Friday, 2 April 2010

Vaccination of A/H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, from the public health service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A Cambodian baby gets vaccination of A/H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, from the public health service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Cambodia started its first vaccination campaign against swine flu in a series of four phases in four provinces including Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, said Cambodian health officers. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Vaccination of A/H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, from the public health service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Cambodia started its first vaccination campaign against swine flu in a series of four phases in four provinces including Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, said Cambodian health officers. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian pregnant woman, front right, receives vaccination of A/H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, from the public health service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Cambodia started its first vaccination campaign against swine flu in a series of four phases in four provinces including Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, said Cambodian health officers. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian baby, center, gets vaccination of A/H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, from the public health service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Cambodia started its first vaccination campaign against swine flu in a series of four phases in four provinces including Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, said Cambodian health officers. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The Mekong: A matter of life and death

via CAAI News Media

By The Nation
Published on April 2, 2010

Next week's Mekong Commission meeting in Hua Hin must address greater protection for this region's greatest water source

Unless something substantial and tangible is done as soon as possible, the current drought affecting the Mekong River will become a new regional crisis that will affect some 60 million people who depend directly on this majestic river. But it is not only those people along the riverside who will be affected. We must also add their inland compatriots. In the riparian countries, hundreds of millions of lives also hinge upon the health of the 4,000-kilometre river.

The Mekong Summit, to be held next week in Hua Hin, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), will be an appropriate forum to review Mekong issues and come up with programmes that will enable riparian countries to develop their economies in a sustainable manner and manage water resources in ways that will preserve the Mekong's environment and ecosystems.

In the past decade, the MRC has failed to deliver effective programmes. Most of the previous plans were made without consultation with civil society organisations or stakeholders who live along the river and depend on it.

Obviously, riparian countries are also to blame for the lack of progress. Each of the four lower Mekong Basin countries - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - still thinks primarily of its own interest, instead of the whole region. This kind of national focus is the biggest stumbling block in promoting cooperation along the Mekong. For instance, a dozen new dams are planned for construction in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Who is acting as watchdog over these projects?

Even though dam construction - which used to be the main source of hydro-electric power - is considered outmoded, riparian countries still crave these huge projects, without due consideration of long-term negative consequences on the people and ecosystem. Alternative energy resources must be explored, especially those that are renewable or use biofuels.

To add salt to the wounds, the upper riparian countries, China and Burma, have not made the situation along the Mekong any better. Of late, criticism has been levied on China for its ongoing dam construction despite the current drought that is greatly affecting its southwest region. However, Beijing has been quite forthcoming in providing new information and data on its portion of the river to the MRC, something that it has not done before. This can only be viewed as a good beginning.

A comprehensive cooperative framework among the countries of the lower and upper Mekong is imperative to handle the current crisis and prevent future crises, be they through flooding or water shortage.

One of the most important elements in the Mekong's future management is the people who live on, by and from the river. Any moves, ideas or programmes must go through a dialogue and consultation process with them. Their representatives must also be brought into decision-making at the top levels. It is unfortunate that, at this stage, most of the riparian countries, with the exception of Thailand, do not have active civil society organisations to support the Mekong causes. Thai stakeholders, at least, have been holding discussions and contribute inputs to the government to help ensure that any programme related to the Mekong will be based on a holistic approach.

The MRC must shape up and open up. There should be more transparency in all policies and programmes. Lip service will not help. It is hoped that the Hua Hin Declaration will reflect regional leaders' common sense and courage in making long-term commitments to ensure that the Mekong will continue to flow for thousands more years to come.

The United States of America Announced to Provide US$5 Million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for Two Years – Thursday, 1.4.2010

via CAAI News Media

Posted on 2 April 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: The United States of America announced to grant US$5 million to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, for two years from 2010 to 2011 for the United Nations side of the budget.

“This provision of funds of US$5 million was announced by the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Mr. Stephen Rapp, in the afternoon of 31 March 2010 in a press conference at the US Embassy in Cambodia.

“During the conference, Mr. Stephen Rapp praised the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, though there had been reports of accusations locally and internationally.

“Mr. Stephen Rapp said that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal works hard and overcomes all critics to ensure its continuity.

“In recent months, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had been accused over corruption among Khmer officials and was alleged of being the object of interference by the Cambodian government. Regarding this problem, Mr. Stephen Rapp stressed that the United States of America is not concerned about these accusations. The USA consider that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is heading to achieve justice for Khmer citizens who were killed during Democratic Kampuchea, the Pol Pot Regime.

“The spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Dim Sovannarom, expressed his satisfaction toward the United States of America for deciding to provide funds so that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal can continue its proceedings.

“Mr. Dim Sovannarom said that because of the funds from the United States, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal hopes that other countries that had announced to provide funds like the United States, will now also deliver them soon to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for the two years of 2010 and 2011.

“Within the total amount of more than US$85 million, it is seen that the United States of Americas is the only country that provide funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal only for the United Nations side of the budget.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #449, 1.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 1 April 2010

Drought Drops Mekong River to 50-Year Low, Affects Farmers and Trade

via CAAI News Media

By Daniel Schearf, VOA
Original report from Chiangrai, Thailand
01 April 2010

A severe drought in Southeast Asia and southern China has caused the Mekong River to drop to a 50-year low. In Thailand, trade on the river has dried up and farmers say they do not have enough water for their crops. Many blame China's dams upstream but experts say the dams may not be the problem.

A group of water experts from the Chiangsaen water monitoring station set out by boat on the Mekong River.

They lower a special pole off the side of the boat that bounces sonar off the riverbed, allowing them to accurately check the water level.

Nappon Nampon says he has been checking water levels on the Mekong for 36 years and this year is the lowest he has ever seen it.

"Chinese boats got stuck on the riverbed. And then China released some water and they were able to go back up river," he said.

