Sunday, 23 August 2009

Drunken Cambodian workers attack

Brothers attack co-workers with knives

On Fri, just after midnight, the Banglamung Police were called to the scene of attack at the construction worker’s camp of the Wandee Group, on Soi Naklua 16/2.

The Police then rushed to investigate. Upon arrival, the officers discovered a group of injured men, who were Cambodian construction workers, waiting for help from the authorities outside the camp. The Police sent them to Banglamung hospital for treatment. Four workers had been slashed by knives on their arms, heads and legs. All the injured were treated separately, as they were still in drunken condition. The Head of the Cambodian workers, Joy, aged 30, told Police that before the incident occurred, the workers had been paid, and then set to drinking in a circle inside the camp. After they all got quite drunk, a brawl started. The troublemakers, Pao and Lain, aged 29 and 26, who are brothers, pulled out their knives and slashed their co-workers, but the two had also been beaten up by their friends as well. All of the injured parties will be interrogated after they get better.

News stories placed on this website are short versions. If you would like the full story, please read the Pattaya People Weekly newspaper.

Taiwan bars Thai surrogate mother company from seeking clients

Sun, August 23, 2009

By Deutsche Presse Agentur

Taipei - Taiwan has warned a Thai surrogate company against seeking infertile-parent clients in Taiwan because Taipei's law still bans using surrogate mothers to produce babies, a newspaper said Sunday.

Wu Hsiu-ying, an official from the Council of Agriculture, told the Apple Daily that doctors who introduce infertile parents to a foreign surrogate mother company face loss of license and fines of up to 250,000 Taiwan dollars (7,500 US dollars.)

"Taiwan has not passed the surrogate mother bill. So if a doctor arranges a surrogate mother for infertile parents here, he or she could lose their doctor's license," she told the Apple Daily.

An Apple Daily reporter, posing as a client, had contacted the headquarters of a Thai firm, Baby 101, in Bangkok about the service. The reporter said he was told it would charge 50,000 dollars for the service.

The surrogate mothers, who were reportedly Vietnamese, live in a dormitory 20 minutes drive from Bangkok.

Baby 101 has been advertising to potential Taiwan clients for quite some time through a Chinese-language ad on the Internet. The ad lists Baby 101's headquarters' telephone number in the Thai capital Bangkok, and its branch company's telephone number in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.

An estimated one of every seven Taiwan couples is incapable of bearing children, the Apple Daily reported.

More than a gateway to Angkor

Pathway to the past: The gardens behind the National Museum, which houses a vast array of Angkorian artefacts and Buddhas. (JP/Sara Veal)

Sun, 08/23/2009

Thinking of visiting Cambodia? You’re likely picturing the serene faces of the Angkor temples. Possibly even the sandy beaches of Sihanoukville. But what about Phnom Penh?

I’ve met countless people who have either entirely bypassed Cambodia’s 143-year-old capital city in their quest for ancient empires and beach parties, or merely considered it a stop-off point, a place to quickly view the tragic remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime. Which is a shame, as Lady Penh (the city’s founder and enduring spirit) is a charming hostess – give her the chance, and she will make you feel right at home, offering an intoxicating, accessible mix of rich culture, fine cuisine and aesthetic delights.

In a single day you can visit elegant pagodas, inspiring exhibitions, learn Khmer cooking, browse markets for silks and keepsakes, watch traditional dance and cruise along the Mekong. Punctuated this with mouth-watering meals and cap it off with hours of dancing at a sardine-packed nightclub and you may never want to leave.

Holly and I touched down in Phnom Penh International Airport in the early evening. After breezing through customs, we took a taxi into town – a flat US$9 to anywhere in the center – along the way admiring the eye-catching blend of reinvigorated yellow French colonial buildings, art-deco structures, Khmer temples, glassy office buildings and tacky, cake-like residences.

We stayed at the Blue Dog Guest House (#13, St. 51). Owned by newlyweds Ty and Hun, it’s within walking distance of one of the city’s key sights, the Independence Monument. Launched just over a year ago, it offers eight rooms priced between US$5-12 a night, as well as a limited but cheap and delicious menu.

If you fancy something more upscale, Phnom Penh is full of boutique hotels and 5-star luxury, such as the Frangipani Villa 90s ($25-60) or the Amanjaya ($155-250). If on the other hand you’re really trying to save, look around the Boeung Kak lake area for rooms as low as $3.

It is easy to get around Phnom Penh, as there is little traffic and most drivers know the city like the back of their hand. Pick up the free The Phnom Penh Visitors Guide as soon as you see it, for maps and tips; its usually available at eateries and guesthouses.

Visitors mostly travel via tuk-tuks (motorcycle trailers), which offer a surprisingly quiet, pleasant ride. I recommend committing to one tuk-tuk driver. Tuk-tuk drivers, who mostly have impressive English skills, can help you with booking bus tickets, arranging river cruises and even getting a SIM card ($10) for your cell phone.

Monument to past and future glory: The Independence Monument, which was inaugurated on November 9, 1962, to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from colonial rule. (JP/Holly Kosmin)

All the city’s major points of interest can be visited within a day, but its best to set aside at least two or three. The Independence Monument, an architectural celebration of Cambodia’s independence from foreign rule in 1962; Wat Phnom, a small hill that marks the city’s legendary founding site; the National Museum ($3 entrance); the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum; the Killing Fields; and the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the King’s residence, should all be checked out. A market visit to either Phsar Toul Tom Poung, the Russian market, which offers a large selection of souvenirs, silks and curios, or Phsar Thmey (Central Market), a striking art-deco building, which specialises in jewels and gold, is also a must.

