Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sacravatoons no 912 :" The Winner of the Election 2008 "

Courtesy of sacravatoon :

Chim Manavy: Women Dare to Break the Silence and Get Rid of a Culture Affecting Their Rights

Posted on 9 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 550

“Phnom Penh: At the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2008, reporters of Rasmei Kampuchea interviewed Ms. Chim Manavy, the Director of the Open Institute, a local non-governmental organization working in many areas, including for the promotion of the role of women. Below is the content of the interview:

“Question: What do you think about the respect for women’s rights, in particular comparing the situation of one year ago?“Answer: During the last several years, we have seen that the respect for women’s rights has grown much, compared to before, because citizens have now a better understanding of human rights. During the same time, the government and civil society organizations pay also more attention to implement policies of gender mainstreaming. Women are encouraged to participate in many social activities. The Commune Council elections provided opportunities for women to show their capacities. They competed with their male counterparts to contribute to the development of their communities. Actually, during the Commune Council elections from 2002 to 2007, we saw an increasing participation of women in the leadership of the country. During the first Commune Council election in 2002, women who stood for election accounted for 919 or 8.16 percent of the total candidates. But at the second Commune Council election on 1 April 2007, the women who stood for election accounted for 21 percent of the total candidates. It made much a difference in relation to women’s participation in decision making.

Women who were elected in 2007 as members of Commune Councils totaled 1,662 (but the Ministry of Interior’s figure was 1,683) or 14.64 percent. This was a satisfactory increase if compared to 920 or 8 percent in 2002.“Question: What do Khmer women do to celebrate their day?“Answer: 8 March is International Women’s Day. Not only Khmer women, but also women in many countries across the globe, celebrate the day. International Women’s Day is an international day to celebrate women’s achievements relating to economic, political, and socio-economic sectors. Many countries (such as Russia and the former states within the Soviet Union) across the globe include International Women’s Day into their culture. The day is not celebrated only in political terms, but it is also celebrated as an opportunity for men to express their love for the women around them. It is similar to Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Moreover, the topics of politics and human rights, set by the United Nations, has been widely discussed.

Information about the struggle of women in the world, concerning political and social issues, have been revealed and analyzed.

“Everybody should do something to participate in celebrating the day according to their respective skills and means. Women can share their good experience with others, they can write poems and stories about themselves and others. These reflect women’s talents, or they are advocacy for the equality between men and women. Women dare to break the silence and get rid of a culture affecting their rights.“Question: When the Open Institute inaugurated a Women’s Web Portal on the Internet, what kind of response have you received from the visitors, and what roles does the Women’s Web Portal play in disseminating the concerns of CEDAW - the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women?

“Answer: The Women’s Web Portal is an activity of the Open Institute, supported by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development, the Open Society Institute [in the USA], InWEnt [in Germany], and UNESCO. The Women’s Web Portal rectifies some deficiencies in the information about women and their rights. It plays a role as an important tool to disseminate information, and it is a means to communicate and share knowledge with women and among women’s organizations. This will further strengthen existing networks of women relating to empowering women and to improving their work. As permanent member of the Cambodian NGO Committee on the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Open Institute disseminates on the Women’s Web Portal this Convention, and is providing further comments of the Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW, and other relevant documents for men and women working on CEDAW related concerns. Such information is available on the Women’s Web Portal to promote gender capacity, to help women to use their rights in a balanced manner, and to help build women’s capacity so that they have more self-confidence and self-independence.

“The Women’s Web Portal is a meeting place for interested organizations to share information and to increase cooperation. Electronic information can spread across the country and the world, wherever the Internet can be accessed. Those who receive a lot of information will have much better understanding and can make better decisions.

“Until now, the Women’s Web Portal has attracted more than 300 readers. This figure is not surprising, as the country has only few users of information and communication technology. The readers of the Women’s Web Portal expressed their interest in and their satisfaction for the dissemination of laws and other information relating to rights, in the Khmer language, through electronic communication, which is easy to be researched and read, and is useful for them.“Question: What do you want to say more about the International Women’s Day?

