Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cambodian hotel is a poster child for responsible tourism

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By Michael Wuitchuk, For the Calgary Herald 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.

Found in a Cambodian jungle - but are they the remains of Errol Flynn's war photographer son?

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By Simon Parry and Thomas Maresca
27th March 2010

British adventurers have dug up what they believe to be the remains of the son of Hollywood legend Errol Flynn, who disappeared 40 years ago in one of the most enduring mysteries of the Vietnam War.

The expedition team had scoured the dense jungle in the remote north-east of Cambodia for months before unearthing bones and teeth.

Photojournalist Sean Flynn was just 28 when he disappeared in 1970 during a Time magazine assignment as the war spilled into Cambodia. It became one of the conflict's most celebrated mysteries, but it now seems clear that he was seized and executed by brutal rebel soldiers belonging to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.

Sean Flynn with his famous actor father Errol

His grieving mother Lili Damita, Errol Flynn's first wife, spent huge sums on failed expeditions to find Sean's body before she died in 1994.

Now, in a search part-funded by Sean's half-sister Rory, adventurers David MacMillan, a Scottish-born Australian, and Briton Keith Rotheram have unearthed the remains of an executed Westerner who they believe is Sean.

He was the image of his movie idol father, the star of films such as The Adventures Of Robin Hood. The remains include four well-preserved teeth, two of them still bright white.

They were handed over to US Embassy officials in Phnom Penh on Friday and are being flown to America for DNA tests and to be checked against Sean's dental records.

MacMillan, 29, and Rotheram, 60, hired bomb clearance experts, a bulldozer and teams of local workers to dig at a site where a witness described a tall, blond Westerner matching Sean's description being executed in 1971.

The witness said the man was forced to dig his own grave and then battered to death with a rock after his executioner's gun jammed as he tried to shoot his victim in the back of the head.

The finds at the site include prisoner's clothes, jungle vines used to tie up a prisoner, bone fragments and the teeth.

Sean, a war photographer, went missing during the Vietnam war in 1971

Sean was known for his excellent teeth and MacMillan said that an expert who studied photographs of the remains said they showed signs of dental work done in the US in the mid-20th Century, when Sean was a budding actor.

Previous theories about his disappearance – immortalised in the song Sean Flynn on The Clash's classic Combat Rock album – include execution by lethal injection in 1970.

But witnesses in the village of Phka Dong in Kampong Cham province, where the remains were found, said a man matching Sean's description was one of five foreigners held prisoner there by the Khmer Rouge until 1971.

According to the witness of the execution, who was a buffalo boy at the time and used to take baguettes and cigarettes to the prisoners, they were kept bound and chained and taken one at a time to execution sites near the village.

MacMillan, who lives in Vietnam, and Rotheram, who runs a bar in Sihanoukville in Cambodia, say that they have spent about £7,000 on their expedition.

In an email from the US, Sean's 53-year-old sister Rory, Errol Flynn's daughter from his second marriage to Nora Eddington, said: 'I grew up with Sean and also named my son after him, so we have hoped and prayed that his remains would be found.

Information came to me in the past year that motivated this private search and we hope that the person found is my brother so that he can finally come home.'

Cambodian woman arrested for theft


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During the evening of the 26th March, Chonburi Provincial Police announced the arrest of a Cambodian woman, apparently named Jun Bonsoe, for illegally living in Pattaya for many years and suspected of stealing many items from tourists valued at thousands of baht. Her arrest came about after a call from the owner of a beauty salon on Soi Day Night, South Pattaya, who notified the police that the woman came into her shop trying to sell notebooks and mobile phones. Thinking these might be stolen she called the police to check, whilst the woman was still in the shop. Her suspicions were correct, when police arrived at the scene; Bonsoe immediately panicked and tried to flee the shop. When asked for ID, she produced a Thai passport belonging to someone else. She was arrested and taken to the nearest police station where she confessed she was an illegal immigrant, living in Pattaya for many years. She earned her living as a street prostitute and stealing from tourists. Later, police went to her lodgings and discovered a treasure trove of stolen merchandise, including laptops, expensive watches, gold jewelry, mobile phones and cameras, all taken from many male tourists, who unwittingly took her back to their hotels where she drugged and robbed them with a cocktail of sleeping pills and chloroform. She was charged with theft and illegal entry into the kingdom, and now faces arraignment in court before being deported back to Cambodia.