Beyond the obligatory sights, the city centre has much to offer in the way of shopping and dining. There are four main areas for these more leisurely pursuits: Street 178 or “Art Street”; Street 240; the Riverfront area and the Boeng Keng Kang area or “The Foreigner’s Quarter”.

Street 178 is right by the National Museum, so after I had spent the morning browsing Angkorian artefacts, I wandered around “Art Street”. Most of the artists can be seen at work and are happy to answer any questions you might like to bother them with. Chea Hak, of shop Hak Rachana, was working intently on a wood carving, which he said would take a week to complete. He can sell it for $100.

The best place to eat near Art Street is Friends (#215, St. 13), a delightful tapas restaurant that is run as part of a program to teach street youth marketable skills. Holly and I feasted on several dishes ($2-5), including mango coleslaw and zucchini fritters.

My favourite place in Phnom Penh is Street 240, a tree-lined avenue near the Royal Palace, which boasts excellent boutiques, unique handicrafts, second-hand bookstores, delectable eateries and the best spa in town (Bliss, #29). I splurged at Mekong-Quilts (#49, St.240), a non-profit organisation that aims to provide employment and increase family incomes for communities in the remote villages of Svay Rieng province.

I returned to haunt Street 240’s cafes several times, enjoying Mediterranean tapas at Tamarind (#31), burgers at Freebird Bar and Grill (#69) and cakes at The Shop (#39).

The Riverfront is a great place to spend the evening, affording a view of the Mekong sunset. It is home to many of Phnom Penh’s most enduring institutions, such as the famous Foreign Correspondents Club and the original Happy Herb Pizza. Cantina, a popular “gringo” haunt decorated with onset photos from Matt Dillon’s City of Ghosts (2002) had excellent Mexican food. Most of the best places to boogie are nearby too, such as the Riverhouse Lounge (#6, Street 110).

A thing of beauty: Street 178 artist Chea Hak at work, in front of his shop, Hak Rachana. He is carving an intricate, decorative wooden piece that will form part of a door. (JP/Sara Veal)

“The Foreigners’ Quarter”, near the Independence Monument, is rife with embassies, hotels and expatriate residences. I frequented the Java Café and Gallery (#56, Sihanouk), a must for lap-top addicts, sampling a range of teas and fresh salads.

Nearby was Romdeng, a sister-restaurant to Friends, which offers Khmer specialities like fried spiders, as well as a fascinating exhibition “Imagine That” that showcased pictures street kids had taken of tourists in Siem Reap. The infamous Heart of Darkness nightclub is around here (#26, St. 51), where you can dance until dawn.

Besides all this, you can also take cooking classes at Khmer restaurant Frizz (#67, St. 240), watch shadow puppet performances at the Sovanna Phum Art Association (#111, St. 260), and Apsara dancing at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic (Sisowath Quay). And no trip to Phnom Penh is truly complete with a boat ride down the Mekong, perfect around sunset ($5).

After a week of such delights, I felt relaxed, exhilarated, inspired and fatter. As the airplane took off, I watched the city disappear into the patches of green and brown paddyfields that dominate the Cambodian landscape, watching the ever-present Mekong shrink into a shimmering, twisting snake… and planned my next visit.

The gateway to the rest of Cambodia

Roads have been greatly improving in Cambodia, making it increasingly easy to travel from Phnom Penh to other Khmer cities. Buses are a (usually) comfortable and affordable way to get around, with one-way tickets starting from $5. You can also hire private cars from $25. There are several bus companies dotted around the city, especially near the Riverfront and Boeng Kak lake area. I visited Sihanoukville and Kampot.

Sihanoukville: (Paramount Angkor Express, $11 return, 4 hrs each way) Cambodia’s premier beach town. Stay in Ochheuteal beach or Serendipity beach if you’re the dance-til-dawn type… if you’d prefer a blissful getaway, try the more low-key Otres beach or Victory beach. Sample fresh seafood, scuba-dive and take day trips to exotic islands. Stay at the Beach Road hotel ($10-45) and dine at Cambodge Garden ($2-5 per dish).

Kampot: (Phnom Penh Sorya, $10 return, 3 hrs) A quaint, sleepy town, with few tourists, colonial architecture and breathtaking views of the river and surrounding mountains, sheltering ghostly hill stations. The perfect place to truly get away from it all. Stay at the Bodhi Villa ($3-8), which offers an excellent mix of homemade comfort food and Khmer specialities, and a friendly bar.

Flights: Ours were $170 there and back thanks to Air Asia – book in advance and be prepared for two check-ins

Visa: $20 one-month tourist visa available on arrival. Can be extended for a further month. Good to have a passport photo ready.

Airport Tax: $25 – payable upon departure.

Currency: US dollars and Khmer Riels (about 4000R to US$1).

Accommodation: From $3, depending on where you’re staying

Meals: Expect to pay $4-7 a meal, minus alcoholic drinks, at popular eateries. Water is usually provided for free.

Transport: Tuk-tuks ($1-2 for short trips, $10-15 all day), motos and cyclos (1500-4000R, $8/day), taxis ($4-5, $35/day). You can also rent a bicycle, motorcycle or car for your trip – inquire at your guesthouse.

Language: Khmer. Most people you will encounter speak reasonable English, and don’t expect visitors to understand Khmer. French can also be useful.

