Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Family on mend after a close call

Chamroeun Theam has pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence and other charges. Police say he plowed his car into a mother and two children as they crossed a Lowell street. (David H. Brow/ Lowell Sun via Associated Press)

By John R. Ellement
Globe Staff / November 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Kin say DUI suspect survived Cambodia terror

LOWELL - A bruised and frightened 4-year-old boy sought comfort yesterday in the arms of his grandmother, who held him close 12 hours after an alleged drunk driver plowed into a double stroller carrying him and his younger sister as they were being pushed in a crosswalk.

The boy, Jonathan Dickie Jr., suffered the most serious injuries when his family was hit by the car, but he has been released from the hospital, as were his mother and sister.

“He could have been dead,’’ said the grandmother, Carol Dickie, as she held him outside her house in Lowell. “I am so glad that the Lord was watching over him. I believe someone up there pushed him out of the way and made sure nothing happened to him, because he could have been dead.’’

The mother, Nina Wilkin, 25, was crossing Fletcher Street about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday with Jonathan and his sister, Katelyn, 2. Two police officers, who were stopped at a red light, saw a car being driven by Chamroeun Theam plow into the family, authorities said.

The boy was knocked out of his stroller, and his mother and sister were knocked to the ground. All three were rushed to Lowell General Hospital.

With the help of a Cambodian interpreter, Theam pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence, second offense operating while under the influence, causing serious injury, and other charges. Judge Neil J. Walker set bail at $5,000 cash.

With tears in their eyes, two of Theam’s daughters and a daughter-in-law watched the court proceeding. Afterward, they spoke with reporters and said Theam has refused entreaties to get help for depression.

They said he grew up in Cambodia, survived the terror years of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and remains haunted by that experience and often has nightmares.

“He needs help,’’ said Sochann Chea, his daughter-in-law. “He doesn’t want it.’’

Chea said the driver’s extended family is concerned for the health of the mother and her two children. Chea said Theam’s family - he has three sons and two daughters - does not want to see him driving any time soon.

“We don’t want anything like this to happen again,’’ Chea said. “We feel very bad, and we hope the family is OK.’’

In a report filed in court, Lowell police officers who witnessed the crash said Wilkin was in the crosswalk and was hurrying to get across Fletcher Street when the light turned green.

Although the family was still in the intersection, police said in the report, Theam accelerated and drove his Dodge Neon directly into them without slowing.

Police said the car struck Nina Wilkin, “throwing her into the air over the windshield, hitting the ground on the other side of the street.’’

The car struck the double stroller, police said, causing the boy to be “ejected out of the stroller and onto the Neon, bouncing off the Neon and onto the pavement.’’

Theam’s blood alcohol level was 0.26 according to the police report. The legal limit is 0.08. Police said he failed other sobriety tests. Citing him as an immediate threat to public safety, the Registry of Motor Vehicles revoked his license following the crash.

“He appeared to be completely unconcerned about what was going on around him,’’ Officer Neils Henry Christiansen wrote of Theam. “He sat in his motor vehicle talking to himself and yelling at no one in particular.’’

Theam was convicted of drunken driving in 1994 in Wisconsin, according to Lowell police. Details of that case were not immediately available.

He also has had two crashes and has been cited at least five times for driving violations since the 1994 drunken driving case, according to the Registry. He is due back in court Dec. 18.

John Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com.

Navy slams Chavalit for 'distorting, politicising' spat

Published: 24/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The navy has slammed Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh for trying to "distort and politicise" the spat between Thailand and Cambodia.

The criticism by navy spokesman Prachachart Srisawat followed Gen Chavalit's statement that Cambodia had closed its waterways at the Cambodian province of Koh Kong , opposite Trat.

The navy and the government said Gen Chavalit's account was false. Gen Chavalit said he did not know why Cambodia closed the waterways but it was probably because there was conflict in the area or an illegal action had been committed.

But the navy spokesman said Cambodia was reviewing and regulating fishing concessions for Thai fishermen after the newly-appointed Koh Kong governor had scrapped the concession system initiated by his predecessor, Yuth Pouthang.

The move forced about 120 Thai fishing trawlers to stay anchored in port in Trat.

However, Capt Prachachart said Cambodia's regulating and reviewing of the new concession system was expected to be finished in a few days and the Thai trawlers could then resume operations.

The navy spokesman did not name the new Koh Kong governor. The Phnom Penh Post said on its website that Yuth Pouthang, who had been in the post for more than 10 years, was replaced by Bun Lert on Nov12.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed checks had found Cambodia did not close the waterways.

He insisted the situation at Koh Kong had nothing to do with the Thai-Cambodian row.

The source said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted to adjust political game plans at Koh Kong, a bustling Cambodian border town.

The source said Hun Sen felt the former Koh Kong governor had been in the post for too long and had developed too close relations with Thais, particularly Democrat MPs in the area.

The source said Hun Sen also wanted the new governor to regulate Koh Kong to facilitate an investment plan by ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his business partners from the Middle East in order to develop Koh Kong into an entertainment complex.

PM: Imposing ISA is necessary

Published: 24/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The government needs to enforce the Internal Security Act (ISA) across Bangkok between Nov 28 and Dec 15 to deal with the red-shirt protesters if they split up and rally at different locations, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) plans a prolonged anti-government protest from this Saturday to next Wednesday in front of Government House in its latest attempt to topple the Abhisit administration.

"There are reports that people, including foreign workers, have been gathered from different regions to join the demonstration," Mr Abhisit said.

He would continue to monitor the security situation before deciding whether to attend the Thai Chambers of Commerce annual national meeting in the northern province of Chiang Mai this weekend.

