Saturday, 22 August 2009

GT-TELL seeks strategic investor (Cambodia)

August 22nd, 2009

The only one CDMA mobile operator in the Kingdom of Cambodia GT-TELL (Cambodia) Investment Company Ltd., is said to be seeking strategic investor for its expansion of its network to cover the whole territory of Cambodia. Currently the GT-TELL Company company is operating under “EXCELL” trade mark and offers services both voice and data, including EVDO (3G) Mobile Broadband services in Phnom Penh and surrounding province.

Commercial operations of the company started July 2, 2008 and during the first year of operations the company achieved outstanding results in attracting new subscribers. Total number of subscribers reached 40K subscribers. Furthermore, EXCELL’s attractive rates are very popular among Mobile Internet and Mobile Broadband users. EXCELL offers one of the lowest and most reliable Mobile Internet in Phnom Penh. During the short period of time the Company earned it own market share in this highly competitive market.

Currently, the Company is said to be looking for future expansion of its network; therefore, is seeking strategic investor. The company decided to explore more opportunities in teaming up with new investor in order to capitalize advances of the CDMA technology, which offers lower operational cost, as well as faster deployment, fewer BTS compare to its GSM rivals.

It is said that interested parties can contact the company at +855 18 700017 or +855 18 700022.

E-mail: or

Hamill tells his story to children of Cambodia

Rob Hamill testifies before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

TV New Zealand

Saturday August 22, 2009

The Kiwi transatlantic rower who confronted his brother's killer at a war crimes hearing is now trying to educate Cambodians about their country's brutal past.

Rob Hamill has been visiting high schools in the capital Phnom Penh, before he makes another emotional journey home.

Hamill testified at the hearing of the former Khmer Rouge commander Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, who is on trial for crimes against humanity.

His brother Kerry was tortured and executed in Cambodia 31 years ago.

Hamill is now talking to the next generation of Cambodians about the atrocities carried out by the Khmer Rogue.

"We feel we need to tell this story of what happened to the people of Cambodia...and my brother," he says.

"This is hugely important; the history needs to be told."

But some of the students he visits ask him if the killing of two million people in Cambodia by torture, starvation and overwork even happened.

"The children of Cambodia do not know what happened in their recent history in the 1970's," says Hamill.

In 1978 Kerry Hamill's boat strayed into Cambodian waters.

He was one of a handful of foreigners tortured and executed in the communist's radical S-21 prison.

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

A sensual story survives the horrors of Cambodia's killing fields, writes Stevie Davies

Stevie Davies
The Guardian, Saturday 22 August 2009

Readers of Kim Echlin's electrifying new novel, set in the Khmer Rouge killing fields of 1970s Cambodia, can hardly help but be aware of the UN-backed tribunal on Pol Pot's genocide, now in session. Cambodia's wounds are absolutely fresh and raw: the bones of the dead still work their way to the surface. In an epigraph to The Disappeared, the Canadian writer quotes survivor Vann Nath, a witness at the tribunal: "Tell others." What can a western writer legitimately or authoritatively tell in a work of fiction, especially a love story? We were not there; we neither saw nor suffered. To write such a testament is to dip one's pen into the dark ink of the obscene. Echlin is fully aware of this. When Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American in 1955, he bore witness to western imperialist blood-guilt in Asian atrocities; The Disappeared is first and foremost a love story. It tests erotic and familial love against distinctions of nationality: "People say, It is their country, let them tell it. You are my country." Love fails. The novel, however, does not.

This book is a miracle of economy whose short sentences and ellipses often draw on the powerful brevity of short-story technique. Anne Greves is a Canadian language expert who recapitulates her life story as a work of memory, a letter to the dead. The voice is singular and arresting. A first-person narrative addresses itself to a second person "you": Serey, a Cambodian blues singer whom Anne's 16-year-old self met in a Montreal club. This dual first and second-person device works with insidious urgency to involve the reader: we identify with "I" and are invoked by "you". Mother-loss has made Anne vulnerable. She abandons herself to Serey: "I would never be that self again. I was drowning in you." She dresses in her lover's shirt, to smell him, to become him. Like Anne's mother, he disappears.

Serey returns to Cambodia to locate his family. Eleven years later, she spots him (as she imagines) in a television film of a political rally. Following him to Phnom Penh, Anne lives with him; loses him; tracks him again into delirium and madness. This is a very sensual book, written in an aroused but taut and plain prose that attaches the intensities of erotic love to the smell, sight, taste and touch of human suffering. Cambodia is a mortuary world whose survivors endure continuing chaos, violence, want and corruption. Horror is normal, the heinous ordinary: the Khmer regime deliberately erased the pieties of family, culture, religion and memory itself.

Echlin's heroine is a risk-taker; so, on the literary level, is Echlin. Mythic and literary quotations freight the prose: King Lear, the Book of Ruth and Song of Songs. This ought not to work, but it does. The love dramatised in The Disappeared has a Greek quality. This is a narrative told by Eros about Thanatos; a sexual version of Antigone's quest for her brother's defiled corpse, transgressing laws of state to fulfil a higher law. The novel contains no quotation marks; the seamless prose represents a mind compulsively remembering. Serey, who is rarely named, becomes all but nameless, the vocative sounding into a void. Through such technical and stylistic virtuosity, allied with elliptical narrative brilliance, Echlin raises Anne's climactic ritual action to a level of tragic sublimity.

• Stevie Davies's The Eyrie is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Repairing a Shattered Image

By Jake Thomas /The Portland Observer

Chour Sreya, a survivor of an acid attack, prepares for her wedding in "Finding Face," a documentary about human rights that will make its Portland premier Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Portland Art Museum.

Film looks at gendered form of violence

In a country with limited opportunity for women, Tat Marina was a rising star.

Beautiful and talented, she was gaining an increasing amount of attention in Cambodia's karaoke scene. She eventually caught the eye of a powerful government official, Svay Sitha, who obsessed over her, and pampered her with luxuries that Tat Marina once thought she could only dream of.

However, she also drew the ire of the Svay's wife, who splashed acid on her face while feeding her niece fish porridge. The savage attack left Tat Marina disfigured and her life in shambles.

"Finding Face", a documentary produced by Skye Fitzgerald and Patti Duncan, is as much about the unaccountable power and the second-class citizen status of women in Cambodia as it is about Tat Marina's 10-year struggle to establish some semblance of normalcy after having her life violently unsettled.

Sadly, there is nothing uncommon about the sort of attack Tat suffered in Cambodia, where women are often hideously disfigured by jealous men who splash acid in their faces. The men who perpetuate these violent assaults are seldom held to account, and their victims rarely speak out.

The attack effectively ended Tat Marina's karaoke career, forcing her to hide the scars on her face with a piece of cloth whenever in public. She was pressured by Svay Sitha to remain quiet, but continued to speak out. She eventually fled to the United States to live with her brother. There, she got asylum and received reconstructive surgery, and gave birth to a child.

However, in Cambodia acid attacks continue against women with impunity. Svay Sitha even received a promotion, despite his involvement being well known.

"Finding Face", is an impactful and well-told story of one woman's courage to confront an injustice that is far-removed from many of its viewers, but is still very real for its victims.

The documentary recently premiered at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human rights in Geneva and will make it's Portland debut on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.

Tat Marina will be in attendance and answer questions after the screening.

