Wednesday, 5 January 2011

In the driver's seat: what we've learned in our year making this magazine

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:59 Post Staff

Imagine living in a remote place like Rattanakiri, where you have no internet, TV, radio or any kind of information source.

Most people who live in the city or big towns have access to news via the internet or another forms of media. But there are still plenty of Cambodians who do not have those choices as a result of poverty or accessibility. The poor are more concerned about their families, making money, having food for their children and other basic needs. If you did not know where the next meal was coming from or how you were going to pay your rent, you would not be interested in reading newspapers or finding out what the government’s new policies were. People in rural areas face great difficulties getting information. Not many newspapers or magazines are sold in rural areas and some people do not have a TV, leaving them highly uninformed.

More importantly, most local media are not doing a good job of informing people. Not many people are well informed by Cambodian TV shows or radio. Most of the TV channels and radio stations are pro-ruling party and some are owned by government officials or their families. They are mostly commercial stations and do not provide much news. We do not get much important information on TV or radio other than beer or cigarette advertising, Korean and American pop songs or positive things the government does. The question is how can we change that? Well, there are ways to improve the media here.

The government should work harder to promote the media and make it more accessible. Instead of running ads or foreign pop songs, TV and radio stations could try to broadcast more educational programmes such as a series of films and shows as part of the “No is No” campaign.

I never really thought about being a journalist when I was in high school. I guess the idea never occurred to me. People would value finance, engineering and economics as vital factors to the development of this country, but journalism was hardly ever mentioned. Only when I became involved in the media through school and work did I realise the impact of journalism in our country. To discuss how journalism can help Cambodia, it is necessary to understand its role – to educate, entertain and inform.

With the literacy rate still low, Cambodia needs to make education available through a more accessible form – the media. By watching television, listening to the radio and reading newspapers, Cambodians can learn about new discoveries in technology, health and more. It is safe to say that through widespread media coverage, many people now know how to protect themselves against the infamous bird flu H5N1, they are aware of the options for birth control and most have heard of the internet, but don’t know how to use it.

Through entertainment, media brings cross-culture understanding via movies, songs and stories from around the world. Sometimes it is just about helping a tired mind relax after another day at work. Probably the most influential role of journalism is to inform. Media is considered to be the fourth estate, a watchdog over the government.

Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran were two journalists who chose to remain in Phnom Penh so the world would know the real situation in Cambodia in the 1970s. People need information to make the right decisions, especially in a country that follows democracy like Cambodia.

That is why journalism is important to Cambodia’s development. And that is why I want to contribute to my country through journalism.


Even though I now understand that exhaustion and frustration go along with being a journalist in the Kingdom, the crucial role that journalism will play in the future development of my country always inspires me to stick with it and work harder. Not only do I have the ability and opportunity to challenge myself to learn new things and meet fascinating new people, I can take the information from these experiences and pass them on to the rest of our country, where accurate news can be hard to come by.

Everyone meets strangers, but journalists have the unique ability to choose which stranger they want to engage, whether a high ranking government official or rice farmer in the provinces, and talk to them about the world, their lives, or whatever. The experiences journalists have are wide reaching. One day you might attend fancy, exclusive events, openings and conferences in the city, and then the next day you are travelling to rural areas to tell a story about life in the countryside that no one else is telling.
These are the things that I experience that you won’t, but all Cambodians know that there are also a number of risks in being a journalist. But, while many Cambodians entering the workforce seem to want a safe, comfortable job, I don’t. I rather enjoy the challenging and risky environment often faced by a journalist, and I consider it a shame that I have yet to witness first hand any major event. While tragedies and disasters are a horrible thing, being the eyes and ears for everyone who wasn’t there is vitally important to understanding what happened and learning from it.

I am sure there are plenty of other great reporters out there, but I don’t think I will ever be able to just sit back and read other people’s explanations about what is happening around me. I need to go out there and see it for myself so that I can dig out the truth and bring new discoveries to the attention of my audience.

Last but not least, I am enjoying being a journalist and I quite like the idea of spending my life travelling to fascinating places and meeting interesting people. It may not make me rich, but for the time being, it makes me happy, and that’s enough for now.


A number of people, in my opinion, would not agree that working as a reporter for a newspaper is interesting and fun. But if you like what you do, you will be proud because you have an interesting job where you can meet and talk to a lot of people starting from the grassroots level up to high-ranking officials.

I have been working for Lift Magazine for nearly half a year while I study media management at the Department of Media and Communication, Royal University of Phnom Penh. As a young reporter with little experience working as a journalist, I have had some unusual difficulties.

A source to give me information is the most important thing for me. It really makes my job hard if my source refuses to talk to me or I cannot find a person who dares to talk to me. To be honest, I often find high-ranking officials the most difficult people to interview, but not all of them. They are always busy and do not want to give information to a journalist.

I often say my story will not be good without their input since they are highly aware of a specific issue. I am also busy with my academic work, so time is also a challenge.

Sometimes when I have to finish a story for my editor I rush to complete the story, but then I feel that the story is not good for the readers. And sometimes I am just a procrastinator.

Also, finding an interesting topic for our readers can sometimes be a bit difficult for me. Language is also a problem for me because I write my stories in English, which is not my native tongue.


News is very important for people – it keeps them updated with what’s happening or going to happen in their area and around the world. These days Cambodians can get their news on the internet, which provides both local and international news.

They can get a variety of news on the internet, some of it written by professionals and some by those who simply created a website or blog. If you cannot read English, don’t worry. You can still follow the daily news on the internet through an increasing number of Khmer websites and blogs. The news varies from lifestyle stories to political discussions, and everyone can have their voice heard.

