Monday, 27 July 2009

Sub-decree passed on commercial arbitration

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Nguong Sovan

THE Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree Friday to establish the country's long-awaited commercial arbitration centre.

Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Mao Thora said the measure's passage would clear the way for the ministry to select arbitrators for the centre and provide them with training by experts from Singapore.

The National Centre for Commercial Arbitration would be used to solve disputes without having to resort to the potentially time-consuming court system, he said.

"The commercial arbitration council will be a private and independent, non-biased body and decisions by the council will be final," he said.

Those seeking to bypass the courts currently use Singapore's arbitration centre.

Mao Thora told the Post this month the Commerce Ministry was receiving help from the Asian Development Bank to set up the centre for launch later this year.

Forex reserves outdo Q1 projections: NBC

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Nguon Sovan and Steve Finch

Cambodian holdings worth $2.4b, bank reports.

THE National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said on Sunday that foreign exchange reserves have remained steady so far this year despite projections reserves could fall due to reduced foreign investment and therefore foreign currency injections into the economy.

Tal Nay Im, director general of the NBC, said that at the end of June forex reserves not including gold were "estimated" at US$2.4 billion, the same level as in August when reserves climbed to a new record.

That figure dipped slightly to below $2.3 billion in December, but has since recovered, according to the NBC.

In an April outlook for Cambodia, the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit predicted that Cambodia's forex reserves would fall to $1.6 billion by the end of 2010. Explaining the projection at the end of May, EIU's Cambodia economist Danny Richards said: "There will be a negative position on the combined current and financial accounts that will result in a running down of foreign reserves."

However, Tal Nay Im rejected this forecast on Sunday.

"There is no reason that the foreign reserves should decline to that figure," she said, without elaborating further.

On Thursday, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published its Asia Economic Monitor report that said Cambodia's forex reserves had held steady at the end of the first quarter at $2.4 billion citing data from sources including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During this period reserves had increased 14.4 percent year on year. This represented a slowing down in growth in the country's foreign reserves - in the fourth quarter forex reserves increased 26.8 percent and in the third quarter 53.3 percent, ADB said.

The IMF will reassess Cambodia's forex reserves during consultaions due in September, it said last month.

BIDV bank signs deal to buy PIB

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Nguon Sovan

BANK for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) officially signed a deal to purchase Prosperity Investment Bank (PIB) on Sunday witnessed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong.

PIB will be renamed the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC), BIDV said, under the newly formed Investment and Development Company of Cambodia, which will also run Cambodia-Vietnam Insurance Company with initial capital of US$100 million.

National Bank of Cambodia Director General Tal Nay Im told the Post Sunday that BIDV would "invest $50 million in capital ... for business operations", adding that she did not know the purchase price of PIB.

Burma VJs: They shoot us, and we shoot them

A video journalist captures the monks’ 2007 protests in Myanmar in this scene from the documentary film Burma VJ. Inset: Documentary director Anders Ostergaard.

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Dianne Janes

Armed with nothing but a mobile phone or video recorder, citizen journalists are providing a mouthpiece for citizens stuggling against brutal repression.


THESE days it seems almost impossible for governments to get away with mass human rights violations without somebody, somehow, filming it and getting the story out.

In Cambodia, video journalists film housing evictions, illegal logging operations and stories on health care. They make activist films for the Web, filing stories with broadcasters facing the demands of 24-hour television coverage for an audience hungry for information.

In Myanmar, video journalists have formed a loose collective working for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an organisation which uploads and disseminates footage via the Web from its base in Norway.

And though the high price of petrol may seem an unlikely cause for mass public protest and military violence, these Myanmar video journalists risked their lives to meticulously record the protests and the monks' march through the streets.

Director of the documentary Burma VJ, Anders Ostergaard, shows how tension and frustration with government policies led to the September 2007 protests in Yangon.

The film, which screened at Meta House last Monday, shows video journalists are active around the country, recording scenes from everyday life as well as the activities of the military and the pro-democracy movement.

"It's a difficult job," says the narrator, a young man called "Joshua". After fleeing the country, he tries to stay in touch with various video journalists via mobile phone, email and online chat as they face being discovered, arrested or even shot at for recording events on the streets of Myanmar.

I feel the world is forgetting about us. That's why I became a video reporter. we have to show the world we are still here.

The group is passionate and tech-savvy. At times, they have been the only link between the isolationist country and the rest of the world, transmitting images of hope as well as images of violence and destruction.

"I feel the world is forgetting about us," says Joshua. "That's why I become a video reporter. We have to show the world we are still here."

