Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Dear Value Readers!

The CAAI would like to wish you all a very happy Cambodian New Year, good health and prosperous year of Tiger 2010.

May Buddha bless you all.

The CAAIs Team

Cambodians pray as a Buddhist monk offers bessings at a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, on the first day of New Year celebrations, April 14, 2010. Cambodians are celebrating the Khmer New Year from April 14 to 16 to mark the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian women light incense as they pray at a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, on the first day of New Year celebrations, April 14, 2010. Cambodians are celebrating the Khmer New Year from April 14 to 16 to mark the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Cambodian woman lights incense as she prays at a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, on the first day of New Year celebrations, April 14, 2010. Cambodians are celebrating the Khmer New Year from April 14 to 16 to mark the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Going home to celebrate Khmer New Year

Cambodians sit on a taxi as they leave Phnom Penh April 13, 2010 to return to their hometowns to celebrate the Khmer New Year from April 14-16. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodians ride on a "romork", a three-wheeled form of public transportation in the city, as they leave Phnom Penh April 13, 2010 to return to their hometowns to celebrate the Khmer New Year from April 14-16. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai protesters hit tourist hub with guns -- of water

Red shirt protesters call time out for annual water festival

People are sprayed with water during the Songkran festival to mark the Thai new year along the tourist area of Khao San road in Bangkok. As revellers splashed each other with water and daubed their faces with clay, it was hard to believe three days earlier Bangkok's most famous tourist street had been the scene of deadly clashes. (AFP/Manpreet Romana)

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by Claire Truscott Claire Truscott – Tue Apr 13

BANGKOK (AFP) – As revellers splashed each other with water and daubed their faces with clay, it was hard to believe three days earlier Bangkok's most famous tourist street had been the scene of deadly clashes.

Thai protesters and foreign visitors alike ran around Khaosan Road on Tuesday brandishing water guns, close to a memorial for the victims of the weekend's violence that left 21 people dead and more than 800 hurt.

They came to celebrate the New Year water festival, a three-day annual event held as Thailand's tropical summer gets underway.

But this year's "Songkran" was nearly abandoned after the country's bloodiest civil unrest in 18 years erupted on Saturday as security forces attempted to end a month of rallies by anti-government "Red Shirts".

"Today I'm coming to play Songkran, I'm going to the (political) rally, and to pay respect to the dead," said 45-year-old protester Noy Moonchapirom, from Nong Khai province in the rural northeast.

Budget travellers staying at guesthouses in the historic quarter said their spirits had not been dampened by the political violence.

"I heard about it a few days ago but then decided to book a ticket to Thailand anyway just because I really wanted to be here for Songkran," said 18-year-old Tom Marsh as he took a soaking from a nearby water bucket.

"I think lots of people have been put off coming to Bangkok... because they think it's going to maybe put a downer on Songkran," said the Briton.

"But I don't think it's of any direct risk to people who aren't protesting."

Khaosan Road was a riot of colour as drenched party-goers filled the street wearing a full spectrum of shades, including bright red -- symbol of the populist political movement campaigning for immediate elections.

The crowd thronged the backpacker street lined with cafes and guesthouses, with young and old Thais mingling with travellers from overseas in one big water fight.

The New Year festival is also celebrated in neighbouring Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, but is best-known in Thailand, where most revellers in the capital head to Silom's business district or Khaosan Road.

But some said the political turmoil had taken its toll on the festivities.

"In the past it was more fun. I'm quite disappointed," said 30-year-old Meehai Naksaya, from central Supanburi province, who was attending the capital's celebrations for the first time.

Thailand's political problems also interrupted last year's New Year celebrations when Red Shirt riots again turned violent, leading to the 2009 festival being coined "Bloody Songkran".

But water-gun seller Saranya Torcharoenwat, 39, said the effect of politics on her trade this year was far worse.

"Compared to this time last year it's not good. Sales have dropped dramatically," she said.

Phnom Penh Postcards: Happy New Year!

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Kris Vera-Phillips

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Happy New Year from Phnom Penh!!! We landed in Cambodia's capitol city early Monday morning local time. Don and Bridgette Brewster, the founders of Agape International Mission, picked us up from the airport, giving us the opportunity to finally hear first hand the full scope and scale of trafficking in Cambodia.

We landed in Cambodia's capitol city early Monday morning local time. Don and Bridgette Brewster, the founders of Agape International Mission, picked us up from the airport, giving us the opportunity to finally hear first hand the full scope and scale of trafficking in Cambodia.
Four years in Cambodia's dangerous red light district has meant a lot of things for Don and Bridgette. They are well acquainted with the very best, and the very worst of society. Today, they have 58 girls in various stages of their reintegration program, not including those already reintegrated with their families, or into a profession of their choosing. However, these joys are in stark contrast to the young children they see trafficked every day, witnessing an individual bludgeoned to death with a golf club on their street, or rushing a young girl to the ER after a particularly violent rape. She suffered from severe internal bleeding, as her young, pre-pubescent body was not meant to be manhandled. Literally.

As excited as I am to be in Cambodia, I am bracing myself for the horrors we will witness tomorrow when we will actually be in Svay Pak for the first time. Bridgette asked that we not photograph the children without their permission. Many of them have been forced to perform lewd, sexual acts on film, and the camera is only one more reminder of their dark reality. Even though they are children by day, they are sex slaves by night. The majority of the children who join in the Arts and Crafts

Tomorrow, we will meet these brave girls for the first time. We have 30 aerosol cans and 10 gallons of paint to begin our project of turning the whitewashed walls of the Kids' Club into a kids' dreamhouse.

Blog by Rachel Fuerst, heART for the KidS team

Thailand vows crackdown after weekend killings

Bangkok remains quiet as three-day holiday begins; Deputy PM says ‘terrorists’ will be hunted down

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Nick Macfie and Nopporn Wong-Anan
Bangkok — Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2010

Thailand said it would hunt down “terrorists” it blames for the country’s worst violence in 18 years in which 21 people were killed, but anti-government protesters say the army is to blame.