Speaking before his scheduled departure on a three-day investment-boosting visit to Qatar, the prime minister said he thought the diplomatic tension around the arrest of alleged Thai spy Sivarak Chutipong in Cambodia would ease now that a bail request had been made to the Cambodian court on Monday.

Mr Abhisit also extended his condolences to the family and supporters of former prime minister Samak Sundaravej, who died of liver cancer in Bangkok on Tuesday morning.

"He was a politician who had played key roles for a long time and this is a great loss to Thai politics," he said

SM Goh calls on Cambodian PM Hun Sen, reaffirming strong ties

SM Goh (R) meets PM Hun Sen

By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia
23 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is now in Cambodia for a two-day official visit, called on Prime Minister Hun Sen at the National Assembly on Monday afternoon.

During the hour-long meeting, they reaffirmed strong bilateral ties.

Mr Goh also congratulated Mr Hun Sen for the significant economic progress Cambodia has achieved since his last visit in 2002.

He was also briefed on Cambodia's recent economic developments.

Both leaders exchanged views on Cambodia's tourism sector as well as how to attract more foreign investments.

They also agreed that investment in human resource was essential to ensure Cambodia's long-term economic development.

Mr Goh said Singapore would be pleased to continue contributing to Cambodia's development through the Singapore Cooperation Programme and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration.

In the evening, Mr Hun Sen hosted Mr Goh to dinner at his residence.

Mr Goh is expected to call on King Norodom Sihamoni on Tuesday.

After Cambodia, Mr Goh will proceed to Laos.

SM Goh meets Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong

By Dylan Loh, Channel NewsAsia
24 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong met Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni on Tuesday.

This is Mr Goh's first meeting with the King who ascended to the throne in 2004.

During the meeting at the Royal Palace of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Mr Goh told King Norodom about the purpose of his two-day visit.

He wants to strengthen ties between the two countries and understand the latest developments in Cambodia.

According to Mr Goh's press secretary, the King in turn expressed appreciation for Singapore's contribution to his country, especially in human resource development.

In response to King Sihamoni's preoccupation with promoting education and culture, Mr Goh shared Singapore's experience and said that Cambodia is a country with great potential for tourism.

The Senior Minister has left for Laos and meets with Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh in Vientiane on Tuesday evening. - CNA/vm

Cambodia flights recover

Published: 24/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Air traffic between Thailand and Cambodia has returned to near-normal levels after plummeting at the height of the diplomatic spat earlier this month.

Bangkok-based carriers such as Thai Airways International (THAI) and Bangkok Airways saw bookings start to rebound last week.

Tension between the nations escalated rapidly after fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Cambodia on Nov 10 to take up his appointment as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

Bangkok Airways, which has the largest capacity between the two countries, saw Thais cancel flights to Siem Reap during the dispute. But there was a steady flow of foreign passengers, especially Europeans, said executives at the airline.

Bangkok Airways operates six daily flights to Siem Reap and three daily flights to Phnom Penh.

THAI, which has 14 flights a week between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, saw about 40% of reservations cancelled in the week after Thaksin's visit.

"We're almost back to normal now," said a senior THAI executive.

Bookings show no sign that they will drop in the near future, he said.

"I think that people appreciate that politics and economics are separate issues in the Thai-Cambodian case, so it looks like business as usual," he said.

But Thai AirAsia, which operates daily flights between the two capitals, said it was entirely unaffected by the souring of diplomatic ties.

Thai AirAsia chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said nothing suggests that its load factor on the route will drop in the near future.

Bangkok has been a gateway to Cambodia, especially among long-haul international travellers, because of easy and frequent connections through Suvarnabhumi airport.

Long jail term for Duch?

The former maths teacher, 67, faces a maximum life sentence as the tribunal does not have the power to impose the death penalty. -- PHOTO: AFP

Nov 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH - PROSECUTORS urged judges at Cambodia's war crimes court on Tuesday to hand a lengthy jail term to the former prison chief of the Khmer Rouge regime for his role in the 'Killing Fields' atrocities.

Duch - whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav - has apologised repeatedly and admitted responsibility for his actions under the blood-soaked communist movement, which killed up to two million people in the 1970s.

But prosecutors giving their final arguments to the UN-backed tribunal after a nine-month trial said Duch 'was the personification of ruthless efficiency' and the 'perfect candidate' to run the regime's principal torture centre.

'It does not matter that others may not admit their guilt or fail to cooperate with authorities,' prosecutor Chea Leang told the court. 'It is simply inconceivable that anything other than a lengthy sentence of imprisonment should be imposed on him.'

She said Duch held a unique, central role in the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and called on judges to reject defence suggestions he was a scapegoat for a regime which had a network of some 200 prisons across Cambodia.

The former maths teacher, 67, faces a maximum life sentence as the tribunal does not have the power to impose the death penalty. A verdict is expected in March next year. -- AFP

Cambodia's Duch 'must be jailed'

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Prosecutors at the UN-backed trial have demanded Duch recieve the maximum life term in jail [AFP]

Prosecutors in a UN-backed genocide trial in Cambodia have called for a lengthy jail term for a former Khmer Rouge official.

The defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was a senior prison chief during the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule over Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

He is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of about 16,000 men, women and children at the regime's the S-21 prison, housed in a former high school in the capital, Phnom Penh.

With the nine-month trial entering its final stages on Tuesday, prosecutors have begun wrapping up their case, labelling Duch "the personification of ruthless efficiency" and the "perfect candidate" to run the regime's main torture centre.

Duch has been charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and premeditated murder, and faces a maximum term of life in prison.

The tribunal does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

A verdict is expected early next year.

"It does not matter that others may not admit their guilt or fail to cooperate with authorities," prosecutor Chea Leang told the court.

"It is simply inconceivable that anything other than a lengthy sentence of imprisonment should be imposed on him."

