They then applied for a permit to the Municipality of Phnom Penh.

Later on Van Mat changed his mind and told the CCHR officers the mosque could not be used for such a forum as it was against Islamic rules, while the Municipality also informed them it had no authority over the mosque and was not in a position to give any permit for the utilization of its premises. Unable to find the venue, the CCHR cancelled the planned forum.

The following day, a resident who was helping to distribute leaflets calling the lake residents to the forum was summoned to see officials of Srah Chak commune where the lake is located, simply to be warned of the consequences of her activity. “Why do you continue to call and incite residents to go to the meeting now that the forum has already been called off? You should quietly contact the company. Beware! You could be sent to prison.” So they told her.

The CCHR did not abandon the forum in the same area and its officials continued the search for a venue. On May 25 a resident found them a guesthouse called the Lazy Fish which was willing to rent its premises as the venue for US$250. They booked the place and made a deposit of US$50. The forum was then planned for 12 June.

Hardly a week later, on 1 June, the head and deputy head of village 6 in Srah Chak commune chief went to threaten the owner of the quest house, saying: “If you let the CCHR conduct the public forum, your quest house will close after the forum.”Several days later the owner was summoned to the commune office. After his meeting with the commune officials, he informed the CCHR that he no longer wanted to rent his place for its forum unless the CCHR could secure a permit from the municipal authorities.

On 8 June the authorities shut down that guesthouse on the allegation that “its business licence had expired.” As a result the prospects of the Boeung Kak Lake residents being able to exercise their right of assembly and expression through a public forum and of getting the authorities to address the compensation issue with them through that venue was practically closed.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) therefore urges the Cambodian government to honour its human rights obligations and take immediate action to ban all forms of social control that blocks and impedes the exercise of human rights by its people. The Cambodian government should order the Municipality of Phnom Penh to abandon any attempt to deny the Boeung Kak Lake residents and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights their right to hold a public forum with all concerned officials to address the issue of eviction and compensation for those residents.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Cambodia and Laos Telecommunications Report Q2 2009 - companiesandmarkets.com adds new report

© companiesandmarkets.com

2009-06-09 - Cambodia and Laos Telecommunications Report Q2 2009 - a new market research report on companiesandmarkets.com

www.companiesandmarkets.com/Summary-Market-Report/cambodia-and-l ..

Several structural changes have been made to the latest update on the telecommunications market in Cambodia and Laos. The changes include a reorganisation of the various sections of the report and the adoption of a new format forpresenting the operator profiles. The Mobile Data section of the report includes new coverage of the development of mobile value added services in both Cambodia and Laos, as well as an overview of recent contract wins. In this quarter, we have focused more attention on developing the mobile sections of our report, including the mobile operator profiles. In our next quarterly update, we plan to introduce considerable revisions to the fixed line and broadband sections of our report.

With the publication of new subscriber data by several Cambodian and Laotian mobile operators, we have been able to provide a clearer assessment of the state of the two countries’ mobile sectors at the end of 2008. By the end of 2008, we estimate that Cambodia had 3.839mn mobile subscribers, served by six operators. Our new estimate for the country gives it a penetration rate of 26.2% and reflects an annual growth rate of 48.6%. Meanwhile, Laos had around 1.545mn mobile customers at the end of 2008. This is equivalent to 25.2% of the population and reflects growth of around 39% for the year. The growth in Laos’ mobile sector was not as strong as we had previously expected; this resulted in a much lower penetration rate at the end of the year. Our new estimates for the number of mobile customers in Cambodia and Laos at the end of 2008 have also led us to make significant revisions to our five-year growth forecasts for these two countries. We have also introduced a 3G subscriber forecast for Cambodia for the first time.

The number of mobile operators in Cambodia witnessed a significant rise in the first few months of 2009 with the launch of commercial services by Vietnam’s Viettel in February 2009, and the commencement of GSM operations by Smart Mobile in March. The launch of Viettel and Smart Mobile bring the total number of Cambodian mobile operators to eight. A ninth mobile operator is expected to launch services sometime in 2009; in December 2008, Russia’s VimpelCom revealed that it had signed a contract with China’s Huawei Technologies to build a national GSM network for its recently acquired Cambodian operator Sotelco. VimpelCom has pledged around US$200mn to be spent in its Cambodian network in the first three to four years following its commercial launch.

BMI’s latest set of business environment ratings for the Asia Pacific region include Cambodia and Laos for the first time. Cambodia sits in twelfth place behind Indonesia but ahead of Laos, which is in thirteenth place. The high level of government involvement in both telecoms markets means that they have regulatory independence score which is below average for the region. Both countries also score below average in the country risk category. Although Cambodia beats Laos in the telecoms market category, Laos does much better than Cambodia in the country structure category.

Convicted Belgian paedophile to wed mother of Cambodian victim

Tue, 09 Jun 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A twice-convicted Belgian paedophile who moved into a victim's home after being released from a Cambodian prison plans to marry the victim's mother, national media reported Tuesday. Anti-trafficking police said Philippe Dessart, who was released from prison April 4, proposed to his victim's mother shortly before he left for Belgium on June 3, The Cambodia Daily reported.

Dessart was released after serving three years of an 18-year prison term for abusing the then-13-year-old boy after a successful appeal of his sentence.

Anti-paedophile groups said in April that they were shocked to discover Dessart had moved in with his victim, now 16, after his release and expressed concern over a younger male sibling also living in the house.

Police said Dessart travelled to Belgium to arrange documents for the marriage and would return to Cambodia in the next few weeks.

Intimidation claimed at lake

A man working to fill Boeung Kak Lake with sand tries to prevent a photographer from taking a picture on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A guesthouse near Boeung Kak lake that was set to host a meeting this Friday between residents, human rights groups and officials was briefly closed by police Monday in what critics of lakeside development say is part of an ongoing scare campaign by authorities.

"I led a mixed committee of police to close the Lazy Fish Restaurant and Guesthouse completely, because this restaurant and guesthouse had a business licence that had expired a few months ago," Daun Penh district Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth told the Post.

By Monday night, however, the guest house was again taking reservations, workers said.

Many Boeung Kak lake residents say the sudden interest in the Lazy Fish's business was not a routine check, but rather one of the intimidation tactics designed to prevent a meeting that would highlight rights issues surrounding the filling in of the lake.

"They knew that the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights [CCHR] rented this guesthouse to organise a meeting. Police told me that the NGO does not a have a permission letter from City Hall and, if I agreed to rent the place, they would close the guesthouse," a Lazy Fish staff member who declined to give her name told the Post.