A Thai “red shirt” protest leader threatened a mass march on army barracks where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been based, but that plan seemed up in the air as the country celebrates its new year.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban ordered police to hunt for “terrorists” the government blames for the killings in Bangkok’s old quarter which came after a month of generally festive protests and shocked the world.

“We can’t let terrorists walk freely in this country,” he said. “We have enough evidence from still pictures and video footage that we can identify those carrying M-16 or AK-47 rifles where they live.”

The “red shirt” demonstrators, who want Mr. Abhisit to stand down immediately, said they would step up their protests, with plans to send out hundreds of motorcyclists handing out leaflets and pictures from the clashes in which 21 people were killed.

Mr. Abhisit, who came to power in 2008 when the army brokered a deal in parliament, would have to step down if the Constitutional Court found his Democrat Party guilty of funding irregularities.

The Election Commission on Monday unexpectedly recommended his party be dissolved for suspected funding irregularities. It is now in the court’s hands.

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of South East Asian Nations, said the situation was deteriorating and must not be left to “fester“.

“The deteriorating situation in Thailand between demonstrators and government security forces in Bangkok has caused serious concern among ASEAN member states and the world at large,” he said in an unusually bold statement for a group that tends not to criticize its members.

“The situation is affecting the confidence in the security and stability in the region and if it is left to fester and escalate, it could lead to more violence and loss of life.” U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch urged the Thai government to “keep its promise” to set up an independent commission to investigate the “violence and abuses by all sides“.

About 300 “yellow shirts” gathered at the Victory Monument war memorial, calling on the red shirts to go home.

“We are asking for peace. We don’t want the government to dissolve parliament and we want the red shirts to stop damaging the country,” said Suthep Wongta, 33, carrying a picture of the country’s revered king over his head.

The yellow shirts are made up of academics, businessmen, royalists and urban middle-class activists opposed to ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the political parties he has backed from exile.

Foreign Minister Kasin Piromya urged the international community to crack down on what he described as illicit money transfers made by Mr. Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon beloved by the rural poor for populist policies.

Mr. Kasin said Mr. Thaksin was illicitly providing the red shirts with $3-million a day, describing him as a “bloody terrorist“.

“It would be nice to have a look at where the money is going,” he told reporters in Washington. Mr. Thaksin has denied the charge.

Further isolating the embattled Abhisit, army chief Anupong Paochinda said on Monday early elections could end the impasse.

It was Mr. Anupong’s first public comment since his forces failed on Saturday to eject protesters from their base in central Bangkok. The violence was Thailand’s worst in two decades.

“It looks like Abhisit’s fortune may be waning,” said Sukhum Nuansakul, an independent political scientist.

Didier Duret, CIO of ABN Amro Private Bank, said he was “underweight” Thailand. “We don’t like the political risk,” he said.

Standard & Poor’s retained Thailand’s BBB-plus foreign currency rating on Tuesday but also kept the outlook at negative, highlighting the risks. S&P also maintained the local currency rating at A-minus.

“Since 2006, the country has seen a number of abrupt changes of government. This has distracted from long-term policy planning and implementation,” Kim Eng Tan, sovereign analyst for Thailand, said in a statement. But he said the risk of widespread violence was low.

The red shirts, mostly rural and working-class supporters of Mr. Thaksin who was ousted in a 2006 coup, want Mr. Abhisit to call polls immediately.

The electoral fraud case could take months as prosecutors and the Constitutional Court act on the commission’s recommendation. A guilty verdict could lead to the dissolution of Abhisit’s Democrats, the country’s oldest party, and Abhisit and party executives would be banned from politics for five years.

The court found two Thaksin-allied parties guilty of fraud in 2007 and 2008.

On Monday, coalition partners proposed Mr. Abhisit dissolve parliament in six months. He had already offered nine months.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged both sides to talk. “The challenges you are facing cannot be resolved by force, but only by dialogue,” she said.

Financial markets were closed on Tuesday at the start of the Songkran new year festival. Stocks fell 3.6 per cent on Monday.

Despite army commander Anupong’s comment that “parliamentary dissolution seems to be a reasonable step“, some questioned whether the army agreed on the way forward.

“It’s not clear if the army is speaking with one voice,” said Charnvit Kasertsiri, a prominent Thai political historian.

The deadlock brought back speculation of another coup in a country that has seen 18 since 1932.

Bangkok has been calm since Sunday but thousands of red shirts remain camped out in two areas of Bangkok, including an upmarket shopping district whose big malls have had to stay closed for much of the past 10 days.

Red shirt guards man checkpoints, direct traffic and check the identity of passers by. Pick-up trucks, taxis and motorcycles are parked on streets, stopping traffic from entering areas under red shirt control. Police and soldiers were nowhere in sight.

Last Khmer Rouge to Defect Discuss Reconciliation

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Northwest Cambodian town of Anlong Veng scene of new effort to help bring justice to region

Robert Carmichael | Anlong Veng, Cambodia
13 April 2010

Photo: VOA – R. Carmichael
Former Khmer Rouge district chief Im Chaem tells a reconciliation meeting of former cadres and the group's victims in Anlong Veng, Cambodia that the Khmer Rouge in the town want no further prosecutions of its members, 09 Apr 2010

In 1998 the town of Anlong Veng in Cambodia's northwest became the last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge to surrender to the government. Recently, the community was the scene of a new effort to help bring reconciliation and justice to the region.

On the outskirts of Anlong Veng sits the compound of the movement's last leader, Ta Mok, who died in jail awaiting trial four years ago. Ta Mok was a terrifying figure in Cambodia, but he was much admired here.

