Thursday, 2 September 2010

Hun Sen wary but still ready for Thai talks

via Khmer NZ

By The Nation
Published on September 2, 2010

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday the recent thaw with Thailand following resumption of diplomatic relations would not help solve the border conflict as long as Thai troops were stationed in the area near the Preah Vihear temple, claimed by both countries.

"I am not satisfied nor am I smiling while you are shaking my hand and at the same time you step on my foot," he was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

However, Hun Sen expressed his readiness to hold talks with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The two leaders are expected to meet at several upcoming events, such as the Asia-Europe Meeting to be held in Brussels in early October, the Asean Summit in Vietnam in late October, or the leaders' meeting at the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Cambodia in November.

The Cambodian leader said outside mediation was not necessary for just bilateral talks covering issues of common interest. However, if no way out was found for the border problem, a third party was a real need. Hun Sen added that Cambodia could not wait for too long, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Hun Sen also urged the Thai Parliament to approve agreements made by the foreign ministers of the two countries in order to help solve the border problem.

He said parliamentary approval for the three agreed minutes would pave the way for the two governments to resume their talks and for the border dispute to be solved. The agreements referred to the setting up of a joint committee to look into the redeployment of the armed forces, real action on troop redeployment at the area near Keo Sikhakiri Svarak temple and Preah Vihear, and the joint de-mining of the areas.

Regarding fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation as his economic adviser, Hun Sen said his status had nothing to do with the border conflict.

Thaksin: I quit out of annoyance

via Khmer NZ

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thursday that he has quit his advisory posts for the Cambodian government and Cambodian prime minister out of annoyance.

In an interview with Thai Rath, Thaksin said he quit the two posts because "it's annoying. People always accused me of this and that."

"In order not to be annoyed any more, I asked Hun Sen if I should quit."

American Public Schools, the Khmer Rouge, and Ideology

 Written by BruceDPrice
Virginia Beach, VA

via Khmer Nz

Starting in 1975, Pol Pot and his Communist revolutionaries killed almost 2,000,000 Cambodians, out of a total population of 5,000,000. Why??

Pol Pot lived in Paris for many years where he became a Marxist intellectual. Sitting in classrooms and cafes, he visualized the perfect Cambodia. He went back to Cambodia to eliminate foreign influences, purge educated people, and thereby create an agrarian workers paradise.

Pol Pot was a fanatic, a true believer. The best one-word summary is to say that Pol Pot was an ideologue. He had ideas in his head; he knew they were right; and he was thereby entitled to kill millions of people to make those ideas prevail. Pol Pot, some may object, is a monster and too horrible to contemplate. I would counter that contemplating Pol Pot is one of the most useful things we can do. Let us declare April (said by Eliot to be the cruelest month) as Ideology and Mass Murderers Month.

Students in public schools especially should be urged to contemplate the ravages of ideology. So many of them are its victims.

Ideological extremism is relatively rare in the United States; many people may be lulled into thinking it does not exist at all. However, for several years I've suspected that the only way to explain the failures in American education is to look at the ideological extremism of the people in charge.

Pol Pot is one of the great monsters of history and obviously very rare. But the thing to focus on is that once he committed to his ideas, he believed there were no limits, no rules, no restrictions. That's the mark of a true ideologue.

What happened in America is that around 1900, all the leaders in education were Socialists, Collectivists, or Marxists of some stripe. They believed their views were correct and that it was their duty to prepare the country for Socialism. When they dumbed down schools and leveled children, John Dewey and his fellow ideologues believed they were doing a noble service. The point is, so did Pol Pot and his gang. Ideologues always believe they are doing good deeds. That is why they are so dangerous.

The "killer" part of Dewey's ideology is he felt he was above American society. He did not need the approval of Congress, the president, the Supreme Court or the voters. All of these obstacles had to be circumvented and this is where Dewey's ideology got us into real trouble. Maybe they weren't murdering people; they were definitely murdering truth and transparency.

Dewey and his fellow conspirators worked in secret from their headquarters at Teachers College in Manhattan. Their plot was to indoctrinate future teachers, send them out to the schools in the countryside, and use the classroom to steer the US to socialism. Ideology made secrecy seem respectable.

This machinery, once in place, got out of control, as you might predict. The Russian Revolution circa 1920 and the Great Depression circa 1930 galvanized our left-wing educators into thinking that their time had come, all arguments were settled, and big bold steps must be taken.

So now we see one of the most destructive events in American history: circa 1932 educators abruptly imposed Look-say on the children of America. This was a bogus, unworkable system whereby children were supposed to learn to read by memorizing the shapes of words. Memorizing a few hundred sight-words is doable, and thus the illusion is created that children are making progress. But virtually nobody actually goes on to read with whole-words. Typically, more than half the class will belatedly evolve into reading phonetically. But a third will stay mired in whole-words and become functional illiterates. We have 50,000,000 of them.

The simplest way to explain this tragedy is to say that ideology caused it. I think the same pattern repeated itself with New Math circa 1965. Both these gimmicks are grotesque in their manifest inability to do the purported task. It's as if you go to the store to buy white bread and someone sells you a lump of styrofoam.

I would argue that the same pattern repeats itself many DOZENS of times, as our Education Establishment devised numerous so-called methods that never seemed to work as promised. Only ideology could produce such a ditzy parade of failure. Clearly, the methods were not supposed to work educationally; they were intended to work ideologically.

One of the distinguishing traits of American education today is that the people in charge have not only dumbed it down, they have also wrapped the entire subject in propaganda, alibis, excuses, sophistries, deceptions, and confusion. The public is trained now to blame children, parents, television, computers, drugs, sex, rock 'n roll, internet, cell phones, especially parents. Anything but the real perps.