“Answer: I see that global trends and the government’s goodwill have made the situation of Cambodian women turn for the better. The government promotes policies on gender mainstreaming, to be implemented by state institutions, civil society organizations, and in the private sector. However, discrimination against women still exists, as women have not yet received full support from men. This has also caused women to lack self-confidence. To change discriminative attitudes against women, women have to try their best to build up and to promote their capacities, so that they can influence other people, become key agents for social change, work towards progress, and contribute to build a society with knowledge and justice.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4535, 8.3.2008

Border talks on oil and gas

Bangkok Post

Thailand and Cambodia plan to set up Joint Development Areas (JDA) covering 26,000 square kilometres of overlapping border areas to facilitate the exploration of natural gas and crude oil, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said yesterday. Mr Noppadon said the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministries will hold talks on the establishment of the JDA to manage the overlapping border areas which are rich in natural gas and crude oil.

The value of the natural resources is expected to be about 3.5 billion baht for natural gas and 1.5 billion baht for crude oil. If successful, Thailand will enjoy greater energy security essential to electricity generation and the development of the petrochemical industry, said Mr Noppadon.

He added that the Foreign Ministry will join the Energy Ministry in talks with Cambodia as soon as possible on the issue, which is regarded as very important.

Splendour of a magnificent past

Sunday, March 9, 2008
Sunday Herald

The remains of the mighty Khmer empire are there for us to see at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, writes Vaasanthi

As I stand before the magnificent temples I can hardly think of the tumultuous history of the land on which they have been standing for centuries. As if mocking history, they are a reminder of a past splendour that also speaks of what must have been an unrivalled empire spanning across South East Asia. Forgotten to the world for centuries, hidden behind the steaming jungles of Cambodia, rediscovered in the 19th century by diligent French explorers, the thousand-year-old stunning religious monuments of Angkor Wat stand as a testimony to human aspirations and imagination.

From Bangkok in Thailand, it is an hour’s flight to Siem Reap the nearest town to the fabled temples of Angkor in Cambodia. Siem Reap, a little more than a village before, is now undoubtedly Cambodia’s fastest-growing town.

It seems to have undergone a metamorphosis ever since the miraculous discovery of the temples. The past decade has seen its rapid growth from a sluggish impoverished village to a booming tourism spot. It is brimming with tourists from all round the world and quickly reinventing itself as a sophisticated centre for the new wave of visitors passing through each year. There are 100 hotels and thousand guesthouses and the number is going up every month; restaurants and bars every week.

It is still a small town with all the charm that goes with small towns. Thanks to tourism development the roads are good and the streets clean and oh, the people from old to the young and the very young always smiling and friendly. Who can say that this has been a land ravaged mercilessly in recent history by war and crime? They seem to have put their lives of recent past of terror and trauma behind to revel in the memory of a glorious past, which now remains a source of inspiration and national pride.

Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire which during the Angkor period (9th to 15th centuries) ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of the empire are there for us to see at Angkor Wat, the ultimate of Khmer genius, described by travel brochures as ‘unrivalled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia’.

Tough times

The first glimpse of Angkor Wat is indeed staggering especially if you remember what Cambodia has gone through. Things were good in the past, culminating in the vast Angkor empire, unrivalled in the region during four centuries of dominance. Then the bad set in, from the 13th centuries neighbours steadily chipped off chunks of its territory. In the twentieth century it went downright ugly, as a bloody civil war lead to the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge (1975-79) from which Cambodia is still recovering.

But meet the man in the street, you will hardly see any rancour towards the evil done. Cambodians have weathered through poverty, bloodshed and political chaos but their smiles have not faded. The tourists that throng and rush to the temple campus in the wee hours of the morning to catch the magnificent view of Angkor Wat at the first light of dawn are not bothered either. Their main worry is the overcast sky that threatens to break into a pouring rain.

As the sun slowly lights up the sky Angkor Wat turns into an ethereal golden hue with its reflection weaving magic in the lily pond. It is like divine inspiration. And yet it is the work of human hands that toiled to create such divinity out of sand stone. It takes some time to see how big the temple complex is.

Angkor’s monuments are spread throughout a huge forest. Heading north from Siem Reap, you first come to Angkor Wat, then the walled city of Angkor Thom to the east and west of this city are two vast reservoirs which helped to feed the Angkor Thom population. Further east are the temples of Ta Prohm and Pre Rup and in the north east is the beautiful well preserved temple of Banteay Srei. There are in fact a hundred temples and probably more.