Thai customs officials say trade on the Mekong has dropped by more than half this year as large cargo ships from China, the country's largest trading partner on the river, can no longer navigate in the shallow water.

The annual dry season started much earlier than usual, dropping the Mekong to its lowest in decades and affecting millions of people living along the river.

Pak-Ing village is bordered on one side by the Mekong and on another by the Ing River, a tributary.

Farmers usually pump water from the Ing to irrigate their crops.

But farmer Sriwan Suwandee says the Ing, which normally is one to two meters deep, is now down to less than half a meter. His crop this season is only a third of what it should be.

"We pump drinking water from the Mekong River but now the water level is extremely low. Agriculture is bad and another impact is on fishing. There are no fish," he said.

Many villagers suspect China's dams upstream, the only dams on the Mekong River, contributes to the record low water level. The dams have been built to generate electricity.

In a forest not far from the Mekong, a group of villagers celebrate after a religious ceremony that declares trees sacred.

One of those at the celebration is Niwat Roykaew, the director of a network of activist groups that want to see Mekong resources better protected. He says they also want China to share more information about what it is doing with its dams.

"First dam, second dam, third dam and fourth dam now. Have problem because … what's have problem? Because China no speak (does not give information). No speak everything with the people and river," he said.

Jeremy Bird, the head of the Mekong River Commission, says China's dams are not to blame for the drought. He says although there is limited information about China's dams, the commission's river experts have calculated the Mekong would not be much higher if there were no dams in China.

And, he says, once China finishes building its dams and they are fully generating electricity, they will help redistribute water during most dry seasons. That is because to generate power, water must be released through dams steadily.

"The increase in water in the dry season will actually provide opportunities for the lower countries because it provides opportunity for taking water for irrigation or for industrial or urban use," he said.

However, he notes the dams could cause another problem.

"But, also it provides some concerns as I say in terms of reducing the sediment load in the river. And that sediment is high in nutrients. It also feeds the delta area," he said.

The heads of state of Mekong River Commission countries - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam - meet in Thailand in the coming days along with representatives from China and Burma.

The leaders will discuss the drought and sharing river resources for the benefit of everyone living along the river. They also will ask China to provide more information about its dams and other use of the river.

Phnom Penh Bans Marriages Between Cambodian Women and South Korean Men

via CAAI News Media

By Robert Carmichael, VOA
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 April 2010

The Cambodian authorities have banned marriages between Cambodian women and South Korean men because of concerns the women are at risk of being trafficked and abused.

Two years ago Cambodia imposed an eight-month ban on women here marrying South Korean men for fear that some were being trafficked and perhaps forced into the sex trade or abused.

This month Phnom Penh again banned the marriages.

The ban follows the conviction earlier this month of a Cambodian woman for brokering 25 marriages in exchange for cash, which is illegal.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman says the government wants to ensure marriages are genuine and there is no risk of trafficking. The government says it will lift ban once measures are in place to prevent trafficking.

Ministry of Interior Secretary of State Chou Bun Eng leads the government's anti-trafficking committee.

She says Cambodian women already living in South Korea sometimes encourage impoverished friends back home.

"They learn about the other women who got married already and have gone there, and they just communicate with each other and say 'I am now happy, I am rich,' so you see they just learn from each other and try, you know."

Chou Bun Eng says the problem marriages are in large part driven by economics and poverty.

"Many people dream to work abroad. For example they apply to be a labor force in South Korea because they think that there they will have high wage and some of them do not have capacity to apply to be at any job."

Forty years ago the economies of Cambodia and South Korea were closely matched.

But since then, Cambodia suffered through decades of war and the murderous Khmer Rouge government.

South Korea is today far richer than Cambodia, and increasing urbanization in South Korea means there is a shortage of women in rural areas.

The number of Cambodian women marrying South Korean men has risen steadily in recent years. In 2004 just 72 marriage licenses were issued, but by 2007 the number had rocketed to more than 1,700.

That prompted the International Organization for Migration to suggest the matchmaking game had become a money-making racket, with brokers taking big fees to arrange such marriages and women at risk of harm.

After the first ban, the number of licences issued dropped by two-thirds, but it was not long before it picked up again. Last year the Cambodian government issued around 1,400 licenses to women marrying South Koreans.

China denies it is behind Mekong River dropping to lowest level in 20 years in SE Asia

A girl carries bottles of water fetched from a mountain spring at a village in Qinglong county, in China's Guizhou province The worst drought in decades in China's southern provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, as well as the Guangxi Autonomous Region and the city of Chongqing, has forced local governments to tap underground water sources and use cloud seeding to produce rain for agricultural production. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

via CAAI News Media

By Chi-Chi Zhang (CP) – 1 day ago

BEIJING — China denied Wednesday it has "hijacked" water from the Mekong River, causing its lowest levels in 20 years for areas downstream in Southeast Asia.

Liu Ning, vice minister of water resources, suggested that China's dams and irrigation projects upstream have actually helped stave off some of the effects of drought - though it was not clear whether he was referring just to parched areas of southwest China or the wider region.

The Mekong River, which originates in the Tibetan Plateau, is at its lowest level in nearly two decades, halting cargo traffic on the waterway that is the lifeblood for 65 million people in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the Mekong River Commission.

Nongovernmental organizations have long blamed China for shrinking the Mekong and causing other ecological damage. China has built several dams on the upper reaches of the river and has more planned.

"We cannot say that China hijacked water resources and contributed to the drought," Liu told a news conference when asked about the effect of China's water projects on the water supply in Southeast Asia.

"If there were no irrigation facilities and reservoirs built in drought areas, the drought would have come earlier, the situation would have been more severe, and there would have been more people suffering from a lack of drinking water," Liu said.

He did not specify which areas he meant.

Liu emphasized the need to step up the construction of more water conservancy projects to insure adequate drinking water.