Typically, when large enterprises fail, we blame the leaders and replace them. That's what we should do here. But the Education Establishment is brilliant at deflecting criticism. The last thing they want you to realize is that they are ideologues, and all of us are victims of their ideology.

For Lane Yon, "Mayor" of Bear Necessities, Obstacles to Immigration Hit Home

Nathan Schwartzberg
Lane Yon works at Bear Necessities on Wednesday. Yon is fighting to bring his pregnant wife from Cambodia to the United States.

via Khmer NZ

September 2, 2010
By Jeff Stein

Bear Necessities food service worker Lane Yon — nicknamed “The Mayor” by his co-workers because “he knows everyone” — has spent endless hours over the last several years chatting with and befriending Cornell students, hitting Dino’s with members of the basketball team, and even attending the occasional fraternity party.

But beneath his buoyant, bubbly exterior, Yon has been painfully struggling in a way many of his Cornell friends might not know. His wife, Kim Por, has been denied entry into the United States by the American embassy in Cambodia, according to Yon, since 2008.

And Por is expecting. To prove his marriage was real and to see his wife, Yon spent the summer in Cambodia. With Por two months pregnant, Yon is hoping to have his child born in the U.S., especially because the American hospitals are better than those in Cambodia, he said.

Yon expects to hear again from the immigration office in about a month, but he is trying to resist high expectations.

Yon said that the American embassy believes his marriage with Por “is a scam” because, in its view, the two are “only married because of [his] green card.” They’re “giving me the run around,” Yon said of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

According to Prof. Stephen Yale-Loehr ’77, law, an immigration professor who also practices immigration law at an Ithaca firm, Yon’s dilemma is representative of a larger international trend.

“In some countries, like Cambodia, getting the documentation that the immigration agency prefers is a lot harder [than in other countries],” Yale-Loehr said. Getting one’s real wife through the immigration service’s stringent criteria is “often is a problem,” he said.

No one knows exactly how common is the practice of “sham marriages,” Yale-Loehr said. In 1986, the U.S. government estimated in a report that one-third of all marriages reviewed were “shammed for green card purposes,” but, Yale-Loehr said, the study was faulty.

“One has to look at it from both sides,” said Caryl Uzelac, the executive director for a U.S. immigration law firm based in New York City. She said that real marriages can be “very difficult to prove,” and that the U.S. has the responsibility of protecting its borders.

Still, this has not been much solace to Yon, who expressed frustration with those who conduct sham marriages.

Yon has traveled back to Cambodia five times since his marriage to Por in 2008 in an effort to prove his marriage is real. “What can I do to make [the embassy] believe [me]?” he said.

In October, Yon’s lawyer, Hilary Fraser — who Yon said is helping him for compensation less than her regular rate — wrote a letter to Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd) asking for help.

“We are all aware of the high fraud rate in Cambodian U.S. immigration applications … However, this one I assure you is legitimate,” Fraser wrote.

Hinchey’s office wrote back that they were unable to render an “advisory opinion,” but recommended Yon try contacting the Department of Homeland Security.

Yon said he is now “trying to get a hold” of Cornell President David Skorton to ask for help. He said he “hopes this story will get [Skorton’s] attention.” He also said that he is now “getting assistance” from U.S. Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

After years of disappointment, Yon is getting frustrated with his position.

“Some nights I want to give up,” he said, adding that it is difficult “working late hours without someone to support you back home.”

Other Bear Necessities employees said they have seen Yon’s struggle to bring his wife to Ithaca take a toll on him.

“We’ve seen him cry sometimes when he talks about it,” said Anne VanDonsel, Yon’s co-worker of two years.

Ronnie Horton, Yon’s shift supervisor, said that the “family” of workers “see when he’s emotional” about Por and try to “make it so he doesn’t get down.”

“Just bring her home,” said Yon’s co-worker Helen Quick.

Yon said that he plans to go back to Cambodia “if [Por] gets denied again.”

“I want to start my life already, buy a house and have kids,” he said.

The history behind Yon and Por’s relationship may lend support to the marriage’s validity.

A few years ago, Yon’s father, Kennedy, set up an arranged marriage for Yon in Cambodia, where Yon was born. Kennedy had changed his name when his family came to Salt Lake City in 1988, “sponsored by a Mormon family,” because Yon’s father “respected [U.S. President John Kennedy’s] Vietnam policy,” Yon said.

Back in Cambodia, Kennedy found a wife for his son. Yon had planned to accept this predetermined bride, but when he arrived in Cambodia, he broke off the match because “we had nothing in common.”

Yon’s father was infuriated and decided to cut off support for his son. His decision plunged Yon into a depression. He did not know what to do with his life, he said.

Then he “bumped into” his future wife at the mall.

“In South East Asia, [a] guy can’t pursue girls,” Yon said. But since Yon, whose family came to America when he was seven, was “so Americanized … I went up to her and said I liked her.”

“She was scared of me [and thought] I was from a mental hospital,” Yon recalled, laughing. But he persisted, and the two were married in 2008.

During the course of his interview with The Sun, Yon was approached and high-fived by several students, some of whom knew him by name. He has over 70 friends on Facebook who were or are Cornellians. He said that he occasionally goes to fraternity parties “just to get out of my place to have people to talk [to] and have fun.”

He also said that members of both the tennis and lacrosse teams are particularly adamant about getting Yon to come to their parties, “but I just don’t have the time,” Yon said.

Yon said that he likes a lot of things about Cornell but that it is a “stressful environment.”

His plan, after working more in the U.S., is to “take these skills back” to Cambodia and open his own American restaurant in the model of Bear Necessities.

Tobacco Ad Ban Proposed in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

02.09.2010 | news Newsdesk

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said a proposed sub-decree banning advertising and promotion of tobacco products was discussed during a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for tobacco control yesterday and would be sent to the Council of Ministers “soon”.

