Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Stampede victims in Cambodia receive donation from TV funds

via CAAI 2010-12-01

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Families of 83 victims of stampede accident who originally lived in Phnom Penh received donations from TV funds on Wednesday.

The distribution of the donations by generous people across the country and abroad collected by Bayon Television, was presented by Hun Mana, director general of Bayon Television and a daughter of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Other government officials who also presented the gift on behalf of the prime minister included Kep Chuptema, governor of Phnom Penh.

Each of the 83 victims in Phnom Penh received 7 million riel ( about 1,700 U.S. dollars), and additional 3,561 U.S. dollars.

The distribution of the donations in cash was the first time in a series of distributions around the country until all 351 victims by the accident receive them.

Similar fund is being collected by Cambodian Television Network (CTN).

Prime Minister Hun Sen said each victim might receive about 12, 000 U.S. dollars through donations from all sources including the 5 million riel (about 1,200 U.S. dollars) provided by the government.

A total of 351 people died and 395 others were injured by the stampede which occurred on Nov. 22 at Diamond Island Bridge in Phnom Penh on the last day of a three-day water festival in the country.

Editor: Yang Lina

Southeast Asia's colonial heritage victim of modernisation

via CAAI

Posted: 01 December 2010

PHNOM PENH: When Cambodia tore down a century-old school in the capital this year, conservationists bemoaned the loss of yet another piece of history in former French Indochina in the rush to modernise.

French colonial architecture -- with its shuttered windows, grand balconies and pitched tiled roofs -- for decades defined the look of cities in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, even after the French pulled out of Indochina in 1954.

Cambodians exercising in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. (file pic)

But now, hundreds of historic buildings across the region are being knocked down as governments capitalise on rising land prices and attempt to create eye-catching skylines.

"What I see in Phnom Penh is little -- or at worst no -- heritage protection of significant buildings. I see the disappearance of old French colonial buildings," said Cambodia-based architectural historian Darryl Collins.

"It's a great pity because I think in time it will be regretted that so many of these buildings have gone," the Australian said.

Built in 1908, the Ecole Professionnelle -- Cambodia's oldest training school -- was razed in February, the latest high-profile casualty in the impoverished country's quest for modernity.

The Cambodian capital, or the "Pearl of Asia" as it was once known, used to be thought of as one of the loveliest cities in the region thanks to its French-style wide avenues, carefully-manicured gardens and stately homes.

Much of that charm, however, is disappearing at an alarming rate, say conservationists.

They estimate that as many as 30 percent of Phnom Penh's colonial buildings -- survivors of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and decades of civil war -- have been demolished in the past 15 years.

While many Cambodians in the capital prefer to live and work in modern buildings, it's not just historians who are upset by the transformation.

"We should not destroy the French buildings. We should renovate them so that they look nice again," said Chheng Moeun, 76, who sells soft drinks outside a crumbling colonial villa near Phnom Penh's Royal Palace.

The demolitions are being driven in part by the kingdom's economic growth over the past decade, and developers are eager to build apartments and office blocks in the prime locations that many of the colonial buildings occupy.

Samraing Kamsan, a top official at Cambodia's Ministry of Culture, said saving French design in Phnom Penh was complicated because of limited funding and a lack of interest from the buildings' owners.

"We want to preserve those ancient buildings. Some people listen to us, but some do not," the official said.

Across the border, fellow former French colonies Laos and Vietnam are also struggling to maintain their colonial dwellings, said Collins, who blames booming real estate prices.

"It's a short-term pattern of thinking," he said, the main consideration being "sheer profit".

Hoang Dao Kinh, a specialist in the preservation of Hanoi's cultural and historical heritage, said out of more than one thousand French villas in the Vietnamese capital, only a few hundred remain in the original colonial style.

And while the country has made efforts to safeguard old buildings, Kinh said the application of a 2001 law on the preservation of such sites "has met with many difficulties."

But attempts to rescue some of France's architectural leftovers have not been completely in vain, he added, pointing to Vietnam's Dalat city as a noteworthy example.

In neighbouring Laos, the picturesque northern town of Luang Prabang with its well-kept colonial homes has proved a major tourist draw, and the government is keen to replicate that success in the capital.

Buildings in Vientiane have been renovated and are in "very good" condition, said government spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing.

"It's good for tourists. When the tourists come to Vientiane, they are looking for that," he said.

Collins believes governments in all three countries should see the preservation of French-era structures not as a nuisance, but as a way to attract revenue from foreign visitors.

"Decisions have to be made about how important these buildings are to the cities," he said.

But if recent remarks by the Cambodian prime minister are anything to go by, those in favour of conservation face an uphill battle.

"They want to keep the old buildings... But when they collapse, who would be responsible?" Hun Sen said in September when he announced plans for a 555-metre tower in Phnom Penh.

"Don't be too conservative. Skyscrapers are appearing. Let's build high buildings," he said.


DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

New International Co-investigation judge appointed

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 10:18 By Soy Sophea

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1--A German national was appointed as new international co-investigation judge at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Dr. Siegfried Blunk was appointed by His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), according to a press statement from ECCC issued December 1.

Judge Blunk studied Law at Munich University and he wrote a PHD thesis about International Law. He was appointed as prosecutor in 1972, and in 1977 he was appointed as judge where he handled both civil and criminal cases for the next 26 years. From 2003-2005 he served as international judge in the hybrid court established by United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. He has been a reserve Co-Investigating Judge at the ECCC since 2008. Mr. Laurent Kasper-Ansernet (Switzerland) has been appointed as new international reserve Co-Investigating Judge.

He assumed office on 1 December 2010.

Cambodia, Thai border gate opening delays for another month

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 02:47 Xinhua

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The plan to open Preah Vihear temple border gate with neighboring Thailand will be delayed for another one month, said a top official at the Cambodian Preah Vihear National Authority on Wednesday.

"After the bilateral meeting on Tuesday between Cambodia and Thai officials, the Thai side has asked us to delay the opening of the border gate for another month instead of opening the gate on December 5," Hang Soth, director general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

He said the delay suggestion from the Thai side was made as both sides could not reach agreement on the issues of sharing entry ticket fees and letting Thai vendors to sell in Cambodian market nearby the temple.

The border gate has been closed since July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage site that triggered a military build-up along the border and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers.

Since then, tourists have been allowed to enter the hilltop temple only from the Cambodia side, preventing a large influx of visitors from Thailand.