What is of particular interest to the Indian visitor is the remarkable evidence of the spread of Hinduism and its gods and fables across the seas and the earth more than a thousand years ago. Angkor Wat temples are a celebration and glorification of the Hindu god Shiva and the mythologies of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Though the lingams are no longer there and stone statues of the Buddha have taken over, the carvings of scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata on the walls of the long corridors of Angkor Wat have been restored and are intact. Hinduism and Buddhism were both the preferred faiths followed alternately according to the reigning king’s belief. The myth of the churning of the milk ocean by Asuras and Devas seems to have fascinated Angkor sculptors and kings. There are two huge rows of the scene at the gate of Angkor Thom temple.

Naga worship must have been prevalent as the snake motifs with erect hoods are carved in stone almost in all the temples. In the temple of Bantaey Srie, which is praised as the jewel of Angkor, the pillars come alive with dancing apsaras and the gateways are filled with exquisite carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana. So the story goes...

There is an interesting story about the origin of the Indian connection. Cambodia came into being, so the story goes through a union between a Hindu Brahmin named Kaundinya who sailed by and a princess, the daughter of a dragon king who ruled the watery land. They fell in love and the king gave the land as dowry to Kaundinya to rule over. The kingdom was called Kambuja. The myth may or may not be true but it does say something about the cultural influences that affected Cambodia. Cambodia’s religious royal and written traditions stemmed from India. Buddhism spread there when Asoka sent his emissary to Cambodia. The long list of powerful Angkor kings has Hindu names beginning from Jayavarman II- who started building Angkor Wat two hundred years before Raja Raja Chola built the big temple of Tanjavur— the list has names like Yashovarman, Harsha varman, Rajendra Varman, Ishwara Varman— similar to the names of the Pallava kings of south India.

The French ‘discovery’ of Angkor in the 1860s made an international splash. It was only in 1901 the Ecole Francaised’Extreme-Orient began its long association with Angkor by funding an expedition to the Bayon temple. In 1907 Angkor, which had been under Thai control, was returned to Cambodia and the EFEO took responsibility for clearing and restoring the whole site. Since the temples had Indian connection and the theme Hinduism, the cooperation of the Indian government was also taken for some sites. It was a stupendous task indeed. The monuments of Angkor were left to the jungle for many centuries. A large number of monuments are made of sandstone that tends to dissolve in prolonged exposure to wind and rain.

Monuments that wow!

At Ta Prohm, the jungle had stealthily made an all out invasion. The huge roots swoop down the monuments as if to devour them and the visual is at once breathtaking and awesome. What is striking about the sculptures is that no structure is made out of single rock boulders like you see in the temples of South India, but an assembly of blocks. The remarkable symmetry and serenity that prevails in the faces of the Bayon temple is truly amazing. The temples of Angkor are the heart and soul of Cambodia. When our guide made a repeated reference to ‘My people, my country’ there was not only a natural pride but also the belief that Angkor was a true symbol of inspiration for the people to rise to eminence leaving behind the memories of suffering and trauma…

PM talks about trip to Cambodia on weekly show

( – Mr Samak Sundaravej told viewers of his weekly television programme this morning about his first visit to Cambodia as Thailand’s prime minister. He said he was surprised and flattered by the amount of locals who came to greet him at Phnom Penh international airport.

He compared the country, which has a population of 14 million, to how it was 50 years ago and said that it had developed a great deal with major roads leading to the capital now.

Mr Samak also revealed how he was granted an audience with His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni.

“From talks with His Majesty, he expressed a wish for MK Suki to set up business there,” the premier said.

MK Suki is one of the leading hot pot restaurants in Thailand.

Cambodia's thriving real estate market enriches the elite
Sunday March 9, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP): An old hospital was razed to make way for Phnom Penh's tallest building _ a 42-story twin condominium tower. A garbage-strewn slum became prime real estate after police evicted its dwellers to a parched rice field outside the capital.

Cambodia is experiencing a construction boom fueled by foreign investment, particularly by South Koreans, and buying and selling among the country's few nouveaux riche _ while leaving the poor majority behind. Shopping malls and tall apartment buildings are sprouting up, transforming the capital's landscape that once bore the charm of colonial French-styled villas but resembled a ghost town at the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime nearly 30 years ago.

Political stability and robust economic growth of nearly 10 percent have lured investors to the real estate market that has seen prices surge over the last few years _ though they are still lower than in neighboring Vietnam or Thailand.