The film brings together footage from a wide range of sources, from hand-held cameras to mobile phones and digital still cameras.

Much of it is extraordinary: Monks pray before the gates to Aung San Suu Kyi's home, where she stands defiantly receiving them; a group of wounded monks shelter in their temple after a brutal raid, in which hundreds were taken away; the tragic image of a monk's corpse floats face down in the water, covered in bloody bruises and wounds, saffron robes hanging from his body; and the inevitable military backlash, filmed from all angles as protesters flee the guns and tear gas.

The haunting images give us a rare insight into life under Myanmar's repressive regime and the people who are ready for change. The compelling footage is only let down by the occasional use of staged re-creations, which aren't identified and compromise the authenticity of the project.

Documentary is - or ought to be - the art form of truth-telling. To avoid accusations of fakery, the filmmakers ought to have found a better method for filling gaps in the story where footage was unavailable.

Nonetheless, Ostergaard has done a remarkable job, compiling diverse footage and using it to highlight the emergence of citizen journalism as a valid form of reportage.

Broadcasters like CNN and BBC, unable to gain entry to Myanmar, relied heavily on DVB footage during the protest, often airing it within hours of the events.

Protest groups, students and activists around the world now record their experiences on mobile phones and hand-held cameras and communicate directly via the Web, raising awareness of issues and building networks of interested activists.

Ostergaard reinforces the importance of this movement with Burma VJ. Even when the secret police eventually discover DVB's Yangon headquarters, seizing equipment and arresting its journalists, one of them is hiding in the trees, filming the event.

Citizen journalism is facing renewed pressure in Myanmar, but it's not over yet.

Despite the violent response by Myanmar's military, Burma VJ gives the audience a chance to experience the hope and commitment of the people of Myanmar, and a glimpse of what may unfold in the future. It can be seen online at

Novel turns King Father into a literary 'Figurehead' of fun

Courting trouble? New novel Figurehead by Patrick Allington.

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Peter Olszewski

Australian piece paints a potentially controversial portrait of Cambodia's ex-King Norodom Sihanouk during the KR years.

A just-published Australian novel, Figurehead, by Patrick Allington (Black Inc) about the dark days of the Pol Pot regime blurs fiction with reality and creates caricatures of the high-profile Cambodians who played a part in this unfortunate passage of history.

It is the debut novel by Allington, who was mentored by JM Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, at the University of Adelaide.

The book follows Ted Whittlemore, a fictional radical Australian journalist, possibly based on Wilfred Burchett, a controversial writer denounced as a communist sympathiser.

The book recounts how in the late 1960s Whittlemore saves the life of Nhem Kiry, who then becomes Pol Pot's mouthpiece.

The consequences haunt Whittlemore as he ponders the Khmer Rouge excesses and wonders what went wrong.

Geordie Williamson, the chief literary critic of The Australian newspaper, wrote on June 11 that, "Figurehead is almost, but not quite, a historical novel...Its inventions are not just speculative amalgam - tall tales and hearsay to plug gaps in the historical record - but a leap, made from real-world specificity into the abstract universals of literature."

But how will Cambodians view the representation of Norodom Sihanouk, who is lampooned as some absurdist cartoon character that could be at home in the darkly satirical US TV series South Park?

In one passage Sihanouk refers to his wife Princess Monique as "fruit salad". In another, Khmer Rouge leaders snigger about Sihanouk's ample stomach: "'Everybody is so delighted,' Ieng Sary whispered, 'that His Majesty Prince Norodom Sihanouk is finally pregnant. He has wanted to be a mother for so long. He's so large that the doctors suspect twins.'"

The representation poses the question of whether the book will be made available in the Kingdom's bookshops.

For Thailand's kings, relative to Cambodia's, lese majeste is more

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Sebastian Strangio

Though the Thai government regularly invokes its royalty-protecting regulation, Cambodia's king and govt have taken a laid-back approach.

CAN you get in trouble for insulting the Cambodian King? Under Thailand's notorious lese majeste laws, one can be jailed for failing to stand up for the national anthem or publicly criticising the monarchy.

But sources close to the royal family say that though open insults could get you into hot water, similar laws in Cambodia have been tempered by an established precedent of open expression.

The constitution itself paints an ambiguous picture: Article 7 states that the "person of the King shall be inviolable", and Article 18 that "royal messages shall not be subjected to discussion by the National Assembly" - but both are far from the sort of punitive laws that exist in other monarchies.

Someone wandered down from the palace and said 'i don't think you should sell that'.

