Tuesday, 25 March 2008

24.3.2008: Samdech Dekchor Told Politicians That They Should Recognize Their Own Weaknesses

Posted on 25 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Kompong Chhnang: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen told politicians [of other political parties] on 22 March 2008 that they should recognize their own weaknesses which led to rifts in their own parties, rather than trying to put the blame on their [former] party members.

“Referring to Norodom Ranariddh Party [NRP] leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] leader Mr. Sam Rainsy, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘Please don’t try to cover your weaknesses. I guarantee that no one would be able to beat Hun Sen; only Hun Sen can beat Hun Sen.’

“Samdech Prime Minister sent this message to the public during a groundbreaking ceremony of a pagoda in Tuek Phos, Kompong Chhnang. He said that no one can beat the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], only the CPP itself can do so. He said, ‘If the CPP members are not holding hands to reach out to the Cambodian people, but do bad things, then the CPP will be weak. If everyday we trod around here and there to violate the rights of the people, and if we do not do good things following Buddhism, who would believe Hun Sen? Therefore, those parties should recognize their own weaknesses.’

“Samdech Prime Minister also said that Mr. Nhek Bun Chhay was accused by Prince Ranariddh that he [Nhek Bun Chhay] is the one who split Funcinpec. As for Mr. Ngor Sovann and Mr. Sok Pheng, they were accused by their party leader of leading party members to leave the SRP and to defect to the CPP.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen welcomed the senior SRP members who defected to the CPP, adding that ‘this is a good choice.’ Samdech Dekchor praised Mr. Ngo Sovann [a defector from the SRP], who also participated in the ceremony, for choosing the right path in order to develop the country as an intellectual.

“Samdech said that even with 57 political parties, it will be clear in the people’s minds what it means when they see intellectuals choosing the ruling CPP. This is the way they can help develop the country.

“Almost ten thousand people participated in the ceremony. This pagoda was first constructed in 1995. It cost about US$212,500. Samdech also showed his thanks to those who contributed to the construction of the pagoda. He encouraged all generous people to maintain the spirit of sharing, in order to construct the nation more and more.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1600, 23-24.3.2008

Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticizes remarks by Cambodian prime minister

Mr. James C. F. Huang

Taipei Times
By Jenny W. Hsu
Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly protested claims by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that Cambodian women living in Taiwan were ill-treated.

During a visit to China last month, Hun was quoted saying that more than half of the 2,500 Cambodian women living in Taiwan do not possess legal identity papers or official approval, after they were misled into going to Taiwan for work or to marry a Taiwanese man.

Hun Sen said some of the women had been sold to brothels and forced to work as prostitutes.
He said he had refused Taipei's offer to open up a representative office in Phnom Penh because of the mistreatment of Cambodian women by Taiwanese, not because Phnom Penh wanted to pander to China.

"The prime minister's claim could not farther from the truth," ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) said, criticizing Cambodian leaders for making unfounded accusations.

In a press release, the ministry said the 4,500 Cambodianss residing in Taiwan had received equal and adequate care.

A minor percentage of them, the statement said, are ineligible for legal resident status in Taiwan because the Cambodian government did not provide them with the proper documentation, which showed that the Cambodian government has long neglected to take care of its citizens while they are overseas.

The ministry also protested Hun's comments that Taiwan has no right to join the UN because of its non-state status.

Taiwan was an independent sovereign nation with every right to be part of the global body and people of Taiwan are entitled to hold a referendum on the issue to decide for themselves, the ministry said in the statement.

Kem Sokha: The Cambodian People’s Party Began Political Disturbances

Mr. Kem Sokha, during a meeting with his supporters in the provinces.

24th March 2008
By San Suwit
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Posted at : http://khmerization.blogspot.com/

President of the Human Right Party (HRP) has said that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has returned to the old tricks of disturbances to political activities of various political parties that it had practised in the past.

Mr Kem Sokha, who had a meeting with his party members at Baek Chan village, Ampil Teuk commune in Kampong Trolach district, Kampong Chhnang province on Sunday yesterday, has told Radio Free Asia that his meeting has a legal permission and including a request for an intervention made to provincial officials, yet there are still disturbances from a group of people from the Cambodian People’s Party without any order from the top for them to stop.

Mr Kem Sokha said: “The local authority is still using the same old kinds of disturbances to the political activities of other political parties, such as the Human Right Party which is having a meeting with the people and they played loud music with amplified speakers about 100 metres from the meeting. The top leadership, such as the prime minister, has appealed for a free and fair election, free of disturbances and free of intimidations, but the local authorities are still continuing (to practise these kinds of things), so we don’t know whether what they did was trying to make their leaders lose face or whether they did these things because their leaders said one thing and asked them to do another thing. And we have contacted the provincial authority, the secretary of the Kampong Cham Municipality laughed at Mr Keo Remy who made a phone call to him. He said that he cannot do anything as today is Sunday. He just said nonsense like that, as if the top leadership asked them to organise these sorts of disturbances. So, it’s like the top leadership said one thing and the local authority is doing another different thing.”

Despite many people came to his political meeting, Mr Kem Sokha has said that, according to his reports from his party members at Ampil Teuk commune, the CPP-biased local authority has forbidden many other people from joining the meeting on Sunday yesterday.

Please be reminded that in the past few consecutive months at the beginning of 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen made speeches to the people in almost every province which have been broadcast on state-owned and private media to the people throughout the country.

In his speeches, other than indirect attacks on the leaders of other political parties, the prime minister has also declared about his stance in relation to the election results, including his appeals for a free, fair and acceptable election.

The prime minister said: “I will go to transfer power at the new Office of the Council of Ministers to a new power-holder (election winner) in order to preserve the political stability and after that I am free to travel. No problem, I can play golf. There won’t be any problem. But I don’t think the situation will be that bad. But it will depend on the will of the people. We will leave it to the people to decide, but don’t say that I am campaigning for the election. But I wanted to take this opportunity to appeal for a free, fair, transparent, violence-free and acceptable election. And any action that was hatched out of violence and intimidation is an action that destroys the good reputation of the royal Cambodian government and the people of Cambodia, as well as destroying the hard-earned achievements of the royal government.”

Prince Ranariddh Thanks Prime Minister Hun Sen

24th March 2008
By San Suwit
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Posted at : http://khmerization.blogspot.com/

Last week Prince Norodom Ranariddh (pictured), President of the Norodom Ranariddh Party who is still living in exile, have told party officials and party activists that he wish to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for dismissing that he has a plan to allow foreigners to own lands in Cambodia.
The Prince also thanked Minister of Defense Tea Banh for suspending the application of the mandatory Laws on Military Duty (which stated that all men ages between 18-35 must serve in the military).

Prince Ranariddh said: “Because I have consistently raised time and again about the issue of justice, and on the issue of mandatory Laws on Military Duty which was already ratified by a National Assembly under Samdech Heng Samrin that allow the government to force-conscript the people to join the army, but because I have raised that issue again and again, now His Excellency Tea Banh has declared that these laws has been temporarily put on hold. I wish to thank his Excellency Tea Banh for that. On land issues, regarding the laws that allow foreigners to own lands in Cambodia, Norodom Ranariddh had raised these issues again and again and now Prime Minister Hun Sen made a speech in Kampong Speu the other day saying that he never had any thought, not even a dream, but I have proof, that he wanted to make that legislation allowing foreigners to own lands in Cambodia. But I must thank Samdech Decho (Hun Sen) for his back-flip. Now, because I have consistently raised these issues they all have been scrapped.”
Recently Prime Minister Hun Sen has dismissed allegations that he has plans to legislate to allow foreigners to own lands for the long term in Cambodia.

In his speech to party activists in Kandal province, Prince Ranariddh has blasted the Presidents of the Human Right Party and Sam Rainsy Party for rejecting his appeal for the creation of a big broad-based liberal nationalist party to compete against the ruling party of Mr. Hun Sen by considering them as the persons who don’t know how to do addition, but only know how to do subtraction.