Recently, his home saw the first reconciliation meeting of former Khmer Rouge cadres and the group's victims.

Cambodian-American lawyer Daravuth Seng runs the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, which organized the meeting. He says the gathering aims to get Khmer Rouge members and their victims to talk to each other to promote understanding.

From that understanding, he says, reconciliation can come.

"When we are talking about reconciliation, it is reconciliation of a nation, and with the Cambodian context that must include a lot of the former perpetrators as well. And in one sense we're all victims in this process," Seng said.

From 1975 to 1979, the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, were responsible for the deaths of more than a million Cambodians - from disease, overwork or execution.

Around 150 former Khmer Rouge and some of their families gathered here as well as a small group of Buddhist monks. Several police attended, along with representatives from the international tribunal that is trying five Khmer Rouge leaders.

It is not long before the Khmer Rouge raise their main concern. They have heard the tribunal has a secret list of five more it wants to prosecute.

They say that violates a pledge they received when they surrendered in 1998 that there would be no losers from their defections.

An elderly woman addresses the tribunal staff.

Her name is Im Chaem, and she was a Khmer Rouge district chief in the late 1970s. Media reports have speculated she could be one of the five names on the list for prosecution.

Im Chaem wants the prosecutions to end with the five people already in custody, saying at one time the tribunal indicated only five were suspected but now it refers to another five. This made all the elderly people who were engaged in the war feel unsafe. She says they do not know when it will be their turn because they lived and served during that time. Even though Pol Pot died already, there might be another five and then five more and then 10?

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen says today is unusual since most Cambodians want to know why so few Khmer Rouge are being held accountable.

VOA Photo – R. Carmichael
Khmer Rouge Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen speaking to former members of the ultra-Maoist group in Anlong Veng, Cambodia at the home of Ta Mok, a former senior leader believed to have been responsible for many of the regime's worst atrocities. The poster on the tree shows a Khmer Rouge leader at his arraignment, 09 Apr 2010

"Here it is 'Why do you want to prosecute more? It should be enough with the five, don't stir up everything after we have reintegrated.' So this is the major difference," Olsen said.

The trial of one Khmer Rouge leader ended last year and a verdict is expected in the coming months. Four others are in prison and are expected to face trial next year. Most of the group's senior leaders, however, died long before the tribunal began its work a few years ago.

By the end of the day, participants have discussed the meaning of reconciliation, justice and reintegration. There is broad agreement that the leaders currently in jail ought to be prosecuted, but no one else.

Participants are also tired of being referred to as "former Khmer Rouge." They say the term is equated with murder and oppression, which is unfair to their children. Far better, they say, that all are called Cambodian.

And they recognize their lives have improved since they defected. One attendee says families used to live in the mountains and were unable to share a meal together. Now their children have schooling, and people have access to health services and good roads.

In short, they want peace and more economic development for this impoverished part of Cambodia. It is time, they say, to look to the future.

Organizer Daravuth Seng says the day went better than he expected. Former Khmer Rouge turned up, engaged, and spoke.

They listened as a member of a victims' association told them that the Khmer Rouge - responsible for the deaths of perhaps 2 million Cambodians - killed his parents.

Seng says one or two people even showed remorse. A central purpose of the reconciliation effort is to grasp why they joined the Khmer Rouge.

"If we are to say never again, we really need to understand both sides, to understand the way these folks are perceiving the world," Seng said.

He says the day's event is not an end in itself, but the beginning of steps toward reconciliation.

Learn to relate to draw lessons

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

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By A. Gaffar Peang-Meth
April 14, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Homes Jr. said, "The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts alive."

We can store a lot of data in our brain and yet the data alone do not equal "knowledge." Unless we relate what we know to other things, other people or other events to create interconnection, information is just data.

In comparative studies, we learn about others and their ways in order to better understand our own. Most will agree that this is a pathway to building a better world.

When the world's nations joined together in 1948 in a general assembly on the heels of World War II to proclaim the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they noted, "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind," and affirmed "it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law."

Many have read this preamble, but may fail to relate it to the human drive to be free and empowered with certain civil rights, and to be willing to "rebel" to achieve those.

Spanish-born American philosopher George Santayana wrote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Last Wednesday evening, a day of bloody clashes left 68 people dead and more than 400 wounded in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. President Kurmanbek Bakijev, a U.S. ally, fled Bishkek as former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, head of the coalition of opposition groups, declared on state television: "Power is now in the hands of the people's government. ... You can call this revolution. You can call this a people's revolt. Either way, it is our way of saying that we want justice and democracy."

Otunbayeva received a congratulatory telephone call the following day from Russia's Vladimir Putin, who never wanted the U.S. Manas Air Base, crucial to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, on Kyrgyz soil.

Kyrgyzstan, which is slightly smaller than South Dakota with some 5.5 million people, won independence from the former Soviet Union a day before the latter collapsed in 1991.

Kyrgyzstan's "falsified" March 2005 parliamentary elections unleashed the Tulip Revolution that removed President Askar Akayev from power in April 2005 as protesters stormed government buildings. The new government, under Bakijev, was formed by opposition leaders, but with leaders allegedly linked to organized crime, rights and justice were far from reach.

Alexey Semyonov, of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation that promotes civil society and democratic development in the former Soviet Union, and Professor Baktybek Abdrisaev, former Kyrgyz ambassador to the U.S. and Canada, said, "It is significant that of the former Soviet Republics, Kyrgyzstan is the only nation that has forced regime change."

They wrote in the April 9 Washington Post: "The people are clearly willing to fight for their rights."

They assert that the week's events provide "a powerful lesson" for Obama: "The U.S. government's policy of supporting security at the expense of democracy has come back to bite the United States. For the past several years, the United States has been noticeably quiet while the Bakijev regime has held rigged elections, trampled on human rights, and resorted to violence to silence the opposition and independent media."

