Thursday, 29 October 2009

Thaksin and Suu Kyi: How can you compare hell with heaven?

by peacerunning

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian PM Hun Sen says Thaksin Shinawatr should get the kind of world attention that Aung San Suu Kyi gets.

That statement has inevitably become immediately controversial, for obvious reasons and the “uncomparable comparison” has drawn reactions from various quarters.

The most striking perhaps has come from former diplomat Surapong Jayanam who was once Thai ambassador to Burma.

Surapong usually doesn’t pull punches when it comes to making his political statements.

So, when Hun Sen said he considered Thaksin as respectable as Suu Kyi, Surapong retorted:

“The difference between the two is like heaven and hell.”

Do I have to ask who’s heaven and who’s hell?

The American Export-Import Bank Provides Financing for Products Being Exported from America to Cambodia – Wednesday, 28.10.2009

Posted on 29 October 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“Phnom Penh: The American Export-Import Bank of the United States of America announced on 27 October that it will provide financing for the purchase of products from the United States of America to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia, with the condition that the payments back have to be done within a period of seven years.

“This announcement follows a statement by US President Obama from June 2009, saying that Cambodia and Laos were no longer considered as countries following the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, referenced in section 2(b)(2B)(i) of the 1945 law about the American Export-Import Bank, which was amended. Before the decision of the president, the American Export-Import Bank was not allowed to provide any financing related to Cambodia because of this ban. The chairman and president of the American Export-Import Bank, Mr. Fred P. Hochberg, said, ‘President Obama opened a broader way for American companies that export products to Cambodia, and the Export-Import Bank is ready to help those companies. We are glad to announce that our bank will consider to provide short and medium terms financing for buyers of American products in the private sector of the expanding Asian market.’

“Different US agencies, including the American Export-Import Bank, have cooperated with other related agencies to check and assess the business hazards in Cambodia and in Laos, and they assessed also the hazards of doing business with the private sector in Cambodia. Laos remains under observation, and the American Export-Import Bank has not yet been involved in Laos, except for some financial operators, until the assessments finish.

“The American Export-Import Bank operates in Cambodia in the private sector only, to provide short term financing (to be paid back within one year), and medium term financing (to be paid back within seven years) for products exported from the USA. The assistance of the American Export-Import Bank for access to markets is limited to only business operators with commercial banks as legal guarantors. However, the American Export-Import Bank will consider business operations without the involvement of a bank as special cases.

“The American Export-Import Bank might consider also offering financing of products exported from the USA to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia with longer terms under clearly defined conditions. For instance, businesses which can receive financing are financial operations which are organized properly to seek income in foreign countries and have assets in bank accounts which the American Export-Import Bank recognizes, and have income from rent or things mortgaged, or a financing structure to handle goods, like commercial airplanes made in the USA.”As for the funds in 2009, after their financial year that came to an end on 30 September 2009, the amount of money that the American Export-Import Bank approved for financing to assist in the export of goods from the United States, amounts to more than US$21 billion.

“The American Export-Import Bank is the official agency that provides export credits from the USA. This independent and autonomously operating agency within the framework of the the US federal government, now 75 years old, helps to create and to support employment in the USA by providing export financing for US products, especially to new markets around the world, by offering guarantees for export credit and for direct loans.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

In Cambodia, a threatened tribe of Islam

Southeast Asia
Oct 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Brendan B Brady

UDONG - Imam San was perhaps once Cambodia's most privileged Muslim. Legend has it that in the 19th century, former King Ang Duong encountered him meditating in the forest and was so captivated by the stranger's spirituality that he offered him land in the royal capital. A more cynical account relates that the Khmer royal family, at a time when its power was dwindling, found a ready and willing ally in the Muslim leader.

On the occasion of Imam San's birthday each October, the sect that emerged from his early followers gathers in the former royal city of Udong, about 30 kilometers outside of the present capital of Phnom Penh, to honor his memory through prayer and offerings. The colorful mawlut ceremony reaffirms the sect's privileged heritage and its continued isolation from the rest of the country's Islamic community, which is dominated by a group known as the Cham.

The Imam San followers are the only group to remain outside the domain of the Mufti, the government-sanctioned leader of Islam in Cambodia - a status that was renewed by the government in 1988. Successive Imam San leaders, or Ong Khnuur, have held the prestigious title of Okhna, originally bestowed by the palace.

Cambodia's estimated 37,000 Imam San followers live in only a few dozen villages spread throughout the country. Geography has reinforced the sect's isolation, and the mawlut has become an increasingly important opportunity to forge friendships and - more essential to the survival of the community - marriages.

At the annual ceremony, parents search for eligible suitors for their children, who otherwise would not come in contact with teenagers and young adults from other Imam San communities. The day's use for matchmaking may have new importance as the sect's long-standing isolation is challenged by pressures from Cambodia's larger Islamic community as well as from abroad.

Many Imam San followers see their sect's relationship with other Muslims as the biggest threat to their way of life, as their most vehement critics come from within their faith. For Ek Bourt, an elder member of the Imam San community, it is discrimination from other Muslims that he fears most.

"Other Muslims look down on us since we practice our religion in a different way," he said. "I'm afraid the next generation might lose our unique culture and customs."

The pilgrimage to Udong's Phnom Katera - a site of great importance for Khmers' Buddhist and royal traditions - highlights what some other Muslims see as the Imam San community's unholy cultural proximity to mainstream Khmer society. Conspicuously, the mosque on Phnom Katera is adjacent to the tombs of former Khmer kings and its name, "The Islam Cham Temple of Imam San", is written in Khmer, Cham and English, but not Arabic.

Purity perceptions
Descendants of the Cham Bani from Vietnam, who converted to Islam in the 17th century, Imam San followers view themselves as devoted adherents of the Muslim faith even as they maintain religious and cultural practices that are viewed by some as at odds with Islamic teachings. Because they blend faith in the Koran with other religious customs, including animist-like ceremonies, the Imam San followers are seen by many other Muslims as impure.

