Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The rich eat beef and the poor eat rat and Hun Sen said There is no poverty in Cambodia

San Smey eats a piece of roasted rat in the provincial town of Battambang, Cambodia.(Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)

Sacravatoons : " Khmer-Rock & Khmer-Race "

Courtesy Sacravatoon at

Beating the odds

Photo by Angela Cesere Union-Tribune
Chouy Chauv has been operating Super Donut in Carlsbad since March 1983. Chauv is a survivor of the regime of Pol Pot and the communist Khmer Rouge.

Cambodian immigrant escapes terror of Khmer Rouge to find new life in Carlsbad

Today's Local News
By Steven Mihailovich
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It’s a long way from the village of Batebong, Cambodia, to the Village of Carlsbad, but Chouy Chauv made it.

While the price of his journey has been high, the rewards have been just as satisfying.
Chauv is the owner of Super Donuts, a small stand-alone shop on the northwest corner of Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue, which he has been operating since March 1983.

Chauv made doughnuts every day for the first 11 years the business was in operation, closing only on Christmas and New Year’s Day and taking no vacations, he said.

In fact, Chauv married his wife, Sarah, on Dec. 25, 1984, so he wouldn’t have to close his shop for an extra day.

“We honeymooned in the doughnut shop,” Chauv said. “The next day, I had to open the shop and start making doughnuts. My kids still say I was crazy.”

It may sound like a hard life, but Chauv doesn’t see it that way at all. Not in comparison to his youth in Cambodia.

Chauv is a survivor of the regime of Pol Pot and the communist Khmer Rouge, which lasted from 1975 to 1979. During that period, an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians, about 21 percent of the population, were killed, many buried in the mass graves of the infamous Killing Fields.

That’s all in the past now for Chauv, who is busy running his doughnut shop from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day before locking up and going to pick up his wife at their second shop in Encinitas, which opened in 1994, he said.

While the past is gone, Chauv said it’s never forgotten.

“When I sit by myself, I think about that time,” Chauv said. “I think about the Khmer Rouge, how they killed so many people, how they tortured so many people, how so many people starved to death.”

Chauv still has nightmares about it.

He said the slaughter was indiscriminate. People were hung from trees, had their heads split open or were suffocated by having a plastic bag wrapped around their heads.

Chauv said the communists were particularly rough on women, preferring to slice open their innards.

The seventh of nine children, Chauv is one of five who survived the slaughter. Years later, he still sheds tears because he saw the communists cut the throat of his younger brother and his brother-in-law.

Chauv had a close shave himself when the communists came to his village. He said he was foraging through the forest one night when he was surrounded by four Khmer Rouge soldiers, none older than 15. Chauv remembers them dragging their AK-47s on the ground because the weapons were larger than they were.

They accused him of stealing a chicken, and they dug a hole, where he was certain they would place his body after shooting him.

Chauv denied the accusations.

“I said, ‘How can I eat when the whole county is hungry?’ ” Chauv said. “But I did steal it.”
Chauv said he endured torture for three successive nights.

They let him go, but in the meantime, the troops massacred people in his village.

“They were all gone, friends from school, neighbors,” Chauv said. “I don’t know why they let me go. I was praying. Maybe the god blinded them.”

Praying at a temple, Chauv vowed to help feed his village if he were allowed to live.

Chauv said he made good on that promise in 2006, sending $5,000 in cash in supplies to his former home village.

The chaos created by Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 provided the cover for Chauv to escape to Thailand, he said.

On Oct. 11, 1980, Chauv landedat Los Angeles International Airport carrying only one suitcase.
There he was reunited with his mother and a sister and brother, who had all escaped in 1975.

Two days later, Chauv began working at his sister’s doughnut shop in Santa Ana, where he learned the craft.

Chauv said he fell in love with Carlsbad during a stop there while on a family excursion to SeaWorld.

His brother later learned that the Carlsbad doughnut shop was for sale.

“My brother said, ‘You should buy it,’ ” Chauv recalled. “He wants only $20,000. I said, ‘Where am I going to get $20,000?’ ”

Chauv said he gathered small loans from the Cambodian immigrant community until he raised the money.

But he said running a business is no picnic when you don’t know the language.

“When people don’t speak English, they pay their taxes on time,” Chauv said. “My mother-in-law says, ‘You are lucky. You have no school, no education. How can you be a businessman?’ ”

To save money, Chauv and his wife slept in the shop’s windowless storage room for four years before buying a home in Oceanside in 1987.