Most people think the internet is a totally free world since anyone can write or post something for others to read. However, it is not free when a government tries to censor the internet and restrict the information. In Burma, according to the Wikipedia website, the military government restricts internet access through software-based censorship which limits the material citizens can access and it blocks some websites.

Will this happen in Cambodia?

As far as I know, there aren’t any websites blocked by the Cambodian government, so we are able to read things critical of the government like KI-media. However, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said on December 17 that it was concerned government officials were going to start censoring websites after a report by Radio Free Asia that Var Kimhong, Cambodia’s senior minister in charge of border affairs, had spoken out against KI-media: “I asked the government to shut down this website on December 31,” he said.

If the government starts censoring internet content, it would.

Constructive Cambodian: A little constructive criticism as a birthday

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:50 Post Staff

The Constructive Cambodian
The most senior of our senior writers,
journalist and blogger, Tharum Bun tells Lift what we are doing well, and what we could be doing better. A little constructive criticism as a birthday. gift

How will Lift change you, the reader, as a person? is probably the most important question to ask question I should ask.
We answer Tharum’s call on page 7, and if you want to do the same, log on to

This was the cover of our first issue of Lift, published in January of 2010. Tharum’s article in that issue was titled, “Soldiers of Free Speech”, and it discussed the dangers of being a journalist in Cambodia.

It’s been one year since Lift came to life and I’ve had some great times contributing to the youth publication. Not only as a writer, as I am now, I also had the chance to spearhead Lift’s social networking visibility very early on in the publication. That work seemed somewhat futile at the time, but a year later Lift has more than 2,000 fans, which is no small accomplishment in Cambodia.  

Many people may think that going out of our way to celebrate one year of a weekly magazine is much ado about nothing, but Lift represents more than most magazines, seeing as it is the only magazine in the country that is trying to engage young readers in quality, critical, and occasionally controversial topics.

In the past year there have been so many amazing ideas coming from its youthful team of editors and journalists. In the beginning, there was a team of three of us essentially who did all of the writing, reporting and whatever else had to be done, but I know now there are dozens of aspiring journalists who work in some capacity with Lift.

The ideas of these young journalists have become the solid foundation upon which Lift can be built, however the magazine still faces many challenges in the years to come, particularly if financial success, or expansion, are part of the magazines barometer for success.

I am honoured to be able reflect on the past year of Lift in celebration of Issue number 52.

I realise that I run the risk of hyperbole here, but if I were to compare Lift to a band, it would be the Beatles or another comparable group of young people’s who innovative approaches to their work made them stand out from the rest.

If Lift was a band playing music, then it would have to be The Beatles of 2010. From its editor down to its writers, all the staff are in their early 20s and they dare to integrate their innovative approaches into Lift, which is inserted into the main publication, The Phnom Penh Post, every Wednesday.

It has also ventured into new media by having a presence on social media sites so it can learn much more from its readers through a variety of interactions. Feedback is a valuable thing for any publication, and at Lift it is something we cherish. So please log on and send us your thoughts.

On Facebook, Lift does a lot better than its parent publication, The Phnom Penh Post. It has far more fans on its Facebook page with more than 2,000 and still counting.

Lift also took a bold step when it decided to partner Cambodia’s largest social networking site AngkorOne. The new media partnership with TEDx Phnom Penh, with a conference of great talks and innovative ideas coming in February, will add to the list of great things this youthful magazine has accomplished.

But the essence or lifeblood of Lift is its people, who work together to come up with ideas and issues that are important to Cambodian youth. Most of the writers are now going through the same experiences that a large number of Lift readers are facing because our writers and readers are in the same age group. We all struggle to do better for themselves, our families, our communities and our nation.

How will Lift change you, the reader, as a person is probably a question I should ask. I take my hat off to all my colleagues who write and our growing number of readers. May our wisdom grow together during 2011. or

Q: Are illegal immigrants stopping Cambodians from getting jobs?

Sampling a year in stories

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:28 Post Staff

We asked you to tell us which stories left an impession on you. Here are the five stories that had the most impact on our readers.

THE SURVEYS for our first anniversary issue, which supplied the information for this page as well as the data on page three and almost all of the reader responses throughout the issue, were conducted by Sothea Ines, Ngo Menghourng, Sun Narin and Hem Khemra Suy.

They randomly asked university students if they were regular Lift readers and only conducted surveys with those who confirmed that they were familiar with the publication. As many as 80 people were surveyed, ranging in age form 18 to 42, but the majority of the group were university students.

Sadness filled a city that was shining with bright lights and joyous revelers hours earlier. Some people cried in public after watching
the frightening footage that seemed to run nonstop on Cambodian TV stations. Others sought the comfort of home to share heartbreak or

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.

by Kounila Keo & Colin Meyn

China's rapidly increasing investment in Cambodian industry has led to closer ties between the two countries, while relations with the US have been frustrated by America's refusal to erase billions of dollars of debt that Cambodia incurred during Lon Nol's regime. While the future is uncertain, there is no doubt that both countries will be important to progress in the Kingdom.

by Tivea Koam & Sun Narin

What does it take to be a real man?
Being used to watching never ending traffic and looking at buildings that reach high into the sky, I really enjoyed the view along the way to Mondulkiri, filled with various types of trees, expansive fields and rolling mountains.

by Dara Saoyuth

Khieu Kanharith, the government's Minister of Information, said he had used Facebook for two years and before that he used several other social networks including hi5. His online savvy is obvious since he usually replies to online messages within a few days if not a few hours. Yet, he is not a complete convert of online communication.

"I think oral communication works better than comments via social net- works," he said. "On Facebook, we cannot post everything - for example, policies that contain thousands of words cannot be condensed to two or three sentences. That is simply not enough to promote a policy."


