Saturday, 23 October 2010

Former Sex Slave Gives Students Insight

Sex Trafficking Happening To Growing Number Of American Girls

via CAAI

POSTED: Friday, October 22, 2010

Srey Neth talks to students at UNF about sex trafficking

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At 22, Srey Neth still has an innocent demeanor, but she has survived an unimaginable ordeal.

When Neth was just 14 years old, her mother sold her into sexual servitude for $300.

"I went to a brothel and I worked there for two months," Neth said. "They hit me every day and they forced me to serve around eight to 10 guys per day."

Neth is from Cambodia. Even though she speaks limited English, she's speaking up now about her experience as a sex slave in hopes of calling attention to this global crisis.

On Friday, Neth gave some University of North Florida students an unforgettable lesson about sexual servitude and its increasing prevalence among American girls.

"They go through a process called conditioning, so when they are kidnapped, lured or sold into slavery, they're beaten, (shocked)," said James Pond, CEO of Transitions Global, the organization that rescued Knight. "Oftentimes girls are gang-raped as a part of that process. They're put to work in brothels and serve up to 20 customers a day."

The United Nations Children's Fund, known as UNICEF, estimates that in the United States, close to 300,000 young girls are forced into prostitution each year. In addition, Florida has the third highest rate of human trafficking in the U.S. But because it's an invisible crime, the only way to counteract it is to raise awareness through candid discussions like Neth did Friday.

Human trafficking is considered modern day slavery and is the second most profitable criminal industry in the world. To learn more about sex trafficking, e-mail

Silk Weavers Spinning New Wealth

via CAAI


The ancient art of silk weaving is experiencing a revival in Cambodia.

Foreign tourists buy textiles at a temple in Siem Reap, Oct. 3, 2009.

SIEM REAP—Silk may signify luxury but it can also keep poverty at bay, as Cambodians are finding out.

Silk weaving had been a tradition since the 7th century in the Southeast Asian state but the booming industry was devastated during the 1975-79 rule of the Communist Khmer Rouge as people were forced to build capacity for growing rice at the expense of other farm sectors.

At the forefront of the silk revival is the Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles near Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia and the gateway to the world famous Angkor Wat temple.

Some 300 Cambodians work at the institute, set up in 1996 by a former Japanese textile consultant in a bid to restore the silk weaving tradition through skill training and research, as well as promoting silkworm raising and weaving as cottage industries.

"I work hard," said Ni Sok Lim as she weaves a sarong at the institute's workshop in Chup Som village, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Siem Reap's provincial seat.

"In a day, I weave about two decimeters (eight inches) of silk pieces. In a month, I weave five to six meters (16 to 20 feet)," she said.

"This is an average. If I weave quickly, they might get eight meters (26 feet) in a month, said Ni, who left her hometown in Prey Kabas district in Takeo province many years ago to learn silk weaving.

Higher value-added

The incomes of workers at the institute vary but are competitive. The less experienced fetch about U.S. $50 per month, while the experienced ones get around U.S. $270—similar to wages at factories and hotels in tourism-driven Siem Reap province.

Silk is key for the Cambodian rural economy and poverty reduction because it generates higher value-added than general crops such as rice, according to the Food and Agricultural organization of the United Nations, which has launched a U.S. $475,000 project to help develop the Cambodian silk sector.

“It is also labor intensive, so it will create much needed rural employment, particularly for women, and at the same time generate regular cash income for rural households,” the FAO said in a statement when it launched the two-year-project at the end of 2009.

The project will assist the production of disease-free silkworm eggs, provide good quality silkworm and mulberry, strengthen government staff technical capacity, and train and disseminate new technology to farmers, FAO said.

If the silk industry is fully developed to meet domestic demand, it will generate employment for some 25,000 additional people and result in import savings of about U.S. $10 million year, it said.

Current national demand for silk yarn is about 400 tons per year, less than five tons of which is met by local production. The gap is being met by imported silk yarn from China and Vietnam.

Products sought after

At the institute's workshop, annual production is about only a ton of silk a year, but the products are much sought after.

Tourists who buy the products at the local market praise them for their quality.

Oum Seak Houy, among those marketing the products, said small scarves could cost U.S. $25 each. Prices can go up to more than U.S. $2,000 for large pieces of silk with decorations and drawn images.

At the institute's sprawling 23-hectare (57-acre) area in Chup Som village, four hectares (10 acres) are allocated for growing mulberry trees to feed the silkworms as well as other trees used to provide natural dyes for silk colors.

"Our silk production is all organic and natural. During the growing of mulberry trees, we do not use chemicals. We use only natural fertilizers. We do not use any machines. We dye silk by hand. And when we weave, we do it by hand," said Meas Thol, the institute's head of planning.

For example, the so-called "kulen tree can turn the silk silver and a little black," said Mot Rina, who is skilled in using dye from tree barks.

"Dye from coconut tree bark makes the silk turn dark pink. Regular coconut tree dye can be a little bit red. You can’t use these tree barks to dye any materials other than silk."

World interest

Foreigners are becoming more interested in Cambodian silk, said the institute's Japanese head, Kikuo Morimoto, who some refer to as Cambodia's "silk savior."

"The production is still [produced] on a small scale, but I hope that in the future, there will be more. Do you know that the world is interested in Khmer silk, and it has the best quality?" he asked.

"They want to buy more and more of the products," said the former UNESCO textile consultant.

Silk from the institute has been taken to exhibitions in Japan, France, Germany and the U.S. in true Cambodian tradition.

When the King of Thailand came to the U.S. in 1856, he brought as a gift for President Franklin Pierce a fine Cambodian silk cloth.

Cambodian silk was used not only by kings but also as an offering to gods, said Michelle Trane, a Khmer archeologist. Khmer monks also wear robes made of silk.

