Saturday, 7 June 2008

Cambodian kickboxers triumph in South Korea

Cambodian kickboxers Mey Sopheap, left, and Lao Sinath, right, both returned victorious from matches in South Korea

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Saturday, 07 June 2008

In a major boon to the homegrown, cash-strapped world of Cambodian kickboxing, fighters Mey Sopheap and Lao Sinath recently triumphed over international competition at South Korea’s One Match Winner’s Cup, an amateur tournament held in the city of Nanchu.

Sopheap, 70 kg, outscored his Korean opponent in a three-round bout, while Sinath’s Korean rival conceded midway through a bruising second round in the 60kg weight division.

Oum Yourann, president of the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation (CABF), said June 4 that top local boxers hope to participate in more invitational tournaments abroad.

“Cambodian boxers could earn more money, experience and recognition for their country by competing in the international friendship tournaments,” Yourann said.

Sopheap and Sinath’s South Korean victories on May 31 earned them $200 each, rich spoils compared to the 350,000 riels (about $87) they fight for here.

Local paydays are also increasingly rare for Cambodia’s best boxers, as they lack viable competition. Yourann said at least 10 fighters in the CABF stable are waiting for international invitations, having vanquished the field of domestic challengers.

But the usual obstacle remains.

“The CAFB lacks funding to travel to international competitions, therefore we are looking for invitations with sponsors,” Yourann said.

Challenges occur inside the ring too, when fighting abroad. Sopheap and Sinath both suffered penalties for employing knees and elbows in clinches, acceptable blows here at home, which the Koreans deem too rough.

“There were some problems with rule violations when we hugged up during the fights. I used my elbows and knees, which were not allowed,” Sopheap said.

At present, boxers Chey Kosal and Birth Samkhan, 73kg and 65kg, respectively, are in France preparing for a tournament on June 22. If the CAFB’s application to the World Traditional Boxing Federation is approved, Cambodia may host its own international friendship tournament later in 2008. (Vong Sokheng)

Sacravatoons :" The Last saga of the God-King "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sacravatoons :" The Abdication "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Guilty plea in fatal stabbings

Sat, Jun. 7, 2008
Philadelphia Daily News

Sambo Nou, a Central High School graduate with a supportive family and a once-promising future, wept in court yesterday as he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the April 2007 stabbing deaths of two Cambodian women in their South Philadelphia apartment.

Nou, now 22, who worked in real estate and has two years of college, said he regretted killing his mother's friend, Soy Taing, 47, and Taing's roommate, Nimol Tep, 40, over a money argument.

"I sincerely apologize for the crimes I have committed," he said in a soft voice as he faced Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner. He said he wished the victims' families could forgive him.

Sadness enveloped the quiet courtroom as five women, including Nou's mother, softly wept, and Nou's brothers, including his twin, somberly looked on.

The victims' families were not in court. Taing's family is in Cambodia. Tep has family in Cambodia and siblings in New York, Connecticut and California.

Reached by phone after the hearing, Tep's brother, Sunheang Tep, 53, of Rochester, N.Y., said he had not been aware that the guilty plea would be made.

"That's good news," he said when informed of the plea. "I'm just happy that justice has been served."

Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron said outside the courtroom after the hearing that authorities believed Nou's financial distress had been caused by gambling.

Nou went to "Atlantic City frequently, causing him financial problems," the prosecutor said.

Asked if Nou had gambling problems, Nou's older brother, Thon Nou, said: "I don't know," before he was rushed into the elevator by other family members.

In a statement to police, Nou said he needed money to make a payment on a house closing.

Nou, of Jackson Street near 4th, lived a few blocks from the victims' apartment. He knew Taing, but did not know Tep.

At about 5 p.m. on April 25, 2007, he went to Taing's second-floor apartment on 7th Street near Jackson. Inside, he asked Taing if he could borrow $500. She said, "No," according to the statement.

Nou claimed Taing "took out a knife." He said he grabbed it and "first, I stabbed her stomach."

He said he "started to lose it a little" and was "just going crazy, stabbing, stabbing," according to the statement, partly read in court yesterday by Cameron.

Nou said Tep then came out of the bathroom and threw a pot or pan at him. He said he then started stabbing her with the knife in his hand, then with another.

He said he changed knives because the first one wasn't cutting "real good."

Describing Taing's injuries, Cameron said she was stabbed once in the heart, four times in her back, including in a lung and kidney, and had four superficial slash wounds on her neck.

Upon hearing this, Nou, his head and shoulders slumped forward, cried.

The prosecutor said Tep suffered three stab wounds in her chest cavity, with one entering her left lung; six stab wounds in her back; punctures to her abdomen, side and hip; and superficial slash wounds to her neck.

In the statement, which was read in full at Nou's preliminary hearing last year, Nou said he took a gold-chain necklace from Taing's room and a gold chain from Tep's neck before he fled.

In return for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Nou.

They also withdrew charges of robbery and possession of an instrument of crime.

The judge sentenced Nou to life in prison without parole.

Before he left the courtroom, Nou shook his attorney Fortunato "Fred" Perri Jr.'s hand and said farewell to his family with a hand salute to his forehead.

The victims, both Cambodian immigrants, had worked together at a clothing manufacturing company. Their bodies were discovered the morning after their slayings by a resident who lived above them.

In an interview at the door of the apartment two days after the murders, two of Tep's brothers, Sunheang and Sivhuot Tep, said their sister came legally to the United States in 2005 from Cambodia. She first lived with Sivhuot and his family near Bristol, Conn.

Nimol Tep moved to Philadelphia in early 2007 to earn more money and because the Connecticut suburbs were too quiet.