Movers and Makers

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:27 Post Staff

Our youth of the year share a common quest. With daily changes in communication, they are using new media or unique ways of using use old media to share their thoughts, fears and views of the world. In doing so, they are laying the foundation for a curious community of Cambodians online. We can’t wait to see what they do in 2011!

Like the other groups featured in our year-end issue, Kon Khmer Koun Khmer (4K) are also telling the story of Cambodian youth, but they have chosen to do it on screen through films and movies. Twin Diamonds was their most ambitious project to date, bringing together scores of Cambodian filmmakers to direct pieces of the film, which was eventually shown throughout Phnom Penh. The group began as a few young Cambodians, from here and abroad, who wanted to learn how to make movies, but in a few years it has blossomed into much more. With new volunteers jumping on board all the time and two movies in the works, 4K is only getting bigger. Cambodian cinema is certainly in desperate need of some artistic energy and if 4K can keep up their passion and creativity, there is no reason they won’t be driving a resurgence in Cambodian film in the years to come.

Unlike 4K, who often celebrate the rich past of cinema in Cambodia, the three networkers that we photographed are clearing their own path, using the internet and other advancements in communication to become super connected. Online relationships may not seem particularly important to people who grew up without it, but as more Cambodian youth head online, the country will be better connected than ever before. Internet usage is set to expand rapidly, which means there will be more people who aren’t sure what to do with their time online. Looking at these three youth for guidance is a good place to start.

The last group of innovative young Cambodian’s that caught our attention were the young men from Stiev (rebel), a creative collective of 6 artists who focus mostly on photography. The group also set up the SaSa gallery this year, one of the few spaces in Cambodia reserved for Cambodian artists who have something to say. Besides showing their own work, which seeks to find a more accurate way to depict Cambodia in these changing times, they also bring in some of the best and brightest young artists from all around the country to share their work. The arts scene has improved in leaps and bounds in the last few years. With the work being done by Stiev and others, it may soon be thriving.
This might sound a bit self indulgent, but some of the most interesting clubs, campaigns and organisations involving Cambodian youth today are in media, arts and technology. Here at Lift, we don’t think these fields have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the three groups that we chose as our youth of the year could all be placed in any of these categories.

Scene Settings

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:24 Post Staff

Kon Khmer Koun Khmer are a self-sustained team of young students and artists whose main focus is on film production and arts management. The team formed around a 2009 project by French Cambodian filmmaker Davy Chou, and is now run by young Cambodian managerial board and supervised by a multinational advisory board.

Our vision is to encourage young Cambodian leaders by honouring their creativity as filmmakers, serving them in the context of achieving their personal projects and sharing their pieces of work with the world so that these positive legacies can be passed on to next generations.

Their projects to date include “Twin Diamonds”, “Golden Re-Awakening of Cambodian Cinema of ‘60s and ‘70s Film Exhibition” and “Rock n Roll Party” in 2009, as well as a number of works done in partnership with other organisations in 2010.

They are now prepared to start filming a movie called “Boyfriend,” a short fiction piece, and another film called “Second Reel”, a feature fiction piece for TBC. Photo WILL BAXTER

The icebreakers

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:19 Post Staff

Photographs of Anna Nov and Chhay Chansopheaktra: SOVAN PHILONG Photos of Tharo Sen: WILL BAXTER

If you don’t recognise any of the three youth in the image above, it probably means you aren’t spending much time with Cambodian youth. Chhay Chansopheaktra (dressed in purple dress and navy suit), Anna Nov (in red dress and navy pant suit) and Tharo Sen (the lone man) are not only known among the hundreds of people who they interact with on a daily basis at school, work, and various clubs, organisations or gatherings outside of school. Chhay Chansopheaktra and Tharo Sen are still studying at university, where they have both taken on leadership roles in AEISEC, an international youth leadership organisation, and devoted significant time to groups (such as 4K), who are working on projects in the arts, development, or education. Their relationships do not end there, however. They are all avid online social networkers as well. Anna Nov estimates that she has more than 9,000 friends on Facebook, and they are just getting started!

Helping us grow

via CAAI
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:05 Post Staff

Some constructive criticism and much appreciated praise from our readers

Gove Kimhong,
20 years old, year 4 student at the Institute of Foreign Languages
Lift articles and content are very interesting and informative because it has a variety of topics including politics, culture, history, education and health which people want to know. Lift reporters always dig out the story that we are aware of, but never raise in public. I like the Constructive Cambodian column since the senior writers have very critical thinking to share with the readers.

I am not satisfied with the photos of the writers that are published with each story. It seems like self promotion and 5 cool things should be about things that everyone thinks are cool, so the readers will be interested.

Chap Vithur, 25 years old
Assistant Project Coordinator at Cambodia Living Arts.
I think the articles in Lift are useful to society. It helps because Lift provides general knowledge, not just entertainment. The other people I see reading Lift are also reading it to build up their knowledge.

Anyway, to improve, Lift should put quotes from Khmer poets, for example Krom Ngoy, for youth and adults to read. I am really interested in Khmer proverbs since they teach people to be good and youth will be interested in them.

I read every issue of Lift and I am

Chan Ty,
22, Program Assistant at International Republican Institute (IRI).
addicted to the content, which is the most intriguing I have found. Lift maintains its focus on university students; therefore, it helps address a lot of issues related to youth. The youth of the week section is very critical and useful as it may give good examples of how to sail through challenges on the horizon and create your own masterpiece

I think Lift should try to cover as many topics as possible, including a section called free opinion, which allows students or young people to express their opinions about a certain topic at a certain time. There should also be more stuff helping students transition from university to the professional world, and twice as many copies distributed each week.