Perhaps no tradition of the Imam San community is more offensive to critics than praying only once a week, while praying five times a day is standard practice for most Muslims. And none is more bizarre than the chai ceremony, in which they dance in a possessed state, sometimes carrying prop weapons.

In fact, about 85% of Muslims consider the Imam San followers to be so heterodox as not to qualify as Muslims, according to a study by Norwegian Bjorn Blengsli, who has studied Muslims in Cambodia for nearly a decade.

"They're not true followers of Mohammed," said Hussein Bin Ibrahim, a Salafi Muslim who lives in Phnom Penh. "They don't really count as Muslims. For Muslims like us in Cambodia, our Islam is now becoming more like the Islam in Arab countries. We have grown closer to Mecca." Hussein prays in the outskirts of Phnom Penh at the Norul Ehsan mosque, which was recently renovated with funds from Kuwait.

Most of Cambodia's Muslims are ethnically Cham, whose practices have traditionally been moderate. But the last several years have seen a rise of fundamentalism in the Cham community, most notably of Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam originating from Saudi Arabia.

Growing economic ties between Cambodia and Arab countries suggest the trend will only strengthen.

Last year, after making high-level state visits, Kuwait and Qatar pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in soft loans to Cambodia for agricultural development. The aid sparked concerns among some Western officials that the money could be used not just to invigorate Cambodia's farming, but also to radicalize its Muslims.

"There are some organizations here from the Middle East that are very radical and that are very intolerant, and they are trying very hard to change the attitude and the atmosphere of the Muslim population here in Cambodia," said then-outgoing American Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli in his farewell speech to reporters in August 2008.

The primary focus of the most recent state visits has been trade. Yet cultural ties are also at stake: Kuwait pledged some $5 million for Cambodian Islamic institutions, including renovating the dilapidated International Dubai Mosque in Phnom Penh.

Economic ties with Arab countries will reverberate in Islamic practices in Cambodia, according to Blengsli. "Economic ties between Cambodia and Arab countries will lead to more funding for Islamic organisations in Cambodia and, since they are often unhappy with the purity of Islam as its practiced here, there will be increasing Arab influence on local Muslim practices," he said.

Islamic revivalism
The penetration of Islamic missionaries, as well as development and educational organizations into Cambodia, is problematic because of the separation from other cultures these groups encourage, according to Alberto Perez, a Spanish anthropologist who is writing his PhD dissertation on the Cham.

The Imam San community has been further estranged amid a wave of Islamic revivalism embraced by the majority of Cambodia's nearly 350,000 Muslims. In the past, Imam San followers have rejected donations from wealthy Middle East-based Islamic groups and resisted pressure from foreign preachers, whose requests that they convert to orthodox Islam are frequently backed by offers to finance the construction of new mosques.

But this long-maintained separation is weakening under the same foreign influences that, according to Blengsli, have made Cambodia's mainstream Muslims one of the fastest-changing Islamic communities in the world.

The Imam San community is losing numbers to other Muslim sects, including the Salafi, Jamaat Tabligh and Ahmadiyya, which have international standing and deeper pockets, he said. In particular, young Imam San followers who are sent to Phnom Penh to continue their studies face pressure from other Muslim communities to convert to orthodox Islam.

"We're especially afraid that the young will be tempted to join other groups that are well-funded," said Kai Tam, the Imam San's current Ong Khnuur. But such concerns would not have him change his group's practices.

"Our people are strong because we believe in our ancestors and we believe in their culture and the way they practiced Islam - to change would be an insult to our ancestors. We have the same goal as other Muslims, but we get there a different way."

Ahmad Yahya, president of the Cambodian Islamic Development Association and an advisor to the government on Cham issues, has said that Imam San followers should break their isolation and reform their observance. Yahya has aggressively solicited foreign funding for Cambodian Muslims to continue their studies locally and abroad, and he believes Iman San followers should make the changes necessary to avail themselves of such opportunities.

Indeed, some Imam San villages have begun praying five times a day as a compromise to foreign donors who have financed new mosques for them. But for 19-year-old Keu Sarath, whose home is in the same village as the Ong Khnuur's, her faith in the way of her ancestors has not wavered.

"We love God just the same as others," she said. "But we don't tell others how to practice and they should show us the same respect."

Brendan B Brady is a freelance journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Garment maker seeks to sew up Cambodian sales


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HA NOI — The Viet Tien Garment Joint Stock Co on Tuesday opened an office for a sole sales outlet for Viettien-branded products in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The corporation’s first overseas outlet is a 120sq.m showroom built in partnership with Cambodia’s Caja Top company, and will display a wide variety of garments including khaki, polyester and cotton shirts, trousers, shorts, jeans and coats.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director General of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group Vu Duc Giang said that running a business in Cambodia was the aspiration of many Vietnamese enterprises, including the Viet Tien corporation. They wish to provide Cambodian customers with the best products and contribute to the improvement of mutual understanding between the two nations.

Vietnamese goods have been gaining a foothold in the Cambodian market, especially after a series of trade fairs promoting high-quality Vietnamese products to Cambodian consumers.

Observers said that Vietnamese goods, which had been greatly improved in terms of quality, now had a chance to successfully compete with products from Thailand and China, which had so far been flooding the market.

The Viet Tien Corporation will partner with Caja Top to open more showrooms and sales outlets across Cambodia.

According to Phan Van Kiet, Deputy General Director of Viet Tien, the company was planning to open another sales office in Laos next month before launching more outlets in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia in the future. — VNS

VN, Cambodia get backing to improve healthcare sector

A collaborator gives information on reproductive healthcare services to people in the southern province of Bac Lieu. — VNA/VNS Photo Huynh Thanh Su

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HA NOI — The European Union and Marie Stopes International signed a 2.45 million euro (US$3.6 million) project to help improve reproductive health for poor rural communities in Viet Nam and Cambodia yesterday in Ha Noi.

