Saturday, 12 September 2009

Cambodia Tribunal Monitor: Khmer Rouge Trial

2 September 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

1 September 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6

31 August 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

27 August 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")
- English:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
- Khmer:Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

26 August 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")
- English:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3Part 4 Part 5
- Khmer:Part 1 Part 2 Part 3Part 4 Part 5

25 August 2009: Trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias "Duch")
- English:Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7
- Khmer:Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

(Military Training) Khmer

Cold&Callous - the naked truth according to Karl Bille


January 13, 2009
Karl Bille reunites with friends in Dey Krahorm to release his Love & Eviction CD. Cold&Callous is the first video off the album, produced by Platapus Produktion in support of the upcoming Sounds of Solidarity concerts. SOS concert tour support threatened and evicted communities across Cambodia. Support now!

Zero duty status subject to labour laws implement

September 12, 2009 (Cambodia)

Moeun Tola, chief of the Labour Programme Unit at the Community Legal Education Centre in Cambodia, has called on the US Congress to provide zero duty access to Cambodian exports, subject to that it meets minimum labour standards.

He said, concession should be granted along the lines of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein's Trade Act of 2009. This is the third such bill to go before the Senate, following the Trade Act of 2005 and the Trade Act of 2007, both of which failed.

He argued for benchmarks to be set in line with international and national labour standards and called on US government to put pressure on Cambodia to fully implement its labour laws and pass its long-awaited anti-corruption law.

The Trade Act 2009 extends zero duty access to 14 least developed countries (LDCs), one of which is Cambodia.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

Vietnamese products compete in Cambodia

Photo: vietnewsonline


Vietnamese products now have good opportunities to expand in Cambodia, as consumers there tend to choose Vietnamese products over those from Thailand and China.

Vietnamese products now hold the second largest market share in Cambodia after Thailand. 400 Vietnamese businesses, most of whom specialise in trade, finance or manufacturing, have invested in the country.

Vietnam’s major exports to Cambodia include instant noodles, plastic products, tobacco, confectionery, seed corn, household products, and vegetables, while it imports materials for textiles and garments, automobile parts, timber and rubber.

Bilateral trade turnover has been rising by about 40 percent every year, totalling US$1.7 billion in 2008. It is expected to reach US$2 billion in 2010. Export turnover sees a much greater increase than import.

The overall worth of Vietnamese products consumed in Cambodia reached US$988 million, surpassing products from China and Thailand. The nine products with the biggest turnover include steel for construction, agricultural machinery, fertilizer, plant protection chemicals, household products, processed agricultural products, dairy products, seafood and re-exported petrol.

According to Cambodian businesses, in terms of quality and prices, Vietnamese products are in no way inferior to Thai products. Some food products are even fresher when arriving in Cambodia due to the shorter distance from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh.

A delegation of experts from the Business Studies and Assistance centre (BSA) and Business Studies Center of the Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper recently came to Phnom Penh and Battambang and surveyed 500 retailers to study the competitiveness of Vietnamese products versus Thai and Chinese products.

The survey includes 3 stages, the first of which began in May. During this stage BSA has studied the business environment and policies and interviewed successful Vietnamese distributors in Cambodia.

The results show that Vietnamese products in the Cambodian market are cheap and their quality is acceptable. Vietnam has built the trademarks of a number of high-quality products which have become quite popular in Cambodia.

By contrast, Cambodian people have recently become cautious about substandard products originating from China.

In fact, Chinese products have not yet been much sought after in this market, while Thai products are beyond the reach of most Cambodian people.

According to Truong Cung Nghia, Director of the Truong Doan Market Research Company, Vietnamese products are not nicely packaged as Thai products and even have no desciption in Khmer language.

In addition, Vietnamese trademark advertising is failing to create a strong impression on Cambodian customers and secure a foothold for Vietnamese products in the Cambodian market.

Experts say that to penetrate the Cambodian market, businesses should establish a distribution network for export products, promote the advertisement of Vietnamese trademarks, ensure business prestige and introduce more products to Cambodian retailers. If new products are introduced, customers should be allowed to sample these products. Currently, a number of Vietnamese entrepreneurs are keen on setting up new businesses in Cambodia to distribute their products to Cambodian consumers.

Veteran journalist trained others overseas

Saturday, 09.12.09


Michael Owen Fowler, a veteran lawyer/journalist who left Miami jobs in both fields to elevate his professions' standards worldwide, died Aug. 18 in New Hampshire. He was 67.

His career took him to the farthest corners of the United States -- from Alaska's Anchorage Daily News to several South Florida media outlets -- before he and his wife, the journalist Susan Postlewaite, embraced the ``ex-pat'' life in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Her husband died after suffering complications from routine laparoscopic surgery for gastrointestinal reflux, Postlewaite said.

The couple and daughter Kim, 8, were summering at their home in North Sandwich, N.H., when Fowler took sick. They'd planned a return to Cambodia, where both Fowler and Postlewaite wrote and taught. It's also where they'd adopted their daughter as an infant.

Her husband ``adored'' being a parent, Postlewaite said. ``He read to Kim every single night. His favorite images of her were when she was toddling toward him and sitting on his lap at the computer.''

Fowler was chairing the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies at the time of his death. He'd been involved with professionalizing that country's media and reforming its press laws since the mid-1990s, when ``it was still a war zone,'' Postlewaite said.

``He was attached to the Asia Foundation. It was a wild journalism scene,'' she said. ``There was no regard for truth and there were all kinds of ethical issues. Mike was trying to keep [reporters] from getting arrested and trying to provide them with some standards.''

The two-time Knight Fellow went on to train journalists in Egypt, India, Bulgaria, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Thailand, as well as Cambodia, at times for USAID.

A U.S. Army Reserves veteran, ``Mike'' Fowler began working in South Florida in the late 1970s: UPI, the Miami News and The Miami Herald. He also taught part time at Florida International University.

At the same time, the University of South Florida graduate earned a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, after which he spent a year with then-State Attorney Janet Reno's office as a prosecutor, and intermittently pursued a criminal-defense practice.