The tension between the two countries were eased after four meetings between leaders of the two countries and subsequent meetings between commanders of both sides' armed forces.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI


Cambodian National Assembly Meets Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Official

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia’s National Assembly President urged Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany to continue its cooperation with Cambodian legislative bodies to promote the democracy and the lawmakers’ capacity in the country.

Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly met here on Nov. 30 with Dr. Stefan Friedrich, Head of Team Asia and the Pacific Region of Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany, saying he was delighted with the assistant project provided by Konrad Adenauer Foundation to enhancing Cambodian legislative bodies.

He highly valued the role and activities of the organization in Cambodia, affirming he supported all of its projects to boost the Cambodian legislative institutions.

He said all the success gained by Cambodia in the national development was inseparable from the assistances given by the intentional communities, mainly Germany.

In reply, Dr. Stefan Friedrich expressed his condolences to the victims of the incident at Koh Pich on Nov. 22.

He said he was happy to see Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany making a good cooperation with the National Assembly and the Senate of Cambodia.

He said he gave an advice to the country Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s office to open for the requests proposed by the Cambodian legislative bodies.

He also elaborated on Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s activities in Cambodia, of which he said the aim was to promote the democracy in the country, mainly the ability of the members of Cambodian legislative bodies.

On the same day, Dr. Stefan Friedrich was also received by Cambodian Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith. He told the information minister that Konrad Adenauer Foundation will sign an agreement on a Two-Year Spokesperson Training Course with Cambodia’s Ministry of Information.

In reply, H.E. Khieu Kanharith welcomed the project. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)



PM Receives KWP’s Delegation

Mr. Kim Yung Il, who led a delegation to join the 6th International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in Phnom Penh, conveyed best wishes from the North Korean leaders to Samdech Techo Hun Sen, according to Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the Cambodian prime minister.

He further informed Samdech Techo Hun Sen of his country’s endeavors in promoting the economic development. He also highly evaluated the Cambodian premier’s leadership in bringing the country into rapid development, peace and stability.

In addition, he extended his deepest condolences to the victims’ families of the Koh Pich stampede tragedy.

In reply, Samdech Techo Hun Sen highly appreciated the North Korea’s efforts in developing its economy and he urged both parties, North Korea and Cambodia, to continue their cooperation through the existing agreements. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)



Cambodia Hosts 6th ICAPP

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- The Centrist Democrat International Asia Pacific Executive Council Meeting of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties was held here this morning under the chairmanship of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister H.E. Sok An.

The meeting was attended by representatives from more than 40 countries and the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) is scheduled to be opened here on Dec. 2 under the chairmanship of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

The 6th ICAPP will be attended by leaders and former leaders from more than 100 political parties across Asia.

The ICAPP was founded by Lakas-CMD Party in 2000 in Manila, the Philippines, under the initiative of Mr. Jose de Venecia, former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.

The ICAPP was established with four main goals: 1- promote the cooperation and exchange views between political parties with different ideologies in the region; 2- promote the mutual understanding and confidence among the nations and countries in the region; 3- promote the cooperation in regional level through the role and political parties’ channel; 4- establish the sustainable peaceful atmosphere and prosperity in the Asian region. --AKP

(By KEO Chandara)



DPM Sok An Presides Over Ground-Breaking Ceremony of the Repair Work Site at Takeo Temple

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- The 40-million-yuan Cooperation Aid project between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of the People’s Republic of China will be used for renovation of Takeo Temple in Siem Reap province.

The ground-breaking ceremony was held on Nov. 27 and presided over by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Minister and Chairman of the APSARA Authority H.E. Sok An, along with Chinese Minister of Culture H.E. Cai Wu, according to the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

Director General of the APSARA Authority H.E. Bun Narith said that upon the Royal Government’s request, the Government of China had decided to donate 40 million yuan for the project of renovation of Takeo Temple from 2011 to 2018.

He added that since the Temple of Angkor was listed on the World Heritage List on 14 December 1992, the safeguarding and development of the site of Angkor have been done by the Royal Government in cooperation with the International Coordinating Committee of the Historical Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) in which representatives from more than 10 countries, including China have helped train Cambodian experts to conserve and renovate a number of temples in the Angkor area.

Deputy Director General of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China Mr. Tong Mingkang said that the Chinese technical team had studied the renovation project of temples in the site of Angkor in 1998, and started renovation works on Chao Say Thevada Temple in 2000, costing 14 million yuan and concluded it in 2008 with excellent result.

H.E. Cai Wu considered the cooperation between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of China on the renovation project of Takeo Temple as a model of international cooperation in the field of preservation and conservation of world heritages. He highlighted that the Government of China had contributed to preserving and renovating Takeo Temple, which is the second phase of the project after it had contributed to preserving Angkor, a world heritage.

The Chinese minister of Culture considered the financial contribution to renovate Takeo Temple as an opportunity to enhance mutual cooperation and further promote the traditional relationship between China and Cambodia.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An expressed his sincere thanks to the Government of China for its contribution to the conservation of Cambodia’s as well as the humanity’s priceless cultural heritages. He elucidated that the ancient temples were magnificent heritages of the Khmer ancestors, representing the entire national Khmer soul, and were one of the resources for tourism and economic development. The current project clearly reflects the success of the Royal Government’s foreign policy in strengthening friendly relations with other countries as well as international organizations, in particular with China, in order to rehabilitate and develop the country after being seriously destroyed by internal war.

H.E. Sok An said that China had supported many socio-economic projects in Cambodia, namely projects related to physical infrastructure and projects to renovate Chao Say Thevada Temple. Through previous successes and experiences, he believed that this repair work site on Takeo Temple would be the basic know-how for APSARA Authority in its future work in conservation and renovation projects of other temples in the Angkor area. --AKP



India Provides Visa on Arrival to Cambodian Tourists

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- The Tourist Visa-on-arrival will be provided to Cambodian tourists at four international airports in India, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s press release.

Starting from Jan. 1, 2011, Cambodian tourists can apply for the Tourist-Visa-on arrival at the International Airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, said the press release, adding that the visa validity is 30 days.

More and more Cambodians have now spent their holidays in foreign countries. The most visiting countries for the Cambodian tourists are Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, etc. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)



Kalmykia Autonomous State of Russia Makes Donation to Victims of Stampede Tragedy

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- The Kalmykia Autonomous State of the Russian Federation has donated US$100,000 emergency relief aid to the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) to be distributed to the victims of the stampede disaster in the night of Nov. 22, the final day of the annual Water Festival.