This project, for which the EU contributed 1.8 million euros and the rest from Marie Stopes International, aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and non-State providers of reproductive health services in southern Vinh Long and central Thua Thien-Hue provinces in Viet Nam, and in Svay Rieng in Cambodia for the next three years, from January.

Dirk Meganck, Director for Asia of the EuropeAid Office of the European Commission, said, "The project aims to set up a new public-private partnership model in a number of poor provinces in Viet Nam and Cambodia to ensure that quality reproductive healthcare services will be delivered to the people in an affordable and sustainable way."

It would try to reduce poverty by improving reproductive health services in rural and hard-to-reach areas in four provinces, he added.

Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, country representative of Marie Stopes International in Viet Nam, said that they had focused on maximising the impacts and improving the sustainability of the project, capacity building for the partners involved and networking within and across the region.

Hang said that Marie Stopes International would co-operate with the Viet Nam Social Insurance and the healthcare sector to provide targeted people with good services at cheap prices. The project would strengthen the health staff’s role and provide cheap healthcare vouchers for people in the provinces.

The project will aim to increase the accessibility and quality of reproductive healthcare and family planning services, boost the management and supervision of the services at the grassroots level and strengthen partnerships and networking in implementing the project.

Dirk Meganck said that the project not only aimed to boost reproductive healthcare services, but would also try to improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS in the two countries. — VNS

International Olympic Committee members visit Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Olivier Niamkey and Farman Haider, from International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) respectively, arrived Tuesday in Cambodia to learn about the development of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), local media reported on Thursday.

They were taken to the Ministry of Tourism, where they listened to a 20-minute presentation by the NOCC on its strategic plans of action, and its strengths and weaknesses, according to the report of the Phnom Penh Post.

Thong Khon, chairman of the NOCC, talked about the development of sports in the Kingdom after a long civil war. He asked for help to arrange scholarships and training for athletes, coaches and sports officials both domestic and abroad.

The NOCC also announced plans to organize the first ever national sports conference. The conference will allow all related parties to exchange ideas and experiences to create the best possible future for Cambodian sports.

Niamkey said that organizations such as the IOC or OCA do not work well if their members lack commitment, especially from sports federations and athletes, adding that he admired the NOCC for creating a marketing and information service in its program.

The IOC official also noted the need for increased participation from local companies to help promote sport in the Kingdom. "Increasing the number of competitions is so important, but without sponsorship we can do nothing," stated Niamkey.

Editor: Anne Tang

Thai-Cambodian Tension Tests Claims of Regional Peace

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK — The relationship between Southeast Asian neighbors Thailand and Cambodia enters another uneasy stretch following a round of verbal salvoes fired before and during a just concluded regional summit, where much is made of strides in achieving unity.

The Thai media had also stepped into the fray to take on the comments made by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that appeared to get under the skin of the Thai government, host of the 15th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which ran from Oct. 23-25.

A demonstrator holds a banner with pictures of exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a rally outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok on October 27. (Photo: Reuters)

On Tuesday, one Thai commentator described Hun Sen as a "big bully" for the remarks he made just before flying into Cha-am, the resort town south of Bangkok where the Asean summit was held, and soon after he landed.

"Hun Sen Shows Lack of Class and Tact," declared the headline of an editorial in a Sunday newspaper. It seethed with anger about the Cambodian leader's "provocative remarks."

Hun Sen, the region's longest-serving premier, upset the Thais by publicly throwing his weight behind Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai premier who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now living in exile to avoid arrest after being found guilty of violating conflict of interest laws.

Cambodia will offer Thaksin a home, Hun Sen said, before arriving in Cha-am, and then added that Phnom Penh would not extradite the fugitive ex-Thai leader if Bangkok made a request. The increasingly authoritarian Cambodian leader also revealed a role he had for the like-minded Thaksin in the future Cambodia—as an economic advisor.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva shot back. "Don't allow anybody to use you as a pawn," he said at a press conference toward the end of the summit, where the outcome of the 10-member regional bloc was to have been the focus.

"If former prime minister Thaksin moves to Cambodia, it will have an effect on our relationship," said Kasit Piromya, Thai foreign minister, in another press conference.

Both Abhisit and Kasit belong to a coalition government that was formed last year with the backing of Thailand's powerful military. It followed a controversial court verdict that resulted in the collapse of a coalition government of Thaksin's allies, who were elected at a December 2007 poll, the first since the 2006 putsch.

Thaksin has been making desperate bids to return to Thailand or to live in a country closer to home than in the Middle East, where he often resides. But he has made little headway with the members of the 42-year-old Asean due to the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a member country that binds this 10-member bloc.

Asean, which has just become a new rules-based unified entity, includes Brunei, Burma (or Myanmar), Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, in addition to Thailand and Cambodia.

The war of words that overshadowed the Asean summit added a new twist to an already testy relationship between the two countries that share an 800-kilometre border, much of it being disputed and not clearly marked because Thais and Cambodia use different maps.

The most visible symbol of the underlying tension between the two Southeast Asian kingdoms is a 10th century Hindu temple, Preah Vihear, that sits atop a steep cliff on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The temple was claimed by the French colonists who ruled Cambodia using a disputed 1907 map. After the French left, the Thai troops took over the temple but handed it back to Phnom Penh following a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. Since then troops from both countries have faced each other along the heavily mined border.

Since July last year, Preah Vihear has become a flashpoint, stoked by deep-seated nationalism on both sides. It followed a ruling by the World Heritage Committee that month that recognized the temple as a world heritage site and concurred with the ICJ's ruling that the temple belonged to Cambodia.