``Mike was a very talented writer, but he was so smart and was fascinated by the law,'' his wife said. ``When he was 39, he decided to fulfill his dream'' and become an attorney.

Fowler and Postlewaite met as professional rivals in Miami, where she worked for The Associated Press. Good-natured competition for stories culminated in a 1984 Key West marriage.

At various times, Fowler taught at the American Universities in Bulgaria and Egypt, served as associate dean for academic affairs at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media in Bangalore, and helped start a journalism program at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2007, Fowler helped journalists gear up to cover trials of Khmer Rouge figures for Internews Networks.

``He was really important because during the early to mid-1990s Cambodia's journalism was very young and we strongly needed training to pass on the skills and knowledge to local journalists,'' Moeun Chhean Narridh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, told the English-language Cambodia Daily.

Miami political consultant Keith Donner studied with Fowler in the mid-'80s at FIU's fledgling School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

``Mike was this mixture of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene,'' Donner recalled. ``He was a tall, hulking guy -- about 6-foot-5 -- with a great wit and tremendous intellect,'' as well as a fondness for Scotch and cigarettes -- the latter forsaken 10 years ago.

``He was the coolest guy in a very cool profession.''

Fowler's cremated remains will be buried at a historic New Hampshire cemetery.

Cambodia charges Japanese man over having sex with minor

Saturday 12th September

PHNOM PENH — A Cambodian court has charged a Japanese man with child abuse for having sex with a minor, offenses punishable by seven to 15 years in prison, a prosecutor said Friday.
Kry Sok Y, deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told Kyodo News that Atsushi Kato, 40, from Aichi Prefecture was arrested Monday in Phnom Penh and was charged Wednesday after allegedly confessing to having sex with an underage Cambodian girl.

According to Kry Sok Y, Kato bought sexual favors from a 13-year-old girl for $15 on Aug 7. Kato and the girl both allegedly confessed that money had been exchanged in return for sex. Kato was arrested after he met with the girl at a rehabilitation center in Phnom Penh where she was sent for education after she was discovered working at a brothel in the city.

In July, another Japanese man was sentenced by the same court to six years in jail for taking photos of nude Cambodian children.

Cambodia's Trial of the Century, Televised

Kaing Guek Eav, former chief of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, is seen on a screen during his trial in Phnom Penh on July 13, 2009
Heng Sinith / AP

By Christopher Shay Friday, Sep. 11, 2009

Like any pair of good TV news hosts, Neth Pheaktra and Ung Chan Sophea deftly play off each other, finishing each other's thoughts and building on each other's ideas. But unlike the playful banter of most local news shows, neither host ever cracks a joke, or even smiles. Instead, the two veteran Cambodian journalists look directly into the camera and talk to viewers every Monday at 1 p.m. about torture, murder and the law.
Neth Pheaktra and Ung Chan Sophea's 24-minute weekly show summarizing and analyzing the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as 'Duch,' the chief of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 interrogation facility also known as Tuol Sleng, has become a sleeper hit in Cambodia. With one in five Cambodians watching the show every week, Duch on Trial has become the main way many young Cambodians, who were not taught about the Khmer Rouge in school, learn about the historic Khmer Rouge tribunal unfolding in Phnom Penh — and, in a lot of cases, hear about this dark chapter of their country's history for the first time.

From 1975 to 1979, the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities, abolished money and turned its upper classes into de facto slave laborers in an attempt to form a radical agrarian utopia. More than 30 years later, Cambodia is still rebuilding — both economically and socially.
For overseeing the execution of more than 15,000 people during that era, Duch has been charged by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a hybrid Cambodian-international court backed by the U.N., with war crimes, crimes against humanity, homicide and torture. S-21, the facility that he headed from 1976 until 1979, was a local Phnom Penh high school that the KR transformed into what one scholar later called "the anteroom to death." (See pictures of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge.)

Not surprisingly, testimonies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) have been grim since the trial started in February of this year. Duch, a mathematics teacher before joining the Khmer Rouge, admitted that his guards smashed babies against trees. One guard on the stand outlined the process of live blood-letting, and a rare survivor described the pain of having his toenails ripped out.

Despite the gruesome tales, Duch on Trial has attracted up to three million viewers a week in recent months — a whopping 20% of the country's population. The success of the show, which premiered in April, rests on its ability to decode the trial's complex proceedings to a mass audience — no small task in this largely rural, poorly educated country where only about 30% of students who enter school graduate from grade 9. The ECCC was established as a hybrid court after years of negotiation between the U.N. and the Cambodian government, and the result is a complex hodgepodge of international and domestic law.

Matthew Robinson, the British producer of Duch on Trial and executive director of Khmer Mekong Films, took the show's predecessor — a pretrial miniseries about the ECCC — to focus groups around the country, fine tuning the show's language to ensure it could be understood. But while the show may keep it simple, it is still able to highlight complex themes raised in the trial — like mental health and forgiveness — that are relevant to people's daily lives in a nation still suffering from collective post-traumatic stress.

The endeavor was something of a gamble. With the Khmer Rouge only being introduced into the school curriculum this fall, many born after 1979 know little about Cambodia's darkest period. And for those who did, before the Duch trial, over two-thirds of people born after the Khmer Rouge rule said they rarely or never talked about the era. Robinson said before he produced the first episode, he went to his local eatery and asked the staff if they would be interested in a half-hour show about the Duch trial. "They said, 'No, no, no.' But I was there on the Monday [when the show first launched], and all of them were watching. At the end, they gave me a big thumbs up." Now the restaurant shows Duch on Trial every Monday at lunch.
The show, largely funded by the British government, is played on the Cambodian Television Network (CTN), Cambodia's most watched channel. Controlled by Cambodia's richest businessman, Kith Meng, CTN is not playing the show in a prime-time slot as a public service, but because it glues so many Cambodians to the TV screen.

