Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The U.S. donated 31 M35A2 GMC cargo trucks to the Royal Cambodia Arm Force (RCAF)

A Cambodian soldier tests one of the U.S. M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during a handing over ceremony at Cambodia air base June 2, 2008. The U.S. donated 31 M35A2 GMC cargo trucks to the Royal Cambodia Arm Force (RCAF). The U.S. foreign ministry financing program has pledged $413.000 to deliver a total of 60 cargo trucks ,said U.S embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia's soldiers stand in front of M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during the handing over at Cambodia Army Military Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, June 2, 2008. The United States on Monday delivered 31 used trucks to Cambodia, its first direct supply of military hardware there since Washington lifted an embargo three years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia's soldiers stand in front of M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during the handing over at Cambodia Army Military Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, June 2, 2008. The United States on Monday delivered 31 used trucks to Cambodia, its first direct supply of military hardware there since Washington lifted an embargo three years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian soldiers inspect U.S. M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during a handing over ceremony at Cambodia air base June 2, 2008. The U.S. donated 31 M35A2 GMC cargo trucks to the Royal Cambodia Arm Force (RCAF). The U.S. foreign ministry financing program has pledged $413.000 to deliver a total of 60 cargo trucks ,said U.S embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers look at U.S. M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during a handing over ceremony at Cambodia air base June 2, 2008. The U.S. donated 31 M35A2 GMC cargo trucks to the Royal Cambodia Arm Force (RCAF). The U.S. foreign ministry financing program has pledged $413.000 to deliver a total of 60 cargo trucks ,said U.S embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian soldiers stand in front of U.S. M35A2 GMC cargo trucks during a handing over ceremony at Cambodia air base June 2, 2008. The U.S. donated 31 M35A2 GMC cargo trucks to the Royal Cambodia Arm Force (RCAF). The U.S. foreign ministry financing program has pledged $413.000 to deliver a total of 60 cargo trucks ,said U.S embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

sacravatoons : " 59th Anniversary the loss of Kampuchea Krom "

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

sacravatoons : " A Baffalo and a Flute "

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

Sacravatoons : " Number 4 in Feng Shui "

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

Sacravatoons " The Confiscation's War "

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

Child Workers in Brick Factories: Causes and Consequences A Research Study

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As part of the campaign against the worst forms of child labor for the wellbeing of Cambodian children, LICADHO and World Vision Cambodia have commissioned the research team, led by Dr. Poch Bunnak, to conduct a study on children working in brick factories. The study was conducted in July 2007 to identify the causes and consequences of child labor in brick factories in Battambang and Sang Ke districts, the surrounding areas of Battambang provincial city.

Data were collected using interviewer-completed questionnaires from three main sources (132 child workers, 43 parents, and 15 brick factory owners or managers) from 26 brick factories. It is estimated that between 400 and 500 children work daily in these brick factories during the high labour-demand season.

Released in May 2008

Tracking McKinley, Part 2: 'Back to being Dan again'

Portrait of McKinley Nolan. Courtesy Dan Smith


Dan Smith, of Kelso, reflects on his search for McKinley Nolan. Roger Werth / The Daily News

Monday, June 2, 2008 8:40 AM PDT
By Tony Lystra
Part 2 of a two-part series

Click here to read Part 1

Dan Smith returned from Cambodia, charged and eager to report what he’d found to the group. The Vietnam veteran, who had initially wanted to track down a traitor and see him jailed, was now startled by what Cambodian villagers had told him: Nolan, they said, was a generous, selfless man who sacrificed himself to protect his friends from the Khmer Rouge.

Henry Corra, a New York filmmaker, decided to organize another Cambodia trip. This time, the entire team would go. Corra, journalist Richard Linnett, McKinley Nolan’s brother, Michael, and Smith spent part of March and April retracing Smith’s steps.

Smith lead the crew to the Cambodian village of Chamkar Cafe and introduced them to the people who’d said they’d known Nolan. Cham Sone, who said he had been Nolan’s friend, showed them where Khmer Rouge soldiers beat Nolan to death. He then took them to a nearby cashew tree, where, Cham Sone said, Nolan is buried in a shallow grave.

Standing beneath that tree, Michael Nolan said, was “joy and sadness.” After more than 40 years, with hardly a word from the U.S. government, here, finally, was some hint of his brother.

“I’m almost 60 years old, and I never had a feeling like it before in my life,” he said. “If he’s at the grave site, then we can start dealing with what happened in ‘67.”

Smith, Michael Nolan said last week, “helped us get to that point. That alone is worth everything in the world.”

Bringing a member of the Nolan family to the grave had left Smith in tears, Corra said. Leading up the trip, he said, Smith had been “very paranoid, anxious, troubled, someone who is just in pain.”

But now, he said, “It was just somebody who seemed at peace and was secure. He stopped crying.... That evening, when we sat down, he just looked over at me and said, ‘My job is done.’”

“He said, ‘I’ve been obsessed for the last two or three years and been a troubled man for my whole life, but now my work is done. I can get back to being Dan again,’ ” Corra recalled.

Asked about the his discussion that night with Corra, Smith said, “I can’t even explain it.” Getting Michael Nolan to the grave, he said, had been a form of vindication. People, he said, were finally seeing — and believing — the things he’d discovered.

Still, Smith said he had wanted to dig up Nolan’s alleged grave during the April trip. That, he said, could have ended the mystery right then.

“I felt like I was leaving McKinley behind again,” Smith recalled Friday. “I desperately wanted to bring him home.”

Michael Nolan and Corra, however, had wanted to make sure they had the Cambodian government’s permission to dig. “Michael was adamant about doing it on the up-and-up,” Smith said.

The group reported what they’d found to U.S. officials, Smith said, but as far as he knows nothing’s been done to recover Nolan’s remains. No one can be sure yet that Nolan’s body is beneath the cashew tree in Chamkar Cafe.

The official word

Major Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for JPAC, the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, said Wednesday that his agency believes Nolan is dead.

“Our indications are that McKinley Nolan is not alive,” DeSantis said. “We do have witnesses who say that he was executed.”

He said he did not know who killed Nolan or the manner in which he was executed. The agency, he said, is more interested in recovering soldiers’ remains than it is with the particulars of their deaths.

JPAC was in Cambodia investigating the Nolan case as recently as May, DeSantis said. But, he said, it has yet to find credible information that will lead investigators to Nolan’s grave site.

DeSantis said he had discussed the case with Smith and that he is familiar with the documentary film team. Asked if Smith’s information had been useful to JPAC, he said, “I wouldn’t say one way or the other that his efforts have been helpful or not helpful. ... I don’t know if he’s spoken to anybody that we haven’t already spoken to.”

But Smith said the agency has brushed him off. He said investigators told him JPAC “doesn’t go after bad guys, just good guys.”

“I told JPAC in Hawaii exactly where he was and nobody did anything,” Smith said.Asked if the agency is ignoring Smith, DeSantis said,

“I don’t know. I really don’t.”

‘Other people escaped that killin'

'But if Nolan is dead, who did Smith see in Tay Ninh in 2005?

Smith said he still isn’t sure. He suspects it’s another American deserter who has taken on Nolan’s identity.

“I truly believe that this man that I met was an American. I truly believe this guy was a deserter,” he said. “You just know you saw something. ... I’ve been chasing a ghost for two years.”

He also said the man looked to be in his 60s, which is about how old Nolan would be today.

Despite Smith’s discoveries, Michael Nolan said he wonders if his brother is still alive. His brother, he said, managed to survive in the jungle for years. None of the villagers witnessed his execution, Michael Nolan said, so he may have escaped.

“Knowing my brother, it could be possible,” he said. “Other people escaped that killin.’ ... I’m not fantasizing, but I still have to go with facts. ... My role is to make sure that I find the truth.”

Smith and Linnett, however, said they continue to believe Nolan met his end in Chamkar Cafe.

If Nolan were alive, Smith said, he’d still be in the village, growing old and raising his grandchildren with Cham Sone.

“Nolan, I truly believe, found his place in the sun,” Smith said. “If he was alive, I would have found him alive in that village.”

Corra said his film, tentatively titled “The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan,” will be released in late 2009 or early 2010. Actor Danny Glover has signed on to produce it, he said.