Wi-Fi: Many cafes and guesthouses offer Wi-Fi access, either free or available through Hotspot cards (starting at $5 for 5 hours), which you can buy from most supermarkets.

Angkor 333-2010: Cambodian home-made car

Cambodian mechanic Nhean Phaloek sits in his self-designed homemade Angkor 333-2010 car at his house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phaloek hopes to mass-produce the petrol-powered vehicle to which he has incorporated various peculiar features, including one which he claims allows users to open its doors telepathically. (Tang Chhin Sothy-AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian mechanic Nhean Phaloek sits in his self-designed home-made Angkor 333-2010 car at his house in Phnom Penh on August 21, 2009. Phaloek hopes to mass-produce the petrol-powered vehicle to which he has incorporated various peculiar features, including one which he claims allows users to open its doors telepathically. (AFP PHOTO/TANG CHHIN SOTHY)

Two French men held on underage sex charges in Cambodia (Roundup)

Police arresting the Frenchman, inset: the 16 year-old girl, right: the owner of the guesthouse.

Monsters and Critics
Asia-Pacific News
Aug 22, 2009

Phnom Penh - Two French nationals were questioned at a Phnom Penh court on Saturday on charges of soliciting sex from a minor and producing child pornography. Both crimes carry the possibility of lengthy jail sentences.

The head of the municipal police's anti-trafficking department, Keo Thea, said both men would be charged by the court on Sunday.

'They were questioned today on the first charge of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and on the second charge of making child pornography,' Keo Thea said.

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 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.

Keo Thea earlier told national media that their arrests were a significant success for the police.

'[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.

Planned dams in Cambodia ‘could cause poverty to soar’

Plans to build hydropower dams in north-east Cambodia could bring about a rise in poverty and the displacement of around 5,000 people, it has been asserted.

Following an announcement from Vietnam that it is interested in investing US$600 million (£362.4 million) in the two dams – which would be situated along the Sesan River in Cambodia – conservationists and academics have spoken out about the possible social consequences, reports Reuters.

Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, told the news provider that construction of the second dam will cause flooding in 25 per cent of the surrounding land, which is currently used for agriculture – something that could also bring health problems for locals.

If completed, the dams will provide areas in both Cambodia and Vietnam with 500 MW of electricity.

In related news, it was revealed earlier this month that six more border crossings are to be opened between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Much more to beauty than 'perfect' T&A

Jacqui Bunting
August 23, 2009

It's time for the Miss Universe pageant to reinvent itself or bugger off.

SHINY locks hair-sprayed into perfect bouffants bounce in slow motion. Oiled, sun-kissed limbs emerge confidently from the slits of Swarovski-encrusted gowns. Botoxed, freckle-free cheeks frame lipsticked pouts that part to reveal pearls of prosthodontic perfection. There's not a lazy eye, hooked nose or knocked-knee in sight. Greetings from the sunny Bahamas, where tonight one lucky girl will be crowned Miss Universe 2009 in a glittering celebration of narrowly defined beauty ideals, as antiquated as marshmallow sofas and gherkin canapes.

Cambodia couldn't be further away from the gaggle of plastic dolls and horny billionaires moulding their coiffures on Paradise Island. But until earlier this month it was at the forefront of challenging the concept of pageant perfection. Miss Landmine, a beauty pageant for women maimed by landmine explosions, was set to take place in Phnom Penh in December. That is, until the Cambodian Government called it off in an effort to ''protect the honour and dignity of people with disabilities''.

It seems girls on crutches revealing their stumps is most undignified, a veritable catwalk cancer. It has been dubbed a ''freak show'' by critics. I mean, who does pageant organiser Morten Traavik think he is portraying these impoverished amputees as role models? A beauty pageant is certainly not the platform to boost the self-esteem of ''imperfect'' women while alerting the world to their plight.

And why consult the contestants before cancelling the much-anticipated event? They might say they found the process empowering, that it made them feel pretty and accepted, and that sure would throw a steel tiara in the works. Besides, they're disabled, so they're obviously being exploited. It takes two legs to make a self-empowering decision, doesn't it?

While these ignorant misconceptions infuriated me, I'll admit initially I didn't know what to make of the Miss Landmine competition. I found the title slightly crass, and a photo of a contestant holding a plastic gun on the pageant website misguided. One associates pageant prizes with diamonds, facials and haute couture, not custom-made prosthetic limbs.

But then I read about activist and pageant finalist Song Kosal, who lives in pain due to an ill-fitting prosthetic leg. Kosal said of the event cancellation: ''It meant that I, a disabled person, lost my right of expression.''

Inspired by such ''brave, beautiful friends and most respected collaborators'', Traavik wants to continue the competition online. I say, good on that kooky Norwegian - it's about time we got a generous dollop of purpose and side of compassion with our pageant pie.

Another welcome venture challenging aesthetic homogenisation comes from our own backyard. In an industry recently tarnished by tasteless stunts and broken promises, a Melbourne radio show is running a competition that will see three Australians with impairments or disabilities take part in a fashion event to promote the idea that beauty is more than tits, teeth, hair and hunger. Entrants include Carly, who suffers from erythroderma, which leaves her body covered in scaly red skin; Dhea who lost all her hair at the age of seven due to alopecia; and wheelchair bound Fatma who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. All strong, inspirational, beautiful women.