Reported by Hang Savayout for Radio Free Asia's Cambodian service. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Paedophile Danger To Cambodia's Youth

via CAAI

 Saturday October 23, 2010

Martin Brunt, in Cambodia

A British woman who protects street kids in Cambodia has told Sky News there are just two social workers in the town where she is trying to help thousands of vulnerable children.

Maggie Eno set up the M'Lop Tapang centre seven years ago in Sihanoukville, the country's top seaside resort.

It is a haven for paedophiles from the UK and other Western nations who prey on the young children selling fruit and trinkets on the beaches here.

Ms Eno said: "When we started this project the government was aware of the problems the kids faced, but wasn't doing anything about it.

"Now it's more supportive, but there are just two social workers here in a town of 200,000, so you can see how vulnerable the children are."

On beautiful, palm-fringed Serendipity beach I watched several middle-aged Western men gaze at young beach-sellers.

One held the hand of a girl asking him to choose from a tray of souvenirs.

Young children sell fruit and trinkets to foreigners on Cambodia's beaches

Another, an Englishman, hid his face and shouted at us while we filmed near to him.

"When Westerners come to a place like this they are going to be very welcome and looked up to and can easily become friends with a child's family," said Ms Eno.

"Westerners have money and all that gives them a massive advantage when they're trying to abuse a child."

At her centre Ms Eno and her Cambodian staff have helped protect and educate around 3,000 children since it opened in 2003.

"We try to give the kids choices and opportunities to have a more positive future so they can be independent," she said.

Westerners have money and all that gives them a massive advantage when they're trying to abuse a child.
Maggie Eno, founder of M'Lop Tapang


"Then they can live with their families again and get back to education and training."

M'Lop Tapang is supported and advised by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop), the UK's major child protection organisation.

Its chief executive Jim Gamble has just resigned after a row with the Home Secretary who wants to amalgamate Ceop with the new National Crime Agency.

He said Ceop's support of projects like M'Lop Tapang illustrated its unique role in law enforcement.

Mr Gamble told me: "We created the International Child Protection Network, a coalition of children's charities, local government, local police and Ceop where we work together on the ground.

"They feed us information and we provide them with training procedures, so we are helping teachers, social workers and non-profit charities like Maggie Eno's to be more effective."

Cambodia hosts ASEAN Ministers' Meeting on agriculture, forestry

via CAAI

Saturday, October 23, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 23, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The 32nd ASEAN Ministers' Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry opened in Cambodia on Saturday with a warm welcome by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Delivering an opening speech to ministers and deputy ministers of agriculture and forestry from the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Prime Minister Hun Sen said,"this event shows that Cambodia is moving forward with great confidence and determination, as its institutional capacity and ownership are strengthened."

He said the event indeed held in the aftermath of the global financial crisis has created a new dynamic of regional and global architecture.

As the host and chair of the meeting, Cambodia has well prepared a series of meetings that began on Oct. 20 and will last until Oct. 26 which includes the senior officials meeting, plenary sessions of 32nd ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry and 10th ASEAN+3 Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry and other sideline meetings, all of which focusing on promoting further cooperation which are evidence of effort and new fruitful progress concerning the food security.

The plenary meeting of the ministerial level starts Saturday and will follow with another meeting with an additional dialogue partners, known as ASEAN+3 on Sunday.

The meeting is expected to provide additional key inputs by building on the progress of existing cooperation and set future direction to accelerate integration and jointly address agriculture and forestry issues.

This meeting will also provide a rare opportunity for leaders of ASEAN and ASEAN+3 to exchange dialogue to fast-track socio- economic development in each country during their meeting set for Sunday.

While welcoming the leaders in agricultural sector and other stakeholders for the meetings, Hun Sen alerted that food security remains a sensitive issue.

"It is very true that food security still remains a sensitive issue, which requires every country to work hard in order to find a solution. But this concern is also a new opportunity for some countries in the region that have high potentials in agriculture sector," he said.

"I would like to welcome all the efforts within the regional framework which aims to promote cooperation in agriculture sector, essentially investment in infrastructure, technology transfer, and technical assistance to increase agricultural yields,"he added.

Hun Sen made his remarks by attributing his concerns due to the increase in price of food, the increase in price of gases, the growth of population, climate change, the decrease in land for farming due to the use of land for the production of energy- producing crops, the fall in value of global currencies, and the increase in food stocks in order to sell at higher prices and so on.

"I understand that this confronting problem requires ASEAN to be more active in performing her role, which ensures food safety for peoples in ASEAN member countries, as well as in the region and in the entire world, who have been screaming for food to survive,"he said.

ASEAN comprises of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and its plus three includes China, South Korea and Japan.

Smiles amid the ruins of Cambodia

Trees growing into rocks at the Ta Prohm temple. Photograph: Davin O’Dwyer
Buddhist monks at Angkor Wat. Photograph: Davin O'Dwyer
via CAAI

The Irish Times - Saturday, October 23, 2010

GO CAMBODIA: Despite the country’s brutal past, the people are so friendly that it is this that will stay in the memory along with the more touristy attractions, writes DAVIN O'DWYER

IT APPEARS out of the darkness; a gradual lightening of the sky bringing its famous shape into focus – the outline of the five towers, like closed lotus buds, becoming tangible in the waking light.

Watching the sun rise behind Angkor Wat, with the reflecting pool mirroring its beauty at your feet, is to witness this iconic structure at its most resplendent. The world’s largest religious monument, it is so integral to Cambodia’s identity – it adorns both the Cambodian flag and the 500 riels note – that it is tempting to see dawn at Angkor Wat as a metaphor for a country that is itself coming out of darkness, gradually reshaping its identity in a new dawn.

Although Angkor Wat is a relic of a time when the Khmer empire spread from Vietnam to Siam, it is now the hopeful symbol of a country desperately struggling to overcome a barbarous and tragic recent history.