The plan, he said, is to keep filming until Nolan’s mystery is solved. This summer, he said, the team will try to dislodge Nolan’s files from government archives. They’ll also try to get into Vietnam to interview anyone who may have known Nolan.

“We’re just not going to give up until we start to get some hard answers, where we find his bones and some DNA evidence that he was killed.”

“Or,” Cora continued, “we find — and it’s a long shot — that this man that Dan saw in Tay Ninh might be McKinley. McKinley is a real survivor.”

Michael Nolan said he wants to go back to the cashew tree and exhume his brother’s remains, if they are in fact there. He said he has also been talking with lawyers in Cambodia involved with the prosecution of former Khmer Rouge officials. He may testify before a tribunal there in the fall.

This week, the prospects of recovering Nolan’s body seemed to be dimming. And Smith, who has sometimes sworn off the hunt, was once again drawn into its midst. He said he’d recently received a call from his interpreter in Cambodia saying the tree marking Nolan’s grave had been cut down and that the field may be cultivated.

Another call, again from his interpreter, came Wednesday, he said. Four Cambodian policemen, Smith was told, had been threatening Nolan’s old friend Cham Sone and asking where Nolan is buried. Smith suspects they’re “bone hunters” plotting to sell the remains to the U.S. government.

Cham Sone, he said, gave the men bad information. But Smith said he’s worried the black marketeers will return and harm his friend when the information proves false. Smith said he also worries Nolan’s remains may be destroyed or moved before the Nolan family can recover them.

“Now we’re scrambling, trying to get a hold of someone from the Cambodian government to somehow intercede,” Smith said. “Somebody’s got to get back there, and it may be me.”

Mekong artists float to capital

But what does it mean? Lady in Colour by Viengsay Phousana from Laos (left) is one of over 30 contemporary works by 20 artists from the Greater Mekong sub-region are display at the Viet Art Centre, Yet Kieu Street, Hanoi.

03/06/2008

Artists from four different countries gather with an 'underlying' theme

An exhibition of 32 contemporary works by 20 artists from the Greater Mekong sub-region - Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand - has opened in Hanoi.

The exhibition, with the theme Underlying, has artworks in different genres; such as oil on canvas, mixed media, video installation, ceramic art installation, photographs and painting on polywood.

It is being held under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation and is based on an idea by four curators, Le Ngoc Thanh from Vietnam, Penwadee Nophaket Manont from Thailand, Misouda Heuangsoukhoun from Laos and Vollak Kong from Cambodia.

A Mekong Art and Culture Project, it aims to provide an understanding of the four nations through art, according to the art director, Chattiya Nitpolprasert from Thailand.

"It is hoped that through the exhibition, the artists' critical viewpoints can be found beneath the surface of their art," said Chattiya.

Dean of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art at Silpakorn University in Thailand Panya Vijinthanasarn, attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

"Art and culture are a vital tool for bringing us back to our roots and letting common humanity override the differences of development," he said.

"The works demonstrate that art and culture can be used to reconnect and create dialogue between communities in the Mekong sub-region."

A Belgian visitor, Damilia Janssen, was passionate when watching a video installation titled Unknown Women by Nguyen Quang Huy.

"The artist is so sensitive," said Damilia. "He captures ordinary mothers hard at work. Their efforts are strenuous, but it's all for their children and their families - as it is for women throughout the world."

Introducing his work, Huy said that he was honouring "women, whose names and circumstances I do not know, but whose energy and creativity I have absorbed. I give them my gratitude."

Damilia felt that the geographical proximity of the four nations was reflected in the exhibition.

The exhibition provides a message of peace and friendship. Painter Bancha Suriyaburaphakul expressed his hopes through an acrylic on canvas titled Love and Peace, while Cambodian artist Seckon Leang has two works titled The World and Peace.

"When life has no borders, the possibility of shaping life is endless," he said. "In my view, the Mekong River is not a border. Living by it, I have developed a borderless perspective that creates endless possibilities shaping my way of life."

The exhibition, which has also appeared in the home countries of the other three contributing artists, is being held at the Viet Art Centre, Yet Kieu Street, Hanoi, until Friday.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

Small Loans, Big Results

June 2, 2008
by Tamara Schweitzer

Thanks to a microloan from half a world away, a Cambodian rice winemaker named Phal An is ready to expand her growing business.

On the day that Phal An is interviewed about her business, her modest home in the village of Damnak Sankae, Cambodia, is crowded with excited family members. Phal An is a rice winemaker in her late 50s -- and one of thousands of entrepreneurs listed on Kiva.org, a website that facilitates microloans to entrepreneurs in developing nations all over the world.

This past December, Inc.com embarked on an editorial project to cover the rapidly growing phenomenon of microfinance. As a staff, we contributed a modest sum and became lenders on Kiva.org, sponsoring a diverse group of entrepreneurs that includes Phal An, as well as business owners located in Peru, Ecuador, Uganda, Tanzania, and Tajikistan. Updates on these entrepreneurs and their businesses and how they are using their loans are being posted frequently on a new Inc.com blog called "The Kiva Connection."

The following Q&A with Phal An (pronounced Paul Anne) was conducted with the help of Jessica Young, a Kiva fellow in Cambodia, and with Ponnak Kiry Pa, who is Phal An's loan officer in Cambodia. Young has been working on the ground in Cambodia for several months to help bridge the gap between Maxima, the microfinance institution that disbursed the loan to Phal An, and Kiva borrowers in the region.

The interview questions for Phal An were sent via e-mail to Young, who along with loan officer Kiry, visited Phal An at her home in late March. Young posed the interview questions to Kiry in English, who in turn translated the questions into Khmer, Phal An's native language. When translated Phal An's answers back to English for Young to record, he referred to Phal An in the third person, acting in effect as the narrator for Phal An's story.

The interview took place at a central gathering place for the family -- a table used for cooking, eating, and sleeping. In an open, covered space in the back of the home, Phal An has her winemaking equipment set up. It is common for Cambodian entrepreneurs who live in the countryside to operate their businesses out of their homes, because it requires less start-up capital and travel expenses are reduced. In addition, family members often contribute heavily to the business and female entrepreneurs are able to stay home and care for the household while working.

Here's her story:How long has Phal An been making rice wine?

She has been making rice wine for four years, and all of her siblings do as well. During the Pol Pot regime [1975-1979], her family went to Thailand and stayed at a U.N. camp. While there, her younger brothers learned how to make rice wine and have since taught her.

Phal An received a $700 loan funded through Kiva. What is she using the money for?

Phal An has 10 middlemen in her village who rely on her production. Often, she can’t produce enough to meet the demand of all 10, so she borrowed money to buy more rice in bulk. She also used the funds to purchase rice wine from her brothers. They have only one middleman in their region, so she buys their surplus and resells it to her middlemen.

Who are her primary customers?

She sells to local middlemen who then sell her wine to small pubs in the countryside.

Does Phal An have any local competition?

There are five to six other producers in her village, Damnak Sankae. It’s a large village with a population around 3,500, so the rice winemakers aren’t heavily concentrated.

How long does it take to produce the final rice wine product?

The entire process takes six days and four hours.

Can Phal An describe the process?

The longest step is the preparation. For six days, a mixture of rice, water, and a chemical called Tam Bae soak in a bucket. Then, the combination is transferred to a boiler -- the first main piece of equipment. The tin boiler is sealed air tight, with only two exits (one serving as a chimney through the roof of the house, and the other as a pipe to transfer the liquid as it evaporates). A fire is lit with hay underneath the tin container, and rice husks are shoveled inside to fuel the fire. For two hours, the mixture must boil.

As it evaporates, the steam travels through the pipe to the second piece of equipment -- a clay storage container -- where it condenses. (The rice is thus left in the tin boiler, and the wine is transferred to the clay container.) This process takes an additional two hours. Tubing attachments let the wine drain from the large container into smaller jars, and from one evaporation cycle 60 liters of wine will be produced.

How much wine can she make in a day?

Ninety liters.

What is her daily income?

This is complicated, as her rice wine sales (135,000 riel/day or $33.75/day) only cover the cost of the wine production. Her family income is generated as a result of using a byproduct of the wine (the enhanced rice) as pig feed. The family owns and raises several pigs in addition to their rice wine business. Once the rice and wine separate, the leftover rice is combined with factory-produced pig feed. The combination helps their pigs grow faster so they will yield a better market price.