Thai nationalists were enraged, prompting both Cambodian and Thailand to reinforce their military strength in the still contested land—some 4.6 square kilometers—surrounding the temple.

In April, the soldiers from both countries exchanged gunfire, leaving three people dead.

Over a month before the recent summit, Hun Sen had ordered Cambodian troops to fire if any Thais crossed the border illegally. Around the same time, in September, members of a right-wing conservative Thai political movement marched to the disputed site to flex their patriotic stripes.

Thailand was put on notice by Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong that Phnom Penh wanted the border dispute placed on the agenda of the 15th Asean summit. But Bangkok rejected the call, insisting that the dispute be addressed through bilateral negotiations than have this issue "internationalized or raised within the Asean framework."

This verbal tit-for-tat even drew Cambodia's envoy in Thailand to comment in the Bangkok Post newspaper on the eve of the summit. "No peace-loving nation on earth like Cambodia wants to make political gains by provoking armed conflict with its neighbors," wrote ambassador You Ay. "The recent tension between the two countries began with the yellow-shirt protesters from Thailand who wanted to enter our Preah Vihear temple."

The simmering tensions between the two Southeastern nations has not gone down well with the rest of Asean, given the bloc's habit of saying it does not need a regional dispute-settling mechanism because the region's leaders are committed to regional peace through local solutions.

Cambodia broke with this tradition last year when the Preah Vihear issue flared up. It reported the dispute to the United Nations Security Council without getting a nod from its Asean allies, prompting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to warn of the regional bloc's credibility being at stake.

Thai officials are hoping that a quieter approach will help calm tensions between the two countries. "We want people along the border to live peacefully," said Kasit, the Thai foreign minister. "There is a need for civility to forge a relationship and build a relationship as much as possible."

Appeal Court Upholds Khe Dara Ruling

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Khe Dara is escorted from the Appeals Court yesterday. The Phnom Penh Appeal Court on Wednesday upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s ruling in the case of Khe Dara, a woman who illegally fired a pistol and threatened police and journalists on September 28.

The Phnom Penh Appeal Court on Wednesday upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s ruling in the case of Khe Dara, a woman who illegally fired a pistol and threatened police and journalists on September 28.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced her to 18 months imprisonment and fined her CR1 million for the illegal use of a firearm.

Khe Dara, also called Gech, subsequently filed a complaint with the Appeal Court.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday warned a high ranking policeman who interfered in the case of Khe Dara.

On 28 September, 2009, Khe Dara, 30, fired several times and angrily cursed police and journalists in front of Sonsom Kosal pagoda, in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey District. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court to convicted her but the court’s sentence was only on the charge of illegal gun usage, so the premier recommended more charges.

“As I watched a video received from Kuoch Chamroeun, it took more than 3 hours to take the gun off her. This action is very out of the law,” Hun Sen said at graduation ceremony.

The premier warned one unidentified high ranking policeman who intervened in the case. The premier also strongly criticized the woman’s actions.

Mu Sochua to Go to Supreme Court

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

MP Mu Sochua tells reporters at the Appeal Court yesterday that she will not give up the case and promise to fight till the end.

Mu Sochua was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August for defaming Hun Sen during an April press conference, in which she announced plans to sue the premier for allegedly insulting her. The court also ordered her to pay more than US$4,000 in a fine and compensation to Hun Sen.

After a Wednesday appeal hearing, Judge Seng Sivutha said the court decided to uphold the conviction, ruling that Mu Sochua did defame Hun Sen and “incited other women to hate” the premier.

During the trial, Mu Sochua represented herself. Ky Tech, the premier’s lawyer, confirmed that “Mu Sochua has not sought for any lawyers besides Kong Sam On and Sok Sam Oeun among more than 600 lawyers in Cambodia, so that it is not the case that no lawyer dares to defend her.”

“Lawyer Kong Sam On confessed his own mistakes and asked for to stop the being her lawyer,” Ky Tech added.

Ky Tech told the Appeal Court Mu Sochua had intentionally defamed the premier’s reputation and honor.

Mu Sochua confirmed that she will go on to the Supreme Court.

Mu Sochua, Sam Rainsy Party Lawmaker, on Wednesday said that she will seek to take her case to the Supreme Court after the Phnom Penh Appeal Court upheld the previous verdict of the Municipal Court that the opposition lawmaker had defamed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“If she goes on at Supreme Court, I, being a lawyer of the premier, will go on at supreme court to face with her,” Ky Tech told reporters.

Mu Sochua told reporters that the Appeal Court’s ruling was unjust and politically motivated.

Koul Pahna, COFREM Executive Director, told DAP News Cambodia that the it is individual right for Mu Sochua to file complaint to Supreme Court.

“However, the politicians in Cambodia should not file complaints against each other in defamation case,” Koul Pahna added.

Plans for Shrimp Exports to Korea

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Nautisco Company will export about 15 tons of Cambodian shrimp to South Korea at the end of 2009.

General Manager of Nautisco Company in Cambodia Pov Sambath said on Wednesday in a press conference at the Cambodiana Hotel that “At the end 2009, we will export a total about 15,000 kg of shrimps to Korea.”

“If we would be successful, we could export to Japan and other European countries as well,” Sambath added. “We sell about 10 percent in the local market, but 90 percent we have kept to export,” he said. “We have 200 employees in the businesses now, for the future we will add from 300-400 to work with us.”

Cambodian Fisheries Administ-ration (FA) officer Chhourn Chamnan said that the fishery sector supports Cambodian food security and helps promote development. Nautisco said fish and shrimps from sea are cleaned by osmosis and methods.

Nautisco hopes that the Cambodian Government will allow foreign investors to invest in Cambodia with the brand name ‘Made in Cambodia’ to export overseas, he added.