Health authorities have proposed a sweeping ban on all tobacco advertising and promotion.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said a proposed sub-decree banning advertising and promotion of tobacco products was discussed during a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for tobacco control yesterday and would be sent to the Council of Ministers “soon”.

“We are creating the sub-decree on tobacco advertisement measures because we are mainly focused on promoting people’s health,” Mam Bunheng said.

The advertising ban is a key component of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Cambodia ratified in November 2005.

The convention demands that member states institute a “comprehensive ban” on all forms of tobacco “advertising, promotion and sponsorship” within five years of ratification.

Mam Bunheng said companies that breach the ban on advertising would risk losing their business licences. “If any company does not follow, first we will send a letter to warn them,” he said. “Second is to suspend their business and the third is to withdraw licences from running businesses.”

WHO tobacco health adviser Yel Daravuth said he supported a ban. “Banning advertising of tobacco products is an important step to prevent youth from starting to smoke,” he said. “It will help smokers start to quit.”

Mom Kong, the executive director of the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health, said tobacco advertisements were far too prevalent.

“There are all forms of advertisements in the media,” he said. “You can see it on the street, or at concerts, which can attract a lot of youths and rural people to smoke.”

Kun Lim, the head of corporate affairs for British American Tobacco Cambodia, said the company had been prepared for an advertising ban and supported it – so long as the embargo was enforced across the board.

“We welcome all the sensible laws regarding tobacco control, including advertising,” he said.

“If it is done on a level playing field, I don’t see any major issue with it.”

Kun Lim said BAT would like point-of-sale advertisements – posters where cigarettes are sold, for example – not to be included in any potential ban.

“How do we get information to the consumer? We can only do so at the point of sale,” he said.

Chum Sophea, the human resource manager for Viniton Group, which markets Angkor brand cigarettes, said any ban on advertising would affect the company “100 percent”.

However, her company was still waiting to see what the new sub-decree would entail, she said.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said a proposed sub-decree banning advertising and promotion of tobacco products was discussed during a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for tobacco control yesterday and would be sent to the Council of Ministers “soon”.

Original news source: Tobacco ad ban proposed

Cambodia aims high with 555m skyscraper

via Khmer NZ

2010-09-02 07:24

Cambodia is aiming for the record books with an ambitious plan to construct Asia's tallest building, a 555-meter skyscraper worth US$200 million, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.

The building would be five times taller than the country's present highest structure, the new, 32-storey Canadia Bank Tower, which dominates the Phnom Penh skyline, where buildings of more than five floors stand out.

If the project goes ahead, it would top the Taipei 101 Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers - the world's three tallest buildings after the 828-meter Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

"It will be shorter than the one in Dubai and taller than any buildings in Asia, and I think we can do it," Hun Sen announced during a university graduation ceremony yesterday.

"We don't have to be too conservative and we also don't need to be too outdated," Hun Sen added, brushing off criticism from cultural groups concerned that a construction boom was threatening the capital city's French colonial architecture.

Hun Sen said the proposal had been made to the country's Land Management Ministry and local lender Canadia Bank would be involved in the project.

However, real estate companies questioned whether there was much demand for a building half a kilometer high in the capital of one of Asia's poorest countries.

"Where would the investors come from?" said Sung Bonna, CEO of Bonna Real Estate Group in Phnom Penh. "We are concerned about the shortage of demand and occupancy rates so we need time, but we hope this dream comes true."

Cambodia urged to release jailed human rights worker

via Khmer NZ

1 September 2010

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have urged the Cambodian government to immediately release a human rights worker who was sentenced to two years in prison for giving out anti-government leaflets.

Leang Sokchouen, who works for the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), was convicted on charges of "disinformation" on Monday after a trial marked by numerous procedural flaws.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) have called or Sokchoeun's release in a joint statement.

â??This conviction once again highlights the lack of independence and impartiality of the courts, which are all too often used as a tool against the less powerful, rather than to uphold their rights,â?? said Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director.

Cambodian police arrested Sokchouen on 29 May on charges of involvement in the production and distribution of anti-government leaflets in Takeo province in January.

He was held incommunicado for over 33 hours, despite numerous requests by his family and lawyer to visit him. Sokchouen was given a US$500 fine, plus a two-year prison sentence.

â??Unfounded charges of disinformation or defamation are well-worn tactics used by the Cambodian government to create a climate of fear,â?? said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President, added: â??We reiterate our call to the Cambodian authorities to abolish the crimes of defamation and disinformation in Cambodian criminal law and ensure that the Criminal Code is not used to abusively restrict the right to freedom of expression.â??

Eric Sottas, Secretary General of OMCT, urged the Cambodian authorities to free the activist.

â??Leang Sokchouen should be immediately and unconditionally released as his detention is arbitrary and due process was blatantly violated throughout investigation and trial,â?? he said.

EVN sends 912 million kWh of power to Cambodia in 16 mths

via Khmer NZ

September, 02 2010

HCM CITY — Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) has supplied nearly 912 million kWh of power over the past 16 months to Cambodia.
The national power utility released these figures at a conference on the Chau Doc-Takeo 220kV transmission line held in HCM City on Tuesday.

The meeting was organised by EVN's National Power Transmission Co (NPT) and Electricity of Cambodia (EDC).

Nguyen Van Bay, head of the technology division under the Power Transmission Company No4, said the Chau Doc-Takeo transmission line had helped Cambodia deal effectively with power shortages.

He said EVN had gone to great lengths to achieve this because Viet Nam was itself facing serious electricity shortage during the dry season this year.

The two sides discussed several issues at the conference, including the operation of the transmission line linking Chau Doc in An Giang Province with Cambodia's Takeo Province; developing new power networks, as well as technical problems and maintenance work.

The 220kV Chau Doc – Takeo Transmission Line includes a 26.5-km line from Chau Doc to the border between the two countries and a 50.1-km line from the border to Takeo.