That relationship isn’t just symbolic, either – nearly two million visitors come to this corner of Cambodia every year to see King Suryavarman II’s 12th century temple and the sprawling complex of temples that spread out north of the charming town of Siem Reap. It is an invaluable source of income for a country that was economically devastated by the rule of the fanatical Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and the brutal, decades-long civil war that followed. Were it not for this built legacy of the Angkor era, the country would seem to have little to attract international attention and tourists.

But many visitors will find themselves falling for everything else about the place too. The dozens of other temples in the World Heritage Site, for instance, would be the pride of most other countries, rather than also-rans. The town of Siem Reap, meanwhile, has managed to retain its colonial charm while growing into a lively destination for travellers in its own right. Just south of the town are the floating villages on the Tonle Sap, the massive freshwater lake that feeds and irrigates Cambodia, almost defy belief. This is a bustling water-borne community where children learn to swim before they learn to walk.

North of the temples is the Landmine Museum, founded and run by a former Khmer child soldier who has dedicated his life to removing the unexploded ordinance that maims hundreds of Cambodians every year, a tragic legacy of the civil war. The museum is vivid testimony to the fact that, above all, it is the Khmer people who ensure this is a country worth getting to know – welcoming, courteous, playful, always smiling, determined to overcome their tragic past.

The usual itinerary around the temples is a well-worn one, largely unchanged from the days when the two main routes – the grand circuit and the petit circuit – used to be visited on the back of an elephant. Nowadays, the elephant has been replaced by the tuk tuk, and it’s the perfect way to get around, with none of the insulating effect of the car. There is no shortage of tuk tuk drivers, and reliable ones can be booked through hotels for about $13 (€9).

There are so many temples to visit in the park that a three-day pass for $40 (€29) is recommended, though a seven-day pass would allow you to examine every ruin in great detail. It is worth getting a guide, at least for the first day – the temples are so numerous and the history so complex that the $25-$30 (€18-€22) is well spent.

Many visitors make it to Angkor Wat for sunrise, then head for the extravagant Bayon temple at the heart of the ancient city of Angkor Thom where every tower is adorned with the faces of four Buddhas, contemplative and commanding.

Then the traditional route takes in some of the smaller temples, jewels all of them, before returning to Angkor Wat in the afternoon. To avoid the crowds, it is worth reversing that – around noon, you can have Angkor Wat virtually to yourself, which is perfect for examining the carved bas reliefs detailing Hindu epics that line the walls on the lower level, and exploring the upper level, the Bakan, with only a few young Buddhist monks for company.

Our guide, a Tiger Woods doppelganger called Von Syden, explained the meanings and uses of the temples, as well as the history of the Khmer kings who built them; interspersing them with his own stories and anecdotes. Though hardly uncommon, it is a life that illustrates the full tragedy of Cambodia’s recent past – a family that suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, a near brush with conscription as a child soldier in the civil war, years as a young monk in a Siem Reap pagoda, and the struggle to build a future in a devastated country. As he related these stories, the last millennium of Khmer history became compressed and intertwined, the lives depicted on the renowned bas reliefs not so far removed from the lives pursued in the countryside of modern Cambodia; the Khmer Rouge’s brutality not so different from the vision of hell carved on the walls.

Angkor Wat and many of the other temples were a refuge for Khmer Rouge fighters, and Vietnamese bullet holes still mark the outer walls. It was in the northern reaches of this province that Pol Pot died in 1998, finally freeing the country from his malign influence.

Two of the most beguiling other temples are Ta Prohm and Ta Som, where the trees wrestle with the stonework; their roots strangling walls and doorways. The result is a sense of foreboding and chilling evidence of the inexorable decline of all societies. These eerie temples not only offer a glimpse of a vanished past but a foreshadow of our future. Where once these temples played host to thousands of monks, now they are returning gradually to nature.

As the day draws to a close, most of the crowds go to the Phnom Bakheng temple, high on a hill-top, for spectacular sunset views, but to avoid the scrum you are better off going to Pre Rup, a pyramid temple that rises above the tree tops.

At most temples, groups of children try to sell bangles, fridge magnets and postcards. Unesco recommends ignoring them, so as not to encourage truancy, but many of them are delightful, well-mannered and frankly adorable – prepare to have your heart melted, especially by the little ones who count to 10 in Irish, or who challenge you to games of tic-tac-toe in the sand. Bring crayons or sweets to dole out instead of dollars but, above all, give them a smile and respect.

Siem Reap is a delightful town, delicately balanced between the old provincial colonial town it used to be and the sprawling tourism hub it threatens to become. At the moment, the place is modest and charming. The centre around Psar Chas, or Old Market, is a bustling grid of streets, with a great range of cafes, restaurants, markets, galleries, boutiques and bars. Once you become accustomed to the constant offers from the tuk tuk drivers you can get a feel for the distinctive allure of the place. The French colonial influence dominates, with balconies overlooking the lively streets, and arcades and galleries housing stylish restaurants and bars. The tourist centre is Street 8, rather unpromisingly known as Pub Street, but there are plenty of high-quality venues catering to all types of visitor, especially on the narrow lanes adjacent to Pub Street. They are so full of trendy bars and chic boutiques you could be in Brooklyn (best of the boutiques is KeoK’jey, which features classy clothes made by HIV-positive women in Phnom Penh – such high-end charitable enterprise is increasingly common in Siem Reap).

The Old Market is a hub of activity, with a central gallery packed full of food vendors selling fish, meat and fowl, and locals bargaining with seller after seller. Other markets are directed more towards visitors, the pick of them being the Angkor Night Market, which features locally made crafts along with mass-produced souvenirs. Between the dizzying range of silk scarves, jewellery and teas and coffees, we gave the Dr Fish foot massage pool a go – for $3 (€2), we had dead skin eaten off our feet by a shoal of hungry Garra Rufa, a hysterically ticklish experience that will soften even the most hike-hardened sole.