Cambodia Confirms 4th A/H1N1 Death, 41 New Cases

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia on Wednesday confirmed the 4th death from the A/H1N1 virus and the 239th case of A/H1N1, more commonly called swine flu, with another 41 cases confirmed, Ly Sovan, deputy director of the Anti-Communicable Disease Department of Cambodia’s Health Ministry, told DAP News Cambodia on Wednesday.

The number of A/H1N1 cases worldwide reached 4,999.

The Health Ministry confirmed the first case of the A/H1N1 virus in Cambodia on June 24 after an American student from a group, which arrived in Cambodia June 19, tested positive for the disease.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health, in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO), is striving to control the A/H1N1 situation, working to curb the spread of the virus and keeping the public well informed with updates.

The health minister called on the people to protect tightly in water festival in Cambodia at the beginning of next month.

At Least 20 Percent of Cambodians Face Food Insecurity

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A seminar on Food Security Supporting Program (FSSP) in Phnom Penh was held on Wednesday at the Cambodiana Hotel supported by European Union (EU) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organizat- ion (FAO), an FAO official reported.

Cambodia has been developing both financing and agriculture, but around 20 percent of Cambodian citizens remain desperately poor and at risk.

Deputy Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Kith Seng stated during the seminar that “Although, Cambodian was strong in agriculture … in 2008, we harvested about 3 million of tons of rice to export overseas, but it was not enough.”

In the whole country is concerned by food insecurity, and the EU and FAO are cooperating with MAFF to address the problem. When goods prices go up, Cam bodians’ problems multiply, experts said. During the seminar, an FAO representative said that the project depends on the Cambodian Govern-ment’s cooperation with society institutions and rural communities.

The project aims to boost farming outputs and to ensure food insecurity for the poor, including a healthy diet and enough nutrition.

Reflected Royalty

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Heng Chivoan

One of many pictures of the King erected around Phnom Penh this week in preparation for the Water Festival appears in the side mirror of a car at the front of Hotel Cambodiana on Wednesday.

Carnage in Pakistan

Photo by: AFP

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:04 AFP

Shops burn as men gather at a market following a car bomb blast in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday that killed more than 80 people, underscoring the scale of the extremist threat as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited.

Court upholds Mu Sochua conviction

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Parliamentarian Mu Sochua appeared in court on Wednesday as the judges rejected her appeal of a defamation conviction.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:04 Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio

THE Court of Appeal has upheld the defamation conviction of opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, an outcome the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian described as “politically motivated”.

In a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Seng Sivutha affirmed the ruling handed down by the Municipal Court in August, which found Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen and ordered her to pay a total of 16.5 million riels (US$3,963) in fines and compensation.

During the hearing, Mu Sochua was defiant, appearing in court without a defence attorney and refusing to answer any questions because of her lack of counsel, she said.

“I don’t want other lawyers to become victims like Kong Sam Onn,” she said, referring to her former defence lawyer, who resigned and defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in July after he was also sued for defamation by the premier.

After the hearing, she rejected the court’s decision and pledged to take her appeal to the Supreme Court.

“I’m not going to pay the fine – I’ve said that before clearly,” she said. “I’m just giving the courts of Cambodia another chance to prove that they can do their job.”

In a statement released after the hearing, the SRP decried the outcome as a “mockery of justice” that merely mimicked the verdict handed down in August. “The Appeal Court, ignoring principles of fair trial, blindly affirmed the decision of the Municipal Court: The accused was denied her rights to be represented by a lawyer of her choice, and to be judged by an independent and impartial tribunal,” the party stated.

The prime minister sued Mu Sochua for defamation in April after she filed her own complaint, claiming he referred to her in a speech as a cheung klang – a Khmer term meaning “strong leg” but considered derogatory when used in relation to women. Her own lawsuit against Hun Sen was dismissed by the Appeal Court on October 14.

Hun Sen’s lawyer, Ky Tech, said during the hearing that Mu Sochua’s comments about her own lawyer were an attempt to politicise the issue, and that the wording of Mu Sochua’s lawsuit – in which she requested 500 riels in symbolic compensation – was clear evidence that she aimed to attack and insult the prime minister.

“She held a press conference to defame Samdech Hun Sen and said she would sue [him]. She demanded 500 riels, but this amount could not wash away the stain on her reputation if she had really been defamed by Hun Sen,” Ky Tech said.

“There was only one aim – to defame Samdech Hun Sen.”

Rights activists, however, said the verdict was a clear case of political manipulation.

“Poor people can’t make complaints against high-ranking people. This is the custom of Cambodia,” said Chan Soveth, a senior monitor at local rights group Adhoc.

The outcome of the appeal, he said, was a foregone conclusion from the moment the original verdict was delivered.

“The Phnom Penh court had made its decision already, [a] decision made not by the court but by high-ranking people. The Appeal Court could not make a new ruling,” he said.

Thida Keus, executive director of rights group Silaka and secretary general of the Committee to Promote Women in Politics, said she was disappointed the court did not conduct its own investigations into the case, adding that the verdict could discourage women from getting involved in politics.

“Since [Mu Sochua] is among the most proactive women activists and lawmakers in Cambodia, I am disappointed she wasn’t given more respect,” she said.

“I feel very sad that this has happened – not just for women, but also for the public and the international community who know the judicial system in Cambodia is not free.”

The ruling came a week after the Governing Council of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a resolution expressing “deep concern” at the sentencing of Mu Sochua for making statements that “clearly fall within the limits of her freedom of expression”.

The resolution, adopted in Geneva on October 21, also decried the removal of Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity in June to pave the way for the defamation case, and said she “did not enjoy her right to legal counsel of her choice” following Kong Sam Onn’s resignation in July.

Thaksin says he will visit: sources

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:04 James O’toole and Joel Quenby

DEPOSED Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has told supporters he plans to travel to Cambodia, a Thai opposition source and media reports said Wednesday.

