Monday, 8 February 2010

Thai-Cambodian border tension eases as Hun Sen returns to Phnom Penh

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SURIN, Feb 8 (TNA) - Rising tension along Thai-Cambodia border eased Monday after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen returned to his capital without visiting the Ta Muen Thom temple ruins as earlier requested.

Lt-Gen Veevalit Chornsamrit, Thailand's 2nd Army Area Commander, said Monday that group of 20 unarmed Cambodian soldiers have requested Thailand for permission to visit Ta Muen Thom temple in Surin, however the 2nd Army explained to them that the situation was unfavourable for their visit
for fear of possible confrontation with protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gathering near the temple.

Gen Veevalit said the Khmer soliders now better understand the situation and agreed not to enter the temple area.

Thai reporters said the Cambodian leader returned to Phnom Penh after attending a ceremony for a battalion and a new route as well as for a border village inside Cambodian territory without visiting Ta Muen Thom as earlier requested.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban earlier reaffirmed that Mr Hun Sen can visit the Thai temple ruins but Thai troops will not be withdrawn from the ruins which belong to Thailand.

"We have been taking care of and and [holding in our] possession the area [of the Ta Muen Thom ruins]. Cambodia cannot claim its right over the area," said Mr Suthep."It's unlike the case of Preah Vihear temple in which the dispute was brought to the International Court of Justice."

The Cambodian prime minister and his wife on Saturday visited the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but Thailand holds that the 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) area surrounding the ancient temple belongs to Thailand.

Border demarcation in the area remains unresolved and sporadic clashes have occurred since then.

The deputy premier commented that Mr Hun Sen's recent move is aimed at convincing the World Heritage Committee that he can resolve the Thai-Cambodian border conflict despite the fact that the dispute is far from being solved.

Mr Suthep also urged the public not to rally against Mr Hun Sen's visit as it will obstruct the work of Thai security officials.

Thai News Agency reporter reported from Surin that checkpoint has been set up not far from the Ta Muen Thom ruins to prevent Thai protesters from marching into the area. Only food is allowed to be sent to the the group of protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy who gathered at the area near the ruins since Sunday.

The TNA reporter said security personnel have been on standby near the PAD venue, together with a fire engine to disperse the crowd in case they attempt to break through the security line into the ruins.

The reporter added that tension along the Thai-Cambodian border flared up following the planned visit of Mr Hun Sen.

Thai army personnel have been reinforced around the Ta Muen Thom ruins, while Cambodia also reinforced its troops to provide security for Mr Hun Sen. (TNA)

Cambodia's Tourism on Steady Growth, Report Shows
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Web Editor: Hu Weiwei

Cambodia's tourism sector has been on steady growth over the past five-year period, according to a report released on Monday by the government.

The report titled "tourism highlights" showed that there was one million foreign tourists visited Cambodia in 2004, and the number has been increased on yearly basis.

In 2009, the number of foreign tourist arrivals was 2.161 million an increase of 1.7 percent compared to 2008 with 2.125 million despite the global economic crisis.

According to the report, there were 1.421 million in 2005, and 1.7 million in 2006 and 2.015 million in 2007.

Among the foreign arrivals, Vietnamese was recorded as the largest number in 2009 with 319,202, followed by South Korean with 197,725 and the American with 148.482.

In 2008, South Koreans were the largest of foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia with 266,525, followed by Vietnamese at 209, 516 and the third was from Japan at 163,806.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has pinpointed for several times that tourism is a locomotive for economic growth in his country and vowed to accelerate it to one of the world's most wanted tourism sites.

Cambodia's Angkor Wat Temple, built between 9th to 12th century -- is one of the world's famous tourist sites. Angkor Wat Temple was registered as the world heritage site.

Cambodia is also proud to claim the country is rich in eco- tourism in addition to its already outstanding cultural tourism.

Hun Sen skips Ta Muen Thom temple visit

via CAAI News Media
Published: 8/02/2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen cancelled his planned visit to Ta Muen Thom temple in Surin province and returned home by helicopter on Monday, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said.

Hun Sen decided not to visit Ta Muen Thom ruins after Thai authorities insisted his military escort could not carry weapons, Mr Chavanond said.

The Cambodian premier said he understood the regulations and did not want to create tension between soldiers from the two countries, even though he just wanted to travel as a tourist, he said.

Foreign Ministry Information director-general Wimol Kidchob said Mr Hun Sen's visit did not violate the sovereignty of Thailand.

Earlier, 2nd Army commander Lt-Gen Weewalit Chornsamrit said on Monday that a group of Cambodian soldiers had requested Thai permission to visit Ta Muen Thom temple without their weapons, but he explained to them that the situation was unfavourable for their visit because of a possible confrontation with supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

PAD leader Veera Somkwamkid led about 150 protesters who gathered near the temple to oppose Mr Hun Sen's visit.

Lt-Gen Weewalit said the Cambodian soldiers understood the situation and agreed not to enter the temple area.

The Cambodian government had previously twice asked Thai authorities for permission for Mr Hun Sen to visit the ancient Khmer temple.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said after the cancellation of Mr Hun Sen's visit that the situation along the border had returned to normal.

Mr Abhisit said that Cambodia's tactic to name a nearby village Ta Muen, like the name of the temple, would not affect Thailand. Cambodia had the right to name a village.

In the morning, Mr Hun Sen officially opened a road leading to the temple and to Ta Muen village. The village has about 400 houses and is about 4 kilometres from Ta Muen Thom temple.

Mr Abhisit also said Thailand has made clear its opposition to Unesco's approval of the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site administered by Phnom Penh.

The government would request the voiding of the listing because the area involves disputed land, he added.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee will rule on July 15 whether to continue listing Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

Border situation returns to normal

via CAAI News Media
Published: 8/02/2010

The situation along the Thai-Cambodian border has returned to normal after Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen cancelled his visit to Ta Muen Thom temple on Monday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

Mr Abhisit said that Cambodia's tactic to name a village "Ta Muen", like the name of the temple, does not affect Thailand. However, Cambodia has the right to do so.

In the morning, Mr Hun Sen officially opened a road leading to the temple and Ta Muen village, which is close to the Thai border. The village has about 400 houses and is about 4 kilometres from Ta Muen Thom temple.

Mr Abhisit also said Thailand has made its opposition clear to the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site by Unesco at the request of Phnom Penh.