You told us that we should change …
• Nothing, it’s a creative work by Cambodian youth
• Bring back the job finding section
• Publish more than once a week
• Publish old Khmer proverbs to educate young Cambodians.
• Improve quality of content and photos
• More internship information
• Change the way it is designed
• Khmer stories should be the same length as English ones.
• More quizzes about famous people’s quotes
• Be more careful with writing mistakes
• Post more on the website that is useful for scholarships
• Publish daily
• Write more about international news
• Deliver Lift earlier on the days it is published
• It should look simpler
• Khmer and English should be published in separate editions

Phone hotline aids bridge survivors

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Memorial photos of victims who died in the bridge stampede are placed on the ground near the Diamond Island bridge.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 15:00 Ou Mom

FREE telephone counselling services have been launched to give emotional support to people affected by the Diamond Island bridge disaster.

Run by the NGO Social Services of Cambodia, the phone lines are open seven days a week, four hours a day.

A trial project was launched successfully in December and the second phase will begin next month, said Ellen Minotti, director of Social Services of Cambodia.

The initiative has the support of AusAID, the Australian Agency for International Development, she said.

Adverts for the service have been running on radio 102FM and 103FM, Minotti added. “Counselling and emotional support was seen positively by callers to radio stations, telling about their recovery from trauma and many suggested the program should be extended,” she said.

In its first month, the service had about 20 calls, mostly from men who survived the accident that killed 351 people and injured 395 in a stampede on November 22.

Other callers included victims’ families and onlookers who were horrified by the unforgettable accident, said Eng Vanny, a trainer with Social Services of Cambodia.

“Many callers are in a serious situation because of their pain and depression. Several patients can’t get rid of the images from their brains. Some survivors still feel regret that they couldn’t help others begging them for help. Parents sometimes blamed their children for going there or victims’ families feel sorry that they allowed their children to go there alone,” she added.

Eng Vanny said that telephone counselling could help survivors in ways that couldn’t be measured, allowing them to share experiences and reducing the chance of suicide.

“We give callers the chance for them to talk about their feelings in that situation without a time limit. If they ask for direct counselling, we can also help them because we have 15 staff members available,” said Ouk Bunthoeurn, a team leader and trainer for Social Services of Cambodia.

The group had professional trained staff working in its counselling and emotional support program, said Ouk Bunthoeurn.

“Callers can cry freely when they want. We are patient in listening to them. We counsel and support their emotions without judgement, but we try to give them ideas to cope and let them choose the outcome themselves,” he said.

Social Services of Cambodia’s Minotti said that online counselling services may be developed later, and the phone line’s hours may be extended if caller numbers rise.

The hotline number in Khmer is 078 767 559 between 9am and 11am and from 2pm to 4pm. Calls are free within the Mobitel network.

Call for NGO law overhaul

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 21:17 Thomas Miller and Vong Sokheng

Several hundred NGO representatives met in Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss concerns and recommendations regarding a controversial new draft NGO law, just days ahead of a consultation with the government on the issue.

“Our aim today is to make one joint statement with a clear position,” said Lun Borithy, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia. “If we protect only one tree, all the trees in the forest will be destroyed.”

A draft statement dated Sunday and signed by 10 civil society organisations, states that after careful consideration of the law, they believe it is designed “to control rather than strengthen civil society; to remove civil rights; and to hinder the Cambodian democratic process”.

In an effort to coordinate the response within the sector, the CCC, with input from a wide range of major domestic and international NGOs operating in Cambodia, has also put together a consolidated report on the draft law. They plan to finalise recommendations to submit to the government ahead of Monday’s consultation.

The most recent draft of the report, dated January 2 and obtained by The Post yesterday, states that NGOs “recognise the need for a law regulating non-governmental entities” but that interest “must be balanced to ensure the freedom of its citizens to engage in law-abiding activities without undue restrictions or burdens”.

The report goes on to recommend wide-ranging changes to the legislation in order to safeguard the right to freedom of association.

The draft law, officially known as the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations, has prompted concerns that informal groups of people will be banned from collective activities unless they are registered formally under the law, limiting democratic and grassroots activism.

Article 6, which states that associations and NGOs that are not registered in accordance with the law “shall not be allowed to operate any activity” in Cambodia, “clearly violates” the right to organise freely, the report states.

“This is a serious challenge, as it creates a Catch-22 in which activities to attract members and gauge interest are potentially illegal but yet without such activities, it may be difficult to gain membership,” it reads. The report adds that this may be “a deliberate strategy to prevent undesirable organisations from working or registering by delaying an MoU
or registration”.

Registration and reporting requirements in the law would also pose serious challenges to small and provincial organisations, the report argues, recommending an exemption from registration for informal community-based networks that share information but do not undertake activities.

The report suggests the draft law also draws a troublesome distinction between “domestic” and “foreign” NGOs, which appear to be determined on the basis of their staff’s nationality, rather than the content and scope of their operations.

By setting up requirements that only “Khmer nationals” can register associations and domestic NGOs, and that only foreigners can register international groups, the draft law “effectively denies foreign nationals the right to participate as founders in either associations or domestic NGOs” as well as the right of Khmer nationals to participate when registering an international NGO.

The report suggests eliminating nationality requirements and reducing the required number of members for establishing associations, set in the draft at 21 members and seven leaders. Individuals and groups should be able to decide whether or not to register their associations, the report states.

It also points to the lack of “clear and concise guidelines” for organisations facing involuntary suspension or termination. “There is also no requirement for the governmental authorities to provide notice to organisations under threat of involuntary suspension or termination,” the report adds.

Yesterday’s meeting, which was closed to press and included about 250 NGO representatives, followed a public statement, printed as an ad in local newspapers, by the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia, NGO Forum on Cambodia and Medicam, calling for “an extended consultation process”.

