Saturday, 1 January 2011

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2011

Phnom Penh - A City Revitalized

Visitors to Phnom Penh can discover its tragic past and experience creativity of a youthful population intent on building a more positive image

via CAAI

Published: 31/12/2010

Phnom Penh is a city revitalized. The skyline of Cambodia's once sleepy capital is being pierced by its first high-rise, and the red dirt roads, now sealed, swarm with SUVs and motorcycles. For a city that has endured more than its share of bloodshed and destruction, today's youthful exuberance and palpable energy are a welcomed by locals and visitors. Yet despite the positive change being witnessed today, any time spent in Phnom Penh must still include reflective visits to the sites of the country's horrific past. Two of the most visited places in Phnom Penh are still Camp Cheoung Ek, one of many infamous Killing Fields sites, and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school that became a torture centre known as S-21.

Camp Cheoung Ek lies 15 kilometres southwest of the city and was the burial site for those tortured and killed in S-21. In 1980, 129 mass graves were found here and 8,985 corpses unearthed. Today, a large stupa contains the bones and remnants of clothing as a memorial to the victims. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in a suburb of Phnom Penh. The building is thought to have witnessed over 20,000 citizens pass through its doors to be tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. On the ground floor, rooms with a single bed and leg irons where torture was carried out now envelop visitors in an eerie silence. One of the most haunting experiences, however, is looking at the thousands of black and white images of victims displayed on boards throughout the building. Like all regimes that committed genocide, the Khmer Rouge was meticulous in documenting those it killed.

Rediscovering Khmer arts

It's hard to comprehend but the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge wiped out so many artists and craftsmen that the country's traditional arts were almost lost. Today, following a concerted effort to retrain young people Cambodian crafts have emerged as some of the finest in the region.

Artisans d' Angkor was established in 1998 and has played a significant role in saving and promoting the country's rich cultural heritage. Originally under EU funding, the business is now totally self-financing and trains dozens of artisans each year, many of whom set up on their own. In Phnom Penh, Artisans d' Angkor have a boutique in front of the post office on Street 13, and at Phnom Penh International Airport. The shops sell lacquerware, stone carving, high quality hand woven silk, silverware and much more. Visit for further details about the inspirational projects.

The recent blossoming of Khmer arts and crafts has also seen many other boutiques open in Phnom Penh. There are several clustered on Street 240 and a host of art galleries close to the National Museum on Street 178, commonly referred to as Art Street.

One of the joys of travelling in Asia is visiting the vibrant markets. Phnom Penh is no exception and is home to the fabulous Psar Thmei, also known as the Central Market, a striking art deco building dating back to 1935. Here you can buy just about anything from shoes and clothing to souvenirs and jewellery. In Phnom Penh there are also many sprawling fresh markets to explore. Colourful, chaotic and not for the squeamish, they are the heart of the city. Check out the old market of Psar Chas on Street 9 and 11 which is open throughout the day and in the evening. For a colourful fresh market, head over Monivong Bridge in the early morning and you'll discover the wonderful Psar Chhbar Ampoeu.

Former glories

Despite wanton destructive within Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge years, much of the capital's former glories survived. The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda within its compound are well worth a visit. The complex dates from 1866 and is filled with Buddha statues, and religious and royal artefacts including an emerald Buddha encrusted with jewels. Entry is $3, plus $2 if you wish to use a camera. It is open every day from 8 a.m. - 11.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Nearby, the beautiful red building of the National Museum houses a wonderful collection of over 5,000 Khmer art and sculpture.

Getting around Phnom Penh

The moto-romuak, Cambodia's answer to the tuk-tuk, are an excellent way to get around, and preferable to the confines of a car. You can hire a moto-romuak and driver for between $10- 15 a day for running around town. For longer trips to places outside the city expect the fee to rise. Drivers usually wait around near hotels and the concierge should be able to assist with negotiations.

Where to stay

The InterContinental Phnom Penh was the city's first international five-star hotel. The 346-room hotel is located in the heart of the city and 20 minute's drive from the airport. Guests can enjoy luxurious rooms and suites, and excellent service. Dining includes the Regency Cafe and the Deli Cafe. There's also a spa, fitness centre, and outdoor swimming pool. 296 Boulevard Mao Tse Tung, Phnom Penh. Visit the website at

The latest addition to booming Phnom Penh is the Sofitel Penh Phkeethra. The brand new hotel occupies a riverside location in the city's old quarter and is close to many of the main attractions. Inspired by colonial era architecture, the hotel offers 201 rooms and suites with views across the Mekong and Bassac rivers.

Facilities include elegant restaurants and bars, two pools and a stylish spa. 26 Old August Site, Sothearos Boulevard, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh. Visit the website at

Getting there

Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways fly daily to Phnom Penh.

A visa on arrival is available at the airport for a fee of $20. One passport photograph is required. A departure tax of $25 is also charged.

More images of Phnom Penh can be seen at

Yellow-shirts rally at Govt House

via CAAI

Published: 1/01/2011
Online news:

Members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Saturday morning rallied in front of Government House, demanding the government to rapidly seek the release of the seven detained Thais, reports said.

The protesters showed placards saying they opposed the arrest of the seven Thais, including PAD co-leader Veera Somkwamkid and a Democrat MP, on charges of intruding Cambodian territory by Cambodian soldiers.

They called on the government to pressure Cambodia to release the seven Thais immediately and to rapidly settle the border dispute with the neighbouring country.

Police were deployed inside the government building compound and nearby areas to maintain peace and order.