"Cambodia was sleeping for many years and now it's waking up,'' said Claire Brown, managing director of Britain-based Claire Brown Realty who began buying and selling property in Phnom Penh two years ago.

"Everybody wants to get a piece of the action,'' she said by phone. "The time to get in is now because soon it's going to be too late.''

Prime city land prices have tripled over the last two years to US$3,000 (euro2,000) per square meter. Those kinds of returns have drawn rich and middle-class Cambodians, as well as those living abroad.

"In buying and selling land, they could get profit 100 or 200 percent a year, if they make the right bet on the right location,'' said Dith Channa, the sale manager of CPL Cambodia Properties Ltd., a Phnom Penh-based real estate agency.

But the soaring real estate market is also widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

"Phnom Penh city is getting modern every day _ of course for the wealthy,'' said Chhorn Et, a former slum dweller now living with hundreds of others in a village in the middle of rice field about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the capital.

"The government swept us away because they regarded us as very unpleasant for their eyes,'' said the 34-year-old woman who scavenges for discarded cans and bottles to sell for a living.

The flourishing property market is also happening in the shadow of problems of land rights disputes that, in recent years, have often pitted the poor against wealthy developers with links to the Cambodian political establishment.

"We're moving toward possibly about 10 percent of the population owning 90 percent of the land in Cambodia,'' said Naly Pilorge, director of the nonprofit human rights group Licadho.

That could fan social and political unrest, she and others have warned.

The biggest projects are being funded by South Korean investors and companies, which have been the leading investors in Cambodia following the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1997.

Investment and tourists from South Korea have surged following a 2006 visit to Cambodia by former President Roh Moo-hyun.

World City Co. Ltd., a South Korean company, is investing US$2 billion (euro1.3 billion) to build a "satellite'' urban complex called Camko City on a 120-hectare (300-acre) area on the northwest side of Phnom Penh. The project, the single biggest foreign direct investment in Cambodia to date, will include residential, commercial and public facilities _ villas, condos, trade and financial centers, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, schools and hospitals.

Meanwhile, at a busy corner leading up to the city's landmark Independence Monument, an old government hospital has been torn down to make way for a 42-story condominium and shopping complex worth about US$250 million (euro162 million). That's going to dramatically change Phnom Penh's skyline, where the tallest building now is a 15-story hotel.

It is going to be the first luxury residential building and tallest structure in Cambodia, said Kim Tae-Yeon, chairman of Yon Woo Inc., a South Korean developer.

Kim said the towers will have about 500 units of apartments, office space and retail shops with price tags ranging from US$112,000 (euro72,647) to US$1.8 million (euro1.17 million) a unit.

Construction will start next month and take 3 1/2 years to complete, but Kim said nearly half of the units have already been bought.

In recent years, Siem Reap, a northwestern town near the famed Angkor Wat ruins, also has seen a frenzy of hotel and guesthouse construction for the growing numbers of tourists.

Thrilled with the boom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has said it has been made possible by the political stability he has brought. In a recent speech he warned that if he is not re-elected in July elections, property prices could nosedive.

"It was a threat, a dirty trick to gain votes,'' said Son Chhay, an opposition party lawmaker.

Son Chhay and some human rights workers, including Pilorge of the human rights group Licadho, believe that the boom is partly fueled by people laundering money from illegal logging, drug trafficking and tax evasion by plowing the cash into the real estate market.

"This is not going to be healthy for the Cambodian economy,'' Son Chhay says.

There are also concerns that the rapid price gains are creating a bubble that will eventually pop.

Eric Sidgwick, senior economist at the Asian Development Bank office in Phnom Penh, said the real estate market has been "driven by a combination of genuine demand for business-related and residential construction,'' as well as a growing population, increased urbanization and speculation.

Still, there were "reasons to be concerned about the recent increase in real estate prices and the dangers of further inflating a speculation-led bubble,'' he said in an e-mail. He declined to comment about any possible link between money laundering and the property market boom.

Meanwhile, poor residents like Chhorn Et, the former slum dweller who was moved outside the capital, are left to cope with a stark reality in their new village, which has no running water or sewage system.

Although each family has been given a small piece of land, they complain of the lack of means to support their livelihoods. They have to travel daily to the capital to do odd jobs as motorbike taxi drivers, construction workers or scavenge for bottles and cans to sell to buy food.