The government balked at the request yesterday, saying that the issue was a long time coming and the government had already delayed the consultation from December 28 to January 10 following pressure from NGOs.

“The government planned to draft the law since 2000 and all the NGOs knew for a long time,” said Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. He added that the government will accept NGO recommendations on the draft “if their demands are made in appropriate manner”.

“If the NGOs want to respect the law there is nothing complicated and nothing to be concerned about,” he said.

“When the NGO law is adopted, the role of democracy in Cambodia will be strengthened. The NGOs will have to respect the law.”

Chief export still below par

Photo by: Will Baxter
Garment factory workers stitch children's pajamas at a factory in Phnom Penh in September last year. Garment exports rose 20 percent for the first 11 months of 2010 but the year's total is still below 2008 levels.

via CAAI
Tuesday, 04 January 2011 19:10 May Kunmakara

Garment and textile exports rose more than 20 percent year on year for the first 11 months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, but the industry is still lagging behind 2008 levels, Ministry of Commerce data showed Tuesday.

An industry official said that if garment employees had not held strikes during the year, export levels would have probably surpassed 2008 levels.

“The global economy has recovered so our economy will follow because we mostly export to the US [market], which is 65 percent of our total exports,” Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers of Cambodia, told The Post on Tuesday.

“However, it does not match with the amount of 2008. If we did not face demonstrations made by employees, we could have exceeded 2008. I don’t mean that we don’t want any demonstrations – every country’s got them – but they should be held legally.”

Garment exports rose 20.15 percent to a total US$2.82 billion for January through November last year, up from 2009’s $2.347 billion total for the comparable period, official figures from the MoC’s CamControl showed.

A country breakdown of the figures showed exports to the United States increased 16.73 percent to $1.641 billion from $1.405 billion on 2009’s comparable period, while shipments to the European Union went up 18.46 percent to $702.8 million from $593.2 million.

Exports to other foreign markets also rose by about 34 percent to $443.95 million from $331.49 million.

Ken Loo predicted the total 12-month figure for 2010 garment exports could reach about $3 billion, which is still below 2008. MoC figures showed total garment exports for 2008 were $3.158 billion.

He said about 20 new garment factories opened in 2010, but he did not have the exact number of factories that closed.

Cambodia’s preferential tax treatment for exports to the European market recently introduced would further boost exports for 2011.

“I noticed that last year, exports into the EU market sharply rose, even though Greece’s crisis impacted some countries,” he said.

“This year our exports will get even better because we can export more into European market with duty free,” but he declined to predict what the growth rate for the year might be.

More than 200 survived S-21 prison: report

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Portraits of victims of the Khmer Rouge, displayed at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 19:35 James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha

More than 200 people survived incarceration at Tuol Sleng prison, researchers from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia say in a new report, a number far higher than previous estimates by scholars and journalists.

Of the perhaps 14,000 people who came though the facility, also known as S-21, many accounts have placed the number of survivors in the single digits.

In his book Voices from S-21, American historian David Chandler says that among documented prisoners, “all but a dozen specially exempted ones” were put to death. In their July verdict against S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said “only a very small number of those detained at S-21 survived”.

But in a briefing paper set to be published on Friday titled “Pol Pot and His Prisoners at Secret Prison S-21”, researchers Keo Dacil and Yin Nean say there were in fact 202 survivors – 179 who were released between 1975 and 1978 and another 23 who were released following the Vietnamese invasion in 1979.

“Western media had kind of taken the ball and just said there were seven survivors, but in Cambodia, I think there was a sense that more people escaped – we just couldn’t find the evidence,” Keo Dacil said Tuesday.

The researchers drew on interviews and documents compiled by Yin Nean, a senior archivist at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Keo Dacil said staff at DC-Cam had known “for a long time” about documents indicating the survivor figure was higher than previously thought, but had not had the chance to compile all the research together until a few weeks ago.

Chandler called the report “a helpful addition to the data we have on S-21”. He noted that since he published Voices from S-21 in 1999, documents had come to light providing new evidence of prisoner releases prior to 1979.

The alleged release of S-21 prisoners was briefly raised during the 2009 trial of the prison’s former chief Kaing Guek Eav at the country’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal. At a June 23 hearing, the defendant, better known as Duch, was questioned about the existence of six documents listing the names of “more than 160 people” supposedly released from S-21.

However, Duch told the court that the “release” lists were falsified by prison staff in order to conceal killings for a variety of reasons. “[I]n conclusion, for the six lists, they were all killed,” he said.

During a separate hearing in April, Duch, who was sentenced last year to 30 years jail for his leadership of the prison, said the fates of prisoners were sealed when they entered S-21.

“The principle was that whoever was arrested and interrogated had to be smashed. That meant be killed,” he said.

Some survivors of S-21 also said they had difficulty believing that many people survived the notorious prison.

“When I stayed there, everyone I saw had the same fate – waiting to be killed,” said Chum Mey, who was spared because of his skills as a mechanic. “Tuol Sleng was a secret centre, so [the Khmer Rouge] were afraid of information leaking out if people were freed.”

Bou Meng, who survived the prison because of his skills as a painter, said people who entered S-21 “could not avoid death”. “I don’t know about the information from DC-Cam, but I think anyone jailed at Tuol Sleng could not be freed,” he said.

Thai MP to face court for questioning

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 21:06 Cheang Sokha

A Thai lawmaker and six other Thai nationals arrested for trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province last week are set to be questioned in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday, a lawyer said.

Ros Aun, an attorney representing Thai MP Panich Vikitsreth and two other defendants, said he was unsure of the start date for the trial, but he hoped to secure his clients’ release in the interim.