Sunheang said "the saddest thing" about his sister being murdered here was that their whole family had survived the "killing fields" period in Cambodia in the late 1970s when an estimated 1 to 2 million people died from starvation and disease or were executed under the regime of Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot.

Yesterday, Sunheang said that after his sister's body was cremated here, her ashes were taken back home to Cambodia in July for a proper funeral ceremony. It is customary there to have a ceremony about 100 days after a person's death, he said.

Her ashes were placed in a family tomb in their hometown in Kampong Cham province, about 60 miles northeast of the capital of Phnom Penh.

The brothers also had a funeral ceremony for Tep at a Buddhist temple here shortly after her death. Sunheang said Nou's parents "came in and apologized."

"They kneeled in front of us" and "I had to console his father," who was banging his head against the floor, Sunheang said.

Sunheang said that at that time, he already forgave Nou.

"The way I look at it, no matter how angry I was, no way you could change anything," he said.

Controversial Russian company starts developing resort on Cambodian island

The Associated Press
Published: June 7, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A Russian company broke ground Saturday on a US$300 million island resort project along Cambodia's southwest coast, despite one of its partners being jailed in the country for alleged sex crimes.

Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over a ceremony marking the start of work on a 2,970-foot (900-meter) bridge that will link Koh Puos — Snake Island — with a coastal beach in the port city of Sihanoukville.

Cambodia's government signed a deal with Koh Puos Investment Group Ltd. in 2006 that allows it to develop and manage resorts on the island for 99 years.

The company is run by a group of Russian businessmen, according to its Web site.

One of the group's partners, Alexander Trofimov, was sentenced in March by a Cambodian court to 13 years in prison on charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Trofimov was arrested last October over allegations that he had abused as many as 19 girls since 2005, but was charged only in the case of the 14-year-old. He has denied the accusation.

Cambodian Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said the bridge will cost about US$31.3 million and be completed at the end of 2010.

He said it will help develop Koh Puos "into a world-class resort."

The new resort is part of impoverished Cambodia's efforts to promote the country's beaches as a new tourist destination and a key source of cash, following the success it has had in drawing visitors to its famed Angkor temples.

Sihanoukville is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Gov't threatens legal action against police who abuse sex workers

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 06 June 2008

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng has threatened legal action against officials accused of sexually abusing or robbing sex workers taken into custody during an ongoing crackdown on prostitution.

The threat comes a day after sex workers gathered in Phnom Penh to protest the implementation of a new anti-trafficking law that critics say gives authorities a license to rape.

The law, promulgated in February, is aimed at curbing people smuggling, either for labor or sexual exploitation. It has resulted in mass brothel closures throughout the country.

Critics say implementation of the new law has led to rising abuses by police against sex workers. At a June 4 protest against the new law several sex workers alleged being raped, beaten and robbed while in police custody following brothel raids and sweeps through public places where prostitutes ply their trade.

“We have heard this information ... the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, will take legal action against the officials who are accused of rapes of sex workers," Sar Kheng said June 5.

Sar Kheng added, however, that sex workers have yet to present any evidence of abuse.

He was speaking at the release of the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons study, which this year upgraded Cambodia to Tier 2, the middle of three tiers which indicates that the country is making efforts to address its trafficking problem.

Hundreds of sex workers attended the June 4 rally against the new legislation. In addition to alleged police abuses, they said the new law has hindered HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs among prostitutes.

New Khmer map on disputed temple

The Bangkok Post
Saturday June 07, 2008

Noppadon says it will help break deadlock


The long-running dispute over Preah Vihear temple between Thailand and Cambodia is likely to be settled based on a new border map developed by Phnom Penh, according to Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama. The map, received on Thursday, a day before the two neighbouring countries' agreed deadline, was initially seen to indicate that only the temple, without its surrounding areas, was to be registered as a World Heritage Site, the minister said.

Bangkok and Phnom Penh agreed in Paris late last month, during a Unesco-brokered meeting, to develop a new map and Cambodia would send it to Thailand by June 6.

The new map has helped break the deadlock over the disputed land at the ancient temple site, locally known as Khao Phra Viharn, and Cambodia would now propose the temple as a World Heritage Site early next month in Canada, said Mr Noppadon.

Mr Noppadon assured that Thailand will not lose an inch of its territory under the new map developed by the Cambodian side.

Under the redrawn map, Cambodia has proposed that the Preah Vihear temple, which is on its side, and only 30 metres of the adjacent areas of the temple be put up for listing.

Cambodia's previous proposal to Unesco _ the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation _ also included disputed land on the 4.6-square-kilometre border between Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district and Preah Vihear province as areas to be listed under the World Heritage Site.

''To make sure that there is no area that overlaps Thai territory, I have asked the Royal Thai Survey Department to inspect the area again with the use of the highly accurate GPS system. It would take just three days to do it,'' said Mr Noppadon in a phone interview from Germany.

He said he discussed the map by phone with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and instructed senior officers of the East Asian Treaties and Legal Affairs departments as well as the military's Royal Thai Survey Department to go to Siem Reap to receive the map from Cambodia on Thursday.

After being properly checked, the map will be forwarded to the National Security Council, which is expected to hold a meeting on Monday, and then tabled before the cabinet for endorsement on Tuesday.

Mr Noppadon said he would try to give the Phnom Penh government a reply on the matter before June 15, when the Cambodian government is required to table the map before the World Heritage Site Committee, comprising members from 21 countries, in Canada.

Mr Noppadon also plans to attend the July 2 meeting in Quebec.

''We have reached a stage where both sides can break the deadlock without losing any territory, and this case will set a good precedent for other negotiations between the two countries in the future,'' he said.