He said neighbouring countries are aware of China's measures and China will discuss with groups like the Mekong River Commission, an intergovernmental organization that oversees the sustainable development of the river basin.

"The building and use of hydropower plants will only be done based on scientific evidence, and this process is very strict in China," said Liu, who is also secretary-general of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Little rainfall since late last year in southwest China has left millions of residents facing water shortages in that region's worst drought in a century. About 24 million people, twice more than in the same period during normal years, face drinking water shortages, Liu said.

"We should prepare to fight a long drought ... to prepare for the worst-case scenario," he said.

Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou regions have been the hardest hit by the drought despite teams of workers drilling for wells and transporting drinking water, Liu said.

Liu said the severity of this year's drought was due to a decline in rainfall, low river flows, higher temperatures, and inadequate water storage facilities and is likely to continue until mid-to late May, when the rainy season begins.

US To Provide $5 Million to Tribunal

via CAAI News Media

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 April 2010

US Ambassador for War Crimes Stephen Rapp told reporters Wednesday the US would provide $5 million the UN side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, a marked increase from contributions in 2009.

Rapp is on a two-day visit to Phnom Penh, where he met with government officials, NGOs, donor representatives and tribunal officials.

Last year the US provided $1.8 million to the UN side, to assist in operations at the hybrid court, but Rapp said Wednesday more funding followed “continued progress of the court.”

The money reflected US hopes to see the tribunal through to its conclusion and help Cambodia “build a society based upon the rule of law.”

Tribunal officials have estimated a need of $42 million to fund operations in 2010.

“This is very significant contribution to make sure that the court can complete its mandate in bringing justice to the people of Cambodia, and we hope that more countries will follow the example of the US,” tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said.

However, he added that money was needed “both on the national and international sides.”

Rapp met with Council Minister Sok An, who oversees the tribunal for the government. A spokesman for Sok An said Rapp had agreed to press Japan and South Korea to contribute to the Cambodian side of the court.

Little Benefit From Regional Corridors: Report

via CAAI News Media

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 April 2010

Cambodia has not benefited as much as it could have from its entry into the Greater Mekong Subregion six years ago, a report has found.

Inclusion in the region’s economic corridors was to have boosted the Cambodian economy, but a report from the Cambodia Development Resource Institute says the country has not taken advantage of the benefits.

Both the government and the private sector maintain a low awareness of the value of regional integration, while few financial or human resources have been put in place, the annual development report says.

There is little technical assistance or information sharing and weak national consultation. And authority is concentrated into too few “overstretched” ministries and agencies. Meanwhile, some institutions responsible for integrating Cambodia into the region take in informal fees and are resistant to change.

Competition in the private sector has also prevented cooperation across borders, the report says.

Ros Silva, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the challenges derive from Cambodia’s new participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

“It is new work, so our understanding of the issue is limited,” he said. “We face a shortage of knowledge and adequate information-sharing, partly because the relevant people implementing the work haven’t focused much on the GMS’s public relations work.”

Government ministries have begun solving problems in customs and administration on the border and improving the infrastructure that will allow Cambodia to benefit from the flow of trade.

With assistance from the Asian Development Bank, Mekong countries Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have agree to turn three corridors into economic hubs.

This includes among them a north-south corridor, an east-west corridor and, most important for Cambodia, a southern corridor that links the country to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the last decade, Cambodia has made progress in socio-economic development, experts say, which led it to become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, at least through 2007.

Trade between Cambodia and other Asean countries climbed from $1.8 billion in 2007 to $2.2 billion in 2008, though much of that was through imports. Cambodian exports for the period were $121 million, giving Cambodia one of the largest trade imbalances in the region.

Ngoun Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said he hoped the southern corridor, which links 21 Cambodian provinces four provinces in Vietnam and six each in Laos and Thailand, might help.

“We can trade our products easily, tax free and over short distances,” he said. “So the cost of transportation will be reduced, which benefits us.”

Between 1992 and 2008, the ADB has provided more than $11 billion in loans to the six Mekong countries to improve infrastructure, and the each country will have to improve transportation facilities, tourism, hydropower and disease control by a deadline of 2020.

However, CDRI said different policies and regulations between the countries remain highly problematic, a situation that won’t be resolved without political will and a commitment to fair and effective cross-border trade.

Cambodia must raise awareness of the corridor deal with the government and private sector and provide cross-border trade procedures, CDRI found. And the ADB needs to play a stronger role in improving cooperation among the six countries.

The study highlight the importance of Cambodia government to raise awareness among government and private sector and provide on-time solution for cross border trade procedure and ADB has to take more roles in strengthening cooperation among GMS countries.

“The [GMS’s corridor] development doesn’t go as fast as we expected because of political differences. So when we want a smooth cooperation, we have to come across many small challenges as well as to find ways to change those differences,” said Chantha Kim, spokesman of ADB.

Ros Silva said relevant ministries have finalized strategies to push more development at southern economic corridor and those strategies will be discussed at August ‘s GMS ministerial conference in Vietnam.

Foreigner Property Law Debated

via CAAI News Media

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 April 2010

The National Assembly Thursday began discussing a new law that allows foreigners for the first time to own apartments and other residential property—above the ground floor.

Officials say they hope the law will draw more foreign investment, but opposition lawmakers Thursday said the law needed clarifying.

“We are very worried on some points in the draft law affecting our national sovereignty and interest,” Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said.

One section in the law seems to allow foreigners property rights within 30 kilometers of the national border, he said, but the same article allows for buildings in special economic zones and other areas while giving the government the opportunity to grant foreign rights.

“This is a point that stirs up doubt and worry,” he said.

The Council of Ministers drafted the law in December, in a move to improve private ownership right, increase investment and make doing business in Cambodia easier. It allows for the ownership of apartments from the second story and a larger stake in residential property for foreigners.