“I will submit a bail request to the court after the investigating judge questions my clients,” he said.

Panich and the others, including Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of Thailand’s “Yellow Shirt” People’s Alliance for Democracy, were charged last week with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base, offences that carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

The group were arrested near a military encampment in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district while attempting to “investigate” the contentious border demarcation process between Thailand and Cambodia.

Investigating Judge Chang Sinath said she was in the process of interviewing military officials stationed at the border.

A video of the expedition that surfaced yesterday in the Thai press shows Panich making a phone call to his secretary asking the secretary to inform Somkiat Krongwatanasuk, an aide to Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, that the group had made it to Cambodia, the Bangkok Post reported.

“Please tell Somkiat to inform the prime minister that we are already inside Cambodia. I planned to call the prime minister myself, but it is okay now,” Panich reportedly said.

“Call [Somkiat] so in case there are problems, we can coordinate, because we are already in a Cambodian area. And make sure that he does not tell anybody, because only the prime minister must know this.”

Abhisit admitted yesterday to sending Panich to investigate the border, the Bangkok Post said. Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn reportedly later said Abhisit was unaware that the group had crossed into Cambodia.

Thai MP to face court for questioning

Monks gather for congress

Photo by: Pha Lina
Saffron-robed monks attend the 19th National Monk Congress held at Chaktomuk Theatre on Tuesday.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 19:47 Khouth Sophakchakrya

More than 800 monks from across the country gathered in Phnom Penh for the 19th National Monk Congress Tuesday, where they received reminders of the importance of Buddhist morality following a year that saw frequent transgressions by wayward members of the monkhood.

In a speech at the closing ceremony of the congress, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An told participants that Buddhism was traditionally a source of knowledge for young Cambodians.

As a result, she said, monks have a duty to inculcate the proper moral virtues and contribute to social development, calling on members of the monkhood to strive to apply “Buddhist principles” in their daily lives.

“Religion is an essential way of improving development because religion attracts participations from all levels of people,” she said.

“Buddhism has improved the morality of the people, as well as helping Buddhist monks join together with the people to develop Cambodian society.”

2010 was marked by a series of transgressions – criminal and otherwise – by members of the Cambodian monkhood. Most infamously, Neth Kai, a monk at Srah Chak pagoda in Phnom Penh, was sentenced to 17 years prison in October for secretly videotaping hundreds of naked women bathing in the pagoda bathroom.

On a more positive note, Men Sam An hailed the great strides taken by the monkhood since the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime 32 years ago on Friday. She said only seven monks survived the regime, a number that has grown to 56,301 today.

Minister of Cults and Religions Min Khin also told the congress that the Ministry was in the process of reforming the structures of the Buddhist sangha, or community, to promote national development and strengthen adherence to Buddhist morals.

“We are now strengthening the administration of monk structures, as well as improving pagodas’ administration, Buddhist studies and the distribution laws and regulations relating to the Buddhist religion, a move aimed at maintaining stability, peace and social progress,” he said.

Ministry bans remake of classic song

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 18:58 Mom Kunthear

The Minister of Information has issued an order banning the broadcast of a remake of “Or Phnom Penh Euy”, a popular song often aired in the lead up to the January 7 anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime.

In a letter dated Monday, Minister Khieu Kanharith argued that rewording the lyrics of the original song, which was written by former municipal official Keo Chenda in the early 1980s, was “improper” regardless of the intentions behind the cover version.

“The meaning of the song called “Or Phnom Penh Euy” expresses fully enough the sufferings of the Cambodian people in the Pol Pot regime; the standing up of the patriots to save the nation; the creation of the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation on December 2, 1978; and the great victory on January 7, 1979, when the nation was liberated and the people met each other again,” the letter stated.

It added: “Phnom Penh is the heart of our country and survived after it was seriously destroyed for three years, eight months and 20 days.”

Classic track

“Or Phnom Penh Euy”, which translates as “Oh, Phnom Penh”, refers to the capital city as being “representative of the Khmer spirit”.

“Oh, Phnom Penh, I missed you so in the three years I left you, with suffering the enemies separated me from you,” reads an unofficial translation of the original song.

“Oh, Phnom Penh, when I met you again, your suffering was better.”

The new song retains the melody of the original but substitutes in new pop lyrics, according to Khieu Kanharith’s letter, which was sent to radio and television stations nationwide with orders to cease broadcast of the new version “immediately”. The lyrics to the new song could not be obtained Tuesday.

San Putheary, director of the Information Ministry’s Audiovisual Department, said “Or Phnom Penh Euy” was part of Cambodia’s “national heritage” and had to be “protected forever”.

“We really won’t allow all the radio and television stations to broadcast the new song with the same music at all,” he said, but declined to answer questions regarding what sort of punishments people who breach the ban would face.

He said officials did not know who had produced the new version of the song.

Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said songs can help teach the younger generation “what happened so they do not do the same thing”.

Strategic Asia: Global Financial Crisis May Yet Trigger Economic Prosperity for Cambodia

via CAAI

January 04, 2011

Severe output shocks are traumatic events. Not only do they generate immediate economic and social distress, sharp increases in unemployment, capital flight and postponement of carefully negotiated investment plans, they also reduce policy confidence and lead to loss of faith in what were regarded as winning economic formulas for growth and industrial expansion.

It is to Cambodia’s enormous credit that despite a recent history of internecine conflict, loss of human capital, political instability and social conflict — events that might have pushed other countries into a prolonged state of institutional decay and economic ruin — it has managed to consolidate a new political system of electoral democracy to usher in a period of record growth and to sharply raise its human development performance.

While a low economic base is certainly part of the explanation, as is a one-off peace dividend with the demise of the Khmer Rouge, this is not the whole story.

