Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fire Destroys Two Houses at Kandal Market, Phnom Penh

Gathering to Celebrate Internet Access in Cambodia

Written by Sopheap Chak

via CAAI

Posted 3 March 2011

Let's White Out Phnom Penh's Independence Monument for a few hours! We believe that social media is an important tool in present day and age, and such tool is accessible in Cambodia.

This is the message for the White-Out Day which will take place this Friday, March 4, at the Independent Monument which represents the liberation movement from French Colonization in 1950s. The invitation was announced on Facebook by Nate Sovatha.

From the invitation page, it reads:

Social Media has become increasingly important in present day and age. Its benefits in connecting people across and beyond boundaries are indisputable. It has also played a pivotal role that translates into social changes in recent days in some countries across the world. Despite such values, this tool is not available to everybody; some countries have blocked access to this vital tool. As a genuine member of the 21st century global community, CAMBODIA IS NOT ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES AND WE WANT TO CELEBRATE THAT FACT. This is what this event is all about.

The whole idea of the gathering is simply to celebrate the fact that internet access in Cambodia is better compared to other countries with strict media censorship laws:

Let's meet up with your friends and other social media users, talk stories or simply just take some pictures with the monument in the background. To show our unity and membership in the social media users community, let's all wear WHITE COLOR (top and bottom if can, if no can, just white top. Just plain white, no print, no sign or anything).

Insisting that this event is not a demonstration, and avoiding mention of current uprising in several Arab states, the organizer of the event warned participants not to use the activity for political purposes. More importantly, realizing the potential reaction from the government and understanding that the laws in Cambodia require permit for such gathering at a specified location namely Freedom Park, the organizer emphasized the non-political character of the gathering:

Disclaimer: This event is not a protest or a demonstration. Laws in Cambodia require permit for such event and it would need to be held at a specified location. I DO NOT HAVE SUCH PERMIT. This is not a political event, so please don’t hijack this event for political purposes.

As of this writing, there are 31 Facebook users who have confirmed their attendance. However, the event will definitely attract more internet users who are likely to attend the gathering without confirming participation on Facebook.

Even if it is non-political, such event organized through social media networks, may spark reaction from the government which recently denied that it ordered the blocking of certain websites that are leaning towards the opposition or viewed as critical to the government; and also government leaders have publicly condemned commentators who are comparing Cambodia to the situation in Egypt and Tunisia.

The count down begins to the White Out Phnom Penh's Independence Monument. Will the participants of this non-political event get arrested?

Written by Sopheap Chak

At least 20 dead as Cambodian tour bus headed to the beach crashes with speeding truck

via CAAI

By The Associated Press (CP)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Police say a speeding truck has crashed into a tour bus in southwestern Cambodia, leaving at least 20 dead and eight seriously injured.

Police official Prum Pao says the truck was carrying iron construction beams as it sped downhill in the rain and hit the bus head-on Friday. All the victims were Cambodian.

He says the bus was headed to Sihanoukville, the country's most popular beach resort. It is 115 miles (185 kilometres) southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly urged Cambodians to respect traffic laws and drive slower to reduce road accidents.

Some 1,700 Cambodians died in traffic accidents last year.

18 people killed in road accident in Cambodia

via CAAI


At least 18 people were killed and other seven seriously injured in a car crash in Sihanouk province of Cambodia on Friday at 1:20 p.m (local time), said Horn Seyha, chief of military police for the province, told Xinhua by phone.

"The accident caused by the crash between a lorry towed container and a tourist van loaded with passengers," he said.

The drivers of both vehicles were killed instantly in the accident and the tourist van was completely destroyed. "It's almost flattened."

It's still unknown who's right and wrong as both vehicles were in high speed

The accident happened on the national road No. 4 in Village one, in Sihanouk city of Sihanouk province, he said. The vehicles drove in opposite direction, he added.

MasterCard and Hôtel de la Paix Enable More Cambodian Children to Go to School

via CAAI

March 4, 2011 by admin

MasterCard cardholders staying at Hôtel de la Paix, Siem Reap, will have a chance to make a difference to the lives of Cambodian children simply by swiping their MasterCard cards. Through a MasterCard Purchase with Purpose™ initiative, MasterCard will donate five school uniforms for every bill paid for using a MasterCard card from 1 March 2011 to 30 June 2011. All school uniforms donated through this program will benefit children from needy families in Siem Reap.
Uniforms are mandatory in Cambodian schools, and children whose families cannot afford to give them uniforms, are denied the opportunity to attend school. School uniforms donated through this Purchase with Purpose initiative will be given to primary school children in Prey Chas, a small government-run school located north of Siem Reap. These uniforms will be made by 20 disadvantaged women at the Life & Hope Association Sewing School, which Hôtel de la Paix works closely with, giving them the opportunity to put their newly acquired skills to use. The uniforms also have a multiplier effect: two children can benefit from one uniform, as one child can wear it for morning school and another can wear it in the afternoon.

This is the fourth initiative MasterCard is working with Hôtel de la Paix on. The collaboration began in 2008 with the launch of the Pushbike initiative, which saw a bicycle getting donated to an underprivileged Cambodian child for every room bill paid with a MasterCard card. The bicycle meant children from outlying villages could get to school without having to walk long distances in the heat. In 2009, this program expanded to include a school bag filled with school supplies in addition to each bicycle donated. Some 500 school bags and almost 1000 bicycles have been donated to date.

MasterCard has also enabled disadvantaged Khmer women learn a skill and support themselves and their families, through its work with the Life & Hope Association Sewing School. This vocational facility offers a ten-month programme teaching Khmer women to sew, speak English and learn basic skills required to set up a business. Upon graduating, these women are provided a start-up kit of materials that will help them begin their own businesses.

Starting from 2009, MasterCard has sponsored 20 women at the School, all of them have graduated and 18 of them have started a business. In 2010, MasterCard raised funds for the reconstruction of the Sewing School through a Purchase with Purpose initiative, enabling the School to accommodate more women and teach them skills to earn a living. US$50 was donated for every bill settled using a MasterCard card at Hôtel de la Paix between 1 August and 30 November 2010.

Christian do Boer, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hôtel de la Paix, said:

At Hôtel de la Paix, we believe in responsible tourism. Our philosophy is that a vacation is truly complete when the guest gets a chance to interact with the local community and gain a true understanding of Cambodia – and that is what we strive to do through our Community initiatives. We are happy with our association with MasterCard and look forward to seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as they get ready to go to school with the new uniforms that this MasterCard initiative has made possible.

Georgette Tan, vice president, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, MasterCard Worldwide, said:

We are pleased to work with Hôtel de la Paix on another initiative that engages MasterCard cardholders in making a difference to the community. Education plays a key role in boosting community development, and we are happy that something as simple as providing children school uniforms goes a long way in ensuring that they are not denied education. We encourage MasterCard cardholders to help improve the quality of life for the community while they are on vacation – for every time they settle their bills at the hotel with a MasterCard card, they are helping ten children go to school.