Nonetheless, Duch on Trial is helping fulfill one of the Court's central mandates, according to ECCC chief spokesperson Reach Sambath: to educate Cambodians about the Khmer Rouge. In the last seven months, some 23,000 Cambodians have come to the courts to watch the trial, and the Documentation Center of Cambodia has discussed the trials with nearly 100,000 villagers throughout the country. The trial "is an education. It's equal to a professor of history," says Reach Sambath. (Read TIME's 199 cover story about Cambodia's genocide.)

But with its millions of viewers in Cambodia, television has proven to be better positioned to bring the trial into people's homes. "You'll go out to the local little village in the middle of Kampong Speu [a province in Cambodia], and there will be almost nothing there," says Gregory Stanton, the president of the Washington-based NGO Genocide Watch. "Yet there will be a TV set hooked up to set of car batteries, and people watching."

Though the government has not publicly commented on the show, Robinson says he's heard that high-ranking government officials also watch it to keep tabs on the trial. The current government contains many former members of the Khmer Rouge, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a low-level cadre and even lost his eye fighting for the Khmer Rouge during the invasion of Phnom Penh. It was Hun Sen who initially asked the U.N. for help in establishing a tribunal in 1997, but he has since been accused by critics like Human Rights Watch for trying to limit the trial's scope in order to protect members of his own Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

But for Reach Sambath and many other Cambodians, this trial is not just about teaching the public or finding justice but about accelerating a long-overdue healing process. "The witnesses cry. The accused cries. The audience that comes to the court or watches on television cries," Reach Sambath says. "But they cry not to be more painful, but to release their pain that they have been holding for 30 years."

Duch is only the first Khmer Rouge member to sit behind the bulletproof glass at the ECCC. A joint trial of four other defendants will start within the next two years, and on Sept. 8 despite objections from Hun Sen, prosecutors submitted a list of five additional former high-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge who may one day end up at the tribunal. No matter how open Duch is about the horrific details of S-21, he cannot supply all the answers about the Khmer Rouge, as he played no policy role. "The people we've interviewed say, 'We want to know why these educated people did this to our country?'" Robinson said. "And they won't really get this answer through the Duch trial."

The next hearings, however, expected begin in 2010, will include several people who did derive the Khmer Rouge philosophy, like Pol Pot's second-in-command Nuon Chea and the Khmer Rouge's former head of state Khieu Samphan. Robinson is hoping Khmer Mekong Films will be there too, helping give millions of Cambodians the answers they've been waiting three decades to hear.

Cambodia to Discuss Thai Airspace Violations: Chhum Socheat

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

Cambodian senior army officials will discuss Thai airspace violations into Cambodian territory with Thai Air Force Chief on his official visit to Cambodia on September 14, even though the matter is not included on the official agenda for the meeting, a spokesman for the Defense Minister told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

The Thai Air Force Chief and another 30 officials will visit Cambo- dia on to talk with high raking army officials and Cambodian Government leaders.

“This is an annual meeting and talk between Cambodian and Thai soldiers to exchange experiences,” said Chhum Socheat. Despite the sometimes tense situation between the neighbors, exchanging official trips of high ranking and senior armies continues. “These special talks will promote closer cooperation between the two militaries,” Chhum Socheat Said.

The Thai Air Force’s incursions were in violation of a previous bilateral agreement. “I hope that Cambodia will raise this matter … but the talks are primarily about training,” he added.

According to the Cambodian army spokesman, the Thai Air Force Chief will talk with Soeung Samnang, Cambodian Air Force Chief, and then will a meet with General Pol Saroeun, Cambodian Royal Armed Forces Chief, and Defense Minister Tea Banh. On September 15, the delegation will visit Angkor Wat temple until 4 pm, then return to Thailand.

The Preah Vihear temple has suffered damage recently—from Thai bullets and shrapnel fired during two skirmishes with Cambodia that resulting in several deaths and many injuries. The previous Thai Govern-ment supported Cambodia’s effort to inscribe Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in addition to the wealth of internationally recognized documents and maps that clearly show that the land belongs to Cambodia.

Cambodia Criticizes US Human Rights Commission

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

Cambodian citizens made a joint statement criticizing the US-based Human Rights Commission headed by US senator Tom Lantos that has claimed human rights violations have occurred in Cambodia.

The joint statement signed by 42 people in the US state of Massch-usetts called the Human Rights Com- mission one sided, as their meeting only invited opposition party (SRP) officials and other NGOs affiliated with the SRP.

The commission is working on preventing human right abuses.

The Cambodian ambassador to the US said that he was not invited to attend the commission’s meeting. “I was not invited to attend this meeting,” Hem Heng told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

However, Cambodia authorities issued a 10-point statement citing the human rights situation in Cambodia.

The rights commission on Sep-tember 10, invited only Mu Sochua, SRP sub secretary-general, Adhoc Human Rights Center Director Pong Chheang Ngek, and Labor Program Organization Director Moeun Tola. “This meeting only heard one side due to opposition opinions, not the discussion of the real situation in Cambodia,” said a statement sent to DAP News Cambodia.

The statement added that the Cambodian Government is preparing and adopting law, policy and some measure to solve any matters. “Even though the Government is making efforts to achieve this goal, some negatives points will appear, but the Government is patient,” the statement read.

“US senators participated the meeting took a middle stance and they appreciated the Cambodian Government’s performance, clarifying that to work in a democratic way is not easy,” Hem Heng said.

The ambassador added that US senator Jim Moran had said at the event that, though he criticized some land disputes in Cambodia, he admired the Government, which he said has cooperated very well with the US Government, especially on child trafficking.

A member of the World Asia-Pacific Environment Commission of the Foreign Assembly
Commission, Eni Faleomavaega, also lauded Cambodia’s efforts.

“Even though the meeting was only invited one side, it does not affect the US senator,” the ambassador added.

Cambodian citizens’ statements suggested the Tom Lantos commission should improve by following fair guidelines to listen US foreign affairs. Secondly, it should avoid implementation of one sided foreign affairs, especially listening only to opposition party sources. Thirdly, it should cooperate with Cambodia and the region to ensure political stability, security and economic development.