The U.S. should help "the opposition deal with the considerable economic and political challenges facing Kyrgyzstan," they said.

"Governments change, but problems often remain," they wrote. "The new Kyrgyz leadership has a chance to address the country's pressing problems, and the United States could improve its Kyrgyz policy in the process."

Events like last week's riots in Kyrgyzstan are similar to events elsewhere, such as Myanmar and Cambodia -- hence, we can relate similar events and situations, learn lessons and unlearn old ones.

On April 7, in Hanoi, where Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders gathered for their annual summit, 105 parliamentarians from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore petitioned ASEAN to "immediately enact strict and targeted economic sanctions" against Myanmar. They want to "immediately" suspend Myanmar from ASEAN, with Myanmar's "permanent expulsion earnestly considered," for violating the ASEAN Charter's principles and promulgating election laws that excluded the only real opposition leader, Aun San Suu Kyi, from participating.

On March 29, the Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy announced its boycott of the May 10 elections.

In its report "Vote to Nowhere," Human Rights Watch sees the Burmese elections as "being carried out in an environment of severe restrictions on access to information, repressive media restrictions, an almost total ban on freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and the continuing widespread detention of political activists."

Foreign Policy Magazine's "Happy Birthday to Burma's Military: It's been a hell of an awful 65 years," posits that "A free and fair election would most likely give (Myanmar's military) its marching orders: out of power."

We should know, learn to relate and draw lessons from similar but unrelated events occurring all around us.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. Write him at .

Market Hopes Property Law Will Boost Growth

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The passage of a new law for the ownership of property by foreigners could give a boost the stagnant real estate market as well as bring in more investment, industry experts say.

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Construction workers work on a new apartment complex in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The passage of a new law for the ownership of property by foreigners could give a boost the stagnant real estate market as well as bring in more investment, industry experts say.

The much-anticipated Foreign Ownership Property law was passed by the National Assembly last week and must now move through the Senate before being signed by the king.

“This foreign property law will benefit both foreign investors and Cambodians and will increase confidence in the legal framework for foreign property ownership in Cambodia,” Daniel Parkes, Cambodia country manager for CBRE Richard Ellis, told VOA Khmer.

Parkes called the law “a revolution in property investment” and one more step for Cambodia toward becoming a destination for international investors and property developers. “It goes a long way toward improving confidence and improving investment in Cambodia,” he said.

The law, which was drafted in December in a bid to improve ownership rights, allows foreigners to own residential property such as apartments, so long as they are above the ground floor.

Parkes said investors should consider coming in now, to take advantage of an expected upswing in the economy in 2011.

“The next six months is a good time to buy,” he said. “Comparatively, it’s more appealing than Thailand and Vietnam for foreign investors.”

Cambodian law does not allow foreigners to own land. Previously, if a foreign wanted to own any property, he would have to seek out a Cambodian partner, which deterred investment.

“My wife is Cambodian; she owns her own home here,” said Paul Luchtenburg, chief executive officer for Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea, a microfinance institution. “But I know a lot of friends who want to find an easier, legal way to buy an apartment in Cambodia.”

With more foreigners able to buy apartments, the demand will increase, which could bring higher prices to property investors, he said.

“It should bring more money into the country,” he said. “So I think that is a very good thing.”

Jeremy Ha, director of Phnom Penh Commercial Bank, said South Korean developers and construction companies were optimistic about the new law.

“So I guess the number of companies [who want to] build apartments or condominiums will steadily increase in the future,” he said. “I am also optimistic as a foreigner, because I can buy an apartment or a villa in my own name.”

Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association, told VOA Khmer in an interview the law will boost the economy.

Overall economic growth in Cambodia ground to a halt in Cambodia during the global economic downturn. The real estate market, which had been experiencing a boom, suffered heavily.

“It’s an opportunity for foreign investors to buy their own houses in Cambodia, for investment and for residence,” he said.

The sub-decrees that implement the law should be easily because the law is clear, he added.

Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, said the implementation of the law “will be fair and proper for all sides.”

Climate change doomed Khmer empire

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Kalyan Ray, march 30, New Delhi:

A long-held mystery on what contributed to the demise of one of Asia's longest and the most well-known Hindu empires was revealed thanks to advanced research into the region's climatic conditions.

Scientists have now found that long spells of droughts interspersed with intense monsoon have brought curtains over Cambodia’s Khmer empire, which flourished from the ninth to the thirteenth Century.

At the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, researchers said two of the worst droughts—in the middle of the 13th Century and early14th Century—combined with intermittent spells of heavy rain was one of the factors that resulted in the downfall of the empire more known for the majestic Angkor Vat temple.

Though the 13th Century drought stretched on for several decades, the dry spell that hit the region on the early 14th century was found to be the sharpest.

The drought in 1403 was reflective of moisture stress in the soil. “It was an extra-ordinarily dry event,” principal investigator Brendan Buckley from Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York told Deccan Herald.

“Droughts of the magnitude we describe here would have had deleterious effects on the Angkor citizenry,” he said.

Scientists unravelled the weather conditions by reconstructing the monsoon period (March to May) for 759 years (AD1250-2008 ) through extraction of climate information stored inside ancient trees in a Vietnam national park.

Vulnerable infrastructure
The Khmer empire relied on a sprawling water supply system that covered an area of nearly 1000 sq km and connected the main city with its extensive suburbs. By the end of the 12th century, it became a vast and convoluted web of canals, embankments and reservoirs.

The infrastructure was huge by any stretch of imagination. The largest reservoir, West Baray, has an area of 16 sq km.

Such a massive infrastructure is “resistant to change” and “vulnerable to the risk of massive damage,” says the team comprising researchers from the US, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

While successive droughts weakened the water supply, the rain that fell heavily in the intervening years had only extended the damage.

The collapsing infrastructure was hard to bear for an empire that struggled to withstand war and other social factors.