A walk along the river, with its manicured, tree-lined pathway, offers a glimpse of locals at rest and play. We were entranced by a group of men playing shuttlecock, an Asian game of exquisite skill which is a balletic variation of badminton using feet instead of rackets. The four players gracefully sent the shuttlecock arcing through the air, effortlessly returning it from behind their heads, anticipating its flight perfectly.

As we had come to expect, they were only too happy to stop and explain the game. The friendliness and sincerity of the Khmer people, we realised again, is the real strength of Cambodia. For all the poverty and corruption, for all the buried bitterness about the civil war, they never seem to forget the simple pleasure of a smile and joke. Come to see Angkor Wat, sure, but it’s the warm hospitality of the people that you will take away in your memories.

Where to eat, stay and go

Hotel 89 is a short walk from the heart of the action. This affordable hotel has irrepressibly friendly staff, who are happy to help you organise tours of the temples (

The aptly named Prang Savy, a nice guy with a nice tuk tuk (

Guide: Von Syden’s resemblance to Tiger Woods is extraordinary but he’s better company and more knowledgeable about Khmer history, I’d wager (

Picasso on the Passage is small but stylish, with tasty tapas to go with the drinks.

Tigre du Papier on Pub Street has excellent dishes, both Khmer cuisine and international, while Viva claims to be the best Mexican restaurant in Asia; it has some of the friendliest staff (

Tour groups
Beyond Unique Escapes organises trips to the temples, cycling tours to villages, and an excursion to the Tonle Sap. An emphasis on sustainability demonstrates that this is one tour company with an eye on Siem Reap’s future (

'An off-peak return from Singapore to Scotland...'

A rebirth of Cambodia's railway promises a brighter future

via CAAI

Cambodia provides 'missing link' in Iron Silk Road rail project

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Saturday, 23 October 2010

Cambodia's railway – for so long the victim of war, turmoil and the neglect that has beset the country – is poised to get moving again.

Officials yesterday formally opened the first section of a new network that will stretch across the country and provide the missing link in a rail route that could reach from Scotland to Singapore. It could provide a major boost for Cambodian industry.

"We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland," Kunio Senga, a senior official with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), declared at the launch. "This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has finally taken a big step toward becoming reality."

French colonial rulers were the first to lay rail tracks in Cambodia, starting in the 1920s. By 1969, the network had two tracks and reached from the Thai border to the capital, Phnom Penh, and then carried on to the coast at Sihanoukville.

But by then Cambodia was immersed in war and chaos. A US-backed coup saw the overthrow of the government of Prince Sihanouk, while Maoist-inspired Khmer Rouge steadily advanced on Phnom Penh.

By April 1975, the rebels had seized control of the country and set in place a system of forced agricultural labour camps. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed or else died from starvation and disease.

Even after the Khmer Rouge were forced from power, the southern line that linked Phnom Penh with the coast remained perilous. In 1994, three Western tourists, David Wilson of Australia, Briton Mark Slater and Jean-Michel Braquet of France, were seized from the train by Khmer Rouge fighters and killed.

The railway also faced a slow, steady decline as a lack of investment and maintenance. Across much of the network, crumbling stations and rusted locomotives effectively destroyed the service.

Even today, in many parts of Cambodia the only thing riding on the tracks are bamboo-made carts or lorries, powered by small engines.

These homemade vehicles transport people and cargo at a slow pace, but only on short journeys. Things got so bad that last November the government declared the system shut and awarded a 30 year contract to an Australian company, Toll, to refurbish and operate the network. To do this, the company received a loan of $84m from the ADB.

Earlier this month, after investment in new rails, signs, locomotive repairs and training of the fledgling workforce, a freight service to Touk Meas, near the border with Vietnam, began operating ahead of yesterday's inauguration. The entire railroad network, covering more than 400 miles, is due to be ready by 2013.

"Upgrading the infrastructure will improve competitiveness in Cambodia's economy and promote direct investment in Cambodia itself," said Putu Kamayana, director of the ADB's Cambodian office.

Once Cambodia's railway is completed, just one outstanding link – between Phnom Penh and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh city – will remain for a pan-Asian network to be ready. That network will help provide better links between the countries of south-east Asia and markets in China.

But not everyone in Cambodia is thrilled by the new railway. Indeed, many of the thousands of people who live alongside the tracks and scratch a living by selling goods believe they could be forced from their homes as the tracks are developed. Others, like the operators of the bamboo lorries, which have become a tourist attraction in their own right, could lose their livelihoods. The ADB has said $3.5m has been set aside to compensate such people.

Prak Pheam, 31, who lives north of Phnom Penh, told the Associated Press the new railroad would put his bamboo train out of business.

In a good week he can earn up to $25, but only a handful of bamboo drivers have been told they would receive compensation. Few understand how to apply for the money.

"It's unfair that I'm not getting money," he said. "I'll have to go back to the rice fields. Or get a job on a train."

Clinton to visit Asia next week

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

via CAAI

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head next week on a visit to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, the State Department announced Friday.

Clinton will also travel to Hawaii where she will hold talks Wednesday with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, whose government has been trying to weather tensions with China, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

President Barack Obama's administration has described Southeast Asia as a key diplomatic priority, saying that the dynamic region was neglected by former president George W. Bush due to his focus on Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Melbourne, Clinton will be joined by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for annual consultations between the United States and Australia, the State Department said.

Despite warm relations between the United States and Australia, Clinton will become the highest-ranking official from the Obama administration to visit.

She called off a scheduled visit in January to focus on relief after Haiti's devastating earthquake, while Obama has twice called off trips to Australia due to domestic concerns.

In Malaysia, Clinton will seek discussion on "our enhanced ties," a State Department statement said.