It takes four months to raise the pigs, and Phal An sells them three times a year at 12,000 riel ($3) per kilo. Usually, she can sell between seven and eight pigs to earn $1,680-$2,160 every four months. After covering the $50 start-up cost per pig, the family business makes roughly $400 per month.

Do her husband and other family members help with the business?

Yes, her husband and one of her sons help. They all share the same responsibilities so that if one is absent, production can continue. Often Phal An oversees production alone while her husband and son gather firewood.

What is her biggest challenge in running the business?

The biggest challenge is being able to maintain a profit relative to her increasing costs. The price of rice keeps increasing and the middlemen’s purchasing price for wine isn’t rising at a comparable rate. The other difficulty she faces is that occasionally, her pigs will die before she is able to sell them. Because this is where her family income is generated, the health of the pigs is critical to the family’s livelihood.

What has the experience of receiving a loan through Kiva been like for Phal An?

She has greatly benefited from Maxima’s services and its door-to-door policy. Maxima's home visits have saved her from spending time and money traveling to Phnom Penh. It would take 10,000 riel ($2.50) and two hours for her to make the trip. More importantly, she feels safe knowing her loans are disbursed at home and she won't have to travel carrying such a large sum.

The loan funded through Kiva has also had a considerable impact on her operations. Before the loan, she had to buy and transport rice every other day. Now, buying in bulk, she gets a better price and has cut transactions back to one purchase per month. She now has the capacity for increased production and is able to meet her customers’ demand. Her production since the loan has tripled from 30 liters per day to 90 liters per day. Using the new sales, she’s purchasing more rice to maintain the higher production level. She now makes more pig feed than she can use, and has generated a side business of selling the excess feed to her neighbors.

Our killing fields

Jamaica Observer
By Rev Dr Raulston Nembhard
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The "killing fields" was a description given to sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were massacred and buried under the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime of the infamous dictator Pol Pot. His carnage of ethnic cleansing prevailed between 1975 and 1979 until his regime was overthrown by the Vietnamese and the country liberated. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were slaughtered and another 1.4 million to two million died from disease and starvation.

It is true that our carnage of crime does not resemble that which prevailed in Cambodia. It is also true that we do not have a dictator of the nature of a Pol Pot systematically decimating areas of the population in a policy of genocide. It is true that mass graves are not turning up in several parishes throughout our beloved country. But it is true that the fear quotient is rising as a result of the murder wave in Jamaica; that as the purported murder capital of the world, people are beginning to see that Jamaica has become a killing field, where people are murdered and beheaded at will and where the security forces seem impotent to arrest the bloodletting which now seems to be fast becoming a cultural phenomenon.

On Labour Day two policemen were killed by gunmen. Since then a prominent citizen, Rev Dr George Simpson, a lance corporal in the army, and other citizens, including two teenage girls while having their dinner, have been maimed or killed at the hands of gunmen. After the two policemen were killed in Trench Town, placard-bearing protesters comprising mainly women and children came out in support of the police. Even here one has to be careful of how one interprets the protest, for it has been suggested that the citizens did not protest because they had a visceral concern for the police, but did so in fear of reprisal from them for the killing of their colleagues. It is interesting that the men in the community were missing from the protest. It is suggested that they urged on the protesters and even assisted in making the placards. But why did they not participate in the protest?

This may be a cynical view, but hardly far-fetched when one considers how the police has operated in these inner-city communities. Under the infamous Suppression of Crime Act, which was hugged by both the PNP and JLP at different times, the police operated with impunity, kicking down doors in their search for criminals, and otherwise antagonising citizens in a blatant disrespect for their human rights. I know that the police do not like to hear this. But it is true to say that one sad legacy of the Suppression of Crime legislation is the kind of distrust that inner-city communities have for the police. They do not see them as people with whom they can work or collaborate in the fight against crime.

This is unfortunate because crime cannot be fought effectively in Jamaica until we confront without equivocation the problems presented in fighting crime by the inner-city phenomenon. No further study has to be done to ascertain that the inner-city areas, many of which now boast entrenched garrisons, are the natural habitats of hardened criminals. Criminals kill with impunity because they know that the odds of their being caught is minimal, and they can retreat to their sanctuaries in the inner city content in the feeling that tomorrow they can go back out and continue with their dastardly deeds.

So the police, and the government by extension, need the support of inner-city dwellers. Many of these are law-abiding citizens and want to live a decent life without fear. But they are made to be fearful, first by the police that they have grown to distrust legitimately, and second by the dons who now control particular enclaves in these communities and demand unswerving loyalty from these residents. How you dismantle these enclaves and return a sense of law and order to these areas is not going to be easy. But it can be done, and it has to be done as a matter of political will and determination.

When we talk about massive social intervention in these areas what we are addressing is a multifaceted approach to the development of human social capital. These environments in which people live have to be thoroughly transformed. The zinc fences and board houses have to go; the sewer running in the streets have to be dealt with. People are not inspired to cooperate with government in the fight against crime where they have to live in filth and squalor and where they are bereft of any modicum of decent living or any sense of human dignity.

The problem of inner-city development has to be approached on a systematic basis with housing and job creation being the hallmarks of any such developmental thrust. People must be made to feel that they matter, that they are stakeholders in the development of their communities. Government, with the support of the private sector and all well-thinking Jamaicans, will have to resolve to take these communities back, one by one. As these communities are recovered, the gates must be closed to the criminals.

In the meantime, the police are restive, for a number of reasons. Not least among these is the disquiet over the appointment of Rear Admiral Lewin as commissioner of police. It is no secret that murders have escalated under the leadership of Commissioner Lewin. The reason for this might be purely coincidental and is certainly not an occasion for rejoicing, but for sober reflection and humility.

While the commissioner must root out corruption from the force, he must recognise that he needs the loyalty and support of the men under his command. They will not give him the unswerving loyalty that he enjoyed as head of the army. They will question his motives and challenge his arguments for such is the psychology of democracy that distinguishes a police force from the army. In the words of Roosevelt, he must speak softly while carrying a big stick. Enough said.

Cambodian relief

Cambodian relief
Master Sgt. Tracy Lewis (left) hands off a box of medical supplies to Cambodian Lt. Col. Mark Sophai May 24 at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. Multinational medical teams distributed the supplies to forward-operating locations for Operation Pacific Angel. The operation is a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. Sergeant Lews is assigned to the from Pacific Air Forces International Heath Alliance, and Colonel Sophai is a doctor with the Royal Cambodian armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)
Cambodian relief
Master Sgt. Tracy Lewis (left) hands off a box of medical supplies to Cambodian Lt. Col. Mark Sophai May 24 at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. Multinational medical teams distributed the supplies to forward-operating locations for Operation Pacific Angel. The operation is a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. Sergeant Lews is assigned to the from Pacific Air Forces International Heath Alliance, and Colonel Sophai is a doctor with the Royal Cambodian armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

Cambodian relief
Master Sgt. Tracy Lewis (left) hands off a box of medical supplies to Cambodian Lt. Col. Mark Sophai May 24 at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. Multinational medical teams distributed the supplies to forward-operating locations for Operation Pacific Angel. The operation is a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. Sergeant Lews is assigned to the from Pacific Air Forces International Heath Alliance, and Colonel Sophai is a doctor with the Royal Cambodian armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

Cambodian relief
Master Sgt. Tracy Lewis (left) hands off a box of medical supplies to Cambodian Lt. Col. Mark Sophai May 24 at Kampong Chhnang Province Airfield, Cambodia. Multinational medical teams distributed the supplies to forward-operating locations for Operation Pacific Angel. The operation is a joint/combined humanitarian assistance operation in support of capacity-building efforts. Participating services include the active duty, Reserve and National Guard components of the Air Force, Army, Royal Thai air force, and Royal Cambodian armed forces. Sergeant Lews is assigned to the from Pacific Air Forces International Heath Alliance, and Colonel Sophai is a doctor with the Royal Cambodian armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

A Look at Cambodia’s Minor Parties

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio & Nguon Sovan
Friday, 30 May 2008

Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party
Founded: May 2002
President: Hang Dara
, 56. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, Dara joined the royalist opposition to the Vietnamese military occupation of Cambodia and was imprisoned in 1988 at Phnom Penh’s T3 prison for his political activism. Between 1993 and 2002 Dara was active in Funcinpec, before entering the Buddhist sangha after the 2003 national elections.Platform: Support the royalist regime; resettle illegal immigrants; settle border disputes to regain Khmer territory; smash tyrants and corrupt officials; improve Khmer living conditions through extensive access to health and education; eliminate corruption via the adoption of an anti-graft law; promote local produce; and establish inter-ministries to manage oil and gas deposits transparently.

