Saturday, 19 December 2009

Cambodia is sending 20 Chinese Muslims who fled there after July unrest in Xinjiang back to China where they face possible persecution

An ethnic Uygur women (R) protests as Chinese riot police look on in Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang province in July. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined a pragmatic stance on human rights in China and Russia, saying it is sometimes better to raise problems with them "behind closed doors. "(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

Ethnic Uygur women (R) clash with Chinese riot police as they protest in Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang province in July. Authorities in China's restive Xinjiang region have arrested 94 fugitives suspected of involvement in deadly ethnic violence in July, state-run media said on Wednesday. (AFP/File/Peter Parks)

Ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese Muslims pray together during Friday prayers at Yang Hang mosque in the city of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 17, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Chinese Muslim women get their bags checked as they arrive at a mosque for the Eid al-Fitr prayers in Beijing on September 2009. Cambodia is sending 20 Chinese Muslims who fled there after July unrest in Xinjiang back to China where they face possible persecution, a US-based Uighur rights organization said Friday. (AFP/File/Wang Zhao)

This television grab from taken from the Central Television of China (CCTV) channel news shows one of seven defendants (R) next to security officers during a trial over July's ethnic unrest at the Urumqi court, in northwest China's Xinjiang region. Three people were sentenced to death. (AFP/CCTV)

This television grab from taken from the Central Television of China (CCTV) channel news shows one of seven defendants (R) next to security officers during a trial over July's ethnic unrest at the Urumqi court, in northwest China's Xinjiang region. Three people were sentenced to death. (AFP/CCTV)

A frame grab taken from footage shot on October 14, 2009, shows defendants, involved in ethnic riots in far western Xinjiang region in July, during their trial in Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region. A Chinese court handed down further five death sentences to people convicted of murder and other crimes during the riots. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files

This television grab from taken from the Central Television of China (CCTV) channel news shows one of seven defendants (R) next to security officers during a trial over July's ethnic unrest at the Urumqi court, in northwest China's Xinjiang region. Three people were sentenced to death. (AFP/CCTV)

Qantas, AirAsia in talks on cost-saving jv

People look at a Jetstar aircraft from a viewing gallery at Singapore's Changi Airport February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

(CAAI News Media)

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two of Asia's major low-cost airlines, Malaysia's AirAsia (AIRA.KL: Quote, Profile, Research) and Qantas Airways-owned (QAN.AX: Quote, Profile, Research) Jetstar, are in talks to form a joint venture, in a sign budget carriers are under pressure to drive costs even lower.

AirAsia, the region's biggest low-cost carrier, and Jetstar have grown rapidly and now fly routes across Southeast Asia and Australia, serving some of the same destinations such as Cambodia's Siem Reap and Australia's Gold Coast.

Qantas, seeking regional alliances to exploit Australia's growing ties with Asia, said a joint venture would look to cut costs. Airlines worldwide have been grappling with falling demand, higher funding costs and volatile fuel prices.

"Qantas confirms that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Jetstar, and AirAsia have entered discussions regarding a potential cost-saving joint venture," Qantas said in a brief statement, adding that discussions were at a preliminary stage and nothing had yet been agreed.

Earlier this week, Australia unveiled plans to scrap some foreign-ownership rules for Qantas in a move aimed at helping it play a bigger role in global airline consolidation.

For several years a takeover target, Qantas has emerged from global recession in relatively strong shape and is now seen as more of a predator than prey -- with a keen interest in Asia.

Despite the government's move to relax some ownership restrictions on Qantas, and allow foreign airlines to take major minority stakes, the national carrier remains subject to an overall cap of 49 percent on total offshore ownership.

Shaw Stockbroking senior dealer Jamie Spiteri said an AirAsia deal might only be the beginning for Qantas's ambitions in Asia. "There's a number of different potential partnerships, but there will be delicacy over those negotiations because Qantas themselves hold dominance over some quite profitable routes within Australia and to London and west coast USA," he said.

"Some potential alliance partners would like to get involved in those profitable routes as well."

AirAsia, headed by CEO Tony Fernandes, has said it plans to list in both Thailand and Indonesia in a bid to tap into other liquid Asian stock markets. In September, the carrier raised $144 million in a new share placement as it sought to reduce debt.

AirAsia and Jetstar compete regionally with Tiger Airways, which is 49 percent-owned by Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI: Quote, Profile, Research) and this week halved the size of a planned initial public offering due to a lukewarm response from potential investors, sources told Reuters.

(Reporting by Adrian Bathgate in WELLINGTON and Mark Bendeich in SYDNEY; editing by Richard Pullin and Ian Geoghegan)

Pawn in a political game

Many believe Hun Sen engineered Sivarak's arrest just to help his pal Thaksin

Published: 19/12/2009

(CAAI News Media)

It was good news the Cambodian king granted a royal pardon to jailed Thai engineer Sivarak Chutipong. But it was regrettable the Puea Thai Party and certain other people used the occasion to attack Thailand's Foreign Ministry by accusing its staff of causing the arrest of Sivarak, said Nongnuch Singhadecha, a writer for Matichon.

Puea Thai's swift strike against the Foreign Ministry after Sivarak's release only affirmed the belief among some observers that his arrest had been engineered by Hun Sen and ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to discredit the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration - making it look ineffectual in freeing Sivarak from jail.

It also seemed to be aimed at Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who Puea Thai and Thaksin consider their arch enemy.

Nongnuch believed the drama would be used by Puea Thai in its no-confidence debate early next year in the House of Representatives against Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit.

Nongnuch asked if Sivarak was really a security threat to Cambodia, then why was Hun Sen in such a hurry to go ahead with a royal pardon as requested by Sivarak's mother and Puea Thai chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. If Sivarak was really guilty as charged, he should have served time in jail and Hun Sen should not have helped secure his release so soon.

So in Nongnuch's opinion, Sivarak's arrest was really engineered by Hun Sen so he could help his pal Thaksin and Puea Thai.