Prince Ranariddh said: “I have heard what Samdech Hun Seen had said, even though he didn’t mention Mr. Kem Sokha’s name, I knew he talked about Mr. Kem Sokha. So, now I know the reasons why Mr. Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy didn’t accept Norodom Ranariddh’s proposal. I didn’t ask them to join my party. I just ask them to join with me to create a big broad-based liberal nationalist party to offer the voters a choice and a hope in order to solve issues relating to the life and death of our nation. But they refused because they don’t know how to do addition, they only know how to do subtraction. They don’t understand about the win-win strategy which Samdech Hun Sen is so excited about. But these two only know about a loss-loss strategy because they don’t know how to do addition, but they only know how to do subtraction and the loss-loss strategy.”

Mr Kem Sokha, president of the Human Right Party said that his party is doing addition (gathering people) everyday, including the addition (gathering) of those people who used to vote for the Norodom Ranariddh Party and other parties as well.

Mr Kem Sokha said: “The Human Right Party is uniting (gathering) grassroots people. And when I went down to 2-3 places I saw that people were doing addition (joining) with the Human Right Party , they didn’t do any subtraction. Like what I saw when I went down this afternoon. Every place I went there were thousands of people who came (to the meeting). In Banteay Meanchey, each place I went there were about 4-5 thousand people, in Battambang there were about 1-2 thousand people, in Pursat there were 2-3 thousand people and in Kampong Cham there were thousands of people (who attended our meetings). So, who were they who came to join with the Human Right Party? They were the people who used to vote for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, the Funcinpec Party, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Cambodian People’s Party. Despite this, if other parties would like to join with us, our door remain open for them. So it is not like what someone said that we only know how to do subtraction. We know what is a win, what is a loss, and this is what we are doing now (addition).”

Radio Free Asia is unable to obtain any immediate comments from Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the Sam Rainsy Party, in relation to Prince Ranariddh’s comments about the Sam Rainsy Party’s rejection of the prince’s proposal to create a big broad-based liberal nationalist party to compete against the Cambodian People’s Party.

Cambodian gov't execs to visit Iloilo City

Iloilo City, Philippines
March 25, 2008

Cambodian officials are visiting this city to learn about the "best practices" of the local government here to replicate in their country.

Mayor Jerry Treñas said Lisa Kircher Lumbao, Cambodia's Philippine Country Coordinator, informed him of the visit.

The Cambodian guests are from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The visit will be on April 4 and 5.

The delegation includes Mann Chhoeurn, deputy governor of Phnom Penh; Say Kosal, village chief of Tuol Sangkae, one of the sub-districts of Phnom Penh; Tep Ketsiny, Center for Development representative; and Khoy Kim, Environmental Cooperation-Asia (ECO-Asia) country coordinator.

Specifically, Treñas said, the Cambodian officials want to see first hand how Iloilo City improved its waste water treatment process through social marketing outreach programs and infrastructure development. (PNA)

Joy in the Morning

Sin Chhon embraces her daughter Davik Teng after Monday's open-heart surgery. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

Davik's Heart: A reporter and photographer in Cambodia blog Davik's story

Davik Teng, the Cambodian girl brought to the United States for life-altering heart surgery, underwent what her cardiologist called a "perfect" procedure Monday and was awake and talking to her mom by the late morning.

"It went better than even we thought," cardiologist Dr. Mark Sklansky of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles told Davik's mother, Sin Chhon, after the 9-year-old emerged from a smooth hourlong operation. "She's a very strong girl, and she's going to do very well."

After hearing the news, Chhon broke into tears and hugged her companions, Peter Chhun and Chantha Bob, the two Long Beach men responsible for bringing Davik to the United States.

Surgery started about 8:15 a.m. and was expected to last two to three hours. But at 9:15 a.m., Dr. Vaughn Starnes, the cardiac surgeon, called the procedure a success.

A world-renowned surgeon, Starnes repaired a quarter-size hole in one of the chambers in Davik's heart, known as a ventricular septal defect, by sewing a Dacron patch to cover the opening.

"What we did is routine," Starnes said.

Although the operation is common in the United States and, in Davik's case, would normally have been performed during her first year, Chhon tried for years to get help for her child in Cambodia and was consistently rebuffed.

Bob, a Long Beach waiter, first encountered Davik several years ago while delivering rice and food to her small village outside of Battambang in a western province of the country.

Chhun, founder of Long Beach-based Hearts Without Boundaries, organized and funded the effort to bring Davik to the United States and Childrens Hospital donated the cardiology team and facilities.

Sklansky estimated Davik could be out of the hospital by the weekend.

By 11:30 a.m., Davik was awake, asking for water and to see Chhun, whom she affectionately calls her "great-uncle."

"It feels like a dream," Chhun said after the surgery. "Today it's real. I don't know what to say. I'm so happy. I don't have the words."

Surgeons Repair Cambodian Child's Heart Defect

In this photo released by Children' s Hospital Los Angeles, Sin Chhon is overcome with emotion at seeing her daughter, Davik Teng, 9, from Cambodia after successful heart-surgery by surgeon Dr. Vaughn Starnes at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The surgery was to repair a hole in her daughters heart. The young heart patient was brought to the United States for the heart surgery by the organization 'Hearts Without Boundaries'. (AP Photo/Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Bob Riha, Jr.)

In this photo released by Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Sin Chhon is overcome with emotion at seeing her daughter, Davik Teng, 9, from Cambodia after successful heart-surgery by heart surgeon Dr. Vaughn Starnes at Children's Hospital Los Angeles as family friends Danny Vong left, and Peter Chhun look on. The surgery was to repair a hole in her heart. The young heart patient was brought to the United States for the heart surgery by the organization 'Hearts Without Boundaries'. (AP Photo/Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Bob Riha, Jr.)

In this photo released by Children's Hospital Los Angeles, heart surgeon Dr. Vaughn Starnes, left, from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and his surgical team restart the heart of 9-year-old Davik Teng, from Cambodia, after being removed from Heart/Lung bypass machine during a surgical procedure to repair a hole in her heart. The young heart patient was brought to the United States for the heart surgery by the organization 'Hearts Without Boundaries'. (AP Photo/Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Bob Riha, Jr.)

In this photo released by Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Davik Teng, 9 from Cambodia visits with her mother, left, Sin Chhon, family friend Chantha Bob, 2nd from right, from Long Beach, Calif. and Peter Chhun with Hearts Without Boundaries, prior to her undergoing open-heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart by heart surgeon Dr. Vaughn Starnes, Monday, March 24, 2008 at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Bob Riha, Jr.)
Mar 24, 2008
Los Angeles News

Childrens Hospital Performed Surgery That Her Native Doctors Were Unable To

LOS ANGELES Doctors in her home country had been unable to repair the heart defect of a 9-year-old Cambodian girl, but doctors at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles were able to perform the surgery successfully Monday.

Davik Teng was brought to the United States by Hearts Without Boundaries, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian services in Southeast Asia, mainly Cambodia.

A fundraising effort to help Davik had been started when a student at Lincoln Elementary School, Chi Nguyen, saw a poster about Davik's story, and donated $50.

The fifth-grader hadn't told anybody about her donation to Hearts Without Boundaries until her teacher found out and decided to spread the word around the school. Students and their parents responded with enthusiasm.

As of the middle of March, more than $1,700 had been collected and donations were still coming in.

After the two-hour open-heart surgery, Davik was put in the cardiothoracic intensive unit, according to Steve Rutledge of Childrens Hospital. She is expected to be transferred to the regular intensive-care unit Tuesday.

VN, Cambodia to closely cooperate in tourism, culture


VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese and Cambodian officials have met to discuss concrete measures to boost the bilateral cooperation in tourism, culture and sports.

In a meeting between the visiting Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh and Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon, the two sides expressed their satisfaction of the bilateral cooperation in tourism, and agreed in principle on measures some work to be done in the coming years to attract tourists and encourage their citizens to visit the other country.

They also agreed to set up a committee in charge for developing tourism cooperation between Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The Cambodian side pledged to look into Vietnam’s suggestion of simplifying exit and entry procedures to facilitate the cross-border tourism.

Working with the Cambodian Ministries of Culture and Fine Arts, and Education, Youth and Sports, Minister Anh and his Cambodian counterparts stressed the need to intensify the exchange of delegations in order to boost cooperation in culture and sports.