“Our real estate market will have more progress after the law comes out,” Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said. “This law is very important to encourage foreigners to invest and to fulfill their duties as investors.”

Land Minister Im Chhun Lim told lawmakers Thursday the law would “boost economic growth” and provide employment in construction. With a better property market, Cambodians will learn more technical skills, he said.

Sung Bonna, head of the National Valuers Association and owner of his own real estate group, said realtors had been waiting for the law “for a long time.”

“In this law there are mostly no negative points,” he said.

The law could invigorate the real estate market, which has languished in recent years, he said.

“This law cannot make higher prices for real estate or land,” he said. “It will just recover the activities of buying and selling, because it provides confidence to investors.”

Two Detainees in Kampong Speu Land Dispute Released

SRP Marks the 13th Anniversary of the 30 March 1997 Grenade Attack

Cambodia: ADRA and Key Policymakers Call for Greater Tobacco Control

via CAAI News Media

31 Mar 2010
Source: Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone

SILVER SPRING, Md.--Strong tobacco control laws could be implemented in Cambodia as a result of ongoing advocacy efforts led by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and other partnering organizations, the agency reported.

In early March, representatives from the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Cambodian Inter-Ministerial Committee for Tobacco Control, and other key leaders met with ADRA and partnering non-governmental organizations during an ADRA-sponsored two-day event to discuss a draft law on tobacco control. During the meetings, participants agreed to work toward the creation of six key strategies that once implemented will enable effective tobacco control throughout the country.

These recommendations, which are expected to be distributed among key government stakeholders, would fulfill the commitment to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the Cambodian government ratified in 2005, and include policies that will establish laws and legitimate standardized documents to reduce tobacco consumption in the country, strengthen existing tobacco control mechanisms and methods, and install a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising.

According to ADRA Cambodia, these recommendations and the resulting commitment to them by government parties signify a "pivotal" point in the progress of tobacco control law in Cambodia.

"We are very proud to see the Cambodian government and the National Assembly commit to these strategies," said Mark Schwisow, country director for ADRA Cambodia. "We and our partners have worked very hard to push for the tobacco control law to pass, and we are happy to have the Council of Ministers and other influential lawmakers calling for greater tobacco control measures themselves."

The meetings, held in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, were designed to increase awareness and the support for a stronger anti-smoking law in a country where nearly half of all men and more than 20 percent of women use tobacco products, according to a 2005 ADRA-WHO national prevalence survey. It also aimed to encourage representatives from the Council of Ministers to support the current draft law on tobacco control, leading to ratification by the National Parliament, which has faced numerous delays and obstacles in recent years.

"ADRA Cambodia has been working for more than 10 years to reduce tobacco consumption within Cambodia," added Schwisow. "However, additional political will is needed from key government officials in order to pass a comprehensive national law on tobacco control in Cambodia."

ADRA organized the event through a partnership with MEDiCAM, a membership organization of non-governmental organizations in Cambodia's Health Sector, and Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), with technical support provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Current program funding, including this event, is supported by ADRA Canada in collaboration with Canadian International Development Agency CIDA.

ADRA has been working to increase tobacco control in Cambodia since 1996, to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco consumption and reduce smoking prevalence throughout the country.

Follow ADRA on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest information as it happens.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit  

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]

Thai Troops "harassing" Myanmar refugees

via CAAI News Media

March 30, 2010 — There are more than 100,000 registered refugees from Myanmar living in neighbouring Thailand. Another two million could be living there illegally.

They escaped harsh conditions in Myanmar and the Thai government has promised not to send them back home.

But many of the refugees say they are being harrassed by Thai troops who frequently threaten to force them out of the country.

Aela Callan reports from the border between Thailand and Myanmar, where the numbers of refugees appear to be suspiciously dropping.

New strain of malaria hits Thailand

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A drug-resistant strain of the disease malaria - first detected about 18 months ago near the Thailand-Cambodia border - is now showing up again along Thailand's border with Myanmar.

Many patients in the region taking anti-malarial drugs are now taking much longer to respond to treatment.

Medics fear the resistant strain could eventually spread to Africa, where most of the world's malaria cases and deaths occur.

Aela Callan reports from a clinic near the Thai town of Mae Sot on the border with Myanmar.

The dark side of skin-whitening cream

The dangerous fashion for skin-whitening across Asia perpetuates racism and should be stigmatised as such

Sunny Hundal
Thursday 1 April 2010

via CAAI News Media

Just over a week ago, travelling through Cambodia, I noticed a small item in the Phnom Penh Post reporting that a skin-whitening cream was blamed for the recent death of a young woman. Chhuon Sovann, 23, from the Cambodian border town of Poipet, began vomiting after using the cream and had to be rushed to a Thai hospital and was later pronounced dead.

A minor diplomatic kerfuffle ensued as it turned out the cream was being illegally imported from Vietnam. Some newspapers reported that health officials, backed up by paramilitary troops, started searching suspects coming into Thailand from Cambodia.

I searched for (English) discussions on the death and whether it is healthy for these creams to even be marketed and sold generally, but I found none. Perhaps it was held in native languages, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't any – this is an unfortunate trend across many Asian cultures.

Indian cosmetic companies spend huge amounts of money every year. Across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, along with India and Pakistan, skin-whitening creams are sold everywhere.

It's difficult to pinpoint a specific cultural reason. In India it is partly racist: lower-caste Hindus are usually darker and upper-caste Hindus usually lighter. Women are constantly told across Asia that if they get darker no man will want to marry them. Being lighter-skinned is also partly seen as a sign of affluence; it means you didn't have to work outside in the fields for your living. There are countless other reasons cited in Japan, China and African countries.

These old cultural traits are reflected and perpetuated through the popular media. Products in India and Pakistan get endorsed by Bollywood actors. In Thailand most TV ads show men and women who are abnormally and quite blatantly touched-up to look lighter.