The handover ceremony of this humanitarian aid was held here on Nov. 29 at the Peace Palace. H.E. Ho Sethy, delegate minister attached to the prime minister and Mr. Kirsan Yunzhirnov, governor of Kalmykia, were present at the ceremony.

On the occasion, Kalmykia governor expressed his condolences to the deceased victims’ families.

In reply, H.E. Ho Sethy deeply thanked the Kalmykia State and people for their relief aid to the Cambodian victims. --AKP

(By Théng)



Canada To Continue to Help Agricultural Field

Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- Canada will continue to help Cambodia’s agricultural field through the Agriculture Value-chain Enhancement in Cambodia (AVEC) project.

The information was made known here on Tuesday during the meeting between Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun and visiting Director of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for Southeast Asia Mrs. Lilly Nicholls.

The five-year (2011-2015) project will cost some CAD10 million (about US$9.8 million). It will help reduce the import of vegetable and fruits from neighboring countries and alleviate poverty. --AKP

(By OU Sokha)
Phnom Penh, December 1, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, received here today visiting Kim Yung Il of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Thais charged with illegal entry

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha

THREE Thai nationals charged with illegally crossing into Cambodia and possessing illegal firearms appeared at Siem Reap provincial court onMonday, with a verdict expected December 6.

“We have maintained our accusations against the men,” said Heng Kheng, the court’s deputy prosecutor. He declined to comment on what sentence the men could face if they are found guilty.

On August 18, Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities arrested Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53, all from Thailand’s Surin province. At the time of the trio’s arrest, Cambodian soldiers confiscated homemade guns, lights and batteries. They were sent to Siem Reap provincial court on August 20 and were charged with illegal entry and the illegal use of weapons.

At the time of their arrest, Thai media reports quoted Surin provincial governor Raphee Pongbuppakit as saying that Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered the release of the Thai men.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that since the arrest of the three men, the government has received no request from the Thai authorities to that effect.

Thai embassy officials in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Majority of electoral complaints rejected

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

THE National Election Committee has dismissed the majority of the 22 electoral complaints it has received so far this year, most of which have been filed by opposition parties.

According to a report released by the NEC at a public meeting yesterday, the complaints were mostly filed against commune officials accused of violating laws related to voter registration.

Mean Satik, an NEC member who presided over yesterday’s meeting, said the complaints were divided into three groups: those accusing commune clerks of registering voters without sufficient proof of identification; those claiming that voters’ names are missing from the electoral roll; and those accusing commune officials of deleting voters’ names from the list.

The report shows that 13 of the complaints were dismissed by the NEC, while nine were resolved at the commune level.

Among the 22 complaints was one filed by the Sam Rainsy Party claiming that three illegal Vietnamese immigrants were unlawfully registered as voters.

Mean Satik rejected the claim, saying that fluency in Khmer was not a requirement for those voting in Cambodian elections. So long as people could prove they were Cambodian citizens, they had the right to vote, he added, backing up the NEC’s dismissal of the complaint last month.

“For those speaking with foreign accents, we cannot accuse them of being [illegal] immigrants,” Mean Satik said.

But SRP lawmaker Ho Vann, who participated in the meeting, said people could not register to vote unless they couldprove they were Khmer.

“Although he has been registered for a long time, if a person is not Khmer [we] must leave his name out,” Ho Vann said.

Koul Panha executive director of election monitor, COMFREL said that to avoid problems at upcoming elections, the NEC must investigate the authorities issuing identification documents.

The 1996 Law on Nationality states that ethnic Khmers are automatically entitled to Cambodian citizenship. But it does not block non-Khmers from citizenship, allowing for the naturalisation of foreign nationals and those of mixed birth.

Man faces 15 years for making fake IDs

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:03 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against a man accused of forging public documents after police confiscated materials used in the production of fake licences and ID cards in his house.

Soy Vuthy, 25, was arrested near Monivong Bridge in Chamkarmon district while attempting to deliver three fake vehicle licenses to his clients.

District police chief Iv Chhun Pheng said that during a subsequent raid on the suspect’s house, officials confiscated a photocopy machine, plastics, stamps and a further 60 fake documents including student and ID cards.

During the hearing yesterday, Soy Vuthy denied the charges and claimed that his business was legitimate.

“My business is to laminate cards and copy all kinds of documents to the customers’ demands,” he said. “I do not know which documents are real or fake.”

Defence lawyer Ros Aun said his client was illiterate and as such unable to read Khmer or any foreign languages, let alone tell whether a document was fake or not.

“I think this charge against my client is inappropriate, so I would like to request that the court drop the charges and release him,” he said.

If found guilty, Sor Vuthy faces between five and 15 years in prison.

Presiding Judge Kor Vuthdy said a verdict would be announced on December 23.

Little support for LGBT: study

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 Brooke Lewis

HENG Sreyleang*, a lesbian living in Battambang province, says she has no recourse to challenge her parents, who intend for her to marry a man.

“[How] is it that my parents can force me to get married without society or the authorities punishing them? I want to live with the person I love,” she said in a recent interview with the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

She said she had nowhere to turn for help after her family intervened to end her relationship.

“They stopped me talking to women and my girlfriend’s family has stopped her from meeting me,” she said.

The current situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people in Cambodia, a new report from CCHR due to be released on December 10, finds that while discrimination based on sexual identity is widespread, the Kingdom can be especially intolerant of lesbianism.

“Lesbian and female-to-male transgender sexualities, generally hidden as lesbian relationships, are particularly incomprehensible to Cambodian society,” the report states. “Given the traditional gender roles, women have less ability to pursue such relationships than homosexual males, either privately or publicly.”

The report, which draws on more than 50 interviews, notes that although LGBT rights are implicitly protected by the Cambodian constitution, there is little political or social support.

“LGBT individuals face discrimination and abuse from not only their families, communities and employers but also from state institutions such as local authorities and police,” the report states. “Those that do report instances of abuse may be ignored or worse yet, face further abuse.”

Srorn Srun, a CCHR project coordinator, said legislative change could help improve the situation.

“If LGBT face problems and need support from police, no police will take actions because they don’t support LGBT. ”

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that government policy was antidiscriminatory.