Less strict
Julio Jeldres, King Father Norodom Sihanouk's official biographer, said that the Cambodian government is much less strict than that of Thailand or Jordan, where people are still serving lengthy jail terms for lese majeste offences.

"In Cambodia, King Sihanouk was the first to signal that he was not going to send to jail writers or journalists that were critical of him," he said.

He said that in his own writings on the royal family he was "completely free" to write whatever he wanted, but "naturally, I am always aware that there are certain boundaries".

But how far can one push the envelope? Australian historian Milton Osborne's book Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness was banned for about four weeks in 1994 for its less-than-charitable assessment of the then-King.

Casual ban
But even the author himself cast light on the casual nature of the "ban".

"One day, soon after the book was released [in Lucky Market], someone wandered down from the palace and said, 'I don't think you should sell that', and so they took it off the shelves," Osborne said in an interview with the Post last year. "A month later it was back."

Royal privileges
Although his son Norodom Sihamoni is the new king, the Cambodian parliament conferred upon Sihanouk following his abdication the title of "Great and Valorous King" enabling him to retain the same privileges and immunities as those constitutionally conferred upon the reigning monarch.

This was subsequently enshrined in the Law on the Titles and Privileges of the Former King and Queen of Cambodia on October 29, 2004.

BBU close in on Super 4 spot

Photo by: Nick Sells
Khemara Keila captain Kuoch Sokumpheak (right) skips over a challenge from National Defense Ministry’s Thong Oudom during their Premier League match Saturday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Andy Bruwer

Build Bright United drew level on points with Naga Corp Saturday by defeating them 3-2, while Khemara Keila took down the Defence Ministry by a sole goal.

SATURDAY'S first Cambodian Premier League (CPL) match saw Samdech Hun Sen Cup finalists Naga Corp fall to a 3-2 loss against aspiring university side Build Bright United (BBU).

This was a game that had a bit of everything. Naga, fourth in the table, were looking to open up a gap between the Super 4 and the rest of the CPL teams, but BBU were in no mood to let them have it all their own way.

After their defeat to Phnom Penh Crown midweek, Naga looked lethargic in the early stages and were made to pay for their apparent uninterest.

On 15 minutes, BBU's Ek Vannak beautifully floated in a free kick that was powerfully headed into the net by Prum Puthsethy to leave Naga defenders blaming each other.

Naga threatened briefly but were rocked by a second goal on the half-hour mark. Ek Vannak supplied another sweet cross, and this time it was Oum Chandara who looped his header over stranded Naga goalkeeper and namesake Oum Chandarda. Naga quickly made three substitutions, and the ploy looked to have worked a treat when Sunday Okonkwo swept home a low cross from substitute Pich Sina on the stroke of half-time.

As Naga pressed at the start of the second period, referee Kuong Ly made a telling contribution to proceedings. First, he disallowed Oum Thavarak's headed goal for handball, unseen by everyone else on the pitch. Then on 70 minutes, he dismissed Naga's substitute goalkeeper Chaom Veasna for scything down In Puthearith outside the box as he raced through.

Defender Sun Somprathana donned the keeper's gloves and jersey but was powerless to stop a thunderous drive by Oum Chandara from 20 yards a few minutes later.
Photo by: Nick Sells
Naga Corp’s Meas Channa swings in a cross during the CPL against Build Bright United Saturday at Olympic Stadium.

With BBU leading 3-1 it was a tall order for 10-man Naga to recover, but they made a good fight of it. Pich Sina leaned back and fired over from close range before teammate Teab Vathanak twisted and turned in the box and saw his bobbling shot strike the foot of the upright and bounce along the goal line to safety.

With seconds ticking away, Sun Sovannarith sent in a hopeful cross-cum-shot that Oum Chandarda let slip through his fingers to bring Naga closer to a comeback, but time ran out for the casino-backed team, who stayed above BBU only thanks to their superior goal difference.

National Defence 0 Khemara Keila 1
This season, National Defence Ministry (MND) are a shadow of their runners-up selves from last year, while Khemara Keila are pushing the top two in the CPL. So the scene was set for a Khemara success, but it took them a while to get into the game.

MND were the first to threaten when Sin Dalin's 30-yard free kick was pushed onto the bar by Khemara keeper Mak Theara. With much of the play in midfield, it wasn't until the 40th minute that Khemara had their first real chance to open the scoring. The league's leading goalscorer Kuoch Sokumpheak was upended by Pheak Rady, and he stepped up to take the spot-kick, only to see his effort bounce off the legs of a diving Sou Yaty.

The second half was pretty much one-way traffic with Khemara looking to dominate possession and fuel their title aspirations with another win.