There are have been several controversies in India where ad campaigns by major brands heavily imply that darker-skinned people are less likely to find partners. In fact, the only time I saw dark-skinned Thais or Indians on television were in the news. (It's worth pointing out that south-India has its own television and film industry that celebrates darker actors, but it isn't reflective of the more high-profile, Mumbai-based Bollywood industry).

It's obvious to see the high-profile impact of the skin-whitening phenomena, as the bride-to-be Chhuon Sovann found out to her cost. No doubt there are countless other examples of burnt or badly disfigured faces that go unreported.

More worryingly, it condemns a new generation of Asians to grow up deeply insecure about the colour of their skin. Darker-skinned people of the same ethnicity grow up emotionally scarred and completely unrepresented by the media images they are subjected to daily.

Much of this isn't new, except that skin-whitening cream is increasingly being aimed at men. In most places in Thailand, I couldn't actually buy facial products for men without skin-whitening agents.

More recently, this has also spread to the UK. Skin-whitening products aimed at African-Caribbeans, Asians and Arabs fill the ethnic media and are even advertised on the London underground. Even most Asian matrimonial websites ask sign-ups to describe their skintone.

Let's be clear about this: skin-whitening perpetuates a form of racism. It should be stigmatised as such. If you get angry about it, then boycott the companies that produce and market the products. Complain when the ads are shown.

Skin-whitening products are a disease – it's time to eradicate them.

Fair aims to expand market share of VN goods in Cambodia

Visitors tour a stall at a fair showcasing high-quality Vietnamese products and exports in 2009 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo:SGGP)

via CAAI News Media
Thursday ,Apr 01,2010

An annual fair showcasing high-quality Vietnamese goods and exports will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from April 3-7.

The event aims to increase export turnover, expand market share, and affirm quality and position of Vietnamese goods in Cambodia.

Now in its ninth year, the event has helped earn Vietnamese products a good reputation throughout Cambodia, thanks in part to a “high-quality product” logo affixed to Vietnamese items.

Moreover, the Cambodian border is situated just 240 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, so Vietnamese goods are thus able to be kept fresh during the journey into the country.

The domestic Vissan Company says two of its products are now very popular in Cambodia: pork pâté and liver pâté. This year, the company says it will introduce several other products such as nutritional sausage and stewed beef cubes at the fair.

Vinamilk Company is also planning to showcase many kinds of yoghurt and condensed milk at the event, and will provide refrigerators at all distribution centers to ensure product quality.

The company said it also targets building a processing factory in Cambodia in the near future.

In June 2009, Saigon Industrial Commercial Bank opened a branch in Phnom Penh offering simple, low-cost, one-hour money transfer services between Vietnam and Cambodia.

In August 2009, An Giang Province opened the Tinh Bien Trade Zone, creating new opportunities for businesses in the two countries to carry out trade activities.

Currently, Vietnam exports mainly instant noodles, plastic products, cigarettes, confectionaries, maize seeds, household goods, and vegetables to Cambodia. It imports textile and garment materials, wood and rubber from Cambodia.

The Cambodia government, meanwhile, is in the process of reforming administrative procedures to create advantageous conditions for foreign countries to do business in the country.

Cambodian commercial counselor Yeav Kim Hean said Cambodian people are now shifting away from Thai goods and are instead using more Vietnamese products.
Vu Kim Hanh, director of the local BAS Company, said that this year the fair has attracted more businesses than last year with a diversified offering of products and services.

Numerous cultural and sports activities will also be held at the fair including a friendly cycling race between Vietnam and Cambodia as well as art performances. Free medical exams and medicines will also be provided for three poor Cambodian provinces during the event, said Hanh.

Cambodia is among the top three investment destinations out of 50 countries and territories Vietnam has targeted. Two-way trade between the countries this year is expected to reach around US$2 billion.

By Yen Xuan-Translated by Thanh Huong

Chinese company starts work on a new hydroelectric dam in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

From The Associated Press
April 1, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A Chinese company began work Thursday on a hydroelectric dam in Cambodia, the second Chinese dam project launched this week in the country where only about a quarter of the population has electricity.

The two projects are among several hydroelectric dams planned to reduce power shortages in Cambodia although activists warn they could cause environmental harm.

State-owned China Huadian Corp., one of China's biggest power companies, will build the 338-megawatt dam on the lower Russei Chrum river in Koh Kong province, with an investment of about $500 million. The project is due for completion by 2014.

A project launch ceremony was held in the capital, Phnom Penh, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) east of Koh Kong province.

Industry Minister Suy Sem said the power generated from the dam will be distributed to neighboring provinces and the capital.

"Cambodia will benefit greatly from this dam. It will provide us with a huge power capacity and help us to reduce the use of oil for producing power," Suy Sem said.

Cambodia's economy has grown rapidly over the past decade but poverty remains widespread.

Electricity generation is underdeveloped, and most power plants use fossil fuels. Cambodia also buys electricity from neighboring Vietnam and Thailand. Many people rely on generators.

By 2009 some 26 percent of Cambodia's 14 million people had access to regular electricity, said Heng Kunleang, director of the electricity division at the Industry Ministry.

Its electricity prices are among the highest in the world, which is also a major source of complaint from investors in Cambodia.

In a bid to meet future electricity demands, the government has identified 21 potential hydroelectric dam sites across the country.

But environmentalists have voiced concerns about the impact those projects will have.

In a 2008 report, the U.S.-based International Rivers Network said "poorly conceived hydropower development could irreparably damage" Cambodia's environment and also extract a social cost.

On Monday, the China National Heavy Machinery Corp. started building a $540 million hydropower plant in the Koh Kong province that will generate up to 246 megawatts. It is also due for completion by 2014.

China is a leading foreign investor in Cambodia.

Some 349 Chinese companies have been invested in Cambodia mainly in agriculture projects, construction and dams, the Chinese Embassy said recently.