'Unique role'

She said Duch held a unique, central role in the Khmer Rouge security apparatus and called on judges to reject defence suggestions he was a scapegoat for a regime which had a network of some 200 prisons across Cambodia.

Up to two million people died during the Khmer Rouge's four years in power, wiping out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork and execution.

Since proceedings began in February, Duch, 67, has repeatedly asked for forgiveness, and also argued that he was not a leading figure in the regime saying that he acted out of fear for his own safety and that of his family.

Duch has been detained since 1999, when he was found working as a Christian aid worker in jungles of Cambodia.

The UN-backed court was established in 2006 to try leading members of the regime on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Duch case is its first trial.

But the tribunal has faced controversy over allegations of interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff paid bribes for their positions at the court.

The joint trial of four other more senior Khmer Rouge leaders is expected to start in sometime after the verdict in the Duch case is handed down in the new year.

The court is also investigating whether to press charges against five other former Khmer Rouge cadres amid a dispute between international and Cambodian co-prosecutors over whether to pursue more suspects.

Former Thailand PM, Samak Sundaravej passes away


(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Bangkok, Nov 24 : Prominent Thai politician Samak Sundaravej, who headed the country's first democratically elected government after the 2006 military takeover, died of cancer today.

The 74-year-old politician, who was judicially ousted from office last year after his anti-coup party swept the December 2007 parliament election, has had a controversial political career, which saw him being associated with the country’s conservative politics over three decades ago.

A popularly elected former governor of Bangkok, Samak became Thailand’s 25th Prime Minister as head of the People's Power Party backed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a section of the armed forces in September 2006.

Samak had to resign in September 2008 after the Constitution Court ruled that his hosting a TV cooking show was in breach of the Constitution.

POLITICS: Thai-Cambodia Tension Gives Rise to Schools with Bunkers

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BAAN POM-SA-RON, Thailand, Nov 24 (IPS) - Children at the largest school in this village close to the Thai-Cambodian border have a new regimen to follow besides books and sports. They have drills, practising evacuation, in case their school comes under an artillery attack.

A bunker near the main building of Baan Pom-Sa-Ron's largest school. Credit:Marwaan Macan-Markar/IPS

The destination of such flight is visible across Pom-Sa-Ron Widhaya. Spread around the corners of the school’s playing field and behind the only building where 600 students study are 14 bunkers. Each is built with cement, fortified with sandbags and earth and can hold 30 students comfortably.

The bunkers at the school are among the clearest signs of unease that has swept across this area as relations between Thailand and its eastern neighbour Cambodia worsen. Thai authorities have built 340 bunkers in two schools and several villages in three sub-districts in Sri Saket, the province where Baan Pom-Sa-Ron sits. The bunkers, which have been built over the past three months, cost 40 million baht (1.2 million U.S. dollars)

"They were just finished last week," says Warunrat Chitruchiphong, the school’s English teacher, of the bunkers. "It is a way to protect the students in case there is a conflict."

"Evacuation drills have begun. We want to train the students how to take shelter," she adds. "We have had few practises, first by getting the students to leave classes and assemble outside."

This shift in the rhythm of a school day has begun to shape conversation in the classrooms. "Students talk about what they have to do if there is an attack," says Supawadee Chaladyam, a 17-year-old who dreams of a career in nursing. "I have gone to the bunkers with my classmates when we have free time."

Parents welcome the protective net spread across this area by the government. "This area has seen tension before because of border problems. People had to move out of their villages," says Wichet Buakew, who has a son and a daughter at the school. "It is good that the government has built these bunkers for the children."

Bangkok’s reaction stems from the proximity of this village to a 10th century Hindu temple that has fired nationalistic passions in both Thailand and Cambodia. The Preah Vihear temple, which sits on the edge of a steep cliff, is 10 kilometres away from the school.

Anger and fits of patriotic chest-thumping among Thais have followed a decision in July last year by the World Heritage Committee to recognise Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. The committee also recognised a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice that the temple was within Cambodian territory.

The tension saw a spike in troop strength along this border area where the Thai and Cambodian military have faced each other down before. In April this year soldiers from both countries exchanged gunfire, leaving three people dead.

A planned sports event over the weekend between the two forces guarding the border aimed to calm tensions was postponed. "The postponement was initiated by Cambodian authorities, without stating any reasons," reported ‘The Nation’, an English language daily in Thailand, quoting Prawat Ratthairom, a deputy provincial governor of Si Sa Ket.

Relations between the two South-east Asian kingdoms have plummeted further following the Cambodian government’s ties with former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a nemesis of the current Thai administration under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Thaksin, whose popularly elected government was ousted in a 2006 coup and who lives in exile to avoid a two-year jail term for a conflict-of-interest case, was recently appointed as an economic adviser to Phnom Penh.

Thailand’s decision to increase vigilance along the border it shares with Cambodia has come at a price to local communities on the Cambodian side. Sri Saket’s central jail currently holds 40 Cambodians, who were arrested by soldiers in the forests surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.

"They came across the border and violated the forest law," said Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga to a group of foreign journalists who had accompanied him to this border region. "We have to keep them here."

The arrested Cambodians were alleged to have been foraging through the forests for bamboo and mushrooms and "cutting trees." Such search for food is common among both Thais and Cambodians living along the border.

Some Thais, such as Prayut Wongkamjan, have suffered worse while looking for food in the forests close to the temple. The 37-year-old stepped on a landmine, one of the many buried along the border during the decades that Cambodia was torn apart by conflict.

For now, war between the two countries is not what Thailand wants. "At this moment, there is a lot of news that might frighten the people," says Pirapan. "But we want to assure the people of their security. We don’t need any fighting."