Border markers with Cambodia erected

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March, 27 2010

TAY NINH — The Vietnamese and Cambodian Governments yesterday started work on planting eight border markers between the two countries.

The markers will be built from Mark No 80 in Tay Ninh Province's Tan Hoa Commune, which is contiguous with Kampong Cham Province's Caro Vien Commune of Cambodia.

Tay Ninh has determined 51 border mark locations in the province so far, 21 of which border with Kampong Cham Province. Thirteen of them have been planted.

After the groundbreaking ceremony, the border marking steering committees of the two provinces held a conference to assess the demarcation and marker planting process.

The two parties said the difficult terrain was the main problem during the process as there was no vehicle access to some of the border mark locations.

Both countries plan to complete the officially marked border in 2011 and the legal documents in 2012.

The two provinces' border marking steering committees have agreed to continue co-operating closely. They will provide assistance to the border marking teams and information to local residents about the importance of the work. — VNS

Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal – Saturday, 27.3.2010
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Posted on 28 March 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“Phnom Penh: During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.

“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.

“Samdech Hun Sen regards the interception campaign against illegal wood trading as a thunderstorm campaign, not a pleasant light drizzle.

“Also, Samdech Hun Sen knows that those who use to do such wood trading are backed by high ranking officials, but this time, no matter how high their positions are, they will be jailed.

“Samdech Hun Sen seriously warned some high ranking officials to withdraw from this business, because now the thunderstorm comes.

“He gave similar orders regarding the campaign to crack down on gambling sites and on drugs. All authorities must remember also the order to persecute the car owners that stick light black plastic foils on the inside of their car windows to conceal [who, or what is going on inside].

“Therefore, 2010 is a bad year for forestry crimes, for all kinds of gambling, and for cars which blackened windows.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010
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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thailand protesters try to oust army from streets

A protester and supporter of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra kisses and thanks a soldier for retreating from a temporary base in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, March 27, 2010. Thousands of protesters marched to seven temporary bases comprising schools and temples and demanded soldiers to abandon their bases and return to their barracks.

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Mar 27, 2010

BANGKOK - Protesters in Thailand claimed a symbolic victory Saturday after forcing soldiers to retreat from parts of Bangkok's historic district, raising tensions in what so far has been a nonviolent bid to bring down the government.

Riding motorcycles and piled into pickup trucks, more than 60,000 red-shirted protesters clogged traffic and traveled in a noisy parade to the Bangkok zoo, Buddhist temples and a half dozen other locations being used by soldiers as temporary camps.

"We will storm the places where soldiers camp out. We'll shake the fence. We'll cut the barbed wire. We'll march through the barricades. We'll march for democracy!" a leader of the "Red Shirt" protesters, Nattawut Saikua, shouted to the crowd. "This is where we'll end military suppression. This is where we'll create democracy."

Soldiers at several locations packed their duffels and left to avoid clashes, drawing raucous cheers from the protesters. Authorities said the soldiers would regroup at other locations nearby.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Kampong Speu villagers To Be Released

Saturday, 27 March 2010 03:59 DAP-NEWS

Two villagers from Omlang Commune in Kampong Speu province are going to be released on Monday next week after intervention from Soy Sopheap, DAP News Cambodia General-Director.

Over 700 villagers gathered to block traffic on National Road 4 near Kampong Speu Town Hall causing traffic jams. The villagers dispersed as Soy Sopheap vowed to coordinate the release of two village representatives detained on March 24, 2010 for attempting to burn the company’s offices in connection with a land dispute.

After instructions from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Soy Sopheap promised villagers the two representatives would be freed on Monday next week.

It is still unclear how the land dispute itself will be resolved. Villagers have asked that an adequate response be forthcoming from the private company of Ly Yong Phat, a Cambodian senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

One protestor, Phal Vanntak, said he was happy Soy Sopheap was able to secure the release of the two villagers.

Kampong Speu Provincial General Secretary Van Sokha said that it is the protestors’ right to rally. He said the authorities would solve the dispute and not permit any company to encroach illegally on villagers’ land.