After the owners were threatened, they informed the meeting organisers that they could not host the event at their venue, the Lazy Fish staff member said.

Boeung Kak lake resident Be Pharom, 57, said the police presence Monday morning was not just targeted at the guesthouse but was also meant to send a message to lake residents still trying to stop local developer Shukaku Inc from building on the lake, a project that will displace thousands.

"Now, because of the authorities, we are afraid the police will arrest us if we join the public forum," she said.

"[The authorities] do not really care about closing the guesthouse, but they need to make the owner cooperate," she added.

Chhim Savuth, a project coordinator for the CCHR, said that even though the Lazy Fish received threats, a meeting will still take place Friday at another location.

He added that police claims that a permission letter was needed are incorrect.

Kao Roomchang marches on

Nuon Soriya (left) stands in disbelief as referee Chaum Chaury declares Kao Roomchang the winner of Sunday’s main event at TV5 Arena.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Nuon Soriya, one of the sport’s all-time greats, slowed but could not stop Kao Roomchang, who notched up another milestone victory Sunday at TV5 Arena

THE road to boxing fame takes about 14 hours by taxi. Seven hours each way, the commute marks a typical weekend for Kao Roomchang, the 21-year-old rising star who continued to wreak havoc among the upper echelons of boxing Sunday.

In the biggest win of his two-year career, the Battambang native worked over Nuon Soriya through five rounds to outpoint the famous veteran and earn a narrow decision victory at the TV5 Boxing Arena in Takhmao.

"I like to hit famous guys," Kao Roomchang said after the fight. "Maybe now I am famous, too."

A soldier and part-time English student in Anlong Veng, Kao Roomchang travelled seven hours by taxi Saturday for the bout Sunday, the same as he always does.

When referee Chaum Chaury raised his hand in victory, Kao Roomchang jumped up and down and did a back flip. Nuon Soriya just stood frozen, the expression gone from his face and his right hand still raised in anticipation.

Sitting on the floor in the dressing room afterwards, Nuon Soriya, the 29-year-old veteran from Kampong Cham, discounted the decision.

"Round one he did not fight," he said. "Round two he won, but rounds three, four and five, I won."

Although the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Association does not make score cards public after fights, the five judges at ringside obviously arrived at a different conclusion. The difference likely came down to work rate.
Kao Roomchang catches his breath between rounds Sunday at TV5 Arena.

Kao Roomchang, who fights out of Club Anlong Veng, answered every punch Nuon Soriya landed. In the middle of a furious third round, Nuon Soriya landed two clean left elbows to the chin to take the lead in the round, but seconds later Kao Roomchang evened the score, catching Nuon Soriya against the ropes with a series of hard punches.

Similar exchanges unfolded throughout the fight, with neither fighter able to claim a clear advantage.

After five rounds, Nuon Soriya had largely slowed Kao Roomchang, who typically fights at a relentless pace, but even so, Kao Roomchang still turned in the busier performance, which likely made the difference in the fight.

The win improves Kao Roomchang to 26-5-2. Nuon Soriya, whose career spans nearly two decades, lost track of his win-loss record years ago.

For the bout Sunday, Kao Roomchang weighed in at 64.3 kilograms. Nuon Soriya, who fights for the Ministry of Interior Boxing Club, weighed in at 64.8 kilograms.

Kao Roomchang was also coming off the biggest win of his career, a May 24 point decision over 60-kilogram titlist Lao Sinath.

Lao Sinath is scheduled to fight Long Sophy this Sunday at TV5. Barring injuries, Lao Sinath and Kao Roomchang will fight a rematch Sunday June 21 at TV5.

Standing outside the arena after the fight, Kao Roomchang waited for a ride to the cab stand, where the seven-hour taxi ride back to Anlong Veng awaited him. Famous or not, he had an English class to make at 8am Monday.

Table shuffleboard parlour provides competitive outlet

Photo by: Mark Roy
Shuffleboard tables at Hotel Scandinavia are sprinkled with tiny, sandlike beads of silicone.


Shuffleboard has its origins in a 15th-century English game called shove-groat in which people slid a large British coin worth about four pence (a groat) down a table. In 1848, a court in New Hanover, Pennsylvania, heard the case of “The State vs John Bishop” to decide the question: “Is shuffleboard a game of chance or a game of skill?” The judge ruled that even though patrons bet “spirituous liquors on the game … it was not a game of chance, but was altogether a game of skill”. By 1897, table shuffleboard was as popular as prizefighting and baseball, as judged by newspaper column inches in New York. It reached the height of its popularity in the “Swinging ’40s” and the 1950s.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nathan Green
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Hotel Scandinavia sports what the proprietor calls ‘the latest and most unique addition to Phnom Penh's entertainment scene'

IT'S been a labour of love, but Eric Weisman, proprietor of the Hotel Scandinavia, or Scan, has finally launched what he describes as "the latest and most unique addition to Phnom Penh's entertainment scene" after almost a year in the making.

"This thing took me - and it was just me - 11 months to do," he said of the Shuffle Lounge, an ambitious table shuffleboard parlour on the newly remodelled third floor of Phnom Penh's Scandinavia Hotel. "And it nearly killed me."

Whereas most hotel or bar owners that dabble in the game of table shuffleboard tend to set up just one table, Weisman had his heart set on seven so that he could set up a league and provide a new competitive outlet for Phnom Penhers.

"When was the last time something truly new happened in Phnom Penh?" he asked.

He describes the process of building the parlour as a "labour of love", and an arduous one at that, given that there is no local supplier of shuffleboard tables.

Ranging from a little more than two and a half metres up to almost seven metres in length, it was also unrealistic to ship them in, meaning Weisman had to get the tables built in Phnom Penh.

The task was far from straightforward, he said, especially when it came to finding cabinetmakers capable of producing the long, smooth wooden surface of a traditional shuffleboard table.

"The concept of true and flat here is not the same as the concept of true and flat anywhere else," Weisman said.

As a substitute, Weisman turned to stone, finding a supply of Chinese granite that was not only cheap, but also perfect for his needs.

"I went down so many paths of design, and there were so many routes to go," he said. "In the end I used granite, which means I have a very different design than most."

This thing took me - and it was just me - 11 months to do ... and it nearly killed me.

In order to decrease friction, the table must be carefully waxed and sprinkled liberally with tiny, sandlike beads of silicone. These act like ball bearings and let the puck slide to the far end of the table with a slight, carefully weighted push.