Candidates: 123, in all 24 cities and provinces
Seats expected: 10 to 15

Society of Justice Party
Founded: August 2006
President: Ban Sophal, 51. Served for Funcinpec as the deputy governor of Battambang province in 1993-95 and as undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Cults and Religion in 1997-98. From 1999 to 2004, he was an advisor to assassinated union leader Chea Vichea and is currently an advisor to the Ministry of Interior.

Platform: Promptly amend the Constitutional law to restrict an individual to two terms as prime minister; ensure that political parties cannot arbitrarily dismiss lawmakers; ensure that the courts are independent of any political control; support the royalist regime; resettle illegal immigrants; settle border disputes to regain Khmer territory; eliminate corruption without waiting for the anti-graft law; reduce the inflation rate and manage oil and gas transparently by encouraging Cambodian students to study in countries which are experienced in oil resource management.
Candidates: 46, in Battambang, Kampong Thom, Banteay Meanchey, Phnom Penh, Pursat, Siem Reap, and Kampong Chhnang
Seats Expected: At least one seat in Battambang

League for Democracy Party
Founded: March 2006
President: Khem Veasna
, 37. Veasna joined the SRP in 1997 and was an SRP lawmaker in Prey Veng province from 2003 to 2005.

Platform: Defend Cambodia’s independence, sovereignty, and territory integrity; create laws and mechanisms to fight corruption; take action against illegal land grabbing; increase salaries of civil servants and soldiers; adjust the school curriculum by adding elements of moral education and national conscience; focus on the development of border and rural areas; crack down on crime and reform the judiciary; limit the prime minister to two terms, and prevent him from creating a personal bodyguard unit and living in a residence provided by the state.

Candidates: 123, in all 24 cities and provinces
Seats expected: At least one seat

Khmer Anti-Poverty Party
Founded: September 2007
President: Daran Kravanh
, 51. Born in Pursat province, Kravanh received a degree in anthropology and sociology from Evergreen State College in the US in 1988. After graduating, he worked extensively with widows, orphans, the homeless and the disabled in Tacoma, Washington State.

Platform: The party aims to reduce poverty, protect land titles, fight corruption, increase the salary of the civil service and armed forces and to eliminate deforestation and the depletion of the Kingdom’s natural resources. It also pledges to defend Cambodia’s territorial integrity from the power of any foreign country or tyrant leader, and to create four new ministries: of Anti-Corruption, Job Seeking, Disabled People, and Welfare and Social Work.

Candidates: 120, in all 24 cities and provinces
Seats expected: 41 seats

Khmer Democratic Party
Founded: March 1998
President: Uk Phourik
, 63. A former professor of chemistry, Phourik was a founder and deputy president of the KDP from1970 to 1998. Since 1997, he has been an advisor to the government with the rank of minister, a member of the Council of Lawyers at the Council of Ministers, a practicing lawyer and a member of the Bar Association of Cambodia. He is also legal advisor to the supreme patriarch Buo Kry, head of the Buddhist Thommayut sect.

Platform: Comply with the Constitutional law and promote the rule of law; promote respect for democracy and human rights; promote market economic policies and gain the support of national and international financial institutions; promote human resource development, employment and salary increases; fight corruption; eliminate anarchy, terror, thievery, drug and human trafficking and forest crimes; and preserve Cambodia’s cultural heritage and social morality.

Candidates: 123, in all 24 cities and provinces.
Seats expected: Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Kandal

Khmer Republican Party
Founded: March 2005
President: Lon Rith,
46. The eldest son of General Lon Nol, who ruled Cambodia from 1970-1975, Rith has no prior involvement in Cambodian politics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Fullerton University, California, and is the chairman of the Association of Cambodia-born Americans in Long Beach, California.

Platform: National unification for national independence; reconstruction of the nation; defense of Cambodia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; increases in living standards.

Candidates: 73, in nine provinces: Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom.
Seats expected: At least one

US gives trucks to Cambodia after renewing military ties

Soldiers with military trucks
PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The United States on Monday gave 31 used trucks to Cambodia in its first direct supply of military hardware in more than a decade, saying ties between the two countries were improving.

The GMC cargo trucks were the first delivery in a group of 60 the US military has agreed to give to the Southeast Asian nation. They were handed over at a brief ceremony at the kingdom's air base.

After years in the diplomatic wilderness, Cambodia's star is on the rise with the United States.

In particular, military ties to the country, largely snapped after Prime Minister Hun Sen ousted his then-political counterpart in a 1997 coup, were re-established two years ago with the promise of limited military aid.

Since then, at least three senior US military commanders have visited Cambodia, and in February last year the USS Gary became the first US warship to visit the former communist country in more than 30 years.

"The military-to-military relationship between the US and Cambodia is definitely on an improving track," said US embassy charge d'affaires Piper Campbell.

Cambodia has in recent years become a stronger focus for both Washington and Beijing.

China, a former patron of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, continues to eclipse the impoverished country's other donors with hundreds of millions of dollars in largely unconditional aid and a number of naval patrol boats.

"There is enough room for the US to work with Cambodia and China to work with Cambodia," Campbell said.

General Meoung Samphan, secretary of state at the defence ministry, welcomed the US trucks, saying it would help to reduce Cambodian spending on military equipment.

Atrocities seen in Cambodia inspire man's new movie

Columbus Local News
By DONAVON CAMPBELL
Monday, June 2, 2008

Guy Jacobson needed to clear his head.An investment banker, attorney, writer and owner of his own film company, Priority Films, Jacobson was backpacking in Cambodia in early 2002 in an effort to stir, or perhaps settle, the creative juices.

It was while he was walking along a Cambodian street that he was accosted by a group of young girls.

What happened to him then was much more than a case of culture shock. The girls -- ranging in age from 5 to 7 years old -- were prostitutes.

The event shook Jacobson. He said he knew he had to do something.

The film, Holly, which Jacobson wrote and produced in response to his experience, opens Friday, June 6 at the Drexel Theater in Grandview.

Jacobson himself will be coming to the theater to take part in a question and answer session with the public for the evening showing on Saturday, June 7.

Holly is essentially a love story under extreme circumstances, Jacobson said.

"The movie itself is an impossible love story," said Jacobson. "Two characters from different places and times trying to save each other."

Holly, the title character played by Thuy Nguyen, is a 12-year-old Cambodian girl who has been sold into prostitution by her family.

Ron Livingston plays Patrick, an American card shark and dealer of stolen artifacts who has found a home in the amoral soup of the Cambodian street life.

The pair cross paths, changing Patrick's life. When Holly is sold to a child trafficker for the value of her virginity, Patrick is left with no other recourse than follow the trail in hope of finding her again.

The film was shot in the dangerous and sorted locations of the red light district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The decision to film in the very brothels and areas in which these atrocities actually occur provided authenticity to the film, but, as Jacobson himself said, put the cast and crew in very real danger.

Just three days after arriving on location, they received a distressing call from Interpol, Jacobson said.

"They said, 'You guys are insane'," said Jacobson. "You are in the most dangerous place in the world for shooting this film. You're going to die. Get the hell out of there."

Jacobson said they had to hire some 40 bodyguards and equip them with automatic machine guns to protect the cast and crew during filming.

"We were at war to make this movie," said Jacobson. "It's probably the stupidest thing I've ever done."

Nevertheless the film was completed and flown out on a private plane for fear of its theft.

But why so much trouble to make a film?

It was the subject matter, said Jacobson.

"I wanted to find out what is really happening, what is really going on," he said.

"Because (child trafficking for prostitution) is not one specific age group or one specific country, people haven't been paying attention. I wanted to explore this in depth from the victim's point of view," Jacobson said.