The Obama administration has stepped up diplomacy with Malaysia, seeing it as a potential force for moderation within the Islamic world.

Political relations were rocky when Malaysia was led by Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his strident criticism of the West. The United States sometimes riled Malaysia with past calls to expand democratic freedoms.

Clinton will visit Hanoi for the annual East Asia Summit, less than four months from her last visit to the Vietnamese capital.

The United States has warming relations with Vietnam, where experts say that concerns about a rising China have trumped memories of the war against the United States.

However, Crowley said that Clinton would skip a meeting of foreign ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Japan. Obama is expected to attend the full summit in Yokohama.

Clinton will meet Maehara in Hawaii and send her deputy, Jim Steinberg, to the APEC talks for foreign ministers, Crowley said.

In Cambodia, Clinton will visit Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, the world-famous 12th-century temple complex.

Phnom Penh Authority Demolishes Sampov Meas Market Stall

Pictures Credit of   

Khmer Krom are protesting against the nomination of the new abbot for Wat Samaky Raingsey Pagoda

Pictures Credif of

click on picture to zoom in

Cambodia British Owner Charged With Child Sex Assault And Up To 100 Children Rescued; Sky News2

Cambodia's desperate butterfly hunters

AlJazeeraEnglish | October 22, 2010

The ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia's Siem Reap province is one of Asia's great heritage sites.

But despite the hundreds of millions of US dollars in tourism revenue it brings in per year, the province remains one of the poorest in the country.

Aela Callan reports from Siem Reap on how many children have to resort to hunting for butterflies to help scratch out a living.

[October 22, 2010]

ADB Launches A New Built Cambodia Railway- Phnom Penh - Kampot line

Phnom Penh Authority Demolishes Sampov Meas Market Stall

Vendors Near Olympic Gathered At Hun Sen's House, Resist To Move On

Khmer Krama Weaving

JSM warns on Cambodian valuations

via CAAI

LONDON (SHARECAST) - Asian property investor JSM Indochina says that interest from potential buyers of its Cambodian property assets has been disappointing and it has reiterated its view that it may not be able to sell them at their asset value.

This news was announced after the market had shut for the week. There are limited transaction volumes in Cambodia, which makes it difficult to assess the prices that can be obtained.

AIM-quoted JSM’s net asset value was 65 cents a share at the end of June. That is prior to the 15 cents a share dividend which is due to be paid on 29 October.

JSM has sold its 49% stake in Hieu Duc, which owns properties in Vietnam, for $12.3m but JSM can’t get its hands on the cash until the tax charge is quantified. The gross figure is just below the book value.

SE Asia rolls out rail renaissance

via CAAI

By Tim Johnston in Pur Andout, Cambodia
Published: October 22 2010

Say Polin runs a small train that he built himself, carrying a few passengers and perhaps some firewood bound for the market in the Cambodian town of Pursat.

But his Heath Robinson-style railway cart on its overgrown tracks will soon be replaced by freight trains a kilometre long thundering between Beijing and Singapore.

The first leg of Cambodia’s refurbished railway line was formally opened on Friday, marking the beginning of a south-east Asian rail renaissance, with projects planned across the region, spurred on by environmental and economic imperatives.

Vietnam is preparing to overhaul the 1,700km line from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), while China is about to break ground on a link from Yunnan province in the south to Laos, and has agreed to a joint venture with Thailand to upgrade some of its railways.

There are also suggestions of a line from Bangkok to an Indian Ocean port to be built at Tavoy in Burma.

Such works are vital if south-east Asia is to face the twin threats of a long-term decline in export markets in the US and Europe and competition from the rising economies of China and India.

With 550m people and a combined gross domestic product of $1,500bn, south-east Asia should be able to generate trade growth among the countries of the region. However, such activity accounted for less than a quarter of its overall international trade last year.

“The financial crisis in 2008 highlighted that one of their weaknesses was an over-reliance on exports,” said Pierre Chartier, a transport economist with the UN in Bangkok. “There is a realisation that they should do more to tap into intra-regional trade.”

The willingness to work together to develop links – as encouraged by the Association of South East Asian Nations – is nowhere clearer than in the ambitious plans to build or renovate rail lines that will eventually connect Beijing to Singapore and the Indian Ocean with the Pacific.

Kunio Senga, head of the Asian Development Bank’s south-east Asia department, said: “Asean integration has been talked about and talked about, and nothing of substance happened. But now, Asean leaders have realised that talk does not lead to substantive integration.”

Asean is pledged to create a common market by 2015, but even if the tariff and customs barriers come down, more investment is needed in infrastructure.

“The bottleneck is huge in terms of infrastructure requirement,” said Mr Senga, whose ADB is a joint funder of the $141m project to refurbish the Cambodian link in the chain.

When complete, the network will not only carry goods between China and south-east Asia, and open up economically deprived areas such as Pursat, but could also act as a land bridge between China and India’s east coast.

The ADB estimates that the initial phase of the programme – the line that runs from southern China down the length of Vietnam before turning north and west through Cambodia and Thailand and then south through Malaysia to terminate in Singapore – will cost in the region of $2.2bn.

The whole project, including a “missing link” between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, where there has never been a track, could be finished by 2015, and could produce an economic return of 20 per cent above its development costs, says the ADB.

Shortcomings in the region’s infrastructure and bureaucracy are imposing a hidden surcharge on regional trade. Amadou Diallo, chief executive of DHL Global Forwarding for South Asia Pacific, estimates that about 15 per cent of the value of intra-Asean trade is currently being lost. Given that internal regional trade in 2009 was worth $376.2bn, that equates to an annual cost of $56bn, or 3.7 per cent of regional GDP.

The railway is likely to face competition from the region’s increasingly integrated road networks, but regional manufacturers say it could still make a difference.