MasterCard’s corporate social responsibility platform (CSR) in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) is focused primarily on bettering the quality of life for women and children by providing them educational opportunities. MasterCard does this by supporting a broad range of women‟s and children‟s causes through scholarships, financial assistance, educational programs and various sustainability programs, helping provide them with the skills required to stand on their own feet and support themselves and their families.

Apart from the educational aspects of MasterCard’s CSR programmes in APMEA, consumer education is an important area of consideration for MasterCard given the significance of financial know-how in improving lives and the socioeconomic standing of families throughout the region.

No reply on border committee meeting

via CAAI

Published: 4/03/2011
Online news:

Cambodia has not replied to a Thai request for the meeting of the General Border Committee to be brought forward from April to March, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Thursday.

Gen Prawit said Thailand wants the 8th GBC meeting to be held this month so that the two countries can hold bilateral talks sooner to solve the problems between them.

The previous GBC meeting was held in Pattaya, Chon Buri, in November.

Cambodia will host the 8th meeting of the GBC, which is co-chaired by Gen Prawit and Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh.

"Cambodia has not yet replied to our request. We want the meeting to be held sooner so that we can talk about deployments of troops along the border and cooperation in various fields," Gen Prawit said.

The two countries also need to talk over arrangements for Indonedian observers to visit the border area. Problems should be solved through negotiation, he added.

Beyond Angkor, Cambodia, a Khmer kingdom emerges from the jungle

Near Siem Reap, Cambodia, the Khmer Empire's monuments are revealing their secret hideaways in the jungle as land mines are being cleared and roads are being built to get to them.

Preah Vihear temple in northern Cambodia was built between 893 and 1200 at the edge of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. (Susan Spano / For The Times)

via CAAI

By Susan Spano
Special to the Los Angeles Times
March 6, 2011

Reporting from Siem Reap, Cambodia — When French travel writer Pierre Loti took an ox cart to Angkor shortly after Westerners rediscovered it in the 19th century, he found creeper-choked ruins and the profound silence of the Cambodian jungle. Siem Reap, population 100,000, now at its threshold, has scores of fancy resort hotels, a pub street, a new branch of the national museum and an international airport where millions of tourists arrive every year to see the fabled temples of Angkor.

The Khmer Empire, which ruled much of Southeast Asia from 800 to 1400, built monuments all over Cambodia, but the rigors of getting to them, many in rough territory ringed by land mines left after Cambodia's long civil war, kept many travelers away.

The situation has changed. In some areas mine clearing has been completed, and with Cambodia at peace, the government has launched a road-building campaign, bringing long-lost Khmer sites beyond Angkor within reach of travelers who dream of encounters with Cambodia's ancient wonders à la Loti.

In the fall I made a long-anticipated first visit to Angkor. It was the beginning of a three-day itinerary that took me deep into the countryside northeast of Siem Reap to see three untrammeled Khmer monuments still locked in the solitude of the jungle. Journeys Within, a small tour company with a bed-and-breakfast inn just outside Siem Reap, arranged my trip. I traveled in a van driven by trusty So Sopheap, who gave me a cool cloth from an ice chest at every torpid stop, with Kham Sina as my wise and gentle guide.

The first day we followed a parade of Korean tourists in motorcycle taxis to Angkor. The region where Khmer rulers chiefly settled is now a 150-square-mile archaeological park with scores of temples, royal cities and reservoirs built about the time European stonemasons laid the foundations of Notre Dame de Paris and Chartres.

We visited only the best known, beginning with magisterial Angkor Wat, the apex of classical Khmer art and architecture built in the mid-12th century by the slave armies of Suryavarman II. Surrounded by a rectangle of long corbel-arched galleries, the temple rises in three astounding tiers to a cluster of five beehive-shaped towers, or prasats.

Sina and I inspected the carved stone reliefs in the galleries celebrating Suryavarman's military exploits; stopped at shrines to Buddhist gods that succeeded the Hindu divinities originally housed in the temple compound; and climbed a hair-raisingly steep flight of steps to the great central prasat 200 feet above the surrounding jungle.

Our next stop was Ta Prohm, once a Khmer monastery that has been left unrestored, dilapidated and overgrown, making it a favorite with bus tours, shutterbugs and location scouts for movies such as "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." Sina and I then went on to mighty Angkor Thom, a walled and moated royal city built about 1200 by Khmer King Jayavarman VII. It has a bridge guarded by Buddhist devils; a pavilion flanked by a row of amiable stone elephants; and iconic Bayon Temple, where we took shelter from a downpour.

Thus introduced to Khmer history and art, we set out the next day for the countryside where 90% of the Cambodian people lived before communist Khmer Rouge insurgents turned rice paddies into battlefields and villages into work camps.

Since the rebels' eradication in the late 1990s, the teak and tamarind forests that covered the northern plains have been cut down and the wood sold abroad or carved into smiling Buddha souvenirs. With the advent of paved roads, ox carts have yielded to rattletrap trucks, fueled by gasoline sold in Johnnie Walker whisky bottles. Farmhouses built on stilts look desperately poor, but village markets overflow and the easy old rhythms of rural life seem to have returned.

Once you leave Siem Reap, however, tourist facilities are scant. We stopped the first night in the dusty town of Anlong Veng, which has a bare new hotel with double rooms for $15 a night. In the restaurant I met two intrepid American kings of the road, touring by motorcycle, and sampled such Cambodian dishes as beef in fermented fish paste, or prahok, but mostly filled up on rice. The guesthouse near the ruins of Koh Ker where we stayed the next night had no electricity after 10 p.m. or top sheets on the beds — and I met a frog in the bathroom.

I would have put up with much worse to see celebrated, embattled Preah Vihear, about 100 miles northeast of Angkor and built between 893 and 1200 at the edge of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. The temple is a national symbol, pictured on the 2,000-riel Cambodian bill, but the site is as much a bane as a glory, a natural stronghold that changed hands throughout the civil war, ending up in the hands of Khmer Rouge holdouts who finally surrendered in 1998.

Now the temple is at the center of an ongoing dispute over the country's northern border. A map drawn in the early 20th century put it in Thailand, but for complicated legal reasons the International Court of Justice gave it to Cambodia in 1962. Tension between the two age-old enemies simmered until 2008, when UNESCO granted Cambodia's application to put Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List. Cambodian and Thai troops fought near the temple, then dug in, skirmishing intermittently in 2009, 2010 and early this year. (A cease-fire has been in effect since Feb. 5, and Journeys Within has kept it on itineraries, though travelers are advised to be sensitive to changing conditions at the remote temple.)

Journeys Within assured me that the situation was calm, with Thai troops biding their time in a pagoda across the valley while Cambodian workers build a road up the mountain for tourists. The ascent through military checkpoints and muddy construction sites was more bracing than the war zone I found on top. I even got a tour of the military encampments around the temple where Cambodian soldiers lived with their families, grew vegetables and raised chickens. At Bee's Nest camp I joined a group of Cambodians at a picnic table and asked whether they ever saw any Thais.

The leader patted the shoulder of the man next to him and said, "Yes, here's one."

Everyone laughed. The leaky border is an open secret, as is the widely shared belief that the dispute is as wasteful as it is ridiculous.