The SRP secretary-general did not release any official statement. “The party has not got any details reports for this matter as we are waiting for the delegation to return to Cambodia,” Keo Sovannaroth told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

US Celebrates Patriot Day

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

The US today marked Patriot Day, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US that brought down the World Trade towers in New York and damaged the pentagon in Washington DC. The US Embassy in Cambodia said there would be no events to make the occasion in Cambodia.

Al Qaeda, an international Islamic terrorist organization headed by Osama Bin Laden, who has been hiding out in Afghanistan since 2001, has been blamed for the attacks.

The US Embassy did make an official statement. US leaders and ordinary Americans have alike expre- ssed their great sorrow. John Johnson, spokesperson for the US embassy in Cambodia, through Cambodian public officer Chrea Vanarith, told DAP News Cambodia that today there will be “no celebration or statement for the US Embassy for Cambodia.”

Patriot Day sees American people remember the nearly 3,000 Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks. All school students must dress in red and white in class and pray for the souls were passed away.

The National Museum in New York displayed films of the event.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban have struggled against the US in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Government has tried to assassinate the leaders of both groups.

Bin Laden has so far evaded US forces. The war in Afghanistan has been ongoing since 2003, when the Bush Government tried to subdue the country. No end to the conflict is yet in sight.

Iraq was demed more of a success, with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein captured and executed by Irawi authorities. The US has plans to withdraw its armed forces from Iraq.

Current US President Barack Obama has announced the US will send over 17,000 soldiers to Afgh-anistan and will withdraw the US soldiers from Iraq in 2010.

Amount US$17,000 to US$27,000 billion were expended in the wars.

US casualties in Iraq and Afg-hanistan number about 7,000 people, of which at least 4,261 US soldiers died.

A(H1N1) Cases Rise to 46 in Cambodia

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Cambodian Health Ministry on Friday confirmed that there are 15 positive cases of the flu in the country.

The cumulative number of confirmed cases in Cambodia has risen to 46 cases from 31 cases late last month, said Ly Sovann, deputy director of Communicable Disease Control Department of the Health Ministry.

There were 15 newly confirmed cases as of September 6, he said, adding that information would continue to be updated.

None of the infections have yet resulted in fatalities in Cambodia, he said, adding that “We have been strengthening our existing system to track the flu.”

Defense Minister Ieaves for US on September 18

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

Minister of Defense Tea Banh on September 18 will leave for the US on a visit aimed at strengthening cooperation, especially between the two nation’s armies, a senior army official told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

The official visit of the Defense Minister is to push cooperation among all fields between Cambodia and America following a formal invitation from the US to Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, who will leave for the US on September 22.

“Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh is going to the US … to increase and strengthen relations and cooperation between the two nations,” said the senior army official.

“This official visit is to talk about the matters at Preah Vihear Temple Border, having a row with Thailand.”

The official visit comes after Mu Sochua, opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) lawmaker, criticized the Cambodian Government, claiming that the court system in Cambodia is unfair and controlled by the ruling CPP. She lost a defamation case against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Mu Sochua recently called on the US Government to suspend military aid to Cambodian unless a regulatory framework for mineral and petroleum concessions is established. This criticism was met with disappointment by senior Cambodian army officials.

“The US government gives support and helps Cambodia in order to promote more development in all fields,” said a senior Defense Ministry official. “Mu Sochua’s remarks will not destroy the nation, and the US Government will not be believe her, as it is only her personal opinion.”

Srey Doeuk, Preah Vihear Temple Army Chief also strongly rejected Mu Sochua statements.

“She is not a Khmer Citizen at all if she said this. She is a US citizen,” Srey Doek told DAP News Cambodia on Friday. “We soldiers stationed at Preah Vihear to prevent any territorial encroachment do not support what she said and we are not happy at all.”

Ou Virak, director of the Human Rights Commission Center, on Friday said that the “Army aid … is not negative, but if it is equipment or budget aid used to abuse human rights, I do not support it at all.”

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday said that he will leave for the US on September 22 to attend an annual summit of the UN Security Council in. He will have a special talk with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

“The bilateral talks are mainly to promote and push for more cooperation between the two parties,” he confirmed. Hor Namhong told US Ambassador to Cambodia Carol A.

Rodley that Cambodia and US cooperation is developing. “Especially, the US Government decided to withdraw Cambodia out of its trade black list in June,” he said.

The lifting of the trade black allows US investors in Cambodia to borrow money from US banks,.

“The news funding brings to over US$250 million that the US has provided in support of health and education in Cambodia since 1999,” Hor Namhong claimed.

But Cambodia owes the US Government more than US$300 million dating from the 1970s Lon Nol regime. The Cambodian PM on Monday this week asked the US Ambassador to Cambodia for the US Government to eliminate the debt.

“We expect that all doubt being eliminated in the upcoming time and we hope that this agreement wills benefits to Cambodian making effort,” John Johnson of the US Embassy told DAP News Cambodia on Monday.

Interior Ministry Warns Police over State Property sale

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Interior Ministry on Friday warned police across the kingdom not to sell any state property under their control.

“Only the Ministry of Interior and especially Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng has the right to decide what state property can be sold, transferred or rented,” Dul Koeun, director general for the General Directorate Department of Finance and Logistics of the Interior Ministry, said at the ceremony to promote public financial reform.

“Even your cars that interior ministry have provided for your units to be used for implementing your work, you do not have rights to sell them,” he said. “Even if they are old, you need to inform about those cars. Every thing will be transparent and we are all clear together.”

In the past years, some issues involving with the state property in the police forces units made the Interior Minister angry because the ministry was unaware of the sale of property including buildings. The deals were sometimes already done before they were reported to the top levels. Some police officials have been demoted or fired from their positions, Sar Kheng said. “Now we have to terminate those things,” he added. “All property in your office, including the land plot of your office, belongs to the state, and you have to register in the inventory book of the government,” he told police. “Other state property, including real estate at your offices, needs to be registered in the inventory list to facilitate the management of all state property, even cars that were provided by charitable people to police units. You do not have the right to decide to sell or transfer those cars,” he stressed.