Hun Sen might have been so quick to ask for a royal pardon because Thaksin's flight schedule that Sivarak passed on to Kamrob Palawatwichai, Thailand's first secretary at its embassy in Phnom Penh, was not a state secret, something even the Cambodian prosecutors admitted. Sivarak's action could not have caused any harm to Thaksin in any case as the information was relayed to Mr Kamrob after Thaksin had landed in Cambodia and the Cambodian media were on hand to greet him at the airport. So Thaksin's arrival was not really a secret at all.

Another reason Hun Sen was ready to free Sivarak, Nongnuch wrote, was that if he was jailed for a lengthy period, it would harm the investment climate in the country as it would look to the global community as if the Cambodian leader could arbitrarily jail anyone doing business in Cambodia as long as it served his political purposes.

Nongnuch did not believe the incident generated any goodwill for Hun Sen in the eyes of international observers as it was obvious he had staged the whole drama to help Thaksin.

Nongnuch also called on Puea Thai to refrain from attacking the Foreign Ministry and demanding the name of those who ordered Mr Kamrob to seek Thaksin's flight information because Mr Kamrob only did his duty as Thaksin is a fugitive from justice in Thailand.

The Cambodian court also jailed Sivarak citing the reason that Thaksin had been accorded special status by the Cambodian government and his safety was its concern. However, Hun Sen conveniently ignored the fact that Thailand has a duty to bring a criminal back to serve his prison term. Why did not Cambodia send Thaksin back to Thailand if it really wanted good relations with Thailand?

Nongnuch also wanted Cambodia to clarify why Puea Thai MP and leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) Jatuporn Prompan claimed Cambodia possessed a taped conversation of Mr Kasit ordering Mr Kamrob to seek Thaksin's flight information. If that were the case, it would mean Cambodian authorities tapped the telephone conversation at the Thai embassy, which would have broken international law as the Thai embassy compound is under Thai sovereign jurisdiction.

No wonder a Cambodian minister immediately refuted Mr Jatuporn's allegation fearing it would have caused an international incident.

Nongnuch also chided Mr Jatuporn for being naive in not knowing that if a secret is to be conveyed, the Foreign Ministry would use a coded telegram which needed to be deciphered, not a telephone conversation which could easily be listened into.

Nongnuch concluded her article by reminding Puea Thai not to ask who ordered Mr Kamrob to seek Thaksin's flight details. Rather, the Thai people wanted to know who influenced Hun Sen to stage the drama in the first place by arresting Sivarak.

Leo calendar controversy

Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodee had warned Boon Rawd Brewery Co Ltd not to distribute the R-rated Leo calendars made by supermodel Methinee (Luk Ked) Kingpayome.

But Chitpas Bhirombhakdi (the Bhirombhakdi family owns Boon Rawd Brewery) who works at the Office of the PM's Secretariat, on Wednesday morning defied the warning by distributing the controversial Leo calendars with nude pictures on them to government officials, reporters and politicians, including two deputy government spokesmen, Supachai Jaisamut and Phumin Leetheeraprasert, Thai Rath said.

In an earlier report, Ms Methinee, who had been hired by Boon Rawd Brewery to produce "nude" calendars for the past six years, defended the calendar saying it was legal.

She said the Leo calendar was no more offensive than other R-rated publications and the Public Health Ministry had no grounds to lay charges against her or her employer.

However, Mr Manit did not buy Boon Rawd Brewery's news conference argument that the Leo calendar had been produced for sale, not for free distribution as in previous years. Boon Rawd argued that even though it was the sponsor, it had assigned another company to sell the calendar and let Ms Methinee sell it herself. Thus, Boon Rawd was not directly involved in its distribution.

On this point, Mr Manit said the people would not be fooled. They knew full well that Ms Methinee would not dare to produce and sell the calendar herself as she could easily have made a big loss.

"Whether sold or distributed free, it is illegal because the calendar clearly features the Leo beer logo and the public knows full well what kind of calendar it is," said Mr Manit.

Producing and distributing the Leo calendar was not only illegal, it was also inappropriate and not constructive as it could arouse sexual tensions which could lead to violence against women and minors, said Mr Manit, adding that the Public Health Ministry would soon consult with the Culture Ministry and Social Development and Human Security Ministry to come up with strategies to protect Thai youth from falling victim to vice and social decadence.

Samarn Futrakul, director of the Office of Alcohol Control, said the Leo calendar was clearly illegal as it featured a beer logo and people could easily identify the calendar as belonging to a beer brand.

Production, whether for sale or free distribution, is illegal according to Section 32 of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act 2007, which forbids all kinds of advertising and promotion of alcohol beverages. For this reason, Boon Rawd Brewery, which hired Ms Methinee to produce the calendar, could not avoid its responsibility as this could be deemed as being a marketing activity for a beer brand, he said.

Dr Samarn also warned that any shop that receives the free calendars and puts them up in public or sells them to consumers would also break the law. To enforce the law, the Public Health Ministry would file a case with the police who would investigate, find the culprits and submit the case to the public prosecutor for action in the criminal court.

Parichart Sathapitanont of the mass communications faculty at Chulalongkorn University said all of Thai society knew the calendar was a Leo one. Nobody called it a "Luk Ked" (Methinee) calendar or just a plain nude calendar. There was no need to try and interpret the motive of Boon Rawd Brewery in hiring Ms Methinee to produce it. Hiring someone to do a beer promotion job was akin to doing it oneself as everyone knew that it was done to promote a certain beer.

She chided Boon Rawd for failing to heed dharma even though its corporate slogan is "Giving is never exhausting" and deciding to use nude models to promote its product.

New risk seen

For several years now, most pundits have pointed out that the biggest problem facing Thailand is the continuing political strife between people of different colour affiliations.

Now some bankers say the problem of stalled industrial projects in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate is even bigger and it could have a worse impact on Thailand than the global financial crisis, a Thai Rath editorial noted.