The project is part of a power purchasing contract signed between the EVN and the EDC, and an agreement on power energy cooperation between the Cambodian and the Vietnamese Governments signed in July, 2000.

In addition to this transmission line, the EVN has also signed power purchasing contracts with Chinese and Lao partners. — VNS

Secret titanium mine threatens Cambodia's most untouched forest

via Khmer NZ

Jeremy Hance
September 01, 2010

Although the mining consortium, United Khmer Group, has been drawing up plans to build a massive titanium mine in a Cambodian protected forest for three years, the development did not become public knowledge until rural villagers came face-to-face with bulldozers and trucks building access roads. Reaction against the secret mine was swift as environmentalists feared for the impacts on wildlife and the rivers, local villagers saw a looming threat to their burgeoning eco-tourism trade, and Cambodian newspapers began to question statements by the mining corporation. While the government has suspended the roadwork to look more closely at the mining plans, Cambodians wait in uncertainty over the fate of one of most isolated and intact ecosystems in Southeast Asia: the Cardamom Mountains.

Cardamom Mountain Range waterfall popular with ecotourists. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Alliance.

Spreading over some 2 million hectares (5 million acres) the Cardamom Mountains contain a startling biodiversity, including some 250 bird species, half of those recorded in Cambodia. Rare species such as Malayan sun bears, Indochinese tigers, pileated gibbons, and Siamese crocodiles inhabit the region. The largest population of Asian elephants in Cambodia, numbering about a hundred individuals, also roams this region.

If built, the titanium mine will stretch some 15,000 to 20,000 hectares (37,000 to 50,000 acres) of the Cardamom Mountains. Construction of the pit will require deforestation and burial of vast amounts of waste; such waste often results in the destruction or pollution of important waterways.

Michael Zwirn, head of Wildlife Alliance's US operations, described the impact to wildlife in the region as "very serious", adding that the mine would particularly imperil freshwater species, such as the Siamese crocodile, which is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. In addition, the mine will sit right in the middle of an elephant migration route, endangering a quarter of Cambodia's wild elephants.

Map of the mining area

For locals the announcement of a mine in their backyard could not come at a worse time. The village of Chi Phat has spent years developing sustainable eco-tourism in the region. Many of the locals have left off poaching and logging for tourism and their efforts had begun to pay off: Lonely Planet, one of the most recognized travel guide companies in the world, named the area, known also as the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, among the "World’s Top 10 Regions for 2010".

American tourists on birdwatching tour led from Chi Phat

Villagers are currently working with Wildlife Alliance on a new lodge to attract even more tourists to the once little-visited site. The conservation organization has spent over half a million US dollars to build an eco-tourism base in the area.

According to Zwirn, the town of Chi Phat is "almost universally opposed to the mine" since "communities have staked their economic development on environmentally friendly tourism". Seven hundred and sixty-six villagers, including the village chief, have already signed a petition against the mine for Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Spoonbills in flight photographed from helicopter. Photos courtesy of the Wildlife Alliance.

In face of opposition it has become increasingly unclear as to the status of the mine. Zwirn says that in Cambodian "ministries have sent very contradictory signals".

"It's not clear who's making some of these decisions, and it's not even clear what some of these decisions are. It's not clear how the process is being made."

Zwirn adds that a significant portion of the government appears to oppose the mine, but that may not be enough to stop it. According to reports the mine was initially approved by the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, yet the ultimate decision rests with the Ministry of Commerce.

"This is a perfect example of unplanned and uncoordinated development," Suwanna Gauntlett, CEO of Wildlife Alliance, said in a statement.

Not only the government, but the mining corporation has also faced criticism. The CEO of United Khmer Group, Chea Chet, stated that the mine would raise revenues of 2,500 US dollars a ton. However, the Phnom Penh Post, which calls Chet's assertion "frankly absurd", reports that titanium has been selling for less than a third that amount.

"Even if the ultimate revenues are far less than they promised they are still making money," Zwirn explains. No matter what profits the company makes it's not certain those funds would stay in Cambodia: Zwirn says that the project is being backed by Vietnamese and Chinese interests, but the company has refused to disclose the names of the private investors involved in the project.

Khmer burial jars (300-500 years old) in one of 12 known archaeological sites in the Cardamoms. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Alliance.

In addition, questions have been raised as to the amount of ilmenite, which is the mineral mined for titanium production, in the area. Chea Chet has stated that United Khmer Group expects to pull up 120 million tonnes. Yet, Wildlife Alliance counters that the area was explored by another mining company, Omsaura, which estimated that only 2.5 million tonnes would be available, about 2 percent of Chet's claim.

Zwrin says that the company is playing "classic bait and switch". By "vastly overstating the [expected] revenues" United Khmer Group is using visions of riches to pressure the government for approval.

Map of the mining area

Conservationists fear that if this titanium mine is approved it will open the door to a variety of industrial projects in the region ultimately devastating one of Southeast Asia's last pristine forests. The Phnom Penh Post reports that if the titanium mine is successfully approved, China is planning three to four more mines covering 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) in the Cardamom Mountains.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

Cambodian-Thai Information Minister Meet for Strengthening Bilateral Ties

Thursday, 02 September 2010 07:24 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 2, 2010-Cambodian and Thai information Ministers on Thursday met an hour talk to strengthen bilateral cooperation between two countries after the countries mended the diplomatic ties last week.

“The meeting today is playing a very important role to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in field of media system and rebuild relationship for media - media of the two countries, Khieu Kanharith, information minister and Cambodian government’s spokesman.

The media from both sides need to help to create the atmosphere of indiscrimination of the two peoples, and we need good cooperation, Khieu added.

We are working on three tools for strengthening cooperation: first, we need to have exchange urgent connection for media system to avoid misunderstanding in providing news from media system. Second, Cambodian appoints an official to work with Thai embassy here to connect on media field and third, both sides will exchange the news to each other including technique, and articles for information cooperation.