Most of the opportunities fell to the usually reliable Kuoch Sokumpheak, but he'd left his scoring boots at home as chance after chance went begging.

Credit must also go to MND keeper Sou Yaty, who produced a string of fine saves and has proved to be one of the CPL's most accomplished goalkeepers of this campaign.

Khemara finally got the breakthrough their domination deserved on 78 minutes. Loch Ratha's corner was neatly flicked on by the diminutive David Adeyinka at the near post, with his touch eluding Sou Yaty and defenders on the goal line. With the ball resting in the net, MND's plucky resistance was over, and Khemara bossed the rest of the game. There was time enough for Kuoch Sokumpheak to race through all on his own and blast another effort over the crossbar to sum up his day's frustration.

PKR stay top with a draw against Crown

Photo by: NICK SELLS
Spark’s Prince Justine (right) tries to trick his way past Kirivong’s Samuel Oseika during their Cambodian Premier League game Sunday

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Andy Brouwer

WITH just one point separating Phnom Penh Crown and Preah Khan Reach (PKR) at the top of the table before Sunday's game began, it was always going to be a close affair, and so it proved to be. Disappointingly for the fans of both teams, goalmouth action in the first half was hard to come by, with both teams giving the ball away too easily on the slippery surface after the match began in a rainstorm.

Opportunities were restricted to long-range efforts apart from one golden chance for each side. On 19 minutes, Crown's lanky striker Ousmanou Mohamadou opened up the PKR defence and laid the perfect ball to Hong Rathana, but as he prepared to give his team the lead, Lay Raksmey appeared from nowhere to block his goal-bound drive. At the other end, on the half-hour mark, PKR skipper Samel Nasa's free kick was headed back across goal by Micheal Ekene to his striking partner, Olisa Onyemerea, who stretched but failed to make a telling contact on the goal line. At the half-time interval honours were even.

PKR began the second period in eager fashion, but the quality you'd expect from the teams in the top two places in the table was still missing. That was until the 70th minute, when Crown's winger Srey Veasna broke into the box, and eluded three players before succumbing to a last-ditch tackle by defender Lay Raksmey. The resulting corner bobbled around the area before Tieng Tiny's shot took a deflection off Sok Rithy and looped into the net. Such a scrappy goal summed up the game thus far.

Then, referee Tuy Vicheka decided to take a hand in the proceedings. On 77 minutes, he dismissed Crown's combative midfielder Phuong Narong for a second bookable offence, though it was the most innocuous challenge of the whole afternoon. Within three minutes, PKR made their one-man advantage pay rich dividends as Sok Rithy sent Khounla Boravy away on the left wing, and his inch-perfect cross was slammed into the roof of the net by a delighted Ekene for a deserved equaliser. And that's how the game ended, a goal and point apiece, with PKR retaining their slender lead over Crown at the top of the CPL table.

Spark FC 3 Kirivong SSC 3
Kirivong Sok Sen Chey had the roles reversed on them following their thrilling 3-3 comeback draw against Post Tel last week. Kirivong will be kicking themselves as they let slip a 3-1 lead Sunday and had to settle for a share of the points with Spark FC in a game that summed up their season to date. Starting well, they bossed the first 25 minutes and nosed in front when Julius Chukwumeka controlled a 40-yard cross-field pass from Him Salam and guided his shot wide of the keeper.

Kirivong then extended the lead on 39 minutes, when a sweet passage of play allowed In Vichika a free header at the far post. The ball hit the goalkeeper's legs and fell nicely for their recent Vietnamese import Win Nhek Troeung, who fired it home. Two minutes later, Spark gave themselves a lifeline when Prince Justine rose above everyone else and planted his header firmly past a static Kirivong defence.

Spark came out gunning for the equaliser after the break but didn't make their superiority count, and it was Kirivong who made them pay dearly when a mistake by Spark keeper Pov Raksa gifted a third goal on a platter after 67 minutes. As Pouv Raksa waited to pick up a hopeful punt forward by Kirivong, Chukwumeka got a telling touch to knock it around and fired into the empty net. Spark refused to lie down, and on 72 minutes they had defender Than Rachanaoudom to thank for his thunderous volley when a poorly cleared corner fell to him.

Spark's comeback was complete when Mak Chhordaravuth was sent clear only for Kirivong's onrushing goalkeeper Kun Thnou to bring him down with the slightest of touches, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty. Prince Justine stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way, and his double backward somersault was a fitting celebration for Spark's revival. Kirivong still had time to win it when Him Salam found space in the box but sent his shot wide, leaving his team to ponder on their carelessness.