Jacobson is coming to speak about the film both for the movie itself but also for a new campaign he founded called the Red Light Children Campaign.

With the help of corporate sponsor Lexis Nexis, Jacobson is doing his best to help fulfill his campaign's mission statement of exposing, fighting and ending the global sex trade.

"We have an opportunity during which we can engage the public and the press in conversation and bring the issue to light in the community," said Jacobson.

For more information on the campaign or Holly go to redlightchildren.org.

For more information, ticket prices and showtimes at Drexel Theater in Grandview go to drexel.net or call 614-486-6114."We were at war to make this movie."--Guy Jacobson

Real Estate Boom in Cambodia's Capital

Construction is now under way on Gold Tower 42, the Korean-funded project that upon its completion will be the first skyscraper in Cambodia.

A decade ago, Phnom Penh didn't even have a traffic light. Now, high-rise condos and offices are in development and land speculators are raking in profits

BusinessWeek
Global June 2, 2008
by Susan Postlewaite

At a construction site in the middle of the city, a yellow backhoe levels rubble left from the previous building, an old hospital, while dozens of workmen in hard hats and rubber boots scrape away at the dirt. Nothing that noteworthy about this scene—until you consider the location: the intersection of Monivong and Sihanouk Boulevards, in downtown Phnom Penh.

After spending most of the past three decades struggling to recover from the legacy of the Khmer Rouge's genocidal rule, Cambodia is in the midst of a real estate boom. If all goes as planned, the dirt at Monivong and Sihanouk will soon sprout the country's first skyscraper, a 42-story residential building funded by money from South Korea. A few kilometers away, near the river, workers are clearing a lot for another skyscraper, also Korean and even bigger, with 52 stories.

A decade ago, Phnom Penh lacked even a single traffic light. Today, as land speculators rake in profits and new developments lure tenants, the dilapidated capital, which until recently was dotted with dangling electric wires and garbage-strewn lots, is getting a makeover. All over the city, shanty towns and old villas are being sold for land value and razed to make way for high-rise apartments, office buildings, shopping malls, and new villas.

Other parts of the country are seeing development, too. Developers are targeting Siem Reap (BusinessWeek.com, 4/21/08), near the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, for new hotels.

Does Cambodia Need Skyscrapers?

The Phnom Penh skyscrapers, which will be more than three times higher than the tallest existing building in Cambodia, are the most dazzling projects. And the most controversial. The developer of the $240 million Gold Tower 42, Yonwoo Co., expects construction to take three and a half years to complete. Already, says Teng Rithy, sales manager for Gold Tower 42, "high-ranking Cambodians and some foreigners from other Asian countries" are plunking down deposits. "We are 80% sold out," he boasts.

Not everyone is convinced the skyscrapers make sense. Many lawyers, bankers, and real estate brokers in the Cambodian capital are wondering whether the skyscrapers will really go up and whether there is demand for new construction. So far, new buildings are not having trouble leasing, since the city suffers from a shortage of modern office space. Tenants like the World Bank lease space in rabbit-warren-like villas with odd hallways leading in all directions.
But residential skyscrapers are a new concept in a country that not too long ago was still giving away property, not trying to market a 40th-floor condo for $1.6 million. "I feel it's a little bit early for that," says Sung Bonna, head of Bonna Realty, one of the leading real estate firms in Cambodia. "They said it's going to be a success. But I don't know. If it doesn't happen, it is not good for us."

Bonna says the whole idea of a real estate market in Cambodia is so new that no one can predict how it will turn. "We used to share property, not sell it. After the Pol Pot regime, however many properties you want, you can take all of them." He says there is a need for more modern restaurants, office buildings, and commercial centers, but the supply and demand for residential properties is in balance.

Korean Connection

For now, though, there are promising signs. Prime Minister Hun Sen—whose government at one point or another signs off on the big development deals—likes the skyscrapers and he wants more of them, according to his aide, Sry Thamarong. And land prices are hot. A traditional shop house—4 meters wide by 18 meters deep and going up four to five floors—along the river that sold in 2006 for $300,000 is now going for $600,000 to $700,000. But this is still much cheaper than Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, the real estate agents say.

Since Cambodia is still a very poor country that has never seen so much investment capital flying around, the trend is unnerving some observers. "Where is the money coming from? Cash coming out from under the mattresses, cash coming from overseas," says John Brisden, vice-chairman of Acleda Bank, the largest bank in Cambodia. He calls the real estate boom "very unusual" because much of it is not being financed by bank loans. Are there signs that the boom may be running its course? Brisden doesn't see a sudden popping of the bubble. Instead, he says, "people envision a slowdown. The scenario is a lot of empty high-rise properties but no forced sales."

Most of the big new projects are coming from Korea. Financing the Gold Tower 42 skyscraper is Korea's DaeHan Real Estate Investment Trust. Yonwoo is the developer. A director at Yonwoo in Seoul, who asked not to be named, says his company began exploring real estate development opportunities in emerging economies three years ago, when Korea's domestic construction market began cooling. "In view of a number of wealthy Cambodians and a growing number of foreign investors arriving in Cambodia, we are confident Gold Tower 42 will be a success," the director says. Phnom Penh-based salesman Rithy says there are "high-ranking Cambodians" involved in the project, but he won't say who.

Investors Face Legal Hurdles

The 52-story skyscraper announced in January is a project of Korea's GS Engineering & Construction. The Seoul company plans to start construction in June and finish in 2012. A 34-story project near the Russian embassy will have serviced residences for 280 households and several floors of apartment blocks on top, as well as shopping and an international school, according to GS spokesman Choi Byoung Geun. "Cambodia really needs this kind of Class A facility," says the business development chief in Cambodia, Mu-Hion Woo, who figures by the time the $1.2 billion project is built, the demand will be there.

A Korean developer is also behind Camko City, a new suburb northwest of Phnom Penh with a $2 billion price tag that is in the early stages of development. World City, the property developer, began construction last June and is scheduled to complete the first phase by November, 2009, according to Korean contractor Hanil Engineering & Construction, the Seoul-based company that is also the contractor for Gold Tower 42.

There are some legal hurdles for potential investors to overcome. For instance, foreigners are not allowed to own real estate outright in Cambodia. But there are plenty of ways to get around the law. Foreign investors can set up a joint venture with Cambodian partners, use long-term leases, or put the land in the name of Cambodian partners. There's even the possibility of becoming Cambodian. "With an investment of a certain size, you can get citizenship. It's a contribution to the country," says Matthew Rendall, a lawyer with Sciaroni & Associates, a law firm in Phnom Penh.

Evictions in the Name of Development

National Assembly lawmaker Sam Rainsy, a former Finance Minister and leader of the largest opposition party, calls many of the real estate deals "shady." He argues that Cambodia is awash in illegal cash plundered from the sale of national assets, including illegal logging and the sale of public lands, where land titles are easily changed and the sales revenues never get accounted for in the state budget.

And there has been a social cost to all the new development. The scramble for prime land has led to widespread evictions of people without clear land titles to the properties. A report by human-rights group Adhoc in Phnom Penh says in 2006 and 2007 more than 50,000 people were evicted for development. Chan Soveth, program officer at Adhoc, says he expects 4,252 families in Phnom Penh to be evicted from villages surrounding Boeng Kak, a lake in the city where a developer wants to build a new township that will have condos, a hotel, and shopping. "It is very bad and getting worse," says Soveth. Adds human-rights lawyer Am Sam Ath of the nongovernmental organization Licadho: "There is no balance between the big development and the rights of the people."

But with land prices continuing to skyrocket, regardless of what happens with the skyscrapers, there is no indication that the land speculation boom will stop. "No one can predict," says Bonna, but he thinks it could run "maybe five years more."

With Moon Ihlwan in Seoul.
Postlewaite is a reporter for BusinessWeek in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian PM promises non-political career for oldest son

June 03, 2008

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Senhas said that his oldest son Hun Manet will not enter politics, the English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodian Daily reported Tuesday.

"In the future, I don't allow him to replace me as prime minister. I want him to do some charity work for his parents," Hunwas quoted as saying on Monday.

Hun denied a rumor that claimed his son would stand as a lawmaker candidate in Siem Reap province in the general election in July.