The sanctuaries of Preah Vihear sit on a mountaintop perch along a 2,600-foot chain of walkways and staircases. Sina let me stop often to catch my breath and survey the unrestored site; it barely resembles the picture on the bill. Deep crevices have formed between the gigantic boulders paving its boulevards; the keystones of arches lie scattered in the grass, their carved reliefs worn almost blank; whole sanctuary walls tilt precariously against the slim supports erected to stay them.

Still, orange-robed Buddhist monks glide through galleries, light incense in roofless shrines and picnic on the precipice where Preah Vihear's climb up the mountain comes to a halt.

Looking over the plain below, I remembered Sina had told me that his father was one of the thousands of Cambodians who died trying to escape to Thailand during the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge. Others made it across the northern border to refugee camps. But in 1979 the frustrated Thai government sent about 42,000 refugees back to Preah Vihear and down the cliff where I stood, in a perilous forced descent that took the lives of an estimated 3,000 Cambodians.

It is easy for the country's recent past to eclipse its ancient history, about which much less is known. Koh Ker, the site we visited next about 50 miles south of Preah Vihear, is a mystery, a royal city built around a reservoir and briefly the Khmer capital under King Jayavarman IV. His reasons for abandoning the old capital are obscure, and shortly after his death in 941, his son returned to Angkor, leaving Koh Ker to disappear into the jungle.

Workers for the Cambodia Mine Action Centre told us there are still unrecovered explosives around Koh Ker. While studying a Sanskrit inscription on the lintel of a small temple near the entrance, Sina found a snake skin, which he said means good luck, and Ta Kok, the site's head of security, said all land mines immediately around the temples had been removed.

We met Ta Kok — who earned the nickname "Magic Man" by dodging bullets during the civil war — at a noodle shop inside the Koh Ker complex where his wife was preparing lunch — 47 frogs caught that morning in three traps. From there, we picked our way around fallen roofs and walls to Prasat Thom, a seven-tiered Khmer pyramid that would fit in at Chichén Itzá. The cordoned-off steps to the top and recently mowed lawn were the only indications that anyone had been there in ages.

Our last stop was at Beng Melea, a temple built by Suryavarman II in the same style as Angkor Wat. Apart from a wooden walkway constructed when the compound opened to visitors in 2003, it has been left as it was found, a dreamy Khmer ruin fighting a losing battle with tree roots and strangler figs.

We were alone, except for several children for whom the temple is a backyard playground. One of them, a nimble boy unaccountably garbed in a plastic shower cap, led us off the boardwalk for a closer look into dark galleries and chambers. A small Suryavarman, but no less lord of an empire like nothing else in the world — as Loti put it, "the conception of a race apart, which gave a bright flash of light in this corner of the world, and then disappeared never to return."

Cambodia says it is ready for observers as Thailand dithers

via CAAI

Published on March 4, 2011

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday piled the pressure on Thailand regarding the stationing of observers at the border to monitor a permanent ceasefire in the area adjacent to Preah Vihear Temple.

"I appeal to Indonesia, if Thailand is hesitant about observers, then please send them urgently to the Cambodian side at the disputed border area," Hun Sen said during the celebration of the 13th national cultural day at Phnom Penh's Chaktomuk Hall.
Thailand and Cambodia agreed during an informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Jakarta on February 22 to allow Indonesian observers to assess the situation after a border skirmish on February 4 to 7 killed some 10 people including three civilians on both sides.

Indonesia, as chair of the Asean, sent the terms of reference (TOR) related to the observers to Thailand and Cambodia last week.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry's permanent secretary Theerakun Niyom said that Thailand was still studying the TOR and the ministry needed to consult the military on the procedure. He added that Thailand would need time to study the TOR, since Indonesia had not set any deadline for response.

In comparison, Cambodia has already told the Asean chair that it has accepted the TOR. "We took no more than 24 hours to reply, and provided the 14 points for Indonesian observers to follow. We will make further concessions if necessary," Hun Sen was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. "The observers can extend their terms after 12 months."

Thailand, however, does not seem to have any common ground as far as the TOR is concerned. Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said earlier that the military would not allow Indonesian observers into the "disputed area" near Preah Vihear. He said Thailand wanted to discuss the TOR with Cambodia at the meeting of the General Border Committee (GBC) before it makes any decisions. The military-run GBC, jointly chaired by defence ministers of Thailand and Cambodia, is scheduled to meet in June.

Hun Sen responded: "If Thailand does not want observers, Cambodia will receive them."

Thailand is showing reluctance because its demand to settle the boundary conflict via bilateral mechanisms has not yet worked, while Cambodia has managed to put the issue on the international forum via the United Nations Security Council and Asean. Hun Sen has insisted his government would not negotiate with Thailand on the border dispute.

"I confirm that if you [Thailand] want to negotiate, you have to ask Indonesia, the Asean chair, to convene a meeting. There will be no bilateral negotiations," he said. "We will only cooperate with Thailand in terms of economics, trade, investment, tourism and so on, but negotiations over the disputed area must be overseen by a third party."

The UN called on the conflicting parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and urged Asean to implement the plan.

Thailand - PM doorstep interviews

via CAAI

On 2 March 2011, at 16.05 hrs., Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave an interview to reporters regarding the progress on the cases of Mr. Veera Somkwamkid and Ms. Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, who were found guilty and jailed in Cambodia. The Government let the families and lawyers make the decisions, but there are minor problems as there are 2 assisting teams.

With regards to the different directions of the 2 teams, as one asked for a royal pardon while Mr. Karoon Sai-ngam filed an appeal to fight the case, the Prime Minister said that he must first inspect the filing as it is not possible that the 2 sides can file at the same time. When asked as to whether who was assigned by Mr. Veera to handle the case, between the lawyer from the Thai Patriots Network or his family, the Prime Minister said that the day that Mr. Veera's family visited, Mr. Nataporn Toprayoon, the lawyer, also came and asked the Government to help coordinate. This is to create the transfer of authority so that they can meet Mr. Veera in Cambodia. After that the Prime Minister acknowledged the coordination of the meeting but has not yet received news from Mr. Karoon.

When asked as to whether the disunity will delay the solutions to the problems, the Prime Minister stated that it might be confusing when there are many teams. Mr. Karoon has not received any authority and has no right to file anything to the court. However, it is unknown if authority was earlier transferred.

On the UNESCO issue, the Prime Minister said that Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, special representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who after having discussions with Cambodia had traveled back to Thailand on 1 March, had met the Prime Minister again to report about the meeting in Cambodia and to follow-up on the views of the Thai Government. Mr. Matsuura will report the information to the Director-General of UNESCO and the director will then make proposals for the 2 countries to reconsider. The goal is to reduce tension in the UNESCO-related process regarding the Preah Vihear Temple area.

When asked as to whether the Prime Minister will “reclaim” protest areas, the Prime Minister responded that nobody seized the area and he does not want to fight with anyone. The supervision of security around houses is normal and citizens can travel freely, despite some road closures in certain times. When citizens file complaints, security forces are reminded to cause minimal disruption. Even though the Government allows protesters to assemble, they must also open the roads for people to travel. The Prime Minister said it was difficult to understand why this issue became a problem, and he believed that someone always wanted to provoke conflicts, which is something undesirable.