Cambodia to Send Troops to Lebanon

Saturday, 27 March 2010 03:58 DAP-NEWS

A source close to the Ministry of National Defence said on Friday that Cambodia plans to send 217 soldiers to Lebanon in the Middle East to join a humanitarian UN peacekeeping mission.

The source did not know when the troops will be sent to Lebanon but source said that the UN officials will come to inspect and orient the troops for Lebanon March 29-31, and that UN officials may help Cambodia with human resources training. The Cambodian troops need to have English-language proficiency.

Chum Socheat, Defence Ministry spokesman, told DAP News Cambodia that Cambodia and the UN signed an MoU on cooperation and UN peacekeeping framework. He said another 139 troops would will depart in April to work in humanitarian affairs in Chad and Central Africa, one group for engineering and another for demining.

Japan Provides US$180,000 to Local Authorities

Friday, 26 March 2010 02:58 DAP-NEWS

Under Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, an economic cooperation framework, the Japanese government has agreed to provide a total of US$185,010 to three organizations in Cambodia, a press release from the Japanese embassy said on Thursday.

The grant contracts were signed today between Ambassador Extraord- inary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Cambodia Koroki Masafumi and representatives of the organizations.

A bridge in Teuk Phos District, Kam- pong Chhnang Province will receive US$84,336; the Cheap Commune Council in Teuk Phos District, Kampong Chhnang Province will construct a concrete bridge for the replacement of an old and rotten wooden bridge, which has been repaired several times by the commune council. The new concrete bridge will provide community access throughout the year and around 5,000 villagers are expected to benefit.

The second project to receive funds is Improving Mother and Child Health in Kampong Thom Referral Hospital, which will get US$23,426. The Provincial Health Department will use the money to improve mother and child health (MCH) facilities, and construct one post-delivery ward and roofs for the MCH Education space in Kampong Thom Referral Hospital. “This project will provide appropriate care after delivery to mothers and infants and MCH education to mothers and their families. Approximately 63,000 people in the region will be able to access and utilize public MCH service,” said the embassy statement.

A third Project to construct a Science and Mathematics Laboratory in Prey Veng Provincial Teacher Training Center is allocated US$77,248. The Prey Veng Provincial Teacher Training Center will construct a science and mathematics laboratory for 326 trainees, who will be primary school teachers in Prey Veng province. Approximately 180,000 students in Prey Veng province are expected to receive improved education from the teachers. In addition, the laboratory will be also used for lecturer training in JICA technical cooperation projects.

Japan’s Kusanone Grant Assistance started in Cambodia in 1991 in order to support Cambodia’s reconstruction and development efforts at the grassroots level. The assistance is aimed at protecting vulnerable individuals from such poverty and misfortunes that directly threaten their lives, livelihood and dignity, as well as at promoting self-reliance of local communities. Since 1991, the government of Japan has provided over US$44.7 million for local authorities and non-governmental orga -nizations to implement 439 projects throughout the country.

Rainsy: VN Border Markers Cost Cambodian Land

Friday, 26 March 2010 02:57 DAP-NEWS

Cambodian Opposition Party Leader Sam Rainsy on Thursday maintained that border markers around Kosh Kbal Kandal village, Samrong Commune, Chantrea District, Svay Rieng province is within the internationally recognized Cambodia -Vietnam border, a claim that suggests Cambodia has lost land to Vietnam.

Speaking via video link from France, he claimed that border markers 184, 185, 186, 187 and others are located between 300 to 500 meters in Cambodian territory.

The accusation was strongly rejected by Cambodian Government officials. Tith Sothea said that Sam Rainsy’s allegations are just an old, oft-repeated story, but said that the Cambodian Govern-ment will still take action against him.

“If Sam Rainsy have enough map documents, he should bring to the court in the upcoming days,” Tith Sothea told DAP News Cambodia. “All his words are useless.”

Var Kimhong, the head of the Cambodian Border Committee, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Sam Rainsy yesterday called on the Cambodian Government to release two villagers imprisoned by the Svay Rieng Provincial Court for pulling out border markers with Rainsy on October 25, 2009. Sam Rainsy was sentenced to two years in jail and fined nearly 60 million riel in the same case.