Visitors to Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple increase sharply in 2010

via CAAI


PHNOM PENH, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Tourists visiting Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple increased by 3.6 folds in 2010 thanks to good security and better infrastructure in the area, director of Preah Vihear province's tourism department Kong Vibol said on Saturday.

There had been 80,356 people visiting the temple in 2010, increased by 3.6 times from 17,174 people in 2009, he told Xinhua by telephone. Of the figure, the domestic visitors were up 3.7 times to 78,419 from 16,405 and the foreign tourists increased by 1.5 times to 1,937 from 769.

"It's a huge increase of the tourists to the temple in 2010 due to better security and stability as the border tension with Thailand has been eased, and the good condition roads--easy to travel,"said Kong Vibol, adding "so visitors feel safe and more confidence to visit the temple."

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

The border issue, however, has been eased as the top leaders of Cambodia and Thailand have held four meetings since September.

In 2010, the province as a whole received 135,657 tourists, up 119 percent from 61,903 in 2009, Kong Vibol said. Of the figure, foreign tourists were up 32 percent to 11,249 from 8,512 in 2009.

Preah Vihear province has three attractive ancient temples for tourists. They are Preah Vihear temple, Koh Ker temple and Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

ohor Immigration Department Detains 65 Illegal Immigrants In Ops Sapu

via CAAI

JOHOR BAHARU, Jan 1 (Bernama) -- The Johor Immigration Department arrested 65 illegal immigrants from Cambodia in an operation dubbed 'Ops Sapu' in Kampung Mulia, Sungai Tiram, here early today.

Its deputy assistant director II Amzari Abdul Jalil said the operation, mounted by 80 enforcement officers, began at 2.30am and ended two hours later.

"The Cambodian nationals arrested during the operation comprised 13 men, 37 women and 15 children, all of whom were aged between three months and 45 years," he told reporters here.

Amzari said all the immigrants claimed that they had a permission letter, which they deemed as passport, to work and stay legally in Malaysia.

"They showed us the 'passport', which is actually a piece of paper bearing the official stamp and signature of the Secretary of Cambodian Community Special Committee for Peramu Jaya state constituency in Pekan, Pahang," he said.

Amzari said the immigrants were believed to have been cheated by a syndicate and further investigations were being carried out.

All immigrants were taken to the Pekan Nanas Detention Depot, he said.

Situation Along Khmer-Thai Border Remain Normal

Photos By DAP (Deum Ampil Newspaper)

Tensions rise as Cambodia holds Thais

via CAAI

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Cambodian court charged seven Thais - including a politician - with illegally entering Cambodian territory after they were detained near the countries' disputed border.

"The court has charged them with illegally crossing the border and entering a military area with ill will," said Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The seven, including lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party, appeared at a closed-door hearing at the court, a day after being detained.

The incident has rekindled diplomatic tensions between the neighbors over their long-standing border dispute.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Cambodia to free the Thais.

"Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately," he said. "Cambodia should not take this case to court, as it will further complicate the issue."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Thais, who also include members of the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement, would be charged and held in prison pending trial.

A Thai court jailed 84 "Yellow Shirts" for storming a TV station in 2008 in protest at a government allied with former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

They were handed sentences of between six months and 2 years by Bangkok Criminal Court.


Suthep advised, talk to Hun Sen

via CAAI

Published: 31/12/2010
Online news:

Banharn Silpa-archa, chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, said Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban should travel to Cambodia to directly discuss the release of the seven captured Thais with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The veteran politician was responding to the arrest of seven Thais, including a Democrat MP and a core leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, by Cambodian soldiers and charged with illegally entering the country.

They were visiting a disputed border area in Sa Kaeo province at the time.

“Mr Suthep should go to discuss the matter with Hun Sen before the Cambodian court gives its ruling on the case,” Mr Banharn said on Friday.

The former prime minister this morning opened his Charan Sanitwong residence in Bangkok to well-wishers, led by Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, who came to offer him a New Year blessing.

Govt moves to cool Cambodia protests

via CAAI

Published: 1/01/2011

The government is trying to calm anti-Cambodia sentiment to avoid harming efforts to release seven Thais held in Phnom Penh on charges of trespassing on Cambodian land, a government source says.

Members of the Thai Patriots gather yesterday outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok to demand the release of seven Thais being held in Phnom Penh. The protest included burning a coffin with a picture of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. KOSOL NAKACHOL

The source said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has been upset by protests by a group linked to the People's Alliance for Democracy.

Members of the Thai Patriots network gathered yesterday in front of the Cambodian embassy on Pracha Uthit Road to demand the immediate release of the seven Thais, including Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth and PAD co-leader Veera Somkwamkid. They burned a coffin with a picture of Hun Sen on it.

The source said it was feared efforts to secure the release of the seven Thais could be hampered by these activities.

The protesters are vowing to continue their protest until the seven Thais are freed.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry expects the Thais to be tried next week, after which the ministry would ask Hun Sen to consider allowing them to return home. The source said the government had told officials to use GPS technology to pinpoint where the arrests were made.

``We would like to set the facts straight with the group,'' the source said.

``If it is proved the seven trespassed on Cambodian soil, we will ask the group to stop protesting,'' the source said.

First Army commander Udomdej Seetabutr yesterday met Cambodia's 5th military region commander Bun Seng in Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo.

Lt Gen Udomdej told reporters the two men had been unable to reach an agreement.

The 1st Army chief admitted the seven Thais did not ask authorities to escort them when they inspected the disputed border area.