It is a view echoed by the people and local officials in Sri Saket who have built strong ties with Cambodian communities across the border. "The locals here and those in Cambodia are like sisters and brothers," says Nirandon Lumthaisong, secretary to the local village council. "They speak the same language and have similar culture."

But such ties cannot be sustained following the Thai government’s decision to close some of the nearby border crossings, Niranond complains. "That will make no good for anyone. Nowadays the government has already stopped us from visiting each other."

Thailand-Cambodia Issues Not on Agenda for Ex-Singaporean PM Goh

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 02:40 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian PM Hun Sen and visiting former Singaporean PM Goh Chok Tong will not discuss current difficulties in the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand, a senior Cambodian official said on Monday.

Cambodia-Thailand relations took a turn for the worse after Thai troops attempterd to illegally encroach upon Cambodia sovereign territory near Cambodia’s 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple in July 2008.

PM Hun Sen and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong talked about the situation of the country and measures to deal with the global financial crisis, Eang Sophallet, an assistant to PM Hun Sen told reporters after one-hour-long talks between the two leaders.

Goh wanted to know how Cambodia was battling the global financial crisis, current challenges and the future policy to deal with this crisis, Eang added.

The Cambodian Government has been improving infrastructure and strengthening agricultural sector to boost economic growth of the country, Eang quoted PM Hun Sen as telling Goh. Goh told PM Hun Sen that Singaporean PM Lee has invited him to visit Singapore. PM Hun Sen agreed to pay an official visit at an appropriate time in the future, Eang added.

Goh visited Cambodia from November 23-24 at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. In Cambodia, Goh met King Norodom Sihamoni, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin. From Cambodia, Goh will visit Laos from November 24-26 at the invitation of Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad.

Japan Gives US$1 Million for Mines, Disabilities

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 02:40 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Japanese Government vowed to provide US$1 million to Cambodia for de-mining and to help disabilities caused by mines, according to a Cambodian Foreign Ministry press release on Monday.

The donation will be provided officially during the sign ceremony between Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong and Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese Ambassador in Phnom Penh on Novem- ber 25, the press release added.

Japan has already provided aid to Cambodia worth more than US$1.7 billion to reduce poverty, boost the economy and advance social development.

Cambodia Rejects Thailand’s CATS Allegations

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 02:46 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

A Cambodian Government spokesman rejected reports from Thai news agencies on November 21, which alleged that the daughter of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen would hold shares in Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), a private company.

Thai news agencies quoted Dr. Panitan Wattanayakorn, deputy secretary-general to the Thai prime minister and the Thai Government’s acting spokesman, as saying Hun Sen’s daughter would take shares in CATS after the Cambodian Government has temporarily taken over management of the firm, according to Dr Panitan Wattanayakorn.

The Cambodian Council of Ministers (CoM) in a Monday press release said it “wishes to stress, once again, that the Royal Government of Cambodia appointed its officials to temporarily supervise and manage the company, only to protect the national security and safety for Cambodian leaders.”

The temporary supervision and management of CATS by the Cambodian Government “will continue until the court’s final decision to bring an end to the case of the Thai staff, who has been accused of disclosing the confidential flight schedule of Thaksin Shinawatra. Following the court’s final decision, the Royal Government of Cambodia will take position on the company’s management,” the CoM release said.

Meanwhile, Chawanon Intarakomalsut, the Thai Foreign Minister’s secretary, said in Bangkok that CATS is registered in Hong Kong and it was not possible to determine the identity of its shareholders, according to Thai newswires.

He said, however, it would be difficult for any individual to take over the company, but his ministry would try to assist CATS. So far the company has not requested help.

Regarding the above allegation, the CoM expressed strong regrets, and wondered why such a news report would be fabricated. Indeed, this action, which indicates a lack of political maturity, seems to show clearly the intention of the Abhisit’s government to use a private company as a tool of political exploitation and diplomatic boasting and to discourage foreign investors who invest in Cambodia.

The Abhisit-led government has violated international law as well as bilateral agreements, such as the Judgment of the International Court of Justice of the Hague in 1962 on the Case of the Temple of Preah Vihear.

Recently, the Abhisit’s government unilaterally revoked an 2001 MOU specifying negotiation arrangements aimed at achieving a joint development of oil and gas in the Area of the Overlapping Maritimes Claims to the Continental Shelf, which is to be implemented at the same time as the planned negotiations on the maritime boundary delimitation.

“These actions reflect the Thai Government’s glaring violation of the principles of international law concerning the obligations signatories have to fulfill in the context of bilateral, multi-lateral agreements or treaties as stipulated in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 particularly as it relates to the principle of state continuity and the Pacta Sunt Servada principle,” the statement said.

“On the contrary, as a member of the United Nations, Cambodia has been always strictly respectful of its obligation as a signatory State to international agreements and treaties in force. Indeed, the Royal Government of Cambodia has never violated any agreements it has signed.”

“The Royal Government of Cambodia always fulfills the agreements it signs, including agreements with the private sector, so as to enhance the confidence of local and foreign investors, including Thai investors.”

Cambodia Navy Chief denies Thai fisherman Claims

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 02:46 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Navy Chief, Tea Vihn, on Monday attempted to sink rumors of over a thousand Thai fishermen boats have been allowed to trawl Cambodia’s marine territory.

The Cambodian Government has banned Thai fishermen from its territorial waters, opposition Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said on Monday.

Former Prime Minister Chavalit expressed concern in Monday’s Bangkok Post over the new Thai-Cambodian maritime dispute, saying that more than 1,000 Thai trawlers could not enter Cambodia’s territorial waters.

“It is untrue that Thai fishermen fished in Cambodia marine territory,” Tea Vihn told DAP News Cambodia on Monday.
Tea Vinh said the situation at the marine border is still normal even as diplomatic ties are down.