The new map will only be made public after its submission by Cambodia to the World Heritage Site Committee, he said.

However, the two countries have still to strike a deal on how they would jointly run the disputed areas, said Mr Noppadon.

Environmental concerns raised about Angkor of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 7 (Xinhua) -- The International Coordinating Committee of Angkor held its 17th technical meeting this week in Siem Reap town, focusing on how the tourist destination can avoid becoming a victim of its success, the Cambodia Daily newspaper said Saturday.

Experts at the meeting have pointed out that the number of tourists and resulting traffic is taking its toll on the area, the newspaper said.

One major problem is sewage, said Shinji Tsukawaki of the Kanazawa University in Japan who is part of the environmental study project Environment Research Development Angkor Cambodia.

With 2 million annual visitors staying an average of five days in Siem Reap town, 1 million tons of human wastewater is deposited into the soil each year, Shinji Tsukawaki said.

The effect of sewage on soil and underground water requires urgent monitoring and measures, he said.

In addition, TS Maxwell of Germany's University of Bonn, who is involved in the Angkor Inscriptions Survey Project, told the meeting that the thousands of visitors who tour Angkor's temples each day could damage stone inscriptions by simply touching them.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

Cambodia Launches Chemicals Management Initiative Supported By Sweden


The Cambodian government launched its project here Friday aiming at integrating chemicals management into the country's development planning process, said a press release from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Sound Chemicals Management Project, supported by the government of Sweden and the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate for a two-year period, will assess the management of chemicals regimes and put in place a plan to address gaps in the national regime, said the release.

It also aims to improve the incorporation of chemicals management priorities and procedures into the national development discourse and planning agenda, it added.

"Cambodia is not a producer of chemical substances. We are merely a consumer. Therefore, we have to carefully review the management of the substances in order to protect our people's health and environment," Khieu Muth, secretary of state at the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, was quoted as telling a workshop to launch the project.

Sophia Baranes, UNDP deputy country director for Cambodia, told the workshop that "chemicals play a part in almost all human activities and are a major contributor to national economies. But when they are not properly managed, they can put human health, ecosystems and national economy at risk."

The UNDP and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) are working to support the Cambodian Ministry of Environment in implementing the project through a common partnership initiative that is also being carried out in six other countries selected to pilot a new approach to implementing chemicals management into the development of related countries.
Original news source:

Cambodia: Zongzi becomes a tool of affection relay

By Xia Lin

PHNOM PENH, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Top herbal wine producer of Cambodia Ear Cheam Heng has ordered dozens of Zongzi on eve of the Dragon Boat Festival on June 8 as seasonal gifts for his friends, business partners as well as relatives.

"The Zongzi was well-made, because I ordered it from the Old Place Seafood Restaurant, the most genuine Cantonese cooking place in town," he said.

Each time the festival comes, Ear Cheam Heng would like to treat his personal and commercial friends with this typical Chinese food, to foster closer ties and lubricate his business environment.

In China, people have the tradition to have Zongzi a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, during the Dragon Boat Festival which was designed to commemorate an ancient major-pillar poet.

In Cambodia, where around 7 percent of its 14 million population are thought as Chinese Cambodians and some 200,000 Chinese people from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan get employed in various industries, the tradition enjoys rebirth and even wide-ranging popularity.

Chinese restaurants usually bear the top notch in the Zongzi craze, as owners can be the happiest harvesters in the particular season.

Robin Chang from Taiwan has been running catering trade in Phnom Penh for years. He is fortunate to marry Madame Chang, who insists on making all the meat-mushroom zongzi selling at their restaurant by herself.

And, their advertisement on local newspapers looks totally different from those of others.

"It is hand-made, not by staff members, but by my wife herself," his recipe can always be retold, but never replicated elsewhere in town.

Other bosses can't find so trustworthy and professional hands, so they turn to rely on multifarious, sometimes luxurious fillings that gourmand can find as surprise while eating Zongzi

One restaurant run by local Chinese Cambodians is marketing Zongzi stuffed with super yolk, another by immigrants from Beijing adopts red bean and bacon, and a third, or the boldest, directly puts in abalone and sea cucumber.

As a common understanding, Zongzi can be sold not only as alternative or classic food, but as spiritual pacifier.

"If you miss hometown and family, why not have a Zongzi of ours? It cures your homesickness," Zongzi advertisements usually read like this.

They are truly affective while appealing to the mass Chinese people working in garment factories and for hydro-electric projects.

A local Chinese-Cambodian enterprise even invented the idea of selling Zongzi to raise charity money for the earthquake victims in Sichuan province, China.

"No matter you buy one or a lot more, your care can be always felt in there, because it is not ordinary Zongzi but charity Zongzi reads a letter from the enterprise for local people.

Really, Zongzi can do more than stuffing stomach. It comforts and enriches your mind.

Commercial News, the longest running Chinese-language daily newspaper in Cambodia, on June 6 published a whole page of stories about Zongzi elaborating on its origin, style, cookery and health hints.

"When the stories are read, the tradition and the culture are preserved and inherited," said editor in chief Liu Xiaoguang.

Out of coincidence or mutual influence, local ethnic Khmers also enshrine the habit of making and eating Zongzi which is called in Cambodian language as Num Chang if in pyramid shape and Num Sawm if in rectangular shape.

The pronunciations derive from the Chaozhou dialect of China. Most Chinese Cambodians are rooted in Chaozhou, a region in Guangdong province in southern China.

However, either Num Chang or Num Sawm only contains minced glutinous rice inside bamboo leaves, without any filling. The rice is soaked in alkali water and tastes a little bitter. So, refined white sugar is a necessity when you enjoy a Cambodian Zongzi

When a countryside person returns to Phnom Penh for work, he will always bring some home-made Num Chang for his boss and colleagues.