Speaking to members of the Puea Thai party – known as the Red Shirts – by video conference Tuesday, Thaksin announced plans to travel to Cambodia following an invitation from Prime Minister Hun Sen to serve as his economic adviser, said a woman identified as a Puea Thai member but who refused to give her name.

“Thaksin said he would fly to Cambodia soon to thank Hun Sen,” the Bangkok Post quoted another anonymous Puea Thai official as saying.

Bangkok says it would seek extradition if Thaksin – ousted in a 2006 coup and self-exiled to avoid jail on corruption charges – sought refuge in Cambodia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the government has had no official communication with Thaksin recently, but that a visit to Cambodia was plausible. “I think it could be true, because so far, Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light to [Thaksin],” Koy Kuong said.

The source said, however, that Puea Thai was unsure such a visit would be prudent.

“We don’t agree with the idea of Thaksin going to Cambodia.… He’s caused so much trouble for the country recently that he needs to fix before he goes to Cambodia,” she said.

Two chiefs still head border relations

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Thet Sambath

TWO military officials appointed earlier this year to the same position within a Banteay Meanchey province border relations office remain on the job but in different locations, officials said Wednesday.

Pol Sinoun, nephew of RCAF Commander in Chief Pol Saroeun, was appointed head of the Thailand-Cambodia Relations Office in June. Three months later, the Ministry of Defence announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Dy Phen, would head the office.

Tale of two offices
Rather than clarify who officially heads the office, the government has allowed both men to continue to hold the post but operate out of different offices and report to different superiors.

“Another office was opened about a kilometre away from the old office we are working in,” said Tim Sareth, deputy chief of the Thailand-Cambodia Relations Office, who added that Pol Sinoun continues to operate out of the original office in Poipet commune.

Pol Sinoun said Wednesday that despite the overlap of offices, he continues to report to the RCAF High Command, whereas Dy Phen reports to the Ministry of Defence.

“There is no problem because we report to different places,” Pol Sinoun said.

An official who refused to be named said Wednesday that Thai officials consult only with Pol Sinoun because they have worked together for many years and have not been given instructions to consult with Dy Phen.

Dy Phen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lake-filling to worsen PP floods, report says

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Thet Sambath

THE filling of Boeung Kak lake for a controversial housing and commercial development will increase the level of wet-season flooding in areas in the city’s north, according to a technical report presented at a public forum on Wednesday.

The Boeung Kak Area Drainage and Flooding Assessment, prepared by a team of Australian drainage engineers in 2008 and released in March, says the filling of the lake is set to eliminate a significant rain catchment area, and that the absence of this catchment could have “significant
impacts on property” in areas around the lake.

“While the lake is a closed system with little catchment contribution beyond the lake itself, the proposed development area is large enough to generate large volumes of run-off,” the report states.

The team of engineers, commissioned by local housing rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, concluded that runoff from the development would overwhelm the poor drainage infrastructure in Russey Keo district to the north.

The presentation came amid a recent spate of disruptive floods in Russey Keo that many residents have blamed on the filling of the lake, which local developer Shukaku Inc commenced in August 2008.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema denied the filling had anything to do with the floods, saying a US$3.8 million drainage system – on which construction is to begin in the dry season – would cut floods.

“I implore the people not to make accusations about the filling of the lake. Opposition politicians are trying to provoke this problem and are doing nothing,” he said.

Court rejects driver’s gun conviction appeal

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Appeal Court has upheld a lower court conviction against a woman who fired a gun into the air following a heated traffic dispute and claimed she was related to high-ranking officials.

However, the new lawyer for Khay Dara, 30, complained the decision was rendered too swiftly. “The sentence should have been reduced because [Khay Dara] has children and I accepted that it was her fault for firing the gun,” said lawyer Luong Sokha, who was assigned to the case after the woman’s original attorney dropped out.

Khay Dara, also known as Gek, originally said she was 22 and single. In reality, Luong Sokha said, his client is 30, has three children and is married – albeit not to a high-ranking military official.

“Her husband is a normal government official who now has high blood pressure,” he said. “I don’t know much about her personal relationship with a three-star general.”

Khay Dara still has the option of taking her case to the Supreme Court. In September, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Khay Dara to 18 months in prison and a 1 million riel (US$239) fine after convicting her on charges of reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a weapon.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned government officials to rein in their misbehaving relatives.

Fishing community in Kampot protests

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Vong Sokheng

AROUND 30 representatives from a fishing village in Kampot province held protests Wednesday to block trucks belonging to the Keo Chea Development Company, which is reclaiming coastal land for the construction of an ecotourism resort.

Chiev Samith, deputy police chief of Kampot province, said the villagers held peaceful protests for a few hours but “lacked information” about the company’s development plans.

“Some protesters returned to their home after the local authorities explained to them about the company’s development plan. The company has a legal document approved by the government to fill the coastal area,” he said.

In contrast to the developer’s claims of pursuing peaceful persuasion, Lor Chhean, a representative of the Thnuat Community Fishery, which encompasses several villages, said he has been repeatedly threatened with arrest if he continues organising villager demonstrations.

“I am now afraid of arrest by the local authorities, so I could not participate with the villagers in today’s protest,” he said.

He said Keo Chea’s plans to reclaim 200 hectares of coastal waters would affect the residents of Kep Thmey and Torteng Thngai villages, destroying up to 1,000 jobs. The company began reclaiming coastal land on October 8 in preparation for the project.

Villager Chan Dara, 47, said that at least 80 percent of the residents depend on the community fishing zone for their survival and called for the government to provide appropriate compensation.

“We do not oppose the government’s development plan because the fishing zone belongs to the state, but if the government needs it, there should be an appropriate resolution for us as poor people,” he said.

“I am not 100 percent sure, but the company told me that it will donate 100 fishing boats to the community fishery,” Chiev Samith said, adding that no arrests of villagers had been made in connection with the protests.