The slip in diplomatic relations comes after fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra was appointed as Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor and a Government advisor.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, said that under Cambodian law Thai fishermen are not allowed to fish in Cambodia marine territory.

“I don’t know whether the problem has come about because of the Thai-Cambodian rift, and I don’t want to make any predictions.” Gen Chavalit was quoted by Bangkok Post as saying. “Former prime minister [Thaksin Shina- watra] and I are not the cause of the Thai-Cambodian row.”

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said that he had just learnt of Chavalit’s claim.
“Authorities concerned are checking accuracy of the report,” Suthep was quoted by the Nation as saying.

Cambodian PM highlights NGOs' contribution to country's development


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday highlighted the contribution of the civil societies and non governmental organizations that have participated in restoration and the development of the country with the government.

"We have to develop the country together including each individual and the NGOs have to continue to process their work for participation in the country's construction as partnership with the government," he told hundreds of members of non-governmental organizations at the 30th anniversary of NGOs partnership with the people and Cambodian government.

"We have to focus on the health, education, environment, good governance for rule of law and other fields to serve the benefit of the people and the country," he added.

In 1979, there were about five non-governmental organizations in the country and most of them on health services. But now there are over 3,000 NGOs to help the society and people, he noted. Cambodia is heaven for NGOs, he said.

At the same time, he said that NGOs should not worry about the upcoming draft law of NGOs management. The government wants to know the sources of capital for the NGOs process. That law will help to be transparent for NGOs' work in development of the country, and we do not want to see the overlapping investment projects as well as the budget in each year we spent for country' s development, he added.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen pointed out that some NGOs are getting the fund from other countries for their work against the ruling government and others are serving political party's benefit. "Good NGOs won't worry about that law," he stressed.

The government does not put limitation on freedom but the government wants the NGOs to work effectively, and the government opened freely for NGOs to register smoothly at Council of Ministers or Interior Ministry or international organizations registering with the Foreign Ministry for operating their work in the country, he said. "However, the NGOs is still the partnership for government in development of the country," he said.

The single most important contribution of NGOs to Cambodia is in building social capital, said Eva Mysliwiec, executive director of Youth Star Cambodia and representative of the organization committee. NGOs has continued to improve the basic services for people and Cambodian society and economy, rehabilitation of infrastructure and other fields that counted endless, she said.

Editor: Lin Zhi

Japan funds more demining

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 Tha Piseth

Staff from the Cambodian Mine Action Committee hunt for concealed land mines using equipment donated by the Japanese government. On Wednesday, Japanese Ambassador Kuroki Masafumi and Cambodian officials are to sign an agreement offering Cambodia an additional US$12 million for integrated mine clearance and land-mine victim assistance.

Contrition all a sham, victims say

Photo by: ECCC/Pool
Kaing Guek Eav, wearing a sweater given to him by his relatives, listens to closing statements given by civil party lawyers Monday. The prosecution is scheduled to give closing statements today.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey Boulet

Civil party lawyers say Duch has habitually misled tribunal.

JUDGES should not be fooled by the partial confessions and feigned contrition Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, has employed in a bid to downplay the savage crimes he committed as Tuol Sleng prison commandant, civil party lawyers argued Monday during the first round of closing statements in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s first case.

Four groups of lawyers representing 90 civil parties spent the day attacking claims that have been central to Duch’s defence strategy – that he had no choice but to follow the orders of top Khmer Rouge leaders, for example, and that he did not participate directly in interrogations, torture and executions.

“Your honours must objectively, we say, review the evidence to determine whether or not what has been accepted by the accused amounts to full disclosure and the full truth,” said lawyer Karim Khan.

Kong Pisey, a lawyer for Civil Parties Group 2, told the court that his clients viewed Duch’s repeated professions of remorse as contrived. “His attempts at forging remorse by crying, often around 4pm at the end of the hearing, can be described as crocodile tears. The civil parties felt that the tears were orchestrated and devoid of meaning.”

Lawyers also took issue with the more theatrical performances of Duch and his defence lawyers. Khan highlighted an exchange on September 16 in which international defence lawyer Francois Roux asked Duch whether civil parties could visit him in prison, and whether he would “open the door of your soul” to them. Duch responded that they could, and that he would.

“That kind of answer to that kind of question must be given either little probative value, or at the very least, it must be approached with the utmost caution,” Khan said.

Later, lawyer Philippe Canonne criticised references made by Duch and Roux to “The Death of the Wolf”, a poem by Alfred de Vigny that Duch has said helped him through his time as prison chief. Duch has highlighted, in particular, lines that read: “Shoulder your long and energetic task, / The way that Destiny sees fit to ask, / Then suffer and so die without complaint.”

Addressing Duch directly, Canonne questioned the relevance of the poem to the proceedings.

“We are not here in a trial dealing with elegancy,” he said. “We are not here in a literary discussion. I am speaking to you about the 12,000 people who died in Tuol Sleng.”

Trying ‘to bluff this court’
Khan said the clearest example of Duch’s refusal to come clean during the trial came on June 22, when he described instructions he provided for the torture of Khmer Rouge leader Ney Saran, alias Ya, in 1976.

In a letter dated October 1, 1976, Duch encouraged interrogator Tang Sin Hean, alias Pon, to step up the intensity of Ya’s torture sessions, writing: “Although it may lead to death, comrade is not acting against Angkar’s regulations.”

Duch told the court in June that the message had merely been a ploy to frighten Ya into confessing to crimes committed against the regime.
But Khan contested that assertion.

“This was not a strategy to bluff a detainee,” Khan said. “This is a strategy of the detainee to try to bluff this court.”