“We’re from a poor country,” Chauv said. “We didn’t have electricity or running water. My wife didn’t complain, so I said, ‘Good.’ My kids ask, ’Daddy, why didn’t you get an apartment?’ I saved $500 a month for four years. I put a $30,000 down payment on my house.”

Jim Hinkle has been a regular customer at Super Donuts since 2004. Hinkle says Chauve represents the forgotten side of American immigration.

“His story is out there,” Hinkle said. “There are people doing it the right way. They really appreciate what we’ve got and (what we) take for granted.”

Chauv said he prefers the peace he has found in America and doesn’t miss Cambodia much, though he suspects he’ll visit one day.

On reflection, he said his has been a blessed life along a difficult path, but he still has one goal left.

“My life was excellent,” Chauv said. “When I think about my family, it’s very sad though. I know I’ll work to 65 or 70, if I live that long. But when I get done with everything, my dream is to take a vacation.”

Critical thinking can improve quality of life

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

Pacific Daily News
August 27, 2008

At 64, I am still learning every day, and as an educator, I will always champion students' right to a quality education. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically."

My focus on critical thinking relies on the Foundation for Critical Thinking as a primary source. The foundation describes critical thinking as "a core social value" and "a requirement for economic and social survival" in the 21st century. It's a "mode of thinking about any subject, content or problem in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it, and asks "essential questions" to deal with what is "necessary, relevant, and indispensable to a matter at hand."

Those who have read my columns know that I am prone to warning against the usual traps that befall humans, such as denial, blaming, gossiping, arrogance, among others. And I usually end up returning to thinking as the key to one's future, and to "living in goodness" as a basis of society.

I applaud the non-partisan Cambodian non-governmental organization in Phnom Penh, the Youth Resource Development Program,, which provides non-formal education to third-level college students (high school graduates in special cases), on "critical and analytical thinking skills" necessary to become "committed citizens" and "active members of society."

Founded in 1992 and formalized as an NGO in 1999, the program is located in Khan Tuol Kork, Cambodia. It says students come to its program "by word of mouth," and pay no tuition.

YRDP defines as its mission, "to strengthen Cambodian youth by developing their social conscience and awareness and by encouraging them to take responsibility for their own future, the future of their own family, their society and their country." It describes its program goal "to empower youth and strengthen their life skills, critical and analytical thinking ... to raise self-confidence, foster a sense of responsibility and enable youth to participate actively in building a culture of peace, justice and the sustainable development of Cambodia."

Some readers say peace is "a state of mind," but the generally accepted human aspirations for contentment, good health, and a level of economic self-sufficiency can't be attained in a world of chaos and disorder where the strong devours the weak. It follows that unless there's justice, there's no peace. Without that foundation, economic development can be little more than a mirage.

For YRDP, "implementing critical thinking in daily life" is the way to "improve quality life." And so, YRDP offers training courses in two parts: the required "core skills" concentrate on personal development ("The future of your country and the quality of your life depend on the quality of your thinking; if you want to change your life, change your thinking") and specific skills include a range of courses participants can select.

"As human beings, ... we cannot avoid conflict or problems, ... but we are able to manage and solve them, ... as a step to building peace," according to the course description on conflict and resolution. In its "active non-violence" course, YRDP aims to provide "skills, strategies, and lessons" by examining the "successful experiences" of people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Moha Ghossananda, Aung San Suu Kyi, "to encourage youth to find effective solutions for promoting peace, justice and development."

Among other training courses, YRDP offers leadership and good governance, values within society ("What could we change in Khmer culture to bring better peace and justice in Khmer society?"), democracy and governmental systems.

The "participatory and experiential methods of learning" (field practice) by students are used for each course; facilitators and trainers are university graduates trained in critical thinking and participatory education methods.

The program acknowledges that more than 30 years of warfare has befallen the Cambodian people and has hampered the nascent efforts to create and enforce "law, social justice, accountability, participatory decision-making, transparency and equality."

"Most Cambodian people do not well understand the application of democracy," and "there are many barriers" that include "threats, killings and arrests," a situation that "scares people from implementing their rights, and affects young people in speaking out about their concerns and needs."

YRDP sees its training course on democracy and governmental system as one that will "enable young people to learn to be good citizens in a democratic society through exercising their rights in appropriate ways."

This relatively young NGO is doing the Khmer nation a great service by stimulating the youth to engage in higher level thinking as they work to achieve peace, justice, and development in a country whose citizens have longed for progress for decades.