Jonathan Storm: WHYY TV12 debuts local "Friday Arts"

By Jonathan Storm
Inquirer Television Critic

via CAAI News Media

Courtesy WHYY TV12
Members of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, above, practice a dance routine that is featured on WHYY TV12's new "Friday Arts" program. Below, at Blackfish in Conshohocken, Alex Talbot, center, and chef Chip Roman, left, prepare a pistachio custard.

via CAAI News Media

One of the beauties of the PBS science show Nova is that you learn as much about scientists as you do about science. WHYY TV12, in a rare local series produced in-house, takes the same tack with art.

Or at least what the station defines as art, which also includes food and culture. Friday Arts, premiering Friday at 8:30 p.m., examines art in three segments: "Art," "Art of Life" and "Art of Food." It's as if a lot of people sat around trying to figure out how to cram segments about interesting people and stuff going on around town under one umbrella so they could make a series.

Maybe calling it all "art" helps with funding, too, but it doesn't matter. The show is like a good magazine, showcasing supposedly overlooked, and always interesting, people, places and activities, and playing to its individual producers' strengths.

"Monica Rogozinski has a strong interest in food and has produced several independent food segments," WHYY executive producer Trudi Brown said. "Michael O'Reilly is deeply involved in the art world."

Friday, O'Reilly introduces us to stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter. She seems a little depressed that some people think her art is depressing, explaining that the images are supposed to invoke ideas about empathy and transformation.

So when you see a pair of truncated legs standing on a pile of skulls, perhaps you can think about the endless possibilities created for us by the people who went before. Or maybe you'll just be depressed. Schaechter says that if you are, you may also be one of those folks who doesn't like to look at homeless people.

The segment and conversation tell you a lot more about Schaechter than they do about her art. And there's nothing wrong with that. Artists have to think differently than you and I (I usually look away from the homeless): That's what powers the good ones to spend such effort expressing themselves in such inspiring ways.

And if you don't think you can be depressed and inspired at the same time, look at some of Schaechter's work. It's fascinating to hear her talk about it, just as it is to hear curators and artists talk, in another segment, about the work at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art.

"Art of Life" visits with Rorng Sorn, executive director of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia. There's a lesson about the Khmer Rouge, Cambodian refugees, and a classical Cambodian dance program for girls sponsored by the association: history, social consciousness and art in one package.

"I was, like, a teenager," says former participant Lanica Angpak. "We were always dealing with, 'What's my identity? Where do I fit in?' "

"Art of Food" examines the "slow food" movement, without precisely pinpointing what it is, except that it's all about local, seasonal, sustainable, yadda-yadda. That's a good yadda-yadda, not a bad one, because it's a revelation how passionate the folks featured are, even if two of them, Sean and Kelly Weinberg, own Malvern's established and well-known Restaurant Alba. There's also a small segment with Susanna Foo, not exactly an unknown voice crying in the culinary wilderness.

Friday Arts is more impressionistic than explicit, and that style works well in a breezy and informative half-hour. Too bad there's only one new installment a month, on the first Friday. That's also the time Old City art galleries schedule their open houses, perhaps the best time to experience the Philadelphia arts scene firsthand. Go figure, although the show does repeat several times after the premiere.

There's an online component, of course, but it's a little sloppy. It's at, not "friday arts" with a space, the no-man's land where the show directs you. If you click on the 'HYY link to Schaechter's home page, you wind up in the same dead zone because somebody wasn't careful with their slashes and periods. The actual site is

There's a time for art, but if it really wants to be the region's leading, or most-trusted, or whatever-it-calls-itself, multimedia provider, WHYY needs to pay attention to the technical details, too.

Mekong Tourism Forum Set for Siem Reap, May 7-8

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, April 01, 2010

This year's Mekong Tourism Forum will be held on May 7-8 the Angkor Century Resort and Spa, near to Angkor Wat the awe-inspiring Cambodian UNESCO Heritage Site.

The Mekong Tourism Forum provides a cooperative platform for stakeholders in the tourism industry to discuss development, marketing and promotion of travel to, from and within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It presents an inclusive, interactive and results-oriented opportunity to encourage public and private sector participation in representing the GMS as a single destination.

"We are looking forward to hosting this influential networking gathering," said Dr Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism for Cambodia. "It will mark the progress of a pivotal business and travel industry forum initiated by the Asian Development Bank 14 years ago," he said.

The theme of the Mekong Tourism Forum 2010 is, "New Roads, New Opportunities". Business and government sector leaders will assess the latest tourism developments and investment opportunities along the regional road networks linking Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern China provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi.

Across the Mekong region, new areas with previously minor or no tourism infrastructure are now opening up along three main corridors: the southern coastal road from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam via Cambodia; the central east-west route linking Northeast Thailand to southern Laos and Hue in central Vietnam; and the north-south Kunming-Bangkok road through northern Laos.

"Today villages and towns along the way are benefiting from the arrival of tourists where there were none before," said Mason Florence, Executive Director of the Bangkok-based Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. "At the Mekong Tourism Forum we will discuss investment prospects and hear from tourism operators who are already taking advantage of opportunities along the new overland corridors."

During the forum at the Angkor Century Resort & Spa, panel discussions will be held on "Pioneering Mekong Tourism Products," "The Path to Community-based Tourism," "How Sustainable Tourism Can Drive Profit" and "The Road Ahead".

The Mekong Tourism Forum works to achieve three main objectives:

•To raise the profile of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) as a single tourist destination.
•To provide an industry-wide platform for the public and private sectors to address sub-regional tourism issues.
•To expand marketing networks and opportunities for promoting the GMS and its stakeholders, pool collective resources and create intra-industry synergy.