Many of them are too poor to afford a latrine and have to use a nearby rice field as a toilet, said 37-year-old Mom Somaly, a mother of five children.

Pointing to a distant land-for-sale sign, she said "soon they may not even have a field to use as toilet any longer.''

Cambodian King wants MK Suki to open branch: Samak

Cambodia's King Sihamoni would like Thai sukiyaki chain MK Suki to open its branch in his country, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said Sunday.

In his live talk programme on Channel 11, Samak said he had visited the Cambodian king for 40 minutes during his recent trip to the neighbouring country and the King would like MK Suki to open its branch in Phnom Penh.

The Nation

Cambodia travel – some like it hot

Photo: Robert Nielsen / Your Scene, Los Angeles Times

Susan Derby
Special to the Los Angeles Times

If you’re thinking about visiting Cambodia soon, go this month (March) if you can handle some heat (by April, it’ll be even hotter). Or plan a trip for summer, when monsoon rains cool things down and really only inconvenience you for part of the afternoon.

A few years ago I traveled around Cambodia in late April, when the heat was really beginning to escalate (which it does starting around March, before hitting a peak in May or June to initiate monsoon season). The temperature was in the 90s and the humidity oppressive.

I remember stumbling around after a trip to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. The gravity of what I’d observed there was enough to make me delirious, but in addition I’d come down with heat stroke. I spent the next couple days cooped up in my room with fever, a migraine and nausea. If you go to Cambodia in April, bring a big hat, and drink bucketfuls of water.

Why go: Thailand’s neighbor to the southeast, Cambodia is fascinating in many ways, but it has a sobering yet educational impact on many tourists; its recent history is so heartbreaking that you can’t leave the country the same person that you were upon entry. Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples and ruins are truly sights to behold. And adventurous foodies can try all manner of unusual edibles: locusts and spiders, for instance.

What’ll it cost me?: In his article “Countries where dollars go the distance,” L. A. Times Staff Writer Jason La breaks down general food and lodging costs. Right now you’ll spend around $1200 for a flight from LAX to Phnom Penh (PNH) after taxes. Maybe that sounds exorbitant, but if you’re shelling out $10/night for a room, you may decide it evens out. If you’ve got miles, though, all the better.

PM talks about trip to Cambodia on weekly show

( – Mr Samak Sundaravej told viewers of his weekly television programme this morning about his first visit to Cambodia as Thailand’s prime minister. He said he was surprised and flattered by the amount of locals who came to greet him at Phnom Penh international airport.

He compared the country, which has a population of 14 million, to how it was 50 years ago and said that it had developed a great deal with major roads leading to the capital now.

Mr Samak also revealed how he was granted an audience with His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni.

“From talks with His Majesty, he expressed a wish for MK Suki to set up business there,” the premier said.

MK Suki is one of the leading hot pot restaurants in Thailand.

Samak says he has talked to Cambodian Govt over joint tourism development

March 9, 2008

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said Sunday that he has talked to the Cambodian government over proposal to jointly develop tourism industry of the two countries.

He said Thailand would develop roads to link the two kingdoms so that tourists could travel by buses from Thailand to Cambodia.
He said the joint development could allow foreign tourist who visit Pattaya to continue to visit Cambodia with convenience.

The Nation

Cambodia's rising property prices sidelines poor
09 March 2008

An old hospital was razed to make way for Phnom Penh's tallest building - a 42-story twin condominium tower.
A garbage-strewn slum became prime real estate after police evicted its dwellers to a parched rice field outside the capital.
Property prices in Cambodia are on the rise, but opposition party lawmaker Son Chhay and some human rights workers, including Pilorge of the human rights group Licadho, believe that the boom is partly fueled by people laundering money from illegal logging, drug trafficking and tax evasion by plowing the cash into the real estate market.
See this weekend's Bangkok Post for a very intersting story on some of the issues arising from this booming market. The picture shows a billboard for Camko City.

Mr. Hun Sen: Resign or Not to Resign?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Courtesy of Khmerization :

"One can only lie once. If one lied too many times over, then that person is no different to a prostitute who claimed to be a virgin. The person who made the claims will no longer be credible anymore."

Editorial by Khmerization:- I welcome Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appeal for all political parties, including his own Cambodian People’s Party, not to engage in political violence and intimidations, before and during the upcoming election. I also welcome his promise to step down if he loses the election (read the link below).