After the Supreme Administrative Court affirmed the Administrative Court's ruling to temporarily halt 76 industrial projects except for 11 that were deemed to cause no pollution, it was reported that the 65 stalled projects were worth more than 400 billion baht in investment and their suspension could result in about 40,000 workers being laid off.

Some bankers fear the repercussions of the Map Ta Phut case will affect even larger investments in the country.

If that is the case, then the Map Ta Phut crisis could leapfrog political strife as Thailand's No.1 problem as the country has adjusted quite well to the continuing political conflicts.

The Map Ta Phut crisis is seen as having wider repercussions as it might affect industrial projects throughout the country if the government does not rush to solve the problems by passing a law to comply with Section 67 of the constitution which requires the government to issue guidelines for environmental and health impact studies, organise public hearings and set up an independent organisation to enforce the law.

If Puea Thai MPs threaten to impeach Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for his failure to comply with Section 67 of the charter, it should also be noted that the two former non-Democrat prime ministers also failed to pass such a law.

Successive governments had not managed to pass the law because of political turmoil and state officials and politicians being more interested in dreaming up big projects on which to spend money.

The lesson from the court's ruling is that industrial development must take into account adverse impacts on the environment and people's health and, in the future, global warming. Government officials and politicians must try to solve the Map Ta Phut crisis to avoid future problems with investment and the environment, Thai Rath concluded.

Cambodia to expel 20 Chinese Muslims: ministry

File picture shows Chinese troops in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Cambodia is expelling 20 Chinese Muslim Uighurs who sought refuge there after July unrest in northwest China's Xinjiang region, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP Saturday (AFP/File/Philippe Lopez)

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia is expelling 20 Chinese Muslim Uighurs who sought refuge there after July unrest in northwest China's Xinjiang region, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP Saturday.

"We have decided that they are illegal immigrants because they entered Cambodia without any visa papers," said ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

"They are illegal immigrants and according to Cambodian immigration law they should be expelled from the country. So we must expel them," he said, refusing to say when the group would be deported or what their destination would be.

The group arrived at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office after clashes between Xinjiang's Uighurs and China's majority Han ethnic group left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, officials said.

The group's presence in Phnom Penh was made public two weeks ago as they sought UN refugee status in Cambodia, saying they risked torture at home in China.

Rights groups and the US government have urged Cambodia not to deport them to China, saying they would face possible persecution there.

Cambodia to expel Uighur asylum-seekers from China

FILE - Former Guantanamo detainees, left to right, Khelil Mamut, Ablakim Turahun, and Salahidin Abdulahat eat ice cream at a shop near Hamilton, on the island of Bermuda, in this June 14, 2009 file photo. The three are among four Chinese ethnic Uighurs who have been released from U.S. military custody after years in Guantanamo, and are being resettled in Bermuda. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A group of Muslims who fled China after deadly ethnic rioting and sought asylum in Cambodia will be deported.

The group of 22 ethnic Uighurs — who fled China with the help of a secret network of missionaries and arrived in Phnom Penh in recent weeks — was being expelled because it was determined they entered the country illegally, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said. Two Uighurs have gone missing, he said.

Cambodian Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said the group would be expelled within a week and could be returned to China.

"I can't say where they will be sent, but I assume their final destination will be China, the place where they come from," he said.

The deportations follow intense pressure from China, which has called the Uighurs criminals. The move comes as Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Cambodia on Sunday as part of a four-country tour.

Some countries have refused to send Uighurs — such as ones released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba — back to China over concerns about retribution and abuse.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been evaluating the Uighurs, including two children, for possible refugee status.

Kitty McKinsey, a UNHCR spokeswoman at the agency's office in Bangkok, said refugee status for the Uighurs had not been assessed yet.

"Last night UNHCR conveyed a message to the Cambodian government asking them to refrain from deporting them and offering our assistance to the Cambodian government to deal with the cases," she said.

The United States has urged Cambodia not to send the Uighurs back to China.

"We are deeply disturbed by the reports that the Cambodian government might forcibly return this group of Uighurs without the benefit of a credible refugee status determination process," said U.S. Embassy spokesman John Johnson in Phnom Penh. "We strongly urge the Cambodian government to honor its commitment under international law."

Ethnic rioting in July between Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese was China's worst communal violence in decades. The Chinese government says nearly 200 people, mostly Han, died.

Overseas Uighur groups say Uighurs have been rounded up in mass detentions since the violence. China has handed down at least 17 death sentences over the rioting.


Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Beijing and Alexander G. Higgins in Geneva contributed to this report.

Cambodia to expel 20 Uighur asylum seekers

By Sok Khemara and Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
18 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)

Cambodia decided on Friday to deport Uighur asylum seekers out of its country despite of concerns from human rights groups for their safety if they are sent back to China.

The announcement was made just days before Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to arrive in Cambodia for a two-day visit.

The Chinese Muslims from China’s restive Xinjiang province, the site of violent anti-Chinese protests in July, entered Cambodia last month and were given a “people of concern” status by the UN refugee agency before they and were taken to police custody for violating immigration law.

“They are not real refugees,” interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told VOA Khmer by phone late Friday night. “They will have to leave Cambodia in no later than one week.”

Earlier reports said that twenty-two Uighurs, including three children, arrived in Cambodia overland, but in an interview with VOA on Friday spokesman for ministry of foreign affairs, Koy Kuong, said authorities are now taking control of only 20 and have no knowledge of two others.

Human rights groups fear that they will be mistreated if returned to China.

“We are concerned because there were earlier assurances given at the highest level to UNHCR that asylum seekers would be allowed to have their status determined through a fair procedure and that during that period they will be protected, but it seems that now this decision has been rescinded,” Christophe Pescoux, Cambodia’s representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told VOA Khmer by phone late Friday.

Pescoux said the UN is working to persuade Cambodia to “reconsider their decision”.