“You will be confronted with questions from the Interior Ministry and if you will not follow the rules from and guidelines from the Interior Ministry, we will demote or fire you,” he warned.

The Financial Reform Law “will bring the prosperity for our police units and also will bring benefits for all of us. Our salaries for police forces will be increased step by step,” he added.

The lowest rank of police officer officially earns about US$80 per month, with salaries rising according to rank. A police general receives about US$200 per month.

Health Students Get Official Registers

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

Cambodian health and medicine students who have demanded to get official enrollment to study at public’s University of Health Science in Phnom Penh have reached their goals after a meeting with health ministry officials on late Friday evening.

Mom Bunheng, Health Minister, said that his ministry and the repreventatives of those completed foundation year students at the University of Health Science have agreed to accept the resolutions. He added that students will get study without taking any exam. Soy Sopheap, General Director of Deum Ampil Media Center and who is an active mediator of the talks, said that all students have agreed with the resolutions as the Health Ministry has allowed them to study with taking any exam to get full study of health and medicine majors.

Soy Sopheap said, “This is a good resolution that Cambodian health students have accepted, as a result there is no demonstration and they can study successfully.”

On Thursday, a group of health students came to Deum Ampil Media Center and asked Soy Sopheap to get involve into their demands.

Thai Demonstrators Block Border

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 12 September 2009

Thai demonstrators who blocked the Thai-Cambodia border at Boeung Trakourn in Banteay Meanchey province have caused the loss of thousands of tons of Cambodian potatoes, a local commercial office for the region said on Friday.

Nou Yath, a chief of Boeung Trakourn border crossing, told DAP News Cambodia that all agricultural products were blocked during the demonstration. Cambodian authorities authorized the export of the produce to Thailand on September 10, Sreah Keo district governor said. “All the time of the demonstration, Cambodian vendors were waiting for it to finish. Everything was blocked.”Now, all something are gone, so the importation and exportation better, but it remained some not yet, he added.

Presently, all transportation to Thailand is halted, though previously 70-100 trucks each carrying 35 to 40 tons crossed the border daily, he said.

“It has impacted to all Cambodian vendors who export agro-products to Thailand. Some vendors and residents made strong complaints about this case three days ago.”
Both Thai and Cambodian autho- rities have worked hard to resolve the issue and prevent conflict between vendors.

“Now, Cambodia cooperates with Thai traders and respects all the tran- sport of Cambodian agro-products.”

“If the traders do not collect the crops, Cambodian workers will not benefit from their work,” he added. “Cambodian companies made deals with investors and workers, so they are nearly bankrupt,” he said.

Cambodia also imports goods from Thailand, spending over US$614 million every year on gasoline, tools for construction, material, as well as other items, according to the Foreign Trading Production Office

PAD scholars want court to rule temple, land is Thai


Academics from the People's Alliance for Democracy have asked the Civil Court to rule that the disputed Preah Vihear temple and surrounding land belongs to Thailand.

The 10 yellow shirt academics yesterday petitioned the Civil Court in Bangkok, which has no international jurisdiction, to make the ruling.

They also accused Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputies Sok An and Hor Nam Hong and their subordinates of violating the Thai people's rights and liberty under the Thai constitution by encroaching on the area.

One of the group, ML Walwipa Charoonroj, an historian from Thammasat University, said she was glad that the court accepted the lawsuit for examination. The academics decided to take action because the Thai government did nothing to protect the land, she said.

Meanwhile, the government will discuss cutting troop numbers in the area.

According to a source, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya last Wednesday asked 2nd Army chief Wibulsak Neepal about the possibility of reducing the number of soldiers guarding the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area.

Lt Gen Wibulsak said that the government would seek approval from parliament to reduce its forces and then would discuss the issue with the Cambodian government.

"We proposed the reductions in many locations in the disputed area but have not estimated by how much the military forces will be reduced and whether it will reach 50%," said the 2nd Army chief.

Lt Gen Wibulsak said Cambodia was cutting back its forces in the area where 3,000 Cambodian soldiers and 2,500 Thai troops are posted.

Cambodian Supreme Commander Gen Pol Sarouen told his Thai counterpart Supreme Commander Songkitti Jaggabatara in Cambodia two weeks ago that Hun Sen would halve Cambodian troops in the near future and would further cut his forces by another 20% late this year.

Cambodia In Picture

Thai in Picture

Thailand's national police chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, pictured here on September 7, 2009, resigned on Wednesday, days after an anti-graft body held him responsible for deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and police last year.(AFP/File)

A soldier stands guard with his weapon at a polling station during district administrative elections in southern Thailand's Pattani province. Gunmen shot and killed three Muslim villagers, including a local leader and his daughter, in front of their home in the latest violence in Thailand's restive south, police said on Sunday. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

A soldier stands guard with his weapon on his vehicle near a polling station outside a mosque during district administrative elections in southern Thailand's Pattani province. Gunmen shot and killed three Muslim villagers, including a local leader and his daughter, in front of their home in the latest violence in Thailand's restive south, police said on Sunday. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Thai soldiers stand guard outside a burnt school building after it was allegedly set on fire by separatist militants in the Ba-Choc distrist of Thailand's restive southern province of Narathiwat last month. Almost 3,900 people -- both Buddhists and Muslims -- have been killed since the unrest began in January 2004, led by shadowy Islamic insurgents who never claim responsibility for the attacks.(AFP/Madaree Tohlala)

Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), in Bangkok in this May 3, 2009 file photo. Thai court sentenced the founder of Thailand's "yellow shirts" political movement to two years in prison for defamation on Thursday, before freeing him on bail pending an appeal. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Thai Buddhist monks gather to offer prayers at Bangkok City Hall in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, as part of merit making ceremonies honoring King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Prime Minister Abbhisit Vejjajiva has ordered all government agencies to join in nationwide activities as part of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year 2009, as part of a campaign to promote the royal institution as the spiritual core of the Thai people.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Thai Buddhist monks accept food donations at Bangkok City Hall in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, as part of merit making ceremonies honoring King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Prime Minister Abbhisit Vejjajiva has ordered all government agencies to join in nationwide activities as part of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year 2009, as part of a campaign to promote the royal institution as the spiritual core of the Thai people.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Thai schoolchildren wave flags in front of the portraits of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit during the celebration at a park in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered all government agencies to join in nationwide activities as part of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year 2009, as part of a campaign to promote the royal institution as the spiritual core of the Thai people.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Thais wave flags while gathering at a park during a celebration in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered all government agencies to join in nationwide activities as part of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year 2009, as part of a campaign to promote the royal institution as the spiritual core of the Thai people.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