But it is hard to know if his appeal is genuine or deceptively made in his political posturing designed to fool the opposition parties and the international community, including the donor countries.

With past experiences, it is almost inconceivable to imagine an election free of violence and intimidations. In hindsight, it is also inconceivable for anyone to have any faith at all in Mr. Hun Sen’s many broken promises.

Political violence and intimidations, pre- and post-election, were often orchestrated and perpetrated by Mr. Hun Sen's own Cambodian People's Party. It is rather cynical and hypocritical of the Mr. Hun Sen to naively go to great length in order to try to con and fool public opinion. But, with his public appeal, the political tension will ease and the opposition parties will undoubtedly have a peace of mind. But whether his appeal will have any effectiveness at all remains to be seen.

Cambodians had been through the election two times post-UNTAC, with every election violently contested and spuriously claimed by the oppositions as fraudulently rigged.

Cambodians had also heard Mr. Hun Sen’s broken promises all before. Whether his promise this time is anything difference from his previous promises is anyone’s bet. But, mind you, I will not bet on his promises.

Mr. Hun Sen could have resigned after the 1998 and 2003 elections when the oppositions didn’t want him as the prime minister. He could have stepped down and offered the PM post to one of his CPP colleagues, the likes of Mr. Sar Kheng, Sok An, Tea Banh, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin and so on. The fact that he fought bitterly so hard to remain in that post, including the arrest and exiling of Mr. Chea Sim, the president of Mr. Hun Sen’s own Cambodian People’s Party in 2003, proved that Mr. Hun Sen will cling to power at all cost.

The lists of his broken promises go on and on. Mr. Hun Sen had promised to resign if he cannot eliminate illegal logging. Not only that the illegal logging had not been contained, but it continued and continued with the maximum willing participation of Mr. Hun Sen, as reported by Global Witness in the Cambodia’s Family Tree report. He promised to step down if he cannot curb official corruption but it continues. He promised to resign if he cannot stop hoodlums. Again, the lists go on and on.

One can only lie once. If one lied too many times over, then that person is no different to a prostitute who claimed to be a virgin. The person who made the claims will no longer be credible anymore. This time I will give Mr. Hun Sen the benefit of the doubt. But Mr. Hun Sen has to earn my trust if his promise this time is to have any credibility and trustworthiness at all.

Former Japanese PM Abe to visit Cambodia soon

PHNOM PENH, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Cambodia soon, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday.

Abe is to visit Cambodia on behalf of the Japanese parliament, Hun Sen told the opening ceremony of an irrigation system in Pursat province.

"He will lead members of a school-building association to the kingdom to help us build schools," he added.

Hun Sen once met with Abe last year in Japan while Abe was still in office.

Japan has remained as Cambodia's largest donor country for years.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Cambodia seeks Japan's help in Sudan peace mission

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen walks past a demining unit, during a ceremony before the departure of the Cambodian humanitarian demining unit for the UN peace keeping operation in Sudan, in Phnom Penh April 12, 2006. (Reuters)


Cambodia wants Japan's support for the Southeast Asian nation's first U.N. peacekeeping mission, which is becoming increasingly tense due to fighting in Sudan, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh said Friday.

Tea, who is also the Cambodian national defense minister, told The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo that Cambodian troops sent to southern Sudan "have not yet been directly attacked, but the situation is tense."

About 300 Cambodian Army corps engineers have been sent to Malakal in southern Sudan, mainly for demining, since April 2006, according to Tea.

The Cambodian troops, which have been cooperating with troops from India and Bangladesh, have removed a total of 1,613 mines so far, he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura has proposed that the Self-Defense Forces be sent to Sudan to participate in the U.N. peacekeeping mission. But the security situation will likely lead to further calls in Japan for a more cautious approach.

"Cambodia will continue to fulfill its duties in peacekeeping operations with the cooperation of Japan," Tea said.

He asked for continued support from Japan in terms of fostering human personnel for peacekeeping operations.

"Japan sent a peacekeeping mission to Cambodia and now Cambodia has sent such a mission to Sudan," Tea said. "If Japan and Cambodia can cooperate in Sudan, it would mean a new page in the history of peacekeeping cooperation between Japan and Cambodia."

Japan first sent SDF members on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in 1992 to Cambodia.