The Vietnamese side agreed to help train Cambodian workers in music, archeology and cinematography at Vietnam’s art schools.

Vietnam will also share experiences with Cambodia in hosting the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and training athletics in preparations for the latter’s hosting the 27th SEA Games.

The Vietnamese Minister is on a working visit to Cambodia from March 23-26.

(Source: VNA)

Sultan Receives King Of Cambodia In Audience

March 25, 2008.
By Azaraimy HH &Yusrin Junaidi

Bandar Seri Begawan - State ties between Cambodia and Brunei are further enhanced as His Majesty the King of Cambodia Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni began a three-day State visit yesterday to the Sultanate.

The Cambodian king arrived at the IstanaNurullman for an audience with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and members of the royal family.

Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and HRH Prince Abdul Malik.

Before the audience, His Majesty the Sultan and His Majesty the King of Cambodia proceeded to the Royal Dais to receive the Royal Salute, while the national anthems of both Cambodia and Brunei were played. The national flag of Cambodia was also hoisted.

After the 21-gun salute, the Commander of Royal Brunei Armed Forces invited His Majesty the Sultan and His Majesty the King of Cambodia to inspect the Guard of Honour.

This was followed by a second Royal Salute before His Majesty the King of Cambodia was introduced to members of the royal family by the Grand Chamberlain.

Also present at the palace reception hall were top government officials, including the Legislative Council speaker, Cabinet Ministers, Privy Council members, Deputy Ministers, Police Commissioner, Legislative Council members, Permanent Secretaries at the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as heads of foreign missions. His Majesty the King of Cambodia was introduced to the heads of foreign missions by the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

His Majesty the Sultan was then introduced to the delegation of Cambodia.

His Majesty the King of Cambodia is accompanied by Her Royal Highness Samdech Reach Botrei Preah Anoch Norodom Arunrasmy, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Malaysia.

Other delegates include Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace Mr Samdech Chaufea Veang Kong Som Ol, Ambassador of Cambodia to Brunei Mr Nan Sy, Senior Minister and Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Mr Veng Serey Vuth, Member of the Senate Mr Puth Khov, Member of the Parliament Mr Khek Sam On, Minister and Director of the Royal Secretariat Mr Srey Nory, as well as the Secretary of State and Chief of His Majesty the King of Cambodia's Secretariat, Mr Ly Song Veng, among others.

Earlier yesterday, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah welcomed His Majesty the King of Cambodia at the Berakas International Airport.

Also in attendance and welcoming His Majesty the King of Cambodia were Hj Mohd Nor Hj Jeludin, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as Mr Nan Sy, the Ambassador of Cambodia to Brunei.

At the airport, His Majesty the King of Cambodia was introduced to senior government officials.

Also present were the Minister in' Attendance, the Ambassador of Brunei to Cambodia, Officers in Attendance, as well as the Military Aide de Camp by the Deputy Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Cambodia King Kg Ayer

March 25, 2008
By Hj MinorAbsah

Bandar Seri Begawan - His Majesty Preah Bat Samdeeh Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia, went on a river cruise for a closer look at Kg Ayer yesterday afternoon.

The Cambodian King, who is in the country for a three-day official visit, was accompanied by Her Royal Highness Samdeeh Reach Botrei Preah Anoch Norodom Arunrasmy, His Majesty the King's Sister.

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni was greeted upon arrival at the Custom's Wharf by the Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya sohan Pahl_awan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraj a Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Mohd Yusof.

Using the Tanjong Bakarang vessel, the King and his entourage were brought to cruise along the Brunei River and were briefed on the history and culture of Kg Ayer.

They then made a brief stop at Kg Tanioi Ujung and at the residence of Pengarah Hj Mokti Md Salleh, the Penghulu of Mukim Tamoi.

At the residence, His Majesty King Sihamoni was treated with traditional Malay delicacies as well as a showcase of local traditional handicrafts. His Majesty and the King's sister were also presented with souvenirs as a token of the visit.

Following the brief stop, the visitors then continued with their river guise before heading back to the Custom's Wharf.

Also present during the visit was the minister in attendance, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdul Rahman Dato Setia Hj Mohamed Taib, Minister of Education as well as the Cambodian Ambassador to Brunei, Nan Sy.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Closer Brunei, Cambodia Ties

March 25, 2008.
By Aemy Azlena

Bandar Seri Begawan - His Majesty the Sultan and Yang DiPertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night hosted a Royal Banquet in honour of the King of Cambodia, His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni at the lstana Nurul Iman.

The Cambodian King arrived yesterday for a three-day State visit.

Soon after Their Majesties arrived at the hall, the national anthems of Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam were played.

This was followed by a doa selamat read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

His Majesty then delivered a titah and expressed his hope that they can share the experiences that links Brunei and Cambodia as friends and partners in the modem Southeast Asia.

His Majesty said that in the heart of all the programmes of cooperation lies providing the opportunities for the people in member countries of Asean to meet the challenges of today's world with a confidence and hope that is based on their own knowledge, practical skills and talent.

"Those are practical tasks, Your Majesty, and we are delighted to be sharing them with our friends and colleagues in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Many of them involve the future, however.
But there are many other things that we already share and we are equally delighted to have the opportunity that Your Majesty's visit offers to express and reaffirm them.

"They are less tangible than formal programmes of cooperation. But in some ways they are even more important.

"They reflect the spirit of our modern region; the friendship we share; the desire we have to work together and help one another; the wish to learn more about each other and to understand each other well; and perhaps above all else the quality that underpins all others in a modern region, respect of each other," said His Majesty.

This respect (which includes the rich diversity of background, faiths, cultures and historical experience, as well as the respect for both countries' people's individual strengths, talents and abilities) exists in abundance between Brunei and the Kingdom of Cambodia, added His Majesty.

In reply, His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome extended by His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei, the Brunei government and the Brunei people, as well as for the support in the national reconstruction and development of Cambodia in the fields of economy and social development.

He also brought greetings from his august parents, His Majesty the Heroic King Norodom Sihanouk, Father of the Cambodian Nation and Her Majesty Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Mother of the Cambodian Nation.

The King of Cambodia said, "The continuous exchanges of visits between the leaders of Cambodia and Brunei has strengthened the bonds of friendship and solidarity existing between our two countries in order to speed up the bilateral cooperation in all fields for the join benefit of our two peoples.

His Majesty the King of Cambodia then raised a toast to the good health, long life and happiness of His Majesty the Sultan and the royal family, invited guests and the people of Brunei, as well as to the enduring friendship between Brunei and the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Also present at the banquet were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and other members of the royal family.

Also present were senior government officials, ambassadors and special guests. Prior to the royal banquet, His Majesty the Sultan consented to a pre-dinner audience followed by an exchange of gifts between Their Majesties.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Due process urgently needed for Cambodian criminal suspects

Monday, March 24, 2008
JURIST's Hotline

Theary Seng [Executive Director, The Center for Social Development]: "A criminal proceeding in any environment - be it in a developed state or here in developing Cambodia - is a serious matter because an individual's liberty and rights are at stake. Before any rights or freedom of a person is to be limited by the State (e.g. imprisonment), extreme due care must be taken to ascertain that the curbing of these rights/liberties are justified and followed established due process.

The adherence of due process is more urgently needed here in Cambodia where the legal and penal system is embryonic and fragile, prone to abuses, without adequate balance of powers among the different parties in the criminal case and generally among the three branches of government.

Moreover, greater scrutiny of these criminal proceedings must be had in light of our dark, recent history of gross violations of human rights on a massive scale.

We, at CSD, are abhorred by the high rate of torture and coercion used to extract confessions – 1 in 4 as you accurately noted from our Annual Report. A confession given as a result of coercion and torture cannot be deemed reliable or accurate. Consequently, it means that one in four defendants run the high, unacceptable risk of being wrongly convicted – i.e., having their rights curbed and violated – as a result not of having committed a crime but of fear for life resulting from coercion and torture. This 25% rate of confession due to coercion and torture also put into question all convictions, whether they are safe. We are deeply concerned that they are not safe and that many innocent people are being put in prison or having their rights and liberties curbed in other manners without proper due process of law."