For example, Ford produces 275,000 vehicles a year at its production facility in southern Thailand. Ninety per cent of them are exported, almost all by sea. The company estimates that the railway could cut the delivery time from Thailand to Hanoi from 14 days to three.

Say Polin, meanwhile, is nervous about losing his job, but recognises that the rail link could bring benefits deep into the Cambodian countryside.

“Right now we are worried that there will be no more jobs, but we hope that a company will start a factory and bring jobs,” he said.

“That would be great.”

Deminer Sets Sights on CNN's Top Hero Award

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 22 October 2010

via CAAI
Photo: Courtesy of Cambodia Self-Help Demining Organization
Aki Ra, the former Khmer Rouge soldier, plans to expand his demining project should he wins CNN's Top Hero Award.

“When the war was over, I thought differently and wanted to do good deeds to change the faults of my past and to help the country.”

A former Khmer Rouge soldier who has been nominated for a CNN broadcasting “Top Hero” award says he plans to expand his demining project if he wins.

Aki Ra, who runs the Cambodia Self-Help Demining Organization, told VOA Khmer he hoped to grow his organization to be able to demine the rest of Cambodia and move on to other countries.

Cambodia remains littered with mines and unexploded ordinance left from decades of civil war. Aki Ra, who is 40, has been demining since 1993, without technical guidance or assistance.

He offered advice to those who may mistakenly wander into a mine field: backtrack. “Remember the footprints,” he said. One can walk on logs or rocks to escape the field, as well, he said.

This, he said, taught him the fastest, easiest methods for clearing mine fields.

“When the war was over, I thought differently and wanted to do good deeds to change the faults of my past and to help the country,” he said.

His project now includes 25 staff in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces, but he said now he is short of funding and equipment.

The CNN Heroes award is a contest that highlights community work of activists around the world.

Authorities Move To Evict Stadium Vendors

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 22 October 2010
via CAAI
Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 22 October 2010
“This area belongs to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, for the development of sports in Cambodia.”

More than 100 police cleared out vendor stalls surrounding the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Friday, blocking off the main roads and carrying shields and electric batons to push out those reluctant to go.

Some vendors appeared to have little time to carry their goods from the stalls, leaving behind clothes, shoes, belts and other merchandise as they dismantled their metal-roofed shops.

Other vendors shouted at the police, angry because they said they had been given notice only the day before they would have to leave.

“In Pol Pot's regime, we had three days to evacuate Phnom Penh,” said Hak Kim Heang, a clothing seller. “Right now, the Cambodian regime is crueler than Pol Pot.”

City officials say they need to clear the vendors from 10,000 square meters of land in order to build offices for the National Olympic Committee and to build a wall around the stadium.

Pa Socheatvong, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer on Friday that the city had made several announcements to vendors.

“This area belongs to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, for the development of sports in Cambodia,” he said.

Vath Chamroen, secretary-general of the Olympic Committee, said the building will provide offices for his agency, as well as the Cambodian Football Federation and other sports organizations.

He urged calm among the vendors and an understanding of Cambodia's policies to develop sport.

But on Friday, calm and understanding were in short supply. Vendors said they were left to clear out the stalls by themselves, and some accused city authorities of keeping roofs and other building materials to sell for recycling.

Yin San, police chief for Prampi Makara district, said police had been deployed to control security only. He denied his police had taken any materials from the vendors.

Cambodians Abroad To Demonstrate Ahead of Ban Visit

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer | Washington, DC
Friday, 22 October 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Ban Ki-moon, right, Secretary General of United Nations meets with Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Cambodia, left, at United Nations, September 2010.

“We want Cambodia's suffering heard by Ban Ki-moon.”

Cambodian groups abroad say they are preparing demonstrations this weekend, just ahead of the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next week.

Organizers say they want to call attention to encroachment on Cambodia's sovereignty, its human right violations and backslides on principles of democracy.

Demonstrations, to be held in France, Canada and the US, will also coincide with the anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement, the UN-brokered accord that brought peace to Cambodia after decades of fighting in 1991.

“We want Cambodia's suffering heard by Ban Ki-moon,” said Thach Vien, an organizer in France.

Ban is scheduled to visit Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. Thach Vien said Cambodians from Belgium, Switzerland and Germany would join a demonstration in Paris Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.

The French demonstrators will petition the French government requesting a review of the Cambodian government's violations of the peace agreement, he said.

In Canada, organizer Chea Sokha said demonstrations were planned for Ottawa over the weekend.

“All Cambodian people see that there are serious violations, and this is critically dangerous for our nation,” he said. Canadian-Cambodians want the peace agreement reactivated, he said.

A demonstration is also planned in New York, ahead of Ban's trip, said Yap Kim Tung, a Virginia-based organizer. “They want Mr. Ban to know about Cambodia and their dissatisfaction,” he said.

Pung Kek, founder of the rights group Licadho, told VOA Khmer the peace agreement was an important document Cambodians should not forget. Eighteen countries signed onto the agreement, including the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, she said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the government has worked to build peace, the rule of law and democracy.

Euro MPs denounce Cambodian opposition leader's jail term .
via CAAI

Friday, 22 October 2010
Mohideen Mifthah

PHNOM PENH, Oct 22, 2010 (AFP) - The European Parliament has condemned Cambodia's recent “politically motivated sentences” against an opposition leader in a resolution criticised by the Cambodian government on Friday.

Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in Europe, faces a total of 12 years in prison if he returns to Cambodia, after a court last month sentenced him to 10 years in jail for publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam.

He also lost an appeal earlier this month against a two-year jail term imposed in absentia in January for uprooting border markings.

The European Parliament “condemns all politically motivated sentences against representatives of the opposition”, in particular the sentences “against Sam Rainsy”, according to a resolution adopted on Thursday.