"Rice and bamboo leaves from outside the city always taste fresh, natural and true," said Socheat, a maid serving foreign family in town.

Zongzi is food in its original sense and can become a tool of affection relay when we study its social sense, said Eang Heng, a 68-year-old Chinese Cambodian who was born here and traveled in most provinces of China when he was young.

"Whether in China or Cambodia, it may look different, but just plays the same role," he added.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

Statement by an IMF Staff Mission to Cambodia

Press Release No. 08/137
June 6, 2008

An IMF staff mission led by Luis Valdivieso, visited Cambodia during May 28 to June 5, 2008 to hold discussions with senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia on recent macroeconomic developments and policies. The mission also met representatives from the business community and development partners.

At the conclusion of the visit, the mission issued the following statement:

"Economic activity in Cambodia remains robust, although the pace of growth is expected to ease to around 7 percent in 2008 from about 10¼ percent in 2007. The moderation mainly reflects slowing garment exports due to weaker external demand and heightened regional competition. Tourism continues to expand at a healthy pace. As a net rice exporter, Cambodia should continue to benefit from higher rice prices, although higher overall food prices will adversely affect the most vulnerable, in particular the urban poor and the landless.

"Inflation has increased sharply, the last published data indicate it rose to 18.7 percent in January 2008. The increase reflects both external shocks and domestic inflation pressures. External factors include higher international oil and food prices, and higher imported-goods prices due to the depreciation of the riel and dollar against the currencies of Cambodia's other major trading partners. Rapid domestic demand growth, fueled by very high growth in commercial bank lending, has also contributed to domestic inflation pressures. These factors have intensified since January. In particular, bank lending growth has increased to over 100 percent year-over-year in early 2008.

"The mission shared the authorities' concern with rising inflation and its adverse impact on the poor, and welcomed the initial package of policy measures to deal with the situation, announced by the Prime Minister on April 23, 2008. Discussions revealed that the policy package could usefully be strengthened to enhance its effectiveness and ensure the sustainability of the stabilization effort.

"The mission emphasized that maintaining a prudent fiscal stance is key to moderating inflation pressures. It recommended efforts be made to limit the overall budget deficit to around one percent of GDP in 2008, so as to continue building up government deposits of 2 percent of GDP in the National Bank to help contain inflation pressures. This would require ongoing strong revenue efforts, and ensuring that additional spending from announced measures is offset by restraining non-priority spending. The mission strongly agreed with the authorities on the importance of safeguarding priority spending, and welcomed their intention to make room for targeted measures to protect the poor within a prudent fiscal envelope.

"The mission supported the authorities' decision to tighten monetary policy as a compliment to fiscal prudence, including through raising reserve requirements, as an appropriate step to assist the effort to contain inflation pressures. This would help rein in very high credit growth and thus begin to reduce demand pressures that have contributed to inflation.

"The authorities emphasized their determination to continue strengthening bank supervision while improving standards for loan classification and collateral valuation. The mission commended ongoing efforts to safeguard the soundness of the financial system.

The Most Dangerous Place in the World

One third of Jacobson's three-film K11 Project

Daily News

That’s what Interpol told the makers of Holly as they filmed on location in the red light district of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. But Guy Jacobson and co. lived to tell the tale.

Friday, June 6, 2008
By FilmStew Staff

A few years after a backpacking trip during which he was solicited by group of five to seven-year-old Cambodian prostitutes, New York investment banker Guy Jacobson was back in Phnom Penh producing Holly, the tale of an American card shark living in the capital (Ron Livingston) who tries to rescue a local 12-year-old girl from a life of paid sex (Thuy Nugyen). That’s when he received urgent word from international crime fighting organization Interpol.
“They said, 'You guys are insane'," Jacobson recalls in an interview with the Delaware News. “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."

Instead, Jacobson surrounded his crew with 40 bodyguards armed with automatic weapons and saw the enterprise through, though for fear of theft, he decided to take no chances by flying the completed print out on a private plane. Now, with the film making its way around the country since last November and opening this weekend for a run in Grandview, Ohio, he will be on hand for one of the Saturday evening screenings to take part in a Q&A.

Jacobson has partnered on this project with Lexis Nexis, in an attempt to publicize the shocking plight of the country’s young women (more information can be found at, the website of a campaign started by the financier). It’s an admirable project made by a man who, shocked by the aforementioned 2002 encounter with prepubescent girls, decided he needed to find out more.

Along with Holly, Jacobson has spearheaded two other films as part of what he dubs the K11 Project. The Virgin Harvest is an HD documentary about the Cambodian prostitution problem directed by Charles Kiselyak, while The K11 Journey chronicles what the filmmakers had to endure while on location in the Asian country.

In Cambodia, a case for localizing climate-change research

Living on water: Tonle Sap Lake’s 1 million residents have floating homes, schools, and even gas stations. But life is harder as water levels fall. (David Montero)

Researchers know global temperatures are rising. Now scientists from as far away as Finland are studying what that means for the 1 million floating residents of the Tonle Sap Lake.

By David Montero Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
June 6, 2008 edition

Nam Lai, a carpenter in this remote corner of Cambodia, remembers when it was easy to park his movable houseboat on the Tonle Sap Lake where he lives. But now, it’s getting harder to find a suitable spot for his small barge. “I have to move the house farther and farther from the shore,” he says.

For years, the 1 million inhabitants of the lake – Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater body – have lived a mobile existence to keep step with the seasonal ebbs and flows brought on by monsoons and melting Himalayan snows that expand the lake to five times its normal size. But many villagers say the deeper waters needed to park their houseboats are harder to find as the summers get hotter and the lake’s water level drops.