Police Blotter: 27 Jul 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Kong Sokun

Police in Kratie province nabbed two men on July 22 in connection with an armed robbery that led to the killing of Khin Sokny, 20, on July 20 in Changkrang commune. Police identified the suspects as Chea Von, 55, and Yim Kha-Oun, 39, both of whom reside in Bos Leav commune. After the arrest, police confiscated an AK-47 rifle with 26 bullets and two red motorcycles from the suspects.

A Kampong Cham commune chief was telling the mother of a local troublemaker to advise her son not to make any more trouble in the village when he was unexpectedly stabbed in the waist by said troublemaker on Thursday. Police said the troublemaker, An Vuthy, 21, fled the scene after seriously injuring Mear Chrei Commune Chief Chhay Phon, who claimed that the perpetrator had committed similar acts several times.

While running after his wife to kiss her, a man was axed twice in the head by his brother-in-law, who mistakenly thought that his sister was being attacked by the man. The incident occurred Wednesday in Pursat's Phnum Kravanh district. Duk Chrun, 42, was told by his cronies that they would give him from US$1.25 to $2.50 if he exchanged kisses with his shy wife in order to entertain them. He was injured by his brother-in-law, Khem Neth, who thought that the victim was chasing his sister in an attempt to harm her. The perpetrator has been sent to Pursat provincial court to stand trial.

A Banteay Meanchey provincial council member was chopped to death by a group of spoiled Samurai Vietnamese teenagers Friday after he told the perpetrators, who were drinking near him at a restaurant in the province's Preah Punlear commune, not to "chitchat too noisily". Police identified the victim as Top Sareoun, 63, who was also a soldier. Police said they nabbed the three suspects on Saturday as they were cutting their long hair to disguise their identities.

An 18-year-old woman died Wednesday at a private hospital in Phnom Penh after drinking poison the day before. The dead girl was identified as Sok Nary, who lived in Kampong Chhnang's Svay Chrum commune. Police said the girl decided to commit suicide after she was repeatedly criticised by her parents for going out too much and ignoring her housework.

Kids are key to tennis future

Photo by: NICK SELLS
Young tennis players get their own back by hitting balls at coaches (front from left to right) Peov Pros, Chhay Panavuth and Chea Peou during the last “drill exercise” of the day Friday at the Cambodian Country Club.

The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 27 July 2009
Robert Davis

Cambodian Tennis Federation event highlights the promise of the nation's youth - and the sport's progress in the Kingdom.

When 7-year-old Nolane Tep went onto the court at the Cambodia Country Club for the Kid's Day Event this past Friday, little did he know just how important it was for tennis in Cambodia. Friday was a day that marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport in the Kingdom, which once dominated its regional rivals in the discipline.

Players and coaches often get the credit for wins, and likewise the blame for losses. However, it is at the top, at the executive administration level, where tennis ultimately succeeds or fails.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Cham Prasidh, president of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) and Minister of Commerce, and the enthusiasm and energy of Secretary General Tep Rithivit, tennis is again thriving in Cambodia.

Because of their commitment and the direction that the TFC has demonstrated in the past year, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has granted special balls and model racquets, and is considering a financial grant for coaching assistance to the TFC.

"Cambodia is getting a lot of notice among the region and especially at the ITF," comments Chaiyapak Siriwat, president of the Southeast Asia Tennis Federation. "They are doing all the right things to build a programme that will be a force in the years to come."

The TFC recently contracted Braen Aneiros from Panama as the national coach for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games. Aneiros is working for the Southeast Asia Tennis Federation (SEATF) and also has been coaching Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, the current world No 1-ranked junior girl and reigning Wimbledon junior champion.

"It is a great opportunity to be part of the TFC team," Aneiros said from Bangkok. "It might take a little time, but I am confident that tennis in Cambodia will succeed."

Though the upcoming SEA Games will receive the majority of the press and government support, it is the grass-roots projects like mini-tennis in the schools and communities that provide the base for future champions. By making Kid's Day the focal point of their promotions, the TFC demonstrated that they are committed to investing in the long-term growth of tennis.

For Cambodian kids such as little Tep Nolane, a career in tennis just took a step closer to becoming a reality.

Unchained from gangs

A work progam in Lynn for troubled youths helps them to separate their lives from crime, focus on their futures

Antonio Pacheco, 16 (left), and Wilson Vargas, 17, work with other youths to clean up at a city-owned dock off the Lynnway. (Globe Staff Photo / John Tlumacki)

By Steven Rosenberg
Globe Staff / July 26, 2009

With green T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, the teenagers look like any other summer job crew that appears as a blur to passing motorists.