Lt Gen Udomdej said the governments of the two countries must be left to make a decision on the issue. So far, there have been no troop reinforcements on the border from both sides, Lt Gen Udomdej said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya confirmed yesterday the results of the findings by the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department and the Survey Department showed the seven did stray about one kilometre into Cambodian territory.

Adopted from Cambodia, Clearwater teen now impresses on the piano

via CAAI

By Andrew Ford, Times Correspondent

In Print: Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chance Nye, 13, performs Thursday for the Just Teens program that will showcase his talents on Pinellas County School TV 14. [ANDREW FORD Special to the Times]

CLEARWATER — Chance Nye casually improvised on a grand piano.

The 13-year-old fluidly moved among popular melodies like Flight of the Bumblebee and ABC by the Jackson Five.

He has come a long way from Cambodia, where he was born, to play for a television segment called Fingers of Nye on the Just Teens program that will showcase his talents on Pinellas County School TV 14. Dates and times of the broadcast have not been set.

About 40 people showed up Thursday afternoon for the taping, which took place at La Grande Hall at Piano Distributors in Clearwater.

Chance was adopted when he was 4 months old in 1997 by Destiny Masters, 50.

"The minute I laid eyes on him, I knew it was meant to be," she said of her adopted son.

She is raising Chance with her husband, Steve Masters, whom she met in 2002. They live in Wesley Chapel.

At age 2, Chance started fooling around with an organ owned by Destiny Masters' godfather. By the time he was 5, he could play the Rugrats television theme song.

As he warmed up on stage Thursday, his mother said, "I get to listen to this all the time. It's great until dad wants to watch football."

Chance performed several pieces, including Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor and a medley containing River Flows in You. As his friends urged him to play something they would recognize, he did the theme from the video game Modern Warfare 2.

Chance has some classical music on his iPod, but much of it is rap and hip-hop, featuring artists like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. BedRock is one of Chance's favorite songs.

During the performance, the camera man moved around the pianist, shooting from many different angles. Afterward, Chance said it was "a little distracting, but not too much."

Teen Tyme Productions was responsible for putting on the event. The nonprofit organization works to create positive programming for teens and relies on viewer contributions.

Stacey Spencer, 42, founded the production company 13 years ago in Louisville, Ky. The company moved to Largo four years ago. She started Teen Tyme to spread a positive message.

"I believe that music, movement and the arts are all too often forgotten," she said.

Migrant Labour: Cambodia's Daughter To Malaysia (3 parts)

Lake Residents Say Land Dispute Likely to Continue

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 31 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
The residents of the Boeung Kak lake area 'speak out' and tell us of the ongoing dispute between the site residents and Shukaku, Inc., on 'Hello VOA' on Thursday.

“Without a solution, we will stay until death at Boeung Kak and we absolutely will not leave.”

Residents of the Boeung Kak lake area in Phnom Penh, who have been battling developers since 2008, say they have two acceptable solutions to the land impasse.

A representative of the residents of all seven villagers in a dispute with Shukaku, Inc., over compensation for the land, says they will accept a buyout of $1,500 per square meter for their homes, or, failing that, the allotment of a total 15 hectares of the development for themselves.

Shukaku is hoping to build a commercial and residential center on 133 hectares under a 99-year lease, after it fills in Boeung Kak lake, the act of which has steadily been flooding obstinate families from their homes in recent weeks.

Tep Vanny, a representative of the residents there, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday that authorities and the developer have refused to find a compromise, while their former offers of buyouts are too low.

“They don't know any strategies to minimize the dispute, and until today we've protested without solution,” Tep Vanny said.

The company has given three options to the people: a buyout of $8,000; a resettlement home 25 kilometers outside Phnom Penh; or the choice to come back when the development is finished to draw for a house.

However, land laws stipulate that settlement issues must be addressed before development can go forward, said Sia Phirum, a director of the Human Rights Task Force, as a second guest on “Hello VOA.”

More than 1,000 of 4,000 families have already been evicted or have moved from the site, in what Sia Phirum called a major violation of land rights. People need more than just shelter, he said, but they have a right to safety, to having a place to eat, a place for assembly, and a clean environment, he said.

“We were legally living here before the land law was passed, we are the owners, and we have the right to demand our price for satisfaction,” Tep Vanny said. “Without a solution, we will stay until death at Boeung Kak and we absolutely will not leave.”

The number of evictions of people from valuable land had made “development” a word mistrusted by people, she said.

“I would like to say that wherever there is development, it is tearful,” she said. “Today it is Boeung Kak, but tomorrow there will be other tearful places like Boeung Kak.”

US House Rep Richardson on Four-Day Visit to Cambodia

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 31 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richardson
Congresswoman Laura Richardson at her local swearing-in ceremony, flanked by Port of Long Beach Commissioner, Dr. Mike Walters and California State University, Long Beach President, Dr. F. King Alexander

“ ... assess the political, social and economic situation of Cambodia and analyze the importance of the region to the US.”

California Democratic Representative Laura Richardson is in Cambodia for a four-day fact-finding mission to Cambodia.

A staff member for her office in Washington said Richardson, whose 37th district includes much of Long Beach, would “assess the political, social and economic situation of Cambodia and analyze the importance of the region to the US.”

Richardson's visit follows a high-profile trip by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November and amid the growing influence of China in the region.

Richardson, who is a member of the House of Representative's Homeland Security Committee, is expected to meet with officials from the Foreign Ministry, business community and anti-trafficking and counter-terrorism authorities.