Cambodia takes attaches to disputed area

via CAAI

Published: 4/03/2011
Newspaper section: News

The Thai government is outraged by a visit from foreign attaches to the disputed border areas in Cambodia, an army source says.

But the source said: "If we open fire, this will play into the hands of Cambodia and it will show the world that we started the fight."

Cambodian troops have taken foreign military attaches on a visit to Preah Vihear temple and the surrounding disputed border area in what is seen by Thailand as a violation of an agreement made in 2000 between the two countries governing the disputed border site.

The army source said Cambodian troops yesterday led a group of military attaches from 12 countries from Phnom Penh to visit the temple.

The military attaches came from the US, France, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Laos.

The source said they were visible to Thai troops through binoculars on the other side of the border on the mountaintop of Pha Mo I Daeng.

"The Suranaree task force has written to the Cambodian side protesting against the move, which violates an agreement governing the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area also claimed by Thailand," the source said.

"Their visit did not have permission from Thailand."

The source said Cambodia claimed it had a plan to take the military attaches to visit Cambodia's Viharn province to inspect disputed border areas on Thursday and Friday.

The areas included Keo Sikha Kiri Savara pagoda sitting in the disputed area near the 11th century Hindu temple, as well as other surrounding disputed areas claimed by Cambodia.

The source said the military attaches could be seen visiting Preah Vihear temple.

The source said the move by the Cambodian side was an act of defiance and could only reignite border tensions.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the government was "trying every means" to secure freedom for Thai Patriots Network co-ordinator Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 convicted the two to eight and six years in jail respectively for spying and illegal entry into Cambodian territory.

Marines, Sailors conclude training in Cambodia

PEACE KEEPING OPERATION TRAINING BASE, Kingdom of Cambodia-Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit dance to music played during a closing ceremony at the Cambodian Maritime Exercise, March 1. The ceremony concluded the bilateral training exercise involving forces of the Cambodia and the U.S. militaries. The 31st MEU visited and conducted bilateral training as part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation program with the Kingdom of Cambodia. The program provides a unique and dynamic opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodian military, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities., Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch, 3/1/2011 1:18 PM

PEACE KEEPING OPERATION TRAINING BASE, Kingdom of Cambodia-Cambodian Gen. Bong Buny speaks to U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, during the closing ceremony of the Cambodian Maritime Exercise, March 1. The 31st MEU visited and conducted bilateral training as part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation program with the Kingdom of Cambodia. The program provides a unique and dynamic opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodian military, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities., Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch, 3/1/2011 12:27 PM

via CAAI

3/3/2011 By Lance Cpl. Garry J. Welch, 31st MEU

Marines, Sailors conclude training in Cambodia — Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit successfully ended training exercises with the Cambodian military during a ceremony held March 1.

The ceremony, run by Cambodian service members, included traditional Cambodian music, food, and a gift for every Marine and Sailor present.

While the time spent in Cambodia training was short, the Marines accomplished their mission of sharing knowledge with Cambodian service members.

“It was fun training with the Cambodian military,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah F. Thain, with Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “The language barrier was hard, but we were still able to share a lot of valuable skills.”

During the training, the Cambodians were taught about crew-served weapons, small arms, improvised explosive device and mine detection, combat life saving skills, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and mortar systems.

“The training the Marines were able to do with the Cambodian forces is extremely important on two levels,” said 1st Lt. Walker Huey, the executive officer for Headquarters and Service Company, BLT 2/5. “The first is this training helps everyone become more proficient as riflemen. The second is it’s important at a strategic level to ensure that we continue to foster and develop cooperation between our two nations.”

As the training wound down and the celebration of a successful exercise began, it was clear that Cambodian and the U.S. forces had become closer.

“We’ve built upon the foundation laid by earlier bilateral missions,” said Huey. “Because of this, Cambodia and the United States will continue to foster mutual friendship.”

In the end, when the training and ceremony had concluded, friends had been made by both sides.

“I have really enjoyed my time here in Cambodia,” said Thain. “I made a lot of good friends, and I hope I can come back sometime and teach them even more.”

The 31st MEU visited and conducted bilateral training as part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation program with the Kingdom of Cambodia. The program provides a unique and dynamic opportunity for cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodian military, while also promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities.

Cambodian leader says he's prepared to have observers from Indonesia patrol Thai border

via CAAI

By: The Associated Press
Posted: 03/3/2011

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia's leader is urging Indonesia to send observers to his country's disputed border with Thailand, even if Bangkok doesn't consent.

Acting for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indonesia brokered an agreement last month under which military observers will be sent to the border to enforce a cease-fire. The truce was imposed after deadly clashes erupted over disputed land surrounding an 11th century temple.

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he proposed Sunday that Indonesia send observers to inspect at least 14 places and stay for at least 12 months. He was responding to an Indonesian request for plans for implementing the truce from each country; Thailand has not responded.

Thailand - No one is talking about de-listing of the Temple of Phra Viharn: Thai PM

via CAAI

On 3 March 2011, Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Director-General of Department of Information and Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, responded to media enquiries regarding news reports that the Cambodian Prime Minister’s spokesperson had quoted Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Special Envoy, as saying that “Thailand has intention to ask UNESCO to de-list the Temple of Phra Viharn,” as follows:

1. The issue of de-listing of the Temple of Phra Viharn was neither raised by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva nor by Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya during their respective meetings with the UNESCO Special Envoy on 25 February 2011. In fact, when the UNESCO Special Envoy himself mentioned this issue, Prime Minister Abhisit responded that “no one is talking about de-listing”. In addition, after his meeting with the UNESCO Special Envoy, the Prime Minister also stated publicly to the media that Thailand recognized Phra Viharn Temple’s outstanding universal value as an important archaeological site that should be open to visitors from around the world.

2. Thailand’s position towards the inscription of the Temple of Phra Viharn is a matter of public record, namely, as long as the boundary issue remains, other activities regarding the Temple of Phra Viharn should be postponed, including the consideration of the management plan, until the boundary negotiation under the Thai-Cambodian Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) is concluded as to create a conducive environment for a durable solution.

3. Thailand reaffirms its readiness to fully cooperate with Cambodia and the international community in finding a mutually satisfactory solution regarding the Temple of Phra Viharn issue. In this regard, during his meeting with the UNESCO Special Envoy, Prime Minister Abhisit reiterated that Thailand had extended an invitation to Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, to visit Thailand to discuss pending issues with the relevant Thai authorities at the earliest opportunity. The UNESCO Special Envoy expressed his strong support for both countries to continue their bilateral dialogue.


via CAAI

• How the myth is entertained.
• Why Thailand manipulates the myth.
• What are the historic facts?