"If you get it right, it's really sweet," Weisman said, before launching into a tirade about the importance of not drinking or smoking over the table.

To reduce the temptation, the parlour has been well decked out with leather couches and drinking tables to provide liquid entertainment between, or instead of, frames.

Those not simply there to drink need to slide their puck, which is made of plastic and metal, into the scoring zone at the far end of the table, knocking opponents pucks aside where necessary.

The puck closest to the end wins points corresponding to where in the scoring zone it lies, and more than one puck can score points if they are all ahead of the opponent's best effort.

The first to score 15 points wins the frame, and the first to get three frames wins the match.

The advantage is held by the team, or individual, that goes last, having the opportunity to steal a frame - or save a match - with what is known as the hammer.

Weisman is planning to launch a shuffleboard league by mid-July.

Registration is now open for open, corporate, doubles and couples leagues.

"Couples night is going to be great because there just aren't that many things that couples can do competitively against each other in Phnom Penh," Weisman said.

"Take pool; it takes a long time before you can become proficient, but I have seen people after 20 minutes and you realise that hey, they're great at this".

E-commerce failing to connect

An Internet user in Phnom Penh on Monday uses today.com.kh on, a domestic Internet site that markets its wares online. As with other sites in the Kingdom, online transactions are not available.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Hor Hab
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Online purchasing still unrealised as engine of economic growth, say government and private sector, due to lack of users, undeveloped online transaction facilities and high Internet costs

E-COMMERCE remains a marginal forum for domestic retail and trade, government and private-sector sources say, with human resources, online payment facilities and Internet usage remaining the biggest challenges to further development.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said that significant progress in e-commerce remains unrealistic even though there has been development of key resources to boost online buying and selling.

"E-commerce is a must if we are to catch up with other countries [in online business] that are benefiting from this sector because it can help process things very quickly," he said. "But it depends on our capacity because it needs more know-how from people to engage more closely."

According to the latest UN Development Programme figures, Cambodia still has only 17,000 Internet subscribers, the second-lowest density in ASEAN, meaning the potential number of online consumers remains limited.

Younger people are becoming better trained and more interested in the possibilities of online trade, said Nguon Meng Tech, which he predicted should help its development.

Banks have few options for facilitating online transactions.

Ken Chanthan, president of the Information Communication Technology Association of Cambodia, said Monday that Cambodia is only at the very beginning of e-commerce development.

Still, only very few companies have their own Web sites, he said, with a lack of suitable online payment facilities hampering e-commerce development.

However, there has been growth, he said, with Cambodia showing promise for the future.

"I think within the next five years, our e-commerce can catch up ... because our country has a large proportion of young people and a fast-emerging telecoms sector," he said.

E-commerce would be particularly useful in the current economic climate, he said, given its main strengths as a vehicle for business, namely cost-cutting, increased productivity and efficient payment methods that can boost customer satisfaction.

"E-commerce development remains a big challenge because Cambodia still lacks IT policies, an e-commerce law, other cyberlaws and transaction laws," said Ken Chanthan. "Development would be rapid if the government took serious action to help in terms of legislation, policies funding and technical assistance."

BI Group, a company which has launched two Web sites to sell goods online, typifies the problems that Cambodian companies looking to e-commerce development still encounter.

No payment online
Director Chea Sothy says that a lack of online transaction capabilities mean that his company can advertise products online - everything from computers to digging machinery - but that payment must be made in person.

"We still face many problems such as high Internet costs with slow speeds, high electricity costs, and banks have few options for facilitating online transactions ... there is no banking interconnectivity to facilitate local and international money transfers [online]," said Chea Sothy, who last week attended a three-day Greater Mekong Subregion forum on e-commerce in Kunming, China.

"E-commerce is very important for entrepreneurs to market and sell their products, and it can widely broadcast across the world, much more so than television," he said.

Cambodia takes goods to Chinese trade fair

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

COMMERCE Ministry officials have travelled to Kunming, China, hoping to ink export agreements on everything from agricultural goods to garments, government sources said.

Held from Saturday until Wednesday, the Kunming event is one of the world's largest trade fares, and the Cambodian government says it views it as an important opportunity to boost exports.

"We have five stands to show our products and services, and we have had a lot of success generating business from this fair in the past," said Sok Darith, deputy director of the Trade Promotion Department.

The exhibition takes place every year and features products from around the world.

"The exhibition is a part of a trade effort to attract Chinese investors to our country - that is good for us. The government is working hard to improve the quality of our products to appeal to the international market," said Nguon Meng Tech, director general at the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce.

He said the Kingdom's entrepreneurs still need to build knowledge and technology to tap international markets.

"So far, Chinese products are struggling to compete with imported goods from regional competitors like Vietnam and Thailand," he said. "I hope that we will gain more market share in China because we are working very hard to upgrade the quality of our products and promote agricultural products as well."

The Ministry of Commerce‘s 2008 report stated that Cambodia exported $4 billion in goods worldwide last year.

We have had a lot of success generating business from this fair in the past.

The Economist Intelligence Unit said in its April outlook for Cambodia that total exports of goods and services were forecast to fall 8.8 percent this year.

"Merchandise exports will contract in 2009, mainly owing to the poor outlook for overseas sales of garments, which account for over 70 percent of total export revenue," it said.

Mona Tep, director of the Garment Industry Productivity Centre (GIPC), said the delegation was looking for trade and investment opportunities, but that the priority was to raise the profile of the garment sector and to better understand the needs of buyers "to determine strategic actions for the industry to take".

The delegation is due back on Thursday and was expected to report its findings at a GIPC-organised garment industry conference Friday.

Roger Tan, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said the delegation would push Cambodia's involvement in the International Labour Organisation's Better Factories initiative, which calls for more orders in exchange for better conditions in factories.

But Tan said the benefits of the initiative had failed to materialise. "Better Factories is supposed to be the brainchild of buyers who want compliance and who want core standards, but then their business is going to countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan and Vietnam, which don't have this Better Factories program," he said.

Rubber sector rejuvenated

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A rubber plantation worker taps a tree for resin.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Ros dina
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A raft of rubber plantation concessions approved in the first four months of 2009 has put Cambodia on track to reach its cultivation target for 2015

Cambodia's target of having 150,000 hectares under rubber cultivation by 2015 has been given a boost with 42,000 hectares of concessions approved by the government in the first four months of 2009.