The government would give Unesco information clarifying that Cambodia's plan to manage the area around the ancient Khmer temple includes the disputed land, he added.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee will rule on July 15 whether to continue listing Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

KHMER PREMIER'S BORDER VISIT : Tension eases as Hun Sen returns to Phnom Penh

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Mon, February 8, 2010

Tension along the Thai-Cambodia border seemed to ease after Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen cancelled his schedule to visit Ta Muen Thom temple ruins and returned to Phnom Penh on Monday.

Hun Sen and his wife; Bunnari, arrived at Oh-room-jong Village in Banteay Ambrel of Udon Mechai province by helicopter at about 9am. He presided over an opening ceremony of a battalion and a village which are about four kilometers from Ta Muen Thom temple in Cambodian soil.

His visit was made amidst tight security which included tanks and heavily-armed soldiers. He spent about half and hour there before boarding a helicopter back to Phnom Penh.

A Thai army officer said that Hun Sen normally spent about two hours to visit his soldiers at the border. But this time he spent only half and hour probably because he was worried about the reports that some groups of Thai activists planned to rally near the site.

Earlier reports said that Hun Sen's visit to Preah Vihear area which started on Saturday until Tuesday.

Hun Sen also cancelled a plan to visit Ta Muen Thom temple in Surin province, the site which has been claimed by both countries. The Thai side which claimed ownership of the temple insisted that Hun Sen has to ask permission if he wanted to visit the temple.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban earlier said that Cambodian side had notified the Thai side that Hun Sen would visit the temple ruins.

Suthep said the Thai troops will not be withdrawn from the ruins which belong to Thailand.

"We have been taking care of and and [holding in our] possession the area [of the Ta Muan Thom ruins]. Cambodia cannot claim its right over the area," said Mr Suthep."It's unlike the case of Preah Vihear temple in which the dispute was brought to the International Court of Justice."

CP to raise feed production in Cambodia

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08 Feb 2010

Cambodia’s biggest animal feed producer CP Cambodia announced that it would increase production 20 percent this year in a bid to respond to farmers' demand.

Wittaya Kreangkriwit, Vice President of CP Cambodia, a subsidiary of its Thai parent firm, said that his company would produce 144.000 tonnes of animal feed to sell throughout the country at US$ 500 per tonne.

"We want to encourage more and more farmers to raise animals in order to reduce meat imports from other countries into Cambodia," he said.

In 2009, the company, which is located in Phnom Penh, sold 120,000 tonnes of feed to its customers at US$ 460 per tonne, according to company data. Total sales were worth $55.2 million. This year, sales are expected to reach $72 million, the firm estimates.

According to Wittaya, in 2010 the company expects to buy 100,000 tonnes of red corn, 6,000 tonnes of cassava and 1,500 tonnes of soybeans.

Rising domestic production
Kao Phal, director of the Department of Animal Health and Production at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Thursday that increasing animal feed production would lead to a rise in domestic meat production.

He added that many farmers are raising pigs, chickens and ducks on both subsistence and commercial farms because of high demand.

"Animal feed will, in the future be used more and more as a basis for expanding animal farms to meat exports support needed by international markets," he added.

Experts said they believed that farming in Cambodia is gradually becoming more commercial.

Celebrate International Women's Day in Siem Reap

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Cambodia's cities will be marking International Women's Day on March 8th.

Like many other countries around the world, Cambodia observes an official public holiday on International Women's Day.

The event takes place on March 8th every year and traditionally inspires a number of special events in cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

In previous years, UNESCO has sponsored the Ministry of Women's Affairs of Cambodia to organise countrywide celebrations to mark

the day, which first took place in the US in 1909.

The lead-up to International Women's Day in 2005 included a cultural show in one of Phnom Penh's public markets and a theatrical performance that was attended by the prime minister Hun Sen and his wife.

Around the world the day is viewed as a celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women.

It is now customary for men to give gifts to mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters on International Women's Day, which has come to be regarded as the equivalent of Mother's Day in some countries.

People using accommodation in Siem Reap
( on March 8th may like to take the opportunity to explore the city's historic sites, such as the nearby Angkor Wat temples

Diarrhea deaths lead to hygiene campaign in Cambodia

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PHNOM PENH, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Health has launched a nationwide sanitation and hygiene awareness campaign following a series of deaths across the country caused by diarrhea, local media reported on Monday.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of the ministry's Communicable Diseases Control Department, said that as part of the campaign, which began on Saturday, officials had been stationed on the ground in every province to treat cases of diarrhea.

He said that diarrhea is of particular concern during the dry season because people are driven to drink unsanitary water.

"We are concerned about diarrhea this month, and for this campaign we have scattered expert officers to all 24 provinces in Cambodia," he was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

A 11-year-old boy in Ratanakkiri province died after a bout of diarrhea last Thursday, and another person died of diarrhea the following day, said Pon Pun, the chief of Lonk Khon commune in Borkeo district, where the deaths occurred.

A series of reports of diarrhea and suspected cholera cases have recently sprung up in Prey Veng, Takeo and Kandal provinces, the newspaper reported.

Ly Sovann said authorities were also concerned about a potential cholera outbreak, but he said he could not confirm whether any cases had been detected, and he also could not provide specific information on the number of diarrhea cases reported nationwide.

The World Health Organization country representative Pieter Van Maaren said he also did not have data on the total number of diarrhea cases, but he said that outbreaks during the dry season were common.

Editor: Deng Shasha

Hun Sen visit helps Thai land case - PM

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Khmer leader's actions support border claims

Published: 8/02/2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's border visit will help Thailand press its case for ownership of disputed areas along the border, Abhisit Vejjajiva says.

Hun Sen's remarks and actions during his three-day tour would be sent to Unesco's World Heritage Committee to back Thailand's claim to the disputed land, the prime minister said yesterday.

The area adjacent to Preah Vihear temple belongs to Thailand, he said. Hun Sen had tacitly acknowledged it was not Cambodian property, which helped Thailand's case.

Mr Abhisit also insisted that Thai troops would not be withdrawn from the Ta Muan Thom temple in Surin during Hun Sen's visit today as requested by the Cambodia premier.

Hun Sen has been touring the Thai-Cambodia border, including disputed areas.

The World Heritage Committee meets in the middle of this year to consider Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple and the adjacent areas claimed by both countries as a World Heritage site.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the 11th-century Hindu temple belongs to Cambodia, but Thailand insists a 4.6 sq km tract of scrub near the temple is Thai territory.