“People who have assumptions or behaviours against gays or lesbians, they can be prosecuted,” he said. “Everyone is subject to the law. We don’t want anyone to be abused by anyone.”
*Not real name

Labour talks held at ministry

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A garment worker stands outside her home in a Choam Chao apartment that is popular with employees of the nearby factories.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear and Thomas Miller

REPRESENTATIVES for garment workers, factory owners and the government agreed to a framework and deadline for negotiations over worker benefits yesterday at a meeting of the Labour Advisory Committee at the Ministry of Labour.

Union leaders called for numerous benefits that would add an additional US$38 to the monthly minimum wage set at $61 in July.

The labour proposal included several monthly allowances for transportation, cost of living, work attendance, lunch meals and a seniority bonus, according to Tharo Khun, a programme officer at the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, who attended the meeting as an observer.

But Minister of Labour Vong Soth, who chairs the LAC, recommended that the two sides limit discussion to three items, according to participants.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the negotiations would revolve around “existing allowances”.

“The existing allowances are, firstly, attendance bonus, secondly, seniority bonus, and thirdly, meal allowance for overtime work,” said Loo.

“We decided to select three points for workers’ benefits, including 2,500 riel for food for overtime work, $2 for seniority and $10 for incentive [regular attendance] wage which will be discussed in December,” Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said yesterday.

“And the other three points will be discussed next time”, he added.

The LAC also determined that talks should be completed within three months so that any changes could go into effect on March 1 next year.

Police Blotter: 1 Dec 2010

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 Sen David

Masseuse held over robbery of client
A 19-year-old male massage parlour staffer was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Monday after allegedly stealing money from a customer. The victim said he was “tired all day” so to unwind he went for a massage, keeping his money in a security box at reception. After receiving the rubdown, he went to retrieve his belongings but the money was gone. He filed a complaint with the owner of the shop who began to check the pockets of all his staff, eventually finding the money in the suspect’s pants.

‘Respected translator’ nabbed over bike theft
Police arrested a translator in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Sunday after he stole his friend’s motorbike. Police said that the suspect had borrowed the bike from his friend, but failed to return it after two days. The victim filed a complaint with district police, who later arrested the suspect. A neighbour said the suspect “should not have done this” because he is a respected translator.

Cop set bad example by hanging himself
A 28-year-old policeman hanged himself in Siem Reap town on Monday because he was angry with his wife’s insinuations that he had a new girlfriend. His superiors at the station said he failed to show up to work, so they inquired with the man’s wife as to his whereabouts. She said she didn’t know where he was, so they searched the town and found him hanging from a tree. Police were angry at the victim for killing himself because police are “an example for the residents and they should not do this”.

Drivers beat officer as motorcade looms
Two of five motorbike taxi drivers were arrested after they beat up a police officer in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Saturday. Officials said the victim had ordered the suspects to move their motorbikes from the road because a car carrying National Assembly president Chea Sim was approaching. Not impressed by the VIP status of the car’s passenger, the suspects instead began to beat the policeman unconscious. Police sent the two men they managed to arrest to the municipal court.

Two homes burn down after pious man errs
Two apartments in Kandal’s Takhmao district burned down on Monday and police said incense sticks were the cause of the blaze. The owner said he was praying and lit the sticks, but then let them burn as he slept. A fire erupted and managed to spread to a neighbouring apartment. The home owner said everything in his home was damaged, but unsympathetic police said it was his fault.

Governor accused of gun threat

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 May Titthara

FOUR villagers in Stung Treng province have filed a complaint with a local rights group, accusing Thala Barivat district governor Chea Thavrith of threatening them with a gun.

Rath Bunheng, one of the villagers who filed the complaint with the rights group Adhoc, said the incident occurred when he, his wife and two other women were walking home from a karaoke parlour.

“I did nothing, but he drove his car and stopped in front of us and asked who crashed a motorbike into his car,” he said. “Then he took out a gun and pointed it at my head.”

He said the governor appeared drunk and smelled of alcohol.

“When he pointed the gun at me, about half of my soul ran away from me,” he added.

But Chea Thavrith said he drew his gun in self-defence after they called him to a stop to ask if he was a driver for a TV station.

“Then one man approached me with a bat in hand, so I took my gun from my car to protect myself,” he said.

“I have filed a complaint to local authorities.”

Provincial prosecutor Chroeung Khmao said he passed the governors complaint to provincial police officials for investigation.

Five arrests for illegal mining

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 Thet Sambath

BATTAMBANG provincial military police have arrested five men in connection with an illegal gold and gem mining operation in Samlot district, with police officials still on the hunt for the illegal business’s owner.

Provincial court prosecutor Koy Kannya said yesterday that the five men were arrested on Sunday after cooperative efforts with provincial military police.

He said authorities raided the five suspects’ house in Samlot commune’s Kontout village and confiscated a machine used for mining, as well as several tubs and baskets.

“We cracked down on them after we reported it to military police,” he said. “We just arrested five workers, but the owner was not at the house.”

He added that officials had yet to identify the person financially backing the illegal mines, but said that military police were still questioning the five suspects about their boss.

Samlot district governor Hen Sophal said yesterday that he, too, did not know the identity of the owner, but stressed that those arrested had attempted to open illegal mines in recent months.

“It is a very small group,” he said. “They had made the mines in secret.”

Koy Kannya said the five suspects were still being detained at military police headquarters in Battambang province, and were still being questioned.

“I have not charged them yet because I need more evidence from military police,” he said.

But provincial military police commander Por Vannak said he had asked Koy Kannya to release the suspects after “educating” them, because the identity of their employer remains unknown.

“We have no strong evidence to charge them, and they just worked for other people so they should just be educated,” he said.

“When we asked the workers, they did not know who their boss was or where he was living. This is a problem for our investigation.”

Officials from the Battambang provincial department of Industry, Mines and Energy could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Battambang soldier accused of raping teen

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:02 Sen David

A SOLDIER was arrested in Battambang’s Ratanak Mondul district on Monday night after allegedly raping a 17-year-old woman at a resort in Pailin province.

Koy Heang, chief of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection bureau, said the suspect, 28, would be sent to court tomorrow for further investigation.

“The suspect persuaded the victim to visit a resort with him in Pailin province, where he raped her,” he said. “We captured him in Ratanak Mondul district, where he lives.”

He said the suspect was a soldier with Brigade 4 in Battambang, but had been suspended. He declined to give the reasons for the suspension.

He said the victim told police that she and the suspect were neighbours in the same village. He allegedly warned her not to tell authorities or relatives after raping her.