But in Sudan, the situation is so unstable that the legal conditions under which SDF members can be dispatched on peacekeeping missions may not be met.

For example, SDF members cannot be sent on peacekeeping mission to areas that are considered combat zones.

In addition to mortar attacks near where the Cambodian troops are housed, fighting has broken out about 6 kilometers from a site where mines were being removed, Tea said.

The fighting forced the Cambodian troops to suspend peacekeeping activities for 15 days.

The troops have been helping local residents who were victims of the mortar attack.

Dengue Fever a new kind of world music

The L.A.-based six-piece Dengue Fever. Guitarist Zac Holtzman, seated far left, says he doesn't speak much Khmer, so writing songs for Cambodian vocalist Chhom Nimol, centre, can be a challenge.

Hot band mixes psychedelic rock with Cambodian pop – while redefining the term 'world music'

Mar 08, 2008
Raju Mudhar Entertainment Reporter

The Global Positioning System is chattering away in Dengue Fever's tour van.

During a phone chat while the group is on the road from Philadelphia to New York, main songwriter and lead guitarist Zac Holtzman notes the addition of a disembodied voice offering directions is one noticeable and pleasant upgrade from their previous tours.

The L.A.-based band is currently trekking across North America in support of their acclaimed third album, Venus on Dreams, which stops in at Sneaky Dee's tonight as part of a showcase at Canadian Music Week.

While the GPS can help the band get to where it's got to go, trying to navigate its musical mix is a different matter.

A perfect example of East-West fusion, the California-based six-piece merges retro psychedelic rock with Cambodian pop. Chhom Nimol sings in Khmer, although a few English tracks appear on the new album, which also incorporates surf guitar, Afrobeat and even country.

The band's stated goal is to emulate the sound of music in Cambodia in the 1960s, when American rock influences melded with traditional Asian pop.

"I mean, it was just this really cool twist that they put on all that music. They brought in their own style of singing and it's just this kind of interesting balance of stuff that's vaguely familiar and stuff that's totally from a different world," says Holtzman.

"A lot of the singing, they do a lot of pitch bending and tracking into high voices and falsettos and I think that's a lot of what I was attracted to.

"Sometimes they would bring in traditional Cambodian instruments like a takhe to do an intro to more of a rock 'n' roll number."

Holtzman says inspiration for the band came from his brother, Ethan (who plays farsifa in the band), who returned from trekking Cambodia in 2001 with music from the region.

The brothers decided they wanted to pursue the sound and held auditions in the Little Phnom Penh area of Long Beach. They found Nimol, already a pop star in her native country.

Adding to the Lost in Translation vibe is that, while Holtzman is the main songwriter, he speaks little Khmer, so penning lyrics is a necessarily collaborative process.

"I usually do the vocals when I write the songs, and then we (he and Nimol) kind of go over them. We go over the melody ideas that I have, and then she'll kind of elaborate on those ideas," he says.

"Sometimes I'll send them to a friend. He speaks fluently in Khmer and English, so he'll translate them. We've done a few translations on our own, but I think he does a better job."

While in the past Dengue Fever's mix of music might have ended up in the world-music bin at the local record store, the reaction this album is receiving allows the group to cross the line that divides rock and ethnic music arenas – as the band sees fit.

"If your idea of world music is 20 guys on stage in really colourful outfits, with lots of drums, then we're not that kind of world music. But yeah, our singer is Cambodian, she sings in Khmer, we're playing sort of a hodgepodge of different stuff that we like, so yeah, it's been a lot of fun," he says.

"We kind of walk both lines of playing rock 'n' roll venues and kind of getting invited to these world music festivals and the thing is that we stand out and are different in either of those groups."

Sacravatoons : " The Chidren of God from Pailin "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatoons : " Brothers in arm "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Thailand to talk with Cambodia over JDA project

March 8, 2008

Foreign Minister Noppadol Pattama said Saturday that the Thai Foreign Ministry and Energy Ministry would negotiate with Cambodian to launch a project of joint development areas.

Noppadol said Thailand and Cambodia have some 26,000 square kilometres of overlapping areas along the border and the areas were rich with natural gas and oil resources.

He said it was estimated that the areas had natural gas worth Bt3.5 trillion and oil worth Bt1.5 trillion so the two country should jointly develop the areas.

He said talks would be held how to divide benefits from the project between the two countries.

The Nation