Demarcation of the border area remains unresolved and sporadic clashes have occurred between troops from the two countries.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayakorn said the Cambodian prime minister had accepted Thailand's demand to send its representatives to join him during his visit to the disputed areas.
He said Hun Sen had followed international principle and agreements on disputed areas, whereby each side would send its representatives to join the other side whenever it enters a disputed area.

"This mean Cambodia accepts that the area surrounding Preah Vihear does not belong to Cambodia," Mr Panitan said.

Hun Sen visits Ta Muen Thom temple today. Mr Abhisit said Thai authorities would greet him there because it is Thai territory.

He turned down Hun Sen's demand that Thai troops withdraw from the area for his visit.

Mr Abhisit said Hun Sen's tour of the border was motivated by political interests in Cambodia and the World Heritage decision on Preah Vihear temple.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry yesterday welcomed Hun Sen and confirmed that his visit would not affect legal claims over Thai territory.

"The government has no objections if the Cambodian prime minister wishes to enter Thai territory," it said in a statement.

"However, the Cambodian side must first inform and request prior permission from the government."

Thailand will then send a representative to welcome him.

"The visit would not have any effect in any way on the legal claims made by Thailand over Thai territory. Such claims remain valid and Thailand still fully retains all her rights applicable under international law," the statement said.Hun Sen was near the Chong Bok border pass in Ubon Ratchathani yesterday but had his subordinates meet Thai authorities at the border.

The Cambodian prime minister was at the bottom of the mountain which forms the border between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. He was there to open a road which is part of a project to develop the Emerald Triangle. The road stretches from the heart of Chom Krasan district in Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.

At the border, Viroj Meekaew, deputy governor of Ubon Ratchathani, Itthiporn Boonprakong, deputy director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry's Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, and Maj Gen Chavalit Choonprasarn, commander of the Suranaree Task Force, met the Cambodian delegation including Lt Gen Sor Thavy, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, and Lt Gen Sarai Duek, the commander of Cambodia's 3rd supportive division.

In Surin, soldiers of both sides agreed yesterday they would remain in their camps when Hun Sen arrives near Ta Muen Thom temple today.

Col Adul Boonthamcharoen, commander of the 26th pararanger military regiment from the Suranaree Task Force, met Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra People's Alliance for Democracy, and asked his group not to cause trouble today during Hun Sen's visit. Mr Veera led about 150 protesters to Ta Muan Thom temple.

The PAD opposes Hun Sen's visit.

Roadside reminder

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela

via CAAI News Media

Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Rick Valenzuela

Soeng Sreymom holds out a Cambodian Red Cross pennant to remind drivers to halt at the stop line on the eastbound lane of Charles de Gaulle Boulevard west of Monivong Boulevard on Sunday. The 17-year-old and her two classmates from Yukonthor High School said they volunteer with the CRC at intersections every Sunday.

Checking out the chickens

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Rick Valenzuela

Heng David, 3, looks at chicken displayed for sale at the corner of Street 174 and Street 63. Health officials on Sunday warned against eating and selling meat that may have been taken from fowl infected with the A(H5N1) influenza virus, or bird flu, following the cull of hundreds of ducks and chickens last week in Takeo province.

Hun Sen visits Preah Vihear

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, participate in a ceremony at Preah Vihear temple on Saturday. heng chivoan

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:05 Vong Sokheng and James O’toole

Preah Vihear Province

PRIME Minister Hun Sen, dressed in full military fatigues, made an official visit to Preah Vihear temple on Saturday, during which he accused neighbouring Thailand of planning to invade Cambodia and called on troops to defend the Kingdom’s borders.

Joined by his wife, Bun Rany – who also donned camouflage gear – Hun Sen briefly toured Preah Vihear temple under heavy security, also inspecting weaponry and troops stationed near the contested border with Thailand.

“The border issues with Thailand have to be resolved through negotiation, but we will use force when Thai troops are invading Cambodia. The tanks and weapons are not here for exhibition only – they are here to fight against the enemy and invaders,” Hun Sen said. Thai officials, he added, “still keep it in their mind to invade Cambodia and do not know when they will stop”.

The border area, where a total of seven soldiers from both sides have been killed since July 2008, remains a potential flash point, with the opposing forces opening fire on one another last month in a series of skirmishes in which no one was hurt. Around the temple and central to the dispute is a 4.6-square-kilometre piece of land that each side claims as its own.

“Where is the 4.6 kilometers squared of land [claimed by Thailand]? It is a claim by Thai invaders,” Hun Sen said.

The premier picked up on similar themes in a speech on Sunday in the Mom Bey area of Preah Vihear province, promising not to back down in his ongoing war of words with Thai leaders.

“If the Thais keep up verbal attacks on Cambodia, then tomorrow I will keep up with verbal attacks on Thailand,” he said.

Despite his harsh remarks, however, Hun Sen received Thai Lieutenant General Veerawit Kajornrith and several colleagues who joined in a Buddhist ceremony on Saturday at the temple to pray for peace in the area.

“We are neighbouring countries, so we cannot be enemies forever,” Hun Sen told Veerawit, urging frequent talks between Thai and Cambodian commanders to avoid further armed confrontations. Veerawit thanked the prime minister for the welcome and assured him that the respective forces “often talk, and have tried to avoid all problems”.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers gather at Preah Vihear temple during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit over the weekend.

In addition to his trip to the temple, Hun Sen attended the opening of a nearby school and distributed gifts and supplies to local villagers. He also visited the site near the temple of a market that was destroyed by Thai rocket fire last April. There he said it was up to Thailand to decide whether to pay compensation for the incident.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Sunday that Bangkok was unconcerned by Hun Sen’s trip, though he asserted his country’s claim to both the land surrounding Preah Vihear temple and to Oddar Meanchey province’s Tamone Thom temple, which Hun Sen reportedly plans to visit today.

“We have a normal procedure to receive the official visitors within our own area … so that should be the same as any other visit,” Panitan said.

Panitan declined to comment on Hun Sen’s invasion accusations, but said that should the Cambodian premier choose to visit Tamone Thom, a Thai delegation would be there to welcome him.

“I think when authorities are talking to a domestic audience, we will not comment on that, but our position is clear: Tamone Thom temple is on Thai territory,” he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said there was “no need for the Thai side to send anybody to welcome [Hun Sen] and his delegation”, and that Tamone Thom has long belonged to Cambodia.

“If [Thai officials] come as guests, the cabinet delegation led by Prime Minister Hun Sen may welcome them,” Koy Kuong said.