Initiatives such as these force us to reassess our shallow concept of beauty. At the opposite end of the emery board, traditional beauty pageants promote the idea that beauty only comes in a perfectly proportioned package wrapped in a sequinned flag. It's no wonder they've become irrelevant and antiquated. Just look at the bigoted and insensitive views expressed by recent pageant princesses, most notably Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean, who announced that she only supports ''opposite marriage'' because that's what her parents believe in, and the reigning Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza (left), who blogged about Guantanamo Bay being ''a loooot of fun!'' She no doubt thinks the water boarding that occurred there involved speedboats, polka-dot two-pieces and strawberry daiquiris.

As for Miss Universe Australia, Rachael Finch, I do hope she finds herself adorned in a satin sash and 30 carats of bling tonight. It would be a fitting tribute to the ranga ostrich who sacrificed his life for her national costume headdress.

But my obligatory patriotism aside, I think it's time for Miss Universe to reinvent itself or bugger off. Please, Donald Trump, no more flogging a formulaic vestige of a bygone era. Stick to buying real estate and marrying gold-diggers. I'll take inspiration on crutches over rouge and rhinestones any day.

Jacqui Bunting is a Melbourne writer.

The Number of Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protesting against Their Eviction Declines Steadily – Saturday, 22.8.2009

Posted on 23 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“The Daun Penh authorities had agreed to wait seven more days before evicting people from Village 2 and Village 4 of the Boeng Kak community. The delay was made following the decision during a meeting with the Daun Penh authorities on 20 August 2009, when also the Phnom Penh Municipal deputy governor Koet Chhe joined the event. In the meantime, the number of people protesting against their eviction has declined steadily.

“On 20 August 2009, forces deployed by the the Phnom Penh authorities, dispersed citizens of 70 families, to stop them protesting in front of the Municipality, and yesterday [21 August 2009], there was a report that only 40 families [instead of 50] keep on protesting, and the number might still be smaller on 28 August 2009.

“Different news said on 21 August that some citizens stated they better die by the hands of the Khmer authorities, than agree that their houses are demolished by force by the machinery of the authorities.

“Boeng Kak residents said that the protest by citizens from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region in Phnom Penh aimed to demand the Shukaku company of Oknha Lao Meng Khin, a Senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, to offer an in place development [as this was originally also discussed as a possibility]. This demand was raised again during the protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality on Thursday 20 August 2009, but the protesters were then chased away by the authorities.

“A representative of the 70 families in Village 4, Mr. Pov Toury, said that his villagers have not given up protesting, but they stay quietly at their house. If there is an action to remove their houses, they will struggle to death. He said, ‘If they come to remove my house, I will struggle to death… I cannot go anywhere else, because, you know, our houses are our lives.’

“But after that protest there was information that 30 families had agreed to remove their houses.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia yesterday morning that the authorities do not respond to the demands of the residents, disappointing many observers.

“A Daun Penh district councilor from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Heng Samnang, said that the authorities do not care to solve their demands. He said, ‘I also raised the case, but I do not have much power.’

“On 20 August 2009, a special working team of the Housing Rights group held a press conference to announce that citizens of Village 4 had agreed to accept the option of development-in-place offered by the government in 2007. But they do not agree to leave the Boeng Kak region for four years before they can return, because they fear that they authorities would forget the promise.

“Since the development plan of the Shukaku company started to move on, after the permission for the investment plan was granted in 2007, citizens of two villages of the Boeng Kak region have been affected. Some had finally agreed to remove their houses in order to avoid to be tormented by the authorities through violent ations as had previously happened to other villagers in Phnom Penh.

“Human rights officials from non-government organizations said that the inhabitants of at least four more villages will face eviction from that region.

“It should be noted that Amnesty International released a statement late last week, asking the Khmer authorities to immediately stop evicting citizens from Village 2 and from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region.

“The statement of Amnesty International asked the authorities to reconsider the plan to evict citizens and move them to live in the Damnak Trayueng region, a suburb of Phnom Penh, because in that region, there are no proper shelters, there is no utility system, no toilets, no water pipe system, no health center, and no possibility to find jobs.

“Amnesty International asked also for clarification about the development on that total region of 133 hectares, and asked the Khmer authorities to specify clearly the date when the inhabitants are required to remove their houses, and to guarantee the citizens their right to return to the Boeng Kak region after the time of their temporary relocation is over.

“Furthermore, Amnesty International appealed on the Cambodian government to adhere to its obligations under international human rights treaties, which do not allow forced evictions, because they will lead to human rights violations.

“According to information from the authorities, so far 30 more families have removed their houses from the Boeng Kak region, and there are only about 40 families remaining. Thus, the delay until 28 August 2009 might make more families to agree to remove their houses. The authorities expect that it will be like the case of the inhabitants of 78 Group, where there was a delay until all citizens agreed to remove their houses.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #474, 22.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 August 2009

Legislative bodies vow to speed up border demarcation

August 22, 2009

Vietnam and Cambodia are both determined to speed up the planting of markers along the land border between the two countries to finish by 2012 as previously agreed, said legislative officers on both sides.

The agreement was reaffirmed during a meeting in Hanoi on August 21 between Vietnam National Assembly Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien and Nin Saphan, Chairman of the Cambodian NA’s Committee of Public Works, Transport, Post and Telecommunications, Industry, Mining, Energy, Commerce, Urbanisation, Land Management and Construction, who is in Vietnam for a working visit from August 16-21.

During the meeting, Chairman Nin Saphan conveyed the results of her delegation’s working visits to several ministries and agencies in Vietnam, especially in drafting laws and evaluating enforcement.

Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien complimented the Cambodian people’s achievements in various areas in recent years.

Kien reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of strengthening bilateral relations with Cambodia under the motto: “traditional, friendly neighbourliness and long-term co-operative partnership.”

He thanked the National Assembly, the Government and the people of Cambodia for creating favourable conditions for the search, recovery and repatriation of the remains of Vietnamese volunteers who died in Cambodia, as well as for the current overseas Vietnamese to work and do business in the country.

He also called for a continued exchange of experience between the two national assemblies in the coming time. (VNA)

Holy cow! Cambodian villagers worship calf with hide of dark, reptile-like skin

Cambodian villagers pour holy water on the dead "magic cow" during a two-day religious event.
Saturday, August 22nd 2009

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."

Vietnamese firm to build fertilizer plant in Cambodia


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Vietnam Five Star International Group on Friday said it will start work on a joint-venture fertilizer plant in Cambodia later this year.

The group will put up 90 percent of the chartered capital in a joint venture with the Investment and Development Joint Stock Company of Cambodia (IDCC) holding the remaining 10 percent.

Construction of the plant, located in Kean Svay District’s Somrongthom Commune, is expected to be completed within 20 months.

Once completed, the US$65-million plant will produce 350,000 tons of fertilizer a year.

Reported by Quang Thuan

Cambodia to recall some troops at border: PM

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday that there was no fighting at border and he will recall some troops to help the farmers to planting crops after some areas had been hit by drought.

"We are monitoring to withdraw the troops from the frontiers and we need soldiers to help the local farmers during this time," the premier said at the opening ceremony of irrigation in Pursat province, southeastern part of Phnom Penh, citing that Thailand now has 30 soldiers at the border.

"But in case we have problem at the border, we can mobilize our troops so quickly to border area," he said, adding that "we are moving back our troops of Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces to their headquarters from the border."

"I hope there is no fight each other again there," he stresses. Cambodian and Thai troops have confronted at areas near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple since July, 2008 when the UNESCO listed the temple as the World Heritage Site of Cambodia.

Moreover, Hun Sen said that "in modern age, we need to discuss the matters with each other and we do not want to see any people shed their blood."

Troops tension at border is becoming ease and both side plan to measure the areas soon to plant border markers.

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Japan's 1st microfinance fund to be set up to assist loans in Cambodia+

Aug 22, 2009

Cambodia+ (AP) - TOKYO, Aug. 22 (Kyodo)—A Japanese music production and fund management company plans to create a microfinance investment fund worth up to 50 million yen, the first of its kind in Japan, to support farmers and businesses in Cambodia, company officials said Saturday.

Music Securities Inc., based in Tokyo, will start accepting money for the fund from individual investors mainly via the Internet by the end of this month, the officials said. Investments will be made in increments of 30,000 yen.

The fund will then invest in Cambodia's CHC Ltd., a Phnom Penh-based microfinance institution, which will extend loans to domestic farmers and businesses, the officials said. CHC will rename itself SAMIC in November.

The new fund was initially organized by Living In Peace, a nonprofit organization established in 2007 to help promote international development assistance, and the NPO asked Music Securities to manage the fund because an NPO is not allowed to deal with financial products.

Such a fund "is not a donation but an investment. We want investors to maintain an interest in how their investments will be used for poverty eradication," said Akiko Sugiyama, an official at Music Securities' securitization division.

Investors in the fund will receive returns after three years, the officials said.

If the earnings performance of CHC remains at the current level over the next three years, the new fund will have an annual return of 2.8 percent before tax, the officials said. But investments could fall below initial value depending on CHC's performance and foreign exchange rate fluctuations, they said.

Microfinance is the brainchild of Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to eradicate poverty with the lending method. Many borrowers use their loans to start up small businesses, find ways to secure sources of income and escape poverty.

Eloquently and firmly, two brothers of victims close the door to forgiveness

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 20/08/2009: Chum Sirath, 68-year-old civil party, on a screen in the press room at the ECCC during his testimony on Day 62 in Duch’s trial
©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

Drama is an important component of justice. It helps write the key moments of a trial. Its impetus lies in eloquence, provocation, unsettling the opponent and historical perspective. To this day, this weapon – not to say this necessity – has mostly been the prerogative of the defence. During this week of powerful and moving testimonies, civil parties stole the show from Duch. Thursday August 20th, Mr Chum Sirath spoke to the court. Humourous, incisive, pertinent, sensitive, sometimes lawyer, sometimes prosecutor, he cornered Duch, who lost some of his eloquence. His performance crudely recalled the near-inexistence of the prosecution in Duch’s trial. Like Chum Sirath, Mr Ou Savrith, who testified from France, left no chance for any forgiveness to the accused.

A civil party at ease
Until the last minute, like all the other civil parties who preceded him, Mr Sirath, 68 years old, was not feeling too confident. Talking in public and in a trial about the suffering his relatives must have been through and the deep affliction cast on his family by this tragedy was a dauting challenge. Yet, as soon as he entered the courtroom, Mr Sirath managed to show a level of ease only Duch had demonstrated until then. With the difference that the civil party was on the right side of the courtroom. The director of an IT company in Cambodia, who has French and Cambodian nationality, was bereaved of two brothers, a sister-in-law and probably the latter’s baby, all eliminated at S-21.