The seven projects have a proposed investment value of $146 million and are expected to employ almost 9,000 workers, according to applications lodged with the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), whose approval is required for projects over a certain size.

This compares with just four rubber plantation approvals worth $31.5 million in 2008.

Kay Vibol, the human resources manager at Vietnamese company Duong Nai Kratie Aphivath Caoutchouc Co, said 70 hectares were already under cultivation on a 2,502-hectare concession approved on April 27, and that 1,300 hectares would be planted this year. "We are following a master plan set by the Ministry of Agriculture," he said.

The approvals come after Ly Phalla, the director general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' rubber plantation department, told the Post in April that he expected just 10,000 hectares of rubber trees would be planted in 2009, down from 25,901 hectares in 2008, after international rubber prices dropped from $3,500 per tonne to just US$1,400 per tonne last year.

Cambodia now has 107,901 hectares under cultivation, with 33,673 hectares producing resin and 74,231 hectares of immature trees, according to ministry figures.

However, Mak Kimhong, president of the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia, said the concession approvals reflected the fact that rubber was a more stable investment than other agricultural crops.

"Natural rubber fetches less than at the beginning of last year, but the price is still better than the $1,200-per-tonne received in 2007," he said.

"But farmers who grow cassava and beans are facing very big losses."

He added that 1.5 hectares under rubber cultivation could yield an annual income of around $2,000, compared with between $300 and $400 for bean farmers.

Mong Reththy, president of the Mong Reththy Group and co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on agriculture, said his company made a profit of between $300 and $1000 per tonne depending on prices.

He added that planting crops like rubber, jatropha and palm oil required a long-term commitment but could generate stable returns and high employment if done right. "I think that the agro-industry, if we can do it well, has a lot of potential," he said.

Bouncing back
Renewed interest in the sector comes as prices have rebounded 25 percent this year on demand from China, the world's largest natural rubber consumer, reaching as high as $1,780 per tonne on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange.

Prices could rise further still, with Chinese consumption of natural rubber predicted to rise to 2.8 million tonnes in 2010 from an estimated 2.65 million tonnes this year, largely due to increasing tyre production.

A representative of Phu Rieng Kratie Aphivath Caoutchouc Co, a related Vietnamese rubber company, said 2,500 hectares had already been cleared on a 6,434-hectare concession also approved April 27, and that 1,700 hectares were already under cultivation. The company planned to plant a further 2,000 hectares this year and the remainder by 2012.

The company would also build a factory to process rubber for export, said the representative, who asked not to be named.

Rubber production is considered a key area for development for Cambodia's agricultural sector, which employs around 4.75 million of Cambodia's 8 million-strong labour force, yet provides just 32 percent of the country's GDP.

With annual growth lagging other sectors since the early 1990s at just under 4 percent, experts have called for a deepening of the agricultural value chain through developing domestic processing capacity.

Rubber was identified as one of 19 products with good export potential in the government's 2007 Diagnostic Trade Integration Strategy, but just 10,825 tonnes of dry rubber was exported in 2008 according to government figures, earning $24.9 million. The main export markets were Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.

San Vanthy, director of the ministry's Agriculture Department, said the government is planning to invest in rubber processing to complement the increasing number of rubber plantations.

Maybank to open 1st provincial branch

Written by Peter Olszewski
Tuesday, 09 June 2009


MALAYAN Banking Bhd, also known as Maybank, will open its first provincial branch in Siem Reap on Monday, as part of an expansion plan started because the Kingdom is "now considered stable", said Chou Teong Boon, branch manager.

He said Siem Reap was chosen as the first provincial outlet primarily because of the availability of a good location in the city centre on Tep Vong Street.

"We are expanding into the provinces to give better coverage and reach for Maybank," he said, "And the Siem Reap branch will also serve as a learning centre for our proposed provincial expansion."

Chou Teong Boon said other provinces earmarked for expansion are Battambang, Kampong Cham and Sihanoukville.

The Siem Reap branch will initially employ 10 to 11 staff, all from the city.

"That's the beauty of our expansion - we will employ and train people from the provinces where we open and therefore bring employment to those provinces. Our Siem Reap staff numbers will be expanded as our business in the province grows," said Chou Teong Boon.

The new Siem Reap branch follows the opening of the bank's third branch in Phnom Penh on Phnom Mao Tse-tung Boulevard in January.

Another Phnom Penh branch at Chbar Ampeou is under construction and scheduled to open in August, said the bank - which began operations in 1993 - while a fifth Phnom Penh branch is planned on Sihanouk Boulevard.

SKorean firm to invest $150m in corn plant

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Cambodian corn growers have traditionally dried their crops by hand.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

KOGID Cambodia to grow and process corn to produce animal feed for export, it says, as part of long-term investment

THE Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Monday that South Korea's KOGID Cambodia plans to invest US$150 million to grow and process corn for animal feed to be sold overseas.

Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state who is in charge of investments at the ministry, told the Post on Monday that the company has long-term investment plans for the Kingdom and would buy from the four top producing provinces.

Chan Tong Yves said KOGID plans to purchase 70,000 to 150,000 tonnes of corn this year from Battambang, Pailin, Kampong Cham and Kandal provinces, and will build corn-drying machines.

"We welcome this plan because it will help create markets for Cambodian corn, which we have had trouble finding," Chan Tong Yves said.

"Our farmers only sell corn to Thailand and Vietnam, and these markets are unpredictable. Sometimes they buy, but sometimes they don't," he added.

According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in 2008-09 Cambodia harvested 611,865 tonnes of corn from 163,106 hectares of land.

Battambang province was the leading producer with a yield of 432,966 tonnes.

Pailin province followed, producing 51,302 tonnes, Kampong Cham province 39,245 tonnes and Kandal province 23,610 tonnes.

Tong Savuth, manager of KOGID Cambodia Co Ltd, confirmed on Monday the total investment.
But he added that the company would invest only $38 million from 2009 to 2012 as part of the first phase.

We will encourage the government to give us land concessions ... after 2012.

"We are trying to contact brokers to buy corn from farmers in the four provinces for $200 to $210 per tonne for dried corn," he said.

Oung Savuth said his company would buy between 70,000 and 100,000 tonnes from farmers to export to South Korea in 2009.

In 2010 he plans to sign contracts to procure corn from Cambodian farmers, he added.

Oung Savuth also said that to ensure smooth exports in 2010, the company would spend $1.8 million to build three drying machines, each able to dry 500 tonnes of corn per day in Battambang province.