1- Flash news: Acting on the mandate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on 14 February 2011, ASEAN Foreign Ministers met in Jakarta on 22 February 2011 to give a solid ground for a permanent ceasefire. Under Indonesian chairmanship, the regional group approved the sending of Indonesians to observe the ceasefire agreed upon by the two sides. It is a great and concrete achievement as well as a first time ever for ASEAN since its inception in 1967. It must be a great victory for the people of both Cambodia and Thailand to free themselves from war games they knew no one will prevail over the other if left to fight without an outside witness, as imposed by Thailand over the same border skirmishes of the last two years. Not until Cambodia took it to the UNSC when a real war broke out on last 4th February. Cambodia welcome the outcome as it positively responded to her wishes and expectation. In Bangkok, the same feeling may not be shared as, obviously, the establishment was forced to accept the ceasefire and the sending of Indonesian observers to the “disputed zone”. Bangkok, under great pressure at home to teach a lesson to its smaller neighbor, insisted earlier that outside helps were not welcome. Given all the war games so well prepared and its public opinion heated up, it is the concern of every one to be assured that the Thai army is under the command of cool heads and not pushed by the street politics.

2- Immediately after ASEAN Jakarta meeting, like after the UNSC meeting a week earlier, Bangkok had to talk positive about the outcomes in order to show its humane face. However, its war rhetoric at home and bellicose stance have not been tamed down as we expected. Under intense pressure from the streets, as well as from the oligarchy, ultra nationalists repeated their threat to take military actions any time to “take back” the so-called 4.6km2 of Cambodian land they claimed as theirs while accusing Cambodia of all evil. The demagogue politicians and the media poured scorns and incited racial hatred against Cambodians and their leaders in an all out effort to focus their attention on the Cambodia border, away from their deep political and social crisis at home which may precipitate the end of an era in Thailand. There exists indeed a real danger of implosion in Bangkok that would ignite explosion of border fighting to justify their military adventure and/or to blame others. Cambodia is used to this Bangkok puppet show for a long time and it is about time to stop it for good.

3- How the myth is entertained by the establishment in Bangkok: Siam, later known as Thailand, came into existence and grew to its present day Thailand on former Khmer empire which lost its western provinces to advancing Siamese army. As a result, successive Khmer kings paid a vassal tribute to Bangkok until France came to exercise its protectorate over Cambodia from 1863 to 1953. France then started to negotiate with Siam for a definite border demarcation and delimitation between France Indochina and Siam, and both had concluded a number of conventions and treaties (1904 and 1907) and many others. With regard to Cambodia, a Franco-Siamese border commission produced clearly marked maps and planted a number of border posts. In the process, three Cambodian provinces in north-north west were returned to Cambodia in exchange for a few Cambodian provinces, Trat, Chantabori, etc in the south sea border were given to Thailand.

4- This part of history has been put in the dark so as to arouse Thai irredentist claims that all the territory west of the Mekong were Thai and Thailand were forced by France to unduly give a lot of Thai land to Cambodia. The truth is and remains that it was Cambodia which had lost a great deal of land to Thailand. Yet Cambodia, a law abiding country, never claimed them back from Thailand, nor initiated any conflict with her neighbor. Then, in 1941, taking advantage of World War II with Japan’s occupation of French Indochina, Thailand annexed the western Cambodian provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, but was forced to return them back to Cambodia under the Washington Treaty in 1946.

5- From then on, as if a prey had been taken away from its grip, all the Thai myth of land ownership has been building up to justify Thailand’s military occupation of some Cambodian lands, in particular the temple of Preah Vihear and its surrounding in 1954, soon after Cambodia acceded to independence in 1953. After years of unfruitful negotiations, Cambodia, under Prince Norodom Sihanouk, brought the case to The Hague International Court of Justice (ICJ) which rendered a verdict on 15 June 1962 in favor of Cambodia. The ICJ verdict was crystal clear when it referred to the Franco-Siamese treaties and border maps produced by Franco-Siamese border commission, used ever since by both parties as valid and legal international documents. Most important, and Thailand cannot deny it, was a “Dangrek Map”, known as “Annex 1”, formed part of the 1962 ICJ decision. This “Annex 1” map is to this day crystal clear over the border lines between Thailand and Cambodia. Only blinds and bad faith sore losers, obsessively and madly, keep repeating until this day that the 1962 ICJ ruling recognized that only the temple belonged to Cambodia and not the ground surrounding it. Any honest person needs no PHD diploma to appreciate the very well explained ICJ decision. To contest it now is a lost cause and may hide another agenda, that of revising all the border treaties signed with France. It is often heard that the Thais never accepted the ICJ ruling, another myth entertained.

6- The fact is that after the 1962 ICJ verdict, Thailand did accept the decision and withdrew all its army and police forces to the other side of this frontier line. Then, how can any honest and responsible person later claimed that the 1962 ICJ decision left unclear the border line on the surrounding area of Preah Vihear temple when a very well define “Annex 1” map was part of this decision? Look at the “Annex 1” map and everything is all clear, and any attempt to discard this map is a demonstration of dishonesty and a deliberate violation of the 1962 ICJ decision. From when this was not clear when it was all clear in the works of the Franco-Siamese border demarcation commission that produced these internationally recognized maps, when it was clear in 1962 ICJ and thereafter? The Thais may be unhappy with the verdict, but they did recognize the existence of the “Annex 1” map with a clear border line. What made them change from this recognition to an open violation of the ICJ verdict? After their withdrawal from the area in 1962, behaving like international outlaws, from across the border line, they continued to bombard the area again with heavy artillery which prompted the Cambodian government to send complains to the UNSC in 1966. Equally of noteworthy is the fact that the Thais had not contested the ICJ decision within a period of 10 years as prescribed. Why they are doing it now 49 years later? Has globalization changed the rules of international law to please Thai ambitions? Have the Thais so grown up to defy the international community with impunity?

7- When Cambodia fell prey to the upheavals of a coup d’état in 1970 in the mid of the Vietnam war, to the tragedy of the Khmer rouge genocide in 1975, and the post Khmer rouge civil war from 1979, Thailand was the frontline state that offered sanctuaries to the Khmer rouge remnants to regroup, rearm and conduct guerilla war inside freshly liberated Cambodia. Thailand’s support to the Khmer rouge outlaws continued before and during UNTAC’s administration of Cambodia between 1991 and 1993 and well after the formation, in 1993, of a newly elected Cambodian government under the UN supervision, until 1998, in flagrant violation of the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991 signed by Thailand. Evidence came out later revealing that some Cambodia-Thailand border posts have been either destroyed or displaced well inside Cambodian territory. One can imagine how difficult are the works of the Joint Border Commission set up to restore the international border lines on the ground when the culprits are confronted with the facts.

8- It is equally about this same period that the Thais secretly produced their own map, drawn on the US war maps, intended to replace the “Annex 1” map, with a new border line showing the so-called 4.6km2 parcel of land surrounding Preah Vihear temple they claimed, not as “contested area”, but as Thai territory, in flagrant violation of the 1962 ICJ verdict, a rarity in modern day world. This fact alone that they used an illegal and unilateral map constitutes an act of aggression and a casus belli.