"I don't allow my son to be a lawmaker while I am a father in power," he said, adding that supporters have asked him to place his children in positions of power as his successors.

"We can't do that. It is a democracy. The children can't inherit (power)," he said.

Hun Manet is the star among Hun Sen's children. He graduated from the West Point Military Academy in the United States, later returned to Cambodia and conducted some charity work.

Hun Sen himself has been premier in the previous three governments of the kingdom from 1993 until now.

His major-ruling Cambodian People's Party is now preparing to score a landslide victory in the upcoming general election and he is the sole party candidate for premiership.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodian opposition party irritated by PM's remarks

June 03, 2008

Cambodia's major opposition Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of using his power to convict party leader and prince Norodom Ranariddh, the English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodian Daily reported Tuesday.

The NRP made the accusation in a statement issued on Monday, after the premier vowed on Sunday to implement the prince's prison conviction, which is being appealed at the Supreme Court.

His remarks "show that Hun Sen is using his influence and power to pressure and force the court to convict the prince," said the statement.

"Hun Sen has regarded the prince as an enemy," it said, adding that "Hun Sen is prime minister. He should implement the law. He should not take political revenge."

Hun Sen said here Sunday that Prince Ranariddh will be sent to prison if court makes the final judgment that he is guilty.

"I will (let police) arrest him as soon as he off-boards airplane (from his overseas exile)," he said.

In 2006, Ranariddh was sacked as president of the co-ruling Funcinpec Party, which was established by Sihanouk as the foremost royal political force of the country. He then established NRP by himself.

In 2007, Funcinpec accused him of fraud and the court sentenced him to 18 months in jail in absentia.

The prince, now in exile in Malaysia, has appealed to the Supreme Court against the sentence. Meanwhile, NRP has been approved to participate in the upcoming general election in July, which will establish the kingdom's fourth government.

Ranariddh and Hun Sen once worked as co-premiers to serve the kingdom's first government. During his political career, Ranariddh was also elected as parliamentary leader, or president of the National Assembly, for two times.

Source:Xinhua

Datang Corp expands to Cambodia with hydropower plant project

Jun. 3, 2008 (China Knowledge) - China Datang Corp, parent of the listed Datang International Power Ltd <601991><991>, announced that it has started the construction of a hydropower plant project in Cambodia, a fresh breakthrough achieved in its global expansion.

The plant, considered as the largest economy and technology cooperation project between the two countries, will help Datang to tap the fledging electricity industry in Cambodia where exists abundant but remote-located water sources.

The construction of the 120,000-kilowatt plant will have two phases. The first generator is expected to start operation in December, 2010.

The project will help Cambodia ease the pressure brought about by the mounting oil prices and boost the nation's economic development, said a senior official with the Cambodian government, adding that Datang Corp is an experienced power company with strong strength in plant building and administration.

A former policeman who worked for the National Crime Authority has pleaded guilty to stealing drugs.

The former Victorian police officer pleaded guilty to a robbery charge. (Victoria Police)

ABC Sydney

Former Victorian police officer James Anthony McCabe has fronted a Sydney court after being informally extradited from Cambodia last year.

The 39-year old-moved there in 2004 during a Police Integrity Commission investigation and was once involved in undercover drug investigations there.

McCave was one of two former officers accused of faking the arrest of a drug dealer in western Sydney, stealing amphetamines from him and trying to sell them.

It is alleged he held a gun to the drug dealer's head.

McCabe has pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and is due to be sentenced next month.
The court has heard the charge replaces a previous indictment against him.

He remains on bail.

Government Salaries Added to Campaigns

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 02 (740KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 02 (740KB) - Listen (MP3)

With increasing cost pressures hitting Cambodians as they move toward a general election, the monthly wages of government workers has become a political issue.

Competing parties have added it to their platforms, promising as much as $100 per month increases after the election, while the ruling Cambodian People's Party has made promises of its own.

Speaking at a road inauguration Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged that government staff was getting small wages.

"I do not deny that government staff has a salary problem," Hun Sen said. "But we have to follow step by step to raise their wages, around 20 percent per year."

The average government worker earns $30 per month.

"We must construct the roads, bridges and schools," he said. "If not, we would be able to give further wages for government staff."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Hun Sen's statement showed irresponsibility, as the wage raise was not in correspondence with inflation. If the salary cannot be raised up at least 100 percent, the living standards of government staff will fall, he said.

The Sam Rainsy Party, if elected, would boost the salary to 500,000 riel per month, about $125 per month, he said.

The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association has several times threatened to demonstrate over low wages, and the garment sector was forced to increase the wages of factory workers by $6, following strike threats.

Government staff must get at least 400,000 riel per month, about $100, said Rong Chhun, president of the teacher's association. The government has the means to make such a raise, he said, "if they want."

US Donates Trucks to Military

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 02 (869KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 02 (869KB) - Listen (MP3)

The US government donated 31 trucks to Cambodia's armed forces Monday, in what officials called a sign of increasing cooperation.

The military relationship between US and Cambodia was on an improving track, said Piper Campbell, the US Embassy's charge d'affaires.

The donation of 31 GMC cargo trucks, part of a larger allocation, was part of the overall improvement between the two countries over the last two to three years, she said.

The trucks were not new, she said, but American trucks are built to last, and the GMCs still had a lot of value in them.

Gen. Meoung Samphan, secretary of state for the Ministry of Defense, said this was the first time the US had given such a gift of trucks to Cambodia, and he appealed to other countries to make such contributions.

"If we can get donations, our national budget for the military will spend less," he said.

Khmer Rouge History Approved for Schools

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
02 June 2008

More than 30 years after Khmer Rouge communist guerrillas marched into Phnom Penh, evacuated the cities, and sewed the seeds for one of the worst genocides of the 21st Century, the Cambodian governments says it will allow the regime's history to be taught in schools.

The Ministry of Education has approved plans to incorporate lessons on the period of Democratic Kampuchea, authorizing the independent Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has extensively chronicled the brutality of the regime, to train 1,800 teachers.

"We will organize a guide book for high school teachers, and we will train them on how to present this sensitive era to students," center director Youk Chhang said. "First we will contact other countries that have the same story of atrocities committed by a communist regime on how they taught their young children in school about the genocide."

The center will seek input on how to teach genocide from institutions like the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Montreal Holocaust Memorial, he said.

Lao Mong Hay, a researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission, said the plan to teach Khmer Rouge history was good, but it should be connected to lessons of other periods, for balance.

"The teaching methods would present ways that teachers can use to guide students away from attitudes that show racial or other prejudices, or revenge rather than reconciliation," he said.

Hing Sok San, an officer of the Students Movement for Democracy, said he supported the new lessons.

"Young Cambodians have to know about the very painful history that their parents and relatives suffered," he said.

The lessons will give students a chance to understand their own history, said elementary school teacher Chea Seng, who works in Kampong Cham province.

Lessons could start in late 2009, officials said.

K'Cham Voters Wary of False Promises

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Orignal report from Kampong Cham province
02 June 2008

Khmer audio aired May 31 (1.05MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 31 (1.05MB) - Listen (MP3)

Rural voters in Kampong Cham province say they will not tolerate broken promises from campaigning officials, and they are waiting to hear from parties in the official election campaign period before making their decision.

The villagers, from O Raing Au district, told VOA Khmer they were tired of empty political promises that were never followed up on once ballots were cast.

"How can I believe?" asked Chab Noy, a farmer with nine children. "There are people who just talk, but no people who respect promises."

Nam Sophal, a motorcycle taxi driver in Ampil Tapok commune, said he was waiting to see what politicians will say in the campaign period, but he wasn't optimistic that words would lead to action.

"Any party is the same," he said. "Just promise to do this, to do that, and then never apply."

Grocer Hai Meng Kong said any politician breaking a promise was risking losing a supporter.

"If anyone makes an empty promise," he said, "I will not vote for them any more."

Battambang Marchers Scattered, Waiting

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 02 (996KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 02 (996KB) - Listen (MP3)

The 200 villagers from Battambang province who last week began a march on the capital have broken up and are now waiting for a resolution to a land dispute from the government.

Only a handful remains in the capital, to meet with officials, and most of the others have returned home, villagers said.