Lai’s observations, together with evidence of climate change’s impact on other fisheries around the world, has scientists deeply concerned that Tonle Sap Lake – one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and one of its most productive fisheries – is also under threat. The lake is essential to Cambodia’s food supply, its fish providing 60 percent of the country’s protein, while supporting the livelihoods of about 12 percent of its people.

The problem is, nobody knows the impact of climate change for sure – even the teams that have come to find out from as far away as Finland – since scientific inquiry has only just begun.

Observers say that the uncertainty underscores that better understanding of local scenarios, not just global modeling that looks at steady increases in world-wide temperatures, is needed to pinpoint climate change’s impact on people and livelihoods.

“There’s a whole area of science that needs to relate climate and physical change to people and social changes – to identify relationships between physical changes and social consequences,” says Eric Baran, research scientist at the Phnom Penh office of the World Fish Center, a research organization headquartered in Malaysia.

The Cambodian government has begun looking at the problem, creating a climate-change office in 2003 and undertaking a climate-change vulnerability assessment in 2001. But neither of those measures has focused specifically on the Tonle Sap Lake. Some pioneering studies, including one at Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, have linked some of the same problems the Tonle Sap is exhibiting – such as reduced fish yield – to climate change. But it’s not yet clear whether climate change or other factors are responsible here.

Whatever the cause, floating gas-station owner Sinan San has seen the effects firsthand. Her main customers – fishermen – are no longer able to make good catches, and her earnings have dried up since 2004.

“The number of fishermen has decreased because there are less fish, and they move to upland for their livelihood. They say fish are getting smaller and smaller,” she says. Scientists agree, saying overfishing, poor management, and unfair laws have led to a sharp decrease in the number and size of the lake’s fish.

“Small fish are more susceptible to climate fluctuations,” says Mr. Baran. “If the year is good, you have many [small fish]. If the year is bad, you have nothing. This will make the system more and more shaky.”

The declining fish are just one variable in a host of factors that threaten to affect the lake’s hydrology, further exposing it to the risks of climate change.

“Many factors will have impacts on the hydrological regime of the Mekong Basin and on the Tonle Sap Lake’s ecosystem,” Timo Menniken, an adviser to the Mekong River Commission Secretariat in Vientiane, Laos, writes in an e-mail. “These include general rapid economic development, the ongoing development of hydropower schemes along the upper reaches of the Lancang-Mekong, the proposed development of hydropower schemes on tributaries and the mainstream in the lower basin, the indications of groundwater depletion and water pollution caused … by the tourism industry, and plans for oil exploration in the Tonle Sap Basin.”

Another factor is accelerated glacier runoff. “The hydrology can be affected by the melting away of mountain snows in Tibet. You may see water levels rise, which would cause salinity levels to rise,” says Neou Bonheur, the project director of the Ministry of Environment’s Tonle Sap Environment Management Project. “We just don’t know. There are a wide range of areas that we need to set up and observe.”

Cambodian kids enjoy last free breakfast after mounting food prices force UN to end program
AP, 2008-06-06

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Students at a rural elementary school in Cambodia enjoyed their last free breakfasts in class Friday, after the United Nations World Food Program stopped supplying rice and other food because of soaring global prices.

In addition to directly providing nutrition for children, the WFP breakfasts gave parents an incentive to send them to school rather than to work in the fields, or to have them stay home to look after younger siblings.

The free breakfast program in Cambodia began in 2000 and has recently been benefiting about 450,000 rural students. The World Food Program feeds almost 89 million people worldwide, including 58.8 million children.

The principal of Choumpou Proek school, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) west of the capital, Phnom Penh, said his 612 students enjoyed a final free breakfast of steamed yellow split peas with salt _ minus rice.

The school's rice supply ran out May 27, so staff cooked the last 64 pounds (29 kilograms) of peas for the students, Nheng Vorn said by telephone from the school in the rice farming village in Kampong Speu province. The WFP also provided soybeans and cooking oil.

Even though the school is in a rice-growing area, the farms cannot produce enough of the staple to feed the entire community. WFP selected schools in poorest communities for the breakfast program.

The U.N.'s food agency said breakfast stocks at the 1,344 rural schools under its program would run out before mid-June. WFP stopped sending rice supplies in March.

The cutoff began after five local suppliers defaulted on contracts to provide rice because they could get a higher price elsewhere, program officials said.The price of rice tripled in the first four months of the year as the world food crisis deepened.

Soaring fuel prices have driven up the costs of fertilizers, farm vehicle use and transporting food to markets. Speculation and increased consumption of meat and dairy goods in China, India and other booming developing nations are also considered major factors in the food price hikes.

About six miles (10 kilometers) from Nheng Vorn's school, Sangkum Seksa school principal Tan Sak said his students have been eating breakfasts of steamed peas with salt since their WFP rice ran out two weeks ago.

The school's kitchen will shut down next week when the supply of peas runs out, he said.

Similar situations were occurring around the country and all over the developing world.

In Burundi, Kenya and Zambia, hundreds of thousands of people face cuts in food rations after June. In Iraq, 500,000 recipients will likely lose food aid. In Yemen, it's 320,000 households, including children and the sick.

Coco Ushiyama, WFP's acting director for Cambodia, said in an interview last month that resumption of the free breakfast program would depend on donors' contributions in the future.

She said it was «really a tough decision» to end it in favor of continuing programs benefiting orphans of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, who are in a «more desperate need» of food aid.

She also expressed concern that the end of free breakfasts could reverse gains already made in trying to improve education for rural children.