The Ministry of Interior Plans to Sue Chea Mony of Providing False Testimony to the Court – Friday, 21.8.2009

Photo by: Tracey Shelton (The Phnom Penh Post)
Chea Mony sorts through photos of his brother Chea Vichea’s murder at his home in Phnom Penh on Thursday

Posted on 22 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia plans to sue the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, for presenting an untrue testimony to the court.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, told Kampuchea Thmey by phone in the afternoon of 20 August 2009 that the Ministry of Interior reserves all rights to sue the president of the Cambodia Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, for providing an unreal testimony and for using a court hearing he attended on 17 August 2009 to announce unreal information, leading to misunderstandings.

“Mr. Khieu Sopheak said, ‘First, we consider that it is the provision of untrue testimony, and second, it is the use of a court hearing to announce unreal information to the audience at the hearing, and to national and international journalists. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia reserves its right to prepare a lawsuit to be sent to the court, based on Mr. Chea Mony’s actions.

“However, Mr. Khieu Sopheak has not yet specified the date when a lawsuit against the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, will be sent to the court.

“On 20 August 2009, Kampuchea Thmey could not ask for a comment from the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, who is the younger brother of Mr. Chea Mony, who was gunned down in 2004, as no one picked up the phone.

“It should be remembered that on 17 August 2009, the Appeals Court opened a hearing on the murder of the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, who was murdered near the Wat Langka in 2004, and during the hearing, Mr. Chea Mony participated as a plaintiff. At that time, he said publicly that he thinks the government was behind the murder of his older brother.

“His words received a strong reaction from the hearing judge and prosecutors, and they even noted down the words he said during the hearing.

“It should be noted that after the murder of the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, two men [Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun] were arrested on the accusation that they were involved in the murder, but recently, the Appeals Court had decided to release them on bail, saying that there was insufficient evidence to put the burden on them; and on 17 August 2009, the Appeals Court decided to provide them with the further freedom and to reinvestigate the case.

“After the Appeals Court had ordered Mr. Chea Vichea’s case to be reinvestigated, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Kingdom of Cambodia and the International Labor Organization (ILO) released a statement of welcome for the decision decision to reinvestigate that murder case.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2028, 21.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 August 2009

Cambodia's 'Holy Cow' ceremony

Cambodian Buddhist monks chant before a dead 'magic cow' during a two-day religious event of Brahmanism in Damnak Sangker village, Pursat province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. About 90 percents of Cambodians are Buddhists, but they also respect Brahmanism.
(AP photo/Heng Sinith)

Friday, August 21, 2009

LIVE News: Watch Now

Hundreds of Cambodians have begun a ceremony for the death of a 'holy cow' whose spit could supposedly cure several illnesses, local officials say.

The mystical calf, which reportedly had unusual skin that looked like crocodile hide, was born on Tuesday and died earlier on Thursday in northern Pursat province, village chief Sok Mim said.

He said around 100 villagers gathered at the house of the cow's owner for a three-day memorial ceremony.

'Some people used the spit from the cow's mouth to cure their toothache and other illness. They said they recovered from aches afterwards,' Sok Mim said.

A local police official said villagers believed the cow had mystical powers because there had been a lot of rain in the drought-hit village after its birth.

Two French men held on underage sex charges in Cambodia

Sat, 22 Aug 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Two French nationals will appear in a Phnom Penh court on Saturday charged with soliciting sex from a minor and producing child pornography, national media reported. Both crimes carry the possibility of lengthy jail sentences. The men, named by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as 62-year-old Michel Jean Raymond Charlot and 60-year-old Claude Jean-Pierre Demeret, were arrested after Charlot solicited a 16-year-old female at a well-known red-light district in Phnom Penh and brought her back to his guesthouse.

The girl then told the police about Demeret.

Police searched the room at the guesthouse where Demeret was staying and found a collection of sexually explicit videos and photographs of him, most of which the police said were taken in Thailand.

A search of Charlot's room uncovered a collection of similar photographs and videos.

The head of the municipal police's anti-trafficking department, Keo Thea, described the arrests as a significant success.

"[Demeret] confessed that he had actually taken a lot more pictures in Thailand than in Cambodia," Keo Thea told the Cambodia Daily, adding that police believed the images were made for commercial purposes rather than, as the men had claimed, their own entertainment.

Police said evidence against the men included children's underwear and toys, as well as dozens of videos of the suspects and numerous sexually explicit photographs of the men with what police believe are children in Thailand.

Cambodia has long been seen as an easy place for foreigners to procure sex with minors, which under Cambodian law that combats sexual exploitation is anyone under the age of 18. In recent years the authorities have cracked down on the problem.

Taiwan begins 3-day mourning period after typhoon

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou hugs the relative, dressed in a traditional funeral gown, of a victim of Typhoon Morakot during a visit to the destroyed village of Shiao Lin, in southern Taiwan, Wednesday Aug. 19, 2009. During his visit, victims on Wednesday berated Taiwan's president over his slow response to Typhoon Morakot, while two more senior officials offered to resign as anger against the government mounted. (AP Photo)

Soldiers carry the body of a victim near the site of a major landslide caused by Typhoon Morakot which destroyed the mountain village of Hsiao Lin in Kaohsiung county, southern Taiwan August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

Taiwan soldiers carry an injured person to a typhoon rescue centre in the town of Chiashien in Kaohsiung county, southern Taiwan. A political storm surrounding Taiwan's Typhoon Morakot gained force as the defence minister and cabinet secretary offered to resign over the government's slow response. (AFP/Peter Parks)

Taiwan soldiers clean up a damaged road following Typhoon Morakot in Chuchi, Chiayi County, southern Taiwan August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

A soldier smells the ground while looking for the bodies of flood victims in the mudslide-affected village of Sinkai, following Typhoon Morakot in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

Taiwan soldiers rest inbetween assisting with a cleanup operation following Typhoon Morakot, in the town of Chiashien in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung county. More than 460 people were missing nearly two weeks after Typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan, unleashing floods and mudslides that left more than 150 confirmed dead, emergency officials said Friday. (AFP/Peter Parks)

Taiwan soldiers help to clean up a street covered with mud following Typhoon Morakot in Linbian, Pingtung County, southern Taiwan August 20, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

Soldiers search for bodies on a street covered with mud, following Typhoon Morakot in Liugui, Pingtung County, southern Taiwan August 21, 2009. More than 600 people were listed dead or missing in Taiwan on Friday after one of the island's worst typhoons as the military began digging up bodies buried deep under rocks and mud. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan began a three-day mourning period to remember the victims of Typhoon Morakot on Saturday, two weeks after the island's worst weather disaster in 50 years devastated its mountainous south.

The storm took at least 500 lives and caused more than $2 billion in property damage. It triggered landslides and widespread flooding that trapped thousands of people in remote villages for days.

Early Saturday flags around Taiwan were lowered to half staff, and government officials attended religious events paying homage to the storm victims.

Since the full dimensions of the Morakot disaster became clear about 12 days ago, President Ma-Ying-jeou has struggled to assuage widespread anger over the government's slow response.

His approval rating has now dropped to below 20 percent — a 30 percent decline in only three months — amid an almost daily battering in Taiwan's hypercritical media — including in outlets normally friendly to the administration.

The Liberty Times — which normally supports the opposition — published details on Saturday of the $110 Japanese meal enjoyed by Ma's economic minister on the first day of a massive rescue operation aimed at saving the lives of thousands of flood-stranded villagers.

Three other senior officials — the vice-foreign minister, the defense minister and the Cabinet secretary-general — have already offered to resign, their reputations pummeled by a growing perception that the government was either indifferent to the fate of Morakot's victims or incapable of offering them succor.

Ma has been visiting hard-hit areas in the south over the past two days, bowing before the families of the dead and promising that a planned $3 billion reconstruction program will be carried out with exemplary efficiency.