Cambodia genocide tribunal seeks additional $114 million to fulfill mandate

Monday, March 24, 2008
Alexis Unkovic

[JURIST] Officials from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] made a formal request to the United Nations [official website] Monday for $114 million in additional funds to allow the court to continue operation past its originally scheduled completion date in 2009 until March 2011. An ECCC planning document [JURIST report] reported by AP last month indicated the court would ask for the increase; if granted, it would raise the court's budget from $56.3 million to $170 million. The ECCC currently has five former Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leaders in custody charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in the Communist regime of the 1970s. AP has more.

The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended in 2005, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials, but to date, no top officials have faced trials. In December 2007, Cambodian students and Buddhist monks held protests [JURIST report] over concerns that the trials were moving too slowly and that many former Khmer Rouge leaders in UN custody could die before facing justice. The ECCC has cited disputes with the Cambodian Bar Association [JURIST report] over membership fees for foreign lawyers, as well as procedural issues [JURIST report] and the language barrier for delays in moving to the trial stage.

An exotic blend

March 24, 2008
Houston Chronicle

Dengue Fever is ready to spread across the country

Dengue Fever has no trouble getting noticed. It's a Los Angeles-based band that combines '60s California garage rock with Cambodian pop. Its principal songwriter and guitarist has a whopper of a beard, its bass player tips close to 7-feet tall and its singer probably doesn't stand 5-feet tall in heels.

She also sings almost exclusively in Khmer.

The band's back story has been told, but since Dengue Fever, which plays the Orange Show on Saturday, is just beginning to spread, here's a short recap:

Keyboardist Ethan Holtzman visited Cambodia years ago with a friend. He came back with a sack full of cassettes of Cambodian music. His friend came back with dengue fever.

Holtzman and his guitarist brother Zac soaked up the sounds of those tapes and, according to Zac, "We talked about the crazy idea of pulling together a Cambodian psychedelic-rock band. The ball was rolling."

Zac Holtzman had been searching for the right band. He recalls being in a high school band that "played maybe two parties. Our guitarist was kind of nerdy. He'd play Spirit of Radio."

He joined a San Francisco band called Biefelhed, which ended up on a tour with instrumental-guitar guru Link Wray. Wray would call Zac out to sing. Since he didn't know all the lyrics to Born to Be Wild, he'd throw himself into the audience midsong.

"His wife was this crazy woman named Olive," Zac says. "She was from Holland. She was very worried about me. 'I think that you will hurt yourself.' Link would cut her off. 'I like it. I like it when you jump off the stage.' "

Zac describes his Biefelhed work as having a lazy alt-country vibe. Perhaps something about working with Wray stuck, because with Dengue he's moved to a grittier sound rooted in '60s styles like surf and garage rock.

But before going there, Dengue needed a singer.

The brothers set about Long Beach — which has a huge Khmer-speaking population — looking for a singer and happened upon Chhom Nimol, a diminutive woman with a big voice, who was a star back in Cambodia, but was working a nightclub in Los Angeles. She spoke no English, but was game to join. "We got pretty lucky with our singer," Zac says.

Big bass and blaring brass fill things out. The mix is exotic without the New Agey vibe that is affixed to "world music." It's not without a sense of nostalgia, but seeing as the players are all in their 30s, it's hardly as though they grew up immersed in these sounds. There's a celebratory party-music feeling to Dengue Fever's music, in no small part due to its members' sense of discovery. They're making a modern vintage.

Dengue Fever has evolved much since its first album, a self-titled assortment of covers, including several of the songs by Cambodian pop artists who disappeared during the Khmer Rouge's regime. Rock musicians did not fare well during its rule.

The new Venus on Earth shows more growth. The '60s garage-rock influence isn't quite so deliberate. It's as though the elements that make up Dengue Fever have begun to meld into one. Venus includes three songs in English. And it's all original material.

That said, Zac says the band continues to drive to Long Beach to shop for new music. One place is a gift shop and hair salon. "They have boxes of CDs you can dig through," he says. "You're pretty much going by the cover: the hairdos, how tight the pants are.

"We'll come home with 20 CDs, and from that we might pull about three good songs."

Such surface-level assessment has certainly earned Dengue some attention; it's a difficult band to miss. But Zac has long-term plans for the band.

"You definitely get noticed doing something nobody else is doing," he says.

"But we'd like to do more than get noticed. We're kind of going about it the way most people go about doing any kind of band. Pull people together who are like-minded, whose tastes go together nicely, and let it go."

Farm sell-offs endanger Cambodian rice production

March 24, 2008

Rice production will be reduced in Cambodia if rice fields continue to be sold to be converted to business, factory or residential sites, the Mekong Times newspaper reported Monday, citing an Agriculture Ministry official.

"We are worried that, in the future, only non-fertile land will remain for cultivation because most of the rice fields will have been sold off," Kit Seng, director of the planning department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Uon Sophal, a farmer in Cambodia's Kampot province, said that if current land transaction trends continue, most farmland will end up in the hands of the rich.

"Then farmers will find it more difficult to afford food," he said. "I would like to appeal to farmers not to sell their land because this will cause a shortage of farmland and it will drive rice prices up, which will be a burden on the country."

Farms in Cambodia are currently run overwhelmingly by impoverished farmers, and because of this poverty they are often tempted to sell their land for ready cash, said Chey Siyat, a member of an agricultural NGO.

According to MAFF figures, 85 percent of Cambodia's population relies on agriculture for a living.

Cambodia produces 6 million tons of unhusked rice annually and there are 2.3 million hectares of rice paddy land.

Source: Xinhua

Let’s Vote, Hun Sen a Goat or a Monkey?

By Kok Sap
March 21, 2008

The raised concern in Cambodia under Hun Sen long rule is the serious human rights violation. It is a very broad topic that handicaps Cambodia society in all aspects. Ironically all courts in Cambodia is no where independent and apolitical. This is a pulse of a contentious concern of Yash Ghai entire report.

The striking point of Cambodia tragedy and poverty rooted out from leadership incompetence since 1954. The total accumulated debt is up to $2,250 million under Hun Sen belt, said Ambassador Ek Sereivath. This is a staggering burden for a country ranked 162 out 180 in poor governance under the person leadership for the past 20 years. This is how the world sees Cambodia in adaptive challenge and learning aptitude. It is despicably poor and backward. Next to Sihanouk, Hun Sen loves to brag in crude diplomacy and vulgarity. He lacks total sense of self respect and dignity.

Surely it is clear and a UNTAC $2 billion done deal, few days ago Monarchy is belonged to Prorcheachon, boasted Hun Sen. The same time he accuses the oppositions attempt to do away from monarchy. Not enough he berates the Republic idealism as something unsavory for Cambodia although he himself was a poster child of Hanoi Republic adoption. He is invoking fear and hatred to infringe democratic spirit and freedom of choice in belief. He indirectly shrugged off Sihanouk to test out voter confidence in the present King. This is a purely concerted hypocrisy in the government house.

King Sihamoni knows he is trapped between dictatorship and communism. With Beijing commands, the man who wanted to be king, Hun Sen, had to accept and swallow his evil nature. No option, China leases monarchy from Hanoi control in high prices. In his individual, King Sihamoni clearly understands his fate. He already appealed, as long as people allow two weeks of notice and a safe passage, he would gladly oblige to leave the evil throne.

Apparently Hun Sen is using Norodom Rannridh against his corruptive and former legal wife as decoy to wipe out Sihanouk FUNCINPEC and control other royalties. In records, all Rannridh flaws are no where near Hun Sen own baggages. He has not been known killer or traitor as of his father type. So as it seems this is a clear intent to scapegoat Rannridh for Hun Sen own malfeasances. Now the inept and unrepentant Hun Sen puts fear in King heart to hold his brother as an outcast.

Rannridh was accused of stealing $30 million and adultery. It is a lot of money for anyone standards, but let’s be honest; it is still a lot lesser than Hoc Lon Di who makes $375,000 monthly from being the most ruthless national police commissioner. In fairness, according to constitutionality, Rannridh has the right to represent himself in court if it was not for Hun Sen pulling strings on courts to deliver sentences in absentia. Frankly, he is the monarchy political liability and black sheep with Sihanouk consents.