In a statement released on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected Thai claims to both Tamone Thom and the land surrounding Preah Vihear.

“It is very surprising and beyond comprehension that Thailand would consider sending a high-level official to welcome Samdech Techo Hun Sen, who is on a tour in the territory of Cambodia,” the statement read.

Also on Friday, Svay Sitha, chairman of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, wrote to Internet search engine Google to protest against maps appearing on the company’s mapping Web site that show Preah Vihear temple partially inside Thai territory.

Svay Sitha called the maps “devoid of truth and reality, and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious”. He asked the company to take down the maps in question and replace them with an “internationally recognised map” that places Preah Vihear exclusively in Cambodia.

Last month, attempting to prove the legality of opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s uprooting of border posts in Svay Rieng province on the Vietnamese frontier in October, the Sam Rainsy Party released information based in part on Google-hosted maps of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. These maps, the party argued, prove conclusively that the posts uprooted by Sam Rainsy had been placed on Cambodian territory.

Sam Rainsy, currently abroad, was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail in connection with the incident.

Google, in the terms of service for its mapping programme, says it “[makes] no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of any content or the products”.

US panel examines Kingdom’s China ties

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:05 Steve Hirsch


EXPERTS testifying before a US government panel on Thursday described China’s relationship with Cambodia as part of a broader effort to deepen its influence in mainland Southeast Asia, and cited the December deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers – which came two days before the two countries signed aid agreements worth US$1.2 billion – as proof that the effort was working.

Speaking before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Donald Weatherbee, a leading American scholar on international relations in Southeast Asia, said China’s “accelerating” economic penetration of Cambodia was “a prime example of ‘RMB diplomacy’”, a phrase that refers to the Chinese currency, the Renminbi.

“In China,” he said, “the government of Hun Sen has an enabler, not concerned with issues of human rights, corruption, environmental degradation, the rule of law and the other kinds of nontraditional and human security issues with which Cambodia’s US and other Western [Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum] partners are concerned.”

Referring to the December deportation, he said: “Although both countries deny any connection between the signing of the economic package and the extradition of the Uighurs, it is clear that Cambodia was not going to allow its obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention – to which it is a signatory – to put a shadow over the signing ceremony for the new agreements.”

The 12-member commission, established in 2000, submits an annual report to the US congress “on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between” the US and China, as well as providing “recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action”.

Members are appointed by leaders in the US senate and house of representatives.

The hearing on Thursday, titled “China’s Activities in Southeast Asia and the Implications for US Interests”, was its first of the year.

Catharin Dalpino of Georgetown University told the panel that it was increasingly possible to detect “an emerging Chinese sphere of influence” in mainland Southeast Asia, especially in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and to a lesser extent in Thailand and Vietnam.

She said China’s ties with mainland Southeast Asia had strengthened as the US, particularly under President George W Bush, focused on the region’s maritime countries, a trend she attributed in part to American emphasis on counterterrorism.

She also said that China was “adept” at exploiting differences in US and Chinese policies with respect to human rights and the promotion of democracy, citing Cambodia as an example.

“In Cambodia, when the West criticised Prime Minister Hun Sen for his part in the 1997 rupture of the government coalition, it put Beijing’s relations with the prime minister on a new, more positive footing,” she said, referring to the factional fighting between Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec.

Bronson Percival, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic Studies at the nonprofit research company CNA, said ties between Cambodia and China were in part linked to defence agreements, calling China the “main patron” for the militaries in Cambodia and Laos.

However, he added, “Despite speculation that China would like to eventually develop a naval base along Cambodia’s coast, these security relationships are limited to the usual array of visits, training, and the transfer of unsophisticated Chinese military equipment.” China has reportedly been interested in establishing naval bases in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand to protect shipping supply routes.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong on Sunday took issue with some of the experts’ assertions, notably the attempt to link the Uighur deportation with the economic assistance agreements. He said, as he has previously, that the Uighurs were deported for no other reason than that they had entered the country illegally and without documentation.

“No, it is not related to each other,” Koy Kuong said. “The relationship between Cambodia and China is apart from the deportation of the Uighurs.

The Uighurs in Cambodia were illegal immigrants, and Cambodia implemented the Immigration Law against them because they were illegal.”

He also said that Cambodia’s relationship with China was no different from its relationships with other countries that give economic assistance.

“Cambodia is a sovereign state, and China is also a sovereign state, and no one has influence over the other,” he said. “We treat each other equally.”

The US and Chinese embassies both declined to comment on Sunday.


DJ Cambodia Aims To Export Sugar, Attract Foreign Firms -Report
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02/07/2010 09:52 PM ET

SINGAPORE, Feb 07, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Cambodia is launching a bid to cut its reliance on sugar imports and to turn the country into a net exporter by attracting investment from Thai sugar mills, the Bangkok Post reported Monday.

The country is offering 90-year concessions for sugar cane plantation areas of up to 20,000 hectares each to attract foreign investors, the newspaper reported.

Cambodia witnessed the start of operations last month of its first sugar mill in 40 years. The investor in the plant was Thailand's fourth-largest sugar producer, Khon Kaen Sugar Industry PCL (KSL.TH), which has a similar plant in Laos.

U.K.-based food and industrial ingredients maker Tate & Lyle has signed a five-year contract to buy all of KSL's output in Cambodia and Laos, the newspaper said.

Newspaper Web site:

-By Helen Sun, Dow Jones Newswires; (65) 6415-4086;

Dow Jones Newswires

Meeting highlights plight of refugees

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:05 David Boyle and Tharum Bun

A CONFERENCE highlighting the plight of Khmer Krom, Uighur and Hmong refugees held Friday in Rome has drawn international attention to ongoing problems faced by a group of Khmer Krom refugees in Cambodia.

Human rights groups, activists and foreign dignitaries attended the conference organised by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), which came two months after 24 Khmer Krom seeking asylum in Thailand were deported to Cambodia after fleeing alleged persecution in Vietnam.

The 24 Khmer Krom refugees still have not been granted identity documents by the Cambodian government, which prevents them from working or renting apartments, the group’s representative, Thach Soong, said Sunday.

He said the conference was exactly the type of exposure he had been trying to get from the international community, but he said he held little hope that the asylum seekers would be granted full citizenship.

“I’ve lost my hope of getting citizenship now as it has been more than two months,” he said. “Although the authorities visited us, gathered information about our group and took our photos, they only did this so the UN would stop pressuring them.”