At least nine Uighurs have been executed for their role in violent demonstrations, which left as many as 200 people dead, China’s state media reported in November.

Cataracts a Leading Cause of Blindness: Doctor

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
18 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)
Approximately 19,000 Cambodians are blinded each year from cataracts, a clouding of the lens common in the elderly, a US-Cambodian doctor said Thursday.

“The lens is the clear part of the eye that helps focus light or an image on the retina,” said Taing Tek Hong, a physician at the Borland-Groover clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., who was a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“In a normal eye, light passes through the transparent lens to the retina,” he said. “The lens must be clear for the retina to receive a sharp image. If the lens is cloudy from a cataract, the image you see will be blurred.”

The number of cases of blindness from cataracts accounts for a wide majority of cases, about 28,800 per year in Cambodia, he said.

Cataracts can be caused by a number of factors, including diabetes, family history, previous eye injury, exposure to sunlight and smoking. Some babies are born with congenital cataracts, often in both eyes.

Symptoms include clouded, blurred or dimmed vision, with vision impairment increasing after nightfall, he said. Eyes may become sensitive to light and glare, or a person may see halos around lights or need better light for reading. The color yellow may appear faded, or double vision can impair one eye.

A cataract can be detected in an eye examination by a specialist, using a variety of tests, the doctor said. An eye professional can also detect signs of “macular degeneration, glaucoma and other vision disorders,” he said.

Wearing sunglasses or a brimmed hat to block ultraviolet light from the sun can help prevent the condition. “If you smoke, stop,” Taing Tek Hong said.

“The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery, which is recommended when cataracts begin to affect the quality of life or interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities,” he said. “Cataract surgery is successful in about 95 percent of all cases, with improved vision.”

Khmer Rouge Tribunal - Feature : For Two Groups, a Chance for Reconciliation

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
18 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)

Members of Cambodia’s Cham and Vietnamese groups in Phnom Penh welcomed word from the Khmer Rouge tribunal this week that regime leaders in custody will be charged with genocide, as well as other atrocity crimes.

In interviews with VOA Khmer Thursday, Chams and Vietnamese alike said they expected the charges of genocide to help bring reconciliation to their communities.

The tribunal announced on Wednesday it would add genocide charges to the dockets of Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary, for the mass killings of Chams and Vietnamese.

(On Friday, judges announced they would also add the charge for Khieu Samphan, the former head of state. Ieng Thirith, a fourth leader in custody, has not yet had a hearing, but she is expected to face the same charge.)

Genocide is an intentional attempt to eradicate, in part or in whole, a minority ethnic or religious group. The tribunal is preparing a case against all four leaders of the regime, having finished the trial of Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, the former administrator of Tuol Sleng prison.

Both Chams and Vietnamese were singled out by the Khmer Rouge. Between 100,000 and 400,000 Chams were killed as the regime rose to power, according to the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

An unknown number of Vietnamese were killed, especially in border skirmishes after the guerrillas rose to power, in April 1975. Hundreds of Vietnamese died at Tuol Sleng.

Tror Yeth, a 40-year-old teacher of Cham literature in the capital’s Russei Keo district, who lost six family members to the Khmer Rouge, said he was “very happy” with the added charge.

“It means justice will be found, and especially for Muslim victims,” he said as he stood at the door of his classroom, where a dozen students were learning to read.

Shutting down a table saw and tucking a pen behind his right ear, Van Cai, a carpenter in Chamkar Mon district, considered the news. An uncountable number of Cambodians and Vietnamese had died under the Khmer Rouge, he said.

“My aunts and my uncles, a total of four or five people, were killed in Tuol Sleng,” he said, his Khmer pitched with a Vietnamese accent. “[The Khmer Rouge] killed people. It is right to try them. We are waiting for the day when they will be tried.”

Sam Rainsy Summoned by Svay Rieng Court

By Chun Sakada and Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh and Washington
18 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)

Svay Rieng provincial court has issued a summons to opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is facing charges for allegedly leading a group of villagers to pull up demarcation posts near the Vietnam border in October.

Sam Rainsy has been asked to appear on Dec. 28, according to a summons issued Wednesday and obtained by VOA Khmer.

Sam Rainsy, who has rejected the case as politically motivated, had his parliamentary immunity suspended by the National Assembly in November, paving the way for investigations into the allegations by provincial court officials.

“I issued a summons yesterday,” investigating judge Long Kesphirom told VOA Khmer Thursday. He declined to give more details.

Reached by phone in France, Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer he had not been given a chance to defend himself, and that he was meeting with villagers as their parliamentary representative when they complained of Vietnamese incursion onto their land.

“But it was not so, and now the authorities have issued a complaint against me instead,” he said. “They can do whatever they want. I don’t care, because the court works for the powerful and the ruling party, and not for the national interest.”

The court case and suspension of his immunity have been criticized as a wider government effort to crack down on dissent, following the jailing of an opposition-aligned journalist earlier this year and a defamation suit brought against Mu Sochua, an SRP representative for Kampot province, by Prime Minister Hun Sen, in April.

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge leaders charged with genocide against Muslims

Submitted by WW4
Report on Fri, 12/18/2009

(CAAI News Media)

Former Khmer Rouge head of state and "Brother Number Five," Khieu Samphan, has been charged with genocide, the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia announced Dec. 18. Samphan is the third member of the Khmer Rouge to be charged with genocide by the war crimes tribunal this week. "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and former foreign minister Ieng Sary also face genocide charges—marking the first time the charge has been brought against Khmer Rouge leaders by an internationally sanctioned court. All three are accused in the deaths of thousands of members of Cambodia's Vietnamese and the Cham Muslim minorities.

All three men had previously been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, and also face domestic charges of homicide, torture and religious persecution under the 1956 Cambodian penal code.