Cambodia has been cooperative with the US's fight against terrorism, but it remains on a watch list for human trafficking. Richardson is scheduled to leave Saturday.

Arrests Spark Protests, Border Closing in Thailand

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 31 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
In October 2009, Thai activists wave Thai flags and chant slogans during a rally against Prime Minister Hun Sen's decision to make ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra his economic adviser, and the recent protest may just worsen the already tense relations between the two Southeast Asian neighbors.

"Cambodia has closed the border to Thai nationals as a result and to prevent Thai “revenge.”

Cambodian officials ruled out the demands of protesters in Bangkok Friday who want the release of seven Thai nationals charged Thursday with illegal entry.

The suspects, including a Thai member of parliament and supporters of the “yellow shirt” People's Alliance for Democracy, were arrested Wednesday while reportedly looking into claims of Cambodian encroachment on Thai soil.

Authorities say they were caught half a kilometer inside Cambodia and near a military area.

Members of the Thailand Patriot Network gathered in front of the Cambodian Embassy to call for the release of the group. Protesters burned a coffin bearing the photograph of Prime Minsiter Hun Sen and vowed to continue their rally until those arrested are returned to Thailand.

“We cannot accept what they have raised,” Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told VOA Khmer Friday. He confirmed there had been protesters in front of the embassy, but said they dispersed before noon.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pirumya has said his government will respect the judicial process here and has not so far called for a political release.

Meanwhile, Cambodian officials say Thailand has closed down an important checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province, preventing Cambodians from crossing into Thailand there.

Many Cambodians typically use the crossing, in Obei Chon, in O'Chov district, where they travel for day labor on Thai farms and to purchase goods at Thai markets.

Cambodia has closed the border to Thai nationals as a result and to prevent Thai “revenge,” said Keo Sen governor of O'Chov district. “We must protect the safety of the people,” he told VOA Khmer.

Best Business Hotels in Siem Reap, Cambodia: Corporate Travelers Will Enjoy This Luxury Accommodation

via CAAI

As Cambodia's Economy Continues to Flourish, Business Travelers from All Over the World Travel There

Cassandra James
Yahoo! Contributor Network

Dec 30, 2010

Siem Reap literally means 'Siam Defeated' and is from the days when Cambodia and Thailand spent much of their time invading each other. Nowadays, Siem Reap in Cambodia is a thriving tourist and business destination, due to its proximity to Angkor Wat, emphasis on environmental technology and manufacturing. Business travelers to Siem Reap, who often hear nothing except 'Angkor Wat', may be surprised to learn the city has some top business hotels, perfect for any business traveler. These three are some of the best.

Hotel de la Paix - One of the most beautiful business hotels in Siem Reap, the Hotel de la Paix mixes traditional Khmer architecture with thoroughly modern style. It offers high-tech business services, superb Cambodian hospitality and a relaxing environment, perfect after a day spent in exhausting business meetings.

Guest rooms at the Hotel de la Paix are absolutely stunning. Decorated in muted grays and browns and with modern Cambodian flair, rooms have hardwood floors, an ensuite bath with a soaking tub, mini bar, refrigerator, in-room safe, LCD flatscreen TV with satellite and even an iPod loaded with music and self-guided temple tours. There's also a large working area with desk, comfortable chair and a sofa for relaxing.

The hotel itself has conference rooms and board rooms that will seat up to 120 people and a theater where you can screen company presentations for 200.

The Hotel de la Paix's five restaurants, cafes and lounges are wonderful for entertaining clients and don't miss a romantic dinner for two in the hotel's grounds, if your spouse is traveling with you too.

Le Meridien Angkor - Just like its locations in other parts of the world, Le Meridien Angkor features world-class accommodation, perfect service and services any business traveler will love.

At Le Meridien, guest rooms are top-of-the-line with en suite bath, LCD flat screen TV with satellite, mini bar, refrigerator, large work spaces, tea and coffee making services and a living area with comfortable sofa and chairs for relaxing over work reports.

The hotel's Lobby Lounge is perfect for a drink with a client, an al fresco lunch at The Poolside will suit any business connections and, for a lovely dinner either with clients or a loved one, don't miss L'Angelo and it's famous Italian fare.

For business needs, Le Meridien offers meeting rooms suitable for everything from small get togethers to large meetings for up to 700 people and, for entertaining purposes, you'll enjoy their entertainment packages that include not only catering and event services, but also high-tech audio-visual equipment and conference staff.

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort - For those who love entertaining business clients over a round of golf, the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort is perfect.

Guest rooms are spacious and feature LCD flat screen TV with international satellite, mini bar, refrigerator, in room safe, tea and coffee making facilities, designer toiletries and robe and slippers. Rooms have stunning garden, lake or pool views and are quiet; perfect if you need to work.

The Sofitel has five restaurants and two bars, so entertaining clients is a breeze here. After lunch, why not head out to the hotel's 18-hole golf course and talk business over a round of golf, finishing up with a post-golf drink in the bar.

For conferences, the Sofitel is also sure to please as it offers everything from small meeting rooms to large conference areas, banquet facilities and a theater.

More Information:

Thai Citizens Charged in Cambodian Court

via CAAI


Seven Thai citizens arrive at a Cambodian courthouse, facing charges of illegally entering the country.

The offenses carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison, and include trespassing on Cambodia's military border zone.

Most of the seven are members of the Thai "yellow shirt" political faction.

They advocate a tough stand on border disputes with Cambodia, which have recently eased despite a tense history.