A multi-million dollar storehouse would also be constructed to facilitate sea exportation, he said.

"We will encourage the government to give us land concessions to grow corn after 2012 by providing houses, water and electricity, and building markets and schools and hospitals for our workers by following the same model as the Mong Reththy Group," Oung Savuth said.

Morning after mourning


Written by Sovann Philong
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Novice monk Khun Bunthoeunn,17, organises his quarters and arranges his robes after mourning day - held to mark the death of a relative - at Wat Ornk Rung in Takeo province last Wednesday.

Officials to hand out malaria medication

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

HEALTH officials will begin distributing around 200,000 anti-malaria tablets to provincial hospitals and health centres across the country, according to Doung Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

"For the first five months of 2009, 60 people died and there were 16,197 cases of malaria infection across the country," he said Monday, adding that infection rates were highest in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Pursat, Seam Reap and Ratanakkiri provinces.

"I don't think this is a serious problem for us because we have already distributed mosquito nets to all those places, and we will continue to distribute tablets to them, so we can manage this problem."

So far, the centre has distributed around 660,000 mosquito nets to all of the Kingdom's provinces, he said.

Sex crimes appeal delayed

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Karl Heinz Henning at the Appeal Court on Monday. The hearing was subsequently delayed.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Hearing for five convicted in brutal paedophile case, including two Germans, suspended for a second time, prompting complaints from the victims' lawyer.

THE Court of Appeal on Monday suspended a hearing for two German nationals and three Vietnamese who were convicted of human trafficking and debauchery in 2007, citing a lack of defence lawyers.

Following a massive August 2006 police raid on the house of one of the German nationals, the five were arrested and sentenced for their roles in trafficking and abusing underage Vietnamese girls.

They are appealing their sentences, which could be reduced under new anti-trafficking legislation that has already seen several convicted sex offenders have their prison terms slashed.

The reputed mastermind of what authorities said was one of the most brutal paedophilia rings busted so far in Cambodia, German Karl Heinz Henning, who was 61 at the time of his arrest, hurled himself from a first-floor window in a bid to escape police officials.

He survived the fall, and was sentenced to 28 years in March 2007 for trafficking and debauchery - the blanket charge that covered child-sex crimes under the Kingdom's old anti-trafficking laws.

At Henning's house, police seized vast amounts of sadomasochistic child pornography - primarily images and footage of Henning and other older Western men whipping and raping bound children.

Also during the raid, authorities rescued four Vietnamese girls found naked in the house and confiscated pornographic videocassettes and VCDs, together with film production equipment.

The four girls rescued during the raid were aged 10, 11, 13 and 14 at the time.

Evidence of more abuse
Thomas Sigwart Eugen Baron von Engelhardt, 44, who was identified on the basis of evidence found at Henning's apartment, was sentenced March 2007 to 12 years in prison for debauchery.

Two Vietnamese women and one Vietnamese man were also sentenced in the 2007 trial.

Cheng Thit You and Nguyen Hong Voeng were given 17 years apiece, while Lim Ny received 15 years, all for human trafficking.

All five were seen Monday at the Court of Appeal, as were three of the four Vietnamese victims, who were wearing school uniforms and accompanied by a lawyer.

"I am terribly sorry the Appeal Court has suspended the hearing again, which is the second time that this procedure has been delayed," said lawyer Peng Maneth, who is provided by Action Pour Les Enfant, the anti-paedophile NGO that was involved in the 2006 raid.

"The delay makes it difficult for the victims to prepare themselves to testify at the hearings. It is stressful, and they are also busy with their studies."

Lack of lawyers causes delay
According to the presiding judge, Chaem Vicharit, the delay was due to the lack of lawyers for the Vietnamese women and men. "We will appoint lawyers for them for the next hearing because they couldn't afford lawyers by themselves," she told the Post.

Since 2003, more than a dozen foreigners have been jailed or deported to face trial in their home countries for child sex crimes. The two Germans worked as private English teachers in Cambodia. Police arrested Henning after receiving complaints from neighbours about the abuse.

Two royalist parties to remain independent, for the time being

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

NRP spokesman says upcoming congress will approve a new name for the party, but claims reunification with Funcinpec is still some time away

AHEAD of their upcoming congress, Norodom Ranariddh Party officials say the party plans to retain a separate identity, despite suggestions it could reunite with Funcinpec, from which it split in 2007.

Party spokesman Pen Sangha said Monday that the upcoming party meeting is likely to formalise the presidency of Chhim Siekleng, currently acting president of the party.

He added that, at the congress, the party would change its name and logo - which both feature retired Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the former president of the party - but said the NRP has not yet merged with Funcinpec.

"Although some recent comments have caused confusion, we would like to confirm that at the NRP's upcoming congress we will not change our name to Funcinpec," Pen Sangha said.

"We have not merged with Funcinpec into a single party yet. We are just cooperating together."

However, he did not say what new name the party would adopt, adding that the NRP's Central Committee had yet to specify a time and place for the congress, although he said it was expected to be held towards the end of June.

The NRP was created in November 2007, when the Khmer National Front Party voted to change its name and elected Prince Norodom Ranariddh as its president. Ranariddh was previously the head of the royalist Funcinpec party until his sacking in October 2006 after he was convicted of embezzling funds from the sale of the party's former headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Funcinpec Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay could not be reached for comment Monday, but in an interview last month, he told the Post that the NRP and Funcinpec would merge into a single party ahead of the 2013 national election, a unification that was proceeding at the grassroots level.

Illegal game hunters skirting the border between law and nature

The son of an illegal wildlife trader holds a snake in Battambang’s Koas Krala district.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Renegade game hunters in Battambang province say dire local conditions have forced them into the illegal wildlife trade, but most say they would give it up if they could make a safer living


IT is well before dawn when the hunters awake and begin the 15-kilometre trip up Battambang province's Arey mountain to inspect their homemade traps.

Walking through flooded plains and muddied ledges, the hunters are all poor villagers, driven into the dangerous world of illegal game hunting by dire farming conditions and a desperate need to feed their families.

"It's a secret business," says Nioy, a 30-year-old villager who is too afraid of being arrested to give his full name.

"I must give the authorities some money to close their eyes," he says, adding that sometimes he hands gifts of wild boar meat to local police to allow him to continue the illicit trade unhindered.