To help attract small and medium-sized tourism entrepreneurs and a diverse range of travel professionals, the MTCO, in conjunction with Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism, has reduced the cost of attending the Mekong Tourism Forum 2010 to a nominal US$50 for the two-day event and US$30 for members of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The registration fee includes access to all forum sessions, including two lunches and two dinners.

Financial support for MTF 2010 is being provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the USAID-funded ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement project. Other travel industry partners are providing support in-kind.

Army denies Cambodia's claims

via CAAI News Media

Published: 1/04/2010

The army on Thursday denied Cambodia's claims that it has won a victory over Thailand in their border conflict and that 88 Thai soldiers were killed in clashes along the disputed frontier during the past year.

Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the army spokesman, said ony three Thai soldiers had been killed, and a few more wounded.

He was responding to claims made by Gen Chea Dara, the deputy head of Cambodia's armed forces, that Phnom Penh's forces had won a victory. He claimed 88 Thai soldiers had been killed kin clashes over the past year.

He also said more than 50 per cent of the Thai troops station along the disputed border had been withdrawn and redeployed to security duties in Bangkok.

Gen Chea Dara also reportedly claimed that Thai troops would no longer dare to attack Cambodian soldiers.

The Phnom Penh Post newspaper, reported that Gen Chea Dara made his triumphant claims on Wednesday to a meeting of about 2,000 students and government officials in Phnom Penh.

He declared that Cambodia had won the war over ownership of the Phreah Vihear temple, both militarily and diplomatically, thanks to the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The general said the construction of a road to the Phrea Vihear ruins had greatly facilitated military operations and enabled Cambodian people to settle near the old Hindu temple, which sits right on the disputed border adjoining Si Sa Ket province.

He claimed that Cambodian exiled opposition party leader Sam Rainsy had colluded with Thailand, selling himself to Bangkok and giving permission for Thais to invade Cambodia. This allegation has been rejected by an opposition party spokesman.

In early March, Gen Chea Dara was also quoted by a foreign news agency as saying that as many as 88 Thai soldiers had been been killed along the border.

Col Sansern rejected all the claims.

"There have been no withdrawals of troops from the border. Our soldiers are still deployed along the border to protect our territorial sovereignty in line with our border defence plan.

"The information released by Cambodia that we have lost 88 Thai soldiers along the border during the past year is not true. In fact, only three Thai soldiers were killed and some others injured.

"Please believe our own information," Col Sansern said.

Pol Lt-Col Somchai Phetprasert, a Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima and chairman of the House Committee on Military Affairs, told the House meeting on Thursday morning that he heard that a Cambodian general said that Thai soldiers had been redeployed from the border to Bangkok.

He said this could result in lax security along the border. The government should ensure these troops were quickly returned to their former assignments.

China Huadian HK to build hydropower station in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Source: Xinhua
April 01 2010

Comments China Huadian Hong Kong will construct Cambodia's Orussei hydropower station in Koh Kong province and the project will be completed in 2013, Yun Gongmin, general manager of China Huadian Corporation (Huadian Group) said Wednesday in Phnom Penh.

Yun made the remarks when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met him on Wednesday, focusing on the cooperation on hydropower construction in Cambodia.

Hun Sen said during the meeting that Chinese enterprises' investment in the construction of Cambodia's hydropower station will be sure to help the development of the country.

Yun Gongmin briefed Hun Sen on China Huadian Group, saying that Huadian Group is a state-owned enterprise, and it is engaged mainly in the business of development, investment, construction, operation and management in the fields of electric power, thermal power production and sales, development of new energy and technology.

"In recent years, the corporation responds the government's call to 'go global' to invest and build power stations abroad," he added.

Yun said that China Huadian Hong Kong will construct Cambodia's Orussei hydropower station in Koh Kong province, and will ensure the project be completed on schedule with high quality.

Hun Sen thanked Chinese government's long-term valuable assistance and support for the construction and development of Cambodia, especially in infrastructure. He believed that the powerful state-owned Huadian Group could make the Orussei Hydropower Development Project successful, so that the people of Cambodia can use cheap electricity as early as possible.

Under Huadian's contract of a 30-year construction-operate- transfer (BOT) with the local government, the company will begin construction of 558 million US dollars hydropower plant soon with the total installed capacity of 338 MW. The total power generation is about 1.02 billion kwh.

The hydropower project is located in Cambodia's western province of Koh Kong, about 180 km of Phnom Penh. The power plant will be completed by 2013.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Pictures

via CAAI News Media

Parched earth

Thursday, 01 April 2010 15:04 AFP

Photo by: AFP

Farmer Phia Paokhammacham and his son speak to journalists on a drought-hit rice field near the Mekong River outside Vientiane, Laos, late last month. A severe drought in Southeast Asia and southern China has caused the Mekong River to drop to a 50-year low. The level of the river will be discussed next week during a summit meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand, that Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to attend. AFP

Food poisoning lands monks in hospital

Thursday, 01 April 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear
Photo by: Pha Lina

Monks receive treatment at Preah Kossamak Hospital on Wednesday for food poisoning. At least 48 monks from Wat Koh Krobey, in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district, have been treated for food poisoning in Phnom Penh hospitals since Monday, health officials said. Dr Say Sengly, the director of the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital, said 25 were treated at his facility on Monday, and that all had been discharged Tuesday. The cause of the food poisoning is believed to be uncooked vegetables, health officials said.

Getting ready for the New Year

Thursday, 01 April 2010 15:01 Pha Lina
Photo by: Pha Lina

Students play traditional Khmer New Year games Wednesday in advance of the annual three-day celebration, which begins on April 14.