Khan also disputed Duch’s claim that to have had little control the operation of Tuol Sleng, calling it inconsistent with the defendant’s own testimony.

He referred to hearings in June, during which Duch described his ability to save artists from execution as well as his establishment of the killing fields at Cheoung Ek.

“He didn’t require consultation for these not-insignificant decisions. He did it under his own volition,” he said. “What happened to this autonomy?

Where did it dissolve? Where did it evaporate when it came to the interrogations, the torture and the killing of so many people?”

Kong Pisey called Duch’s cooperation with the court “neither sincere nor truthful”, highlighting, in particular, his responses to allegations of sexual violence at Tuol Sleng.

Though Duch acknowledged in June that a schoolteacher imprisoned at Tuol Sleng had been raped with a stick, he said he knew of no other such incidents.

Kong Pisey said Duch should be held “criminally liable for at least three rapes” that were mentioned during the hearings.

“The accused had sufficient reason to know that the male interrogators and guards who were deprived of a sexual life would be more likely to exploit the defenceless situation of the women prisoners,” he said.

Several lawyers emphasised that their clients were not looking for revenge, and they elaborated on the types of reparations they were seeking as well as how they should be financed.

Kong Pisey said Duch’s self-described indigence was was no excuse for him to “sit back and relax”, and suggested that he instead spend his years in prison writing his autobiography, the proceeds of which could go towards reparations.

The four groups of civil party lawyers submitted a joint filing in September requesting, among other things, free medical care and the building of memorial pagodas as part of a reparations award. The Trial Chamber is likely to rule on reparations when it issues a verdict, which is expected early next year.

Community struggling to cope in aftermath of devastating blaze

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A family picks through the remains of their home, destroyed by fire along with those of around 2,000 others in Russei Keo district last week. The families are calling for government assistance.


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda and James O’Toole

Officials say they are doing what they can to supply food, medicine and other essential items to residents, most of whom live in makeshift tents on the remnants of their former homes.

THE smell of fish tinged with ash blew in from the riverfront, just a hundred metres away, as residents of Russey Keo district’s Chraing Chamres II commune lined up in front of a small table manned by a Phnom Penh Municipal Police officer on Monday afternoon.

In addition to the loss of homes and thousands of dollars’ worth of possessions, the assembled residents lost their family books and government identification to the fire that burned through their commune early Thursday morning and destroyed 243 homes.

The police officer sat, dutifully transcribing, as family heads registered with him to replace their documents. Because the local police station and commune hall were also lost in the blaze, the officer was reduced to working in a vacant lot, but he had already re-registered more than 100 families out of 452 in the community and declined to break for an interview.

“We’re getting a headache with these things,” he said.

Those waiting for their time with the officer, some of whom said they had been living in the predominantly Cham Muslim fishing community for almost 30 years, said efforts to salvage their identification had been in vain.

“When the fire blew into my house, I grabbed my family book, my family’s identification cards and other documents to take to my neighbour’s house, but the fire spread there as well. Everything was lost,” said Mot Voeu, 52.

Officials are still at a loss to explain the source of the flames, which left almost 2,000 people homeless, though residents say it originated in the home of a local medicine seller who fled the scene and later blamed the fire on his Cham Muslim neighbours. The seller has since gone into hiding, 70-year-old resident Ny Mann said.

Young men wielding sledgehammers and pickaxes hacked away at the remnants of the many structures gutted by the fire, while children and elderly residents sat amid the rubble under makeshift tents provided by the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) on the sites where their homes had been.

Fah Maryah, 41, said she was forced to stay under her tent around the clock to prevent scavengers from taking the few possessions left at the site of her former home. She and her neighbours have been sleeping on cots and wooden tables covered by blankets, using pieces of broken wooden furniture to feed charcoal fires.

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Mot Voeu, 52, holds family records and legal documents destroyed by fire in Russei Keo district last week. She said she moved the documents to a safer place when the fire first broke out, but as the flames engulfed the entire area her safe haven also went up in flames, destroying everything she owns.

“We live without walls and doors – just under tents,” she said. “It is very cold for us at night, so now many children are starting to get fevers.”

Officials from the CRC have thus far led the push to help victims, and Neth Sophana, the CRC’s director of disaster management, pledged to distribute mosquito nets, blankets, fish sauce and 50 kilograms of rice to each of the affected families. The CRC is working to recruit more donors for the effort, Neth Sophana said.

Russey Keo district Deputy Governor Ly Rosamy said the government was aware of the concerns in the community and hoped to address them within the next few days.

“We know that some people have become sick, so we will send health officials to the area to examine the affected residents and provide medicine to them,” she said.

For the moment, many residents said, they are relying on informal support from friends and relatives in Phnom Penh.

“My teacher raised money for me and other children in order to replace our books and school supplies,” said Nach Ny, 13, as children raced home from school in the narrow streets, hopping over levelled walls and playing amid the rubble.

Firefighters had difficulty containing the blaze on Thursday because their trucks could not access the riverside warren, where narrow streets limit road traffic to motorbikes only. Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said Saturday, however, that during the rebuilding effort the government will construct a wide road linked to National Road 5 to prevent similar disasters. Those affected by the road project will be given plots of land on the other side of the river, the governor added.

Though they did not doubt the wisdom of this project, some residents said they would be reluctant to leave the fishing community where they make their living.

“I will wait to see if my house will be completely taken for the road, but I hope that it will just be a few metres wide and I won’t have any problems,” said 35-year-old Sann Pov, who worried that there would be no ferries to take her across the river at 1am, when she wakes up to haul fish to a market in Kampong Speu province.

Neth Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh Fire Department, said residents of such densely packed communities must be especially cautious at this time of year.

“We always tell people to keep fire extinguishers on hand because fires can break at any time in the dry season,” he said.