California's Foundation of Critical Thinking and Cambodia's YRDP may be many miles apart, but they share similar vision and philosophies.

The Foundation posits, "a mind with no questions" is intellectually dead as it doesn't proceed and doesn't process. It counsels, "keep asking new questions" to arrive at the "vast panorama of possible answers" from which to choose.

The power of ideas to foment change and achieve a "good" society should not be discounted.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years.

Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: Kep Is for Romance


This week, our Cambodia embed, Tim Patterson, is giving us the inside scoop on the country, live from a guesthouse in Sihanoukville.

If my girlfriend was in Cambodia, I would go to Kep tomorrow, rent a bungalow and spend a week eating seafood and making sweet, sweet love.

There's something about this classy little seaside resort town that's hopelessly romantic. Kep is one of my favorite spots in Cambodia even when I'm traveling solo, but with a partner... Ay! It's like a steamy bath of crab meat and rose petals.

Kep is about four hours south of Phnom Penh, just a stone's throw from the Vietnamese border. Some of the islands off the coast are claimed by Cambodia but occupied by Vietnam, so if you happen to travel with your own sailboat, be careful where you drop anchor: The Vietnamese coast guard has been known to light up Cambodian fishing boats that stray too far from shore.

Wistful Memories of a Golden Age:

Back in the 1950s and '60s, when Cambodia was one of the more successful and stable countries in the region, Kep was the playground of the Cambodian elite, who built fancy villas along the seaside promenade. The Khmer Rouge didn't like the villas very much, and the Vietnamese didn't like the Khmer Rouge. So, during the long and brutal war, Kep got hit harder than any place in Cambodia.

Today, most of the villas are still bombed out wrecks, but somehow the ruins of faded glory just add to the atmosphere.

Delicious Crabs:

The fresh seafood in Kep is delectable. Young women will wade out into the sea, haul up crab traps and stir-fry the tasty little critters in pepper and lime sauce. At the crab market, order by the kilo.

More than two pounds of crabs goes for about $6, meaning that if you factor in the value, Kep is the best place in the world to gorge on crustaceans.

Bungalows with a View:

The best guesthouses in Kep are on a hillside overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. My favorite is Le Bout du Monde, an atmospheric, French owned place with a delightful garden and an air of elegant simplicity.

Next to Le Bout du Monde is Veranda Natural Resort, a newer, more modern and more popular place with a busy restaurant. The Kep Lodge is a more secluded option, with comfortable bungalows, Wi-Fi and a swimming pool.

All three of these guesthouses back up to the Kep National Park, where there are trails that lead around a small mountain. Look out for monkeys on the trail.

The Simple Life:

There's not much to do in Kep besides eat delicious seafood, relax on your bungalow porch and have lots and lots of sex.

More ambitious souls can make a trip out to Koh Tonsay, or Rabbit Island, a peaceful little place whose inhabitants were recently evicted to make room for a Chinese owned resort development.

You can stay overnight on Koh Tonsay in simple bungalows, or just go for the day, wandering around the deserted beaches and modeling natural bikinis like the one I'm sporting in this photo. Sexy, no?

Cambodian orphans arrive in Honolulu for cultural exchange, performances

Khmer dance performed by the Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate (FLOW) just outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photos courtesy FLOW

30 children ages 14 to 20 to participate in cultural exchanges with other Oahu students during two–week visit, culminating with fundraising performance at Mamiya Theatre

Reader Submitted

A group of talented children from the Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate (FLOW) just outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, arrive on Oahu September 3.

Many will meet their email foster parents for the first time, and also participate in cultural exchanges with other Hawaii students of the same age from Kaimuki High School, Le Jardin, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Punahou School.

The visit culminates with an extravagant fundraising performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 13 at Mamiya Theatre. Tax-deductible tickets are available for $50 and $75 ($100 tickets are sold out) by calling 545-3676, and include a wine and pupu reception with the performers from 5 – 6:30 p.m. at the theatre plaza.

"For most of the children, this trip is the first time they've ever left Cambodia," said Oahu resident Rob Hail, Founder and President of Email Foster Parents International, a non-profit that pairs caring adults as foster parents with orphaned and vulnerable children in developing countries. "What's even more exciting is that on September 3, many foster parents will get to meet their foster kids for the first time, after years of frequent email correspondence. It's sure to be a chicken-skin moment."

