Monday, 18 January 2010

They Love Brett Favre In Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

In honor of our favorite traitor quarterback and the dregs of the NFL – the Minnesota Vikings, who we wish all the bad fortune in the world – we thought today would be an appropriate time to whip out our latest video.

Recently, a friend of the Total Packers family took a trip to Cambodia. In Siem Reap he met a tuk tuk driver who spoke very little English, but was still able to perfectly summarize our feelings for former Green Bay Packers and current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

This may be the only time in history you’ll hear me say this, so mark it down. Go Cowboys!

Rice Export Is Still Difficult – Saturday, 16.1.2010

Posted on 17 January 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647
via CAAI News Media

“Phnom Penh: According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in 2009 there was a surplus of more than 3 million tonnes of paddy rice or more than 2 million tonnes of rice. In 2010, just the Philippines alone need to buy in 2 million tonnes of rice, and other African countries need to buy rice also. Is Cambodia ready for exporting rice abroad?

“Regarding this problem, an expert, who was involved in marketing to help export rice, said that Cambodia still cannot export rice on a large scale. Family-scale export is possible, as our country is not yet ready to do big rice businesses.

“The general secretary of a Cambodian association for small and medium scale business, Mr. Ut Ren, spoke to journalists in an interview on Wednesday [13 January 2010], saying that Cambodia is not yet able to export rice on a large scale, because Cambodia does not yet have an adequate rice export structure. He added that the country does not yet have large scale storehouses for paddy rice. A rice milling house can normally store 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes, but these too hardly exist in Phnom Penh. There has not yet been an effort to gather all forces together. Most small rice export associations operate to serve only their own interest and they do not cooperate and trust each other, and there is no coordination between the state and the private sector. Also the costs of transportation is still high, compared to neighboring countries. In Vietnam, it costs only US$7 to US$12 to transport one tonne of rice to the ports, but in our country, it costs up to US$40 to US$50. Transport is possible only in the dry season, but not in the rainy season. There is much more investment needed before smooth export procedures are possible. In addition, to get a container loaded with rice to be exported, one needs to pay unofficial expenses of at least US$55 to customs, US$55 to CamControl, and US$30 for one document to the Ministry of Agriculture. Besides, it is necessary to pay US$50 to the Ministry of Commerce for a license.

“Mr. Ren added that in addition, our country does not have marketing experts at international markets. Vietnam has rice market advertising offices in the Philippines and in Africa. Thailand has more than 40 market advertising offices worldwide.

“He went on to say that therefore, to become a rice exporting country, first, Cambodia needs to have a rice export support structure. Rice export has its special criteria, unlike the export of other products. The government should create a separate high level authority to guide the export of rice. The government should implement a integrated structure policy, that means that customs, CamControl, the agriculture and the commerce related authorities have to work jointly. At present, when a rice exporter has received a license from the Ministry of Commerce, they need to go next to customs, then to CamControl, and then to those in the agricultural areas having rice to sell – this takes much time.

“He said that because of existing difficulties, high costs, and much time needed to run from place to place [to satisfy the related bureaucratic necessities], owners of rice mills still prefer their traditional family-scale businesses.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5101, 16.1.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 16 January 2010

U.N. special rapporteur to make second visit to Cambodia

January 17, 2010
via CAAI News Media

A special rapporteur of the United Nations is planned to make his second visit to Cambodia next week, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Saturday.

In a statement released on Saturday, the OHCHR said Surya Prasad Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, will visit Cambodia on Jan. 18-30.

This is his second mission to Cambodia. "He intends to use the visit to examine the functioning of the National Assembly and judiciary, including the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the Constitutional Council," the statement said.

His objective is to conduct an analysis of how these institutions work, and the extent to which they provide citizens recourse and remedy for breaches of their rights.

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to follow and report on the human rights situation in Cambodia.

His task is to assess the human rights situation, report publicly about it, and work with the Government, civil society and others to foster international cooperation in this field.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia donates $50,000 for quake-stricken Haiti

January 16, 2010
via CAAI News Media

The Cambodian government announced on Saturday that it has decided to contribute 50,000 U.S. dollars for the relief efforts to the people of Haiti.

Along with a message of condolence of Prime Minister Hun Sen, "the Royal Government of Cambodia has decided to contribute 50,000 U.S. dollars for the relief to the people of Haiti who are facing great suffering from this colossal natural disaster," the release of the Ministry of Foreing Affairs said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday sent a message of condolence to his Haiti counterpart, expressing the mourning of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people for the death of Haiti people in the strong earthquake.