The Euro MPs called on the Cambodian authorities to resolve the dispute with Prime Minister Hun Sen's main rival “through political dialogue and to enable Sam Rainsy to resume his parliamentary activities as rapidly as possible.”If the 12-year verdict is upheld, it would bar Sam Rainsy from standing in the 2013 parliamentary elections, a prospect that left the Euro MPs “particularly alarmed”, the document said.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith lashed out at the resolution, saying Europe should not “give a lesson to Cambodia” and should focus on its own problems.

“Cambodia begs the EU to take care of its economy,” he told AFP.

Rights groups in Cambodia have also condemned the convictions but the government denies they are an attempt to keep the outspoken opposition politician from taking part in the elections.

The European Parliament also expressed concern over a case in August that saw local rights activist Leang Sokchouen jailed for two years for disinformation after he allegedly distributed anti-government leaflets.

It urged Cambodia to “guarantee free and fair political expression without intimidation and harassment.”

Cambodian Orphanage's UK Boss On Sex Charge

It is the second time Griffin has come under suspicion

via CAAI

Friday October 22, 2010

Martin Brunt, crime correspondent

The British owner of an orphanage in Cambodia has been charged with a sex attack on a young boy in his care.

UK investigators joined dozens of police in a dawn raid on the centre where up to 100 children were rescued and moved to a safe home.

Nicholas Griffin, 52, was lead away for questioning as detectives and child protection specialists searched the orphanage, a fortress-like new building in countryside near Siem Reap.

The suspect had been under investigation by Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre for more than two years.

Welshman Griffin, who denies any wrongdoing, says he spent “many years in social work, housing management and community work”.


You only have to look at this new orphanage, in the middle of nowhere with a high wall around it. It looks more like a prison and you have to ask why.
Andy Wells, Child Exploitation and Online Protection

He moved to Cambodia three years ago and set up several centres to help deprived and vulnerable children in what is one of the poorest countries in south-east Asia.

Griffin quickly established his Cambodia Orphan Fund, appealing for and receiving donations from the UK and elsewhere.

He was held, initially, on suspicion of flouting child labour laws and a breach of his orphanage licence.

The police interviewed the children and orphanage workers in a search for evidence that will now lead to a trial in Cambodia and a possible 10-year jail sentence.

CEOP’s Andy Wells told Sky News: “We got intelligence that this man was looking after children and he was assessed as extremely high-risk individual, so we asked a local child protection group to investigate.

“You only have to look at this new orphanage, in the middle of nowhere with a high wall around it. It looks more like a prison and you have to ask why.”

Cambodia is still emerging from the shadow of the bloody Khmer Rouge regime in which nearly two million people were killed.

Poverty, corruption and a lax legal system mean many children in the country are vulnerable to sex abuse, especially at the hands of Western paedophiles.

Griffin was being kept in custody to await a trial while his orphanage was effectively closed down.

His orphanage manager, a Cambodian man, was charged with the illegal removal of a child from its home to the orphanage.

CEOP staff are now involved in finding new accommodation for the orphans.

Cambodia, China signs inspection and quarantine co-op agreements

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and China on Friday signed inspection and quarantine cooperation agreements to promote the cooperation and trade of the two countries on agriculture products, especially Cambodia's rice exports to China.

The agreements were signed by Chan Sarun, Cambodia's minister of agriculture, forests and fisheries and Zhi Shuping, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ) in the presence of Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue.

The agreements signed on Friday include the memorandum of understanding on SPS cooperation in the field of animal and plant inspection and quarantine; the protocol of phytosanitary requirement for Cambodia milled rice export to China; and cooperation working plan of quarantine market access of tapioca chip from Cambodia to China.

Zhi said that the signing of the above cooperation documents symbolized the official establishment of the cooperation mechanism between the two countries and official open of Cambodia's rice which is qualified to export to China.

Chan Sarun valued highly of the signing of the related cooperation documents, saying that it will be sure to further strengthen the cooperation between China's AQSIQ and Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), promote the traditional friendly cooperation ties and bear more rich fruits.

Before the signing of the documents, Zhi Shuping and Chan Sarun co-chaired the meeting on SPS cooperation between the two countries. The two sides highly appreciated the cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in the field of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine, and outlined the key areas and action plan for future cooperation.

Moreover, the two sides reached a consensus on issues of strengthening the systematic cooperation between the two countries in animal and plant inspection and quarantine and food safety, the export approval of Cambodian rice and tapioca chips to China and the lifting of the ban on the export of Chinese dairy products to Cambodia.

In August, the Cambodian government announced that it had set 2015 as a year to show this nation's competence in becoming one of the major rice exporters to world's markets.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said that the rice agreement with China would help to cement the Kingdom's trading ties with the world's second-largest economy.

Hun Sen said by reaching the target and goal, it must start from first production of "rice surplus" at the reach of "more than 4 million tons" per year and at least one million tons of which will be allocated for export, while at the same time the rice must "meet an international standard".

He said, despite that Cambodia is rich and potential enough in rice production, the real yields are not satisfied compared to neighboring countries.

He acknowledged, one of the major blocks to large rice production in Cambodia is due to shortage of water.

About 80 percent of Cambodia's 14 million populations are farmers, and, last year, Cambodia produced more than 7 million tons of rice.

Zhi Shuping arrived here to pay a visit at the invitation of Chan Sarun. Besides attending the signing ceremony and the bilateral meeting, Zhi will also attend the Second ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to be held on Oct. 25 in Phnom Penh.

Editor: An

Project puts trains back on Cambodia's rails

via CAAI


PHUM KSENG, Cambodia — The railroad is many things to people in Cambodia: playground, garbage dump, open-air toilet, livestock grazing ground, a dry path for traversing swampy terrain.

What it has not been for many years is working transportation for either people or freight. In fact, train service was halted completely last year.

That may change soon. Development specialists have persuaded the government to privatize the system, which officially reopened Friday with one freight line between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border.