For the worst, Rannridh name was unlisted in Global, International Amnesty or UN Human Rights reports. The joke was because of his political rivalry, so he is not allowed to stay in and reenter Cambodia. He is banished from Cambodia. Hun Sen treats himself with a plush Fortress with thousands of well paid guard and hundreds of million of dollars deposited offshore the Kingdom.

To date Cambodia is so wrapped in a hopeless and beggar in competition with upper-hand treatment 4.5 million Viet Nam citizens. As a leader for a long time, he sees to make sure Cambodia will be not be progressive as long as he remains in position.

Thousand Year Hatred Begins on March 23, 1970

By Kok Sap-
March 23, 2008
Decades before millions of Khmer in High Plateau north of Dangrek Range were abandoned and some were later rescued from Siam permanent control by French. The rest remain deprived and abused by Siam rule to date.

Under Sihanouk six decade tight grip rule, Cambodia had eventually fallen traumatized entirely. As King, he never had a vision to revive Khmer identity for those had lived under Siam and Yuon. To date millions of Khmer in Mekong Delta became aliens in own land. After March 18, 1970 event, Sihanouk had never redeemed himself.

It has been 38 years since March 23, 1970. This day marked the inerasable memory that Sihanouk declared personal hatred and war on millions of Khmer who defended and fought Viet Cong transgression. He said, “Five year fight as the head of the National United Front of Kampuchea from March 23, 1970 to April 17, 1975.” Despicably on March 29, 2007 Sihanouk lamented,” why do they hate and hurt me so much?” To date this man saw nothing wrong in his efforts in destroying a nation and was still unable to figure it out yet.

These are the latest of best historical examples to understand how the last inferior royalty branch failed in a nation stewardship and survival vision. Yet Sihanouk viciously blames others for his inherent self destructive and inept nature,” My fight for the total Liberation of Cambodia which became a US satellite and which was martyred, partially annexed by the Republic of South-Vietnam of the Generals Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky from Saigon. Ironically under China urges, Sihanouk made Hanoi his final revenge command post.

There were more of his justifications in his incompetence and lack of courage, “One cannot count on oneself, but one must be an international beggar, and the notion that neighboring countries “take over” one portion of the lands and seas of Cambodia must be accepted. My fight for the total Liberation of Cambodia which became a US satellite and which was martyred, partially annexed by the Republic of South-Vietnam of the Generals Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky from Saigon. Five year fight as the head of the National United Front of Kampuchea from March 23, 1970 to April 17, 1975.”

Sihanouk also conveniently forgot that South Viet Nam would not happen if he was responsible to protest France in annexing it to Bao Dai control in 1949. So South Viet Nam became home to Viet Cong fighters. Because of Sihanouk repeated failures to fend off Viet Cong, the reluctant General Lon Nol had to make a stand and not to be pushed around by Sihanouk evil allies. Although instead of being grateful, Sihanouk went on to blame later generation, “Even in 2007, there are, in Cambodia, Lonnolians who hate N. Sihanouk and the Sihanoukommunism more and more.” All were posted on his own website.

How egregious of him to lie to millions of citizen why March 18, 1970 event had happened. In reality there was no such thing as Lonnolians. Foreign nations can affirm that it was his own violation of Cambodia neutrality act.

In fact the surviving patriots are well aware of Sihanouk secretive deals with enemies, Viets and Viet Cong. Under false pretense, Sihanouk arranged a trip to Paris. Yet General Lon Nol had followed and appealed to the hypocrite Head of State to return to Cambodia. But Sihanouk refused to even listen to his mother appeal. So in disappointment, the General did return and had to do what best to save Cambodia dignity from its former King humiliation.

Under his first Angkar rule from 1975-1987, 3 out of 7 people were wiped out in less than four years. Later after Hanoi completely annexed South Viet Nam in 1970 and pushed for more land and sea from Cambodia in 1979.To do so it fabricated K-5 Plan to send more Khmers to be killed by Sihanouk new GCKD armed forces.

Look at what he had to say on March 30,2007,” Fight at the head of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, government legally recognized by the UN against the military occupation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam of my Homeland for 10-year (1979-1989). I personally started this fight at the head of the GCKD only in 1982 and I stopped fighting against the SRV starting in 1987 because, along with Comrade Hun Sen and the Communist People Party, starting from 1987 we could return Cambodia to Independence through peaceful and reconciliation mean between Khmer people in friendship, mutual respect with the Socialist Republic VietNam, which stopped its military and colonialist occupation of Cambodia in 1989, boasted Sihanouk.

”Without a witness,” During a lunch in Beijing on March 4, 2007, my concubine said to me: “Your 3 highly patriotic achievements, no one will be able to “remove” them from history. To answer Sihanouk rhetorical question, March 23, 1970 was the beginning of his thousand year of hatred. Therefore Cambodia people shall beware it takes a dog to know a bitch. Thus in Sihanouk case, “he who hates, must know own hatred.”

Union Threatens Massive Wage Strike

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 24 (1.17MB) - Listen (MP3)

Workers of the Free Trade Union said Monday they would hold a strike from Thursday to Saturday if workers are not given a $5 monthly raise.

The union, Cambodia's largest, voted Sunday to strike against 150 factories to demand for an increase in wages to offset the rising cost of goods, FTU President Chea Mony said.

In a letter to Interior Minister Sar Keng Monday, Chea Mony said the workers planned to strike unless the government resolves the wage hike and works to reduce the price of goods.

The strike will be held whether the Interior Ministry approves or not, Chea Mony said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said Cambodia does not have a law to cover strikes, but has one against demonstrations, and he advised the workers to get permission from local authorities, such as the municipality, before demonstrating.

If public security and traffic problems occur during the strike, Khieu Sopheak asked, who will be responsible?

Chuon Momthol, vice president of the Labor Advisory Committee, said Monday he wanted to increase the price of salaries for workers to offset the higher prices, but he said an agreement between the Committee and workers allowing a raise of $50 per month from 2007 to 2010 was still in effect.

The Free Trade Union should submit a request to the Committee for a solution, which would be better than holding a strike, he said.

Ministry of Labor Undersecretary of State Oum Mean said the ministry has advised the workers to submit a request to the Committee already.

The ministry cannot order a raise, he said, because the raise must come from individual factories.

The union should hold an urgent meeting with the Committee to resolve the problem, he said, instead of striking.

Cambodia has approximately 500,000 garment workers, he added, and about 30 unions.

High Court Hands Small Sum to Fired Leaders

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 24 (1.01MB) - Listen (MP3)

Two union leaders are to receive small monetary compensation for unlawful firing by a Kampong Speu province factory, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 8-year-old case of union leaders Lim Thida and Um Visal, fired from Cambodia Apparel Industry, was the first of its kind to reach the highest court, but the two leaders said after a hearing Monday the ruling could hurt the union structure within the factory.

The nine-judge panel of the court ordered $170 to Lim Thida and $150 Um Visal.

"The Supreme Court verdict has no justice and did not follow the labor law," Lim Thida said. "Because the dispute is not related to an individual or individual interests."

"If the Supreme Court does like this, it will destroy the union structure in the factory," she said.
The dispute stems from the firing of the two leaders by Cambodia Apparel Industry in 2000, in what workers say was a supression of the union. The firings of the Kampong Speu factory led to numerous strikes, demonstrations before the National Assembly, several clashes with police and at least three arrests.

"We are victims," Um Visal said Monday. "We need justice. We want the Supreme Court to provide justice to us, but the Supreme Court turned to provide us with regret, worry and concern about the effect to the trade union in the Cambodia Apparel Industry factory."

Pesticide Use Endangers Pailin, Officials Warn

By Kong Soth, VOA Khmer
Original report from Pailin
24 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 24 (1.38MB) - Listen (MP3)

Farmers in Pailin are using pesticides to help crop yields without understanding the harm they can cause, officials said.

The pesticides are not being used properly, and may be harmful to individuals and the environment, officials said.

Farmers in the border area said they were unclear about the instructions, which are written in Thai, but rely on vendor instructions to help kill weeds and pests.