Investigators for the rights group Adhoc said Monday the villagers are prepared to renew their march if no resolution is found.

Last week, nearly 200 people marched from Battambang as far as Pursat province before a government invitation for talks halted them.

Civil Society Condemns Pre-Election Violence

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 02 (1.14MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 02 (1.14MB) - Listen (MP3)

Members of Cambodia's human rights agencies said Monday they were worried about violence in the pre-campaign period, with some candidates already being intimidated, threatened, and, in a few cases, killed.

The violence was contributing to a "political crisis," according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 21 civic groups.

"Political killings, intimidations and harassments have been rising, in particular, in the remote areas," the coalition said.

At least five political activists were killed between January and May, the coalition said.

Carbon Dioxide Is Becoming the Source of Income to Support Environmental Actions in Cambodia

GERES, Cambodia, Efficient charcoal cooking stoves


Posted on 3 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 563

“An environmental expert said that now carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere all year long, which is considered to be polluting the atmosphere, is becoming a major source of income to support environmental actions in Cambodia.

“Mr. Nop Polin, the Information and Public Relations Officer of GERES Cambodia, said on 26 May 2008 that now, his organization is one among other non-government organizations working in poor countries through carbon credit trading related to carbon dioxide savings.

“He stated, ‘Nowadays, we are processing actions in Cambodia through volunteer carbon credit trading.’

“He added that by selling carbon credits it is possible to receive funds. Carbon credits are certified in documents stating the quantity of carbon dioxide saved, issued by the audit organization for carbon dioxide emissions [the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change], and they are paid for with funds from the volunteer carbon dioxide emissions market. The volunteer carbon credits market has been created by organizations and industrial companies – one side is emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the other side is taking different actions to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, like by replanting trees, or by using solar energy, with prices mutually agreed without any imposed regulation.

“He went on to say that through this policy it is attempted to keep the balance in the atmosphere against global warming and climate change, which are threatening the world day by day. Those who release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and those who take actions to reduce emissions must achieve a balance between the release of carbon dioxide and environmental protecting actions, aiming to make them equal to achieve a zero increase balance.

“He explained it with an example, ‘If a company releases one tonne of carbon dioxide [the unit to calculate carbon credits], that company must pay us to replant trees, or to take any actions that can also achieve to offset the emission of carbon dioxide by one tonne.’ So far, in order to guarantee the continuity of the global environment, the use of carbon credits, by using carbon credit trade in a voluntary carbon market, becomes a new commerce for some countries; Cambodia has only two non-government organizations working in this field. The two organizations are cooperating with some organizations in other poor countries to expand their work through funds from the sale of these carbon credits. The two organizations are the Center for Study and the Development in Agriculture [CEDAC] and GERES Cambodia.

“Mr. Nop Polin said that his organization has progressed by depending on finance from carbon credit sales since 2003, by teaching citizens to use new improved cook stoves that can reduce the use of wood and charcoal, and can reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by about one tonne per year.

“He stressed, ‘Through the wood saving project, we have been able to save since 2003 to 2007 180,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is considered to correspond to carbon credits, selling them on the European market, where the carbon credits are sold for between US$5 to US$15 per tonne in the volunteer carbon markets.’

“Mr. Minh Le Quan, the head of the Climate Change and Renewable Energy Unit of GERES, said that the above mentioned actions are the beginning of a new era for developing countries to work on global climate change. He continued, ‘Previously, it was assumed that the only method for publishing and for taking action depends on funds, but now we can start to think about carbon markets to help those who are among the most seriously affected victims of climate change.’

“He went on to say that this process will ease the burden on the funders of the project, and it can can help to reduce many more tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and help to improve the living standards of citizens all over Asia.

“He stressed, ‘Carbon credit financing is a new current, to provide funds through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.’

“Mr. Nop Polin said that citizens can join in this commerce if they have the ability to create clear plans and to form action groups.” (In cooperation with the NGO Forum on Cambodia)

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4604, 1-2.6.2008

'A Khmer fighting so powerful that a man could defeat a lion'

The Bokator, the Great Ancient Khmer Martial Art


From pr-inside.com
2008-06-02 - Disappear for long time ago, the fine art would never be heard and known until it is revitalized and taken to be represented.

Bokator is nothing new. It is the ancient Khmer martial art, depicted in carving on the wall of Angkor Wat. Master Sam Kim Saen is the grand master of Bokator who revived the art from near extinction said, 'Bokator was sleeping for nearly a thousand years. Now we will make it live again in Cambodia (www.tourismindochina.com/history-cambodia.htm).' Since 2004 master has been teaching Bokator to the new generation of Khmers. 'This is something to make them feel proud,' he said, 'Now; they know the power of the Khmer. They know that we are capable to of doing good things, strong thing like our ancestor who built Angkor Wat (www.tourismindochina.com/angkor%20wat.htm?#angkor_wat). In the old day, martial arts were kept secret. During the Pol Pot regime, Khmer Rouge tried to find the martial arts master and killed them. During Vietnam Regime which fallow, learning martial Khmer art was consider illegal. Conversely, Bokator course is opened in Cambodia and start every morning till evening, six days per week.

There are about 10,000 techniques in modern Bokator, divided into forms or series of movements based on animals. The ancient master watched the animals and trees in nature and they saw they each had the way of defending themselves. The learner can be tested and ranked in the form of color Krama. A beginner wears white krama. The instructor wears the black Krama and the grand master wears the gold one. Unlike Khmer Boxing ( Bradal Serei), Bokator is an art like Apsara Dancing of singing. Bokator Students do not use medicine, but they use spirit power. The art is closely tied to the religion.'God made us with two hands comes from Buddha ( www.tourismindochina.com/religion-cambodia.htm). The right hand comes from Brahma. Buddhism teaches us not to fight. Therefore, when someone strikes, you block with your left hand and say, ‘Please stop'. If he strikes again, you block with the left hand and say, ‘please stop'. If he does it again you block with the left hand and strike him the right. The right hand comes from Hinduism, so the right can fight,' the master was quick to explain this is the theoretical basis for art.

New flights open up Cambodia's property investment potential

From holidaylettings.co.uk
2 June 2008

Cambodia is being tipped as a new property investment hotspot, as the government announces plans to welcome more direct flights into the country. Overseas Property Professional (OPP) explains how this, and further measures, could lead to a surge in development.

The Cambodian government is actively promoting the country's tourist and investment potential, hoping to experience the same development boom as neighbouring Thailand. Following a meeting with Qatar officials, Cambodia's foreign minister Hor Nam Hong said: "We are expanding the direct flight service with Qatar to attract tourists and investors to our country." Plans to relaunch the country's national airline have also been announced.

Experts predict that the changes will stimulate growth in the property sector. Speaking to OPP, Liam Bailey of David Stanley Redfern commented,: "In Cambodia, property market growth has been largely limited to Phnom Penh...The recent massive increases in visitor numbers, which will be helped by the new airline, will spread property market growth to other areas, and new Cambodian property hotspots will be emerging soon."

The Cambodian government is investing heavily in the country's infrastructure to accommodate increasing visitor numbers, constructing motorways and a third international airport. In a further bid to attract more overseas investors, the Cambodian government is also reportedly considering changing its ownership laws by the end of the year. The changes would allow freehold ownership to non-nationals.

Much of the tourism interest of the country centres around the temples, which are particularly popular with visitors from Australia and New Zealand.

Cambodia: a feast for every sense

Swimming pool at the elegant but funky FCC hotel


Preparing dinner at the Shinta Mani hotel in Siem Reap

Food at Pacharan, Phnom Penh's elegant riverside restaurant

Getty: Floating house on the Tonle Sap lake

Getty: Farmers carry produce to the market in Siem Reap


From telegraph.co.uk

There’s no better way to discover the real Cambodia than by mixing a river safari with a culinary odyssey, says Richard Strange.

St├ęphane Delourme, still in his chef’s whites, is smoking a cigarette on the terrace of Pacharan, Phnom Penh’s elegant riverside restaurant. The lightning from an electric storm illuminates his face. He is exhausted but content. He raises a glass of white wine and toasts no one in particular. “We did it! We did it!” he repeats, in his irresistible French accent.