Sous Sarin, chief of Boeung Tumpun commune, where the Khmer Krom are staying, said he had looked into their case but wasn’t responsible for granting citizenship documents.

Government officials have previously said the constitution grants all Khmer Krom the right to live in Cambodia.

Minorities to get land titles

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Kim Yuthana

AUTHORITIES will offer land titles to ethnic minority groups living in a community in Mondulkiri province, officials said, renewing a push to establish land rights in the wake of a partnership with international donors that fizzled out last year amid questions about its effectiveness.

“Our officers will ... begin land registration to provide land titles to people from ethnic minority communities,” Minister of Land Management Im Chhun Lim said Thursday.

Work will begin today on issuing land titles to more than 100 families in Mondulkiri’s Andoung Kraleung community in O’Raing district, said Beng Ren, director of the province’s department of land management. The move will mark the first time ethnic minority communities in the province have received land titles under the government’s programme of systematic registration, she said. Most of the families in the community are ethnic Phnong and Kreung.

“We are providing land titles to the community so that they can have documentation,” Beng Ren said Sunday. “If they had no documents, maybe they could have faced evictions.”

However, rights groups said authorities still have a long way to go in ensuring land rights, particularly for ethnic minority groups.

“It’s a problem for ethnic minorities in this province. Many of them don’t understand the importance of land titling,” said Hai Thy, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc in Mondulkiri. “The government should try to educate ethnic minority groups about the importance of land titles.”

In September, the government announced it had ended its partnership with the World Bank on a long-standing land-titling project because it came with “too many conditions”.

The Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), which began in 2002, was meant to ease land conflicts. But critics said the programme failed to protect the most vulnerable communities, particularly the urban poor living on highly coveted land that was earmarked for development.

Despite the criticisms, however, Nonn Pheany, a ministry spokeswoman, said the government had managed to issue 1.3 million land titles since the programme’s inception in 2002, including 228,000 land titles distributed last year.

Police probe alleged RCAF threats

Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

POLICE are investigating reports that an activist from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights received death threats from members of an army unit in Kampot’s Chumkiri district, officials said Sunday.

On Thursday, 40-year-old Prum Piseth said that soldiers had threatened to kill him after he photographed them cutting down fruit trees on disputed land.

Commune police chief Teth Bunnos said Sunday that police were looking for suspects in the case, but declined to say whether any had been identified.

Prum Piseth’s allegations came just a few days after Mam Nang, who was among a group of villagers who filed a court complaint against the army unit, accused its members of threatening to rape and kill her after she caught them cutting down her fruit trees.

Tension between soldiers and villagers has been simmering in villages across Chumkiri district’s Chres commune since 2001, with representatives of more than 300 families claiming to have lived on the land for decades, and soldiers claiming it was given to them by their former commander.

“I would like to stress that it is uncertain who is the owner of the land, whether it belongs to people or soldiers, because before soldiers arrived on the site the land was forest, and then people started clearing the land for settling and farming,” Teth Bunnos said.

Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said Sunday he was unaware of the alleged threats but vowed to look into them and intervene if necessary.

“I haven’t yet been informed about such encroachment and violation, but if it is true, they really made a big mistake and also went against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s speech, which told military officials to refrain from illegal land-grabbing during a conference at the Ministry of Defence,” he said, referring to remarks made late last month.

Prum Piseth said that although no encroachment or threats have been reported since Thursday, he remains afraid for his life because the soldiers had threatened to “kill me next time after failing to kill me this time”.

None of the four soldiers named by Prum Piseth could be reached for comment, nor could their commander.

Investigation of advocate set to restart

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

THE stalled investigation of a prominent human rights activist in Ratanakkiri province will recommence later this month, provincial judge Thor Saron said Sunday.

Pen Bonnar, acting Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc, is facing possible incitement charges along with Adhoc investigator Chhay Thy in connection with a November 2007 land dispute in the province involving the DM Group, which is developing a rubber plantation. Pen Bonnar was removed from his Ratanakkiri post in July of last year to avoid the charges, but returned last month despite the looming threat of legal action against him.

Thor Saron, who threatened both Pen Bonnar and Radio Free Asia journalist Ratha Visal in September with disinformation charges for accusing him of corruption, said his investigation would go forward despite facing continual delays.

“I will renew my investigation of incitement by the Adhoc provincial coordinator and his investigator at the end of February,” Thor Saron said, chalking up delays to a busy schedule.

“I cannot predict when the investigation will be completed, but once it is completed, it will be sent to a trial judge to schedule a trial date against the men,” Thor Saron added.

Pen Bonnar said he was unconcerned about the investigation, noting the statements of support he has received in relation to the case from the UN and other organisations.

“We have abided by the law from the beginning to end without inciting people,” he said.

“The people themselves sought intervention from local authorities to keep DM Group from encroaching on their land, but that failed, so they turned to our organisation for help.”

In October, the Ministry of Justice launched its own investigation of Thor Saron, after he was accused of using a pickup truck confiscated as evidence in an unrelated murder case.

However, it was ruled that the judge’s behaviour did not warrant punitive action, a decision that rights groups said set a “horrible precedent”.

Villagers threaten to continue protests against electricity rates

Photo by: Uy NouSereimony
Kandal province residents are diverted while en route to a planned protest over electricity prices at the offices of the provincial government last Thursday.

via CAAI News Media

Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Mom Kunthear

MORE THAN 300 Kandal province villagers, involved in a pricing dispute with their local electricty supplier, said they will have no choice but to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh after failing to secure their demands at a Friday meeting with the district governor and officials from the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC).

Kandal Stung district authorities called the three-way meeting following a February 4 incident in which 200 villagers from two communes in the district tried to stage a protest in front of Kandal provincial headquarters but were soon turned away by police.

Representatives of the local power provider, the Chhay Neng Company, were not included in the meeting.

“We stated firmly that we did not intend to pay our electric bills until the price was reduced from 1,700 riels (US$0.40) per kilowatt-hour to 1,100 riels,” said villagers’ representative Yev Sophat.

“Unless the authorities resolve this matter fairly, we will go on to protest in front of the prime minister’s house,” he said.

Yev Sophat said the villagers came to the meeting with three demands: the reduction in price, the right to pay outstanding bills at the new lower price and the replacement of a 5-ampere current with a 10-ampere current.

The only concession given to villagers on Friday was the change in amperage, he said.