“We want to strengthen close relationship for media system and our talks is fruitful, Ongart Klampai Boon, Thai information minister told media after the talks. We have similar culture and religion that are core things for our relationship. Thai delegate will meet Cambodian PM Hun Sen at late afternoon to ask the recommendation for strengthening the cooperation on media field and also paid the courtesy call.

Thai troops invaded Cambodian on July 15, 2008 at area near 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple. And the relationship has soured from that time.

Sondhi Limthongkul, Thai PAD leader is barbarian: Cambodian DMP Sok An

Thursday, 02 September 2010 06:56 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 2, 2010-Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the council of ministers on Thursday said that Thai People’s alliance for Democracy (PAD) is a barbarian for this century.

Sondhi is creating the darkness for diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Thailand,” Dr. Sok An said in a extraordinary congress of scouts’ association at the council office.

Sondhi used cruel words in looking down on Cambodian leader “Samdech PM Hun Sen” and Sondhi created religious ceremony with crazy manner. This guy is not civilized person in the century.

Sondhi is destroying reputation of Thailand,” Dr. Sok An said, adding that our great students asked to create similar manner against Sondhi. “We do not do it. We are not barbarian like Sondhi,” he added.

The Thai government should advice Sondhi not to do so if Thai government wants to have good relationship.

Yesterday, PM Hun Sen said that one day Sondhi will kill himself from acts that he did.

Sondhi Limthongkul was born 7 November 1947 and he is a Thai media mogul and leader of the right-wing People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and later was elected for leader of the New Politics Party (NPP).

He has been starting his career as a journalist, he later founded Manager Daily newspaper as well as satellite broadcaster ASTV.

Originally a strong supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, he later became a leader of the anti-Thaksin movement. Under his leadership, the PAD was the major player in the 2005–2006 Thai political crises that led to the 2006 military coup that toppled the Thaksin government.

When Thaksin affiliated parties won the 2007 general election, Sondhi became the major player in the 2008–2009 Thai political crisis, leading the PAD in violent clashes with security forces and anti-PAD protestors as well as the seizure of Government House, Don Muang Airport, and Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Sondhi is a supporter of the Democrat Party and stopped the PAD's protests after Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was appointed Prime Minister. Thai media said that Sondhi plans to become Prime Minister of Thailand and later he plans to be first president of Thailand.

Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 15, 2008 at an area near Preah Vihear temple through secret map which drawn unilaterally. Thai invaded a week after Cambodia has listed successfully the temple as world heritage site. Cambodian needs international communities to help deal border issues.

A face that illustrates a disaster

Photo by: AFP

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:03 AFP

A young boy bathes in a bucket yesterday at a camp for displaced people in Sukkur, southeast Pakistan. The worst disaster in the country’s history has left an estimated 8 million people dependent on aid to survive.

CTN offers bunkers on front line

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:03 Thet Sambath and James O’Toole

CAMBODIA Television Network says it is raising money to construct concrete bunkers for troops stationed along the Thai border as part of a controversial programme in which private businesses provide charitable support to the military.

Although government officials have said the donations that come through the programme will focus on humanitarian needs – including food and shelter for the families of soldiers stationed at the border – CTN director Tok Kimsay said yesterday that the station hoped to provide support for troops in potential combat.

“We are talking to people and asking them to provide charity to build concrete bunkers for the soldiers stationed at the front line,” Tok Kimsay said. “This material will protect the troops in case of war.”

Tok Kimsay said CTN was collecting both money and raw materials through a televised campaign that began on Tuesday to support the construction of bunkers along a 113-kilometre stretch of border primarily in Oddar Meanchey province.

Existing fortifications, he said, were often constructed out of earth and easily damaged by rain and flooding.

Yim Phim, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, said his troops had begun building concrete bunkers at the border but did
not have the resources to extend the project beyond their main encampments.

“We need more bunkers, but they require a lot of money for construction,” he said.

Tok Kimsay said CTN had collected 40 tonnes of cement thus far, and estimated that 1,000 tonnes of concrete and 500 tonnes of steel would be necessary to complete the project.

The business-military partnerships were first laid out in a document signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in February. CTN, one of the companies named as a participant, recently helped finance a 9-kilometre road for troops in Oddar Meanchey.

Though government officials have characterised the partnerships as an innocuous example of corporate charity, rights groups fear the scheme could further obscure military finances and leave troops beholden to private interests.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he was unfamiliar with CTN’s plans, but emphasised that businesses were not meant to finance combat-related projects.

“In principle, it should play the role of humanitarian, not warfare,” Phay Siphan said.

In addition to the corporate sponsorship scheme, the government budgeted US$277 million for military spending in 2010, a 24 percent increase from the previous year.

Carlyle Thayer, a professor of politics at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said the sponsorships and increased spending were likely less about preparing for a conventional military conflict then they were an attempt by Hun Sen to stir up nationalist sentiment and ensure loyalty from the armed forces.

“It keeps the military on his side if you talk about an external threat or their importance,” Thayer said.

Disinformation appeals planned

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Three men accused of distributing antigovernment leaflets in Takeo province earlier this year sit handcuffed outside the Takeo provincial court on Monday.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:03 Kim Yuthana

INTERNATIONAL advocates are calling for the release of a local rights worker who was one of four people convicted of disinformation this week after what critics say was a flawed investigative process.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture condemned the conviction of Leang Sokchouen, whom the Takeo provincial court on Tuesday sentenced to two years in prison and fined 2 million riels (US$476). The rights groups said the trial was “marked by numerous procedural flaws as well as violations of fair trial provisions” spelled out in Cambodian and international law.