Eventually, they promise, a refurbished railroad will revive Cambodia's economy and drag it out of decades of poverty and chaos. It would be an important missing link in a proposed regional rail system that would stretch from Singapore to Kunming, China.

"It's a powerful symbol of Cambodia's reconstruction and redevelopment," said Lachlan Pontifex, an aid expert with the Australian government, which is helping to fund the $141.6 million effort.

While an efficient transport network holds out great promise for Cambodian businesses, the reclaiming of railroad land could sink thousands into deeper poverty. Many people who live and sell goods alongside the rails — often barely subsisting — fear they will be evicted from their homes. Others, like the operators of makeshift carts that ferry people along the tracks, known as "bamboo trains," will lose a meager but reliable livelihood.

Cambodian and foreign backers said they are trying to minimize the disruptions, spending millions to compensate those affected.

French colonial rulers laid the first rails across the rice paddies and wetlands in the 1920s. By 1969, track stretched from the Thai border to the capital Phnom Penh and continued southwest to Sihanoukville, on the Gulf of Thailand.

Then Cambodia plunged into chaos, beginning with a U.S.-backed military coup and ending in the tyrannical Khmer Rouge regime. After the Khmer Rouge's ouster in 1979, the southern line was still an occasional battleground. Stations crumbled, locomotives rusted and the system ground into dysfunction.

In the past dozen years, the country has seen a sputtering economic boom, which clogged the roads with people and goods.

But the railway remained best avoided. A train ride between the capital and the provincial city Battambang, about 185 miles (300 kilometers) northwest, took more than a day, at a time when a taxi ride took less than four hours.

The Cambodian government shut the system down in November 2009 and awarded the Australian company Toll a 30-year joint venture contract to refurbish and operate it. Toll received an $84 million loan from the Asian Development Bank and others.

Earlier this month, after $5 million in investments in new rails, signs, locomotive repairs and workforce training, the freight service to Touk Meas began operating ahead of Friday's inauguration. The entire railroad — including new spurs directly to the ports — is to be operational by 2013.

"Upgrading the infrastructure will improve competitiveness in Cambodia's economy and promote direct investment in Cambodia itself," said Putu Kamayana, director of the development bank's Cambodian office.

For now, only freight will travel the rails, and the main beneficiary in the short run is likely to be Touk Meas' cement industry. Officials said the competition is already pushing down shipping costs, and should decrease costs for goods like fuel oil or rice.

Of greater concern to the thousands of Cambodians living on or near the rails, however, is what will happen to them. On Phnom Penh's outskirts, scores of families live in tin-roof shacks sometimes just an arm's length from passing trains.

As many as 3,650 families could lose either their homes or their livelihoods. The Asian Development Bank said more than $3.5 million has been budgeted to compensate people who will be moved.

That's small consolation to villagers like Khun Sarom, 38, who with his family of five runs a shop out of a bamboo-floored house just a few yards (meters) from the tracks in Phum Kseng, a village about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh. He said he's lived in his house for 20 years, earning about $5 a day selling cigarettes and pirated DVDs but has no title to the land. He said he knew very little about the rail project and had no idea whether he would get any money or land if he was evicted.

"I guess it's good, as long as I'm not kicked out," he said.

North of Phnom Penh, Prak Pheam, 31, said the railroad would put his bamboo train, a rickety carpet-sized contraption powered by what looked to be a lawnmower engine, out of business. He said he earns $25 in a good week, and had hoped he would get some money for losing that income. But he said only a handful of bamboo drivers have been told they would receive anything, and no one really understood how the money was being handed out.

"It's unfair that I'm not getting money," he said. "I'll have to go back to the rice fields. Or get a job on a train."

Cambodia's 'bamboo train' heading for final destination

Cambodia's "Bamboo Train"

via CAAI

By Channel NewsAsia's IndoChina Bureau Chief
Anasuya Sanyal
Posted: 22 October 2010

Watch Video Click Here

CAMBODIA: For villagers in Cambodia, the path of least resistance is also perhaps the most dangerous.

Villagers with no access to roads use a homegrown mode of transport called "bamboo trains".

Made of salvaged tank axles, a flimsy bamboo platform and powered by a small boat engine, "bamboo trains" also called "norries" in Khmer, can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour.

The cheap fare makes it a crucial way for farmers to get their products to bigger markets despite it being a hazardous and inconvenient mode of transportation.

One of the drawbacks of the bamboo train is that there isn't enough room on the track for two trains to pass each other and the train with the lesser passenger has to give way.

Drivers and passengers have to also help each other to dismantle the train and set it back up, a scenario which happens multiple times on any given journey.

The bamboo trains have been the makeshift mode of transport for decades for the villagers and even pregnant women have to use it to make their way to the hospital.

However, Suang Sarouen, who is the chief of Thmey Village, would prefer a passenger train.

"The villagers feel the bamboo train is very dangerous and some people have even been killed by the bamboo train when they've collided, so it would be good to have a real passenger train available," said Suang.

Cambodia's official rail system is in terrible shape after decades of neglect and damage.

Currently, these bamboo trains exist with traditional trains along the same track as the latter move so slowly that the bamboo trains can be taken off and lifted off to allow the traditional trains to pass.

However, these bamboo trains will soon become a thing of the past once the new railroad is built.

The rail system will be completely overhauled by 2013 through funding from the Asian Development Bank and the Australian government.

While drivers face the prospect of finding another livelihood, some are looking forward to the changes.

Neoun Neang, who is a bamboo train driver, said: "I find it quite hard work [driving a bamboo train] and I hope the government can build a new road, so I can be a motorbike taxi driver instead."

The Cambodian government will also be assisting those adversely affected by the new changes.

Peter Broch, Senior Transport Economist, Asian Development Bank, said: "We do train and help railway operators to actually move from using the railway as a source of income and means of transport infrastructure to road transport instead."