At the two schools, the principals said student attendance rates were stable so far.Nheng Vorn, the principal at Choumpou Proek, said he has been meeting with village leaders and families to encourage children to keep going to school, even though the free breakfasts were coming to an end.

«All we can do is hope to get more rice, but that does not depend on us because prices on the global market are still very high,» he said.

It was not immediately clear if the breakfast program could be resumed with new funding, and WFP officials in Cambodia were not available to comment Friday.

Report of 2005-2006 Shows that 70 Percent of Sex Workers, Women and Children, Are Khmers

Posted on 7 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 563

“According to a report based on a joint statistical research of organizations on sex exploitation from 2005 to 2006 received from 25 non-government organizations, in the period of two years there were 518 cases of sex exploitation of women and girls, and 179 of all women were considered to be sexually exploited victims.

“The Report showed that almost 70% of the women and children involved in sex exploitation are Khmers, 28% are Vietnamese, and 2% are Chinese; and among all the nationals with sexually exploited persons, 81% are Khmers, and 19% are Vietnamese, but there are no Chinese involved in this case.

“The report was organized by ECPAT International, and presented on 4 May 2008 in a workshop of anti-human trafficking groups’ working on the national level, meeting at the Sunway Hotel.

“The report added that the decline of sex trafficking victims rescued by many organizations is not a sign of the change of trafficking in Cambodia, but it is the result of the reduction of services of such organizations.

“According to the statistics of the Ministry of Planning, 6.4% of the children countrywide under the age of 18 lost their fathers, and 1.7% lost their mothers. Their destinations of human trafficking are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Koh Kong; and more than 20% of human trafficking is targeted to neighboring countries, mostly Malaysia and Thailand. Talking about Vietnamese, they were trafficked from Vietnam to Phnom Penh, but it is not sure yet whether they are originally from outside of Cambodia or not.

“Sex trafficking is classified into four main groups depending on age groups; the first group includes trafficking of girls under the age of 18 who were forced and deceived to do sex work, the second group includes trafficking of girls under the age of 18 who voluntarily do sex work, the third group includes trafficking of women over the age of 18 who were forced and deceived to do sex work, and the fourth group include trafficking of women over the age of 18 who voluntarily do sex work.

“Some girls under the age of 18 explained their situation by referring to losing their parents, because their parents left them, or because they divorced, or there were problems in their families such as debt and poverty. These were the reasons that made them leave their hometowns to find jobs; most of them were abducted and were sexually abused.

“Police rescued the persons in almost two thirds of all cases, then they were followed up by social affairs’ officials and non-government organizations. But what is interesting is that police were not the leading agency to send victims to rehabilitation centers, although they rescued most of them, and on the other side, non government organizations were the leading agencies to send the victimized to the centers; then their cases were followed by the police and by social affair’s officials.

“According to the data collected, most of the women and girls returned to do their previous jobs as sex workers, and few of them used the skills they had learned in the rehabilitation centers to secure their living differently.

“40 of the 117 cases reported to police led to investigations to find suspects from 2005 to 2006; and almost 83% of the investigations led to the lodging of complaints against the suspects for both the accusations of trafficking and of rape.

“80.8% of child trafficking investigations led to the arrests of the suspects, but compared to the cases of adult women, there were only 57.1% such cases leading to arrests.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6364, 6.6.2008

Cambodian inflation a concern as economic growth falls: IMF

June 6, 2008

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA'S economic growth will likely slow by more than three percentage points this year, while inflation is increasing sharply, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.

Inflation rose to 18.7 per cent in January, powered by soaring fuel and oil prices, the IMF said in a statement after a week-long mission here.

The IMF said it shared Cambodia's 'concern with rising inflation and its adverse impact on the poor.'

IMF officials recommended the Cambodian government build up its central bank deposits to help contain inflation pressures, caused partly by the weakening local currency, which makes imports more expensive, the statement said.

The economy grew by 10.25 per cent last year but growth this year will be held back to around 7.0 per cent because of a downturn in garment exports, the IMF said.

While economic activity in Cambodia was still 'robust' from growth in tourism and higher prices for rice exports, the IMF said, but warned the country's poor are more vulnerable.

The garment sector - the country's largest source of foreign exchange - faces increased competition from China and Vietnam, with further risks looming due to an economic downturn in the United States, Cambodia's biggest market for textiles.

Under-employment, where someone's work earns only a meagre return, remains high in Cambodia, which is one of the world's poorest countries.

Some 35 percent of the country's 14 million people live on under 50 US cents a day.

-- AFP

Clara Int Eyes Vietnam, Laos And Cambodia To Expand Ops
From D.Arul RajooHANOI

June 6 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's top skin care and beauty chain company, Clara International, is looking to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as it continues its expansion abroad.

Founder and chairman, Datin Dr Clara L. Chee, said the company was seeking the right partners to tap into these new emerging economies of the region.

"We are already in Myanmar and doing well while finalising plans to establish a foothold in Thailand.

The time is right for us to make an entry into Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia," Chee said after receiving the Asean Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award 2008 here Thursday night.

Chee, 65, who started Clara International as a beauty salon in 1977, received the award at the Global Women's Summit which is attended by more than 900 delegates from 70 countries.

Chee said the Vietnamese women had healthy skin when young.

"But at 35, they start to age. But with the right education and an awareness programme, they can continue to maintain a healthy skin," she said.

Chee said Clara International's top overseas markets at present were China and India where its master franchisee has established more than 90 hair salons.

"All our products are customised and climate-specific. They are developed at our own research facilities," she said.

Clara International, which has over 59 beauty centres in Malaysia, also runs the Clara International Aesthetic College.