9- With this illegal map, the Thai irredentist ultra nationalist group started to brainwash their fellow citizen, including young generation of scholars, and to fool foreign governments that Cambodia was encroaching on Thai territory. For instance, their representatives went around, with this illegal map, to fool UNESCO members when Preah Vihear temple was on the agenda of the World Heritage list. Obviously, their fabrication did not hold water and World Heritage Committee members just ignored it and unanimously approved the listing in 2008, thus reconfirming the 1962 ICJ decision in favor of Cambodia.

10- The irredentist group, probably for their political survival, started to act like outlaws against the whole world and to provoke military conflicts with Cambodia, accusing Cambodia of having started the war! Bangkok media picked it up to fool the public that Phnom Penh started this war for political and election purposes. It must be the other way around when, in 2008, Bangkok was under street protests from both yellow and red shirts that paralyzed business and airports operations for a few weeks. Honest people cannot accept such a misleading story from the aggressor. But some biased and irresponsible media likes also to entertain this myth when, with an air of superiority, they belittled the temple as a “tiny, crumbling, 11th century old” “ruins” claimed by both countries. UNESCO must then be wrong to list it as one of the World Heritage sites, and Cambodia must be wrong to claim her own property? Of course, the above is just a very condensed story showing how some bright people in Bangkok born with some inferiority complex, culturally speaking, spend their life to enlighten themselves by manipulating and distorting well known facts and history so as to demonize Cambodia and her past and present leaders.

11- What are the historic facts? Thai irredentist group, master in misleading, intoxicating and manipulating the truth, furiously accused UNESCO of having “unilaterally inscribed” the Khmer Preah Vihear temple on the World Heritage list in 2008, and therefore, of having started the border conflict between the two countries. They do not realize that are being foolish in demanding that UNESCO delist the Khmer temple from the World Heritage and in voicing their objection to UNESCO’s mission to assess the damages caused by their artillery shell to the protected temple and to the Buddhist pagoda nearby. Will UNESCO bend backward under Bangkok pressure? But everyone knew that it was Thailand’s occupation of the temple area on 15th July 2008 which started the fighting. And Cambodia, caught by surprise, has the right to defend herself or not? Before the brief war on 4-7 February 2011, the Thai establishment and army launched an ultimatum to Cambodia to, first, remove the Cambodian flag from the Khmer Buddhist pagoda about 300m away from the temple, second to remove this pagoda away from this Cambodian land, and third, to expulse all Cambodian population living in this area. Can Cambodia or any country accept that ultimatum? Then they started to move in their bulldozers with a clear intention to open the ways for the destruction of the pagoda and for their tanks to occupy the so called “contested zone”. It is crystal clear who started the war inside Cambodian territory, where a few Thai soldiers had lost their life and five had been made prisoners inside Cambodia and later released to their commanders. During the fighting, they deliberately targeted the Buddhist pagoda flying Cambodian flag and in particular, the Preah Vihear temple, flying UNESCO flag, with the deliberate intention of destroying it to ground with heavy artillery, since this world protected site is beyond their recuperation any way. This once again reveals their evil nature and their disrespect for anything civilized. Their war crimes under The Hague or UNESCO conventions cannot be overlooked.

12- To be all above the misleading intoxication and disinformation from Bangkok, it is worth to know that there exist a long history of Thai territorial ambitions coupled with war games against Cambodia, and the latest fighting which warranted recent UNSC and ASEAN’s attention may not be the last. To have a short summary of history and events that mark the difficult relations between Cambodia and Thailand, Raoul Marc JENNAR, in his book “TRENTE ANS DEPUIS POL POT. Le Cambodge de 1970 à 2009” (L’Harmattan, page 234), put it very well as follows:

13- “Dès que le Cambodge est fragilisé, la Thaïlande en profite pour remettre en question les traités et conventions qu’elle a signés. Il en a été ainsi pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale. Il en a été de même lorsque la France a cessé de protéger le Cambodge et lorsqu’il a plongé dans la tragédie. Chaque fois, la Thaïlande n’a pas manqué de contester la frontière et même d’en violer le tracé.

Pendant les années quatre-vingt, l’armée thaïlandaise opérait aux côtés des forces du CGKD (Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea including the Khmer rouge). Pendant la mission des Nations unies au Cambodge, les casques bleus ont observé à plusieurs reprises des déplacements de bornes frontalières vers l’intérieur du territoire cambodgien par des unités de l’armée thaïlandaise. Pendant le mois de juillet 2008, on a pu lire dans la presse de Bangkok et entendre de la bouche des manifestants thaïlandais des revendications nationalistes et irrédentistes allant jusqu’à réclamer trois provinces cambodgiennes dont celle où se trouve le parc des temples d’Angkor.

Un rappel des faits historiques constitue la plus incontestable réfutation des thèses avancées par la Thaïlande.

1) En 1904, la France, puissance protectrice du Cambodge, et le Siam signent une convention afin de pouvoir déterminer d’une manière définitive la frontière entre le Cambodge et le Siam.

2) En 1907, un traité franco-siamois rétrocède au Cambodge trois provinces annexées par le Siam. Ce traité confirme les dispositions de la Convention de 1904 en ce qui concerne les modalités de délimitation de la frontière.

3) En 1908, une commission mixte franco-siamoise crée par ce traité détermine la frontière dans le secteur de Dangrek et indique clairement que le temple de Preah Vihear et ses environs sont en terre cambodgienne.

4) En 1925, la France et le Siam signent un traité d’amitié dont l’article 2 indique que « les hautes parties contractantes confirment, en s’en garantissant le respect réciproque, les frontières établies entre leurs territoires en vertu et en conformité des stipulations des accords antérieurs. »

5) En 1926, une convention franco-siamoise relative au Mékong confirme l’article 2 du traité de 1925.

6) En 1937, un nouveau traité d’amitié reprend les dispositions du traité de 1925 relatives aux frontières.

7) En 1946, après que la Thaïlande, alliée du Japon pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, ait occupé trois provinces cambodgiennes, l’accord de règlement franco-siamois rétablit le traité de 1937. La Commission de conciliation franco-siamoise considère que les clauses du traité de 1907 au sujet de la frontière entre le Siam et le Cambodge ne doivent pas être révisées.

8) En 1954 alors que le Cambodge a accédé à son indépendance un an plus tôt, une force armée thaïlandaise occupe le temple de Preah Vihear et ses environs.

9) In juin 1962, la Cour Internationale de Justice, à la demande du Cambodge, rend un arrêt confirmant la souveraineté du Cambodge sur le temple de Preah Vihear et ses environs en vertu de la ligne frontière établie, laquelle a été confirmée par des traités successifs et n’a jamais fait, jusqu’alors, l’objet de contestation de la part de la Thaïlande. « La Cour s’estime donc tenue, du point de vue de l’interprétation des traités, de se prononcer en faveur de la frontière indiquée sur la carte pour la zone litigieuse » (page 35 de l’arrêt). L’arrêt précise que « la Thaïlande est tenue de retirer tous le éléments des forces armées ou de police ou autres gardes ou gardiens qu’elle a installés dans le temple et ses environs situés en territoire cambodgien » (page 37).