Change of focus leads Lims to close Bico’s

Photo by: Kevin Hervert, Kearney Hub
Boulee Lim, owner and manager of Bico's Cafe, shoots pool in the bar. Lim, who is closing Bico's after Sunday, has two live bands and a hip-hop vs. rock "battle" scheduled for the final weekend of business.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

By KEVIN HERVERT Hub Staff Writer

KEARNEY — Historic Bico’s Café will go out of business after Sunday.

Boulee Lim, co-owner and manager of Bico’s Café, said he is concentrating on balancing family with the family business.

“I’m starting a family,” Boulee, 29, said. He and his wife, Linda, expect a son June 23.

Boulee Lim opened Delight Donuts at 324 Third Ave. in January 2006. Boulee’s uncle owns Delight Donuts in Lexington. Boulee’s parents, Khim and Hong K. Lo, will open a third Delight Donuts in Norfolk by the end of April.

Khim Lim and his wife Hong K. Lo purchased Bico’s Sept. 29, 2005.

“Economics were slowing down a little bit,” Boulee said. He said business at Bico’s turned mediocre after the 30th Avenue overpass closed.

Construction began March 15 on sewer, water and street pavement projects that could leave the 30th Avenue overpass closed until at least September. That main traffic artery is a block east of Bico’s.

“It was pivotal to our decision,” Boulee said.

Boulee plans to go out with a party with live music this weekend. Tonight (Saturday night), a rock band will “battle” with a hip-hop group.

Boulee managed the business as a restaurant and sports bar and kept the Bico’s Café name.

The Lims have had business ties to Kearney since 1990, when they opened the former Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant at 320 Third Ave.

Khim and Lo were born and raised in Cambodia and escaped The Killing Fields in 1979 by going to a refugee camp in Thailand and then moving to Fort Collins, Colo.

The communist guerilla group Khmer Rouge, which killed almost 2 million people from 1975-79 took power in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and forced all city dwellers into the countryside and labor camps.

After escaping Cambodia and arriving in the United States, Lim and Lo moved to California, where Lim worked at a Chinese restaurant from 1980-1984. The family then lived in Greeley, Colo., and North Platte where Lim operated his first Golden Dragon restaurant from 1984-1995. Lim also operated a jewelry store in Denver.

Lim and Lo still own the building and property in south Kearney where Golden Dragon was located.

Boulee Lim grew up in North Platte until his sophomore year of high school. He graduated from a Rhode Island high school and earned his degree in business management in 2004 from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Boulee previously owned a sports bar and grill called Jackrabbit Slims in Hamden, Conn., and a nightclub and disc jockey company called Next Step Promotions. He also operated three nightclubs in Connecticut and is an experienced caterer.

At Bico’s, he remodeled the west party room into a banquet facility.

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Thai PM: Stringent security law may be in place for Mekong summit

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BANGKOK, March 26 (TNA) - The government may decide to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the resort town of Hua Hin during the Mekong summit to be held there from April 2-5, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.

Mr Abhisit and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban left the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok where they have been staying during the Red Shirt mass protest to Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, about 200 kilometres southwest of Bangkok.

They travelled to inspect the venue of the First Mekong River Commission Summit, involving Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The prime minister said if it is necessary, the government may invoke the Internal Security Act to allow itself more flexibility in controlling the situation.

However, it will be evaluated again if it is needed. The government can control the situation at the moment, he said.

Mr Abhisit also said he did not ignore the parliament dissolution as demanded by the protesters. However, negotiation must be done step by step. Representatives of the two sides should find conclusion before being proposed to him, he said.

The Red Shirt protesters, many of whom are supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, began their demonstration in the capital on March 13. They want to topple the government, which they claim has no legitimacy to rule the country.

The government enforced the ISA in eight provinces including Bangkok and adjacent provinces from March 11 to 23 and later extended it to March 30 but reduced the areas to cover only Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan where Suvarnabhumi Airport is located.

The Red Shirts stormed last year's ASEAN summit in the seaside resort town of Pattaya on April 11 last year, forcing its cancellation.

Mr Abhisit also said he would consider again this week whether he would travel to visit Brunei and Bahrain April 29-31 or not. (TNA)

PM, Suthep rush back to Bangkok

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Published: 27/03/2010 at 11:39 AM
Online news: Breakingnews

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban left Hua Hin ahead of schedule on Saturday morning, returning to Bangkok to monitor the movements of anti-government protesters in the capital.