News in Picture

A Cambodian motor-taxi man drives through a flooded street, carrying two customers on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians holds plates with food and incenses to offer at a Buddhist temple during the the festival of the dead, early Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The festival, also known as the Pchum Ben festival, commemorates the spirits of the dead and almost every Cambodian takes part by visiting temples.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians celebrate the the festival of the dead at a Buddhist temple early Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The festival, also known as the Pchum Ben festival, commemorates the spirits of the dead and almost every Cambodian takes part by visiting temples.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodians celebrate the the festival of the dead at a Buddhist temple early Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The festival, also known as the Pchum Ben festival, commemorates the spirits of the dead and almost every Cambodian takes part by visiting temples.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian man drives his motorbike loaded with empty plastic containers on a busy street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday. Sept. 9, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

School closures can slow flu, timing critical: WHO

Swine Flu Vaccine Works In One Shot - Bloomberg

Studies show swine flu vaccine takes effect even in one shot. (Bloomberg News)

A teacher puts disinfectant hand gel on a student's palm as she shows the preventive measures to take against swine flu at an Egyptian private school in the Omani capital of Muscat. Closing schools at the start of an H1N1 flu outbreak can greatly slow its spread and buy time to build up drug stocks, the World Health Organization says.Photograph by: Mohammed Mahjoub, AFP/Getty Images

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters
September 11, 2009

GENEVA - Closing schools at the start of an H1N1 flu outbreak can greatly slow its spread and buy time to build up drug stocks, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Classrooms have played a role in the fast transmission of swine flu in New York and other locations. As educational institutions welcome back students across the northern hemisphere, many are considering how to reduce infection risks.

Certain steps can slow the spread of H1N1, the United Nations agency said. The greatest benefits come "when schools are closed very early in an outbreak, ideally before 1 percent of the population falls ill," it said.

"Under ideal conditions, school closure can reduce the demand for health care by an estimated 30-50 percent at the peak of the pandemic."

It added: "However, if schools close too late in the course of a community-wide outbreak, the resulting reduction in transmission is likely to be very limited."

Reducing the number of people needing medical care is especially important because clinics risk being overrun.

The H1N1 virus has killed at least 3,205 people worldwide since emerging last April in North America and is the predominant flu virus circulating in both hemispheres, according to the WHO's latest weekly update issued separately on Friday.

Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and other South American states are reporting higher levels of respiratory disease. The flu is on the rise in India, Bangladesh, Cambodia and eastern Europe.

H1N1 usually causes mild symptoms, but pregnant women and people with conditions such as asthma are at higher risk.

School closures can provide extra time for authorities to build up supplies of antiviral drugs such as Roche's Tamiflu or vaccines being developed by companies like Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis.

Students, teachers and other staff should stay at home if they are feeling sick, and schools should set aside space to isolate anyone who takes ill on the premises, it added.

School closures carry a hidden economic cost, as parents stay at home to take care of children. Studies estimate closures can lead to the absence of 16 percent of the workforce, in addition to normal levels of absenteeism and absenteeism due to illness, the WHO said.

Conference for Equality and Justice will honor 3 activists in LB

By John Canalis
Staff Writer
Posted: 09/10/2009

LONG BEACH - Three men and women known for work on behalf of struggling families, social causes and promoting greater understanding among races and religions will be feted next week by the California Conference for Equality and Justice.

The organization formerly known as the National Conference for Community and Justice, or NCCJ, will give its Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award to three people who have made "exceptional contributions to improving human relations at a grass-roots level in Long Beach."

The honorees are Chan En Hopson, founder and president of the Khmer Parent Association; Dora Jacildo, executive director of the Children Today; and the Rev. Sunshine Daye, a community activist.

Hopson founded the Khmer Parent Association in 1995 to help motivate Cambodian youths to pursue higher education. A survivor of Cambodia's Killing Fields era, she is also involved in health-related awareness campaigns in the Cambodian community.

"It's very meaningful because the CCEJ is a prestigious organization that is quite well known," Hopson said. "I am very honored and very humbled to receive this award."

Jacildo's work with Children Today focuses on running child-care centers for homeless children in North and West Long Beach.

"She is an amazing example of someone who not only works tremendously hard to oversee the curriculum, staff and programs that Children Today provides, she also works tirelessly in the Long Beach community

to create awareness and partnerships that enrich the lives of homeless children in Long Beach," said Theresa Bixby, a board member of Children Today, of Jacildo.
Daye is identified as "a human advocate" who focuses on drug and alcohol recovery, HIV and AIDS awareness, gay and lesbian rights like marriage equality, and other social causes. She works with the Eastside's Namaste Science of Mind Center.

"It's one of the highest honors to get a Lentzner Award," Daye said of the award named for the man who has promoted tolerance through his work with the Jewish Federation of Long Beach and West Orange County. "Gene has been a local icon and an advocate. For me to get an award with his name on it is truly an honor for me."

Narong Ngeth and Francisco Rodriguez are to receive the CCEJ Anthony B. Rogers volunteer of the year award for CCEJ service. The laurel is named for the late Tony Rogers, who taught at Poly High School.

The CCEJ will also introduce its new board officers: Eleanor G. Aguilar, Bank of America; James Normandin, Memorial Medical Center Foundation; Avygail Sanchez, HDR Engineering Inc.; and Jim Zehmer, TABC Inc.

The CCEJ's stated mission is to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism by promoting understanding and respect among races, religions and cultures through education, conflict resolution and advocacy.

The CCEJ's 46th dinner begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. - dinner is an hour later - at the Hyatt Regency, 200 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach. Guests are asked to RSVP today.