A major question now facing Ma is how quickly he will be able to reverse the considerable political damage he has sustained and get back to dealing with the signature enterprise of his presidency — improving relations with rival China, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.

In his 15 months in office, Ma has reversed the pro-independence policies of his predecessor, moving rapidly to link Taiwan's economy with that of the mainland, and even speaking of a peace treaty between the sides.

So far the pro-independence opposition has been cautious about raising the issue of whether someone whose leadership has been so badly wounded can be counted on to effectively manage the complex and politically sensitive China opening.

Ma himself appeared to address the issue at a press conference on Tuesday, saying management of China ties is unrelated to Morakot and the difficult questions it raises.

Cambodia's salesman par excellence

Written by Roger Mitton
Friday, 21 August 2009

Q&A with a man trying to bring his country into the 21st Century

As Secretary-General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Sok Chenda Sophea travels the world urging investors to come to Cambodia.

Few guys are more suited to this job than the erudite, multilingual Sok Chenda. Simply to meet him in full sartorial splendor and hear his finely honed spiel is to be half convinced about a benighted country that has faced terrible adversity. But the salesman tag does not do him full justice, for Sok Chenda is already a full minister and a member of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People's Party. He oversees the Special Economic Zones and often travels with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Make no mistake, behind the suave exterior, there lurks a hard center – which leads some to characterize him as moody, thin-skinned and arrogant. He admits to being a tad volatile. Don't mess with this man.

Is the global financial crisis hurting Cambodia?
No, we are not really harmed financially because our banking system is not yet well developed and sophisticated. But for sure, our overall economy is affected because we are now more integrated into the global trading system. I was part of the team that secured our membership of the World Trade Organization in 2003. We took that step to open up a larger market for Cambodia – really, we are now very open in the private sector, especially compared to our neighbours.

Of course, when our markets in the United States and Europe are not doing well, we are affected. Businessmen express concern. But I tell them: please be calm. Look at the figures. All of our exports to the US are low-end or middle price, not high-end. And in troubled times, it is the luxury items like foie gras, cognac, caviar and designer clothes that people stop buying. They still buy bread and butter, you know, the basic things like jeans, T-shirts and so on that we export to them. So we may not be too much affected.

There may even be an advantage?
Well, you know, whenever there's a crisis, there are opportunities. Consumers in our export markets are now going for the cheaper products that we make. So instead of having a market shrinking, we may have the reverse. And remember, Cambodia has been through worse hell in the past, so this latest crisis does not scare me. Don't get me wrong, there is stormy weather ahead. And if we sit back and just say let's wait and see, we'll have problems. But if we take proactive measures to boost our competitiveness and be cheaper and faster than the neighbours, we'll weather the storm. We must work harder on trade facilitation, that is the key. That's why we are setting up the Special Economic Zones, which I'm overseeing.

How do you "sell" Cambodia to investors?
I tell them to look around. Not only do we provide excellent fiscal incentives, but we are the only place in the region that allows total foreign ownership. Here, they can they run a 100 percent foreign-owned bank, insurance company, telecoms company, even a newspaper. It is amazing. You cannot do that in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, even Singapore – don't mention that place. We are quite unique. Also, I tell them, yes, as a businessman, you can go to London or Tokyo with your wife or your girlfriend, but what can you do? Most sectors there – energy, transport, construction, they are all covered. They don't need you. But here, there are so many untouched sectors, so many opportunities. And it is easy to set up here.

I know you were joking a bit, giving me the sobriquet of "salesman of Cambodia", but you are right. Except you forget that I'm not only selling to investors but also to my colleagues in government. You cannot imagine the time I spend selling good governance, streamlining the formalities and all that to them. I'm the go-between. The matchmaker. I really do it. I have so many meals and drinks with colleagues telling them that the destiny of the country is in your hands, brother. And the next day, it will be another brother.

Why does Cambodia get such a low rating in business surveys?
Good question. But there is hopeful news. In the World Bank's ‘Doing Business 2009' report, we moved up to 135 out of 181 countries. Last year, we were only 150. But you know, in real life, investors never compare one country to another like that. They don't look at the physical incentives, the political regime, not even the religion – Ramadan or not, they don't care. It's about money. Investors never mention these surveys. Of course, I did ask the World Bank how they got their information, because I'm not sure they picked up the right indicators. Take the number of days needed to register a company in Cambodia. They say it takes a long time, but this is strange, because at my institution, the CDC, that does not happen.

Anyway, speaking frankly, as a businessman, I would not care how many days I have to wait for my registration. What I would care about is if, in the operation of my business, I face harassment and other problems, because that is my daily life. The registration is a one-off thing. So to me, the survey is not an issue. I don't care about it. If I see the Cambodian people are less poor and have a better life, that I care about. But the indicators in a piece of paper, I don't know who pays attention to it. You put me at the bottom of your survey, I just don't care. It doesn't make my life better.

But many foreigners still think of Cambodia as a backward, corrupt country.
It's true and not true. If it were really true, we would not have all these investors still doing business here. They are staying and making money. So it cannot be that awful. For businessmen, the bottom line is profit or loss. If I am making a profit, then okay, I may have to make some payment that I should not really have to make, but at the end of the day, I make a profit. And when I say this, I am not accusing anyone, I am just speculating. Because in this region, if you look at transparency, Singapore is always number one. But Singapore has policemen and jails for a reason – because they also have people who are corrupt and who cheat the tax department. So they are not all angels in Singapore.

Businessmen complain about other things, like expensive electricity and transport.
It's true. At the moment, our production costs are too high because of our high electricity costs, and high telecom and transportation costs. That means that if your company is a big consumer of energy and you have operations, say, in China, and you want to diversify your source of supply, where will you go? You look around and the first place you cross out is Cambodia because the price of energy is too high.

To remedy this, we are buying a lot of electricity from Vietnam. What else can we do? No electricity, no activities. So let's be pragmatic, forget about energy independence and buy from the neighbours. It's sensitive: if they switch off, we are dead. But by doing this, we can supply power and some activities can come in. Those activities create a local market and so more businessmen come and invest here. If we didn't start like this things would never take off.

Are they taking off now?
We are moving in the right direction. Things are much better than ten years ago and getting better and better. Much better than some other places in the region. Our priorities are peace and stability. Other countries have never had to deal with such political and social upheavals as we did. Do not forget that Cambodia has only been fully at peace since 1999. That means that long-term investors, those who need peace and stability and who want to develop our reserves – the oil and gas and bauxite, they have only had ten years. So our reserves are a bonanza that is still untapped. But give us until 2011 or 12 and it may be another story. And remember, longterm investors like growing up with the host country. Sure, they want to make money, but they also want to do something for you. So it's a win-win situation.

It would be more win-win if you had a better trained work force.
I agree it would be an additional plus if our labor force was more skilled. We have to do more. That's why I want the aid donors to help us set up vocational training programs, because when investors come here, they say: Oh, it's quite nice, but do you have skilled labour? That's my problem. I keep harping on about it to the foreign agencies, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the United Nations, the Japanese, the French. But they don't seem to hear me, they don't react.

You've been quite critical of the international donors.
Well, personally, I, Sok Chenda, do not agree with some of their programmes. They have their agenda, but do they really think about the needs of the Cambodian people? In my opinion, only if you create jobs so that people make money, will you reduce poverty. It will take time, but it's the only way. So I tell them: Gentlemen, save all the money you spend on your programs for social development, human rights, democracy, whatever. Let's get to the point and don't blah blah.