But these kids know they’re not like most other teens. For most, this is their first job; for many, this is the first time they’ve earned money legally. From a distance the group of 15 stand out as a hard workers; on their break, they quietly discuss a style of living they’re trying to leave behind.

“I’m a Blood,’’ says Sothon Alelo, referring to the gang he joined three years ago, when he was 13. “But, now I want to go to college.’’

The son of Cambodian immigrants, Alelo is one of six in the group who belong to a gang or were once a member of a gang. Like all of the others in the group, Alelo has been in and out of the court system.

The work program is funded by the Shannon Grant, a state subsidy that funnels money to communities to create educational programs to combat gang violence. In Lynn, the gang capital of the North Shore, there are some 35 gangs with an estimated 1,400 total members, said Lynn Police Sergeant Ed Nardone, who heads the Lynn police gang unit. The largest gangs are the Bloods and the Crips.

For three years, dozens of Lynn gang members and other teens at risk have worked for six weeks each summer in the city, earning minimum wage while landscaping city-owned property 20 hours a week. The rules are strict and there are few second chances: They have to be at work by 8:30 in the morning; there’s no smoking; no cellphones or iPods; no fighting.

The biggest problem, say supervisors, is when members of opposing gangs work together in groups. In mid-July, when the work crew first formed, Alelo and Tinh Pinch worked on opposite sides of the street and avoided each other for several days. But gradually, the two offered signs of respect to each other, an important peace offering, explained Pinch, who was a member of the Crips gang.

“Working with them I can see their struggle and relate it to mine,’’ says Pinch, who is 17 and entering 11th grade at Lynn English High School.

A few years ago, Pinch was “jumped in’’ by the Crips, an initiation that calls for gang members to pummel a new recruit for 30 seconds. While in the gang, Pinch was arrested several times on charges including trespassing and assault. Now he says he has seen too much violence and is out of the gang.

“I’m trying to erase the gang,’’ he says, reaching for a medallion on a chain around his neck. He shows the rest of the teens on the landscaping crew the image of his older brother Tony, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Lynn last Halloween.

“My goal is to stay out of trouble and be a man, and to be a man it will take great effort,’’ says Pinch, whose parents came from Cambodia to Lynn two decades ago.

Like Aleo, Pinch now dreams of going to college. “I want to become an artist, because I’m pretty skilled at drawing,’’ he tells his work crew partner, Charlie Sang.

Sang is 14, soft-spoken, and considered a representative of the Crips, a step some teens take before becoming an official gang member. Pinch spends most of his workdays with Sang, counseling him to stay in school and avoid gang life.

The landscaping job is the first time Sang has ever been paid to work, and he’s surprised how tired he gets after cutting grass and pulling weeds from sidewalks. Right now, he equates having a job with success.

“I want to work because I ain’t got nothing else to do,’’ says Sang, who is 5-feet-4 and wears a black Los Angeles Dodgers cap every day. “I get hope out of it. I feel like a successful person.’’

Eugene Schneeberg, a pastor for Straight Ahead Ministries, believes the program serves to boost the self-esteem of the gang members. “The more they can be together, the better. Because when they leave here, when they see each other on the street, hopefully they’ll give each other a pass. They can’t assault them tonight and then come back to work tomorrow. The idea of them having something to lose is vitally important,’’ said Schneeberg, whose program also receives Shannon Grant funding and provides caseworkers to follow up with the teens during the year.

“I think by the end, we teach them accountability,’’ said George Bakas, a truant officer in the Lynn schools who helps oversee the program. “And to have them working in the same vicinity is a good start. Hopefully, soon, they’ll have a conversation. Just a few days ago they were on different sides of the yard, and now they’ve realized they’re here to work and that it’s different from the past.’’

During a short break, the kids sit at the corner of the Lynnway and talk about what they hope to do with their summer paychecks.

“I want to buy a car,’’ said Pinch. “Anybody know who’s selling a car?’’

Janese Medrano has different plans for her paycheck: clothes, diapers, and wipes, because her 3-month-old son, Ezekiel, is growing fast. “I need food also,’’ says Medrano, who never joined a gang but has been locked up before for fighting by the Department of Youth Services.

At 16, Medrano says she’s focused on staying in school and wants to go to Salem State and become an emergency room nurse. She says all of the challenges she faces - working, taking care of her son, avoiding trouble - will help her achieve her goals.