Among those arrested was a Thai MP close to the country's prime minister.

He told reporters by telephone that his group was only inspecting the border.

Thailand dispatched its foreign minister to Phnom Penh to seek the group's release, though his Cambodian counterpart said the issue was a matter for the courts.

Decades of conflict in Cambodia has caused many border markers to be moved or destroyed.

In the past, Cambodian and Thai troops have engaged in deadly border skirmishes.

Protesters rally against Cambodia

via CAAI

Published: 31/12/2010

Members of the Thailand Patriot Network on Friday rallied in front of the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, calling on the Phnom Penh government to immediately release the seven detained Thais, reports said.

The protesters, led by core leader Somboon Thongburan, burned a coffin with a photo of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. They vowed to continue their rally in front of Government House until all the Thais are freed.

About 50 policemen were deployed around at the embassy during the protest.

Cambodian Court sets no date trial of seven Thais detained for illegal entry

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Dec 31 - The Phnom Penn Municipal Court has not set a date for the trial of seven Thais who were detained by Cambodian troops Wednesday as they inspected the border of Sa Kaeo province and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province, according to Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Thani Thongphakdi.

The seven, including Democrat Party member of parliament Panich Vikitsreth, and members of the so-called 'Yellow Shirt' People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest movement, were charged by the Court with illegal entry and illegally entering a military base along the border, crimes carrying penalties of up to six months and one year, respectively.

Mr Thani, Director-General of the Department of Information, said that the Thai side must wait for the Court to set a date for trial and then file petitions seeking bail for them.

Until now, no date has been set by the Court, he said, adding that the visit of the detained Thais by their families could be done within one or two days even during the long New Year holiday as the request for visits had already been sent to the Cambodian authorities.

Mr Thani said that during his visit to the detained Thais on Dec 30 at Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of the capital, they all said they did not realise that they had crossed the border into Cambodian territory.

They asserted that none of them had intended to intentionally break the law but strayed into Cambodian territory by accident, the director-general said.

The prison had cooperated well and facilitated the Thai authorities to provide the Thais with food, he said, adding that the ministry has ordered Thai embassy officials in Phnom Penh to visit them every day.

Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya on Thursday went to Phnom Penh in an attempt to secure their freedom, but he failed accomplish his mission.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier said he had tasked Mr Panich with seeking information about the border issue. (MCOT online news)

Local chain opens supermarket in Cambodia

via CAAI

December, 31 2010

HA NOI — The Z38 company, a member of the Viet Nam Enterprises Association, opened the Viet Nam Supermarket on Wednesday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The 3-storey supermarket covers a total area of 7,550 square metres on the Monivong Boulevard, one of the Cambodian capital city's main thoroughfares.

The company invested US$3 million to build the supermarket which is the largest Vietnamese goods retailer in Cambodia, said the store manager Le Minh.

He said he hoped the supermarket would help introduce high quality Vietnamese products to Cambodian consumers and the Vietnamese people living in that country, and further increase the reputation of Vietnamese goods.

More than 20 Vietnamese businesses have their products on sale in the supermarket, including garments, footwear, cosmetics, instant noodles, canned food, coffee and dairy products.

Many Vietnamese products had caught the attention of Cambodians due to their quality and reasonable price including Acecook instant noodles, Bibica and Kinh Do confectionery products, Vissan processed foods, Trung Nguyen coffee products and Phu Quoc sauces, said a Cambodian trader from the Orussey Market in Phnom Penh.

Vietnamese producers should concentrate more on improving the quality and design of their products to further penetrate the 14 million strong Cambodian market. More Vietnamese supermarkets were expected to open in four other provinces across the country, Minh added.

A Vietnamese trader in Phnom Penh said it was important for Vietnamese enterprises to have a good distribution system and customer care services to promote the consumption of Vietnamese goods in Cambodia.

Viet Nam invested $900 million in 63 projects in Cambodia in the first six months of this year, according to the Cambodian Development Council, making it the country's third largest investor, after China and South Korea.

Investors included Viettel Telecom Group, the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam, PetroVietnam, the Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Group and Vietnam Airlines. — VNS

From prostitution to pepper

via CAAI

Published: Dec. 30, 2010

Many of the young women and men at the Daughters of Cambodia are poorly educated. They are taught English.

I'm writing about pepper and Cambodia for several reasons, but to start off I'll share two:

TEE'S STORY: At 15, Tee left her province in rural Cambodia to find a job in Phnom Penh. For four years she worked as a waitress. When the restaurant closed, she went to work as a karaoke girl. She was sold to a brothel by a friend. The friend took the payment and Tee was forced to work it off.

The former sex workers are taught skills such as sewing at the Daughters of Cambodia workwhop in Phnom Penh.COURTESY DAUGHTERS OF CAMBODIA
If she complained, she was beaten. If she refused to have sex with the brothel owners, she was beaten. She was forced to stand on the street to attract customers. If she didn't lure enough customers, she was beaten. She finally ran away when the brothel owners were sleeping. But carrying the stigma of having been a sex worker made finding a new job all but impossible, and she ended up back in a karaoke bar.

PERL'S STORY: Perl has no education, but she does have eight siblings. She came to Phnom Penh to help earn money to support a sick father and a disabled sister. Perl got a job in a garment factory but the demands for money continued. She started work in a karaoke bar. Her family wanted more money. Her next step was prostitution.

She serviced men at night and slept during the day. Customers forced her to drink with them. They often cheated her out of money by refusing to pay after sex. Perl was forced into a room with many men and gang raped.