“The climate factor was seldom mentioned among the causes of Angkor collapse. The society was already under stress and had very limited strategy to manage a vast and complicated water system that was impossible to rework. They also found themselves under the climate variability that far exceeded their ability to cope,” explained Buckley.

Scientists believe El Nino, the unusually high sea temperature in the Pacific that disturbs climatic conditions across the world, could have been responsible for Cambodia’s seesawing climate. However, they feel more research is required to ascertain this.
DH News Service

New Year Becoming a Boon for Shoppers

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The days leading up to the New Year have become very good for shoppers, with stores around the city slashing prices by up to 70 percent on shoes, watches, electronics and even food, in an increasingly competitive market.

Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cambodian shoppers browse a clothing stall at a market in Phnom Penh.

The days leading up to the New Year have become very good for shoppers, with stores around the city slashing prices by up to 70 percent on shoes, watches, electronics and even food, in an increasingly competitive market.

Shopkeepers say they will keep prices low through the last day of the New Year, which ends April 16.

At the third floor of the Sorya, traditional Khmer music drifted from the K-Four electronics store, where inside discounts were as high as 50 percent, for products that ranged in price from $1 to $10,000.

“On the occasion of the New Year, we not only offer discounts, but we also offer gifts,” the store’s general manager, Neb Chan Thavy told VOA Khmer. “It is an effective strategy to attract buyers that increases the numbers of customers from 15 to 20 percent.”

Deals could be found throughout the city, in places like the Belami clothing store, on Sihanouk Boulevard, where some items were 70 percent off.

“It’s the first year we’ve offered such high discounts, because we face high competition,” said Sreang Lynaro, the store’s owner. “Despite getting less benefit compared to undiscounted [prices], I’ve grabbed more customers than ever, which brought our revenue up.”

In developed countries, discounts at holidays are common, but in Cambodia, it has only been in recent years that stores have had to compete for holiday revelers looking to buy new things ahead of the New Year.

Cambodians are responding. Heng Chakrya, a 22-year-old university teacher, said she had scraped together $200 this year to buy clothes.

Foreigners, too, have noticed the change.

“We all wait for Khmer New Year to clean out our house and put in new things,” Leslie Ema, director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Study, said.

One place you won’t find a discount: travel. Buses and taxis that are crowded with passengers this time of year have raised their prices to destinations across the country.

Peace, Insects, Prosperity for 2554: Astrologer

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The New Year is a time for predictions, and as the Year of the Tiger comes to Cambodia, at least one prognosticator says the months ahead may be difficult—at least for some.

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cambodian Buddhist followers offer food to the monks during a merit making ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The ceremony is in advance of Cambodian New Year which is held in April 14-16.

The New Year is a time for predictions, and as the Year of the Tiger comes to Cambodia, at least one prognosticator says the months ahead may be difficult—at least for some.

Im Borin, head of the Committee for Research of Astrology and the Cambodian Tradition, told VOA Khmer Tuesday Cambodia will see enough rain in the year ahead, but it will also face destructively high temperatures.

Im Borin, who is himself an astrologer, said the Year of the Tiger will also bring insects. Perhaps half the country’s agricultural output could be destroyed by pests, he said.

Im Borin predicted an improved political climate this year, 2554 on the Buddhist calendar.

Last year saw a souring of relations between Cambodia and Thailand over the appointment of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra to economic adviser for Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Both countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in the ensuing row, and each maintains a heavy military presence along the border near Preah Vihear temple.

Im Borin said in 2554 a new goddess will descend from Heaven, carrying a needle and a stick, which she will use to protect the world.

“Businessmen will have more prosperity,” he said, a prediction supported by Cambodia’s climb out of a recession last year, with modest growth expected around 4 percent this year.

But the Year of the Tiger won’t be great for everyone, Im Borin said.

“People who were born in the years of the tiger, monkey, pig and rabbit, people who are born under these signs should be a careful this year,” he said.

GE Oil & Gas supports development of oil and gas resources

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GE Oil & Gas supports development of oil and gas resources

The agreement reached by GE Oil & Gas and PetroVietnam in Washington DC on April 12 sets out a clear basis for continued successful cooperation between the US and Vietnamese groups in the coming years, confirmed a GE Oil & Gas official.

Talking on the occasion of the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on long-term cooperation between GE Oil & Gas, an affiliate of GE of the USA , and PetroVietnam, President & CEO of GE Oil & Gas, Mr. Claudi Santiago said : "We are honored to sign this MOU with Petrovietnam, already a highly valued partner to GE Oil & Gas. Our agreement sets out a clear basis for continued successful cooperation in the coming years. We are dedicated to supporting the continued development of oil and gas resources in Vietnam and are capable of delivering technologically advanced projects of significant scale to meet the growing energy needs of Vietnam and the region".

According to GE Oil & Gas, the MOU outlines the principles and basis of long-term collaboration between GE Oil & Gas and PetroVietnam regarding the supply of advanced oil and gas equipment, services and spare parts to optimize the total life-cycle value of key oil and gas projects.

GE Oil & Gas Apr. 12 press release said that the signed MOU creates a framework to improve future transactions based on standardized contractual terms, conditions and manufacturing slot reservations, and provides for potential future cooperation on new oil and gas technologies, technical support on projects and advanced skills development and training.

It added that GE Oil & Gas has a strong local presence in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for turbomachinery and drilling and production equipment and services support respectively. GE Oil & Gas provides advanced technology equipment and services to several high-profile projects in Vietnam , such as the BP Pipeline, Dung Quat Refinery, Phu My Refinery, Ca Mau Fertilizer and Vietsovpetro.

The MOU will enable GE Oil & Gas to more effectively partner on other potential large-scale projects with PetroVietnam, including PetroVietnam’s Nghi Son Refinery, Long Son Refinery, Chevron Block B Off-Shore development and the Long Son Petrochem Complex, said the press release.