A few feet away, a muscular teen who calls himself Gully nods and says he’s trying to start his life over. Since he was 11, he says, he’s been stealing. “I started hot-wiring cars and would sell them to chop shops. When I was 14, I was a master at it,’’ he says. Now, he wants to go to a school where he can write poetry.

“I’m just a plain person, really,’’ he says. “I’m not boring, but I’m always, like, serious. There’s nothing really funny about me. After my father got shot dead when I was 3, there’s nothing really funny. You know what I mean?’’

Steven Rosenberg can be reached at

Cambodia and Vietnam Will Sign an Agreement for Joint Investment in the National Air Line on Sunday – Saturday, 25.7.2009

Posted on 26 July 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 622

“Phnom Penh: A partnership agreement for joint investment in Cambodia Angkor Air will be signed on this Sunday [26 July 2009] by the Cambodian Government and Vietnam Airlines. What will be signed is an agreement on investment for the airline, which will fly between Cambodia and Vietnam, and it will be the birth of a national airline of Cambodia after the previous national airline Royal Air Cambodge went bankrupt eight years ago.

“The secretary of state of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, Mr. Mao Havannal, said on 23 July 2009 that the agreement will be signed officially on 26 July 2009. And flights will be launched on 27 July 2009, and, as planned, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen will preside over this event.

“At the launching day on 27 July 2009, the company will begin when two delegations will be boarding, one will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An flying to Siem Reap, and the other delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An will fly to Sihanoukville.

“He added that for the first step, the Cambodia Angkor Air will start its flights on three routes: Phnom-Siem Reap, Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville, and Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh City.

“Therefore, at the end of July, Cambodia will have its own national airline, after the former national airline had disappeared almost a decade ago in 2001.

“Mr. Mao Havannal said that the creation of a new national airline covers three important intentions: first, an sovereign state should have its own national airline, so that second, there is a balance in air traffic with Cambodia having its own flights, while foreign airlines can also fly to Cambodia, and third, to promote the growth of tourism in and to Cambodia.

“Royal Air Cambodge, the former Cambodian national airline, went bankrupt in 2001 due to management problems, wasting as much as US$30 million.

“Thus, it is crucial that a new national airline has a more efficient management, to ensure that money can be earned for the sate, and the honor of Cambodia can be maintained.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4955, 25.7.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 25 July 2009

Hamill to testify at Khmer Rouge tribunal

July 27, 2009

One day short of 31 years after his brother was abducted, tortured and killed by Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia Rob Hamill is to testify before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Kerry Hamill ended up at the S-21 or Tuol Sleng prison headed by Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, when the yacht he and friends were sailing strayed into Cambodian waters on August 13 1978.

One crewman, Canadian Stuart Glass, was shot while Mr Hamill and Briton John Dewhirst were taken for interrogation and torture for two months before being killed.

Mr Hamill, like the estimated 17,000 who entered Tuol Sleng's gates, was forced to make confessions and he claimed to be a CIA spy.

Duch is the first of Pol Pot's henchmen to face trial before the joint UN-backed Cambodian-international court, officially called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), on which New Zealand judge Dame Silvia Cartwright is one of the five judges.

Mr Hamill is to testify on August 12.

"I expect to experience the widest possible range of emotions when I see Duch," Mr Hamill said.

"A lot of nervous energy will be expended."

When the trial opened in April Duch apologised for heading the prison but said he was acting on orders.

"Duch says he is sorry and wants forgiveness, but I want to find out whether he truly understands the impact of what he did and the damage he caused," Mr Hamill said.

"I'm not sure that he does comprehend what he and the Khmer Rouge did to the people of Cambodia, let alone to the families of Kerry, John and Stuart."

A documentary, Brother Number One, telling Mr Hamill's story is being produced by Annie Goldson, James Bellamy and Mr Hamill for Pan Pacific Films, funded by NZ on Air and TV3.

Duch faces charges including crimes against humanity, breaches of the Geneva Convention and violations of the Cambodian penal code including premeditated murder. Up to 2 million people died of starvation, overwork, torture or were executed during the 1975-1979 regime.

Cambodia cracks down on dissenters

The Financial Times

By Tim Johnston in Bangkok
Published: July 26 2009

Asia is no stranger to governments using the courts to muzzle their detractors, but the Cambodian government’s current legal attack on its opponents is causing concern in the region.

Hang Chakra, former editor of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, is sharing a cell with 50 other convicts in Phnom Penh’s notorious Prey Sar prison, serving a one-year sentence for articles that alleged corruption among government officials.

Moeung Sonn, head of the Khmer Cultural Civilisation Foundation, was last month sentenced to two years in jail in absentia for “disinformation” after suggesting that a new lighting system at the Angkor Wat temple complex might damage the 600-year-old buildings.