Illegal bounties
Though Nioy and other hunters like him have been the target of numerous local and international conservation efforts aiming to protect Cambodia's shrinking population of endangered wildlife, he says he always works in tandem with government officials and is only engaged in the trade to support his family.

"We stay in the forest but the authorities always come in their cars to get money from us when they find out we have caught an animal," Nioy says.

"I don't want to do this job, but I have no other way of earning money to support my family and my daughter's studies."

Among Nioy's weekly bounty are wild boar, deer, rabbits and, if he has the time, snakes and turtles, he says - all illegal to hunt without a permit.

I don't want to do this job, but i have no other way ... to support my family.

"If I have good luck I can catch two wild boars and a deer in one month. A wild boar usually weighs between 60 and 70 kilograms, and I can sell it to my middleman for about 15,000 riels (US$3.62) a kilogram," he says.

The perils of the jungle and the danger of getting caught without bribe money rarely outweigh the cash made from rare catches, says Kosal, 28, another renegade of the illegal wildlife trade.

"If we go to the forest to check our traps, we always take a spear. Without a spear, a wild boar could run and crush us," he told the Post.

"This business is hard. Wild animals are dangerous, and I have to hunt in secret with the authorities. But it is easy to sell the meat at the market; all I have do is call my middlemen when I get an animal and they come to my home," he says.

Flirting with danger
For Chum Kreat, the most experienced of the group of hunters, danger is not only present during illegal hunts; it is a central and necessary part of the job.

"To catch animals I trick them by lying near the trap and waiting for them. When the ... wild boar runs at me, I catch it and throw it into my trap. I need to do it quickly to get my spear and kill it. Sometimes if I cannot throw them into my trap, I have to run under a tree, otherwise it will kill me," he says.

Chum Kreat says he would never choose to do such a risky job, but feels that he and other residents of his small village in Battambang's Koas Krala district have few other opportunities.

"Koas Krala does not have good conditions for people to live in. Sometimes it floods, sometimes there's drought. The crops are always damaged and there is never enough clean water for us to use," says Chum Kreat, adding that the hunters are caught between the vagaries of nature and the risk of legal action.

"I risk my life just to catch one animal, but the authorities come to get money from me and sometimes even threaten to arrest us. I know I work illegally, but if I had the money to support my living any other way I wouldn't do this job," he says.

Sun Tek, the provincial coordinator for local rights group Licadho, compared the illegality of wildlife hunting to sports betting in cities, a practice recently outlawed by the government.

"To do it, they have to pay money to authorities. It is similar to gambling houses in town, they must pay monthly bribes to officials, otherwise they cannot do it," he says.

But Koas Kala district police Chief Son Chheung Chhang says he has "never heard" about people hunting illegal wildlife in his jurisdiction.

"Whether they do it secretly or not, I don't know," he says. "If we knew they were [hunting] we would ban them, and if we saw animal meat we would confiscate it."

Sin Nhar, governor of Koas Krala district, admits, however, that a certain degree of compassion is shown to small-scale game hunters.

"Sometimes we close our eyes because they are so poor, and they are not doing it for a big business, only a small family," he says. "I think a few of my villagers might hunt illegally, but we don't know because they do it in secret, in the forest far from the village. It is illegal and we always try to educate them about natural resources," he adds.

This is the first of a two-part series. Read the final instalment Thursday.

S-21 babies 'smashed', Duch says

Written by Cheang Sokha and Georgia Wilkins
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Duch acknowledges infants battered against tree trunks

FORMER Khmer Rouge jailer Kaing Guek Eav told Cambodia's war crimes court Monday that babies were slain under his supervision by being held by their legs and smashed against trees, as gruesomely depicted in paintings of the act on display at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum that now exists at the prison site.

"The horrendous images of those [babies] smashed against trees, yes, that was done by my subordinates," the top prison chief, known as Duch, said.

He said that he hadn't believed it was happening until he was shown the images and realised it was true.

"They were killed at [the Choeung Ek killing fields] and at S-21; it was done by my subordinates.... I am criminally responsible because it was under my supervision," he told judges.

Answering questions put to him by the prosecution about the regime's policies at Tuol Sleng, Duch said it was necessary for children who accompanied their parents to the prison also to be killed so as to prevent them from taking "revenge" on regime leaders in the future.

"My superior [former Minister of Defense] Son Sen said to me that there is no gain in keeping them, as they might take revenge on you," Duch said from the dock.

"You have to remember the class stance," he added.

Though acknowledging the "smashing" of babies against trees, Duch denied that they were thrown from the top floors of the prison's building.

"We have found documentation to suggest that babies were also brutally killed in Pursat province," Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said Monday.

"The only explanation that we can give was that the soldiers were children, too," he added.

Youk Chhang, whose centre began conducting research into the matter in 2004, said that there were few accounts of baby killings, as all other members of the family were usually slain as well, and there was "no one left to tell the story".

He said he was aware of one only woman who was thrown from the prison's top floors, but that babies were also thrown in the air and caught with bayonets, according to the centre's investigation.

Responding to questions from the deputy co-prosecutor, Tan Senarong, Duch said he did not know whether every child was photographed before being killed.

"I saw some of them being photographed, but the majority of them were not," he said.
"My main role was not to release anyone, so whether the prisoners were photographed or not, this was not my main concern."

Duch ‘rewriting' his story
Though Duch has repeatedly accepted responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, he still maintains that it was his unwavering dedication to the communist line that led him to such crimes.

"Duch has been able to rewrite his story and create an image of forgiveness. We need to understand the brutality," Youk Chhang said.

"We need to know what kind of orders made someone do this? Was he joyful to be fulfilling the orders of Angkar?" he added.

Duch apologised at his trial in late March, saying he accepted blame for the extermination of thousands of people at the prison, which served as the centre of the 1975-79 regime's security apparatus.

But he has denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge and maintains he only tortured two people himself and never personally executed anyone.

He is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder and torture, and faces life in prison if convicted by the court.

Tuk-tuk ban angers drivers

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A tuk-tuk driver takes a nap in his vehicle in central Phnom Penh earlier this week.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Lucy Kinder
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Daun Penh officials say tuk-tuks are no longer allowed on three lucrative streets in the district, including the riverside

THE majority of the 34 tuk-tuks confiscated during the street sweeps ahead of last month's ASEAN-EU meeting have been returned, but drivers claim unfair restrictions have been placed on them by Phnom Penh police, which, they say, put their livelihoods in jeopardy.