"These pesticides to kill the weeds and insects and other species are Thai made," said Ie Saroeun, a vendor at Pa Phi market in Pailin. "We don't know how to use them properly. But they told us we have to mix one or two sardine cans to 20 liters of water."

Officials worry that improper pesticide use can be dangerous.

Yong Sam Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for the Study and Development in Agriculture, said pesticides can poison buffalo and cattle in the fields.

In the rainy season, pesticides can flow into rivers and into the lakes, where it can kill the fish and can poison humans over the long term, he said.

Some vendors said they sell more during the reason, though others said they sold pesticide in the dry season as well.

Of Pailin's more than 50,000 residents, about 90 percent are farmers, said Phan Pich, Pailin's director of agriculture.

They grow cassava, sesame, green beans, soy beans, peanuts and red corn, he said.

Some of the farmers don't use many pesticides, because the land is new, Phan Pich said. But at the same time, there some farmers who like to use pesticides to kill the grass and save a lot of time.

"We know this problem in Pailin, and we tried to educate and give training to the people at first," he said. "But the people were not so interested in the health impacts."

Farmer Ty Samaun said he he learned exactly what the impact was on his health.

"I once got poisoning, because I did not protect myself," he said. "It made me exhausted and want to vomit."

Still, farmers say they will continue to use pesticides.

Say Som, a farmer outside of town, said he was looking for a better brand of pesticide, but because he couldn't read the instructions, he has to rely on what the vendors tell him.
"If I kill all the weeds, the corn can grow faster," he said.

Council Defines Arms Licenses for Civilians

Original report from Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 21 (703KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree Friday allowing for the licensing of very limited arms and munitions by civilians.

Under the new sub-decree, civilians can apply for licenses of arms and munitions for sports, art, fireworks, and engineering.

The licensing follows the passage of the Cambodian Arms Law in April 2005 and the subsequent closure of several weapons reduction programs.

Article 4 of the Arms Law prohibits weapon possession, ownership and transport by civilians.

Two SRP Supporters Charged With Arson

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 March 2008

Khmer audio aired March 21 (769KB) - Listen (MP3)

Two Sam Rainsy Party activists have been charged by Battambang provincial court for arson, following a complaint from a Pailin resident, officials said Friday.

Im Lim, a resident of Bras village, O'Tawao commune, Pailin, filed suit in the Battambang provincial court, claiming two men, Tep Nom and Yean Sopheaktra, set fire to her house, according to a local human rights group and a court official who asked not to be named.

The official said the men were sent to Battambang court March 19, were they were charged.
Sam Rainsy Party officials said the arrests were a form of political persecution.

Pa Thea, deputy police chief of Pailin, said the dispute was between common people only and denied that any of the three involved belonged to a political party.

Sacravatoons : " A dog and his own words "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Cambodian Tribunal Seeks More Funding

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Officials from Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal traveled Monday to the United Nations in New York to request almost $114 million in additional funds for trying the Khmer Rouge's surviving leaders.

The tribunal told donor countries in January that an original budget of $56.3 million sharply underestimated costs and that it would need $170 million.

The long-delayed trials are expected to start this year, but many fear the Khmer Rouge's aging leaders could die before facing justice.

The Khmer Rouge is accused of responsibility for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during its 1975-1979 rule. So far, none of the regime's senior leaders has gone on trial.

The tribunal opened its offices in early 2006 after years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the U.N. Trials were originally projected to end by 2009, but are now expected to run through March 2011.

The funds currently allotted for the tribunal are projected to run out by the end of this year.

Five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders are under detention awaiting trial. They have been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The major donors to the tribunal are Japan, France, Germany, Britain and Australia.

Personal requiem: Asia's lost gems

Tourists gather atop one of the many shrines at Angkor Wat temple complex in this April 6, 2007 file photo in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourist seeking that one last great destination. ((AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File))

Tourists gather at Angkor Wat temple complex in this April 6, 2007 file photo in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourists seeking that one last great destination. ((AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File))
Tourist ride elephants at one of the main shrines at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in this March 1, 2007 file photo. Destinations once deemed to dangerous or remote for travelers such as Angkor Wat are now being overrun with tourist seeking that one last great destination. ((AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File))

By DENIS D. GRAY Associated Press Writer

EDITOR'S NOTE: As more of the world opens to tourism, some who treasured undiscovered places mourn what they have lost. This is one man's lament, from Bangkok Chief of Bureau Denis D. Gray, who has lived, worked and traveled in Asia for more than 30 years.

LUANG PRABANG, Laos (AP)—On a chilly pre-dawn in this wondrous and once-secluded place, scruffy European backpackers and well-heeled American tourists have staked out their firing positions.

A fusillade of flashing, jostling cameras and videocams is triggered the moment Buddhist monks pad barefoot out of their monasteries in a serene, timeless ritual. A forward surge breaks into the line of golden-yellow robes, and nearly tramples kneeling Lao women offering food to the monks.

Later that day, a prince of the former royal capital struggling to preserve his town's cultural legacy, protests: "For many tourists, coming to Luang Prabang is like going on safari, but our monks are not monkeys or buffaloes."

Nestled deep in a Mekong River valley, cut off from most of the world by the Vietnam War, Luang Prabang was very different when I first saw it in 1974. Fraying at the edges, yes, but still a magic fusion of traditional Lao dwellings, French colonial architecture and more than 30 graceful monasteries, some dating back to the 14th century. It wasn't a museum, but a cohesive, authentic, living community.

Fast forward to 2008: Many of the old families have departed, selling or leasing their homes to rich outsiders who have turned them into a guesthouses, Internet cafes and pizza parlors. There are fewer monks because the newcomers no longer support the monasteries. And the influx of tourists skyrockets, the fragile town of 25,000 now taking in some 300,000 of them a year. Throughout Laos, tourism was up an astounding 36.5 percent in 2007, compared to 2006, with more than 1.3 million visitors in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

Some time has passed since destinations on the major crossroads of Asia - Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and others - first took on this influx - even, ironically, as they bulldozed and skyscrapered over the very character, atmosphere and history which drew the visitors by the jumbo flight.

Now, it's the turn of places once isolated by conflicts, hostile regimes and "off-road" geography to which only the more intrepid travelers had earlier ventured. And as Asia's last little gems, one after another, succumb to tourism's withering impact, there are truly pangs in my heart - together with a dose of selfish jealousy as for a love one must now share with many.

"Siem Reap may be one of the few spots that still clings to the remnants of the old Cambodia, before the war, before the slaughter," I wrote in my diary in 1980, returning to this northwestern Cambodia town just months after the fall of the murderous Khmer Rouge.

The human toll had been terrible, but Siem Reap itself endured, its small, languid scale, the old French market, the artistic ambiance so befitting a community at the edge of Cambodia's greatest creations - the ancient temples of Angkor.

At Angkor Wat, an old penniless couple offered warm palm sugar juice from a bamboo cup as a few soldiers escorted me - the sole tourist - through the haunting chambers of the most magnificent temple of them all.

On a recent visit to Siem Reap, I encountered a frenzied, dust-blown work site. Multistory hotels with plate glass windows were springing up on the banks of the lazy Siem Reap River, into which raw sewage oozed from legions of guesthouses. The market had more bars per block than Las Vegas.

The spiritually traumatized at luxury retreats could now book one-on-one healing sessions with "life coaches" flown in from United States, and "Angkorean" stomach wraps of lotus leaf and warm rice.

Would-be warriors, down with temple fatigue, were throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles for $30 a burst at the Army Shooting Range. The Phokeethra Royal Angkor Golf and Spa Resort, which boasts an 11th century bridge between the 9th and 10th holes, had brought "the gentlemen's game to the Eighth Wonder of the World."

The 3.7-mile road from Siem Reap to that wonder, once a tranquil alley lined with towering trees, formed a troop of hotels and ugly, mall-like shopping centers - most of them in violation of zoning laws.

On my last evening, I thought a Grand Prix was being run. Young travelers were gathering for sundowner parties while buses delivered Chinese tourists to the grand causeway of Angkor Wat, wreathed by rising exhaust fumes.