Doeu Sokhom, a human rights monitor for the rights group Licadho, said that about 30 police were deployed to clear the roads leading to the development site.

Despite pushing and pulling a handful of the protesters from in front of the trucks, he said, there was no violence.

Hearing postponed in acid attack appeal

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

THE Court of Appeal on Wednesday postponed an appeal hearing in the case of former Military Police official Chea Ratha, who in August was acquitted of a conviction for a brutal acid attack against her lesbian lover’s aunt.

Chuon Sunleng, the Appeal Court’s deputy president, said the hearing had been postponed because the court’s calendar was too full, adding that it would take place on November 6.

“There is nothing to be changed for Chea Ratha’s case,” he said. “We just postponed the hearing because we had about 10 cases to hear today. It will be brought before a judge on November 6.”

The August 31 verdict was blasted by the rights groups Licadho and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights. Licadho Director Naly Pilorge said in a September 2 statement: “This is yet another blatant display of Cambodia’s rampant impunity and culture of brutal violence.”

Chea Ratha is believed to be out of the country. In Soklyda, her former lover, and the victim, Ya Soknim, went into hiding shortly after the verdict was announced.

Ya Soknim suffered severe burns in the May 2008 attack, and lost her right eye and breast. At a press conference on September 2, In Soklyda said she feared for her safety.

Racers, be careful: Hun Sen

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Teams compete Wednesday in the boat race trials on the Tonle Sap in preparation for this weekend’s Water Festival.


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 Kim Yuthana and Mom Kunthear

Flooding, swift current seen as potential hazards during festival.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen advised boat-racing teams to exercise caution when competing in unusually high waters during this weekend’s Water Festival as trial races began on Tuesday.

“All provincial authorities and all pagodas with boats in the competition need to think about their teams’ safety while travelling [on the river] because the water is still high. It would be best to send health officers or doctors along with them,” the prime minister said.

A strong rainy season and persistent flooding since Typhoon Ketsana have engorged Cambodia’s river systems, presenting this weekend’s racers with the danger of a fast, powerful and unpredictable current.

Am Vanny, chairman of the Phnom Penh Boat Racing Committee, said Wednesday that the race’s organisers had set up 10 health stations along the course.

“There will be 10 health officers at each station and [a larger staff at] the main medical centre in the Chrouy Changvar primary school, near the Chroy Changvar Bridge, in order to save people on time,” he said.

Pa Socheatvong, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said Wednesday that in addition to the emergency response stations, City Hall had arranged to “have speedboats standing by… along the riverside”.

In Kratie, Governor Kham Phoeun said he had urged the 33 boat teams from his province to keep safety in mind while paddling to the capital and had also provided them with medical support.

“Three or four doctors will come with the boat racers in order to look after them and save them in the event of an emergency,” he said, adding that his province takes similar safety precautions every year.

The Water Festival is the biggest event on the Cambodian calendar: An estimated 2 million people descend on the capital for three days of celebration every year. This year, the festival takes place from November 1 to 3.

The National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals said there are 391 boats registered to compete this year.

Childcare: Govt urges child-care standards

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 Khoun Leakhana


The government on Wednesday urged orphanages and other child-care centres in the Kingdom to adopt operational regulations set forth by the Ministry of Social Affairs. At a government workshop on protecting children, Prak Chanthoeun, director general of the ministry’s technical department, said he wanted NGO-run child-care facilities to follow the same regulations as state-run facilities, noting that many NGOs do not follow a set policy for taking in and caring for children. The ministry, Prak Chanthoeun said, wants child-care centres throughout Cambodia to monitor children who enter and leave their care and to give people over the age of 18 the right to leave voluntarily. Cambodia currently has 221 centres caring for over 10,000 children, with only 21 sponsored by the government, he said. Kem Kimlang, director of Enfants d’Asie Aspeca, which operates two centres, agreed with Prak Chanthoeun about the importance of establishing nationwide regulation, noting the difficulty her organisation faces in managing the 2,000 children in its care.

Scheme to give addicts alternative treatment

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 Irwin Loy and Sam Rith

CAMBODIA’S drug bureau has green-lighted a methadone treatment programme for injection drug users.

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) on Tuesday signed off in principle on what would be the country’s first methadone programme, NACD Secretary General Moek Dara confirmed Wednesday.

“I hope a significant number of people will be able to stabilise their lives and actually start to become full members of society again,” said Graham Shaw, a technical officer with the World Health Organisation in Cambodia, adding that he expects the programme to launch in December.

However, he warned that it could fail without proper support services such as housing, counselling and training. “We are concerned there’s not enough of that in place at the moment,” Shaw said.

However, local harm-reduction advocacy group Korsang said Wednesday that it will provide some housing and support for participants.

Methadone is a synthetic drug used in replacement therapy for drug users addicted to opiates such as heroin.

Workshop to tackle food security

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

GOVERNMENT officials and development partners on Wednesday opened a workshop centred on the implementation of a 20-month programme designed to improve food security for poor farmers in nine provinces, an issue they say has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana.

The Food Facility Programme, for which the European Union has committed €11 million (US$16.6 million), began earlier this month.

Etienne Careme, emergency programme coordinator for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, said that while the most important aspect of the programme would be the distribution of rice seeds and fertiliser, officials would also be looking to improve irrigation canals, raise national standards for nutrition education and promote healthy feeding practices for women and children.

“When we have disasters like droughts, floods and typhoons, certain portions of the population are very vulnerable,” he said. “So we need to improve their access to food.”

Kingdom attends tiger forum

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
One of five resident tigers at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, all of which have been rescued from wildlife traders within Cambodia.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 Jacob Gold

THE threat of tigers’ imminent extinction is the overriding concern of an international forum in Nepal, where representatives of the Cambodian government are due to report on the state of the Kingdom’s tiger population.

The Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop, which ends Friday, brought together more than 250 scientists, conservationists and policy makers from 20 countries, including the 13 Asian nations that are home to the 3,400 to 4,000 tigers estimated to remain in the wild.

Edward Pollard, a technical adviser at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said his organisation worked closely with Cambodia’s Forestry Administration and the Ministry of Environment in their tiger conservation efforts.

The WCS is closely involved with the management of one of Cambodia’s major tiger habitats, the newly designated Seima Protected Forest in Mondulkiri.

One of the WCS’s tiger-protection roles there is to “support enforcement activities directed against the hunting of tigers and tiger prey”, mostly by training forest rangers to intercept poachers.

The WCS also monitors the number and location of the Mondulkiri tigers, a task that demands increasingly innovative methods as tiger numbers dwindle.

“We just [started] major efforts in the last dry season and will begin again this dry season, which starts in January, using a tiger dog,” Pollard said. “This is a dog trained to locate tiger scat. We collect the scat and extract the DNA to identify individual tigers.”

The last sighting of a tiger in Cambodia was an image collected from a camera trap in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund. Aside from scat, conservationists’ main source of information about tigers are paw prints and prey carcasses. To help locate these, the WCS works with the forest’s indigenous Bunong people. “We do use local information as much as we can.… The Bunong live there; the forest is very important to them,” Pollard said, adding that local input proved “very useful” in the WCS’s recent wild elephant survey.

Seng Bunra, country director for Conservation International, said his organisation was also sending staff to support the delegation to Nepal.

Though the WCS focuses primarily on the dry forests of Mondulkiri, Seng Bunra said it does work in Cambodia’s other major tiger redoubt: the Cardamom Mountains.

Exact numbers unknown
Neither Pollard nor Seng Bunra could give an estimate of the number of tigers still living in Cambodia, but a “country snapshot” issued by the forum’s organiser put the number of adult tigers between 10 and 50.

Seng Bunra said that no matter what the exact number is, the situation is a far cry from the pre-war period.

“Before the war, there were many, many tigers, not only in the forests, but even in the village areas,” Seng Bunra said.

“During the war, there was bombing by B-52s … armies in the forest killing animals for food and for smuggling, and when locals fled from villages, they would hunt in the forest as well.”

Seng Bunra added that land mines and unexploded ordnance had also posed a danger to tigers for decades.

Like the WCS, Conservation International’s monitoring work depends for the moment on paw prints, prey remains and scat, but Seng Bunra hopes the message of the Nepal tiger forum will encourage the Forestry Administration to approve his organisation’s proposal to set up a chain of camera traps in the Cardamoms.

Officials at the Forestry Administration, the Wildlife Protection Office and the Ministry of the Environment were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

Koh Kong villagers petition ministry

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:02 May Titthara

REPRESENTATIVES of 43 families from Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district travelled Wednesday to Phnom Penh to petition the Ministry of Justice to intervene in their land dispute with two local tycoons.

Tep Hai, one of the representatives, said a letter delivered to the ministry also raised objections to the actions of provincial court Judge Meas Vatanea, who ruled Tuesday that some of the land thought to be in Chi Khor Krom commune was actually in Chi Khor Leu commune.

Ministry officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Am Sam Ath, technical superviser for the rights group Licadho, said Wednesday that the chief of Chi Khor Leu commune was “very sympathetic” to Heng Huy, the businessman who was awarded the bulk of the disputed land in a June ruling by the Supreme Court.

“We come here today because we are worried about losing our land,” Tep Hai said. “The Supreme Court is just taking it over.”

In a letter dated Saturday, King Norodom Sihamoni also asked the ministry to intervene.

KRT reaches out to students

Photo by: AFP
Reach Sambath distributes brochures about the Khmer Rouge tribunal to students in Kandal, Wednesday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:01 Robbie Corey Boulet

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal’s public affairs team on Wednesday told nearly 4,000 students in Kandal province about life under the regime, how the court operates and why its first defendant, Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, gets to wear such nice clothes.

The event at Hun Sen Takhmao High School was the biggest yet in an effort to increase interest in the court among people who might not have had the chance to visit it themselves.

Public affairs chief Reach Sambath began with a description of the harsh conditions facing nearly all Cambodians under Pol Pot. “For those of you in the seventh grade, you are maybe 11 years old. Under Pol Pot you would be asked to work in the field picking up cow dung. Now tell me, would you want to do that?” he asked.

He also offered brief descriptions of the five leaders currently detained at the tribunal, stressing the difference between Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who has issued multiple apologies and confessions, and the other four, who have not.

“Nuon Chea doesn’t talk much with Mr Duch,” he said, referring to the regime’s Brother No 2. “He says: ‘Why didn’t you destroy all those documents at S-21?’”

UN court spokesman Lars Olsen discussed the hybrid court’s genesis and jurisdiction as well as international involvement. “The Khmer Rouge killed all the lawyers, all the judges and all the prosecutors,” he said to explain in part why the government had reached out to the UN for assistance.

Questions from the audience revealed an acute interest in the Duch trial. Students asked: How can Duch compensate the victims? Why won’t the court execute Duch? Why does Duch get to wear nice clothes and not prisoner clothes?

Reach Sambath replied that Duch has “no money” but that the court could provide “collective and moral” reparations; that execution was outlawed by the Constitution; and that, under international standards, court-issued “prisoner clothes” are seen as violating the principle of presumption of innocence.

Two students asked how the tribunal could try foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary in light of the fact that he was granted a Royal pardon in 1996.

Reach Sambath explained that the pardon was for Ieng Sary’s 1979 genocide conviction, whereas the tribunal had charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He then offered a curious parallel: “Let’s suppose one of you rapes a cow. And then, you are given a pardon for raping that cow because the local authorities found that the cow was very nasty, and kicked, and so they gave you a pardon. But you also stole a motorbike. The authorities did not give you a pardon for stealing the motorbike, so you can go to court for that.”