As the culmination of a two-week long Cambodian adventure, part-river safari, part-culinary odyssey, Delourme has just cooked a five-course dinner for 60 guests at one of the city’s hottest restaurants, and the evening has been a triumph.

For nine years, Brittany-born Delourme has been head chef at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall. Wishing to broaden his culinary horizons, Delourme persuaded Stein to let him take a two-week sabbatical and join a Culinary Tour of Cambodia, organised by the Wild Frontiers, a tour company that specialises in edgy, off-the-beaten-track destinations and themes.

The plan was to start in Siem Reap, the nearest town to the temples of Angkor Wat. It was here, at the elegant but funky FCC hotel, a fine colonial-style establishment whose cool contemporary-ethnic rooms are the perfect retreat, and whose bar is lively but not raucous, that I first met Delourme.

Our party of nine included Andrew Ridgeley, formerly George Michael’s partner in the Eighties group Wham! and his ebullient girlfriend Keren Woodward, of Bananarama.

An unashamed gourmet, Ridgeley is both venerable and serious, a surfer in his adopted Cornwall who has become a prominent local environmentalist in the cause of water quality. Keren, still singing, still laughing, is the girl whom time left alone – gorgeous, voluptuous and enormous fun.

Our happy band was completed by Peter O’Sullivan, the tour leader from Wild Frontiers. A former musician, O’Sullivan first went out to Cambodia in the early Nineties to clear landmines.

He has been going back ever since, as a journalist, tour guide and researcher for Wild Frontiers, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Khmer culture and politics.

The temple visits done, our time in Siem Reap was spent trawling the vast fruit, vegetable and fish markets for local produce with our Cambodian guide and translator Vudthy (pronounced “Watti”).

The fertile Cambodian land produces mountains of fresh food, and more than 300 species of freshwater fish are hauled daily from the Tonle Sap lake and river.

As part of our tour we enjoyed a virtuoso four-hour cookery lesson from Sour Vong, head chef at the Shinta Mani hotel. The following day we tried our newly learnt skills at an orphanage on the edge of town run by Vudthy and his brother.

We set about chopping, grinding and mixing, and cooked a simple lunch version of Sour Vong’s Fish Amok. The meal was devoured in a fraction of the time that it took to prepare, and the boys then challenged the “White Giants” (us) to a kickabout in the school yard.

We ended our stay in Siem Reap with a celebratory dinner at the Meric restaurant in the swanky Hotel de la Paix, an exotic degustation menu which featured dried snake with green mango, and grilled stuffed frog, among other Khmer specialities.

At first light we boarded the minibus for the lakeside port of Chong Khneas, a picture-book floating village inhabited mainly by Vietnamese fishing families. Even at 7am the place was seething with activity, and eager porters swarmed to our bus to manhandle our luggage to our waiting boat.

La Cougoule (it means “pretty girl” in Marseillaise slang), a 90ft wooden former river freighter, was bought by its owner, Pierre Legros, five years ago. Now fully renovated, it elegantly plies its trade between Chong Khneas on the north-western end of Tonle Sap lake to Kompong Chhnang at the south-eastern extremity. That’s the idea, anyway; this was Legros’s maiden voyage.

As we pushed off from the jetty, gliding past mangrove and the floating timber houses where the early-morning fishing catch was being brought in, the expanse of water ranged ahead of us to the horizon.

Tonle Sap lake, in effect a vast floodplain, is more than 100 miles long and provides 75 per cent of Cambodia’s annual fish catch; downstream it feeds the mighty Mekong river.

The skipper explained that the water level was up 30ft at this time of year. What looked like floating vegetation were actually treetops. We were floating through the canopy of the submerged forest – a surreal but exhilarating experience.

Sometimes a fisherman would drift noiselessly into view, checking his nets, or fixing a trap, his coolie hat protecting his head and shoulders from the fierce midday sun. A shouted greeting would confirm that he was Vietnamese, not Khmer. The two tribes have been uneasy neighbours for centuries. A wave, then onward.

We slid ever farther through the soupy brown water. Occasionally the surface was broken by the head of a river snake. “The more of the body you see on the surface, the more poisonous it is,” Vudthy told us helpfully.

On board, a miraculous lunch appeared, prepared on the rudimentary gas burner. Fish cakes, green tomatoes with shrimp and glass noodles, fish amok and rice. We sat on the deck, round a low wooden table, and feasted like royalty. Life does not get much better than time spent on a boat with good company, good food and good weather.

As this was the first outing for Legros, the estimated duration of the trip was rather speculative.

He imagined that we would reach our destination in seven hours. In fact we did not make landfall for 16 hours, and in that time, lounging with drinks on the deck, we saw the most wonderful sunset and, later, shooting stars in a sky free of artificial light.

At one point we strayed into a floating village, unearthly and bizarre in the total darkness, the sounds of dogs and children and a television set carrying through the still of the night.

The layout of the village was so complex and tight that, once in, it was impossible for Legros to manoeuvre the boat out again unaided.

With a combination of Khmer, French and Vietnamese phrases he summoned help in the form of a motor skiff with a tie line. Its owner towed us back out to open water and pointed us on our way through the velvet darkness. In all my years of travelling I have rarely felt so far from home as during that exchange.

When we finally made Kompong Chhnang and slung our hammocks, an operatic electric storm picked up, which tossed and pitched the boat for the next two hours. We spent a fitful night buffeted at our mooring, but morning was a revelation.

Kompong Chhnang is a teeming fishing town, and as we peered out into the sunshine we found that our boat was the centre of amused attention. An animated group had gathered on the quayside, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new arrivals having breakfast.

That afternoon we took a fishing boat to see the floating nets and the fish traps. Strung between stilted houses, the traps are designed so the fish can swim in, but not out. When the level of the lake drops in February or March, the haul can be picked by hand from the traps and transported to quayside market, where all types of spanking fresh fish lie stacked like silver bullion.

Less appetising, at least to a Western palate, are the 21-day-old duck eggs. The unsuspecting snacker finds that as well as what remains of the hard-boiled yolk – cooking time is three hours – the shell contains a partly developed duckling – beak, feathers and all. In the name of research Delourme tried a little, while the rest of us looked on aghast. The local children encouraged him to finish it, telling him in exaggerated mime that it would make him strong and energetic, but even the intrepid Frenchman was beaten by this offering.

From Kompong Chhnang we drove overland past rice fields, sugar palm and cashew plantations, to Phnom Penh, where we met Ant Alderson, the British co-owner of the FCC hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

The FCC, formerly known as the Foreign Correspondents Club, enjoys a prime riverfront location with enviable views up and downstream. The elegant, pillared dining room, in cream and dark wood, cooled by ceiling fans, is straight out of Graham Greene or Somerset Maugham – both two former patrons.

Peter O’Sullivan suggested that a gala evening at one of the FCC’s restaurants, featuring Delourme as guest chef, might be a good way to round off the trip. Alderson agreed, hammered out a few details, and a date was set.

The final leg of our expedition took us west, to the coastal towns of Kampot and Kep, near the Vietnamese border. Kampot was once a thriving market town, the main port of entry for imported goods, and a stronghold of the Chinese mercantile class.

The town also boasts some fine art deco and modernist architecture, though much was destroyed by shelling and mortar fire from the Khmer Rouge in the Seventies.

The great Cambodian modernist architect, Vann Molyvann, built many fine buildings in Cambodia. Born in Kampot, he studied with Le Corbusier in Paris. In nearby Kep he built the king’s summer residence, high on a hill with multilevel terraces, gardens and a breathtaking view of the bay and Vietnam beyond.

Equally splendid and available to mere mortals, is the Knai Bang Chatt hotel in Kep. Three fabulous stucco modernist villas, lovingly restored, look out over an infinity pool to the sea. We dined on barracuda carpaccio and clams with tamarind, in an outdoor dining-room overlooking the ocean, as another electric storm wrought havoc on the water; an unforgettable experience.

Delourme was inspired by the local seafood, and the next day we went shopping for crabs to take back to Phnom Penh for the dinner at Pacharan.

Back in Phnom Penh, a stiff, hot northerly wind blew the flags along the promenade ragged. Ant Alderson casually announced that every one of the 60 places at the Pacharan had been booked by the great and the good of Phnom Penh. St├ęphane Delourme gave a gallic whistle through his teeth and began dressing the crabs…