Tickets are $75. For information, call 562-435-8184., 562-499-1273

Civil Society Representatives Said that Cambodia Does Not Have a Mechanisms to Protect Citizens in Land Disputes, but the Authorities Deny It – Friday

Posted on 12 September 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 629

“Local human rights organizations said that at present, the government and the court system in Cambodia do not have efficient mechanisms to provide justice to citizens at the community level relating to land disputes. Meanwhile, violence related to land disputes has increased.

“The head of the investigating unit of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Ny Chakriya, said on Thursday [11.9.2009], ‘We see the government’s intention to address land disputes by creating the National Authority for Solving Land Disputes, but we see that the court system is used as a tool for suing.’ Mr. Ny Chakriya added that those mechanisms do not help the citizens. Human rights organization still point out that land disputes rise because of a lack of efficient solutions from the courts and from the National Authority for Solving Land Disputes. Therefore, citizens frequently go to ask for an intervention by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Because citizens are often arrested and jailed over land disputes, Mr. Chakriya, stated, ‘The courts are using their power to solve land disputes by arresting citizens and putting them in prison, and releasing them when they stop protesting.’

“The president of the Phnom Penh Court, Mr. Chiv Keng, told the Phnom Penh Post via telephone that some citizens lose their cases. Then they shout that the courts are unjust. He went on to say that those citizens live on land owned by somebody else, and they do not have evidence to prove their own claims to the courts. He said, ‘We act based on legal procedures monitoring these cases of land disputes.’

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the government pays much attention to citizens suffering from land disputes.

“He said, ‘I do not believe that all citizens who file complaints over land grabbing always lose; the government does not tolerate any powerful officials who use their power to threaten to take villagers’ land.’

“According to an ADHOC report, 150 citizens were arrested in 2008, and there have been already 50 citizens arrested and jailed in 2009. Within three years from 2006 to 2008, ADHOC received complaints from 80,000 families over disputes about more than 176,000 hectares of land.”

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #3, 11.9.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 11 September 2009

Ambassador Dismisses Rights Hearing as Biased

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
11 September 2009

Cambodia’s top representative to the United States dismissed as biased a hearing at the US House of Representatives Thursday that is looking into Cambodia’s human rights record.

“We already know that they only invited the opposition party and non-governmental organizations,” Ambassador Hem Heng said in an interview in Washington. “It means that this is a biased hearing.”

The House of Representative’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, co-chaired by Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, and James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, scheduled a hearing Thursday to address “a concerning trend in the Cambodian government’s overall human rights record.”

Invited were Mu Sochua, a Kampot National Assembly representative for the Sam Rainsy Party who recently lost a defamation suit to Prime Minister Hun Sen; Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho; and Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labor program.

“Normally, the hearing needs to have two sides or more,” Hem Heng said. “But this hearing has only one side participating. So the hearing is trending toward the opposition party.”

International and local observers say Cambodia has seen a decline in media and personal freedoms, with critics of the government facing lawsuits and other charges.

The Cambodian Embassy in Washington released a statement Wednesday saying human rights in Cambodia have been improving.

“We have thousands of civil societies, from of expression, and the unions are progressing,” Hem Heng said. “Among these, there are at least 11 international organizations. Besides those, there is the office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for human rights.”

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said by phone the rights situation in Cambodia has deteriorated over the past four years.

“In 2005, there were some arrests, some complaints, and then the situation was back to normal,” he said. “But in 2009, we see arrests and intimidation.”

Chan Soveth, a rights investigator for Adhoc, said political violence in Cambodia never meets justice.

“The culture of impunity in Cambodia from day to day is accumulating,” he said. “It is scary, and a serious concern.”

Jailed Journalist Seeks To Apologize

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 September 2009

Hang Chakra, who is facing a yearlong jail term for defamation charges, has said in a letter he would like to apologize to a senior minister implicated in corruption by his newspaper.

Editor of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, Hang Chakra was sentenced in July and fined 9 million riel, about $2,250, after publishing reports on alleged corruption at the powerful Council of Ministers, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said officials had received the letter and would provide it to Sok An on Monday.

In the letter, according to Phay Siphan, Hang Chakra “accepted the mistake of disinformation and expressed his regret for improperly writing some text in his newspaper, affecting the honor of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.”

“He accepts his wrongdoing and requests a pardon,” Phay Siphan said.

Hang Chakra’s arrest and imprisonment came in July amid increasing concern the courts were used to punish government dissenters, after two opposition parliamentarians, Mu Sochua and Ho Vann, had their immunity stripped and another opposition journalist, Dam Sith, vowed to close his own newspaper rather than face similar charges.

Phay Siphan said Friday Hang Chakra should have apologized before his sentencing, because the government is interested in seeing information that follows a professional code of conduct.

Now, he said, “Prime Minister Hun Sen has the right to get Hang Chakra’s apology letter to request the king to pardon him.”

Journalist associations in August requested King Norodom Sihamoni pardon the jailed editor, with no result.

‘Limited’ Freedom in Radio: Broadcaster

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
11 September 2009

Cambodia’s airwaves are suffering from limited freedom of expression and political bias, a prominent radio station director said Thursday.

“If we take a look, we don’t clearly know about the freedom of press in Cambodia,” Mam Sonando, who runs Beehive Radio on FM105, told “Hello VOA” during a studio visit to Washington. Speaking only for his own radio station, “freedom of expression exists, but is limited,” he said.

There are limitations on what can be said, while stations friendly to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party seem more able to increase their coverage.

“We’ve asked for permission to do so, but have been turned down,” said Mam Sonando, who is on a fund raising visit to the US.

Twenty radio stations operate in Phnom Penh, with another 25 in the countryside, while nine television stations can be found across the country.

Political observers say the ruling party tends to receive much coverage of development projects and other positive events, helping it at the polls, while opposition parties are often limited to brief media access during campaign periods, a requirement of election law.

Mam Sonando has been jailed twice by the government, most recently in 2005, for programming related to border agreements between Cambodia and Vietnam.