Kroch Chanpov, provincial investigator in charge of women’s issues for the rights group Adhoc, applauded the victim’s courage in coming forward.

“The victim decided to tell and file a complaint, and it is better,” she said. “Some victims keep these things secret because they are afraid to tell.”

All bets are off at VIP casino

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

A NOTHER casino in the border town of Bavet has closed, sparking protest from 300 dissatisfied employees, as top officials warned there were more bankruptcies to come.

Chief of Casino Management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance Chrun Theravath confirmed yesterday that he had been informed of the closure of VIP Casino in Bavet City, Svay Rieng province.

“We know the casino is bankrupt, but we will go down to check [for details],” he said.

“I have also got unofficial reports that other casinos will declare bankruptcy soon. At this time, the economic situation is not better and it has resulted in a drop in customers,” he added.

Gambling in Cambodia is restricted to holders of foreign passports.

News of the closure follows protests from employees at the site.

I have also got unofficial reports that other casinos will declare bankruptcy soon. The situation is not better

On Monday, more than 300 workers gathered outside VIP to complain about missed salary payments.

Yesterday, Svay Rieng provincial Police Chief Prach Rim said the situation had simmered down.

“[The company] agreed to pay salaries back to the workers.

So now, the situation is quiet,” he said.

The police chief observed that the town – where up to 14 casinos operate – had seen a drop in custom since the economic crisis.

“It is hard to operate in the casino business. They must to have enough of funds, good management and services. If not, it will [result in] bankruptcy,” he said.

VIP is not the first to close its doors. In September, Bavet’s Winn Casino closed its doors, leaving an estimated 300 workers jobless.

Prach Rim added that local authorities welcomed VIP’s closure, as it would cut down on security concerns, but said he hoped that new management would reopen the site. He added it had seen three different owners since its opening.

Kim Heang, director of Khmer Real Estate Co, also said that the casino had seen many owners and had “many shareholders”. He has been charged with selling Winn Casino, along with two more in Bavet worth between US$3 million to $15 million each.

The Post could not contact VIP Casino officials for comment yesterday.

The bankrupt casino is believed to be Vietnamese-owned.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, revenue derived from Cambodia’s 27 casinos decreased between 7 to 8 percent to approximately $17.5 million in 2009, when compared to 2008 revenues.

Despite Bavet’s experience, casino owners in other parts of the country are launching new ventures.

The owners of a half-built $3.5 million Try Pheap Mittapheap casino in Ratanakkiri province opened a temporary gambling centre in order to "test the market" last week.

The operation is located along the border with Vietnam. However, media reports have suggested that as yet the venue is only operating as a cock-fighting arena in the northern province.

ICBC latest Chinese bank to eye Kingdom

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

THE National Bank of Cambodia is set to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the Kingdom launch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

In a meeting lasting over three-hours, which saw the government meet with delegations from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Oil and Foodstuff Corporation, officials said the signing would take place in December, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen would pay a state visit to the People’s Republic.

Sok Chenda, secretary general of Council for the Development of Cambodia, said: “Related to opening a branch in Cambodia, I know ICBC’s delegation wants to meet National Bank of Cambodia tomorrow morning.”

Deputy General Manager of ICBC Liu YangPing said through an interpreter that her bank aimed to open in Cambodia as the economy progressed.

During the meeting, held at CDC headquarters, officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce, Finance, Tourism and Chinese delegations highlighted opportunities for the importation of Cambodian rice.

Vong Seyvisoth, secretary of state for Ministry of Finance, said Cambodia produced a lot of the agricultural products, but Vietnam and Thailand bought the majority.

Sok Chenda added that various MoUs were due during the China trip, including an agreement regarding the Sihanouk province Special Economic Zone.

Delay for Siem Reap tourist site

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

THE launch of a learning centre aimed at boosting tourism around Tonle Sap lake has been delayed until next year.

The Siem Reap-based centre – which was set to help local communities learn more about how to protect their environment and spread information to tourists – was due to be completed this month.

But Thok Sokhom, director of International Cooperation and ASEAN department at the Ministry of Tourism, said this week that due to “big events” over the last few months, concerned officials had delayed the project, billed as an integral part in attracting foreign tourists to the region, until 2011.

He added that officials from the University of Queensland, in Australia, were developing the project’s master plan. The plan was around 70 percent complete but needed more time.

Provinces along Tonle Sap lake set to benefit from the scheme include Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.

Sor Roeum, chief of a fishing community in Kompong Phluk, Prasat Bakorng district, Siem Reap, said that he saw the potential for tourism in the area. More information, he said, would boost the sector.

“I try to educate villagers not to clear forest because it has potential to attract tourists.”

Association warns of $720m rice loan need

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA’S Small and Medium Industries Association warned that domestic rice millers require US$720 million in loans this harvest season, or they risk being out-competed by foreign merchants.

“We cannot compete with buyers from Thailand and Vietnam to buy grain if local rice mills can’t receive more capital from the government or private banks,” said the association’s secretary general Ut Ren.

Cambodia has about 100 millers, which purchase paddy from farmers, process the rice and sell it to dealers.

If the millers are able to borrow short-term funds, they can purchase more paddy and sell more processed rice.

A typical Cambodian rice mill can process between 2 and 6 tonnes of rice per hour, said Ut Ren, and generally possess capital of between $50,000 to $70,000 to buy paddy during the harvest season.

Sur Kheang, president of the Kampong Cham provincial rice millers’ association, said its 35 members were clamouring for more capital to purchase paddy. He said his association required an additional $2 million to add to its present capital of $390,000 to fund its lending to millers this harvest season.

“A call for extra funding for rice mills is a very good idea. Many of our rice mills are facing a lack of capital to buy rice,” he told The Post.

Schemes are underway to increase agricultural loans to millers.

The government has prepared to lend $36 million to the state-run Rural Development Bank in order to lend to rice millers, with a focus on those firms with capacity for exports, according to its director general Sun Kunthor.

Some banks are also increasing their loan portfolio in the field.

In Channy, chief executive officer of ACLEDA Bank – the Kingdom’s largest agricultural lender – said the bank had lent $112 million to develop rice production from the start of the year to the end of November, a stark increase on its loans of $78 million made to the sector last year.

“We are not afraid to grant loans for buying rice, since we see there are now modern rice processing machines in Cambodia, and also increased orders from overseas,” he said.

The Kingdom’s updated rice policy aims to ramp up exports of milled rice.Cambodia’s stated aim is to hit 1 million tonnes in rice exports by 2015.