Cambodian, Vietnamese women tighten friendship & cooperation

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A delegation from the Cambodian Women’s League, headed by Senator Mean Sam An, is visiting Vietnam from April 12-18 to strengthen bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation.
The delegates were received by the Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women’s Union, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, who underlined the need to preserve and develop the time-honoured, all-round relationship between the two organizations.

Ms Hoa highlighted the significance of the visit by the Cambodian delegation, which coincides with Vietnam’s celebrations of the 35th anniversary of South Vietnam’s Liberation and the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi.

She briefed her counterpart on the Vietnam Women’s Union’s recent activities, including three projects approved by the government such as promoting vocational training, building an academy for Vietnamese women, and preparing them for the process of industrialization and modernization.

During the reception, Ms Sam An said that the Cambodian people consider Vietnam’s achievements in national construction as their own and recalled the support and sacrifice of numerous Vietnamese women for Cambodia’s struggle against the Khmer Rouge genocide.

She said that both women’s organizations should strengthen their traditional ties of friendship and cooperation as well as boosting ties between people in the border provinces.

Vinacas to grow cashew in Cambodia

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The Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas) has signed an agreement to cultivate 2,000 hectares of cashew trees in Cambodian provinces Kampong Cham and Kampong Thorn, said the association's general secretary.

Dang Hoang Giang said the cultivation would signal the beginning of a program to cultivate cashew in the neighboring country in the next five years, and the final area under cashew cultivation there would increase by several times.

However, the association did not reveal the total planned cultivation areas as the expansion is still under discussion.

After the crops are harvested, cashew growing and processing companies in Dong Nai Province, including Donafoods, will set up processing plants in Kampong Thorn Province.

The firms will provide farmers in the two Cambodian provinces with support including seedlings and training on processing and cultivating techniques to meet standards required by importing countries.

The Vietnam Development Bank (VDB) will offer 20 major Vietnamese cashew companies preferential short-term loans to invest in machinery and equipment to improve the industry's processing capacity, according to Vinacas.

As Vietnam's current cashew crops are ending, enterprises are importing cashews from Africa to process and export.

Nguyen Ba Hoc, Vinacas' chairman, said cashew prices are rising on the global market, luring many brokers who came in to sell and re-buy African cashews, creating a sudden price hike. Vinacas has cautioned local importers against the practice, he added.

Hoc said Vietnam was in discussion with some African countries to exchange rice for cashews. However, the two countries are yet to decide how much rice from Vietnam will be exchanged for African cashew.

Vinacas has assigned Long An Province Cashew Association to negotiate the barter trade agreement, Hoc added.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Vietnam exported about 30,000 tons of cashew nuts worth US$157 million already this year, down 4.3% in volume but up 12% in value compared to 2009.

Publication date: 4/13/2010

ADB: Asia economies rebound, need to adjust policy

FILE - In this March 10, 2010 file photo, containers are seen at a port in Singapore. The Asian Development Bank raised its regional growth forecast this year from 6.6 percent to 7.5 percent on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, but warned that governments need to adjust policies to avoid shocks that could hamper their recovery. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

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MANILA, Philippines — The Asian Development Bank raised its regional growth forecast this year from 6.6 percent to 7.5 percent on Tuesday but warned that governments need to adjust policies to avoid shocks that could hamper their recovery.

China is forecast to grow by 9.6 percent, after last year's 8.7 percent expansion almost singlehandedly lifted the region's overall growth to 5.9 percent, offsetting weakness elsewhere. Another powerhouse, India, is projected to see growth rise to 8.2 percent from last year's 7.2 percent.

Five Southeast Asian economies that contracted last year — Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei — also are set to return to growth, together with Hong Kong, Mongolia and Taiwan, the bank said in its economic outlook.

In 2011, GDP growth across the region is seen easing back to 7.3 percent.

Investment is expected to remain strong and private consumption improve as projected growth this year and next lifts domestic demand, boosting consumer price inflation to about 4 percent, the bank said.

The fragile recovery still could be derailed by a premature withdrawal of stimulus, a sharp rise in commodity prices, persistent global financial imbalances and deteriorating debt positions in some countries, said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

Asia's recovery is attracting large capital flows, the perils of which were made clear in the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, he said.

"Volatile capital flows could again have serious implications for exchange rates and money supply," Kuroda said.

"As it exits the worst effects of this crisis, therefore, developing Asia must remain faithful to its tradition of sound and responsible fiscal and monetary policies," he said.

The bank proposed monetary, exchange rate and fiscal policies to enable the region to adapt to the post-crisis world. It said that while price stability is the overriding objective, there needs to be better coordination between fiscal regulation and monetary policy to avert a homegrown financial crisis.

"After all, the combination of lax monetary policy and inadequate financial regulation contributed to inflating the U.S. housing market bubble that the immediate catalyst of the global financial crisis," the bank said.

Excessive foreign exchange market intervention should be reduced in favor of greater flexibility, and capital controls could help guard against foreign exchange volatility, it said.

Developing Asia refers to 44 countries and territories from the Pacific to Central Asia, excluding Japan.

Mekong sub-regional nations’ Lunar New Year marked

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April 13, 2010

A friendship exchange programme was held in Hanoi on April 10 to mark the traditional Lunar New Years of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar and the success of the 16th ASEAN Summit.

President of the Hanoi Chapter of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) Pham Xuan Hang expressed the hope to share the sincerity and friendship through friendly and peaceful activities, held regularly by the union and friendship associations, which will enhance mutual understanding and fasten the solidarity between the Hanoians and people of other ASEAN nations.

2010 is an important year for people of Hanoi and the whole nation as Vietnam will celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi and Vietnam is the Chair of ASEAN to strive for a goal of a peaceful and prosperous ASEAN Community. To fulfil this task need the supports and assistance of people in ASEAN, Hang noted.