Prosecutors in September requested that judges clarify the charges against the five Khmer Rouge regime leaders being held by the tribunal, including former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav AKA "Duch", whose trial ended in November. Charges against former minister of social action Ieng Thirith will be made public next week. Between 100,000 and 400,000 Cham Muslims died under the Khmer Rouge regime, according to figures provided by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia. (Phnom Penh Post, London Times, Jurist, Dec. 18)

The Cham, also known as Fojihed Muslims, make up some 80% of Cambodia's Muslims, with the remainder being traditional Sunnis. Sary Abdulah, president of Cambodia's Islamic National Movement for Democracy says the Cham have their own language and a distinct form of Islam that incorporates many pre-Muslim folk beliefs. "They believe that they can pray, and achieve great internal power, called Chai," he told the website "It is similar to what Kung Fu people call Chi." (

Advocates for the Cham have been petitioning for genocide charges against Khmer Rouge leaders for years, but some legal scholars argue that they were merely "the victims of an attempt to eradicate religion, as a matter of general policy" that also included the suppression of Christianity and Buddhism.

In Picture: Vietnam Party leader official visit in Cambodia

Pictures by DAP (

Cambodia to send 20 Uighurs back to China: US rights group

(CAAI News Media)

WASHINGTON — Cambodia is sending 20 Chinese Muslims who fled there after July unrest in Xinjiang back to China where they face possible persecution, a US-based Uighur rights organization said Friday.

The group has been taken to the Phnom Penh airport and is about to be put on a plane to Shanghai, said Henryk Szadziewski of the Uighur Human Rights Project in Washington.

"There is a plane ready to take them away," he said, adding that his organization had received the information from local sources in Cambodia. No officials could be immediately contacted for comment.

"This is an outrageous violation of international law, China's use of the boot of repression only guarantees deeper resentment and anger among Uighur Muslims and further tarnishes China's global image," said Leonard Leo, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a non-partisan advisory board to the US government.

The group arrived at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office after fleeing deadly unrest in northwest China's Xinjiang region and their presence in Phnom Penh was first made public two weeks ago.

The clashes between Xinjiang's Muslim Uighur community and China's majority Han ethnic group left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to an official toll.

Amnesty International urged Cambodia earlier this week not to deport the group, earlier said to total 22 Uighurs, which is seeking UN refugee status in Cambodia, saying they risked torture at home in China.

The right group's appeal came after China warned Tuesday that UN refugee programmes "should not be a haven for criminals" and said the 22 Uighurs, including three children, were involved in criminal activity.

UN backed court needs more funds for work until 2011


(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The UN-backed court, officially called as Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) announced Friday that it has requested another 93.3 million U.S. dollars for its work until 2011.

In a press release, the ECCC said the budget request for 2010 and 2011 was presented to the Steering Committee of UNAKRT (UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials) and the Group of Interested States to the ECCC (GIS) during meetings in New York this week, by Acting Director of the Office of Administration Tony Kranh, and Deputy Director Knut Rosandhaug.

It said for the coming two years, the proposed budget is 46 million U.S. dollars for 2010 and 47.3 million U.S. dollars for 2011.

"The international component of the ECCC (UNAKRT) accounts for 34.5 million U.S. dollars in 2010 and 35.6 million U.S. dollars in2011, inclusive of contingency. The national component of the ECCC accounts for 11.5 million U.S. dollars in 2010 and 11.8 million U.S. dollars in 2011, inclusive of contingency," the ECCC said.

The ECCC says this hybrid court spends less money than any other courts in the world.

The ECCC is set up to try former leaders of Democratic Kampuchea (DK) who are blamed for the mass massacres under their rules in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

The increase in annual costs can mainly be attributed to increased activity level where the Pre-Trial Chamber will be functioning on a full time basis, and the Supreme Court Chamber might potentially be sitting full time from mid 2010. The budget proposal also reflects increased defence costs for legal representation related to potential additional cases, the ECCC said.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

U.S. And Cambodia Cooperate To Secure Seaport Cargo

(CAAI News Media)

Agreement Aimed at Preventing Nuclear Smuggling

- By Linton Levy -

The United States and Cambodia have signed an agreement in Phnom Penh to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material.

The agreement paves the way for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to work with the Secretariat of the National Counter Terrorism Committee and other government agencies in Cambodia to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the Port of Sihanoukville. In addition to providing equipment and related infrastructure, NNSA will also train Cambodian officials, including customs, on the use of the equipment and provide for maintenance of the equipment for a specified period.

“This agreement will help NNSA meet its goal of equipping 100 ports with radiation detection equipment by 2015 and play a critical role in NNSA’s efforts to implement President Obama’s nuclear security agenda,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “Our cooperation with Cambodia to strengthen the global capability to prevent nuclear and radiological smuggling throughout the global maritime system will help keep vulnerable nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists, smugglers and proliferators.”

The inclusion of Cambodia in the Megaports Initiative will increase international maritime security, particularly in light of the strategic location of Sihanoukville in Southeast Asia.

The work is part of NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program’s Megaports Initiative, which aims to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials transiting the global maritime shipping system. The Megaports Initiative provides radiation detection equipment, training, and technical support to key international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials. The installation of radiation detection systems in Cambodia represents a significant step forward for the Megaports Initiative, which is now operational at 28 ports around the world. Work is underway at additional ports in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Additional information on NNSA’s Megaports Initiative is available online.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit for more information.

Party General Secretary meets Cambodian leaders


(CAAI News Media)

Vietnam pursues the consistent policy of fostering its traditional solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation with Cambodia, said Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh to Cambodian parliament and government leaders on December 17.

In his meeting with National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin, Senate President Chea Sim and Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr Manh said that this is an invaluable asset of both nations, and one of the elements to create power for both countries in their national building and development.

Cambodian leaders of the Senate, National Assembly and Government congratulated Vietnam on the achievements the country has made during the renewal process and national development.

They also highly valued Vietnam’s role and position in the region and the world, especially Vietnam’s assumption of ASEAN presidency in 2010.