The seizures were necessary in order to educate tuk-tuk drivers not to illegally park or sleep in their vehicles in Phnom Penh's public spaces, said Sok Penhvuth, Daun Penh's deputy district governor.

"We have been informing all tuk-tuk drivers for nearly a year not to park illegally or sleep along prohibited areas, including major tourism and conference sites, in order to maintain a clean and orderly city," he said.

But in order to have their vehicles returned to them, tuk-tuk drivers say they have been forced to sign a contract saying they will not drive on Daun Penh district's three main roads - the popular tourist streets of Sisowath Quay and Norodom and Sothearos boulevards.

"I will fight this [ban]," said Om Savath, a 25-year-old driver from Svay Rieng.

"Why don't they ban the tycoons who have two or three cars from driving on the main roads? We have one tuk-tuk and are very poor," he said.

The drivers say the ban will make it impossible for them to earn a living, and say they have been given no explanation from police as to why they cannot drive on these roads.

"We do not allow tuk-tuk drivers to drive on some prohibited roads in the Daun Penh district," said Him Yan, Phnom Penh deputy municipal police chief, declining to specify when or why the ban was effected.

We do not allow tuk-tuk drivers to drive on some prohibited roads.

Bribes demanded
Drivers have also alleged that they have had to pay bribes to get their vehicles out of police custody, a charge Him Yan denied.

"We never fine them [tuk-tuk drivers] any money, we simply educate them to obey the law, but they ignore our information again and again," he said.

But drivers have reported otherwise, with one 31-year old-driver who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions by the police saying the authorities ordered him to make an illegal registration card for his tuk-tuk. In total, he says he had to pay US$55 to the police in order to retrieve his vehicle.

Another driver, Ly Sokun, 25, has still not managed to get his vehicle back, saying, "I could not retrieve my tuk-tuk because I had no money to pay the police."

Thai PM to visit Friday for talks, ceremony

Written by Neth Pheaktra
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will pay his first official visit to Cambodia on Friday, Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, said Monday.

Koy Kuong said it was a routine, procedural visit, and added the trip was originally scheduled for April 18 but had been cancelled.

Koy Kuong said the one-day trip would strengthen bilateral relations. "As both countries have border issues around Preah Vihear, this could be raised at the meeting," he said. He added that seven Cambodian artefacts stolen from the Kingdom by smugglers would be returned by Thailand to the Cambodian Ministry of Culture during Abhisit's visit.

FTU urges action on labour laws

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Union says govt is ignoring amendments

THE Free Trade Union (FTU) on Monday urged members of the National Assembly to address vital Labour Law amendments that it says have so far been overlooked by government officials since being brought up last month.

Union President Chea Mony said Monday that he had submitted a petition to members of the Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party in May calling on parliamentarians to ensure better working conditions for workers.

"We found that the parliamentarians and the government have not paid attention to our demands," he said.

"If parliamentarians are concerned about the interests of Cambodian citizens, I hope they are able to debate these worrying issues," he added.

Discrimination targeted
The proposed amendments would allow for freedom of association, propose a proper basic salary for workers, make the arbitrary suspension or firing of workers illegal and give an honorary title to former FTU leader Chea Vichea, who was assassinated in 2004.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said Monday that the party would be willing to cooperate with members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party during the upcoming parliamentarian workshops before the issues are debated.

"We hope that we would be able to lobby parliamentarians from the CPP to consider this proposal from the FTU," Son Chhay said.

Lork Kheng, a CPP lawmaker, said that CPP parliamentarians had not yet reviewed the proposal.

"I haven't seen the proposal, so I cannot comment yet."

Payouts disputed in Rik Reay

A man reads the newspaper in Rik Reay community in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

Villagers ask government to resolve disagreement over number of families to be compensated, with commune chief saying data will be available today

MEMBERS of the Rik Reay community of Phnom Penh who are being evicted to make way for a new development accused Bassac Garden City, the local developer, of undercounting the number of households to save on compensation payments.

"The company has created bad statistics about the number of families [in Rik Reay] because it wants to pay less money," said resident Pheng Polin, 28.

On Monday, 16 community members went to the Bassac commune chief's office and demanded that the government release official data about the village to settle the disagreement, according to community representative Pen Thai.

The community and the developer disagree about how many additional families in the community should receive compensation. The community representative said there are 54 families, but the company claims there are only 49, a difference that could cost the community tens of thousands of dollars.

During a May 20 meeting with residents, commune chief Khan Narith vowed to provide definitive numbers but has yet to follow through, Pen Thai said.

On Monday, Khan Narith said the information would be available to the community today, but he did not reveal how many households the developer would need to compensate.

Developer Bassac Garden City denied any wrongdoing and blamed the disagreement on outsiders inflating the number of households to cheat the company.

"How can the number of households be increasing? This isn't benefiting the poor. It's the rich people in the area who have created more households to steal from the company," said Touch Samnang, a company representative.

Bunn Rachana, a monitor for the Housing Rights Taskforce, said the conflict would not be solved until a joint task force was created to count the houses together.

"The government should re-check the counts along with the community; otherwise there will no way to work out the disagreement," she said.

Resident Pheng Polin said that when the authorities counted houses they missed a few, because some people were not around to ensure that their homes were included.

Police Blotter: 9 Jun 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Lim Phalla
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A soldier, Yim Sokha, 27, from Takeo province was killed and two others soldiers were severely wounded after they were attacked with knives and axes while they were drinking in a small restaurant in Chrork Kdar village, Ponhea Leu district, Kandal province, last Friday. They were set upon by a group of seven people with whom they had a motorbike accident 20 minutes earlier, although both sides had already agreed to no compensation. The attackers escaped, but police say they know their identities and are hunting for them.

Karaoke proves the death of newlywed
A newly married man was electrocuted while he was singing karaoke in a rented room in Tuol Sangkae commune, Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh, on Friday evening. Police said the victim Chab Sabor, 22, was out with his wife Soeu Solita, 20. Although the two had been singing together, Chab Sabor was alone in the room when he died.

Drunken men beat accident victim
A man struck down by three drunken men on a motorbike Friday on Monivong Boulevard in Srah Chak commune, Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh, suffered additional injuries when the men began to beat him, police said. Sum Mara, who was riding a motorbike with his 3-year-old son, was severely hurt in the crash. Police arrived shortly after the attack began and arrested two of the drunken men, but the other one managed to escape, they said.