A 7-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, causing thousands of deaths and injuries and extensive destruction, while many people are left without shelters and are in need of food and medicines.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodian hotel is a poster child for responsible tourism

By Michael Wuitchuk, For the Calgary Herald
via CAAI News Media

Think of Egypt, and the great pyramids come to mind. With France it is wine and the odd surly waiter, while London and Big Ben go together like a pint and fish and chips.

OK, now think of Thailand and Cambodia; do you think of beaches and the Angkor temples? Perhaps, especially if you stay within the tourist bubble. Look a little closer and it's not difficult to get the impression that Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have an apparently endless supply (and demand) for massage parlours and poorly disguised brothels.

The Calgary-based NGO, Future Group, has reported that the most conservative number of prostitutes and sex slaves in Cambodia alone is between 40,000 and 50,000, and higher estimates range between 80,000 and 100,000.

Many of the children are from communities so poor that girls and boys as young as six are actually sold to brothels by their own families.

The dark underbelly of southeast Asia is all the more reason to take responsible tourism seriously. If you go, consider taking a proactive approach.

On a recent trip to Cambodia, my son Daniel and I discovered that you can be an active witness to the magnificence of the region and still leave a positive footprint. Amazingly, we accomplished this not by joining an aid organization, but by staying at a hotel.

The Shinta Mani Hotel and Hospitality Institute is a lovely 18-room boutique hotel in Siem Reap. Facilities include spacious and well-appointed rooms, an atmospheric outdoor restaurant and air-conditioned indoor dining room, and a spa with the elegance and serenity one would expect of a five-star property.

Although the Shinta Mani is loaded with class and charm, there is a heart and soul to this place that was apparent from the moment we were greeted by the smiling young staff.

As responsible tourism goes, this hotel is a poster child.

Owner Sokhoun Chanpreda founded the Hospitality Training Institute in 2004 -- the first class of 21 young people selected from the poorest of families graduated in 2005.

Students, all of whom were considered "at risk" due to extreme poverty, can choose between cooking, serving, housekeeping, reception and spa services -- each are taught in nine-month modules.

The school is funded entirely with hotel funds and donations from guests and others from overseas.

We were so impressed with the Hospitality Training Institute that we extended our stay to accompany Theany, the hotel's "community liason officer," on one of her forays into the many poor villages around Siem Reap.

We drove in the hotel pickup truck loaded with treadle sewing machines, backpacks filled with school supplies, bags of rice, vegetable seeds and a bicycle -- and watched Theany and her staff do aid work, Shinta Mani style.

The model is simple -- use the labours of salaried hotel staff (who are dedicated to giving their time -- the communities are, after all, their own communities), donate $5 from every guest night to the community program, and provide an opportunity for guests to both see the program in action and donate to specific projects. Among the range of options, guests can contribute a mechanical water well ($100), a pair of pigs ($80) or even a small concrete house ($1,250).

We visited villages that had been working with the Shinta Mani staff for some time, and some that were new to the community program.

The villages that had received water wells had well maintained vegetable plots and a few small concrete houses -- in these communities the women and children turned out in numbers, their hands extended in prayerful thanks.

In a village new to the Shinta Mani program, we met a family that had been recently chosen to receive a well -- their entire worldly possessions were the clothes on their backs and a tired set of cooking pans.

These people and their neighbours seemed both desperate and skeptical -- they were clearly not used to receiving aid or good news of any kind.

Later, while sitting in the hotel's lovely outdoor restaurant, general manager and Sri Lankan ex-pat Chitra Vincent told us that Shinta Mani means "the gem that provides for all" in Sanskrit -- the place could not be better named.

- - -

Some numbers

- We met two teachers in rural schools -- each had four years of experience after teacher training and each made $20 a month.

- Theany's husband is a policeman -- she says he makes $25 a month.

- A student at the Shinta Mani Hospitality Institute receives a uniform, $10 a month and four kilos of rice per week for their families.

- When hired as employees, they earn $50 a month while on three-month probation, and $80 a month when full time.

- - -

If you go

- Skip the air-conditioned cars to the temples -- take a tuk tuk. Far cheaper ($10-$14 and they wait at each temple), and far more fun.

- Avoid the cheap massages in Siem Reap -- and for the rest of Asia for that matter. Go to a reputable spa, pay $40-$50 for a professional massage as good as anywhere. I suggest the Shinta Mani or Victoria Spas in Siem Reap. The Victoria also has wonderful spas in Sapa and Hoi An, Vietnam.

- Tip: browse the booking companies, read the reviews, but always go to the hotel website itself -- I have found better rates than through internet "discounters."

- Read, The Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam, Virago Press.

- Check out,

- Accommodation: The Shinta Mani Hotel internet rates, about $100 plus tax double

- Junction of Oum Khum and 14th Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Phone (855) 63 761 998, Fax (855) 63 761 999.