When my wife Cris and I decided to import pepper from Cambodia into the U.S. we had two basic goals: to provide a market for some hard-working farmers and help a deserving charity in one of the poorest nations in the world.

We aren't in it for money; there a lot more effective ways to make money than selling pepper from Kampot, Cambodia.

But we had heard about Daughters of Cambodia on a previous visit. Simply, Daughters takes in former sex workers and teaches them a trade.

The nonprofit organization now has about 55 girls and 15 boys learning to sew, make jewelry and wait tables.

There's a Daughters of Cambodia gift shop and café in Phnom Penh just down the street from the National Museum. Daughters also runs a three-story workshop deep in the alleys of one of Phnom Penh's numerous brothel districts.

Who better to make the packaging for our pepper?

Ruth Elliott is an earnest English lady. She's a psychologist. She has lived in Phnom Penh for seven years, is married to a Cambodian man and has four kids. She started Daughters of Cambodia four years ago.

"I felt God put it in my heart," she says of the organization. "I felt Cambodia needed more help than just about any other place."

Ruth provided a little insight into the Cambodian sex trade:

• An estimated 40 percent of the sex workers are HIV positive.

• The customers break down something like this: 49 percent Cambodian, 42 percent from other Asian nations; 9 percent Westerners.

• Often, the families sell the girls into the sex trade. The causes include broken families, domestic violence, materialism -- the families want a new TV or motorbike -- and alcoholism. "Ninety percent of the girls who are sold are sold by their families," Ruth says.

- The girls typically take a pay cut when they leave the sex trade for Daughters. They likely were earning about $100 a month as a prostitute; they get paid $75-$80 a month at Daughters.

It's impossible to imagine selling a child into a brutal sex business. But it's also hard to imagine the poverty of rural Cambodia.

The young women enter the Daughter's program voluntarily but they bring a lot of baggage: alcoholism, no self esteem, depression, victims of domestic abuse.

Recently, Daughters has taken in ladyboys – young transvestites who work the sex trade. Says Ruth: "They are more despised (in Cambodian society) than the girls. They can only come out after midnight because you have people in the streets screaming things at them. We just give work and a purpose. Some want to become boys again and we try to help them."


I got a tour of the workshop.

After a winding tuk tuk ride through the alleys of Phnonm Penh we came to a big iron gate.

There are two rules: No photography and men must be accompanied by someone from the organization all times.

The rooms are filled with sewing machines, tables for assembling jewelry and rooms with groups of girls crocheting. Kids were napping on mats in the day-care center. A nurse visits once a week.

It was strangely quiet when I entered the sewing room. The 30 sewing machines were still. But out on the balcony -- where it was a little cooler -- 15 giggling young women were gathered, putting the finishing touches on the pouches we had ordered to hold the pepper.

The traditional Cambodian material had been purchased at a local market. It's a sturdy, checked cloth that local people use as a scarf, a bandana and to carry babies. It's worn by both men and women. You might recall photos of the Cambodian butcher Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers wearing red and white kramas.

I stuffed 160 pepper pouches into my suitcase along with 30 pounds of pepper.

It was time to go home.

TEE TODAY: She works as a cook at the Daughters of Cambodia café. She is single and lives with her 6-year-old daughter in a rented house. She takes part in child-care and domestic-violence workshops. She boasts that she is one of the fastest cooks at the café.

PERL TODAY: She's learning English so she can better communicate with foreign customers at the Daughters shop. She's a cashier and a management trainee. The increased responsibility means a higher salary. She has regular counseling and has become a Christian.

"In the past people always looked down on me," Perl says. "I now have hope."

Contact the writer: or 714-704-3789

Kasit back, empty-handed

via CAAI

Published: 31/12/2010
Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya failed to achieve the release of a Thai Democrat MP and six other people detained by Cambodian authorities for alleged trespass on the territory of the neighbouring country.

Mr Kasit made an urgent visit to Phnom Penh for talks with his counterpart, Hor Namhong, on securing the release of the seven on Thursday afternoon and returned empty-handed in the evening.

The Thai foreign Minister said upon returning from Phnom Penh that he tried to tell his Cambodian counterpart that the seven had strayed into the Cambodian territory during inspection of the border areas after receiving a petition from Thai villagers along the border.

Mr Kasit admitted to Hor Namhong that the seven Thai unintentionally crossed into the Cambodian area for 1,200 metres.

However, he failed to secure the release of the seven Thais who were charged by the Phnom Penn Municipal Court with illegal entry and illegally entering a military base along the border, crimes carrying penalties of up to six months and one year, respectively.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to press ahead with charges against the Thais, and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong reportedly said after his meeting with Mr Kasit that he had said there would be "no release" of the Thais just yet.

"Let the court continue with the legal procedure as normal, the government cannot do anything," he said.

"We respect the judiciary of Cambodia. We have asked the government to complete the case as soon as possible as the charges were not severed crime,'' said Mr Kasit. (MCOT)

Australian cabinet documents show position on Khmer Rouge

via CAAI

Newly released cabinet documents show Australia's foreign minister in 1980, Andrew Peacock, recommended continued recognition of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

The documents have just been released by the National Archives.

The newly released papers include a cabinet submission from Mr Peacock on the highly sensitive issue of what to do about recognising a government in Cambodia, then Kampuchea.

The Pol Pot regime had been pushed aside by Vietnam's invasion in 1978 and 79.

But Mr Peacock's submission argues the Vietnamese backed regime in Phnom Penh should not be recognised because ASEAN states and China didn't support it.