The premier and his deputy travelled to Prachuap Khiri Khan's Hua Hin district this morning to inspect the venue for the first Mekong River Commission (MRC) summit from April 2 to 6.

Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs, said national army chief Anupong Paojinda, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and the peacekeeping operations centre will help oversee security during the mass anti-government rally around different areas in Bangkok.

Deputy PM Suthep (left) and PM Abhisit

The plan of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to march to different areas of Bangkok could cause heavier traffic than usual, he said.

"I ask the red-shirts to gather in peace and not to close down the intersections because if they break the law the government will take legal action against UDD leaders since they are responsible for bringing people to the rally.

"Security personnel are not carrying weapons and I ask the demonstrators not to intimidate or pressure them.

"I would like to ask the general public to help look after the security personnel," Mr Suthep said.

The deputy premier said he believed there would be fewer protesters this weekend than last Saturday, but the government was prepared to deal with different situations.

There were no reports that the red-shirts will mobilise to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting, he said.

Meanwhile, the situation near the 11th Infantry Regiment was quiet, with only a few anti-government demonstrators around, as usual.

Cambodian party leaders meet secretary of CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee

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March 27, 2010

China and Cambodia on Friday agreed to further strengthen comprehensive partnership of cooperation as well as party exchanges.

Nhiek Bun Chhay (3rd R), secretary general of FUNCINPEC party, meets with Zhao Leji (3rd L), secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) Shaanxi Provincial Committee, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on March 26, 2010. China and Cambodia on Friday agreed to further strengthen comprehensive partnership of cooperation as well as party exchanges.(Xinhua/Lei Baisong)

This was reached when Say Chhum, member of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of Cambodian People's Party ( CPP) and Nhiek Bun Chhay, secretary general of FUNCINPEC party held separate meetings with Zhao Leji, secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) Shaanxi Provincial Committee.

During the meetings, they briefed each other on economic and social development, and had an in-depth exchange on further strengthening the cooperation between the two countries on various fields.

Say Chhum and Nhiek Bun Chhay, on behalf of their political parties, thanked Chinese government's long-term assistance and supports to Cambodia's social and economic development, and spoke highly of the achievements made by Chinese government.

Moreover, they reiterated that Cambodia would adhere to the one- China policy, and continue to support Chinese government's stance on its most important issues such as the stance on Taiwan and Tibet.

Zhao Leji, also member of CPC Central Committee, said he was glad to see that Cambodia has undergone enormous economic and social changes, and also played active role in the regional and international affairs.

Say Chhum (3rd R), member of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of Cambodian People's Party (CPP), meets with Zhao Leji (3rd L), secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) Shaanxi Provincial Committee, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on March 26, 2010. China and Cambodia on Friday agreed to further strengthen comprehensive partnership of cooperation as well as party exchanges.(Xinhua/Lei Baisong)

Zhao said China and Cambodia share long-time friendship. The two countries are strengthening political trust and cooperation, benefiting the two peoples. China wishes to work together with Cambodia to push forward Sino-Cambodian relations to a new high.

Zhao and his delegation arrived here Friday to pay a three-day goodwill visit to Cambodia at the invitation of the Cambodia People's Party.

Source: Xinhua

Vietnam, Cambodia plant eight more border markers

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March 27, 2010

Vietnam’s southern province of Tay Ninh and Cambodia’s Kongpong Cham province kicked off the planting of eight more markers along their borderline on March 26.

The same day, the border marker planting steering committees of the two provinces held talks on the issue, reviewing the achievements they have made so far.

The two sides showed their determination to complete the task following an agreement signed between the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia.

Tay Ninh shares a 240km borderline with Cambodia’s Kongpong Cham, Pvay Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.

According to the Additional Treaty of the 1985 Border Demarcation Treaty between the two countries, there will be 52 border markers planted between Tay Ninh and Kongpong Cham province out of a total 101 border markers in Tay Ninh province.