The big issue: Malcolm Caldwell A carefully redesigned version of history

via CAAI News Media
The Observer, Sunday 17 January 2010

Andrew Anthony's reason for his bitter denunciation of Malcolm Caldwell over 30 years after he was murdered in Cambodia, he explains, is to ensure "that we don't forget history". ("Lost in Cambodia", Magazine) A certain version of history, that is: one carefully redesigned in the interests of power.

Caldwell's fate, Anthony suggests, may have resulted from his failure to read Francois Ponchaud's "Cambodia Year Zero" because of my review of the book (Chomsky and Edward Herman, June 1977) – which recommended it as "serious and worth reading." An odd reaction. Anthony also omits Ponchaud's reaction to the review. In the preface to the English translation a year later, Ponchaud opens by referring to my praise for his book, and praises me in turn for "the responsible attitude and precision of thought" in everything I had written about the topic, including this review and extensive personal correspondence, which led to the discovery of many serious errors in his book, corrected in the translation.

Note that I am referring to the American edition. Ponchaud's preface to the British edition, dated the same day, is identical except that he replaces these passages with the charge that I denounced his book and rejected its conclusions. And he left the errors uncorrected. Evidently, Ponchaud believed that in England he could get away with anything, as Anthony is keen to demonstrate.

Anthony claims further that we denied the refugee testimony on which Ponchaud relied – in our words, his "grisly account of what refugees have reported to him about the barbarity of their treatment at the hands of the Khmer Rouge". We raised no question at all about his sources, though elsewhere we did reiterate Ponchaud's position that "the accounts of refugees are indeed to be used with great care" and showed that others had violated this familiar truism.

Anthony charges that I "compared Ponchaud's work unfavourably with another book, Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, written by George Hildebrand and Gareth Porter, which cravenly rehashed the Khmer Rouge's most outlandish lies to produce a picture of a kind of radical bucolic idyll." We did, indeed, draw one (and only one) comparison between the two books. Ponchaud claimed that 200,000 people were killed in American bombings from March to August 1973, mentioning an unidentified Cambodian report. Hildebrand and Porter's study cites such a report, which refers however to killed and wounded. Anthony raises no objection to this: apparently it is legitimate to cite sources to refute undocumented charges against the US.

The Hildebrand-Porter book was concerned almost entirely with the period before the Khmer Rouge takeover, and was written much too early for more than a few words about the aftermath. A serious commentary on their work is provided by George Kahin, the leading US Southeast Asian scholar, in his introduction to it. As he observes, they "provide what is undoubtedly the best informed and clearest picture yet to emerge of the desperate economic problems" resulting largely from the American bombing, with Phnom Penh and other urban centers overflowing with peasant refugees and facing starvation as much of the countryside had been destroyed. Almost the entire book is devoted to detailed documentation of this shocking tragedy, which explains US intelligence predictions after the fall of Phnom Penh "that 1 million Cambodians will die in the next twelve months" (Far Eastern Economic Review, 25 July 1975).

None of this is granted entry into Anthony's version of "history." Nor is the revelation by Cambodia scholars Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan three years ago that the US bombing of rural Cambodia was actually at five times the horrendous level previously reported, greater than all allied bombing in all theaters in World War II, and "drove an enraged populace into the arms" of the previously marginal Khmer Rouge, setting the stage for the horrors that followed.

Had he chosen, Anthony could have found accounts of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge that provide at least minimal support for his farcical rant about Hildebrand-Porter. For example, a description of the "genuine egalitarian revolution" with a new "spirit of responsibility" and "inventiveness" that "represents a revolution in the traditional mentality" as "the people of Kampuchea are now making a thousand-year old dream come true" and taking new pride in their constructive work. But these observations by Francois Ponchaud would not conform to his agenda.

The rest proceeds in much the same vein. The only reason to waste even a moment on such a performance is that it encapsulates so well the common technique of apologetics for the crimes for which one shares responsibility. It would not do to deny the crimes outright; that exposes them to view and undermines pretensions of liberal ideals. The first and most crucial principle is therefore to evade our own crimes. Next, vilify the messenger, to ensure that unwanted history is forgotten. And finally, vilify those who dare to refute charges against official enemies, thus preserving the right to posture heroically about their real or alleged crimes without concern for such impediments as fact and uncertainty. Add a few appropriate rhetorical touches and the concoction is ready to serve, a tasty morsel in some circles.

Noam Chomsky

Lexington MA

■ It was clear to anyone who knew Caldwell and who saw his films and photographs from Cambodia that he was not blind to what was going on. From my knowledge of him, there was no doubt he was a Marxist, but he valued freedom of speech, intellectual exchange and open discussion and was not blind to the negative side of developments in the then socialist regimes.