The leaders affirmed their determination of to tighten the Vietnam-Cambodia traditional friendship, solidarity and multifaceted cooperation to create a peaceful environment, stability and sustainable development for both countries.

The Vietnamese and Cambodian leaders informed each other about the economic and socio-economic situation of their respective country and exchanged views on international matters of common concern.

They also expressed their wish for further exchanges between legislative and executive bodies and localities to share experiences in state management, social management, economic development and international integration.

On the occasion, Party General Secretary Manh and Prime Minster Hun Sen witnessed the signing of cooperative agreements between the two governments in power, industry, mineral resources and waterway transportation.

Weekly highlights

Published: 18/12/2009

(CAAI News Media)

The spy drama seems to have come to a close after the release of the convicted spy. But Thai-Cambodian relations remains strained and will not be normalised in the foreseeable future. The baggage scandal at THAI is undermining the reputation of the national flag carrier. Meanwhile, the North Korean arms cache saga is slowly unfolding..

The release of convicted Thai spy Sivarak Chutipong from Cambodian prison after being granted a royal pardon by King Norodom Sihamoni was the biggest news on Monday although the spy drama was seen by critics as a setup.

Sivarak was accorded VIP treatment by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, very unusual and unbelievable for someone accused of breaching Cambodian national security for passing information about ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s flight arrival details to a Phnom Penh-based Thai diplomat. Grinning from cheek to cheek, Hun Sen walked hand-in-hand with Sivarak in the company of the Thai engineer's mother, Simarak na Nakhon Phanom, senior Cambodian officials and a handful of Puea Thai MPs who were conveniently on hand to bring the convicted spy home.

Before flying home in the evening of the same day, Sivarak said the person he wanted to see most was Kamrob Pallawatwichai, first secretary of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, who asked him for the flight details of the plane which carried Thaksin to Phnom Penh -- a telephone conversation which led to his being jailed for espionage. He also denied that the drama was a set-up.

Coincidentally, the day before Sivarak’s release Thaksin jetted into Phnom Penh. Upon his arrival, he went to see Sivarak at the prison and reportedly enquired about his flight plan and its possible link with, he believes, a plot by the Thai government to assassinate him. The ex-premier was not present at Sivarak’s show-case handover ceremony at Hun Sen’s residence.

Although the spy drama is over for now, the chance that Thai-Cambodian diplomatic relations will ever be normalised appears as remote as it was when the two countries recalled their ambassadors last month. The Thai government said that relations between the two neighbours would be normalised once Cambodia complies with its legal obligation to have Thaksin extradited to Thailand to serve his two-year jail term.

In his latest diatribe against the Thai government, Hun Sen said that relations between the two countries would be restored to normalcy only when the Abhisit government is out of the office.

The seizure of the weapons shipment from an aircraft at Don Mueang airport last Saturday continues to capture front-page headlines as investigators dig deeper into the case.

The arms shipment, about 35 tonnes, was loaded in Pyongyang and was believed to be destined for the Middle East. Worth about 600 million baht, it comprises missiles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and ammunition. Five crewmen, one Belarussian and four Kazaks, are in custody were denied court bail.

It was suggested the arms shipment might be linked to Victor Bout, the alleged Russian arms trafficker currently in Thai custodym, but this was not verified. In New Zealand, however, an investigation was under way to determine if a New Zealand-registered company is linked to the plane.

The baggage scandal engulding the executive chairman of Thai Airways International, the national flag carrier, Wallop Pukkanasut, threatens to spiral into a conflict between the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.

Mr Wallop is a protégé of Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum of Bhumjaithaiand he is reported to be at odds with the THAI new president, Piyaswasdi Amranand, who is backed by the Democrats.

The scandal broke when that THAI labour union accused Mr Wallop of abusing the privileges granted by the airline to top executives by bringing with him 40 bags weighing about 500kg in excess of the weight limits on a flight to Bangkok from Tokyo on Nov 14. The official record declared the baggage weight at just 127kg. Also, all the bags did not go through customs formalities but were left at the lost baggage section and later cleared without customs formalities. The union has demanded that he resign.

Mr Wallop claimed the weight of his own baggage was within limits and that the excess bags belonged to others and contained fruit meant for an abbot at Wat Paknam.

Under pressure from the public and the union, the THAI board is due to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, several THAI staff donned black as a gesture of protest.

It is doubtful that the board will sack Mr Wallop, but the board also cannot ignore the scandal as the case has again painted the national carrier in a negative light. A possible wayout of this scandal is that Mr Wallop will finally be pressured to step aside to spare the board further embarrassment.

The cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend for another three months from Jan 1 the five measures to help ease the cost of living of low-income earners -- free bus rides on some "hot" buses in Bangkok; free travel on some third-class train carriages; free tap water for households using up to 20 cubic metres a month (down from 30 units); government subsidy on cooking gas; and free electricity for small-volume consumers.

In order to subsidise these populist measures, the government has set aside 12 billion baht this fiscal year. They will be reviewed in three months.

But the news which seemed to cause the biggest concern is a pig which was reported to have caught type-A(H1N1) human influenza at a Kasetsart University research centre in Saraburi.

Although it is just one pig and apparently caught the bug from a student, public health officials said that all the officials and students at the research centre were put in quarantine for observation. People living nearby were tested but there were no infections.

Officials were adamant that pork remains safe to eat, just make sure it's properly cooked.

Within 10 Months Cambodian-Vietnamese Trade Amounted to US$1.04 Billion – Friday, 18.12.2009

Posted on 18 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 643

(CAAI News Media)

“A high ranking official of the Vietnamese government said that within 10 months of 2009, the Cambodian-Vietnamese trade rose to US$1.04 billion, and the most import from Vietnam to Cambodia is petroleum, and the most export to Vietnam is rubber.