I mean, consider their attitude to the Special Economic Zones. They ask: Where are they located? I tell them: Well, they're not in the middle of Central Park in New York, if that's what you think. They're far outside Phnom Penh, in the remote provinces, near our borders with Vietnam and Thailand. There, they'll create jobs that will keep villagers near their homes and help them get more qualifications. Then, because there's a shortage of skilled labour, businesses will go there and we will prevent the classic urban migration problems of prostitution, drugs, crime and so on. In this way, I told the donors, you will save the money you would spend trying to fix these problems. Perhaps I am being a bit simplistic, but perhaps I am right.

Your tourism sector has tanked due to the global slump.
Please keep things in perspective. This is not 1929. When you watch TV, you don't see long queues at soup kitchens. Yes, people will cut back on travel, but they won't stop entirely. It's like if you are used to eating filet steak, now you go for sirloin. And there are other factors. You know why the Koreans are our top visitors [by air]? It's not Angkor Wat. It's not our other temples, our beaches, our wonderful people, the food. It's direct flights. There are no direct flights from the U.S. or Europe or Japan to Cambodia. If we had regular direct flights from Tokyo, as we do from Seoul, the Japanese would be number one.

You travel a lot with Prime Minister Hun Sen, what's he like?
Before working for him, I didn't know the real meaning of the word "vision". He is a man of vision. Without him and his vision, there would have been no peace agreement in 1991. And he listens to all points of view. You may find that surprising when you look at Singapore and other places that do not tolerate any opposition press. Here, if you read Cambodian newspapers, every morning you have some newspapers criticising him. If he were the dictator people say he is, he would put them all behind bars. But that's not the case.

You know, years ago, when I read the newspapers, I thought, like everybody else, that Park Chung Hee, the President of Korea, was a dictator. But perhaps Korea's success today is due to him. The same for Mahathir in Malaysia. Later on, you look back and say: Oh, but thanks to him, here we are. Lee Kuan Yew. He never tolerates criticism. I just tell you because Singapore is a piece of stone, a piece of rock. It's not a country, it's a city state.

You can be pretty scathing and rather volatile, especially with journalists?
Yes, it's true. I very rarely agree to do interviews, because most journalists go for sensationalism. Afterwards, they say: No, it was not me, it was my editor. You know the line. I don't buy it and one newspaper here I have boycotted because of this. I would like journalists to respect other people. Because you have a responsibility. If you are rational in reporting economic issues, you can give hope. But you can kill that hope by saying everything is dark and grey. Then the dark that would normally not occur, happens. It has a lot to do with pyschology. So you, too, Roger, I have to seek your kind understanding, because sometimes people need to be reminded. Okay? Now I have to run. I have to pick up my daughter at the British School. Bye.

Cambodians unsure tribunals will heal wounds of mass killings, JAMA study suggests

These skulls, from victims of the Khmer Rouge, are on display in a Buddhist stupa at Choeung Ek, a mass burial site commonly known as one of "the killing fields."

Aug. 21, 2009 -- Lessons learned from research into the societal effects of post-Apartheid "truth and reconciliation" hearings in South Africa are now being applied to a U.S. National Institute of Peace-sponsored study of the long-term mental health impact on Cambodians from human rights tribunals targeting the killing of millions by the nation's former Khmer Rouge regime, says James L. Gibson, Ph.D., a professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of a study published Aug. 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"This study is a collaboration between medical people, who are interested in problems like PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), and political scientists, such as me, who are interested in transitional justice," Gibson explains. "This initial paper focuses on PTSD, but the larger project (funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health) addresses as well the question of whether the tribunal will create a collective memory in Cambodia and whether that memory will lead to some degree of reconciliation, both with each other and with the past."

Gibson, the Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and a Fellow of the Centre for Comparative and International Politics and Professor Extraordinary in Political Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, is the author of "Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation?" (2004, Russell Sage Foundation). He's been in South Africa this summer conducting further research on issues related to the truth and reconciliation process.

James Gibson

The JAMA study, which Gibson describes as "preliminary to our large, NIH-funded panel survey on the tribunal," explores a central medical question: As leaders of the former Khmer Rouge regime testify in a human rights tribunal, in harrowing detail, for the killing of more than a million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979, will the trials help a society heal or exacerbate the lingering affects of widespread trauma?

The study offers insight, but sustains the paradox: more than 75 percent of Cambodians believe the Khmer Rouge trials, formally called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, will provide justice and promote reconciliation, but more than 87 percent of people old enough to remember the torture and murder during the Khmer Rouge era say the trials will rekindle "painful memories."

"Cambodians have high hopes that the Khmer Rouge trials will deliver justice. However, they also have great fears of revisiting the past," says Jeffrey Sonis, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the departments of Social Medicine and Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, lead author of the JAMA study. "We just don't know how tribunals affect a society, whether they increase mental and physical disabilities or relieve them," Sonis says.

Sonis, Gibson and their colleagues are now conducting a longitudinal study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, to measure the effects of the trials on Cambodians over time.

Preparation for the trials, cosponsored by the Cambodian government and the United Nations, began in 2006, 26 years after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge under its leader, Pol Pot. The first public trial, of Kaing Guek Eav, leader of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands were tortured and killed, began earlier this year. Accounts of the genocide estimate between one million and two million people were killed to create an "agrarian collectivism," a communist concept for an ideal society.

Between December 2006 and August 2007, Sonis, Gibson, and an international team of colleagues, including researchers from the Center for Advanced Study in Phnom Penh, conducted a national survey of more than 1,000 Cambodians age 18 and older; 813 were 35 and older and would have been at least 3 years old when the killings began.

Other co-authors on the JAMA study include Joop T. V. M. de Jong, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of cultural and international psychiatry at Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Amsterdam; Nigel P. Field, Ph.D., professor at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology; Sokhom Hean, Ph.D., president of Center for Advanced Study, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Ivan Komproe, Ph.D., of HealthNet TPO, Amsterdam.

More than 14 percent of respondents over age 35, and 7.9 percent of people 18 to 35, suffered from "probable PTSD" (respondents met the criteria for PTSD on a common questionnaire, but did not receive an official clinical diagnosis), which resulted in significant rates of mental and physical disabilities. Previous studies have reported higher rates of PTSD in Cambodians, but were mostly conducted among Cambodia refugees, an atypical population. The rate (11 percent) of probable PTSD among all Cambodians over the age of 18 was more than 5 times the rate among U.S. adults, based on the National Comorbidity Survey.

Among the older group, half said they were close to death during the Khmer Rouge era and 31 percent reported physical or mental torture.

Respondents who did not believe justice had been served, up to the time of the survey, and those who felt the need for revenge were more likely to have PTSD. Also, people who had more knowledge of the trial had higher rates of PTSD. Yet most Cambodians had highly positive attitudes about the trials.

Another paradox emerged from the respondents: Almost half of the respondents in this overwhelmingly Buddhist country thought the trials "go against the teachings of Buddha." However, when asked about attitudes toward the Khmer Rouge, 63 percent of respondents strongly agreed, and 21 percent agreed with the statement, "I would like to make them suffer."

Tribunals to assess crimes of war and crimes against humanity are becoming more common. In June, Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, answered questions in an international courtroom in Paris about his alleged role in genocide in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a UN-sponsored trial, has been underway since 1993 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 1995. The Nuremberg Trials is perhaps the most well known.

The Khmer Rouge trials offer the opportunity to better gauge the efficacy of these trials, and those lessons hold relevance across a spectrum of injustice. Sonis, Gibson, and their colleagues interviewed 1800 people earlier this year and will re-interview them this fall and again next year. They are currently at work analyzing the first-wave data.

"The larger question raised by our study is whether attempts to promote justice for survivors of violence — whether en masse or inflicted by one individual to another — can help lessen its psychological toll," Sonis says. "We simply don't know the answers yet."