To date, construction of 48 markers has been completed. The two sides are determined to complete the task by 2012. (VNA)

Cambodia's smallest of treasures

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By Lucy Chabot Reed
March 27, 2010

We just spent three days in Cambodia, visiting ancient temples, relaxing by the pool, laughing and smiling with tourists and locals alike. It's been the best three days of our travels thus far.

It's the end of the dry season, so the fields are brown here, too. It's coolest in November/December (makes sense); hottest in April just before the rains begin. So much for spring.

Still, our days in Cambodia were wonderful. The people, especially, were kind and always smiling. I never felt we were being taken advantage of, never felt that a place was created just for us tourists.

We visited four temples in a day and a half, including Angkor Wat, believed to be the largest religious building in the world. Each temple was different than the one before. Prerup was tall and small; Angkor Wat was huge yet intimate; Bayon was eery but still cozy; and Ta Prohm was just wild, literally. (That's the temple that had a cameo in the Tomb Raider movie, with roots of enormous trees reclaiming the temple built in the middle of the jungle.)

At each place, we met locals who just hang out there, offering incense for sale to make a blessing at the Buddhas, but also just offering information about the temples they love. Invariably, we tipped them at the end for the impromptu tour, but it never felt forced or demanded. We'd just sit and talk with them. They all spoke wonderful English (as well as other languages as different from Khmer as you can imagine, including Japanese or Russian).

Exiting each temple for our awaiting tuk-tuk, we were approached by children. Charming, tidy children selling things. I had read that it wasn't good to buy goods from children outside tourist areas because many of these children were orphans or homeless, working for unseen adults. Paying for their wares only encouraged the grown ups to take advantage of them.

The children we saw at the first few temples were clean and educated. They spoke English and could rattle off information about my country that half of my countrymen don't even know, including the capital of my state, the largest state in my union, the newest state and our total population. If I had said I was from California or New York instead of Florida, they would have known details from that place. If I was from Australia instead of America, they would have had those facts, too.

I was impressed. The scam, if that's what it was, worked. When one little girl pulled out the flute she was peddling and played it beautifully, I was charmed. Could these kids really be orphans? I asked several how they knew so much. School, they told me. I believed them because I wanted to believe them. I wanted to snatch them up and hug them, make sure they are appreciated for the darling little souls they are. Instead, I gave them $1 for each of the things they were selling. I didn't negotiate with them, didn't bargain with them. If my dollar can help them – God, I hope it doesn't hurt them – they can have it, and many more.

I packed my cheap treasures as carefully as if they were made of gold. I'll hang some on my Christmas tree, give some as gifts with my memory of the little girls who sold them to me, and I'll hold my daughter a little closer at night, praying these little angels in Cambodia have some of the same love spilling over them.

Thai- Cambodian Conflict Will Not Be Discussed At Mekong Summit

via CAAI News Media

HUA HIN, March 27 (Bernama) -- Government leaders who are members of Mekong River Commission (MRC) will not discuss the bilateral conflict between Thailand and Cambodia at the first summit, which will be held at the Thai resort of Hua Hin early next month.

Leaders from Cambodia, Thailand, Lao and Vietnam will attend the summit which scheduled to be held from April 2 to April 5.

Citing Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya on Saturday, Thai News Agency reported that the leaders will focus more on the record low-water levels in the Mekong River, which has impacted agriculture in the member countries.

On the bilateral conflict between Thailand-Cambodia, Kasit said that: " If members of the public want to protest against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the meeting, they could do so but only within the set boundary."

Hun Sen has been at loggerheads with the Thai government especially with his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva, after his government appointed fugitive, ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser late last year and refused to extradite him to Thailand.

Thaksin, ousted in a bloodless coup in September 2006, was sentenced by Thailand's Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to a two-year prison term in absentia for having a conflict of interest in Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek land purchase case.

Kasit said he did not want to see a protest against Hun Sen, if it posed an obstacle to the joint development of the Mekong River.

Touching on the current protest against the Abhisit government by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) which is demanding the dissolution of the House and a fresh general election, Kasit said he believed the demonstration would not impact the upcoming summit.

He urged the Thai people to cooperate with neighbouring countries, and said that it would benefit the Thai themselves.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is an intergovernment body charged "to promote and co-ordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries' mutual benefit and the people's well-being by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing scientific information and policy advice."