“The deputy director of the Asia – Pacific Market Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Mr. Dao Ngoc Chuong [phonetic], said on 16 December 2009 while he attended a business and an investment forum in Cambodia that within 10 months of 2009, the Cambodian-Vietnamese trade increased to US$1.04 billion.

“According to Mr. Chuong, much of the trade is export from Vietnam to Cambodia, while imports of goods from Cambodia to Vietnam did not amount to much.

“He added that goods exported from Vietnam to Cambodia include petroleum, US$362 million; iron, US$104 million; machines and motor vehicle spare parts, US$32 million; plastic, US$31 million; food, US$30 million; textiles, US$25 million; sea food, US$14 million; paper, US$10 million; screws, US$8 million; ceramic, US$6.7 million; electric cables, US$6.2 million, and other products.

“The products that Cambodia exports to Vietnam are rubber, US$52 million; wood and wood products, US$31 million; tobacco, US$7.2 million; and scrap metal and products, US$1.5 million.

“The amount of the trade exchange between Cambodia and Vietnam increases every year. Practically, the figures show that it amounted to as much as US$1.64 billion in 2008, US$1.2 billion in 2007, and only US$935 million in 2006.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5076, 18.12.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 18 December 2009

Genocide charge for Cambodia's KRouge ex-head of state

File photo of former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan in the courtroom of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh. Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court has charged Khieu Samphan with genocide over the regime's slaughter of Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham Muslims. (AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

 by Suy Se Suy Se – Fri Dec 18

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court Friday charged Khmer Rouge former head of state Khieu Samphan with genocide over the regime's slaughter of Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham Muslims.

The 78-year-old has already been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the hardline communist regime that murdered up to two million Cambodians during its nearly four-year rule.

"This morning Khieu Samphan has been brought before the court and informed that the charges against him have been extended to include genocide against the Chams and the Vietnamese," the UN-backed court's spokesman Lars Olsen told AFP.

The tribunal issued genocide charges for the first time earlier this week against two other leaders of the brutal regime -- former Khmer Rouge number two Nuon Chea and foreign minister Ieng Sary.

Last month the court announced it was investigating incursions into Vietnam as well as executions of Cambodia's Cham minority committed by the 1975-1979 regime.

The court's investigating judges have also accepted domestic charges of homicide, torture and religious persecution against Khieu Samphan. Profile: Khmer Rouge's 'naive' head of state

His Cambodian defence lawyer Sa Sovan told AFP the latest charges had been expected, and he downplayed his client's role in the regime as important "only in name".

"I am not surprised by the charges... I have nothing to say about (them). It is their right. We will wait for the judges to decide," Sa Sovan said.

"If the court officials understand what justice is, I hope he will be set free," he added.

Estimates for the number of Chams who died under the Khmer Rouge range from 100,000 to 400,000, but it is not known how many Vietnamese were killed, according to Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia.

"We are satisfied with the charges but they should have been brought at the very beginning," Youk Chhang told AFP. "The Khmer Rouge considered the Vietnamese to be historic enemies, racial enemies," he said.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge a communist utopia, killing through starvation, overwork, torture and execution.

But as the perpetrators were also Cambodian that mass killing cannot be classed as genocide, Olsen said.

Genocide is defined by the United Nations as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

Final arguments were heard last month in the trial of prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, known by the alias Duch, who was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and premeditated murder in the court's first trial.

Khieu Samphan is in detention at the court, awaiting trial along with Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and the former foreign minister's wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith.

There are almost 240,000 Cham Muslims in Cambodia, mainly in the central provinces, making up 1.6 percent of the population in the predominantly Buddhist country, according to a recent survey by the US-based Pew Research Centre.

The tribunal, created in 2006 after several years of haggling between Cambodia and the UN, has faced accusations of political interference and allegations that local staff were forced to pay bribes for their jobs.

Cambodian and international prosecutors have openly disagreed over whether the court should pursue more suspects, while the Cambodian investigating judge has refused to summon high-ranking government officials as witnesses.

Thai-Cambodian military relationship still good: Thai defense minister


(CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Though the diplomat tension between Thailand and Cambodia have continued, the military relationship between the two countries is still good, Thai Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said Friday.

The militaries are responsible for the Thai-Cambodian matters, while the government and foreign ministry are in charge of the political affairs, Thai News Agency quoted General Prawit as saying.

The Thai and Cambodian defense ministers met on Nov. 27 in Thailand during a meeting of the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC).

During the GBC meeting, the two sides have agreed that they will not use force to deal with the border matter.

The diplomatic problem has occurred after Cambodia has appointed ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic advisor to Cambodia's government and Prime Minister Hun Sen from Nov. 4.

A day after the appointment, the Cambodian government announced the recall of its ambassador to Thailand in a move to respond to the Thai government's recall of its ambassador to Cambodia.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Thailand preparing military action against Cambodia: Pheu Thai MP

By The Nation
Published on December 19, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

An opposition MP yesterday accused the government of planning military force against Cambodia if Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thaksin Shinawatra took any action deemed to violate Thai sovereignty.

This would include establishment of a government in exile for Thaksin on Cambodian soil.

Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan said the military option was suggested in a confidential paper Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya sent to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on November 16 as a guideline for handling the conflict with Cambodia in a worstcase scenario.

"Preparation of a military option is equivalent to preparing for war against Cambodia," Jatuporn said.

"The end game is the normalisation of relations rather than regime change," Jatuporn quoted Kasit as saying in the leaked paper.

The paper called Thaksin "a major threat to the government". The fugitive expremier is using a twopronged strategy to topple the government: cooperation with Hun Sen and activity by the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship.

Thailand has already employed several diplomatic measures against Cambodia since Hun Sen appointed Thaksin as his and the Cambodian government's economic adviser. The two countries downgraded relations in late October, Thailand scrapped a maritime deal with Cambodia, and Phnom Penh rejected Bt1.4 billion in loans from Thailand.

Cambodia has also rejected Thai demands to remove Thaksin from his position and extradite him to Bangkok.