First, the history of conflict and civil wars tends to confirm the view that countries and regions with outbreaks of conflict are prone to repeat it. The idea of a “conflict trap” in many countries in Africa and in regions within countries in Asia by now has serious currency in the analysis of social conflict throughout the world. Degenerating into a “failed state,” a la Somalia or Zimbabwe, is another possibility. So is the possibility, much analyzed in the literature on the Russian transition following the breakup of the former USSR, of state capture and the emergence of despotism and interfusion of business and political interests.

The idea of a low economic base making growth less impressive also fails to give enough credit to Cambodia. True, post-conflict recovery, especially in agrarian societies, can be rapid. But this can be the result of the recultivation of areas that were untended due to conflict. It might also be the consequence of returning combatants, who replenish the more dynamic parts of the labor force lost during the years of the conflict.

Such factors by themselves, however, do not explain why some countries can embark on massive structural change while others merely go back to historical rates of agricultural growth.

Cambodia has not only recovered from social conflict and massive loss of life, it has undertaken wholesale institutional transformation, establishing completely new sources of growth and employment. It has brought enormous numbers of female workers into the labor force, moved away from central planning, reached out to international and regional organizations (such as Asean) and initiated a formal and organized system of regular dialogue with the private sector.

But this is not all. It has also had to battle with the fallout from two massive economic shocks, the first in the form of the Asian financial crisis, and the second triggered by the US mortgage crisis. It is also to Cambodia’s credit that it joined Asean not during the best of times, but during some of the worst faced by the regional bloc. It is equally to its credit that the partial collapse of its principal export industry did not tempt it toward a path of protection or policy paralysis.

In fact, during times of great economic stress Cambodia has stuck to its Rectangular Strategy, emphasizing the inherent linkages between economic growth, governance, human capital and social welfare. Its major policy agency, the Supreme National Economic Council, is constantly engaged with the question of future production and economic growth, the necessary physical and human capital resources and the options in international assistance and bilateral credit that can help boost domestic savings-to-GDP ratios.

These questions are highly relevant, since Cambodia is increasingly being integrated into the regional Asian economy by shifting patterns of trade and investment and as a tourist destination. It has kept governance reform high on the policy agenda, including the eradication of corruption. Moreover, the spectacular success of many of the economies in the neighborhood — China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia — provides a large menu of good practices and caveats that allow Cambodia to leapfrog over other developing economies in search of a more diversified and technologically advanced knowledge-oriented economy.

One persistent dilemma is whether to fashion an industrial policy at all, or to focus instead on improving the investment climate and to reduce the cost of doing business so as to become a favored destination for future FDI and complementary domestic investment.

The role of the state in economic management is still a matter of great debate. The fact is, almost every developed country, as well as successful Asian economy, has used state direction of the economy to set out development visions and target particular industries for economic and fiscal support. The South Korean example particularly illustrates the spectacular results of the state and private sector working together to create new patterns of comparative advantage quite different from that which had been historically inherited.

In a very real sense, however, the development debate has moved on from the large state/small state argument, or from the desirability of picking industrial winners or promoting inward FDI through an improved investment climate. Over the last 15 years, a new development consensus has taken root, a consensus based on the critical importance of the knowledge economy in which investment in human capital is likely to yield higher growth returns than those in physical capital.

While watertight econometric evidence is still absent, there is overall agreement that human capital and knowledge are becoming increasingly important to future economic growth. Most developed countries and many developing ones have already embarked on a program of technological upgrading and higher education reform, often in partnership with business. This is itself raising the stakes for those economies that fail to follow in their footsteps.

The broad message of all this is clear. One cannot afford to wait for a completely convincing econometric result on impact of educational investment or more broadly the impact of investment in constructing the pillars of a knowledge economy before preparing for this new economic world.

International competitiveness and comparative advantage is being rewritten in the global arena right in front of our very eyes. Developed countries are themselves leading this structural and technological remake.

Economic theories taught at university campuses are being negated by the powerful combination of global business and national governments. It is time to rethink the theory.

In its search for a sustainable growth model for the future, Cambodia would do well to follow the well-trodden path to the global knowledge economy. After all, late starters can often turn out to be surprisingly high achievers.

Satish Mishra is CEO of Strategic Asia Indonesia, a Jakarta-based consultancy providing advisory and facilitation services throughout Asia. He can be contacted at .

Yuman's teaching experience expands personal growth

Photo by Jared Dort/Yuma Sun Adam Flynn spent close to two years teaching English at Royal University in Phnom Peng, Cambodia, as part fellowship program sponsored by Princeton in Asia

via CAAI

January 04, 2011

Personal growth takes place when you are able to step out of your comfort zone and pursue the unknown.

That is exactly what Yuma High School alumnus Adam Flynn did when he left town in September of 2008 to live in Cambodia and work as an English and American history teacher at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

After graduating from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in history, Flynn applied to work with the Princeton-in-Asia program, which provides graduates with the opportunity to serve the needs of the people of Asia.

Initially he was planning to only stay for a year, but after a brief visit home in the summer of 2009, he later decided to extend his stay in Cambodia until July of 2010.

He explained that he realized he wasn't done with the country yet and there was still more that he wanted to do.

Flynn explained that he decided to enter the program because he wanted to broaden his mind and make an impact in people's lives. Through his time overseas, he said that he grew a tremendous amount and was inspired personally by the experience.

“When traveling, you place yourself in all these sort of strange situations, you learn things about yourself that you wouldn't normally learn otherwise. If you sort of spend your time entirely in your comfort zone, then it's hard to grow,” he said in a previous article of the Yuma Sun.

During his time in Cambodia he found that while the country was gradually improving its women's rights issues and slowly moving toward a democracy, it still had a long way to go in terms of development.