China backed and armed Pol Pot.

And the Australian public was against recognising a regime that had killed a quarter of the population.

Mr Peacock recommended that view should not be ignored in policy decisions.

But he recommended continued recognition of the Khmer Rouge.

Friday, 31 December 2010 13:37 DAP NEWS / VIBOL .CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Dec 31, 2010-The Cambodian government and South Korea inked loan agreement on Friday at the ministry of economy of Cambodia with over 18 million US dollar finance to develop Monkol Borei canal in Battambang province.

via CAAI

Friday, 31st December 2010
Source : HVS International

According to Cambodia’s National Valuers Association, land prices in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, are continuing to fall quarter-on-quarter.

The value of commercial and residential land prices fell by between 2% and 3% in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter in 2009.

Commercial land was estimated to be worth US$2,800 per square metre, down from US$2,850 in the second quarter of 2010.

Residential land on the other hand was estimated to be worth US$1,600 per square metre, down from US$1,650 for the second quarter of the year as well.

South Korea Loans over $18 million to Develop Canal for Agricultural Crops in Cambodia

via CAAI

Friday, 31 December 2010 13:37 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Dec 31, 2010-The Cambodian government and South Korea inked loan agreement on Friday at the ministry of economy of Cambodia with over 18 million US dollar finance to develop Monkol Borei canal in Battambang province.

Deputy prime minister Keat Chhon, and minister of economy said : “We thanked south Korean side that has provided concession loan for us”. It will be used for development of Tahan dam including hydropower dam and flood management, and Komping puy canal in Battambang province,” Keat added.

He said: the government effort is trying to reduce negatively impact from global economic crisis, and poverty reduction. “It will contribute increasing the rice product and agricultural products and also it could irrigate agricultural crops with 17,000 hectares,” Keat stresses.

He added that this is tenth time that South Korea has provided the credit for Cambodian government and in total, it has 268 million dollars..

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

On the Universal New Year 2011, we would like to wish all readers good health, longevity, happiness and prosperity.

PM Hun Sen Attack Environmental Extremists’ Criticism on Hydropower Projects

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has attacked the environmental extremists for the criticism on a number of hydropower plant construction projects in Cambodia.

Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, made the attack while presiding over a ceremony on Tuesday to block a river to build “Russey Chrum Krom” Hydropower Plant in Koh Kong province.

“Is there any development project that does not affect the environment and natural resources?” Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen asked the environmental extremists to give acceptable answers.

He referred to a number of examples in producing oil, gas, cement and steal using the natural resources that also cause the environmental problem.

To have a 338-megawatt hydropower plant at Russey Chrum Krom, the river had to be blocked and the surrounding forests would be inundated, but it was a swap for electricity, he further clarified.

If the reliance on gasoline and diesel needs to be reduced, and the energy safety needs to be guaranteed, so there must be the searches for the sources of hydropower and other alternative energies, he said. --AKP

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by Ravuth M.



Cambodian FM: No Release of 7 Thais Entering Illegally Cambodia

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hor Namhong, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that there is no release of seven Thai entering illegally Cambodian territory.

The Cambodian foreign minister told this to reporters after meeting with his visiting Thai counterpart, H.E. Kasit Piromya, on Dec. 30.

“Let the legal procedure proceed the case as normal and as long as it is in hand of the court, the royal government cannot do anything,” he said.

The seven Thai nationals, including “yellow shirt” activist Veera Somkwamkid, had been arrested on Dec. 29 by Cambodian army.

He told Thai foreign minister that it was not the first time that Thais entered illegally Cambodia, but it was the third times, he said, explaining that the first was in July and the second in September, but they did not go too deeply into Cambodian soil, they were then banned by the Cambodian army and sent back to Thailand.

“The arrested Thais intended to go to Chok Chey village about 1,200 meters away from the border and they did not lose their way and they traveled across the border pole No. 46,” he said.

H.E. Kasit Piromya acknowledged that he did not know the Thais went to Cambodian village like that, he said, adding that the case went to the court’s hand and let juridical procedure proceed it.

Thai Foreign Minister H.E. Kasit Piromya said that he came to Cambodia to tell the truth of the Thai side and he respected the justice movement and demanded that the Cambodian royal government do as much as possible to finish the issue soon. --AKP

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by THOU Peou



DPM Hor Namhong Meets U.S. Lawmaker

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- A visiting U.S. Lower House Member Ms. Laura Richardson met here on Dec. 29 with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.E. Hor Namhong.

On the occasion, Ms. Richardson said that she will discuss with U.S. Lower House members to write off the debts Cambodia owed to the U.S. during the U.S.-backed Lon Nol regime.

Through the U.S. Lawmaker Ms. Laura Richardson, H.E. Hor Namhong asked the American government either to convert some part of the debts to development assistance or to write off all the debts or some part of the debts.

Moreover, both sides also focused on the cooperation between Cambodia and the U.S., said Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. --AKP

By CHEA Vannak



National Forest Programme Launched

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- A 160-page document on the implementation of the National Forest Programme 2010-2029 was launched here on Dec. 29 in the presence of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun.

Some 300 officials of the Forestry Administration and representatives of community forestry, NGOs, private sectors, foreign embassies attended the launching ceremony.

On the occasion, H.E. Chan Sarun praised for the close cooperation between the Forestry Administration and relevant partners, especially DANIDA, DFID, NZAID, FAC and NFP Facility in setting up the National Forest Programme approved by the Council of Ministers on May 7, 2010 and officially signed by Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen on Oct. 18, 2010.