Jatuporn said the Pheu Thai Party obtained Kasit's confidential paper from a Foreign Ministry official. He distributed it to reporters during a press conference at party headquarters.

The paper suggested the government to get rid of the "major threat" (Thaksin) and bring an end to cooperation between Thaksin and Hun Sen.

It listed three possible scenarios in the diplomatic row between the two countries. Thailand could prevent Thaksin and Hun Sen from worsening the situation simply by refusing to respond to them and trying to find an influential figure or country able to persuade Cambodia to back down.

Second, if the conflict does increase in intensity, the Thai government would step up retaliation while remaining sensitive to its effect on ordinary people and the national interest.

Third, in the worst case, such as a violation of Thai sovereignty or anything resembling the establishment of a government in exile for Thaksin, Thailand would cut diplomatic relations and resort to using military force.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry yesterday would not deny the existence of the document and its content but said it would set up a committee to find whoever leaked the document to the opposition party.

The ministry will consult the Office of the AttorneyGeneral about taking legal action against Jatuporn under the Information Act of 1997, said ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongpakdee.

How to Eat Fried Tarantulas in Cambodia

How To: The crunchy exoskeletons are a favorite snack. Darrin DuFord explains where and how to chow down. (Think drive-thrus!)



(CAAI News Media)

The situation: After you have emboldened yourself with dinners of stir-fried morning glories, amok fish and banana flower salads across Cambodia, you wish to roam off the menu and try the street treat that your Khmer friends keep wistfully mentioning: a-ping, or fried tarantula. But how?

The basics: The fried tarantula is to Cambodians what a Devil Dog is to Americans—a sweet snack that kids beg their parents for. But while the Devil Dog is pumped full of high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives, the tarantula is a free-range burst of protein, clearly the responsible parent’s choice.

Tarantulas first started meeting with woks in large numbers during the tragically widespread food shortages of the brutal 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime. After the Khmer Rouge were ousted, Cambodians realized that their crafty survival skills had rewarded them with a tasty new chapter of gastronomy.

In addition to appreciating spiders for their nutrition, many Khmer women believe that eating a-ping makes one beautiful. The omnipresence of hair and beauty salons in the country, even in the smallest hamlets, demonstrates the Khmer’s interest in looking good, and many Khmer teens even forgo helmets while riding motorbikes to avoid the inevitable helmet hair. While scissors and gels remain popular with the well-coiffed, what better way to further cultivate one’s locks than to scarf down one of the hairiest creatures you can find?

Photo of a-ping platter by Darrin Duford

Where to go: While you can find a vendor or two hawking trays of a-ping in Kampong Thom and Phnom Penh alike, the town of Skuon—75 kilometers north of Phnom Penh—is the epicenter of a-ping cuisine, and close to the spiders’ underground burrows where they are harvested. If you are driving or taking a taxi, head to the town’s roundabout and roll down your window—a half-dozen vendors in Gilligan hats will rush their trays heaped with fried tarantulas to your door. What service! The buses that run between Kampong Thom and Phnom Penh make a regular stop in Skuon, at a restaurant about a half-kilometer from the roundabout, and you’ll likely find an a-ping vendor or two waiting right there .

The discriminating buyer: Go for the crispiest critters, because the longer frying time reduces the squishiness of their abdomens. Spiders with a thick, sticky coating of frying oil and caramelized sugar will render their hairs almost undetectable to your palate. Bring small money with you, because at 500 riels (12 cents) per spider, you’ll have a hard time finding change for a big bill. Don’t dawdle: There are probably cars behind you filled with snack-attacked Cambodians waiting for their turn.

How to eat: You can eat them whole. But to start, pull off and eat the legs two or three at a time. Do this for a few reasons: The first is that you’ll notice the legs’ curious resemblance to the legs of its fellow arthropod, the soft-shell crab. With each crunch, you’ll also be able to better appreciate the flavor of the spider-monger’s perfected recipe: salt, sugar, oil, and garlic. And the most important reason for eating the legs first? Putting too much of the palm-sized creature into your mouth at the same time results in too many sharp, stiff legs jabbing at your gums from various directions; the spider seems alive—probably not the sensation you were looking for.

The crab comparison ends at the abdomen, where a mouthful of gooey nuttiness—followed by a musty, somewhat rude finish—awaits the snacker. It’s not quite an acquired taste; either you like it, or you will forever avoid it.

Whether you’re a leg muncher or a body chewer, you can rest assured that by enjoying a-ping, you not only give a nod to Cambodian craftiness, but you also support the livelihood of local vendors and spider catchers in a country where the average daily wage is under $2. And you just might get lots of compliments on your thick, healthy hair.

Avian influenza – situation in Cambodia

(CAAI News Media)

18 December 2009 -- The Ministry of Health of Cambodia has announced a new confirmed case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

The 57-year-old male, from Ponhea Kreak District, Kampong Cham Province, developed symptoms on 11 December. The case was admitted to Kampong Cham Provincial Hospital on 16 December, where he received treatment. He is in a stable condition. The presence of the H5N1 virus was confirmed by the National Influenza Centre, the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. A team led by the Ministry of Health is conducting field investigations into the source of his infection.

Of the 9 cases confirmed to date in Cambodia, 7 have been fatal. This is the first diagnosed case in Cambodia during 2009.

Cambodian A/H1N1 death case rises to 6

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has confirmed another death case of influenza A/H1N1, bringing the total number to six, official news agency AKP reported on Friday.

The new death case has been found on an 18-month baby living in Battambang province, said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the communicable diseases control department of the Health Ministry.

As of Dec. 17, he said, the country's total number of infected cases of A/H1N1 has increased to 531, including 44 new cases during this week.

Dr. Ly Sovann called on people to be more careful and to protect themselves from this deadly pandemic.

Special Report: World Tackles A/H1N1 Flu  

Editor: Zhang Xiang