And on Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, an opposition parliamentarian accused of defamation against Hun Sen, Cambodia’s prime minister.

“I’m sure I will be found guilty unless there is some magic in the air, and I don’t feel that there is,” she said on Sunday.

“The Cambodian government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years,” Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said last week.

The case against Mu Sochua, a former minister for women and veteran’s affairs, is based on her allegation that Hun Sen called her “strong leg” – a cutting insult in Khmer culture – in a speech in her constituency in early April. When he declined to apologise, she called a press conference in which she alleged that not just herself, but all Cambodian women had been insulted.

That allegation provoked a counter-suit from Hun Sen. The courts threw out her case but agreed to hear Hun Sen’s complaint.

Her lawyer withdrew after he came under pressure, provoking a protest from the office of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mu Sochua declined to find a different attorney. “I am not going to put another lawyer through that torture,” she said.

If she is found guilty, she will face a fine of about $2,500 (€1,760, £1,520). More importantly, she could lose the right to sit in parliament. Some analysts say that might be Hun Sen’s intention.

“The concept of pluralism hasn’t got any roots in Cambodia,” said David Chandler, a professor of history at Monash University in Australia. “The opposition is almost by definition disloyal.”

Son Chhay, another outspoken opposition parliamentarian, says the recent crackdown is a symptom of a government that is trying to address the issues facing the country, such as corruption, land seizures and economic stagnation.

“Like many dictatorial regimes in the region, because they are unable to solve the problems, they resort to measures to control the people and shut them up,” he said.

“If he allowed Mu Sochua to challenge him, other people might go down the same path,” said Son Chhay.

In the early 1990s, the international community invested some $1.5bn in a UN operation to restore civil government to a country that Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre, had run since 1985.

The opposition fears the prime minister is using his parliamentary majority – the CPP won 90 of the 123 seats in parliament in elections last year – to destroy fragile institutions that have taken years to build.

“It is not me on trial, but the judiciary of Cambodia that is on trial,” said Mu Sochua.

Cambodia A/H1N1 flu case rises to 17

PHNOM PENH, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's confirmed A/H1N1 flucases have increased to 17 and the latest case is a 22-year-old Irish woman who traveled from Vietnam, health officials said here on Sunday.

"So far, nobody has died in the country," said Ly Sovan, deputydirector of the communicable disease control department. The latest person is in a stable condition and is recovering well.

Mom Bun Heng, Cambodian health minister, told reporters that his ministry has strengthened the tracking system at two main airports, Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport by using thermal scanners.

"Our officials also have been observing the travelers coming into the country through border gates," he added. Earlier this week, Cambodian Health Ministry issued a call to appeal people notto travel to neighboring Thailand if they were not in urgent need.

Cambodia's first case of influenza A/H1N1 was confirmed on June23, 2009.

Editor: Lin Zhi

Vietnam invests 200 mln USD on Cambodian Air, banking

PHNOM PENH, July 26 (Xinhua) -- A signing ceremony was held on Sunday by Cambodia and Vietnam on the establishment of Cambodian Air Carrier which was a joint venture between Vietnam Airline and National Cambodia Air Carrier namely Cambodia Angkor Air.

"Vietnamese side has invested 100 million U.S. dollars capital in Cambodia Angkor air," Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, said at the signing ceremony which was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Senand visiting Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, who is also representative of the prime minister of Vietnam.

"Cambodia will have 51 percent share and Vietnamese side controls 49 percent," Sok An said, adding that the Cambodian new airline will help to push the tourism sector in the Kingdom while the world has met with global economic and financial crisis. The Vietnamese investment on Cambodia Angkor Air will be processed for30 years, Sok An said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has also invested another 100 million U.S. dollars to open the Bank for Development and Investment of Vietnamand Insurance sector in Cambodia.

This investment has showed the confidence from Vietnamese side on the economic growth of Cambodia, Sok An said, adding that it is the pride of the country that we have our own national flag in aircarrier. He stressed that the new airline we will launch the official flight tomorrow.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the ceremony that "I would like to urge the new Cambodia Angkor Air to strengthen the management on safety and security for all travelers".

Additionally, Thong Khong, Cambodian Tourism Minister told reporters that tourism is one of the key sector in the country and"this year we expected to have two to three percent increase on this sector." For the first six month of this year, the tourism sector decreased about one percent across the country, however, incapital Phnom Penh it has increased 14 to 16 percent so far.

Last year, Cambodia achieved about two million of the foreign tourists.

Editor: Lin Zhi