“This conviction once again highlights the lack of independence and impartiality of the courts, which are all too often used as a tool against the less powerful, rather than to uphold their rights,” Donna Guest, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific deputy director, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Leang Sokchouen, who is employed by local rights group Licadho, and three Khmer Krom men living in Takeo province were accused of distributing antigovernment leaflets earlier this year. Two accused – Thach Vannak, a former monk, and Thach Le, a motorbike-taxi driver – received the same sentences. A fourth person, Thach Khong Phoung, the plot’s alleged mastermind, was convicted in absentia and sentenced to three years in prison and fined 6 million riels (US$1,430).

The leaflets, which were found scattered in three Takeo districts in advance of the January 7 anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, asserted that the day should not be viewed as one of liberation, but as the day Cambodia became “abused and occupied” by Vietnam.

In reaching his decision, Judge Cheng Bunly said the leaflets were inappropriately critical of the government.

“These actions affect the national leaders and create unrest in society,” he said on Tuesday.

Thach Setha, president of the Kampuchea Krom Community, yesterday called the convictions “completely unjust and unacceptable”.

“I believe that the act of the court in convicting the three Khmer Krom people was under political influence,” he said.

Thach Setha said the four convicts were unlikely to have opposed the celebration of the January 7 anniversary because they were neither opposition activists nor part of a resistance movement aimed at overthrowing the government.

Though Thach Vannak and Thach Le were not represented by a lawyer during their one-day trial, Thach Setha said he would now look for lawyers to help them appeal against their convictions.

Leang Sokchouen’s lawyer, Ham Sunrith, said his client plans to appeal as well.

“My client has given me the right to arrange the filing of an appeal,” he said. “I hope that the Appeal Court will launch a hearing soon.”

Dredging wraps up as firms await contracts

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Vong Sokheng and Sebastian Strangio

KOH Kong province’s controversial sand export trade appears to have drawn to a halt, though local companies are attempting to restore contacts with Singaporean sand contractors, officials said.

Pech Siyon, director of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said yesterday that the last licenced dredging company in Koh Kong – local firm Udom Seima Trading – had wound up its sand export operations over the past few weeks. The company is currently in the process of shipping a 1,000-cubic-metre sample of sand to Singapore, he said, and is awaiting word from a potential client there.

“There were two shipments today and yesterday and there will be one last shipment,” he said. “We don’t know when they will answer. There is no market now, so there is no dredging activity.” He said he did not know the Singaporean company’s name.

In May, anti-graft watchdog Global Witness reported that up to 796,000 tonnes of sand was being removed from Koh Kong each month and sent to Singapore, where it is used in construction and reclamation projects. It argued that the trade had destroyed livelihoods and threatened marine ecosystems.

At the time, Pech Siyon said that only Udom Seima was still operating, and that a joint venture by the local LYP Group and the Hong Kong-based firm Winton Enterprises – one of the main operations mentioned in the report – had been suspended pending the renewal of its licence.

A representative of Udom Seima, who did not give his name, said the company was suspending its export operations for a year because its Singaporean export quotas had “expired”.

“We are waiting for Singapore to open a new quota for export,” he said. “They have just said the quota will open this month and then that month, but so far no one has contacted us.”

Global Witness campaigner Eleanor Nichol said her organisation was not aware of any official change of policy in either country, but that any news of an export suspension was to be applauded.

“If sand exports from Koh Kong to Singapore have really been suspended, then this is great news for both the local environment and local fishermen,” she said. “We hope this suspension signifies that the Singapore government is taking the concerns raised by us ... and by others, seriously.”

High-rise employees strike over new shifts

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

MORE than 700 construction workers yesterday protested outside the Vattanac Capital high-rise on Monivong Boulevard after they were ordered to work overtime for what they deemed insufficient pay.

Workers at the site, where construction began last year, were previously assigned shifts running from 7am to 11am and from 1pm to 5pm, and were paid US$3.50 each day. But representative Sreng Nary said the Korean construction company in charge of the site had told the workers yesterday that they would need to work from 7am to 12pm, from 1:30pm to 6pm and then from 7pm to 11pm. He said that they were also told they would be given around 3,000 riels (about US$0.75) per day for the overtime shift.

“We cannot stand for this change,” he said.

Mear Moa, 46, a construction worker from Kampong Cham province, said the construction company had changed shift times in the past, and that the changes announced yesterday were unacceptable because “all of the workers are tired and need to take a rest”.

A man who identified himself as a representative of the construction company, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said yesterday that the company would stick by the changes despite the strike. “We will let the workers go if they are not happy working for us,” he said. “We will just keep the people who are satisfied with the wages we provide.”

Construction on the 38-storey tower is set to be completed in 2012.

NGOs say sugar deal may lead to evictions

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Irwin Loy

LOCAL rights groups plan to meet with European Union officials this week to warn that an EU scheme aimed at fostering trade from developing countries might be fuelling evictions in the Kingdom.

David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said local groups would meet with EU officials Friday to outline concerns about the EU’s Everything But Arms scheme, which allows Least-Developed Countries to export duty-free goods to Europe.

Rights groups say the government has issued land concessions to private companies, including some that are using disputed land to make way for sugar plantations – with the sugar destined for EU nations. One major dispute has pitted 2,000 families in Kampong Speu’s Omlaing commune against Ly Yong Phat, a ruling party senator whose holdings include the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, the recipient of a 9,000-hectare concession.

“Villagers are losing their farms to land-grabbing, and this needs to be addressed,” said Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant for Licadho, one of the concerned groups. “Hopefully the EU ... will do the right thing.”

Rafael Dochao Moreno, the chargé d’affaires for the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia, said EU officials take the issue seriously. But ultimately, he said, problems are best resolved by the government, not EU “sanctions”.

“The people that pay the biggest price for the sanctions are not rich people but poor people,” Dochao Moreno said at a press conference after a seminar on human rights yesterday.