Fah Maryah said, though, that most villagers were away from their homes at the time of the fire, earning a livelihood that is now in doubt.

“I am appealing for more aid to our village. We have no money to buy things or start our business again,” she said.

Photo by: Sovan Philong

A boy sits in the ashes as residents destroy the remains of burnt-out homes in preparation for rebuilding. Women try on donated clothing in a moment of happiness amid the destruction and misery.

Report calls for welfare system

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 Jacob Gold

AS Cambodia’s major growth industries face a prolonged slowdown sparked by the global financial crisis, the government must develop a better social safety net to lessen the effects of increased joblessness and poverty on human development, according to a new UN report.

Titled “Global economic downturn: opportunity or crisis?”, the report examines the impact of the financial crisis on Cambodia and recommends mitigating policies – including the creation of a system that ensures a basic standard of living, improves income and food security, and provides vocational training.

Speaking at the launch of the report on Monday, Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association and the report’s research team leader, said: “Right now, we have many activities to assist the poor, but these are scattered over hundreds of NGOs and programmes from donor governments. They are not developing as an integrated social protection system.”

Douglas Broderick, UN resident coordinator, said Cambodia’s social spending was low for a developing country. “On average, safety net expenditure in developing countries is in the range of 1 to 2 percent of GDP, but Cambodia’s estimated expenditure is currently lower than 1 percent,” he said.

Thun Sophorn, national coordinator at the International Labour Organisation, said part of the difficulty in extending social protection to more Cambodians was the sheer size of the informal sector. “Out of an overall working population of 6 million, 85 percent are in the informal economy and usually fall outside of legal protection,” he said. “These people are self-employed, and it is hard to provide them with social services.”

Thun Sophorn described a number of viable social protection plans with which the ILO had been recently involved, including a community health-insurance scheme developed with GRED, a French NGO, that gave villagers access to provincial hospitals for only US$2 or $3 a year.

He estimated, however, that including relatively well-protected civil servants, private-insurance buyers and participants in special programmes for the poor, the total number of Cambodians with some level of social protection was about 10 percent of the population.

The cost of inaction
According to the UN report, in the absence of this support, “the coping strategies being adopted by families are cause for concern. The squeezing out of health and education expenditures can have long-lasting consequences on child growth and human potential”.

The report says that “the most common strategies tend to be food related”, including eating less and lower quality food. Other harmful consequences detailed in the report were “selling productive assets, pulling children out of school, taking on debt and being more vulnerable to trafficking”.

Reluctance to spend money on adequate medical care is itself a major health risk for the poor and socially unprotected. The evolution of drug-resistant malaria on the Thai-Cambodia border is believed to have been caused in part by the prevalence of cheap counterfeit and substandard treatments.

“As far as the cost of social safety nets, we’re not talking about a lot of money here,” Broderick said, adding that some protections “are based on policy, with no cost demand”.

Of the 12 active social protection projects inventoried in the report – including scholarships, school meal programmes, social security and job training – each reaches tens of thousands of beneficiaries, and nine of them cost less than $10 million per year.

By comparison, the international community pledged more than $950 million in official development assistance to Cambodia for 2009.

At a forum in June, the government agreed to incorporate social protection into the National Strategic Development Plan update for 2009-13. The strategy is due to be completed by the end of this year.

Govt attacks Thai reports

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 James O’toole and Oheang Sokha

THAILAND has attempted to sabotage foreign investment in Cambodia, the Cambodian government alleged in a statement on Monday.

Responding to reports that Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said a daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen is planning to acquire shares in Thai-owned Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), the government accused the administration of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of a “lack of political maturity”, rejecting the reports as false.

“This action ... seems to show clearly the intention of Abhisit’s government to use a private company as a tool of political exploitation and diplomatic boasting, and to discourage foreign investors who invest in Cambodia,” the statement read. Panitan told the Post on Sunday, however, that he had been misquoted.

Cambodia took control of CATS last week, banning nine Thai employees from carrying out their work, following the November 12 arrest of Thai employee Siwarak Chotipong. Siwarak is accused of passing the flight schedule of Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the Thai embassy during the fugitive billionaire’s visit to Cambodia.

CATS is to remain under Cambodian control until the conclusion of Siwarak’s trial, though the company’s long-term fate remains unclear.

“Following the court’s final decision, the Royal Government of Cambodia will take a position on the company’s management,” the statement said.

Thai Minister of Justice Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said a delegation was to arrive in Phnom Penh last night to assist Cambodian attorney Kao Soupha in preparing Siwarak’s defence.“We’re just observing at this moment how the Ministry can help Mr Siwarak based on legal matters,” Pirapan said. The delegation will remain in Cambodia for one or two days only, as Thailand has not yet decided whether to send official observers to Siwarak’s trial.

Kao Soupha said he had filed a bail request for Siwarak on Monday. “The court has already finished its investigation, but a trial date has not yet been set,” he said.

Investigating Judge Chang Sinat said she had yet to receive the request, but added that she had concluded her investigation and forwarded it to the presiding judge.


Russey Keo fire damages homes

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

FIVE houses were damaged in a residential blaze on Monday evening in Russey Keo district’s Svay Pak commune, just 3 kilometres from the site of a fire last Thursday that destroyed 243 houses and left 452 families temporarily homeless.

Hou Samorn, Svay Pak commune chief, said Monday that the fire started after an electrical fault in 70-year-old Mak Samoun’s house.

“Three wooden houses were burned down completely in the middle of two concrete houses, which were partly burned,” he said, adding that no one was injured, but that the families’ possessions were mostly lost. “The families were at home at the time of the fire, but they did not have time to grab their belongings,” he said.