Maybe the package groups and top-rung vacationists, with their high-maintenance demands, leave a bigger footprint than backpackers. But in Asia, backpackers have served as the industry's reconnaissance teams, penetrating rural hinterlands to colonize idyllic spots and pave the way for upmarket travelers. The banana pancake circuit it's called, after one of their requisite staples.

Take Pai, a village embedded in an expansive, mountain-encircled valley of northern Thailand. It used to be a great escape into an easygoing, exotic world, with tribal settlements scattered in the hills - until the global migratory tribe appeared in droves, dragging its own culture along.
Bamboo and thatch tourist huts hug the meandering Pai River as far as the eye can see, gobbling up rice paddies and clambering up hillsides on its left bank. On the right bank, high-priced resorts have begun to mushroom.

The short downtown strip is jammed with Apple Pai and nine other Internet cafes, video and tattoo parlors, bars, yoga and cooking classes, countless trinket shops and an eatery featuring bagels and cream cheese.

There's even an English-language newspaper, published by Joe Cummings, an author of those Bibles of shoestring travel, the Lonely Planet guides, which probably did more than anything to put Pai on the circuit. In a wicked daydream, I condemn Joe to eating nothing but banana pancakes and lugging a 500-pound backpack through all eternity.

Even those who make their living from tourism lament the growth. "It's too developed now. Too much concrete everywhere, too many guesthouses," says Watcharee Boonyathammaraksa, who, when I first met her in 1999 had just fled Bangkok's frantic advertising world to start a cafe, All About Coffee, in what is one of the only old wooden houses left in town.

Luang Prabang has done better in not tearing down its past. UNESCO has kept a close watch after declaring it a World Heritage site in 1995. The agency described the urban jewel as "the best preserved city of Southeast Asia."

Still, former UNESCO expert and resident, Francis Engelmann, says: "We have saved Luang Prabang's buildings, but we have lost its soul."

The traditional community is dissolving in tourism's wake, with those taking over the old residences interested in profits rather than supporting the monasteries, which exist largely on the offerings of the faithful.

One monastery, Engelmann says, has already closed down and abbots of others complain that tourists enter uninvited into their quarters to snap photos "right in their noses" while they study or meditate. The senior clergy report drugs, sex and minor crimes, once virtually unknown, among young novices as imported enticements and titillations swirl around their temple gates.

"Sustainable, ethical, eco-tourism." Tourist officials in Laos and elsewhere in Asia chant these fashionable mantras. But their operational plans push for "more, more, more." Nothing plunges the region's governments and marketers into a deeper funk than a drop in arrivals because of a tsunami or outbreak of bird flu.

In Luang Prabang, by official count, more than 160 guesthouses and hotels are already in business, with the Chinese and Koreans planning some really big ones for the wholesale trade.

Along the long block of Sisavangvong Road, at the old town's core, every building caters to the sightseers in one fashion or another. What a pleasure to finally discover one that doesn't, even if it's one housing the Luang Prabang Provincial Federation of Trade Unions.

A lean, old man, barefoot and clad only in a checkered blue sarong, would have been a common sight a few years ago. Now, as he shuffles across Sisavangvong, among the trekking boots and fancy parkas, he seems like a stranger in his own hometown.

Nearby, at the Cultural House Puang Champ, my friend Prince Nithakhong Tiaoksomsanith is hoping to somehow act as a conduit of authentic Lao culture between a globalizing generation and the passing one. His traditional wooden house, propped on stilts, serves as a center where old masters teach music, dancing, cooking, gold thread embroidery and other arts.

This, Nithakhong says, may help avert Luang Prabang's possible fate: "Disneyland."

So, on a late afternoon, four teenagers under the guidance of a musician who once performed in the royal palace, practice. On strings and percussion, they play "The Lao Full Moon," a mournful, romantic song.

But even this private compound is vulnerable. As the youngsters play, a tourist tries barging in. And who's that over the wall, craning their necks?

Redline's Redmax Products Tapped By Citylink For Wimax Network In Cambodia

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Redline Communications Group, a provider of standards-based WiMAX and broadband wireless infrastructure products, announced that CityLink, the largest Internet Service Provider in Cambodia, has chosen Redline's WiMAX Forum Certified RedMAX products for its multi-city WiMAX network.

CityLink has initiated its two-city, phased deployment in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh and is currently serving hundreds of business and residential subscribers.

CityLink allows its WiMAX subscribers to choose from a variety of service packages, including WiMAX@Night, WiMAX@Home and WiMAX Unlimited. The internet service provider plans to extend its RedMAX network to the tourist city of Siem Reap, serving thousands of subscribers in 2008, and to extend its network to an additional ten cities in 2009.

"To meet growing demand for broadband services throughout Cambodia, CityLink required a WiMAX solution that could support a high capacity of users while enabling us to deliver the service packages that meet our customers' needs," said Rotha Chhay, Chief Executive Officer, CityLink. "Redline's true open WiMAX system, with its ease of installation, enabled us to quickly and cost-effectively integrate RedMAX with our existing wired network and immediately offer WiMAX services to our subscribers."

The CityLink deployment is being managed by ECOMM Tech, a systems integrator and Redline Certified Silver Partner.

"Redline has helped carriers around the world to install and deploy reliable, profitable WiMAX networks to deliver the advanced services its customers need," said Kevin Suitor, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Redline Communications Group Inc. "There are now more than 150 deployments of our WiMAX Forum Certified RedMAX products worldwide, 49 of which are revenue-generating commercial networks. Working with ECOMM Tech, CityLink has planned a professional WiMAX network that we expect will generate a rapid return on investment."

Khmer Rouge court appeals for funds

The court process could collapse without the additional funding [AFP]

24 March 2008
By Agencies

Officials from the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try former members of the Cambodia's Khmer Rouge have travelled to New York to make an emergency appeal for millions of dollars to cover a funding shortfall.

The court says it needs $114m in additional funds, without which the much-delayed tribunal process faces collapse even before any actual trials begin. The original budget for the court was set at $56.3m, but operating costs have ballooned as the enormity of the job facing the tribunal and the resources required becomes apparent.

Officials from the court are due to be questioned on the budget request by donor countries meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday.

The extra funding would allow the court to add hundreds of new staff and remain in operation until 2011. Originally the court was expected to have ended operations in 2009.

The shortfall has become the most serious threat yet to the tribunal process, already battered by allegations of corruption and mismanagement amid fears of political interference.

Five former senior members of the Khmer Rouge are currently being held by the tribunal awaiting trials.

They are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge's four years in power in the 1970s when up to two million Cambodians died.

"It is hard to imagine that the court can continue to function without funds," tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis told the AFP news agency earlier this month.

The UN-supported half of the tribunal has funds to last for several months more, but would also need a significant injection of cash after that.

"As the time for expiration of existing funds draws nearer, the situation obviously becomes more acute," Jarvis said.

The tribunal process has been beset with delays with the first trials not expected to begin until later this year, almost three decades after the Khmer Rouge were forced from power.

Pol Pot, the former leader of the Khmer Rouge, died in a jungle hideout in 1997 and never faced trial.

Critics say they fear the few surviving Khmer Rouge may also die before ever being brought to trial.

Genocide tribunal in UN cash bid

Source: Edinburgh Evening News
Location: Scotland
24 March 2008

OFFICIALS from Cambodia's genocide tribunal have travelled to the United Nation's New York headquarters to request £62 million in additional funds for trying the Khmer Rouge's surviving leaders.

The tribunal informed countries in January it would need £85 million, a threefold rise from the originally budgeted £28 million.

A mother’s relief

CRAIG GIMA / Leam held her mother tight Jan. 17 after reuniting with her for the first time in a year at the Future Light Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Cambodian teen reunites with kin after medical work in Hawaii

A 15-year-old Cambodian girl's life was forever changed by the year she spent in Hawaii.
Sithan Leam walked for the first time after surgery and physical therapy last year at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu.

She suffered a severe burn as an infant, and when the wound healed, scar tissue fused her foot and calf to her thigh. Star-Bulletin readers helped raise money to bring Sithan to Honolulu for treatment.