# # #

Editor's Note: This release includes material provided by the news office of the University of North Carolina. For media assistance there, contact Media contact: Clinton Colmenares, (919) 966-8757,

Human Trafficking: A Problem of Language?

Robin Sax
Former Deputy District Attorney, Legal Commentator,
Posted: August 21, 2009

Why is that human trafficking is so pervasive and yet so misunderstood? Why do we assume that it's really an "overseas" issue? Why do most people think of Cambodia or Thailand when the words "human trafficking" are uttered?

It's not because it does not exist here in the United States--we know it does. As a matter of fact, the numbers are astounding: the sex trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide. UNICEF estimates that approximately 1 million children around the world unwillingly become sex slaves every year. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that there are 200,000 U.S. citizens yearly, mainly children and young women, who are at high risk of being trafficked throughout the U.S for sexual purposes.

The perception of human trafficking as an "overseas" issue has persisted even though the U.S. passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in October, 2000 to criminalize the issue domestically. It was the first law specifically intended to prevent victimization, to protect victims, and to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking here in the States.

Added to society's lack of understanding the truly epidemic proportions of human trafficking is a similar lack from law enforcement and prosecutors. Even though we have federal human trafficking laws, many states do not have a version of these laws. Even worse, some prosecutors don't even know these laws exist!

The effect of this lack of awareness is that many prosecutors will file charges only on the "sex act" aspect of this crime. They may omit the crime of human trafficking from the rap sheets, charging documents, and ultimately, from the view of our society.

I am not alone in believing that much of our ignorance of human trafficking and the subsequent lack of prosecutions are because the terminology is vague and confusing. The very phrase, "human trafficking," is a poor description of what really happens.

Human trafficking is not synonymous with moving people overseas. Instead, the U.S. Federal Act of 2000 defines it as the "recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining and person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery; sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age."

With this definition we see two aspects of trafficking, both highly repugnant: trafficking involves commercial sexual exploitation of women and children (also known as "forced prostitution") AND it involves involuntary servitude (also known as "slavery"). Not surprisingly, most Americans cannot accept the idea that a form of slavery still exists within the United States!

Shared Hope International, founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith, is a nonprofit leading a worldwide effort to eradicate the marketplaces of sexual slavery. They have coined the term "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking" (DMST) to refer to what is happening here in the United States. DMST is defined as "commercial sexual exploitation of American children within American borders."

Wake up, folks! It's real, and it's really happening here!

DMST is a term that more accurately describes the nature of the crime, as well as the victim status, by avoiding the vague term, "human trafficking" or the poorly received term, "child prostitution." The organization believes that the status of "victim" will be clarified, as opposed to looking at the child as the delinquent. Child prostitutes are frequently thought of as "bad kids" and therefore they often they do not get the specialized care that they need.

In truth, these kids are a special group of sexual assault victims. They have not chosen this lifestyle, despite what the perception is. Unfortunately, the term "child prostitution" implies to some people that there is some complicity from the victim.

Not true. Instead, more and more children are involved in sex trafficking because that the supply is becoming younger in response to buyers' demands. These perverts want to be with young people so they can be associated with their victims' youth, health, and vulnerability.

It's the commercial aspect that separates the crime of trafficking from other sexual acts children, and it is this aspect where we need to see change. Frequently, law enforcers and prosecutors do not recognize the commercial aspect or are too lazy, understaffed or under-budgeted to investigate. Instead, they rationalize that just getting the "perp" in the process of committing the act is enough. However, they are failing to get to the real source of the traffickers, the pimps, etc. and are not fully utilizing the power of this law.
Trafficking happens right here at home, not just in poor places by "pimps." Surprisingly, it often involves people you would never expect. For example, just last week, Ronald H. Tills, 74, a retired US State Supreme Court Justice, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on a felony charge of transporting prostitutes across state lines.

In this case, Tills was trafficking a young illegal woman to serve as a prostitute at a convention he was attending. A human trafficking task force investigated the case. Its members included investigators from the FBI, U. S. Border Patrol, and U. S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as well as the Erie and Niagara County sheriff's offices. But this never really made the news - few people heard about it.

As I pondered the case, I couldn't help wondering why most of us hadn't heard about it. Perhaps there were other pressing news bits, but what is more pressing then protecting children and other victims of sexual assault? Is it more important to know whether Dr. Conrad Murray is going to be charged for manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death? Or is it more likely that human trafficking is a crime we simply don't understand--mostly because of a simple problem with semantics?

If you know someone who is being trafficked or sexually exploited, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or 9-1-1.

Follow Robin Sax on Twitter:

A Drunken Official Drove a Car and Hit a Man and Killed Him by Driving Over Him – Thursday, 20.8.2009

Posted on 21 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“In the night of 18 August 2009, a heavily drunken man drove a Chevrolet and hit and rolled over a security guard who worked for a coffee shop and hotel in the center of Phnom Penh, killing him immediately.

“Police and witnesses said that at around 7:20 p.m. on 18 August 2009, a white Chevrolet with number plate 2K-6542 was driving very fast from the crossing at the water storage tower near the Olympic stadium towards the market called Phsar Depou, along the Jawaharlal Nehru road. Near the Atlantic coffee shop and hotel, the driver of the car lost control over it, as another car was driven backwards from that shop, causing that car to avoid it, but hitting a parking guard close by and push him onto the road. After hitting the guard, the offensive car did not stop, but accelerated and rolled over the guard and dragged him about 20 meters, and then the car drove away.

“Witnesses said that at that moment, police of the Phsar Daeum Kor post intervened to stop that the [speeding] car, but could not catch it as it was driving too fast. Unfortunately, that car struck a 2002 Toyota Camry and got stuck. Because the owner of the Toyota Camry is also a police official, he then joined the others to arrest the offensive car [that had backed out and hit the parking guard].

“According to Prampi Makara district police, the driver of the car that rolled over the guard and killed him is Chan Saroeun, a lieutenant-colonel, and deputy chief of staff of the [Phnom Penh] Municipal Police. Police said that he was so heavily drunk that he did not recognize the other police officers when he was brought to be detained at the Prampi Makara police station; the police searched his car and found two guns, one AK-47 and another one pistol.

“However, the Prampi Makara district police could not detain him, because he is a high ranking official, and there was an intervention to release him, from a higher level, at that night. Those who knew him said that he is a high ranking official who is responsible for the enforcement of the traffic law. But he did not act as a good model implementing the traffic law, but he drove a car while he was drunk, hit a person, and rolled over that person killing him. Now, what should be done in such a case?

“The man who died in the traffic accident is Chan Lonh, born in 1970 in Kompong Rou, Svay Rieng. He had been a security guard of the Atlantic coffee shop and hotel for many years. He was a polite and friendly person.

“His wife is Sin Sopheak, 33, she has a son of about two years, and is now 6 month pregnant. At this pint in time, her husband was killed and taken away from her by this terribly act, while the perpetrator is a high ranking police official. Can she receive justice?”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4977, 20.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 August 2009

Thai Military Leaders Scheduled for Visit

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 August 2009

High-ranking Thai military commanders are slated to meet their Cambodian counterparts later this month, in an effort to address the longstanding border dispute near Preah Vihear temple and an emerging maritime dispute, officials said Friday.

Already high military tensions escalated this week, when Thailand protested Cambodia’s push for further oil exploration in the Gulf of Thailand, especially near Kuth island. Thailand said this was an encroachment of its maritime borders, a claim Cambodia denies. Both sides have had soldiers entrenched near the Preah Vihear border for more than a year.

Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatra, supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, and his deputies, Adm. Apichart Pengsritong and Air Chief Marshal Bureerat Ratanavanich, will be accompanied by some 87 Thai military officials to visit Cambodia Aug. 24.

The delegation will meet with Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and other senior officials.

The visit “is intended to strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the two countries,” Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh told VOA Khmer. “This visit will reduce military tension in border disputes.”

Doctor Discusses Risk of Strokes

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
21 August 2009

Lowering blood pressure, improving diet and quitting smoking can help reduce the causes of stroke, a malady with risks increasing with age, poor diet and other factors, a doctor said Thursday.

Taing Tek Hong described two kinds of strokes to “Hello VOA” listeners, one in which a blood clot or other blockage reaches the brain and one where a blood vessel bursts.

High blood pressure is the top cause of strokes, which are also contributed to by age, family history, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Symptoms following a stroke depend on which part of the brain was damaged. A victim may not be aware he suffered a stroke.

Other signs of a stroke can be “a sudden change in vision or sudden double vision, numbness of the face, weak arms or legs, weakness on one side of the body, disorientation, problems with speech, or trouble understanding others, trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, painful headache that comes on suddenly and has no known cause,” Taing Tek Hong said.

The risk of a stroke increases with age, especially after age 55, and increase for people who’ve already had a stroke or have close family members who have had a stroke. Other risks are those who have had a heart attack, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, sicle cell anemia, cigarette smoking, high-fat or high-sodium diets, obesity and lack of exercise.

Family of Slain Union Leader Welcomes Court Move

By Khemara Sok
Original report from Washington
21 August 2009

Relatives of Chea Vichea, who was gunned down in 2004, joined UN agencies in praising a recent court order for a reinvestigation into the case, saying two men widely believed innocent should be absolved of the charges against them and the true murderers punished.

The statements follow the order of the Appeals Court Monday reopening the investigation, potentially freeing Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun, two men arrested shortly after the killing and facing 20-year prison sentences.

The Supreme Court ordered their release on bail in December 2008, leading to hopes the Appeals Court, which had been ordered to review the case, would free the men.

“I just want to suggest to the government and the Appeals Court to revise the case and find the real killer and fully free the two convicted,” said Chea Kim Ny, wife of the slain union leader, speaking from Finland, where she has political asylum.

The UN human rights office in Phnom Penh issued a joint statement with the International Labor Organization this week welcoming the Appeals Court decision and adding that the evidence against Born Samnang and Sok Samoeung was even more clearly insufficient for their detention.

The case “raised wider questions about the ability of the Cambodian justice system to administer justice in accordance with international standards and the willingness of the authorities to combat extra-judicial killings and impunity,” the groups said. “The miscarriage of justice perpetrated against Born Samnang and Sok Samouen has allowed the real murderers to escape justice for more than five years now.”

Chea Mony, Chea Vichea’s brother, who now heads the Free Trade Union, said the court should issue an official letter freeing the two men.

Chea Vichea was only the one in a line of murdered labor leaders. His shooting was followed by the killing of Ros Sovannareth, killed in May 2004, and Hy Vuthy, killed in February 2007.

None of the cases has been solved.

Minnesota Pagoda Prepares for Buddha Relics

By Neou Sarem, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
21 August 2009

Minnesota Pagoda Prepares for Buddha Relics A Cambodian community in Minnesota celebrated a three-day Buddhist ceremony this month, with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new stupa to hold Buddha relics at Wat Munisotaram.

The ceremony, held from 14 to 16 August, marked the 21st anniversary of the pagoda, in Hampton, Minnesota. The Buddha relics to be housed there came from Sri Lanka, which shares Cambodia’s Theravada Buddhism traditions.

Forty-five monks from Khmer, Bangladeshi, Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese temples in the US, Cambodia and Canada attended the ceremony.

Cambodia reports high dengue fever outbreak+

Aug 21, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 21 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The number of Cambodians infected with dengue fever this year has nearly doubled from the same time last year, a new report said Friday.

According to Cambodia's National Centre for Malaria, within the first 31 weeks of 2009, at least 7,227 people were infected with dengue fever, well above the 4,261 people infected during the same period last year.

However, only 19 people have died from the mosquito-borne disease so far this year, less than half the 40 who died in the same period last year.

Ngan Chantha, director of the malaria center, said large-scale outbreaks of dengue fever occur about every two or three years in Cambodia.

This year, he added, because of the high number of cases, the ministry of health has allocated 90 tons of pesticides to try to kill mosquitoes in all the country's 24 provinces and cities.

Cambodia, Thailand trade media barbs over dispute marine deployments+

Aug 21, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 21 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Cambodia and Thailand have traded allegations and counterallegations via the media recently over the deployment of naval forces in a disputed area in the Gulf of Thailand, with Cambodia denying Friday Thai charges that its navy has violated bilateral patrol agreements.

The brouhaha began last Saturday when The Bangkok Post quoted an anonymous Thai military source as saying the Thai navy had set up a new base on Koh Kut near an area of overlapping claims after Cambodia granted a concession to French oil company Total S.A. to explore for oil and gas in the region.

Other Thai military sources claimed later that Cambodian naval vessels were patrolling in the disputed area last week, which Thailand said was a violation of an agreement on the overlapping area that requires each side to inform the other when naval patrols will be carried out.

Cambodia has denied the Thai allegations delivered via the press and most leading Cambodian newspapers highlighted those denials in their stories Friday.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for Cambodia's National Defense Ministry, denied the reports outright and said Cambodian naval vessels never entered the overlapping area.

Instead, he claimed, the Thai Royal Navy had conducted an exercise that included an aircraft carrier and several warships near Koh Kut.

He added the naval exercise was an apparent show of force after the Cambodian government granted the oil and gas exploration rights to Total to explore for oil in nearby waters.

The Bangkok Post said Thailand's Ministry of Defense plans to protest Cambodian patrols via the Foreign Ministry.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for Cambodia's Foreign Ministry, said he has not seen any protest note yet, and he too denied Cambodian naval activity in the disputed area.

Cambodia announced July 19 it had awarded rights to Total to explore in a 2,430-square-kilometer area that is also claimed by Thailand.

So far, Cambodia and Thailand have not faced off over their maritime border, but some fear a confrontation may not be far off.

Since July last year, the two countries' militaries have skirmished several times across a disputed land border near Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple, which was listed around the same time as a World Heritage Site, despite claims by some in Thailand to the temple.

Cambodia claims Thai troops crossed into its territory, triggering short-lived firefights, while Thailand claims its troops have always remained on the Thai side of the border.

Cambodian officials tipped off Indonesia to 60kg heroin shipment

by Mohit Joshi
Fri, 08/21/2009

Phnom Penh - Cambodia tipped off Indonesian authorities about a shipment of 60 kilograms of heroin that was shipped through Cambodia by courier firm DHL, local media reported Friday.

Indonesian customs officials seized the drugs at Jakarta's main airport and arrested the receiver earlier this week in the capital.

Mok Dara, head of Cambodia's anti-drug trafficking department, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that it was the first time that Cambodia had tipped off Indonesian authorities about a drug shipment.

"We have (in the past) had many successes, receiving appreciation from Thailand, Vietnam, India and China, all of whom we tipped off about drug smuggling through Cambodia," Mok Dara told the newspaper.

Cambodia's porous borders and institutional corruption have long made the kingdom a favoured transit country for trafficking. (dpa)

Petition filed for expulsion of Belgian paedophile from Cambodia

Phnom Penh - Seven child protection organisations have petitioned Cambodia's chief of police to expel a Belgian man twice convicted of child sex crimes, national media reported Friday.