The company's products also have halal certification and Chee planned to franchise them in Australia, France, Canada and Africa.


Cambodian man torches nagging mother-in-law's house

The Earth Times
Fri, 06 Jun 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian man tired of his mother-in-law's constant nagging was facing divorce and jail after he torched her house before shooting her in the leg with a bow and arrow usually used to kill frogs and toads, police and local media said Friday. Heing Samnang, deputy police chief of Siem Reap's Sotnikom district, around 350 kilometres north-west of the capital, said Morm Savin, 34, was galled by 54-year-old Sean Khun's constant accusations.

Koh Santepheap newspaper said Khun had told the entire village that the only thing he had been able to acquire since he married was three children, and "even saving for a fork or a glass had proven beyond him".

Samnang said Savin stewed on her insults over 50 cents worth of rice wine before taking his revenge.

"It was from the heart because he beat neighbours who tried to help her with a stick," he said.
Koh Santepheap reported Savin had then turned archer because, given the weapon's usual use, he felt it was the most appropriate weapon for the woman.

If convicted, Savin faces a minimum of five years in jail, and if not he faces his wife, police said.

Cambodia launches chemicals management initiative

June 06, 2008

The Cambodian government launched its project here Friday aiming at integrating chemicals management into the country's development planning process, said a press release from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Sound Chemicals Management Project, supported by the government of Sweden and the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate for a two-year period, will assess the management of chemicals regimes and put in place a plan to address gaps in the national regime, said the release.

It also aims to improve the incorporation of chemicals management priorities and procedures into the national development discourse and planning agenda, it added.

"Cambodia is not a producer of chemical substances. We are merely a consumer. Therefore, we have to carefully review the management of the substances in order to protect our people's health and environment," Khieu Muth, secretary of state at the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, was quoted as telling a workshop to launch the project.

Sophia Baranes, UNDP deputy country director for Cambodia, told the workshop that "chemicals play a part in almost all human activities and are a major contributor to national economies. But when they are not properly managed, they can put human health, ecosystems and national economy at risk."

The UNDP and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) are working to support the Cambodian Ministry of Environment in implementing the project through a common partnership initiative that is also being carried out in six other countries selected to pilot a new approach to implementing chemicals management into the development of related countries.


Cambodian king's father Sihanouk hints at son's possible abdication

Posted June 6th, 2008
by Mohit Joshi

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk hinted Friday that his son, King Norodom Sihamoni, may be considering abdicating to live a "simple life" in France.

In a letter posted on his website received Friday and dated Thursday, the octogenarian former monarch outlined a conversation he said he had had with Sihamoni on the day of writing.

"My beloved son told me, 'Papa, please do not worry - your darling son could return to Paris and live a normal life'," Sihanouk wrote in French on his blog.

"I will hire a small room and stay with my wife, have a simple bathroom and eat simple food I can buy from a simple shop," Sihanouk quoted his son as saying.

Sihamoni is currently a bachelor.

He also said Sihamoni would refuse contact with journalists.

In the letter, entitled 'The Real Story', Sihanouk warned of a possible upcoming upheaval in the monarchy.

Sihanouk shocked many when he abdicated in 2004, citing advancing age and ill-health, and Sihamoni, previously an ambassador to the United Nations Education Scentific and Cultural Organization and a classical dancer before his ascension to the throne, took the reigns.

Fluent in French and Czech, Sihamoni, 55, was initially little known to ordinary Cambodians due to his long overseas career but has earned adoration in a country which recognizes kings as demi-gods.

He has eschewed politics, unlike his mercurial father during certain periods of his reign, who strutted the world stage.

Sihamoni's half-brother and Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, is currently in exile after being convicted for breach of trust in absentia and sentenced to 18 months in jail for his role in selling the headquarters of his former political party, Funcinpec. (dpa)

Groups Want Khieu Samphan Health Status

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

Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (758 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (758 KB) - Listen (MP3)

One day after his return to Khmer Rouge tribunal detention from the hospital, Khieu Samphan's health condition remains unclear, two rights officials said.

"We learned that he had been brought back to detention not very healthy," said Hisham Mousar, a tribunal monitor for Adhoc. "We ask for some clarification [from the tribunal] for the detailed information related to Khieu Samphan's health for the public interest."

Long Panhavuth, project officer of the Open Society Justice Initiative, agreed. "Co-investigating judges must provide enough information to the public to explain the cause, the reason...especially of the five charged persons," he said. "If not, in case they die, the court will be blamed for the situation of the health."

Hisham Mousar said he wanted to information on the health of the detained, especially Khieu Samphan, in case they were in a critical situation and need be sent to a foreign country for treatment.

Tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said Friday Khieu Samphan had undergone a variety of tests, but the results were not yet available. The tribunal keeps medical personnel on stand-by and specialists ready to fly in from outside the country if required.

Sy Bory, lawyer for Khieu Samphan, declined detailed comment on his client's health Friday morning, but he said Khieu Samphan could move his hands and was moving around in a wheelchair.

He was confident in the decisions of the doctors, Sy Bory said.

Extremist Funds Reach Chams: Ambassador

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
06 June 2008

Khmer audio aired on 05 June 2008 (1.10 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired on 05 June 2008 (1.10 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Although Cambodia's Cham Muslims are a "very peaceful and tolerant group," there is a growing concern they receive funds from outside extremists, the US ambassador to Cambodia said this week.

A lot of money was coming into Cambodia's Chams from groups spreading a violent, intolerant form of Islam, which have a lot of resources and are attracted to poor communities, Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said at a talk in Washington Monday.

Meanwhile, Cambodia and the US continue to work on counter-terrorism, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said.