On behalf of the four embassies in Hanoi, Myanmar Ambassador to Vietnam Khin Maung Soe took the occasion to thank the solidarity and friendship of people of Hanoi and the whole country while he celebrated his traditional Lunar New Year abroad.

The Myanmar diplomat wished for the further development of the friendship and cooperation among the four countries’ people and Vietnam, friendship organisations and embassies, thus contributing to the cause of peace, friendship and cooperation in the region and the world at large.

The delegates attended special Lunar New Year festivals and special folk music performances and Vietnam. (VNA)

Cambodia, Viet Nam to join forces on raising tourist arrivals in both countries

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April, 13 2010

HCM CITY — Viet Nam and Cambodia are planning to work together more closely to increase the number of tourist arrivals in both countries, experts have said.

The numbers of cruise ship travellers who visit the Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia after visiting Viet Nam are very high, according to Le Dinh Tuan, chairman of the board of directors of Viet Excursions, which provides land tours for cruise guests.

"A cruise ship arriving in Viet Nam provides an average of nearly 100 guests who book tours to Cambodia and then return to Viet Nam to continue their voyage," Tuan said.

Because it takes only an hour to fly to Siem Reap from HCM City, tourists can return the next day instead of going on a trip to provinces in Cuu Long (Mekong Delta), which takes hours by bus.

One-day tours to Siem Reap from HCM City would attract more cruise ship guests if more evening flights opened, Tuan said.

The third highest group of foreign visitors to Angkor Wat, Japanese tourists, are increasingly choosing Viet Nam as the next destination after Cambodia, according to figures released by the APEX Cambodia Travel Service Company.

The number of Cambodian tourists to Viet Nam for sightseeing, shopping and medical check-ups and treatments is also on the rise.

Cambodia has shifted many tours from Thailand to Viet Nam because of the opening of many border gates between the two countries, medical travel and similarities between food and beverages between the two countries, according to He So Somara, secretary of state of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.

With many international airports and international air routes to Viet Nam, foreign visitors can travel to Viet Nam and then fly or travel by road or waterways to Cambodia and return to Viet Nam to head home.

According to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, the number of Cambodian tourists traveling to Viet Nam soared by 147.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year against the same period last year.

The seat occupancy of five flights from Viet Nam to Cambodia every day reached 80 to 95 per cent in March, a representative of Vietnam Airlines said.

The HCM City-based Medic Medical Centre has in recent months received more than 100 patients from Cambodia for health check-ups and treatments every day, accounting for 10 per cent of the total number of patients registering at the centre, according to Dr Phan Thanh Hai, director of the centre.

Pham Quang Hung, director of the International Cooperation Department under the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, said that tourism authorities of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam would jointly organise promotion programmes to tap potential markets during the International Travel Expo, which is scheduled to open in September 30 in HCM City.

A proposal for a single visa for Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam is being considered and will be submitted to the Government, Hung said. — VNS

Science news: What happened at Angkor Wat

A famous temple is not the only major ruin at Angkor. (Bigstockphoto)

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The great Khmer capital of Angkor, in what is now Cambodia, was for a time the largest preindustrial city in the world. Modern-day visitors to the ruins at Angkor Wat can see, in addition to the ornately carved Buddhist temple, remnants of a massive and intricate system of waterways, dikes and holding ponds.

But the city declined, finally succumbing to Thai invaders in 1431. A group of researchers say they believe they have at least a partial answer to the mystery of its collapse: Two major droughts, and some follow-up flooding, probably weakened the city's agricultural base and left it vulnerable to disease and invasion.

"The Angkor droughts were of a duration and severity that would have impacted the sprawling city's water supply and agricultural productivity, while high-magnitude monsoon years damaged its water control infrastructure," the researchers wrote in a recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from the United States, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand conducted tree-ring analysis in the untouched, thousand-year-old "cloud forests" of nearby Vietnam. Rings grow wider or narrower based on, among other things, rainfall. Cores that were extracted from the trees without harming them provided the guide to climate change over the last 758 years -- including severe droughts from 1362 to 1392 and from 1415 to 1440.

"Angkor at that time faced a number of problems -- social, political and cultural. Environmental change pushed the ancient Khmers to the limit and they weren't able to adapt," lead researcher Brendan Buckley, a climate scientist and tree-ring specialist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a statement. "I wouldn't say climate caused the collapse, but a 30-year drought had to have had an impact."

At its height, Angkor was home to possibly a million people and, according to a 2007 study, covered at least 385 square miles -- more than five times the size of the District. A UNESCO World Heritage Site with its huge complex of overgrown and crumbling temples, many pockmarked with bullets from Cambodia's recent wars, Angkor may be best known to Americans as a stunning backdrop in the 2001 movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

A video of Buckley in Vietnam's "cloud mountains" and discussing the findings can be seen online at

US MIA searchers find human remains in Cambodia

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AP - Tuesday, April 13

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A U.S. government search team has found fragments of human remains at what could be the grave site of photographer Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood star Errol Flynn, who disappeared during the Vietnam War 40 years ago.

A spokesman for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command said Monday that at least a few shards from a skull were found by a seven-member recovery team last week.

Lt. Colonel Wayne Perry said the team has been digging at the same site where Australian Dave MacMillan and Briton Keith Rotheram unearthed remains last month, but are exploring deeper and over a wider area than the amateur sleuths did.

At least 37 journalists died or disappeared in Cambodia in 1970-75, in a conflict that pitted a U.S.-backed government against the communist Khmer Rouge.

Dancing in the New Year

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

A student dance troupe from the Royal University of Fine Arts kicks off Khmer New Year celebrations with a display of traditional dancing for government officials at the Ministry of Information on Monday morning.