Three years ago Belgian national Philippe Dessart received an 18-year sentence from a Cambodian court for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy. He was released earlier this year after a change in the law.

Dessart then moved into the home of his former victim in Banteay Meanchey province in western Cambodia and reportedly plans to marry the boy's mother.

Samleang Seila, who heads APLE, an anti-paedophile organisation, told the Cambodia Daily newspaper that the petition was filed on August 4, but that he had not yet had a response from the police chief.

"We are pursuing urgent action - whether his visa must be cancelled or anything else," Samleang Seila told the newspaper.

Samleang Seila said he had seen Dessart walking in the capital Phnom Penh this week with his former victim.

"It is not appropriate that the victim goes around with him," he said.

Dessart was previously convicted in Belgium of child rape and torture in the 1990s, for which he served three years.

Dessart's lawyer, Dun Vibol, said his client had served his sentence and therefore has the right to remain in Cambodia.

"Doing this is not right, and (the child protection organisations) don't give him the chance to correct himself to reintegrate into society," Dun Vibol said.//dpa

Cambodian village worships cow with reptilian skin

Cambodian Buddhist monks chant before a dead "magic cow" during a two-day religious event of Brahmanism in Damnak Sangker village, Pursat province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. About 90 percents of Cambodians are Buddhists, but they also respect Brahmanism. ((AP photo/Heng Sinith))

A Cambodian villager gets holly water on her back as she believes its "magical" medicinal work during a two-day religious event of Brahmanism in Damnak Sangker village, Pursat province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. They poured holy water onto a dead "magic cow" and collected the water to use it for its "magical" medicinal work. About 90 percents of Cambodians are Buddhists, but they also respect Brahmanism. Many Cambodian people believe in the holy water and the "magic cow" in the hope for good luck, health and prosperity. ((AP photo/Heng Sinith))

Cambodian Buddhist monks chant during a two-day religious event of Brahmanism in Damnak Sangker village, Pursat province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. About 90 percents of Cambodians are Buddhists, but they also respect Brahmanism. ((AP photo/Heng Sinith))

Cambodian villagers pour holy water on a dead "magic cow" during a two-day religious event of Brahmanism in Damnak Sangker village, Pursat province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. They later collected the water as they believe its "magical" medicinal work. About 90 percents of Cambodians are Buddhists, but they also respect Brahmanism. Many Cambodian people believe in the holy water and the "magic cow" in the hope for good luck, health and prosperity. ((AP photo/Heng Sinith))

By HENG SINITH Associated Press Writer

DAMNAK SANGKE, Cambodia—Villagers in this poor community in central Cambodia live hand to mouth, but many dug into their pockets to help pay for a funeral here Friday for a three-day-old calf with a dark, reptilian hide that many believed was holy.

Outh Kdep, the calf's owner, said villagers believed in the animal's divinity because there had been a drought in the area for three months, but it rained the day after it was born.

The female calf was born Tuesday and died Thursday in this remote village in Pursat province, some 140 miles (220 kilometers) northwest of capital Phnom Penh. It had thick, dark, scaly skin like a crocodile's, and legs with odd markings.

Yim Rith, 60, a community leader, said Cambodians have for centuries worshipped a Cow God believed to bring peace and prosperity. The deity disappeared from their land long ago, but the calf may have been a sign it was returning to help them, he said.

Hundreds of villagers flocked to see the animal, lighting incense to pray for its well-being and collecting its saliva, believed to cure illness. The flood of visitors panicked the cow's mother, affecting her ability to enough produce milk to feed the calf, and it died.

But the faithful were undeterred. The calf's corpse was placed on a plastic sheet, and people washed water over it in the hopes of making the liquid holy.

Srey Nak, 72, said that when some was applied to her joints and teeth, long-standing pains and aches went away.

"But I am very upset that the Cow God came to live with us for just three days and has now died," she said. "If she stayed longer, then many sick people could have been treated."

Un Dary, General Director of Religious Affairs for Cambodia's Ministry of Cults and Religions, said he did not know about the case, but that many Cambodians, who are almost all Buddhists, also subscribe to animism—a belief that spirits can inhabit all sorts of living and inanimate objects.

Whenever an odd animal makes an appearance, he said, it is cause for the superstitious to celebrate. He speculated that the freak appearance of the calf may have been due to a vitamin deficiency or virus.

Outh Kdeb, 40, grieved for her calf Friday.

Had it lived a bit longer, she said, "my family and the people in this area as well as the whole entire Cambodian nation would have achieved more peace and prosperity."

The animal was buried in a rice field near her house Friday. She said villagers pooled 150,000 riel ($35), and she contributed 200,000 riel ($50) for a ceremony with six Buddhist monks to give thanks and wishes for the soul of the God Cow. They prayed for it "to be reborn as soon as possible."

The Phnom Penh Post in KHMER language

Up in smoke

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009

National Anti-Drugs Authority chief Ke Kim Yan sets fire to 107,000 methamphetamine pills, 3,980 kilograms of powdered drugs and 942 grams of marijuana at the My Chance Centre in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Man denies penning leaflets

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009
Meas Sokchea

Claims he has gone into hiding for fear that authorities will try to arrest him.

A man whose name appeared on hundreds of leaflets accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of corruption has been forced into hiding for fear of government reprisals.

The leaflets, penned by an anonymous author and posted around the streets of the capital in the early hours of Wednesday morning, condemned the premier as an "absolute leader" and "puppet of Vietnam".

Bearing a small picture of the prime minister, they accused him of destroying the Khmer regime's once-great reputation and "selling the nation".

Scribbled in Khmer handwriting at the top of the papers were five names: Pan Sovanny, Sreng Vuthy, Chea Socheap, Chim Thoeun and Kem Sopheak. Although nothing is yet known of the identity of the first four, Kem Sopheak - who claimed to be a Sam Rainsy Party activist, on Thursday contacted the Post by phone to deny any involvement.

"I'm scared for my safety", Kem Sopheak said. "I don't know what to think. I have nothing to do with these leaflets. I didn't even know about them until my nephew saw one with my name on it at Wat Phnom and contacted me straight away."

Sopheak said he had been an SRP activist since 1996. On hearing of

their intervention, but was told by SRP headquarters that the party had no record of his membership and would have to hand him over to the United Nations.

SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann confirmed the party had been approached by Kem Sopheak, but was unable to confirm his involvement with the opposition party.

Yim Sovann insisted, however, that the party would do everything in its power to help Kem Sopheak.

"We asked to see his party card, but he couldn't produce it", Sovann said.

"We don't know where he lives, so we cannot confirm whether he is a member of our party. However, we do not discriminate. He is Khmer, and if he was threatened in any way, we would take pity on him and help him. To that end, we have taken him to a human rights organisation."

Christophe Peschoux, head of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Cambodia, confirmed Thursday that the organisation had spoken with Kem Sopheak.

"We interviewed him already, and now we're looking into the story to establish what's going on," Peschoux said. "At this stage, it seems very murky."

I don't know why anyone would put my name on that leaflet.

Kem Sopheak told the Post he was in hiding and was afraid of having legal action taken against him.

"I can't tell anyone where I'm staying because I'm scared the government will arrest me", he said.

"I don't know why anyone would put my name on that leaflet. It couldn't have been me: I can only read a little bit and cannot write at all."

Posted in various public places in Phnom Penh before being torn down by police, the leaflets called on the people of Cambodia to oppose Hun Sen's "puppet regime". "I remember the time when Khmer glory was well-known all over the world," one leaflet seen by the Post reads.