Ian J Stones


■ It was good to be reminded of the life and work of Malcolm Caldwell, once my good friend and political ally, but your account failed to take account of the peculiarity of his theoretical interests nor of the nature of the times.

Malcolm was a revolutionary leftist, but not a Marxist. He drew his inspiration from the French Physiocrats of the 1760s and from the writings of the 19th-century German economist Friedrich List. Malcolm believed these neglected thinkers provided a model for third world development and he imagined that Pol Pot's French-educated economists were kindred spirits.

He was also politically active when the Americans were conducting genocidal operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and elsewhere in south-east Asia. As a result, he believed it was a duty to support all revolutionary movements in the region, regardless of the nature of their project. The full extent of the violence inflicted on Cambodia during the Pol Pot years was not known during Malcolm's lifetime, but the comparable damage caused by the US, now largely ignored, was an ever-present reality.

Richard Gott

London W11

■ I was disappointed to see an article about my uncle Malcolm used to peddle a smear linking anti-imperialism and Marxism to "communist terror".

I did not share Malcolm's views on Pol Pot, but I would welcome his voice were he around today against the terrors being visited upon the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Sue Caldwell

London N15

■ What a fantastic piece by Andrew Anthony on Malcolm Caldwell. I don't think I have read a more interesting article in any Sunday newspaper for many years. What an irony that, as Anthony revealed, the current UN representative on the victims of Pol Pot should be what we should now call a "self-confessed" Marxist.

Matthew Scott


Smuggling spikes at Cambodian border in Tet lead-up

A transporter carries smuggled goods in a boat along Vinh Te canal in Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province. Smuggling activities along the Cambodian border have skyrocketed ahead of Tet this year. (Photo: SGGP)

via CAAI News Media

Demand for many essential goods is soaring ahead of this year’s Tet (lunar New Year), which has led to an increase in smuggling across the Cambodian border.

A group of SGGP reporters posing as traders recently accompanied Tho, a smuggled goods broker, on a trip to An Giang Province’s Vinh Nguon town. The community is considered a gateway for illegal products imported from Cambodia to be transported to Chau Doc town.

Along a 2km road next to the Hau River, the reporters saw dozens of parking lots for cars and motorbikes with license plates from Can Tho, Kien Giang, Soc Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Smuggled goods were transported relentlessly on the roads, smothering the area in dust and exhaust from vehicles.

Tho led the reporters past the Cambodian border-guard into Ta Mau market, about 100m away, without being asked to show any papers. Here, a “center” displayed numerous smuggled goods for sale.

The reporters observed products for sale including wine, beer, electronics, bicycles, and mobile phones from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan to name a few.

Buyers simply select the goods they want, pay a deposit, and return to Vietnam to await their deliveries. Full payment is made only when the buyer receives all the goods they ordered.

After smuggled goods are transported to Vinh Nguon town, some are delivered to traders there, while the remainder is loaded onto buses or motorbikes for delivery to other localities.

On National Highway 91, which runs through An Giang Province, local residents and travelers often complain of being terror-stricken by the many speeding motorbikes carrying contraband goods. The vehicles travel extremely fast to evade authorities.

Commodities like tobacco, hard liquor, beer, and sugar are smuggled into Vietnam in large quantities, said Nh., a Can Tho province-based trader of illegal Cambodian goods.

Varieties of brandy like Remy Martin, V.S.O.P., and Remy X.O. Martin are among the items smuggled most from Cambodia since traders can earn high profits reselling them, Nh. said.

A bottle of Chivas 12, for instance, could be purchased for VND300,000 in Cambodia and sold for VND530,000 in Can Tho. A bottle of Red Label whiskey, meanwhile, can be purchased for VND170,000 and sold for VND250,000, he said.

Smuggling activities along the Cambodian border have become increasingly complicated with traders using sophisticated tactics to evade authorities, according to anti-smuggling forces in An Giang Province.

Last year, authorities uncovered 135 cases of smuggling totaling more than VND3.2 billion (US$184,000).

The provincial Customs House also found 131 cases related to illegal imports and exports worth over VND3.4 billion.

However, the actual volume of goods smuggled across Vietnam’s southeast border with Cambodia is likely much higher, said representatives of provincial agencies.

Smugglers even set up stores to sell contraband near border areas, some local goods transporters said, adding that they operate under the knowledge of a powerful, high-ranking individual.

Asked about the issue, Colonel Huynh Van Tien, Commander of the An Giang Province Border Guard, said: “The smuggling situation here may be well-known by the agencies concerned; however, many times we have planned to crack down on smugglers but failed, since smugglers knew our plans in advance"

By Dinh Tuyen – Translated by Truc Thinh