Choie Sobin, Kandal Stung district governor, said the EAC had not reached a final decision on the issue and was still deliberating.

Diarrhoea deaths lead to hygiene campaign

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:04 Sen David and Kim Yuthana

THE Ministry of Health has launched a nationwide sanitation and hygiene awareness campaign following a series of deaths across the country caused by diarrhoea, officials said Sunday.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of the ministry’s Communicable Diseases Control Department, said that as part of the campaign, which began on Saturday, officials had been stationed on the ground in every province to treat cases of diarrhoea.

He said that diarrhoea is of particular concern during the dry season because people are driven to drink unsanitary water.

“We are concerned about diarrhoea this month, and for this campaign we have scattered expert officers to all 24 provinces in Cambodia,” he said.

An 11-year-old boy in Ratanakkiri province died after a bout of diarrhoea last Thursday, and another person died of diarrhoea and vomiting the following day, said Pon Pun, the chief of Lonk Khon commune in Borkeo district, where the deaths occurred.

A series of reports of diarrhoea and suspected cholera cases have recently sprung up in Prey Veng, Takeo and Kandal provinces. Cholera is a diarrhoeal disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium.

Oun Sundet, deputy director of the Baphnom district heath centre in Prey Veng, said Sunday that five of six people who were reported stricken with diarrhoea last week had been successfully treated.

“I think that most of them are unhygienic in general and eat food without washing their hands,” he said, adding that the authorities needed to better educate people about hygiene.

Ly Sovann said authorities were also concerned about a potential cholera outbreak, but he said he could not confirm whether any cases had been detected, and he also could not provide specific information on the number of diarrhoea cases reported nationwide.

World Health Organisation country representative Pieter van Maaren said he also did not have data on the total number of diarrhoea cases, but he said that outbreaks during the dry season were common.

“I think it is pretty much a seasonal diarrhoea. It happens frequently in the drier seasons of the year when water is sparse and people resort to using unsafe water for drinking and cooking,” he said.


PREAH VIHEAR: Stop illegal loggers, PM tells troops

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea


PRIME Minister Hun Sen warned Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) troops not to engage in illegal logging and encouraged them to stamp out the practice during a visit to the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple on Saturday. “Do not log – help to crack down on illegal loggers. This is a strict order for all soldiers here to defend the forest,” Hun Sen said. “There are 50 bad soldiers who have made 30,000 soldiers lose reputation. Therefore, all troops and military officers must join to crack down on the dishonest group, including its commanders.” Hun Sen also called on the RCAF to secure the Thai-Cambodian border, where the local rights group Adhoc says 11 Cambodians have been killed by Thai soldiers while logging illegally across the border in the past 13 months. Soldiers “must try to stop people who cross into Thailand to log their wood”, Hun Sen said, calling on commanders to redouble their efforts.

Alleged acid attack victim due in court

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Tep Nimol And Mom Kunthear

A young man targeted early last month in an alleged acid attack will demand US$30,000 from his attacker when he appears with his lawyer in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, the man’s employer and self-appointed “representative” said on Sunday.

The new compensation figure is three times what 22-year-old Hor Tin demanded of his attacker, Lim Soma, in out-of-court negotiations which began several days after the January 4 incident. Lim Soma’s rejection of the initial $10,000 demand compelled Hor Tin’s employer, Kea Sokheang – whose personal dispute with Lim Soma prompted the attack – to bring the compensation dispute back to court.

Proceedings in the case were delayed, however, after Kea Sokheang and Hor Tin each failed to comply with a number of summonses for questioning issued by the court in subsequent weeks, most recently on February 5.

The latest summons was issued after deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot roundly rejected Kea Sokheang’s argument that his employee, Hor Tin, was unfit to appear in court himself because he was “illiterate”. On Wednesday, the deputy prosecutor said he was growing frustrated with Hor Tin’s repeated absences and that the case would be dropped if the young man did not provide the court with evidence.

Lim Soma appeared in court late last month to reiterate her claim that although she poured a liquid on Hor Tin, it was tooth whitener used in her dental practice and not acid.

Kea Soheang said, however, that on Monday the victim’s lawyer would “bring video footage and photographs taken after the attack as well as doctor’s prescriptions” in order to prove the veracity of his claim.

There were six recorded acid attacks in Cambodia last month and at least five last December, prompting government officials to reconsider legislation that would strictly regulate the sale of acid and apply stiff punishments to perpetrators of acid attacks.

Police Blotter: 8 Feb 2009

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:02 Phak Seangly

Military police detained at least four drunk men in Banteay Meanchey province after the group was accused of attacking a close friend following an argument, a military police commander said. The row was fuelled by a drinking session, the officer said. The 20-year-old victim of the attack told police he and his friends had been completely drunk and started mocking one other. The commander said the accused men would be sent to provincial court.

A 21-year-old student who happens to be the nephew of a district police official in Battambang province has been accused of delivering illegal drugs. The student was arrested Wednesday. Police say the man bought drugs from Pailin town, then resold the dope to addicts living in his home district, where his uncle serves as the deputy chief of police. Police say the man confessed to the crime.

Police in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district arrested a local man after they found several different kinds of fake medicine during a search of his home Wednesday. The raid was launched following a complaint from a medicine manufacturer, local police said. Similar counterfeit medicine was also found in five pharmacies around Chamkarmon district. Police said the actions last week were part of a wider crackdown on local pharmacies and houses.

Police in Kampong Cham province raided a suspected brothel Wednesday following complaints from local villagers that sex services were being offered at the alleged bordello. The raid on the suspected house of ill-repute led to the arrest of two women described as procuresses. Police also arrested 13 prostitutes, but they were later released. Investigators say the procuresses confessed to opening the brothel last year and taking a 50 percent cut of the profit from each visitor. Police said such businesses cause social disorder and degrade Khmer culture.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has sentenced a 35-year-old man to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of attempting to rape a prostitute. Three other men also received identical sentences in absentia. The defendant had said that the woman agreed to have sex with him.

Police brace for rise in crashes over Chinese New Year holiday

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
An ambulance arrives after people injured in a crash were taken from the scene on Sunday.

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear

THE government and traffic safety activists are bracing for an expected surge in accidents during Chinese New Year, a time that typically sees the roads become more perilous as Phnom Penh residents head to the provinces to celebrate.

The NGO Handicap International Belgium has this year produced an hourlong “talk show” that will air on Thursday at 6:30pm to warn viewers about the dangers of driving during the three-day celebrations, said Amra Ou, the organisation’s Road Crash and Victim Information System officer.