Local firms are also looking to export to new markets, with Golden Rice targeting 50,000 tonnes of rice to Europe, the United States and Asia in the next year.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via CAAI

India visa agreement

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Sam Rith

CAMBODIAN tourists visiting India will be granted 30-day visas on arrival, acccording to a press release issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday. The visas will be available for tourists arriving through New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta international airports, the statement added.

Work underway at new SBC Bank branch

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Thik Kaliyann

SINGAPORE Banking Corporation Ltd is set to open a second branch in Siem Reap. Work on the new branch, located on the ground floor inside the busy Lucky Mall complex, has almost been completed. But Chea Nary, administration officer, said the opening date was uncertain “because it depends on the processing of the licence”. SBC Bank’s first Siem Reap branch, near the Central Market, was opened in August 2002.

Tep Khunnah tourney sets Super 6

Cambodia’s top tennis pair Orn Sambath (left) and Bun Kenny (right), seen here playing as partners in the doubles final of the 2010 Cambodian Open, will represent the Kingdom in the Super Singles event of the upcoming week-long Tep Khunnah Memorial Cup tournament at the National Training Centre in Phnom Penh, which begins on Friday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Two players each from neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam will join national team members Bun Kenny and Orn Sambath in a six-player round-robin Super Singles, which forms the centrepiece of the 15th Tep Khunnah Memorial tennis tournament beginning at the National Training Centre on Friday.

The season-ending event, the longest running tournament of its kind in the Kingdom with an uninterrupted record since 1996, carries a total prize fund of around US$3,000 dollars and features competitions in men’s singles and doubles, over 45 singles and junior singles for under 14s and under 18s. The highlight of the week-long event is the Super Singles, where the players divided in two groups play each other, with the top two of each group advancing to criss-cross semifinals.

Last year, the Super Singles involved eight players, with the winners of each group moving directly into a final showdown.

“The field this year is reduced to six, but its strength will be notably bolstered by the presence of Thai and Vietnam players. The introduction of semifinals is to raise the competitive fervour and to make the event more lively,” said Tennis Federation of Cambodia Technical Director and National team head coach Braen Aneiros.

National No 1 Bun Kenny is likely to focus solely on the Super Singles, which is slated from December 8 to 12, and stay out of the men’s singles. “Orn Sambath needs a lot more match play, and he will probably enter the men’s singles as well,” said Aneiros.

Vietnam is set to send two of its top juniors to the event, while Thailand may opt for one player in the top five and blood a promising youngster. The names of the four players invited for the Super Singles will be made known in the next few days.

Entries have been steadily trickling in, but the flow has been relatively poor compared to previous years. The American Thanksgiving holiday and the international half marathon in Siem Reap on Sunday have been sighted as two main reasons for the unexpected drop in participants from the expat community, which usually forms a sizeable chunk in most of the city’s tennis events.

Meanwhile, two-time SEA Games bronze medallist Tan Nysan has rejoined the national team after a break of nearly seven months following a serious ankle injury he suffered during an ITF event in India early this year. He is almost certain to sit out of the Tep Khunnah event, setting his sights instead on the back-to-back Futures events the TFC will be hosting in Phnom Penh during the third week of January next year.

Registration for the Tep Khunnah Memorial tournament ends at 5:00pm on Friday. The entry fees for expats will be US$10 per event, while local players are charged $2 per event.

Girls' side seal Cup triumph on tour

A defender from the US Schools selection team makes a headed clearance off the line from a Kim Sopheak (number 9) effort during their friendly in Singapore. Photo Supplied

via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Surpassing all expectations and belying their international inexperience, members of the combined Indochina Starfish Foundation and SALT Academy women’s football team rounded off their tour of Singapore by finishing first and third in the seven-a-side Barclays Cup tournament.

“Victory for our team came against all odds and this successful tour has done a world of good for women’s football in Cambodia,” said Sam Schweingruber, the designated team coach who was forced to stay back in Phnom Penh after he was robbed of his travel documents, cash and a laptop barely hours before the team left for Singapore last week.

The coach was clearly in a reflective mood as players began their journey back home to various provinces after returning to Phnom Penh on Sunday. “It is bitter sweet for me,” he said. “On one hand, I had this nightmarish personal setback; on the other, I was delighted that the tour went so well for our members on the pitch as well as on the social front.”

The visiting Cambodian squad fielded two teams in the eight-team seven-a-side competition, which involved 10 minute games and was hosted by the United World College at their Dover campus.

The first team clinched the title Saturday at the expense of Singapore American School with a thrilling 2-0 victory in the final after narrowly edging out their own second side in the semifinals. The SAS has scrambled through their semifinal 3-2 by way of a sudden death penalty shootout against Overseas Family School.

In the third place play off, Cambodia’s B team came up with an extra time goal to pip Overseas Family School 1-0.

The sight of the imposing Jelan Besar stadium, where the side met a Singapore national U16 squad on November 22 for an 11-a-side friendly, was a jaw-dropping experience for many of the Cambodian team members, some of whom had never travelled beyond their own provinces.

Despite a nervous start, the visitors struck first against the run of play when Kim Sopheak found the net. The Singapore youngsters stormed right back with two goals before half-time for a 2-1 lead. Despite a strong showing in the second half, the Cambodians failed to find an equaliser.

In their second friendly last Wednesday against a US Schools Selection side, striker Dep Panida and free roaming midfielder Theary fired a goal each to steer the Kingdom’s girls to a comfortable 2-1 victory. The squad was also involved in two practice games against Singapore school teams in the run up to the Barclays Cup.

The Cambodians attended several social get-togethers, and a visit to the famous Singapore Zoo was part of their sightseeing package. Plans are afoot for a return visit to Cambodia by a Singapore junior squad next year, and several schools in the city-state have also expressed their willingness to undertake a tour of the Kingdom.

Telling the story of a tragedy

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:06 Seng Sovan

Two of Lift’s writers were able to work with staff reporters covering the aftermath of the tragedy at Phnom Penh hospitals. This is what they saw.

Relatives of victims search for a photo of thier loved two days after the stampede. Top right: Heng Chivoan, Bottom photo: Dara SAOYUTH

via CAAI

The news of a stampede killing hundreds of people was shocking and heartbreaking to me, as I’m sure it was for everyone in my country, especially those of us who have never faced tragedy on this scale. If you were in Phnom Penh last week, there was no way to avoid the suffering in the wake of the stampede, but as part of the team of reporters who covered the event for the Phnom Penh Post, I had to face the pain first hand.