Feeding the big cats

Photo by: Bejan Siavoshy

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:02 Bejan Siavoshy

A woman makes offerings of raw pork and cooked eggs to statues of big cats at Wat Phnom in Central Phnom Penh on Monday, as the country gears up for this week’s Khmer New Year holiday and the Year of the Tiger.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

Reuters is Asked for Correction by Cambodia over Publishing Wrong Data of Land Area

Monday, 12 April 2010 11:32 dap-news .PHNNOM PENH-

“Cambodia is profoundly disturbing to notice that Thomson Reuters Foundation website under the name: has published clearly wrong information on the area size of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which this publication has asserted to be of 176,520 sq km only.

“The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers is duty-bound to bring the correction to this unacceptable mistake, which according to our understanding such information is based on erroneous sources,” said the letter, which is sent to Thomson Reuters, was seen by DAP News.

Based on the map and land area made by French Indochina Survey Department and based on the official map of the Kingdom of Cambodia deposited at the U.N. in 1964, the correct land area of the Kingdom of Cambodia is 181,035 sq km, said the letter which also sent to Editor Reuters AlertNet in London and also copied to the company’s regional office in Thailand.

“The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, therefore, strongly demands that Thomson Reuters Foundation posts the land area of 181,035 sq km of the Kingdom of Cambodia on its current website,” said the letter.

ASEAN’s Chairman Vietnam Says Thai Politics is Internal Affairs, No Meeting

Monday, 12 April 2010 10:11 by Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH-Vietnam’s Foreign Minister said Thai political unrest is internal affairs and it is not practical to convene an urgent ASEAN meeting on how to response the current Thai political crisis after violent clashes between anti-government "red shirts" and security forces that killed 21 people and wounded over 800.

Vietnamese Pham Gia Khiem, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said after Cambodian foreign minister wrote to Hanoi “to convene an urgent special ASEAN Summit in order to help looking for an appropriate ways to defuse an extremely explosive situation in our friendly Thailand”.

Khiem said that “in this regard and taking into account ASEAN’s practice, I would like to seek your views on the matter and look forward to receiving your response by early (on Monday) and on how ASEAN should proceed”.

“Besides, I am of the view that it is not practical to convene a special ASEAN Summit as having been proposed,” said Khiem in a letter on Sunday to ASEAN chief and leaders of the ten Asian nations of the bloc.

He also said that ASEAN Member states are following with concerns over the recent violent situation in Thailand.

“Several ASEAN Member States, including Vietnam, have already expressed national views on this situation,” said Khiem.

“Although this matter is the internal affairs of Thailand, I share the view possibility of issuing an ASEAN as a whole should consider some kind of joint expression of views on the violence aspect as we did it before.”

He however said that Thailand has rejected the call for special meeting of ASEAN.

“As ASEAN Chair, Vietnam has consulted with Thailand on the possibility of issuing an ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on behalf of ASEAN Foreign Ministers, but Thailand’s SOM Leaders responded negatively,” Khiem said.

Foreign media reported that 20 were killed and more than 800 were wounded in the Saturday’s clashes in Bangkok between troops and the Red Shirts, mostly rural and working-class supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a coup in 2006, are demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve parliament immediately and leave the country.

The report said the clashes, the worst political violence in Thailand in 18 years, some of it in well-known tourist areas, ended after security forces pulled back late on Saturday.

“In light of this very grave development which no one knows when it will end and whether it will lead to more bloodshed,” he said in the letter to Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem on Saturday.

“I think that we, as fellow ASEAN member states cannot stand idle and leave ASEAN image at stake any further,” said the release.

“Therefore, I would like to propose that Vietnam as Chair of ASEAN should issue a Declaration on the situation in Thailand, or convene an urgent special ASEAN Summit in order to help looking for an appropriate ways to defuse an extremely explosive situation in our friendly Thailand,” Hor Namhong said in the release.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva cancelled summit last week trip to Hanoi, where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Summit (ASEAN) after declaring a state of emergency on Wednesday to control a month-long anti-government protest aimed at forcing an election.

ASEAN bloc includes Brunei, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Police Blotter: 13 Apr 2010

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:00 Chrann Chamroeun

A 29-year-old man in Poipet was seriously injured when he was slashed in the knee during a dispute over 100 riels. Police said the victim, a rubbish collector, was playing cards with his alleged attacker, also a rubbish collector, last Thursday. The victim apparently won a bet over 100 riels, but the other man then accused him of cheating. The suspect became so angry that he allegedly took a knife and chopped the victim in the knee. A local NGO transported the victim to hospital, and the assailant has run away.

A man in Poipet has been arrested after he allegedly tried to rob a grocery shop and struck its owner in the neck with an axe. The incident happened early Saturday, according to Poipet town police. Authorities say the suspect confessed he intended to rob the lady. He parked his bike in front of the shop. Ostensibly, he came to buy cigarettes, but seeing a good chance, he struck the lady with an axe and knocked her senseless, police say. The man was arrested along with an accomplice, but another man remains on the run.

Two rubbish collectors have been arrested after they allegedly beat a petrol station attendant following an argument over a parked rubbish lorry. Witnesses said the men parked the lorry in front of the station, causing difficulties for people who wanted to fill up on petrol. The petrol station attendant told them to drive away, prompting the violence.

A man has been arrested and sent to court after he was accused of attempting to rape two girls while they slept under a mosquito net. The man is alleged to have scaled a gate to get at the girls, who were sleeping across from a beer garden in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. The mother arrived and held the man until police arrived. The suspect admitted that he crawled inside the mosquito net, but said he just wanted to talk to one of the girls, whom he loved.

Five women described as prostitutes and one man alleged to be their pimp have been arrested following a Saturday raid on two brothels in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. The district’s governor said the raids followed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s calls earlier this year to step up enforcement on brothels. The governor pledged to continue crackdowns, even if brothels reopen.