People categorisation: a Cambodian tradition
The civil party painted the picture of an impoverished family in which the parents conveyed to the children the importance of school, a springboard for social mobility. In the 1960s, Chum Sirath found himself in France thanks to a scholarship while his elder brother, Chum Narith, provided for the household after giving up the long studies promised by his good results at school. This brother, a teacher, was arrested in 1968 by Norodom Sihanouk’s political police, known for its rough methods, Chum Sirath pursued. Other intellectuals, including Duch himself, were arrested at the time.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 20/08/2009: Villagers who came to attend Day 62 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC were temporarily confiscated their flashlights before entering the public gallery ©John Vink/ Magnum

“Public executions of right-wing opponents like Preap In were filmed and shown at the movies, so that those who went to the cinema would not forget these images. Back then, people were classified into two categories: Blue Khmer and Red Khmer. In Democratic Kampuchea, people were also categorised into two types: KGB or CIA agents or Vietnamese supporters, but also between ‘new people’ and ‘old people.’ It was a habit that already existed before Democratic Kampuchea,” noted the engineer from the Ecole nationale supérieure des télécommunications in Paris.

A time when intellectuals were often left-wing
His brother Narith was “an intellectual like many others, a left-winger, a liberal.” At the same time, Chum Sirath recalled, the events of May 1968 were happening in France. “It was a time when a lot of people were left-wing and Maoists. It was a little similar in Cambodia. […] Being left-wing meant being against the war, in particular the Vietnam War. Left-wingers were also against social injustice. […] As a teacher, Narith cared a lot about the future of the young people, those who were unemployed.” As the number of unfair arrests multiplied, his brother got increasingly involved in the opposition movement.

The regret of not grouping his family in Europe in time
In 1973, Narith was accused by the police – the Republican one, this time – of being the leader of a demonstration of teachers demanding salary increases. He decided to go underground and joined Hu Nim in the propaganda team of the “liberated zone” under Khmer Rouge control. Then, Chum Sirath moved on to his other brother, Sinareth, a medicine student, who was also arrested in 1976, when he was 28 (Narith was 33). He was the closest to their mother in the family of nine children, he confided and evoked the great complicity between Narith and Sinareth. As he gave more biographical details on his brothers, Chum Sirath exclaimed: “I have to be more concise, otherwise I’ll bore you!” The tone was set.

In November 1974, Chum Sirath was appointed to be Cambodia’s representative to United Nations bodies in Geneva. He hoped his family would join him a few months later. “But in April 1975, it all changed. My dream vanished and I will regret it all my life. […] I did not react fast enough. I did not understand that the situation in Cambodia, torn by war, was going to deteriorate in the following months. I miscalculated and it is something that I regret to this day.”

The French Embassy episode
In a digression, he returned to the “tragedy” that unfolded at the French Embassy in Cambodia, in that fateful month of April 1975. “Under the pressure of the new Khmer Rouge leaders, the consul, Mr Jean Dyrac, did not evict the Cambodians, but he had to make those who were not French citizens leave the Embassy. […] It is now up to historians to say what happened and characterise the decision made by Jean Dyrac at the time.” In France, he was advised not to return to Cambodia because, he was told, Cambodians who had been educated in France were immediately targeted with accusations.

“Why not kill them immediately?”
Chum Sirath did some research and discovered that in his confession, Hu Nim accused his brother Chum Narith of criticising the collectivisation of the economy implemented by the Khmer Rouge regime. Shortly afterwards, in October 1976, he was arrested. The witness wondered aloud: how could one believe such confessions extracted under torture? As for Sinareth, Chum Sirath assumed he was arrested with his wife suffering the same fate in his wake.

When he came back to Cambodia in 1993, to gather evidence on the disappearance of his brothers, he discovered in the Tuol Sleng lists that Narith was imprisoned there on October 29th 1976 and died on January 7th 1977. So, he spent “64 days” at the S-21 prison where he was “tortured, dehumanised and killed.” Chum Sirath got carried away: “Why not kill them immediately, without torturing them?” At these words, Duch – whom the civil party regularly turned to – had a smile difficult to interpret. At the death anteroom, the engineer also found the trace of his other brother, Sinareth, and Narith’s wife, Kem Sovannary, he continued.

Two conflicting feelings co-existing
“Your Honour, I am proud to be a Cambodian and this tribunal offers the accused a chance to express his feelings. But the civil parties must also express themselves.” He then cited the names of all those who preceded him. “And all those persons you have heard talked about their search for the truth. All their stories are different but they do share one thing in common: despair, this feeling of failing to understand what happened, as well as the grief and pain that have accompanied these people for thirty years. As for me, I have fought, I constantly fight, every day, not to forget this suffering and the distress my relatives endured. At the same time, I am trying to forget because I have a duty to the survivors, the people who live with me. I would say that these two conflicting feelings have been in me for over thirty years and I cannot separate them.”

An unsatisfying written reply of the accused
Chum Sirath said he wrote to the accused, who replied he did not know the answers to his questions regarding the fate of his brothers. Yet, he argued, Duch – and he pointed at him – studied with his younger brother at the National Institute of Pedagogy and met Narith when they were underground. “He knew my two brothers but as soon as he came to S-21, he said he did not know anyone anymore […]. He no longer had time to do anything else except for his work. […] I cannot believe that. Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, always says he was only a subordinate, he acted only as a subordinate, he was not a high leader, and he only did what he did upon orders. […] But then, why is he accused of crimes? That’s because he is believed to be one of those most responsible [for these crimes].” The civil party had turned his body towards the accused, as if to place him before his responsibilities more firmly. Duch continued to wince with grimaces and smiles. He no longer had his usual impassive face as Chum Sirath’s declarations stirred reactions in him.