The National Forest Programme is aimed at creating a social framework and an appropriate policy in sustainably managing all types of forests, he said, adding that it will help develop the field of forestry in contribution to developing the economy and improving people’s living standard. --AKP




Phnom Penh To Build Underpass

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- Phnom Penh Municipality is planning to construct the first ever underpass to avert the capital city’s traffic congestion, Phnom Penh Governor H.E. Kep Chutema said yesterday.

Today there are around 2.5 million residents, 180,000 vehicles and 900,000 motorbikes in Phnom Penh, therefore underpass is one of the choices to be applied in the future, he said.

Nhem Saran, director of Phnom Penh Public Works and Transport said the underpass would be built at the intersection between Mao Tse Tung, Kim Il Sung and Russian Federation Boulevards. --AKP

By KHAN Sophirom



Increasing New Media Access and Its Impacts on Cambodian Politics

Phnom Penh, December 31, 2010 AKP -- Giving the increasing trend of Cambodian web browsers, the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on Dec. 31 organized a roundtable discussion on new media and the impacts on politics at Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh.

According to the Cambodian Publication Review produced annually by the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, as of 2010 there are more than 110 thousand web browsers among the Cambodian population of around 14 million. And 72 percent of the browsers are male.

In his presentation, CCJ President Pen Samitthy shared his observation of declining readership of print media and the increasing browsership of new media, adding that Cambodian government is also starting to turn their interest to new media.

In his example, Mr. Samitthy projected high number of Facebook fans of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, especially for his greeting message posted in July that reads “…I love you all and without you I am working for nobody…”

It is reflected that limited access and knowledge about the new media among Cambodians, especially those in the rural areas, may restrict political role in the means. However, it will not be true in the future as more and more internet coverage has been made possible from time to time.

Funded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the roundtable discussion also highlighted drawbacks of the not-yet-controllable new media not only in political, but also in cultural and social aspects. To maximize positive consequence of the emerging new media, it calls for the collaboration among policy makers, media practitioners, development agency and other stakeholders.

Talking about his experience, Radio France International reporter Ky Soklim said that the new media can influence voters. “Traditionally a political belief of a family can be shaped by the family leader or anyone who is more knowledgeable in the family. Therefore, when influenced by abundant information from new media, those key persons in the family may change their political stance.” The question is how the politician can take advantage of this.

For the print media journalists, the new media poses new challenges as warned by the CCJ president Pen Samitthy that questionable quality and ethical standard as well as issue in terms of timeliness are becoming more critical now if the ‘traditional’ journalists want to sustain. --AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil

Election NGO fends off PM’s criticisms

via CAAI

Friday, 31 December 2010 15:01 Vong Sokheng

LOCAL election monitor Comfrel yesterday moved to defend itself against criticisms from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said this week that the body’s most recent quarterly report on the National Assembly was biased toward the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

During a speech to hundreds of officials at the Chaktomuk conference centre on Wednesday, the premier said the report, released in October, was misleading.

“There was an evaluation that our lawmakers did not visit their constituencies and lawmakers from the opposition party visited their constituencies more than us,” Hun Sen said. “I am sorry, you are wrong.”

Koul Panha, Comfrel’s executive director, said yesterday that the report was designed to provide an accurate and balanced assessment of the National Assembly.

“We collected all information related to the National Assembly and individual lawmakers, because we need the voters to have information about their representatives,” he said.

“We will accept any feedback in order to improve our report monitoring the National Assembly and individual lawmakers, and if the government officials want to know how we [conducted the] analysis in our report, we are ready to explain.”

During the same speech on Wednesday, Hun Sen also alleged that he has spies embedded within the SRP, who are relaying “secret information” about the party’s activities.

“The person [inside the SRP] who is insulting me more than the others is who is leaking more secret information,” he said.

“There are many Hun Sen spies embedded in the opposition party and if the SRP wants to hide its secrets, its must destroy the entire group.”

Chea Poch, an SRP lawmaker, yesterday described Hun Sen’s comments as an attempt to “incite” problems within the opposition party. He said he was confident that SRP members were loyal to the opposition and would continue to “frankly discuss” party affairs internally.

Five held on drug trafficking charges

via CAAI

Friday, 31 December 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

PHNOM Penh Municipal court yesterday charged five people with drug trafficking following their arrest in a raid in the capital earlier this week, said Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at the court.

“I have charged them today with drug trafficking committed in Cambodia. They are now being sent to prison [to await] their trials in the future,” Sok Roeun said.

He said the group were arrested during a raid in Stung Meanchey commune on Monday night, an operation that was carried out by anti-drug police in collaboration with Meanchey district authorities.

Moek Dara, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said that the arrest of the five alleged smugglers was made possible by the effective cooperation between multiple branches of the police force.

He said on Wednesday that officials had also seized nearly 7 million flu tablets containing the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can be chemically altered to produce methamphetamine and other forms of amphetamines.

“This is another big crackdown on drug trafficking made by our authorities in Phnom Penh at the end of this year,” he said.

Moek Dara added that the authorities are now working hard to continue investigations into other individuals who could be part of the same drug trafficking network.

According to a report released by the NACD yesterday, a total of 272 drug-related cases were prosecuted between January 1 and September 30 this year, while 233 cases were brought to court in the whole of 2009.

The NACD figures show that 536 people were arrested on drug charges in the first nine months of 2010, compared to the 467 people arrested on similar charges in 2009 – an increase of 14.8 percent.