I was fast asleep when my phone rang at 12 o’clock on Monday night. I picked up and my friend told me that 180 people had died on a bridge on Koh Pich island. In my sleepy haze I thought it was a joke, but when another friend called and told me that people had been electrocuted and they were showing the scene on Bayon TV, it became obvious that something terrible had really occurred.

I didn’t want to wake my family by turning on the TV so I quickly logged on to Facebook and many of my friends were already sharing information and trading stories about the stampede. Many of the questions and doubts that I had that evening also couldn’t answered by the various news outlets I checked over the next two hours and I decided to go to sleep and save my power to help in the search for truth when I woke up in the morning.

My best laid plans were ruined as a steady stream of phone calls from siblings, friends and relatives continued to keep me awake. Most of them wanted to make sure I wasn’t at the event, and they were happy to hear that I wasn’t. Yet, in many ways, I wish I was, so that I could have seen what was happening and helped people caught in the crush of humans.

When I woke up from my brief sleep, just about every TV station in the country was showing video of the piles of young people, stuck together, breathless and completely helpless. It was a scene that I thought was impossible. Even though I was looking at it, I still couldn’t imagine how so many people had died on that bridge.

I was working at the Phnom Penh Post office when I was asked to accompany an English journalist on a reporting trip to Calmette hospital and help interview Cambodian doctors, victims and their family members. When I arrived people were walking around in a frenzy, searching for their relatives in the rows of bodies outside the hospital, masses of injured people waiting for care inside or on a board that was posted with pictures and messages relating to people who were lost after the stampede.

A number of people were still suffering greatly. Their relatives stood over them sobbing and doing whatever they could to help ease the pain of their loved ones. Of all the things I saw, this was the most disturbing and it was all I could do to hold back tears as I thought about how I would feel in their situation.

There were still dozens of corpses in the parking lot, ether unidentified or still unclaimed by family members in the provinces. I walked into the area where the corpses were lying and I watched family members come by, lifting up the sheets to find their relatives.

It was evening by the time we left the hospital and the city was eerie in its silence. The superstitious city dwellers were swapping rumours related to the stampede and offering fruit and cakes to the deceased, which struck me as rather strange and frightening. The price of bananas had already gone up significantly. It’s incredible how people are willing to take advantage of such a terrible event.

The uneasiness I felt driving home stayed with me throughout the night. Nightmares were filled with ghosts and spirits. I am proud to have been part of the many reporters and journalist who worked together to tell the story of the stampede; however, it was also the most shocking story of my life.

Having come to Phnom Penh to pursue higher education from my home in the provinces, it is rare that I have a few days off to visit my family. So, rather than join the millions of people who came to Phnom Penh, I made the opposite trip and went home for the festival weekend.

I was ssleep in my parents house, enjoying the comforts of familiar places, when my parents woke me up. I was rather annoyed, seeing that it was 2am, but once I understood what they were telling me, questions began to come to my mind, which was having an impossible time accepting that hundreds of people has actually died on the Koh Pich bridge.

Most of the questions involved the status of my friends still in the city and I frantically dialed numbers and sent out SMS messages to find out if people were okay. Some of my friends had a similar reaction to mine upon being woken up – annoyed – but it was worth it to me to hear their voices.

I left the provinces at 12am, with few of my initial questions answered. As soon as I finished my lunch upon my return to the city, I hurriedly put my camera, recorder, notebook and a bottle of water into my backpack and rushed to the Phnom Penh Post office. I was asked by my editor to help another reporter, who was from America, to shoot a documentary about the event. After being so far away from the event earlier in the day, I was anxious to find out what really happened in my nation.

The Cambodian-Russian Friendship hospital was teeming with crowds of victims’ relatives as we arrived. I immediately became overwhelmed by sadness, but this was the truth I wanted to see. For those involved in the stampede, desperation was the only emotion there was in the days after the stampede. We spent almost an hour walking around the hospital and nothing like tiredness even crossed my mind. I was too filled with sympathy and pity to consider anything else.

There were two big boards with victims’ photos stuck on either side. Some people burst into tears when they saw photos of their relatives lying dead. I couldn’t imagine. My friends and family were okay but I was still barely able to look at the rows of photos.

I talked with a girl who was among the many family members roaming the halls and tending to their kin. I talked to a girl who said her aunt was still alive in a nearby room, but was unable to move any part of her body. She said a few more words, but then stopped. As her eyes filled with tears, I couldn’t bear to ask any more questions or push her to talk more. My heart truly ached for her and all the others in her situation.

The fact that I was carrying a camera bag and a tripod, along with a fixed camera hanging around my neck, didn’t exactly make me inconspicuous; and as I walked by, I heard people whisper that another foreign journalist was there to cover their tragedy. I was proud that I looked like a professional to these people, but I also felt like I should put down all of this stuff and help calm people who were crying, carry coffins into the truck, or care for those still suffering. This was the first time I had been assigned a story like this, and it made me realise how difficult it must be for journalists to balance their duty to tell the story of terrible events and help the desperate people around them.

I wanted to separate my job that day from my feelings, but I simply couldn’t. This is my country and these were fellow Cambodians suffering around me. I kept imagining how terrible it would feel just to find out that someone I know was among the people who died that night on the bridge. If it was someone I truly loved I can’t imagine how bad it would hurt.

I arrived home with an overwhelming sense of sadness hanging on me. I called my friends who also helped report the story and they were also unable to shake the depression and fear that the day’s events had inspired. I thought about how the water festival has always been a happy time for Cambodian people, and whether that would ever be true again.

Finding strength and sensibility in the aftermath of a national tragedy

Citisens gather for a blessing ceremony on Tuesday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth speaks with Defense Minister Tea Banh on Tuesday morning in front of the bridge. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

A monk walks through one of many blessing ceremonies held in Phnom Penh in the week after the stampede. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:01 Kounila Keo and Colin Meyn

Coming to terms with the loss of life in the stampede on Koh Pich's north bridge in the final hours of this year's Water Festival has made for particularly trying times in the capital city of Cambodia.

351 people died and hundreds more were injured in the crowd of several thousand – many of them young people – who were packed so tightly on the narrow bridge that people were jumping off the bridge so they could breathe.

Sadness swept through the city’s streets, where hours before bright lights were shining on joyous revellers on a farewell romp through the annual celebrations that mark a change in the direction of the Tonle Bassac river that runs through the middle of Phnom Penh.