“It was a fascinating place to be for two years,” said Flynn.

He noted that the students that he worked with were from rural areas and at the university on scholarships. Most students, he said, were living on $20 or less a month.

“Every day they pushed and worked,” he said about the majority of his students.

Flynn said that he hopes that he was able to touch the lives of students he worked with so that they would in turn touch the lives of others around them.

“One good day of class could spread out like ripples in a pond and have effects that you may never realize,” he said.

He explained that learning the English language was a huge asset for Cambodians because it would help them advance themselves.

“You will have a lot of people who want to learn, and for them, learning English will significantly better their lives because they have the tourism and they have the businesses. There if you know a scrap of English you have a step up on so many other people,” he said.

While in Cambodia, he realized that there are so many things that Americans take for granted, like having access to toilets and the fact that the police in the United States work at night, where they generally don't in Cambodia.

Unfortunately, during his second year in the area all of his electronics were stolen, including his computer and iPod. Flynn said that the police were no help in recovering the items.

He added that the country had great laws on the books but it was the enforcement and the way the courts interpret the laws that were the problem.

In the future, Flynn plans to move to San Francisco, Calif., to work at an internship with an advertising agency that deals with research, insight and account planning.

He said that his experience studying history in college and learning about another culture will help him to better understand the different ways that people live, think and see things.

“It's a strange new world and I would love to try and figure out what makes it go,” he concluded.

Visit for more information on the Princeton-in-Asia program.

Sarah Womer can be reached at  or 539-6858.

Courtenay's Cambodian challenge

 via CAAI

5 Jan 11
by Bernie Dowling

OVERSEAS: Courtenay Jensen is now in Cambodia working at a new military clinic

A PINE Rivers nursing student is swapping the Queensland summer for a tough medical environment treating soldiers in a Cambodian health clinic.

Albany Creek’s Courtenay Jensen departed on Wednesday for a four-week volunteer community health placement at a new military clinic at the foot of Phnom Bok Mountain in Cambodia’s northwest.

Ms Jensen and other nursing students from The University of Queensland are accompanying three clinical lecturers.

``I am very excited (but) I am getting a bit nervous,’’ Ms Jensen said.

``I imagine there will be challenges to our skills but it will be good to practise nursing in a place which really needs it.’‘

Ms Jensen, 19, is halfway through her nursing and midwifery studies.

She said students had heard some of the discussion on the ban of midwives at home births unless a doctor was present.

``We have heard a little bit about it, but it is not affecting us at this stage,’’ she said.

Ms Jensen said she liked her course as it provided both academic and practical training.

The students will return from Cambodia in the first week of February.

PM denies border tour was secret

via CAAI

Published: 5/01/2011
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has addressed a news conference to explain a YouTube video clip which shows Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth making a phone call to someone to tell Mr Abhisit's secretary, Somkiart Krongwatanasuk, that he and six other Thais were crossing the border into Cambodia just before they were arrested last Wednesday by Cambodian soldiers. The following are the prime minister's responses to questions from reporters.

Did you order Mr Panich to go on this trip?

I assigned Mr Panich to coordinate with a group of people who do not understand the Thai-Cambodian problem, to ease the conflict in Thai society to prevent it from escalating and affecting the Thai-Cambodian relationship.

Mr Panich reported to me that there were local people who had problems using land along the border. He wanted to go to the area to take care of this issue.

He told me he would go to Prachin Buri, not Sa Kaeo. He also asked me how he could coordinate with the local authorities. I told him to call me when he arrived in the area where he needed to coordinate with the authorities.

Mr Panich's secretary called me after he [Mr Panich] was arrested.

Why did Mr Panich tell somebody to tell your secretary not to tell anybody [that he was inside Cambodian territory]?

Mr Panich informed only me about the trip. If the PM's secretary was to report to other people, they would not understand. So he had to inform me. It was not a secret mission.

Didn't Mr Panich coordinate with the local authorities?

That area was under the responsibility of the Border Patrol Police. We need to find out what happened with the Border Patrol Police checkpoints along the road and why there were no policemen on it that day.

This is not the time to criticise anybody. We will find out when the situation eases.

Have you watched the video clip?

Yes, I have. The clip should be more than four minutes long. The person who posted it on YouTube cut it to a little over one minute.

[Mr Panich] said [in the uncut version of the clip] he believed he was in Thai territory and heading for boundary marker No.46.

We should not make an assumption from the cut version of the video clip [in which Mr Panich was seen speaking on the phone] that he was going into Cambodia and that I was aware of it.

Will this clip make it more difficult for the government to help the seven Thais who were arrested?

There is no indication there will be a problem. I have ordered relevant agencies to follow this issue closely.

Foreign Minister Kasit [Piromya] went to Cambodia and was given the video clip, which lasted more than 20 minutes.

We brought the video back and sent a Thai official on Dec 31 to go to the areas shown in the video [with the cooperation of the Cambodian authorities] to find the exact location where the Thai people were arrested.

Officials tried to locate the area on maps the next day but the existing maps lack the detail of roads and geographic conditions, which makes the identification difficult.

Did you know Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator with the People's Alliance for Democracy, would also be on the trip?

[Mr Panich] didn't tell me he would go with Mr Veera. He told me only he would go with Mr Samdin [Lertbutr, a PAD activist].

In the video clip, when the Cambodian authorities ask him why he did not coordinate with anybody, he said he didn't find anybody when he passed the Border Patrol Police checkpoints. This is a fact that I know.

So far, I have not yet talked to Mr Panich and I don't want the issue to escalate.

Is the relationship with Cambodia still normal?

You mean now? It's normal. Please let me work on the issue first.