“Most drivers are not careful during the celebrations,” Amra Ou said. “There are many people driving on those days, and police can’t catch everyone, so people don’t care about wearing helmets, and they don’t respect the law.”

She noted that the highest concentrations of traffic accidents typically occur during Khmer New Year, Pchhum Ben and Water Festival, but added that Chinese New Year, which this year begins on February 14, comes close.

Last year, she said, HIB recorded more than 2,000 traffic casualties during Chinese New Year, including 156 deaths and 773 serious injuries.

Him Yan, director of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Public Order, said Sunday that he had recently emphasised to police the importance of enforcing the Land Traffic Law during the holiday.

“I have informed all Traffic Police in the different provinces to reinforce the law during Chinese New Year because many people leave the city to travel to the provinces,” he said.

Swine Flu: Third case of H1N1 found in Mondulkiri

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Swine Flu

A 14-year-old schoolboy in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom town has been diagnosed with the A(H1N1) influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu, raising the tally for the province to three, a provincial health official said Sunday. Lek Sovannarath, director of Mondulkiri’s communicable disease control office, said Sunday that the boy had been hospitalised in Mondulkiri provincial hospital for a week. The test results from Phnom Penh’s Pasteur Institute came back on Friday, he said. Though there have been just two other cases in the province, Lek Sovannarath said provincial health officials “should not be imprudent” in their fight against the disease, adding that they would continue to instruct villagers to wear masks. Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Sunday that he had not received any information on the Mondulkiri case. He said there had been 557 cases of swine flu, leading to six fatalities, between June 2009 and the end of January.

Pouk vendors face deadline

Photo by: Rann Reuy
A vendor sells chicken at a market in Pouk district in Siem Reap province. Vendors who have positioned their stalls in front of the market are set to be evicted on Wednesday.


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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:03 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap Province

POLICE on Sunday told vendors who operate stalls in front of Pouk market in Siem Reap province that they must leave on Wednesday, setting a new deadline for an eviction that was delayed by a protest last month.

Local officials told the vendors in late January that they would need to leave because they were creating a nuisance for customers and vendors with stalls inside the market, and because they had positioned their stalls too close to a national road. But a protest on January 27 led officials to delay the eviction.

Y Kun, a 38-year-old vendor in one of the affected stalls, said four policemen visited the vendors on Sunday with papers for them to thumbprint if they were willing to move to a new site.

“They told us to thumbprint the paper if we wanted to move,” she said. “And if we do not move, after February 10 the vendors will be responsible for the fees of tearing down the stalls.”

She added: “I am worried, but I will have to see what happens on February 10.”

Another vendor, 40-year-old Y Doung, said that he had been approached by police officers on Thursday, and that he and other vendors had refused to thumbprint the papers.

“We asked for the right to sell here for a long time. For forever,” he said.

Nim Sarath, deputy police chief in Pouk district, said he could not comment on the impending eviction because it fell under the jurisdiction of the district governor, Pech Sokhalay, who could not be reached.

Nhong Sakhan, the district cabinet chief, said he believed the deadline had been fixed during a meeting on February 3, despite the fact that many vendors had requested the right to sell at least until after Chinese New Year, which ends on February 16.

He said officials were concerned about how the vendors would be affected by the eviction, but he described this as a “short-term impact”, adding that they would still be able to sell the products if there was sufficient demand for them.

“There will be a serious impact on the roasted chicken vendors during Chinese New Year, but these are only about 10 vendors,” he added.

New centre opens for capital’s street children

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Street children receive a free breakfast at the newly opened Kitchen for Children in Chamkarmon district.

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear and Tep Nimol

A NEW centre for street children has been providing breakfast for more than 100 youngsters daily since opening its doors in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district last week, its director said Sunday.

Ngauv Chhiv, director of the Kitchen for Children, said the centre caters to children who are orphaned or are from poor families, all of whom live or work on the streets and are rarely able to eat breakfast or access basic healthcare.

“My centre opened a breakfast service for all street children, and they also have the chance to take a shower, read books and have a health check before they go to work,” he said.

Though the centre currently serves only breakfast and closes at midday, Ngauv Chhiv said its services would be extended to include other meals if it can secure the necessary funding.

Ngauv Chhiv said children aged between 2 and 14 typically begin arriving at 6:30am for a breakfast of rice, noodles, soup and fruit. “I provide them with breakfast because I think that it is the best meal for all people to have energy to work,” he said, adding that he was not aware of any other organisations currently providing this service for street children in Phnom Penh.

Ngauv Chhiv said the centre also offers morning classes educating street children about how to stay safe and “to be a good person” because the children’s parents are either absent or too busy working to advise them. “After they finish eating, we also teach them how to protect themselves from bad things such as thieves, rape and HIV/AIDS,” he said. “I do that because I am afraid of them walking the wrong way; they will easily become bad people if we don’t help them when they are still young.”

Street children make up perhaps the most vulnerable population group in the capital. According to the 2007 Street Children Profile from the NGO Friends International, there are between 1,000 and 1,500 children living on the streets, and up to 20,000 children working on the streets in Phnom Penh.

Phoung Kiri, 24, a cook at the Kitchen for Children, said Sunday that she understands how difficult life is for street children because she was orphaned as a young child herself. “I really pity them when I see their faces, and it pushes me to help them and want to cook for them without feeling tired,” she said.

Yuon: What’s in a xenonym?

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Monday, 08 February 2010 15:02 Sophal Ear

A version of this article first appeared in Vietnamese in the online journal Talawas (Autumn 2009)

Someone once said, “To understand others, you must first understand yourself.” We believe that understanding the Khmer language alone and living in Cambodia is necessary but not sufficient to truly open up the Khmer soul to non-Khmers. Khmerness is speaking the language, understanding Khmer idioms, appreciating Khmer jokes and their nuances, and enjoying Khmer music and poetry. It is a feeling that resonates with Khmer people living in Cambodia. Being Khmer should not be synonymous with Pol Pot. The actions that Pol Pot committed are complete anathema to the Khmer soul. A Khmer is someone who is proud of the civilization that Angkor has left as its legacy.

The Khmer have lived under threat of extinction (perhaps even saved by French colonialism), and who have witnessed the disappearance of Khmer territory to their powerful neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand. This is the context within which we write.