An 18-year-old woman from Prey Veng province was about to jump off Chroy Changvar Bridge to commit suicide but failed because a policeman stopped her in time. The incident happened Friday night. She explained that she had been angry with her parents after they claimed she had broken traditional values by having an affair with a man.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Brief

In Brief: Buddishts highlight cluster munitions

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A Buddhist group promoting peace in villages affected by cluster munitions is holding a ceremony in Dam Bae, Kampong Cham province, this week. The group, Cluster Munitions Educational and Material Assistance through Religious Activities, will begin the two-day ceremony on Thursday with speeches by monks and special guests. The ceremony has been supported by a grant from the international group Religions for Peace.

In Brief: Doctors questioned over surgery

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

A Municipal Court deputy prosecutor on Monday questioned two surgeons who disfigured the right side of a patient's face during botched ear surgery last year, after the victim filed complaints against the pair. Nhem Tyhem Marin, 59, a former high school teacher, filed a complaint May 11 against Ly Bunchhoeun, a nose, throat and ear surgeon at Preah Ang Duong Hospital, and Duong Chheak, a surgeon at Calmette Hospital, seeking $100,000 in compensation.

In Brief: Preah Vihear ruling focus of rally

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

About 100 pro-government journalists and government officials are expected to hold a rally on Monday to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the World Court ruling handing Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia. The rally has been organised by Soy Sopheap, CTN host and publisher of Deum Ampil newspaper.

Legal aid group shuts two provincial offices due to lack of funding

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 09 June 2009

But some say the Cambodia Defenders Project is just one of many NGOs facing a squeeze as the financial crisis tightens donor purse strings

THE Cambodia Defenders Project (CDP), a local legal aid group, has announced that it will close its offices in two provinces due to a shortfall of funds from international donors.

Sok Sam Oeun, the organisation's executive director, said that its offices in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham will be shuttered at the end of June and that three lawyers and three staff will lose their jobs.

"We will close our offices in two provinces, and staff will be laid off at the end of this month," he said Monday.

"We have tried to ask donors to support this project, but [it] has not [attracted donors]."

Sok Sam Oeun added that the CDP offices in Battambang and Siem Reap provinces would remain open until the end of the year, and he emphasised that the group would continue its work in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham.

"We will continue to work in the whole of Cambodia," he said.

"I am very sorry to have these offices closed. With them open in the provinces, they can help intervene quickly when people have problems."

Rights workers said that the closure of the two offices could have negative follow-on effects in the two provinces, since the CDP's legal activities were closely linked with human rights.

"[The group] helps provide defence services for the poor," Chan Soveth, an investigator for Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said Monday.

"The donors should consider this again.... If there is no monitoring by local organisations, there will be no balance and justice for the victims."

Systemic problem
But other rights activists say the shortfall in funding also appears to be affecting other Cambodian NGOs. One human rights worker, who declined to be named, said Monday that six staff from the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre (CWCC) in Siem Reap province had been laid off due to a lack of money.


Kong Lakhena, secretary general of the CWCC, did not confirm the layoffs but said the group has been holding discussions about the future of some staff as it awaits a funding approval from donors.

"The world economic crisis is also affecting Cambodia. We have asked for funds from donors, but those donors have also been impacted by the economic crisis, so it must affect us too," she said.

Sous Narin, Adhoc's investigator in Siem Reap province, said Monday that it was not only the CDP and CWCC that are facing a funding squeeze, and that increasing layoffs will have grave local effects.

"We are very concerned because these areas of work are all related to each other and help the people develop the country," he said.

"If any part stops working, it will create problems elsewhere."

5 Ways Women Can Make Changes Across Generations

Emmie Twombly
Writer for "Vital Voices"

Posted: June 8, 2009

The women of Vital Voices are dynamic, bold, daring risk takers, in fact even putting their lives on the line. The five award winners, Global Trailblazer Award winner and the women behind Vital Voices are transforming the notions of women, and most importantly, their connotations with power and leadership. These women were recently honored at the Kennedy Center by Ben Affleck, Candice Bergen, Sally Field and Diane Von Furstenberg because they are defining success on their own terms in their own countries, organizations and families. Each woman is championing her own cause, but the women who graced the stage showed that we are all individuals working together for a common goal. Hillary Clinton stated this goal in 1995 at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, "Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." After attending such an inspirational event I felt that owed it to other generations to share 5 way women can make changes across generations.

1. Educate Yourself. "Knowledge is power, no one can take education away from you." Sadiqa Basiri Saleem brings hope to Afghanistan and a new generation of women. Sadiqa and three other women pooled their money together after the Taliban fell to found a learning center, which provides uniforms, supplies, and funding for 36 girls to study in an abandoned mosque. Sadiqa said her "dream is to see my sisters well-educated in a peaceful Afghanistan. They should be able to raise their voices to get their rights since I can't stand seeing them tortured and murdered in the name of honor anymore."

2. Be Bold and Brave. Chouchou Namegabe Nabinut and Marceline Kongolo-Bice brought issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the international stage. Chouchou used her powerful voice as a journalist to shed light on women, health and human rights issues. At age 23, Marceline has shown her strength and courage time and time again. At 13 she was imprisoned for refusing a military order to marry a local commandant. She also lost her older brother and father to murderous soldiers and witnessed the use of rape as a weapon of war. She then founded an NGO, SOS Femmes en Dangers to heal and rehabilitate rape victims, and how to empower themselves by knowing their rights so that they can defend themselves, supporting one another so their voices are heard.

3. Invest in Others. Temituokpe Esisi of Nigeria started her own tailoring company to benefit her country's economic empowerment as well as her own. She serves as a role model to leaders across the globe, since she invests in her employees, in their future and in their education. She works to inspire other women throughout Nigeria and beyond with her success.

4. Follow Your Heart. Somaly Mam of Cambodia was forced to work in a brothel, where she endured rape, beatings and humiliation by her bosses and clients. After one of her closest friends was murdered by a pimp, she escaped. She then showed her bravery by sharing her story and rescuing young girls and women from her brothel. She never had an education and just "gave love." She is a visionary who shows that you have unlimited potential by following your heart.

5. Keep Moving Forward. How did these women move beyond the traumatic events and brutal atrocities which the award recipients experienced first-hand? This is a question that has been resurfacing in my mind since I left the event in Washington, D.C. On its face it seems to not make sense that women are still forced to overcome rape as a weapon of war, lack of education and lack of opportunities. The five amazing women who accepted their awards at the Kennedy Center showed that even though they were given significantly fewer opportunities for achieving leadership positions, they still prevailed, and so can the rest of us.