Upon seeing the footage of the stampede on Cambodian TV stations, some began bawling in the middle of the street. Others sought the comfort of home to share heartbreak or relief upon finding out the fate of those up to one million according to Information Minister Khieu Kanharith – who went to join the party on Koh Pich.

The island development has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations, thanks to the wide variation of its attractions.

The spacious wedding halls are popular among Cambodians; a floating club – now closed – was popular among expatriates; and rows of shops, restaurants and a modest amusement park that attracts a steady stream of teenagers – most on their motorbikes – arriving on the island in the late afternoon and evening.

The images people associated with the island changed suddenly when images of bodies piled five deep on the brightly coloured and ornately decorated bridge began to spread.

Initial reports of electrocution from doctors the night of the stampede (rushed medical judgements, apparently, that were retracted the next day and never talked about again by hospital staff) have lost traction. Although speculation about electrocution continues on blogs and message boards frequented by politically minded Cambodians, whose anonymous message boards are home to some of the strongest – and least reliable – government criticism that you will find in the country, as the government has been unapologetic about clamping down on unwanted opposition voices.

Most news outlets, however, have dropped the electrocution angle, falling into line with the governments statement that deaths resulted from suffocation and injuries sustained by being trampled or jumping off the bridge.

Hun Sen joined family members of the victims in comparing the stampede to Pol Pot's regime. But unlike that tragedy – which continued to cripple the Kingdom decades after its demise – the stampede last week was finished before many people knew it started, and rebuilding began with acts of bravery in the midst of the chaos.

One boy managed to escape the crush when a man lifted him onto his shoulders, allowing him to breathe above the suffocating crowd. The boy, whose story was told in a blog by Emma Leslie, the executive director at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, eventually realised that the man who saved his life had lost his own. The boy was sitting on the shoulders of a corpse; still standing because it had nowhere to fall.

“From this suffering comes great compassion,” wrote the beloved Cambodian monk Maha Ghosananda, describing how people's struggles under the Khmer Rouge brought them closer, exposing humanity’s best in the worst of times.

Yet nothing is good when tragedy strikes. The lives of victims and their loved ones are invariably changed for the worse, as was the case in the wake of the stampede last week.

The blaring sound and swirling lights of sirens, atop the emergency vehicles rushing over Koh Pich's larger south bridge to get to the scene or to the west bank of the Tonle Bassac to pick up victims from the rescue boats, woke people living nearby the riverside and garnered the attention of the thousands of festival goers who were making the most of the fleeting festival atmosphere.

Over 15 percent of Cambodia’s population of 14.8 million people were in the capital that night, and as rumours began to abound on the street, visitors from the provinces – temporarily living a nomadic existence – began to call around to confirm the status of friends and family and to collect clues about what was happening on the island, which had been overflowing with entertainment options over the festival weekend.

They unknowingly joined forces with the nearby urbanites, who roused themselves to begin the same round of calls, trying to determine how they would be effected by whatever had gone so horribly wrong.

For those who didn’t know what was happening by the time Hun Sen went on Bayon TV to address the nation at 2:30am on Tuesday morning, the scale of the heartbreak became clear; but even the Prime Minister of Cambodia was unable to provide specifics on the cause of panic and death.

Ten days later an official investigation has already been completed, but little progress has been made in explaining with certainty what happened that night. The inquiry was undertaken by a team that included officials from Diamond Island developer Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation and the ruling Cambodian People's Party; essentially the only groups who could be blamed for failing in their mandate to maintain order among the festival crowds, or at least prevent a potential disaster.

There was a brief period, two days after the stampede, when it seemed the two sides were trying to pin the blame on each other. Information Minister Kanharith said that because the island development is privately owned with its own security, “police only helped handle order outside”.

But Susi Tan, the Diamond Island project director for OCIC, said maintaining order is the government’s job. “It’s more to do with public security rather than our own company,” she said. “It happened mainly near the Diamond Island, but ... not really on the island.”

Upon the release of the official report earlier this week, however, it was announced that no officials would be held to account for what Hun Sen called the “biggest mistake”, when they “wrongly evaluated the situation”. Officials admitted to negligence in their decisions leading up to the stampede, but punitive measures were categorically dismissed by the prime minister hours before the report – overseen by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An – was released.

“Nobody will be punished for the incident,” said Hun Sen.

The demands of opposition politicians including Sam Rainsy, who was pushing ruling party leaders to identify the people responsible for “organizing the festival and handling the crowd” in an interview on Australian radio last week, still made it into the newspapers the day the report was released; however, with King Norodom Sihamoni’s publicly pronounced “profound thanks” to CPP leaders, who he said rescued and took care of the victims, the conversation is effectively over.

On November 25, three days after the stampede, young, old, rich and poor came together at a mourning ceremony, one of several high-profile gatherings held throughout the week, at the foot of the suspension bridge that reportedly started swaying Monday night, one of many factors that has been blamed for the stampede.

Gathered mourners followed monks in prayer and, together, they paid their respects to those who perished and then, alone, powerful politicians took the stand to express their condolences and outline their efforts to help the victims and their families.

The government set a precedent for helping families through cash compensation almost immediately after the stampede, and reports from the city’s hospitals in the days after told of representatives from various companies, including cellular service providers, handing out money to victims and their families.

The government initially said it would give US$1,227 to each victim. The OCIC followed suit when they offered $1,000 to families of victims who died and $200 to those who were injured. The Royal Family put up $400 per victim and various other private interests announced less formal compensation schemes. In his speech at the inauguration of the Ministry of Social Affairs on Monday, Hun Sen said each family was now eligible for $12,000, thanks to cooperation from ACLEDA Bank President In Channy as well as money raised by media outlets in the Kingdom.

As Phnom Penh’s most honourable monks were followed at the podium by notable members of Phnom Penh’s power circles, a beggar on the outside of the crowd approached a young man who was calling for donations for victims.

The panhandler reached into his pockets for what little money he had and handed it to the charity collector. He said he simply “felt like helping” and walked away, unaware of how exceptional his contribution actually was.

What set the beggar apart from many of the others – apart from lacking an ulterior motive – was his decision to give such a significant portion of what he had to give. He resisted the pull of self preservation in the hopes that his contribution, seemingly meaningless, could help somebody in a worse off than him.

It was his grant to humanity. With no expectations; hoping for the best.