He emphasized the importance of freedom of expression to improve the country, and he allowed the government to allow more.

Medical Students Protest Over Exams

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 September 2009

More than 300 medical students from three universities gathered for a second day of peaceful protests Friday, claiming the medical school had prevented too many advancements among them.

The students came from the schools of dentistry, pharmacology and medicine, and some claimed they had been prevented from seeing recent exam scores.

“I want to know my score, how much I got,” said Sam Sokheng, a pharmacology student. “In the exam, there were leaked exam papers, to make luck for the rich students and nepotistic students.”

Another student, who asked not to be named, said they had been promised 700 students would advance, but only 500 made the cut-off.

School officials could not be reached for comment.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Teachers Association, said the school should re-issue exams to avoid accusations of fraud from students.

ANRPC announces Cambodia as its 10th member

11 Sep 2009

KOCHI: The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) has announced that Cambodia has joined it as its tenth member.

The other members of ANRPC are China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The membership of the Association is open to the governments of countries producing NR. Philippines is expected to be a member soon, a statement issues by ANRPC said.

After NR prices rebounded in 2008, there is a renewed interest among Cambodian farmers in cultivating rubber. Cambodia extended the cultivation of rubber by 25,901 hectares in 2008. Another 10,000 hectares is targeted to be brought under the crop this year.

Cambodia now has 107,901 hectares under the crop including 33,673 hectares of tappable area which produced 63,700 tonnes of dry rubber during 2008 with an average annual yield of 1892 kg per hectare. The target is to expand the cultivation to 150,000 by 2015.

The Association’s 32nd Session of the Assembly and the meeting of the Executive Committee would be held in Ho Chi Minh City in the first week of November. The Association is also organizing the ANRPC Annual Rubber Conference 2009 on November 4, in Ho Chi Minh City and this is open to all.

Cambodia confirms 15 more cases of A(H1N1) flu

September 11, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 11 — The Cambodian Health Ministry announced Friday it has confirmed 15 new cases of A(H1N1) flu in the kingdom, bringing the total number of the virus cases to 46.

"But so far nobody has died of this flu in the country," said Sok Touch, director of communicable department control (CDC) of Health Ministry.

"There were two Japanese citizens among the 15 latest cases that have been confirmed about the positive test of the flu," he said. But he did not elaborate in details about other nationals of the latest positive cases of the flu.

The Cambodian Health Ministry has appealed to the public several times to protect themselves from the flu, especially the upcoming seasonal flu.

Earlier last week, the Singaporean government donated a new thermal scanner for Cambodia to monitor the virus. Moreover, a thermal scanner was also installed at Poi Pet border checkpoint with Thailand. (PNA/Xinhua)

Well-anchored artisans at work

Salin Kong delicately crafts another item at Artisans d’Angkor. peter Olszewski

September 11, 2009
Lily Partland

HAD things turned out differently, Salin Kong, 22, would probably have become a farmer after completing school. But he found a career after a friend told him about a six-month traditional Khmer crafts training programme to be held at Artisans d’Angkor.

“I loved the designs and wanted to reproduce them because they are traditional and I want to preserve Khmer arts and craft techniques,” he said.

So last year he applied for training in the wood-carving programme and, at the beginning of 2009, he was accepted for another programme, in silver-plating techniques.

He completed this course last month and said, “I now understand the importance of each step. Everything has to be perfect.

“As a craftsman it’s really important for me to show the skills of Cambodian people to tourists. I want to share the skills with future generations, and take care of it, so it’s not lost.”

This attitude of custodianship is perpetuated at Chantiers-Ecoles, Artisans d’Angkor’s sister organisation, set up in 1992, as a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Youth and French Development Aid, to revive Khmer arts and crafts by training people aged 18-25 years. Artisans d’Angkor was subsequently set up, originally as an NGO but became a self-sufficient business in 2003 thanks to the sales of crafts produced by graduates of Chantiers-Ecoles.

Its interests are now divided between three groups: 50 percent private; 30 percent Cambodian government; and 20 percent by the Association of Artisans, of which all 850craftspeople at Artisans d’Angkor are members.

Artisans d’Angkor now has six shop-fronts, five in Siem Reap, and a silk farm 16 kilometres from Siem Reap in Puok.

Artisans d’Angkor and Chantiers-Ecoles have produced 800 young artisans who all work for the business. The latest group, to which Kong belongs, numbered 47. There were two training programmes this year, covering silver-plating and Pursat, a type of stone carving.

Kong studied silver-plating , a complex process dating back to the Udong (post-Angkor) period of the 17th-19th centuries. During that period, silver goods were produced exclusively for aristocracy, but now they’re more affordable as more copper is used.

Visitors to Artisans d’Angkor, on Stung Thmey Street, get free guided tours, where they can see items being crafted.

A variety of goods is for sale, from one-dollar carved wooden spoons to exquisite $2,000 stone bas-relief replicas of work seen at Angkor Wat.

Last month, Cambodia’s Queen Mother, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, visited Artisans
d’Angkor, met the artisans and bought items to be given as royal gifts during international visits.

Artisan d’Angkor’s Communications Manager Thavy Meng said, “Because we are one of the biggest employers in Siem Reap, she wanted to meet our artisans, and also because the royal family is devoted to promoting arts and crafts in Cambodia.

“She recognised the quality of the work and she wrote a message in our guestbook saying she really admired it. She wrote that she was glad the traditions and skills are perpetuated by the artisans, and that the work is very representative
of Khmer art.”

Mang Da, 38, a wood and stone carving master, has been a fixture of the workshops for 16 years. He was one of the first trainees at Chantiers-Ecoles in 1992 and studied sculpture.

His parents, farmers, had both inspired then encouraged his burgeoning interest in art.

He is now responsible for training newcomers, and said, “I want to learn more; I’m always open to new techniques. I have to continue for the experience and for my own fulfillment.”

Thong Eng Pok, 30, taught the new batch of artisans the silver-plating techniques and said, “I expect that all the young students can continue our mission by teaching the future generation.”

And so the cycle continues.