10) En juillet 1962, la Thaïlande accepte l’arrêt de la Cour Internationale de Justice et ne fait pas appel pendant les dix années successives pendant lesquelles elle pouvait le faire.

11) En juillet 1967, M. Thanat Khoman, ministre thaïlandais des affaires étrangères déclare : « La Thaïlande n’émet aucune revendication territoriale au Cambodge. La position de la Thaïlande a toujours été de dire qu’il n’existe pas de dispute sur les frontières avec le Cambodge dans la mesure où elle a constamment respecté le traité signé avec la France à l’époque où cette dernière était la puissance protectrice du Cambodge. »

12) En juin 2000, le Cambodge et la Thaïlande signent un Memorandum of understanding (MOU)- un protocole d’accord- en vue de la démarcation et de l’abornement de la frontière entre les deux pays dans le respect des traités et conventions (article 1c).

13) En 2001, le Cambodge demande officiellement l’inscription du temple de Preah Vihear sur la liste du Patrimoine mondial de l’Humanité de l’UNESCO.

14) En mai 2003, le Cambodge et la Thaïlande signent un document intitulé « Terms of Reference and Master Plan for the Joint Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand” (TOR). Ce document fait explicitement référence à la convention de 1904, au traité de 1907, aux cartes qui en découlent et au MOU de juin 2000. Peu après, revenant sur les engagements du MOU et de ces TOR, la Thaïlande publie une carte unilatérale avec un tracé frontalier qui remet en cause le tracé en vigueur depuis 1908 et longe le voisinage immédiat du temple de Preah Vihear.

15) Le 18 juin 2008, le Cambodge et le Thaïlande signent un communiqué commun par lequel la Thaïlande soutient la demande cambodgienne en vue de l’inscription du temple de Preah Vihear sur la liste du Patrimoine mondial de l’Humanité de l’UNESCO ; il est précisé que cette inscription se fait sans préjudice des travaux de démarcation prévus par le MOU de 2000 et les TOR de 2003.

16) Le 21 juin 2008, le général Prem Tinsulanonda, Premier ministre de 1980 à 1988 et chef du Conseil privé du Roi de Thaïlande, exprime son soutien aux manifestants thaïlandais qui s’opposent à l’inscription du temple.

17) Le 1 juillet 2008, le gouvernement thaïlandais retire son soutien à l’inscription du temple.

18) Le 7 juillet 2008, le Comité du Patrimoine mondial de l’Humanité inscrit, à l’unanimité, le temple sur la liste du Patrimoine mondial de l’Humanité. Le Ministre des Affaires étrangères de Thaïlande exprime en vain son opposition.

19) Le 15 juillet 2008, les forces armées thaïlandaises violent l’intégrité du territoire cambodgien dans le secteur de Preah Vihear et, de ce fait, les traités et conventions et documents conjoints signés par la Thaïlande.

Tels sont les faits. Ils sont vérifiables et non contestables. Il résulte de ces faits qu’une frontière existe bel et bien entre le Cambodge et la Thaïlande dont le tracé a été confirmé à plusieurs reprises par les autorités thaïlandaises au cours du siècle écoulé. En conséquence, le temple et son voisinage sont intégralement sous la souveraineté exclusive du Cambodge. La fragilité des engagements de la Thaïlande donne de ce pays l’image d’un partenaire peu enclin à honorer sa signature. »

14- With all these well known facts, it should be enough for honest people to understand the real causes of the conflict and the Thai entertained myth, to stop repeating distorted historic facts and to stop demonizing Cambodians and their leaders for having dared to defend her sovereignty and territorial integrity. They should be praised for having exercised utmost patience and self restrain when confronted, for years, with foreign verbal and physical aggression and from repeated, slanderous and non updated media reporting. It is also undeniable that the Bangkok media has been playing a substantial part in fueling the confrontation, often taking it as a personal issue to demonize the past and present Cambodian leaders.

15- On the other hand, the Thais should not be encouraged by biased reporting and by fake historians to follow an obsession and foolish Pan Thai dream of past centuries. In today’s world, they should learn to live in peace, friendship, mutual respect and good neighborliness with all their immediate neighbors. They should be encouraged to accept historic facts, to abide by international law, to conform themselves with the UN Charter, the ASEAN Charter and to honor all agreements they have signed. Domestic political crisis is no reason to discharge it on neighbors, or to provoke irrational border conflict or claim. With these lessons learnt, the ASEAN community in the making will be a better place for all.

Paris, 28th February 2011
Royal Embassy of Cambodia

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

PM: Thai Aggression Is the Main Cause of Border Dispute with Cambodia

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has reiterated that Cambodia-Thailand border dispute is mainly due to Thai encroachment on Cambodian territory, not due to the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site.

“How about the Thai invasions in 1954 and 1962? Was it also because of the listing of [Preah Vihear Temple]?” asked the Cambodian premier at the celebration of the 13th National Cultural Day held here on Thursday, adding that this is Thailand’s ambition.

He said he was very surprised when UNESCO Special Envoy Mr. Koichiro Matsuura told him that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya asked UNESCO to delist Preah Vihear Temple from the World Heritage Site.

Mr. Matsuura replied to them that the delisting is impossible because the temple is of outstanding universal value, he said.

On the occasion, Samdech Techo Hun Sen also called on Indonesia, the current Chair of ASEAN, to urgently send its observers to Cambodian border side if Thailand is still reluctant to accept.

According to the Cambodian prime minister, last Saturday, Indonesia sent Cambodia and Thailand the terms of reference including procedures of control and obligation of Indonesian observers at the disputed areas. “We replied to the Indonesia’s request not later than 24 hours, and provided 14 points to Indonesia to observe, and we will open further if necessary,” he said, adding, “The observers will be for 12 months and will extend further.”

“Up to now the Bangkok government said that its foreign minister and defense minister have not met each other on this issue, and its army chief said the observers will not be allowed to observe inside, just in limited areas,” said Samdech Techo Hun Sen. “If Thai does not receive observers, Cambodia will receive alone.”

Premier Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen further reiterated that there will be no bilateral negotiations with Thailand on border disputed area. If Thailand wants to negotiate, it has to ask Indonesia to convene the meeting.

Cambodia continue to negotiate bilaterally with Thailand only in the fields of trade, tourism, etc., he underlined. –AKP



Cambodian Premier Urges for Heightening National Culture and Social Achievements

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – Cambodian premier urged for a national unity to maintain, protect and develop the national culture and the social achievements with the aim of promoting the national prestige and dignitary.

Speaking at the closing of the Amateur Art Festival on the 13th National Cultural Day held here on Mar. 3, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen said the Royal Government of Cambodia always adhered to a policy of the national solidarity to mobilize the people from all social circles of different political tendency, either home or overseas, in conformity to the motto “Nation-Religion-King”.

“The royal government also encouraged the cultural productions via the artists to create new works of art to disseminate the Cambodian culture to oppose to the negative one which flew from foreign countries and affected the national culture, manner and custom,” he said.