The stoicism of the accused deemed inappropriate
“If the policy of the Communist Party of Kampuchea was to execute these people, it had to be respected. But why torture people to extract their confessions while, as [Duch] said, the contents of these confessions was not credible? During his testimony, David Chandler said of the accused that his job as S-21 director had not made him lose his sleep. […] Until Vorn Vet came to S-21 in 1978, he did his work everyday. Also, Duch compares himself to a wolf [Duch smiled again] with this poem by Alfred de Vigny he recited to us [on April 6th in court], entitled ‘The Death of the Wolf.’” Chum Sirath reviewed the history of the poem. “What is the moral of this poem?” He then also recited the last verses in French:

“Moaning, weeping, praying is equally cowardly.
Staunchly carry out your long and heavy task
In the path to which Fate saw fit to call you,
Then, later, as I do, suffer and die in silence.”

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 20/08/2009: Duch listening to the testimony of civil party Chum Sirath
©John Vink/ Magnum

Hearing those words, Duch nodded and seemed engrossed in a state of ecstasy. He did not anticipate Chum Sirath’s shot at him. “What does that mean? […] That the accused compares himself to the wolf that dies in silence. […] After he recited the poem, there was silence for a couple of minutes. Everything stopped. You could have heard a pin drop. […] Maybe people felt sorry for the accused. It was a smart trick that was used before this Chamber. Maybe they [Duch and his international lawyer] could start a duo in a play in France? But when the accused made such a comparison, it was a masquerade. He is trying to present himself as someone stoic, someone who works without thinking about his own suffering and the difficulty of his life, like the French soldiers sent to war. […] But what kind of bravery are we talking about here? For instance, in the case of his teacher, who was imprisoned at S-21, he knew she had been tortured and degraded. Yet, he did not raise one finger to help her. What is that kind of bravery? […]” He then cited the example of Him Huy who protected Saom Meth (heard by the Chamber on August 11th), when the latter was bound for certain detention after his brother was arrested.

The defence calls for more serenity in the hearing
The defence counsel intervened and requested the president to remind the civil party to “refocus his testimony” to preserve “serenity in the hearing.” The observation was considered “pertinent” by the president, who called Chum Sirath to “control his emotions” and only discuss facts related to his case. Nil Nonn added: “The objective of this tribunal is to provide justice, not vengeance…” That was not enough to diminish Chum Sirath’s ardour and determination, as he daringly repeated the accused was only an “impostor.” The public was hung on his every word.

Duch’s conversion to Christianity… motivated by self-interest?
In conclusion, the civil party wanted to discuss Duch’s conversion from Buddhism to Christianity (in 1996). “In Christianity, Cain […] killed his brother and could never escape his brother’s eyes. He never felt at peace again. […] He asked to be buried but his brother’s eyes followed him into his grave. […] Duch converted to Christianity and he is asking for forgiveness today. But in Buddhism, only good is rewarded with good. Here, there are thirty-two thousand eyes [those of the S-21 victims] following the accused. And I wonder how the accused will ever manage to hide.”

A call made and heard
Like the other civil parties, Chum Sirath came with his family album. He presented the photographs of his disappeared relatives and, when showing that of his sister-in-law, he made a “call to whoever might recognise Kem Sovannary, nicknamed Darn, wife of Chum Narith” to contact him. The magic worked. Within the hour, the tribunal was contacted by a person claiming to be Kem Sovannary’s brother. He lived in Preah Vihear and followed the day’s hearing from home, on his television. For more than thirty years, Chum Sirath had failed to find his brother’s in-laws. This episode, which deeply moved those who witnessed it, also confirmed the Cambodian population followed the trial.

Duch’s apologies have lost their sincerity as the trial unfolded
At this stage in the trial, the civil party explained he perceived Duch’s apologies in a different light. “At the beginning, I was happy to hear the apologies made by the accused. I thought that at last, there was at least one of the Democratic Kampuchea leaders who was brave and recognised the facts. I wanted to believe him. […] But the more I got involved in the trial, the more that feeling diminished. I believe his apologies are not sincere. Why? On March 31st 2009, the accused made a highly noticed declaration. I quote him: ‘Currently, I feel remorse and shame as a person who has to answer to the Cambodian people. To comfort myself, I pray for forgiveness. I ask forgiveness from my parents, I ask forgiveness from my mentors, and I pray for forgiveness from the Cambodian people. On November 17th, every year – on my birthday –, I have a little prayer ceremony.’ In that declaration by the accused, he said he ‘prays.’ But he is not praying for the souls of those who died for them to rest in peace. He is praying for himself to feel better.”

Chum Sirath also quoted words spoken by Duch on July 9th in court, in response to a question from a lawyer for civil party Chim Meth, who asked him to say whether his emotional responsibility also applied in the case of that survivor. The accused had replied he was not “emotionally responsible” but “responsible before the law.” The civil party exclaimed: “In the name of my late brothers, Kem Sovannary and my nephew, I want to declare before this Chamber that I cannot accept these requests for forgiveness that are not sincere. I am here to seek justice and justice also means truth. I have been waiting for justice for 34 years!”