Press news: Opposition daily goes on the web

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Sam Rith

Press news

OPPOSITION-aligned newspaper Khmer Machas Srok has relaunched itself online, after its print edition ceased publication in June because of financial problems. The paper’s publisher, Hang Chakra, said yesterday that the new site ( went live on Saturday.

“We will still maintain our stance of criticising corruption,” Hang Chakra said.

The print edition of the daily newspaper is scheduled to be relaunched in November.

In June last year, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Hang Chakra to one year in prison after convicting him of disinformation. The charges were related to articles alleging corruption in Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s cabinet. Hang Chakra was released in April.

NGOs ready a slew of graft complaints

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

THE Kingdom’s newly formed Anticorruption Unit potentially faces a busy start, as two local organisations are preparing to file more than 50 corruption complaints to the body this month.

A group of 14 ACU officials were sworn in Tuesday during a ceremony at the Appeal Court.

During the ceremony, the officials took an oath stating that they were willing to face death by lightning strikes and car accidents, and suffer other grisly fates if they failed to faithfully discharge their duties.

Local NGO representatives said yesterday that they had filed or were preparing to file complaints ranging from allegations of widespread illegal logging to irregularities in the collection of traffic fines.

I don’t have any concern. If I work to serve the national interest, I will die with closed eyes.

Chea Hean, director of the National Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, a national watchdog, said he lodged a complaint on Monday accusing 241 officials of involvement in the illegal timber trade in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district.

“I have the documents,” he said. “The perpetrators have confessed in front of me, and I have recorded that they have paid some money to the officials stationed in the region.”

Those in his sights, Chea Hean said, include Oral district forestry officials, park rangers, district governor Chem Sarim and district police chief Dos Sim. He said he also plans to file a complaint alleging similar operations in Koh Kong province later this month.

“I don’t have any concern. If I work to serve the national interest, I will die with closed eyes,” Chea Hean said. “I dare to face to all kinds of danger.”

Chem Sarim and Dos Sim could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Also yesterday, a local representative of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, a regional organisation, said he had received more than 50 complaints in 10 provinces related to the alleged levying of illegal fines by traffic police.

San Chey, the organisation’s Cambodia-based network fellow, said he would forward them on to the ACU next week.

San Chey said many of the complaints accused traffic police of levying fines that were greater than those prescribed in the Land Traffic Law.

“Based on the swearing-in of the 14 [ACU] officials I think that they can find justice for the people,” San Chey said. “It is time to eliminate corruption in Cambodia.”

ACU chairman Om Yentieng said he welcomed all complaints lodged to the body, but could not guarantee that every complaint filed would be pursued by the body.

“All complaints will be received and looked at,” he said. “We do not deny anyone’s complaint.... We must have a look because they have trusted us enough to lodge a complaint with us.”

Om Yentieng said that the ACU would choose whether or not to investigate particular complaints based on their merit.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for local human rights group Adhoc, said that as long as ACU officials are members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party it would be impossible to eliminate corruption in the Kingdom. “ACU officials must not be controlled by the party. [They] must be independent, neutral. But those officials have not announced their withdrawal from the party,” Chan Soveth said.

Chheng Sophoan, 23

Banking student

“I think that it is hopeless because corruption is a very big problem. We must cooperate. We must especially take action at the top first. If the leaders are not corrupt, the lower officials will also not be corrupt. I think only about 30 percent of corruption can be eliminated successfully because the rule of law in Cambodia is not as strong as in other countries.”
Vong Vanna, 22

Student of Khmer literature

“I think that they created this law and it can be effective. Cambodia has a lot of corruption, so sometimes the law might be effective, but corruption cannot be totally eliminated. I have only a 75 percent belief this will work because the corruption takes place in secret.”
Pich Chea, 45,

Tuk-tuk driver

“If leaders have the will to eliminate corruption they can do it, but if they don’t have the will, they won’t be able to. For example, traffic police often levy fines over the legal limits of the traffic law. This is one example of corruption.”

Garment spat: Company stands by three firings

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol

Garment spat

REPRESENTATIVES of a Phnom Penh garment factory yesterday refused to reinstate three employees who were fired last week, citing a court order, a union official said.

On Wednesday last week, Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered around 160 workers who had staged a weeklong strike at the factory to return to work within 48 hours, and gave the company permission to fire three union representatives accused of inciting the workers to strike.

Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Labour Union Confederation, said yesterday that he would continue to press the company to let Ien Pov, Hourt Bora and Nun Chamnan return to work.

“I will discuss this with the court officials and factory lawyer on Friday and request that the court issue another letter to allow those three workers to start their work again,” he said.

Factory representatives could not be reached.

Rin Saveat, deputy union leader at the factory, said workers would strike again if the three were not reinstated soon.

Editor fears possible deportation

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:02 Vong Sokheng

THE editor of a weekly paper covering the Khmer Krom community said yesterday he was afraid of being deported after the chief of the pagoda where he lives asked him to resign from his position, apparently at the behest of the government.

Thach Prei Chea Keoun said yesterday that the chief of Ang Taminh pagoda on Sunday asked him to resign from his position and confiscated his passport and identity card.

“I have refused to resign, but now I am afraid that I will be arrested and sent back to Vietnam,” he said.

The pagoda chief, Yan That, could not be reached, but Kim Wann Chheng, a Khmer Krom assistant to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, said yesterday that the government wanted Thach Prei Chea Keoun to resign from Prey Nokor News.

“So far, I have not received his resignation letter,” Kim Wann Chheng said. “We asked him to resign because we are concerned about his safety and his reputation, because his editorials are sometimes against the government’s policies and may cause him to get into trouble.”

He went on to deny that Thach Prei Chea Keoun’s passport and identity card had been confiscated permanently, saying Yan That had likely assumed temporary custody of them “to keep them safe”.