The ambassador was right to be concerned, because terrorism can grow if countries don't pay attention, he said.

Adhoc President Thun Saray said many countries face extremism, and not always from Muslims, but Cambodian authorities should pay attention to ensure terrorism is not a threat here in the future.

NEC to Reinstate 1,000 Voter Names

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

The National Election Committee will reinstate more than 1,000 voter names for a single Phnom Penh commune, a large number of residents for one small area.

The committee decided to add the 1,138 onto the voter registry for July's national election, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said, because the names were omitted by the "carelessness of the clerk and the Stung Meanchey commune council."

The NEC has faced criticism in the past over its decision to strike names from the voting lists. On Thursday, the governmental body issues 8 million controversial voter information cards that critics say could lead to voting bias for the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

Pailin Evictions Lead to Brief Detention

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

Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (803 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (803 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Fifteen residents of Pailin were briefly detained Thursday evening during forced evictions that came without compensation, rights workers and residents said.

The evictions took place in Stung Trong commune, Salakrao district, under municipal authority.

Among those detained, five were women, rights workers said. As they were being transported in a makeshift vehicle to the Salakrao police headquarters for questioning, the vehicle broke down, and police released the residents, rights workers said.

The evictions continued Friday, but no violence was reported.

"Regarding this detention, it is a mistake of the police, because it is a kind of threat for the people," Chhuon Makara, a local rights investigator for Adhoc, said.

Pailin Deputy Governor Mei Meak said the authorities were undertaking the evictions under Pailin court warrant and said the evictees had grabbed the land of the state.

Politics Puts Throne 'Under Risk': Former King

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
06 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (1.75 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (1.75 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Former king Norodom Sihanouk has asked that his name be kept out of the history of the founding of the Funcinpec party, in order to maintain a throne "under threat."

According to a signed letter obtained to VOA Khmer meant for the former king's Web site, Sihanouk asks that all Cambodians refrain from attaching his name or the name of his supporters to the establishment of Funcinpec, the ruling government's coalition party.

Sihanouk has held great political sway in the past, but he abdicated the throne in 2004 and has said in the past he wants to distance himself from politics.

Funcinpec suffered a resounding defeat in local polls last year, but Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he will keep it as the ruling Cambodian People's Party coaltion partner.

Kratie Radio Will Not Reopen: Ministry

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (1.13 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 06 June 2008 (1.13 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Minister of Information on Friday denied an appeal by a local human rights group to reopen a Kratie radio station that aired messages from four competing political parties.

The Angkor Ratha station, broadcasting on FM105.25, operated for only two weeks before it was shuttered by a ministry order May 28.

"The abrupt closure of this radio station reflects very poorly on the government's commitment to allowing democratic debate prior to the July national elections," said Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licdho, in an appeal Thursday to have the radio reopened. "It also highlights how freedom of expression and information is tightly controlled on Cambodia's radio and television stations, particularly in rural areas."

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Friday he will not allow the station to continue its broadcasts.

"The station owner broke the agreement," he said. "Before making an appeal, Licadho should first look into the Angkor Ratha radio station's contract or agreement in Kratie province."

The station had broken with its agreement, and its closure was not an issue of media freedom, he said.

"Media freedom cannot break the law or written contract," he said.

Keo Chan Ratha, the station's owner, has acknowledged breaking his original agreement with the ministry, which states he must inform the ministry if he sells air time to other entities.

But Kek Galabru said Thursday the requirement in the radio license amounted to "censorship."

"Radio stations should not have to seek Ministry of Information permission to broadcast the programs of political parties, NGOs or other organizations," she said.

Keo Chan Ratha urged the ministry to reconsider its decision "for the need of the people."

Preah Vihear Heritage Lobby Underway

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 June 2008

The Cambodian government has prepared a collection of documents to present to 21 different countries in coming days an application for Preah Vihear temple for Unesco World Heritage listing.

The preparations come following a May 22 agreement between Thailand and Cambodia that only the temple grounds be listed as a World Heritage site, and not the surrounding land, which has not yet been demarcated, government officials said.

Cambodia agreed "in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation" that the temple be nominated "without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple," according to a joint communiqué issued after the May 22 meeting, held in Paris between Council Minister Sok An and Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.

However, Thailand continues to press the international community for its own border demarcation, two informed government officials told VOA Khmer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Cambodian government is adhering to the dictates of a 1962 international court ruling, that the temple belongs to Camobia, in its Heritage Site application, both officials said.

The government will present its case to Unesco representatives on Friday for a decision at a July meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada.

Gov't mulls ending ban on foreign marriages

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 06 June 2008

A ban on marriages between Cambodians and foreigners could soon end, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng has said, as a meeting of top government officials got underway to discuss legislation that would allow these unions to resume.

The ban was enacted in April amid concerns that thousands of often poor and uneducated Cambodian women were being married off by brokers to foreign men, making them more vulnerable to trafficking.

"Trafficking has many faces ... therefore, we closed all of those marriage brokers," Sar Kheng said on June 4.

He was speaking at the release of the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons study, which this year upgraded Cambodia to Tier 2, the middle of three tiers which indicates that the country's is making efforts to address its trafficking problem.

Concern was sparked earlier this year by reports that the number of Cambodian brides going to South Korea has risen from just 72 in 2004 to more than 1,700 last year.

Large numbers of Cambodian women were also marrying Taiwanese men through brokers in Cambodia, many of which are unregulated.

"We cannot suspend [marriages] for a long time, or forever because it contradicts the Cambodian constitution and is discriminatory," Sar Kheng said.

"I will lead a meeting to draft a sub-decree [Friday] at the Ministry of Interior to end the suspension," he added. (Nguon Sovan)