"We were feared and admired for our civilisation, culture and fine arts, but all that has now disappeared because of the absolute regime of the present government."

The government Thursday insisted Kem Sopheak had nothing to fear.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the names on the leaflets were of no interest to officials, but that their creators were.

Three separate departments are now investigating, he said: the police, the espionage unit and the anti-terrorism squad.

Neither Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Touch Naruth, who is heading the police investigation, nor Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could be reached for comment on Thursday.

Govt to sue over murder claims

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Chea Mony sorts through photos of his brother Chea Vichea’s murder at his home in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009
Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio

THE government is set to sue the brother of slain union leader Chea Vichea over comments he made accusing the government of involvement in his brother's 2004 death, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

"[Chea Mony] said that the government planned to kill Chea Vichea," he said.

"[If] Mr Chea Mony accuses [the government], he has to find enough evidence to show that the government had plans to kill Chea Vichea."

He added that government lawyers were currently drawing up the necessary documents for the case.

"[We] have to sue him. If the government does not sue him, it implies that the government acknowledges its involvement in plans to kill Chea Vichea," Khieu Kanharith said.

On August 17, the Appeal Court ordered further investigations in the Chea Vichea case following requests from the defence lawyers of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, the two men convicted in the gunning down of the former head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions in 2004.

Speaking at the court, Chea Mony, Chea Vichea's brother and president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said he remained convinced the government was behind the killing.

"I maintain my stance from the beginning and acknowledge that [Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun] were fake killers, and I urge the court to find the real killers," he said.

"I am ready to take responsibility and dare to be imprisoned for my conclusion about my brother's murder case, which is that the government prepared a plan to kill my brother."

When contacted Thursday, Chea Mony remained defiant, saying he was repeating the same allegations he has been making for four years and was not scared by threats of legal action.

"What I raised was not an exaggeration - it was the truth," he said.

"The government has an obligation to find the killers. If the government does not seek the killers, it means the government must be behind the killing."

He said that Chea Vichea was killed on the watch of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, who has since been found guilty of an arrary of murder, kidnapping and extortion charges, and that there was also a suggestion of official involvement in his brother's case.

Rights groups said the government's decision to sue Chea Mony only cast a harsher light on its own weak efforts to solve the Chea Vichea case.

"The fact that the authorities have failed to bring the real killers of Chea Vichea to justice, and that fake killers were obviously framed for this murder, will inevitably lead to suspicions and accusations against the government," said Kek Gelabru, president of the rights group Licadho.

"The best way for the government to be cleared of suspicion is for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun to be fully exonerated, and for the police and courts to begin a credible and proper investigation into who did kill Chea Vichea. Until this is done, suspicions will linger."

She also called for a full investigation into the handling of the case against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, "in particular, into the actions of the police who were responsible for the investigation and their arrest".

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that due to "serious doubts" about the Chea Vichea case, his brother had legitimate reasons to question the government's motives.

"There's been no real attempt by the Cambodian government to investigate [Chea Vichea's death]," he said.

"I wouldn't blame him for thinking the government has something to hide."


Govt puts torch to seized drugs

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009
Khoun Leakhana

PHNOM Penh Municipal authorities on Tuesday burned all drugs collected by police in seizures during 2008 at a ceremony held at My Chance Centre, a drug rehabilitation facility in the capital's Sen Sok district.

Following a speech from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, yama and Ecstasy were set ablaze at an event attended by representatives from the police, the government and civil society groups.

According to figures from a report issued by the Phnom Penh First Court, authorities burned 761,061 grams of heroin, 479,319 grams of methamphetamine and 126 Ecstasy pills, among other drugs.

"Even though we have had a lot of success, we are still paying attention to the problem, and we will keep trying to eliminate it bit by bit," said Ean Sokhim, a board member of My Chance Centre.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 Cambodians are involved in illegal drug use, most of them between ages 15 and 35, said Ke Kim Yan, president of the National Anti-Drug Authority.

Mok Dara, secretary general of the authority, said the burning was planned both as a statement against drug use and "to answer those who have been suspicious" about what happens to drugs after they are seized.

"Today's event proves that officials have made a great effort in eliminating drug trafficking, drug dealing and drug use," Kep Chuktema said Thursday. "It also shows that illegal drugs are still a big concern for Cambodia."

Rare wildlife product seizures spike

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Officers from the government’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team inspect restaurants in Koh Kong province for illegal wildlife products, later releasing a live civet cat (inset) rescued from market vendors.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009
Sam Rith

SOUTHEAST Asian wildlife law enforcement authorities seized more than 10,000 endangered animals and animal products in the second quarter of 2009, according to a recent update report from ASEAN's Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN).

The report documents the seizure of 5,296 live animals and 4,827 dead animals, animal parts and animal derivatives with a minimum estimated value of US$3.6 million across Southeast Asia.

The figures represent a sharp increase on the first three months of the year, which saw a total of 5,410 animal seizures.

It also said a total of 30 people were arrested for illegal wildlife trafficking in five countries, including Cambodia, between April 1 and June 30 this year.

ASEAN-WEN, which claims to be the largest wildlife law enforcement network in the world, documented just one major enforcement operation in Cambodia over the period, a May 21 raid on a Phnom Penh restaurant.

During the raid, the government's Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team seized eight dead pangolins, four live cobras and parts of others, five live and three dead turtles, and several dead giant geckos, as well as wild pig and deer parts.

Positive local trends
Despite the increase in seizures across the region, such confiscations have decreased in Cambodia in recent years, government figures show.

According to a Forestry Administration document obtained by the Post in June, the number of illegal wildlife seizures in Cambodia has been steadily dropping since 2005, when there were 6,294 seizures, compared with 2,933 in 2008.

At the time, experts put the drop in seizures down to the rapid rescue team's work and increased penalties for wildlife trafficking offenses.

Meng Sinoeurn, a military police officer who participated in the May 21 raid, confirmed that the owner of the restaurant was arrested and tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court under Article 96 of the Forestry Law, which carries hefty fines for "those who process, stock or import rare wildlife species or specimens".

Meng Sinoeurn said smugglers could face more serious punishment for pursuing endangered wildlife.

Article 97 of the law carries prison terms of up to 10 years for anyone who has "hunted, killed, traded or exported endangered wildlife species".

Ty Sokhun, director of the Forestry Administration, said wildlife crime in Cambodia had always operated on a small scale, and added that the Kingdom has been sharing information with other regional countries for five years.

Cambodian-Thai talks address malaria cases

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 21 August 2009
Mom Kunthear and Thet Sambath

PUBLIC health officials from Cambodia and Thailand are holding a conference this week in Siem Reap province to discuss containment of the increasing number of malaria cases along the border between the two countries.

Duong Socheat, director of National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (NCPEMC), told the Post on Thursday that health officials from 10 provinces in Cambodia and seven provinces in Thailand are meeting in the hope of formulating a coordinated strategy to fight the disease.

"We are meeting ... in order to share our experiences and compare our methods for educating people about malaria, spreading awareness about fake medicines and encouraging more people to visit health centres," Duong Socheat said.

Growing concerns
Malaria-related deaths in the Kingdom nearly doubled during the first six months of 2009 compared with the first six months of 2008, according to an NCPEMC report.

From January to June this year, there were 103 deaths from 27,105 reported cases of malaria. From January to June last year, there were only 65 deaths from 25,033 reported cases, the NCPEMC said.

The report attributed the increased fatality rate to an early rainy season and a delay in distributing mosquito nets, though fears have been stoked recently by findings that malaria strains in western Cambodia are developing resistance to artemisinin, the drug typically used as the first line of defense in malaria cases.