As Ronnie Yimsut has elaborated in a 2005 online essay: “These [invader] perceptions about Vietnam are also quite valid, historically speaking. The so-called Kampuchea Krom (area in … southern Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong delta region), and the former “Kingdom of Champa” (area in northern Vietnam) are two historical examples of successful Vietnamese annexation and expansionism.”

Pol Kang wrote in a 2004 article, “During the period 1813-15, Vietnamese perpetrated the infamous massacre known to every Khmer as prayat kompup te ong. It involved the most barbarous torture technique, in which the Khmer were buried alive up to their neck. Their heads were used as the stands for a wood stove to boil water for the Vietnamese masters.

Let us consider only the issue of language and the word used by Cambodians for the people of Vietnam: yuon. This remains a bone of contention because many non-Khmer have argued that the word is fundamentally racist in common parlance.

The word yuon may have come from the word yueh, what the Mandarin Chinese call Vietnam, yueh nam. The word nam means south in Chinese. Yueh indicates the name of the people of that region. Therefore, yueh means Viet or Vietnamese in Chinese, and yueh nam means the yueh people of the south. In this case, south means south of China. South Vietnam pronounces it yeaknam.

Chou Ta-Kuan (Zhou Daguan), the celebrated Chinese ambassador to Cambodia in the 13th century, indicated in his report that there was already a large population of Chinese settling in Cambodia at that time. He said that the Chinese preferred life in the Khmer Empire because it was easier than in China. There were a lot of Chinese men marrying the native Cambodian women. The word yuon may have derived from the Chinese word yueh to indicate the Vietnamese.

George Coedes, an expert on Southeast Asia, found evidence of the word yuon inscribed in Khmer on a stele dating to the time of the Khmer King Suryavarman I (1002-1050). Adhémar Leclère, a colonial French governor of Cambodia who lived there 25 years, used the word yuon throughout his book Histoire du Cambodge depuit le 1er siècle de notre ère (Librairie Paul Geuthner, 1914: 99, 413, 432, 434, 435, and 469).

While yuon has been equated with the word “savage” by David Roberts in a 2002 article for the Washington Times, in fact, the word savage in Cambodian translates to pourk prey or phnong (which unfortunately also refers to an ethnic hill tribe minority living in Cambodia). Cambodians call Vietnamese yuon the same way they call Indian khleung, Burmese phoumea, French barang and Chinese chen. These are all xenonyms and Khmer transliterations.

When the Vietnamese sometimes call Khmer people ngoi mien (when they should use ngoi campuchia), this is inaccurate because the word mien is the name for a minority group that is not ethnically Khmer. According to the Mien Network (, “The Mien are a sub-group of the Yao in China, and they originated from Southwest China. According to 1995 population figures published by the Tribal Research Institute of Chiang Mai, there are over 40,000 Mien living in 173 villages in Northern Thailand. Larger numbers are found in Laos (85,000) and Vietnam (474,000), with the majority still in China. According to the 1990 census, there are about 2.1 million Yao living in China.”

Thus, it would be like saying of an Englishman that he is Basque. The geography is completely off, but the possible connotation may be of a nation without a state. In the late 17th century, the Vietnamese court of Hue changed the names of the Cambodian princesses Ang Mei, Ang Pen, Ang Peou and Ang Snguon to the Vietnamese-sounding names of Ngoc-van, Ngoc-bien, Ngoc-tu, and Ngoc-nguyen, respectively. Phnom Penh is also known in Vietnamese as Nam Vang. Indeed, our venerated Phnom Penh noodles are otherwise advertised in Vietnamese as heu tiev nam vang.

Moreover, while we call Chao Doc and Saigon (what is now HCMC) Mot Chrouk and Prey Nokor, respectively, this is the equivalent phenomenon in use when it comes to the word yuon, that of a xenonym in current use.

We surmise that confusion over the word yuon arises from the fact that the word Vietnam(ese) exists. The misunderstanding is that for Khmer people to opt for using the word yuon instead of the word Vietnam(ese) gives non-Khmer the impression that we are racists. To say this would be the equivalent of saying that anyone who uses the word Cambodian instead of Khmer is racist.

When we speak in Khmer, it is very awkward and does not sound right to the ear to use the word Vietnam, and even less so Vietnamese.

However, when we speak in English or French, it is more natural to use the word Vietnamese or Vietnamien, and it would become awkward to use the word yuon.

For example, if we want to say that “fishermen are mostly Vietnamese”, and both words, yuon and Vietnamese, are used in a Khmer sentence, the result would be as follows: pourk neak nisart trey keu chreun tè youn, or pourk neak nisart trey keu chreun tè choun cheat vietnam. It therefore requires more syllables to use the word Vietnam to describe the Vietnamese because we have to say choun cheat vietnam (literally National of Vietnam) to describe a Vietnamese person. We cannot say pourk neak nisart trey keu chreun tè vietnam because Vietnam is a country. In Khmer, the word Vietnamese per se does not exist unless one uses the word yuon.

It is rare in the Khmer language to have a racist word attributed to different ethnic groups. However, this does not mean that salty language does not exist. To the contrary, when wishing to disrespect someone, we add an adjective “a” in front of the word that we intend to use. If we say a yuon, then it is a sign of disrespect, but not necessarily a racist remark. To be racist requires that the following words be used: a katop (equating a Vietnamese to a diaper), a gnieung (a probable play on the common Vietnamese family name Nguyen) or a sakei daung (equating a Vietnamese to a coconut husk). Some might compare the word yuon to the word “nigger”, but that is too strong and ahistorical a comparison. In any case, to have called someone in 1860 racist for using the word nigger would be historically inaccurate. These were conventions then, and evolved out of fashion later.

The only basis to this is when, during the Lon Nol period (Khmer Republic 1970-1975), yuon was indeed used in a derogatory fashion during attacks on Vietnamese people. Thus, the word took on a negative connotation in the 1970s and was allegedly banned in the 1980s when Cambodia was occupied by Vietnam. Sour Vietnamese soup, samlar machou yuon, became samlar machou vietnam, but reverted to its original name in the 1990s. Of course, the Khmer Rouge also used the word yuon, as when they characterised the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) as yuon-TAC, an agent of the Vietnamese-backed Cambodian People’s Party. But again, just because the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Republicans hijacked the word does not mean it must now be abandoned in everyday language.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ alone and do not represent the views of their employers or the US government.

Sophal Ear is an assistant professor of national security affairs in Monterey, California. Kenneth T So is an engineer and Khmer historian.