Neth Vantha, director of the Municipal Fire Department, said all seven fire trucks were dispatched to prevent the fire from spreading to other houses nearby, and warned residents to exercise caution with the approach of the dry season.

“We always tell people to have extinguishers because fire can break during dry season,” he said.

LAND DISPUTE: Besieged commune faces eviction

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:03 May Titthara


Kampong Thom authorities are poised to evict villagers from a besieged commune on Wednesday after violence flared in a bitter land dispute last week, provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn said Monday. On November 16, villagers from Kraya commune in Santuk clashed with military police after torching vehicles owned by a Vietnamese rubber company. Two people were hospitalised, and seven have been arrested. A further 13 are still being sought by police. Referring to the clash, Chhun Chhorn warned that further violence would not be tolerated. “We will fight back,” he said. The dispute hinges on an 8,000-hectare plot of land that was awarded to rubber company Tin Bean in an economic land concession in 2007. Villagers have been offered alternative land but say they can’t trust the authorities. Prom Saroth, one of the villagers who has lived under seige since police cordoned off the commune last week, said the offer was rejected because it had not been made clear where the new plots were located. “We will not leave. We are afraid they are playing a trick on us,” he said.

Police arrest six in crackdown on child sex and trafficking

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A FRENCH national has been arrested for soliciting sex from a child prostitute, police said on Monday.

Authorities said they found Olivier Madrieres, 48, at a guesthouse on Saturday in the capital. “He was arrested while he was having sex with a prostitute,” said Keo Thea, chief of the municipal anti-trafficking and juvenile police unit.

Madrieres, who arrived in Cambodia last month as a tourist, was being held on suspicion of soliciting sex from the 15-year-old girl and faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Keo Thea said.

Samleang Seila, country director of the children’s NGO Action Pours Les Enfants, said the organisation had provided the girl with legal representation.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003.

Crackdown on sex crime
Several additional arrests were made at the weekend in an apparent drive to combat illicit sex. In one case, two Cambodians – a man and a woman – were arrested Saturday on suspicion of selling two girls, ages 16 and 18, to a brothel in Sihanoukville. Both have since been charged with human trafficking and procurement of prostitution, police said.

In a separate case, police raided a Chinese massage parlour in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district Saturday, arresting two Chinese nationals – a man and a woman – on suspicion of human trafficking and the procurement of prostitution. Five Chinese women, allegedly trafficked into Cambodia from their homeland and forced to work as prostitutes, were freed.

Police on Friday also arrested a 30-year-old Cambodian man on suspicion of raping a 9-year-old girl at a school in Chhbar Ampov II commune.

Keo Thea praised the police efforts. “Our policemen have worked very hard” to apprehend the six suspects in two days, he said.

River council to discuss dams

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:02 Sebastian Strangio

MEKONG River hydropower dam developments are expected to be on the agenda during the 16th meeting of the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Council, which kicks off in Hua Hin, Thailand, on Thursday.

Pich Dun, secretary general of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, the local branch of the commission, said in addition to discussions of the MRC’s strategic plan for 2011-15, the meet would also address the environmental impacts of large hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream in Cambodia and Laos.

“We will discuss how to assess and how to mitigate the impacts from the development of mainstream dams,” he said on Monday, adding that the MRC had already held many workshops to help developers understand the effects of mainstream dam development.

NGOs have expressed particular concern that effects from the Don Sahong dam project, planned on the Mekong just inside the Laotian border, will spill over into Cambodia.

A report released by US-based advocacy group International Rivers last year found that the construction of the dam would block migratory fish channels and trigger “devastating consequences for fisheries and fishery-based livelihoods locally and throughout the wider Mekong region”.

King appeals for KCF head

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Moeung Sonn displays a map of the disputed territory around Preah Vihear temple during a press conference before he fled to France.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 15:02 Meas Sokchea

KING Norodom Sihamoni has appealed to Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana to prevent the arrest and detention of Khmer Civilisation Foundation (KCF) head Moeung Sonn if he returns to Cambodia from self-exile in France.

The King’s letter, dated Thursday, refers to a November 16 letter from Hang Chhaya, president of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), requesting that Moeung Sonn be able to return freely for his retrial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.

“I received a letter dated on November 16 … asking me to intervene to prevent the arrest and detention of Moeung Sonn, head of the [KCF], who has been convicted of disinformation by Phnom Penh Municipal Court. I would like to submit the above letter and documents to you for consideration,” the King’s letter stated.

On July 14, the court sentenced Moeung Sonn to two years in prison and fined him 15 million riels (US$3,615) after convicting him on disinformation charges stemming from comments he made about a new light-installation project at Angkor Wat, which he publicly said might damage the ancient temples.

Earlier this month, Phnom Penh Municipal Court notified Moeung Sonn’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, that Moeung Sonn could appear in court for a retrial, but Sam Sokong said Monday that his client would not return from France because he feared he would be arrested. He also expressed confusion about the reasons for the retrial, which court officials last week put down to the “internal affairs” of the court.

“If the court sees that recharging [my client] is necessary, there must be a full retrial,” he said.

“My client has not made any mistakes, but I cannot say whether he will be acquitted.”

In its November 16 letter to the King, which was also sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen, CHRAC said Moeung Sonn had “no intentions to degrade the government’s reputation or provoke unrest” in the Kingdom.

His comments about the Angkor Wat lighting scheme, the letter added, echoed the views of other sources, including UNESCO experts.

“The concern, care and sympathy of Mr Moeung Sonn shows a good intention to defend the cultural property and prosperous civilisation of the Khmer nation,” it said.

Government lawyer Pol Chandara said Monday that defendants always protest their innocence, but that the court would decide today.

“It is normal – he wants to be acquitted. My side is the same when we try to find evidence for the court,” he said.