He said the event is important to hold up the national culture as an immortal one for the country’s prosperity in the future and to be conducted not only in conformity to the royal government’s policy program and the development plan of national art and culture, but also for joining all together to preserve and heighten the national heritage against the cultural war from the outsider.

The Cambodian premier considered the solidarity as a main element to ensure the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, the peace and the social development as well as the maintenance of the national patrimony forever. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by THOU Peou


Foreign Military Attachés Visit Preah Vihear Temple

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – A group of 17 military attachés from 12 countries paid yesterday a two-hour visit to Preah Vihear Temple and surrounding areas to see the damages caused by Thai artillery shelling in the recent war with Cambodia.

The group was welcomed at the temple by Cambodian Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defense Gen. Neang Phat, Deputy Commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) for Preah Vihear Direction Gen. Chea Dara, and Deputy Commander of the Headquarters of Infantry Gen. Hun Manet.

“It’s a historical day for Cambodian army to welcome foreign military attachés for fact finding on Thai aggression against Cambodia,” said Gen. Chea Dara.

“Cambodia does not want war. […] The Cambodian army respects Premier Techo Hun Sen’s recommendation and supports the resolution of the United Nations Security Council and ASEAN on permanent ceasefire,” he stressed.

The foreign military attachés are from 12 embassies in Phnom Penh – Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, the U.S., Vietnam and New Zealand. –AKP



Cambodian Drug Authority and Singaporean Embassy To Cooperate on Drug Checking

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – The National Authority for Combating Drugs of Cambodia and the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore to Cambodia have agreed to set up a relations team to operate on drug checking between both countries.

The commitment was made known here on Mar. 2 during the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and President of National Authority for Combating Drugs H.E. Ke Kim Yan and Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to Cambodia H.E. Premjith Sadasivan.

H.E. Ke Kim Yan recalled the good cooperation between Cambodia and Singapore, in the bilateral, regional and international frameworks. He also highlighted the achievements made by Cambodia and its partners in combating drugs and cross-border crimes. –AKP

By CHEA Vannak


Minister of Agriculture: Community Is a Way to Increase Farmers’ Income

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – Community is a way to increase farmers’ income, said Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun in the proclamation ceremony of the three newly-established communities in Kampong Chhnang province’s Rolea Phaear district.

On the Occasion, H.E. Chan Sarun told the farmers over the community’s interest such as providing more income, power and technical knowledge.

He also appealed to local authorities and organizations to further support community in order to develop and reduce poverty in community.

According to the report of General Department of Agriculture, farmers’ communities have begun since 2001 and currently there are 220 communities throughout the country. –AKP

By LIM Nary


Denmark, UK, New Zealand’s Grant to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, March 4, 2011 AKP – Denmark, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have jointly donated office buildings, vehicles and other equipment to the Cambodian Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction through Danida/Dfid/NZAid.

The handover ceremony was held here on Mar. 3 under the witness of Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Im Chhun Lim and Minister Counsellor to the Royal Danish Embassy Mr. Tom Barthel Hansen.

Danida has donated more than US$3.5 million to support activities related to institutional development and human resource training, and the drawing up of land management plan in Cambodia, Mr. Tom Barthel Hansen said.

Over 700 communes/sangkats in 14 target provinces have been benefited from this financial assistance, he added.

For his part, H.E. Im Chhun Lim thanked the government and people of Denmark, the UK and New Zealand for their assistance to Cambodia.

The donation includes 12 office buildings in different provinces, two vehicles, computers, generators, etc. –AKP

By Théng

Prey Lang villagers speak out

Photo by: Pha Lina
Chheang Vuthy, from Kampong Thom province, speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday organised by NGO Forum in an effort to find a resolution to the Prey Lang dispute.

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:03 May Titthara

Representations for villagers embroiled in a land dispute with Vietnamese-owned CRCK Rubber Development Company in Kampong Thom province said officials have used intimidation to halt protests over the company’s development of an area in Prey Lang forest.

The claims were made at a press conference held by the NGO Forum, an umbrella group of organisations operating in Cambodia, during which representatives said local police have compiled a list of villagers they say are inciting others to protest.

Last month hundreds of residents from four provinces surrounding the 200,000 hectare forest defied police and local officials to protest the clearing of sections of the forest by CRCK.

Sandan district Governor Sim Vanna said at the time that CRCK had been granted a 6,044 hectare land concession by the government last year to plant rubber.

Kampong Thom deputy Governor Uth Sam An said on Monday that the land being developed by KRCK was not communal land, as alleged by local villagers, but part of a concession made to a previous company, and therefore villagers had no right to the land.

During yesterday’s workshop, villager representatives claimed that police from three communes in Sandan district had visited five villagers to record their names for a complaint to be filed by CRCK in provincial court, claiming they were illegally inciting residents to protest.

“[Police] have tried to find many ways to threaten us, but we were protesting to save Prey Lang forest,” said Chheang Vuthy, a villager representative, at the workshop.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for local rights group Licadho, said the villagers were fully within their rights to conduct peaceful protests and urged that CRCK show evidence that they have a right to the land they are clearing.

“As in previous cases when villagers protest, the authorities threaten villagers by filing complaints to the court. This is not a good way to reach a solution,” he said.

Sandan district Governor Sim Vanna said yesterday that the villagers had largely stopped their protest and denied that police were gathering names for a legal complaint.

“I don’t know about the police going to the village to take down names,” he said.

Vong Phan, a village representative, said she would like the government to recognize Prey Lang land as community land because it is a “rice pot” for people in four provinces, referring to residents’ reliance on the forest for their livelihoods.

She said about 20,000 families in Preah Vihear, Kratie, Steung Treng and Kampong Thom provinces rely on the forest.

Cambodian shot and killed by Lao soldiers

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

A Cambodian military official said yesterday that Lao soldiers shot and killed a Cambodian national who was suspected of crossing the border illegally from Stung Treng province to cut timber in Laos.

Sun Ban, commander of Battalion 701 stationed on the Cambodian-Lao border, identified the deceased as Tep Sokha, 30, from Kampot province and said Lao officials yesterday had requested Cambodian officials come to retrieve the body.

The shooting occurred after a group of villagers with 12 ox carts crossed the border on Tuesday at border posts 61 and 62 in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district adjacent to Cham Pasak district in Laos, Sun Ban said.

Lao soldiers patrolling in the area fired shots at the villagers, whom they thought were illegal loggers, and the villagers fled back across the border, he said.

“They went deep into Laos territory about 3 kilometres, and Lao soldiers accused them of illegally entering their country for logging.

Siem Pang district Governor Shi Suon said he had reported the incident to provincial officials but that no diplomatic note had yet been submitted to the Lao government, urging them not to fire on Cambodian citizens.

“We do not know yet whether any other Cambodian citizens were injured, but the information I have received is that only one man was killed,” he said.

The shooting comes days before a planned visit by the new Lao premier, Thongsing Thammavong, who is to arrive in Cambodia on March 7 for meetings with King Norodom Sihamoni and high-ranking government officials to discuss improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

Three Cambodians have been killed and another injured by Lao soldiers since 2010, Shi Suon said.