She returned to Cambodia for an emotional reunion with her mother in the capital, Phnom Penh.
But instead of returning to her family and the rural village with no electricity or running water where she grew up, Sithan is starting on a long road to an education and a better life.

Reporter Craig Gima traveled to Sithan's village of Anglong Thor in 2006 to first tell her story, and he returned to Cambodia in January to cover Sithan's journey home.


CRAIG GIMA /Sithan Leam answered questions from a Cambodian television reporter Jan. 17 at Phnom Penh International Airport. A crowd gathered as she told her story.


By Craig Gima
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia » When Sithan Liem arrived in Cambodia after a 36-hour journey from Honolulu, the one person she wanted to see was not at the airport.

Her mother was still on her way, after leaving at dawn to travel two hours on a motor scooter over bumpy dirt roads from the family's home village of Anglong Thor to Kampong Thom, the provincial capital, and then a three-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh.

The 15-year-old girl was met instead by a Cambodian television crew, a Star-Bulletin reporter and Gunther Hintz, leader of the charity Medicorps, which brought Sithan to Honolulu for surgery that enabled her to walk for the first time.

A crowd gathered as Sithan answered questions from the news crew, recalling how she suffered a severe burn on her left leg when she was 5 months old; how scar tissue fused her foot to her thigh; how people raised money to bring her to Honolulu for surgery; and how it feels to be home after nearly a year.

When asked, Sithan showed the camera the prosthetic foot and knee brace that enable her to walk. Because her leg did not develop properly, her left leg is shorter than her right, and the brace supports her knee.

After leaving the airport, Sithan waited in a guest room at the Future Light Orphanage, a charity supported by the Sunrise Rotary Club of Honolulu. She picked at her lunch and watched Korean soap operas on television.

Even though Sithan had only about six hours of sleep during layovers in Japan and Bangkok, she was not ready for a nap.
JAMM AQUINO / Sithan had a moment of solitude at Honolulu Airport. She left Jan. 15 for her home in Cambodia accompanied by United Airlines flight attendant Deborah Quigley.

On the ride to the orphanage, Sithan's mother said she had a hard time sleeping the night before.

"I was so excited, hoping to see her," Tim Thea said though a translator, adding that she was thankful to the donors and doctors and "happy beyond words" to see her daughter again.

When Tim Thea stepped out of the van, Sithan was nowhere to be seen.

Then, a door opened and Sithan walked out of her room.

Tim Thea said the first thing she looked at was Sithan's legs; it was the first time she had ever seen her daughter walk.

There were tears in Tim Thea's eyes. Sithan smiled and held her mother tight.

"I told you, Sithan," said Deborah Quigley of Airline Ambassadors, a charity made up of airline employees that provided Sithan's flight home. Quigley accompanied Sithan to Cambodia and waited with her until her mother arrived. "I told you your mother would cry. Oh, my goodness."

Sithan made a face that quickly turned back into a smile as she refused to let her mother go.
CRAIG GIMA / Sithan helped with chores on Nov. 15, 2006, in her village rather than go to school. She suffered a severe leg burn as an infant, and when the wound healed, her foot and thigh were fused together.

On a bus the next day, Sithan and her mother left the congestion and new construction of Phnom Penh for the countryside.

Cattle grazed in rice fields brown and drying in the sun, and naked children played in canals shaded by sugar palm trees.

The passing tableau reminded Sithan of her village, a place where her father's family has worked the land for as long as anyone can remember; a place without electricity or running water. Until she came to Hawaii, it was the only life Sithan had known.

At a rest stop, a beggar with an amputated leg waited by the bus door with his hands out. Sithan stopped and gave him money. She also gave her mother and her uncle money before her uncle got off the bus in Kampong Thom to return to the family village. Sithan stayed on the bus, headed for the city of Siem Reap.

In Sithan's knapsack was a composition notebook with schoolwork. When asked whether she opened it during the bus ride, Sithan said no.

Before Sithan left Hawaii, Rinou Kong, her guardian in Honolulu, told her that money had been raised to help her with her education but that they were not giving it to her yet.

"If you go to school, you'll get the money," he said. "If you don't go to school, you're cut off."

In an interview, Sithan was asked, "Do you want to go to school?"

"Yes," she answered.

"Do you want to live in the city or in the country?"

"The city," Sithan answered.

"What do you want to do?"

At first, Sithan said she did not know, then she said perhaps office work.

But when asked if she would rather be a teacher in a village like the one she grew up in, Sithan's face brightened and she answered yes.

Becoming a teacher will take years of study for Sithan, who left the school in the second grade and cannot read or write.

Sok Oeuy, a Cambodian boy who was treated at Shriners in 2001, knows what Sithan is going through.

Oeuy returned to Cambodia at age 14, and is only now entering high school at age 20. He has learned some computer skills and was working part time at Medicorps. the charity that brought him and Sithan to Hawaii, to help pay for his education. He wants to continue to college and perhaps get a marketing degree.

"When I come back from Hawaii, I go to my village, and my village don't have the school. Just go to the farm. Go to feeding your cow and don't have study," Oeuy said.

During a visit, Oeuy told Sithan to stay in Siem Reap and keep working on her English and Khmer language skills.

"If you want to go back to the country, then there's no school, no practice English. It's easy to forget," he told her.
CRAIG GIMA / Sithan Leam practiced walking across a wooden bridge on Jan. 19 at Handicapped International, a charity in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that provided her with a new prosthesis and trained her to use it in her village.
Sithan has a long and difficult journey ahead of her, said Dr. Gunther Hintz, a former Honolulu plastic surgeon who founded Medicorps.

It will likely take two years before Sithan can read and write enough Khmer to go to high school, Hintz said. If she wants to get a college education and become a teacher, she will be in school until she is at least 25.

Medicorps is raising money to help pay for Sithan's room and board and her education. The charity will train Sithan in a trade, perhaps haircutting at first, so she can support herself. The Hawaii Cambodian community has also promised to pay for Sithan's schooling.

Medicorps, Hintz said, will try to impress upon Sithan that because she has benefited from other people's help, she needs to get an education and eventually give back to her community.
But not everyone makes it.

"Sometimes the smartest of them will go on the streets (to beg) because they will make more money than they ever could with an education," Hintz said.

Sithan could get married and have children, and that could also affect her schooling. Or she might decide she would rather return to her village and her family.

"I think physically for Sithan to go back to her village will not be all that difficult. However, mentally and emotionally it will be very much of a challenge," Hintz said, "because she now has experienced Western society and she has lived in a big-city environment in America for a year.

"So now, going back to the village where everything revolves around sunrise and sunset and the cows and the rice fields, it leaves her un-stimulated, and probably she will get very depressed after a period of time."

Sithan's mother said she wants her daughter to get an education.

None of her other children has had the opportunity to go to school, Tim Thea said. They are too poor, and school is too far away and too expensive, she said.

Sithan's older sister left the farm for a while last year to work in a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Tim Thea said. But the pay was too low and the cost of living in the city too high, so she returned home. Sithan will not be a garment worker, Tim Thea said.

Tim Thea says the family's hopes for a better life now lie on Sithan's tiny shoulders, on a girl that even her family once nicknamed "A Khvin," or "Cripple."

Asked whether she understood the responsibility she now faces, Sithan gave a shy smile, hid her face and did not know what to say.

CRAIG GIMA / Leam explains her story to reporters from the Phnom Penh Post after returning to Cambodia from Honolulu, where she underwent surgery at the Shriners Hospital for Children to enable her to walk for the first time.
Charity teaches Sithan to use prosthesis

Sithan Leam spent several weeks at Handicap International in Siem Reap, a city next to the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat.

The charity, originally founded to help land-mine victims, fitted Leam with a new foot prosthesis.

She was also able to practice how to use her new prosthesis in a village environment.

Handicapped International has equipment set up much like a playground, which simulates conditions in a rural village such as wooden suspension bridges, rocks and muddy fields.

Leam is still in Siem Reap, taking Khmer and English classes through Medicorps, the charity that brought her to Hawaii.
Her older sister Sithath has joined her in Siem Reap and is working at Medicorps as a housekeeper and also is taking English classes.

So far, Sithan has not gone back to visit her home village.