Thach Prei Chea Keoun said his paper received a licence from the Information Ministry last January and began publishing in February.

He said the content of the paper was primarily related to “news about the culture and geography” of the Khmer Krom, Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer population.

He said that he had already been denied permission to live at two pagodas in the capital – Wat Botum and Wat Mohamontrey – because of concerns on the part of Buddhist leadership about his role at the newspaper.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said yesterday that he was unaware of the editor’s case, but that he considered it “against the Buddhist principles” for a monk to work for a newspaper.

No more stealth tactics by city police

Photo by: Pha Lina
An officer stops a motorist as another peers around the corner on Russian Federation Boulevard yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

PHNOM Penh’s top cop has ordered his officers to stop hiding behind trees during crackdowns on traffic violations.

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said yesterday that he had ordered traffic police to lead by example in teaching drivers respect.

“It is important that traffic police keep safety on the road. Make sure that people respect you and the law,” Touch Naruth said yesterday as he relayed a message given during his Tuesday meeting. “Don’t just stand under trees and jump out to crack down on drivers without helmets or mirrors. It’s dangerous for you and drivers on the roads.”

Touch Naruth said traffic police should man checkpoints stationed at main intersections. Instead, he said, many officers spend an inordinate amount of time behind trees hoping to spot potential violations.

But Touch Naruth also criticised motorists who try to evade traffic police by pulling abrupt U-turns and speeding off in the opposite direction – dangerous manoeuvres that he said are likely to cause accidents.

Traffic police have also been instructed not to chase drivers fleeing potential fines, since many drivers are not suspected of crimes but are merely visitors from outside the capital who do not know the laws.

“You can chase them if they are criminals. If they do not wear helmets and you cannot fine them because they escaped you, let them be. Later, they will respect the law,” he said.

However, it appears not everyone agrees with the police chief’s strategy. Him Yan, director of the public order department at the Interior Ministry, said hiding behind trees is “an unavoidable strategy”.

“This strategy is to make people cease their bad habits,” Him Yan said. He said other countries also employ such measures to enforce the law.

But Long Chy, a 34-year-old motorbike-taxi driver, said that he blamed police for causing traffic accidents when trying to surprise rule-breakers.

“Police activities are much more anarchic than regular people’s,” he said.

PM says border still an issue

Photo by: Pha Lina
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the National Institute of Education yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen chided the Thai government yesterday for its inaction in resolving an ongoing border dispute with Cambodia, taking up a familiar rhetorical pose in remarks before a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

Although Cambodia and Thailand restored full diplomatic ties last month following the resignation of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from his position as economics adviser to the Cambodian government, Hun Sen said yesterday that discord between the two countries will not be resolved until Thailand withdraws its troops from disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple.

“The solution to the problem is easy – just withdraw the troops from Cambodia and it will all be finished,” Hun Sen said, apparently addressing Thai officials.

Thailand withdrew its ambassador to Cambodia in protest at Thaksin’s appointment last year, and returned the envoy last month following news of Thaksin’s resignation, prompting Cambodia to follow suit. But although Thai officials have hailed Cambodia’s decision to cut ties with the fugitive billionaire, wanted in Thailand on graft charges, as a harbinger of improving relations, Hun Sen said yesterday that the move was unrelated to politics, and that Thaksin was “still my friend”.

“I will not be happy and smile at you while you are shaking my hand but stepping on my foot,” Hun Sen said. “Even though the ambassadors have been restored, I am still not happy because you have not withdrawn the troops from my land.”

Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva plan to meet on the sidelines of October’s Asia-Europe Meeting in Belgium at the suggestion of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan. Hun Sen said yesterday that the meeting would touch on trade and economic issues in addition to concerns about the border.

Border negotiations under the bilateral Joint Border Commission are stalled pending the approval by the Thai parliament of the latest round of negotiations. A scheduled approval vote in Bangkok was postponed earlier this month, to the consternation of Cambodian officials.

Thai government officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

KR tribunal appoints lead co-lawyer for civil parties

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 02 September 2010 15:01 James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal has appointed a lead lawyer who will direct representation for civil parties during the court’s second case, as well as a new head of the Victims Support Section, court officials said yesterday.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Pich Ang, a civil party lawyer who was previously a lecturer at the Royal University of Law and Economics, has been selected as a lead co-lawyer for civil parties. He will work alongside an international counterpart whom the tribunal is “in the process” of selecting, United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said.

Reach Sambath said Pich Ang was held in high regard among his colleagues at the court.

“He is considered one of the young intellectuals,” Reach Sambath said.

Court officials say the lead co-lawyers are necessary to streamline participation for the high volume of civil parties expected to be admitted in Case 002. During the court’s first case, just 90 civil parties participated to the close of the trial; almost 4,000 have applied to participate in Case 002.

Observers complained during Case 001 that testimony from civil parties was at times repetitive, and that some did not appear to have been vetted properly.

Although civil parties in Case 002 will retain rights to their own attorneys, the lead co-lawyers will hold “ultimate responsibility ... for the overall advocacy, strategy and in-court presentation of the interests of the consolidated group of civil parties during the trial stage and beyond”, according to a rule change adopted by the court in February.

The court has also appointed Rong Chhorng, who previously served as acting head of the Victims Support Section, as its permanent chief, Reach Sambath said. Rong Chhorng succeeds Helen Jarvis, who stepped down in June.

“I am proud that the court’s administration is confident in me and has appointed me head of the Victims Support Section, even though I know we will face challenges with all the work we have to do,” Rong Chhorng said.

The VSS is charged with assisting in the processing of complaints and civil party applications and keeping victims informed of the status of their applications. It also directs outreach activities in cooperation with local NGOs.

The court’s co-investigating judges are in the process of making decisions on the admissibility of civil party applicants who have applied to join Case 002, and are expected to have ruled on all applicants by the middle of this month.