Court rules on Cambodian ship

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:05 AFP
Photo by: AFP

The Cambodian-registered Winner cargo ship is shown moored at a military port in Brest, western France in an undated photo. The European court of Human Rights dismissed France’s case on Monday, estimating that there was a lack of independence in the judgment regarding the ship’s cargo. The court condemned the conditions that the crew endured for 13 days on board after its inspection by a military ship off the coast of Cape Verde in 2002. Sailors were arrested in Brest after dozens of kilograms of cocaine were found on board

Govt approves editor’s release

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 01 April 2010 15:04 May Titthara and Sebastian Strangio

JAILED newspaper editor Hang Chakra is to be released from prison during the round of Royal pardons coinciding with the upcoming Khmer New Year holiday, as are 75 other prisoners from across the Kingdom, an official at the Ministry of Interior said Wednesday.

Heng Hak, director general of the Ministry’s Department of Prisons, said that he has forwarded a short list of 404 pardon candidates to the Ministry of Justice, adding that the government had already singled Hang Chakra out for a pre-holiday pardon.

“Hang Chakra is separate – he is a special case because he wrote a letter apologising to Prime Minister Hun Sen, so he will be released before Khmer New Year,” he said.

Hang Chakra, editor-in-chief of the opposition-aligned Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, was sentenced to one year in prison last June after he was convicted of spreading disinformation in a series of stories accusing officials of corruption. On July 8, he wrote to Hun Sen stating that he “repeatedly failed to act properly and seriously” while at the helm of the paper, and pledged to cease publication if he was released.

King Norodom Sihamoni traditionally offers pardons to prisoners on four occasions each year: Khmer New Year, Visak Bochea Day, the Water Festival and the King’s birthday.

Heng Hak said he has recommended that 75 of the 404 inmates – including eight women – be released from prison, with the remainder to receive reduced sentences.

He noted that prisoners must have served two-thirds of their sentences to be eligible for release, and one-third of their sentences to be eligible for a sentence reduction.

When contacted Wednesday, Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) spokesman Yim Sovann said he had not yet been informed of the pending pardon, but said it would be a positive development, albeit one long overdue.

“Hang Chakra has done nothing wrong – he expressed his opinion, he expressed his ideas through his writing,” he said. “He should have received an amnesty from the King a long time ago.”

He also called on the King to grant pardons to other government critics serving prison terms, including two Svay Rieng villagers who were jailed in January after joining SRP president Sam Rainsy in uprooting border demarcation posts along the Vietnamese border.

“All of them should be granted amnesties, including the two people in Svay Rieng, because what they have done they have done for the interests of the country,” he said.

Thun Saray, president of local rights group Adhoc, said a Royal pardon for Hang Chakra could signal an enhancement of freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“We applaud this kind of pardon,” he said. “I think freedom of expression should be improved from now on in order to reduce the fear among journalists of being put in jail or punished for disinformation.”

Although there is still a “long way” to go, Thun Saray said, the country’s long-term outlook is good. “You can see the trend in general could be improving from one period of time [to the next],” he said.

Chat Sineang, the chief of Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, said he writes a letter to the King before each of the four traditional holidays seeking pardons and sentence reductions, adding that 26 names were on Prey Sar’s list for this Khmer New Year. “Normally we get a result after the Khmer New Year,” he said.

Pov Buntheoun, director of the Justice Ministry’s Criminal Department, said he was preparing a document containing the names of the prisoners for the government to review before it is sent to the Royal Palace.

“I see Hang Chakra is on the suggestion list, but we cannot force the King to move quickly for us, so we have to wait,” he said. “When I get a result from the Royal Palace, I will be in a hurry to pass it to the court.”

Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Cabinet, declined to comment Wednesday.

Cholera caused Kratie deaths

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 01 April 2010 15:04 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

LABORATORY tests have confirmed that five people who died of severe vomiting and diarrhoea in Kratie province last month had contracted cholera, according to a health official who declined to provide further information on the number of cholera cases reported nationwide for fear it would impact tourism.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health, said Wednesday that the five deaths were the result of “acute watery diarrhoea caused by Vibrio cholerae”, a reference to the bacterium that causes cholera.

Asked if there were other reported cases of cholera in Kratie or elsewhere, Ly Sovann said, “I cannot make the data of the cholera cases public because we are afraid the data will hit profits in our country.” He went on to say that he was particularly concerned about how news of cholera cases might affect the Kingdom’s tourism sector.

Ly Sovann’s comments provided further evidence of the Health Ministry’s reluctance to acknowledge the recent presence of cholera in Cambodia.

Development partners and some health experts have in recent weeks said that it makes little difference whether cholera is diagnosed, and that the disease can be treated much like any case of acute watery diarrhoea.

We are doctors, not politicians or working in tourist offices.

However, not everyone has agreed.

In early February, health officials at a Phnom Penh paediatric hospital criticised the government for failing to announce an outbreak that they said had been reported to the Health Ministry last November, and suggested that economic considerations – in particular, the well-being of the tourism industry – were exerting undue influence over a matter of public health.

“We are doctors, not politicians or working in tourist offices,” Dr Beat Richner, director of the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, said at the time. “For us as doctors, it is most important that the people are informed.”

In a series of open letters published in local media that month, Richner argued that, contrary to statements made by World Health Organisation officials, cholera was a particularly acute form of watery diarrhoea that could kill within hours, and that it should be treated with antibiotics.

Dr Pieter van Maaren, the WHO’s country representative, on Wednesday reiterated the WHO’s position that cholera should be treated in the same way as other cases of acute watery diarrhoea, and said it was not necessary for cholera test results to be made public.

“People have a very poor association with the word cholera, and this is really affecting the work that the [Health Ministry] and its partners do.

People get scared when they hear the word cholera,” he said.

He added: “From a WHO perspective, we are very much following the health situation in the country; whether or not there is tourism doesn’t make any difference to us.”

However, Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre of Human Rights, said the government should be transparent about the number of cholera cases, and that past attempts by governments to de-emphasise reports of confirmed cases had contributed to the spread of the disease.

“No doubt it will have some impact on tourism,” he said, “but in the long run Cambodia will be a more trusted destination if we are transparent about this.”