Duch: “I did not want to find myself before a dilemma”
The accused was given the floor to react to Chum Sirath’s testimony. “I would like to repeat that there were not many former friends who were arrested and detained at S-21. […] I moved away from those I appreciated. I did not want to find myself before a dilemma. Both Chum Sinareth and Chum Narith were among the friends whose face I did not want to see. Because everyone who was arrested was considered as an enemy. When you speak about more than 30,000 eyes, I am becoming aware of this question. I recently clarified I accepted everything the civil parties said and I am ready for them to point their finger at me. They can punish me with any punishment they wish to see imposed on me. I accept that punishment.”

An accused who says he is “sincere,” a president who loses it
Duch looked at the audience at times, at Chum Sirath at others. “I am not contesting. I am completely sincere. I am honest. I feel compassion for all those lost souls. […] Sincerely, I do not contest, out of a spirit of vengeance, the words you have spoken, and I recognise.” Then, the accused announced he wanted to make observations related to “historical facts.” He took up an element he said he heard from the civil party, who immediately intervened to correct him with a sharp “I did not say that.” Did the president dread a verbal escalation between the accused and the civil party he would be unable to control? To the general surprise and in what appeard like a fit, Nil Nonn asked Duch to immediately put an end to his observations. “We don’t want to hear anything more.” He declared Chum Sirath’s statement reached its end and promptly had him removed, before calling the next civil party to the stand. Everyone was left wide-eyed, including the international judges. In the end, the defence finally reacted and requested their client be allowed to finish his observations, in accordance with the rules. The president consented, after calling Duch to keep to facts relevant to the hearing. The accused resumed but one struggled to grasp where he was driving at.

“Two dates and thousands of questions”
Ou Savrith was heard through video conference from France, where he lives. The Cambodian, who took French nationality, joined as civil party for his elder brother, Ou Windy, who was executed at S-21. “I have so many expectations from this trial that I feel particularly moved today,” started the director of a real estate network, whose voice got lost at times in echoes and mini-breaks.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 20/08/2009: Ou Savrith, civil party and brother of a S-21 victim, Ou Windy, was heard by the ECCC through video conference from France
©Stéphanie Gée

His brother, “who graduated from ENA, the Ecole nationale d'administration [French National School of Administration], had a beautiful career before him” and was also a father, Ou Savrith said. “He was a brother like many would dream of,” he summarised. “Late 1979, I saw his name on the list of people arrested at S-21. From then on, I had two dates and thousands of questions on my mind. Two dates: February 13th 1976, the laconic date he entered S-21, and May 20th 1976, the date he was executed. It has since been thirty years I have thought of him every day. Thirty years, that’s 10,950 days and nights thinking about what happened at S-21. My suffering today is completely and intimately connected with that of my brother’s wife, his daughter and my two sisters who live in France.”

No possible pity
He read a few lines written by his niece: “I was deeply hurt by not having a father by my side during the important events in my life. […] I would have given anything to see pride on his face when I obtained my baccalauréat [high school diploma] or when I passed my exams and got my first job […]. In the name of my father, I refuse to forgive because granting forgiveness would mean saying that nothing serious was done, admitting that the atrocities perpetrated do not affect us that much. Granting forgiveness means feeling pity. But how can one pity a man who took so many lives? Did he pity the women, children and men he had killed?”

Seeking moral reparation
Ou Savrith said he did not ask for “any financial or material reparation. […] I only want to know what happened during those 97 days and 50 pages of confessions.” “Only one person, my wife, knows about the martyr I went through during those 10,950 nights, waking up regularly, with a jolt, screaming and crying, unable to express my suffering in any other way. As for any Cambodian, reserve is the rule. We all internalise our feelings. The effort I am making before you today is enormous but necessary. For me, it is through this testimony that some kind of reparation is starting.”

The wounded soul of a brother who refuses to reincarnate
The day he visited S-21 in 1992, he was overwhelmed by a feeling of injustice: “Why did they do that? Why did the international community forget us? Why did the international community not believe the stories of survivors from the start?” During that first return to his country, he said he met a psychic who made contact with the spirit of his late brother. Ou Windy told him he was “sad and terrified,” had “suffered a lot in the human world” and did not want to reincarnate. His soul found refuge in a pagoda, placing itself under the monks’ protection. The young woman told him the name of that pagoda, where Savrith went to on the next day to organise a ceremony there. “I can say that from now on, every time I enter a pagoda, I will look at the ceiling because maybe my brother was not the only one to take refuge there to no longer be reincarnated and ask for Buddha’s protection.”

“There will be no forgiveness”
Like for the other civil parties, Duch was unable to enlighten Ou Savrith on the fate met by his brother at S-21. “Are you ready to forgive the accused who has expressed his remorse?”, his lawyer asked Ou Savrith from Phnom Penh. “As for the accused’s request for forgiveness and remorse, in the name of all my family, we will not forgive because forgiveness has [died – Editor’s note: this is an assumption as the actual word was not heard due to a break in transmission] in the death camps and today, there is only [unheard] and distress left. So, the answer is as clear as can be: there will be no forgiveness.”


A civil party tossed around
Mrs Chum Naov, 60 years old, was detained at S-24 (Prey Sar). She was unable to save her baby and lost her husband at S-21. She started testifying following Mr Chum Sirath, by late morning. However, the civil party did not resume her testimony after lunch break, as Mr Ou Savrith was scheduled to be heard through video conference. She was then called back by mid-afternoon, but hardly got a chance to speak. Technical problems with sound quickly appeared and paralysed the trial, as the debates could no longer be heard. One waited, waited… but nothing happened. She will be summoned again next week.