FLOW was founded in 1992 by Phaly Nuon, a dynamic humanitarian who survived Cambodia's infamous "Killing Fields" of the Khmer Rouge. The orphanage cares for 250 children ages 5 to 22, and an additional 100 children who come from neighboring villages for lunch and English classes. All kids attend public school or university as a condition of residency, and the older children participate in caring for their younger "siblings". As part of the curriculum and to provide a link to their rich and ancient heritage, children are given the opportunity to learn Khmer classical dance and music.

Over the years, the program has grown and expanded, and in 2006 twelve students were invited to perform in Tokyo, Japan. Following this, Hail, and fellow Rotarians Nancy Walden and Hal Darcey decided they would figure out a way to get the children to Hawaii, despite many hurdles with visas and cost.

"We wanted to bring the kids here, so they could meet their foster parents in the flesh, as well as experience our American and Hawaiian cultures while sharing their own culture with us," said Nancy Walden, Cambodian Children Cultural Tour Chair. "These extremely talented teens represent a positive future for Cambodia. To see them perform is an inspiring and delightful experience."

Email Foster Parents International (EFPI) blossomed out of a program founded in 2001 by Rob Hail. The program become a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2008. Today EFPI provides a bridge between orphaned and vulnerable children in developing countries with responsible, caring international donors who offer them support and encouragement primarily through email correspondence and through a $360 annual donation that provides care for the foster child. Foster parents can travel to FLOW to meet their children, getting to know them while staying in FLOW's guesthouse.

"The relationship you build with your foster child is powerful," said Hal Darcey, EFPI Vice President. "Your encouraging words are so important; they soon start calling you mom or dad. If you have children, they begin to see them as brothers or sisters. It really touches your heart to know you are making such a difference in their lives."

Those who are interested in becoming a foster email parent should visit or call 545-3676.

PM hails Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia T-junction point agreement


VietNamNet Bridge – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hailed the fresh signing of an agreement on tri-junction point of land boundaries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

He called it “an event of major historical significance that paves the way for the three countries to cooperate for mutual development and practical benefits”, and lauded the negotiators for the efforts they had made for the signing of the agreement.

PM Dung made those remarks at his reception in Hanoi on Aug. 26 of Cambodian Senior Minister in charge of Border Affairs of the Council of Ministers Var Kim Hong and Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Phongsavath Boupha who came for the signing of the agreement.

He said following the agreement, the three countries should continue working on affairs pertaining to the defining of the Vietnam-Cambodia land borderline and the augment and strengthening of the system of border markers on the Vietnam-Laos land boundary.

The PM also said the three countries should work together to build their shared borders of peace, friendship, cooperation and development to serve the Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam Development Triangle Programme as reached by the three prime ministers.

He affirmed that the Party, State and people of Vietnam will do their best to foster their friendship with Laos and Cambodia, and expressed his hope that the three countries closely work for mutual development and benefit for their people.

The Cambodian and Lao officials agreed that the signing of the tri-junction point agreement was a historical event that reflects mutual trust and mutual understanding of the three countries in a bid to build their borderlines of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Cambodian Minister Var Kim Hong stated his country will reinforce cooperation with Vietnam to ensure the tempo of border demarcation and border marker planting.

He said he expected at least 100 border markers on the two countries’ shared borderline to be planted within this year and the planting of all border markers to be finished prior to 2012.

Meanwhile, Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Phongsavath Boupha affirmed his country will push for the planting of border markers on the two countries’ borderline to help bolster trade, tourism and other exchange of activities between local people living along the borderline.

Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos sign border crossing agreement

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos agreed on the tri-junction point of their land boundaries in Hanoi on August 26.

An agreement to this effect was signed by Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Dung, Senior Minister in charge of Border Affairs of the Council of Ministers of Cambodia Var Kim Hong and Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Phongsavath Boupha.

Under the agreement, the tri-junction point was defined to be on a mountain peak which is 1,086 m above the sea level where the borderlines of Vietnam’s Kon Tum Province, Laos’ Attapu Province and Cambodia’s Rattanakiri Province meet.

The border crossing was drawn in a map that was attached to the agreement and was verified by the three sides.

The border crossing agreement was made in the spirit of upholding the principles of equality and accuracy to ensure the tri-junction point is clear, easily recognisable, and favourable for the management of the three parties’ borderlines.

The agreement was also made to ensure that the national boundary of each country which was defined in the existing border treaties agreed by the three countries is not changed.

The signing of this agreement reflected the determination and spirit of solidarity and friendship of the governments and people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in settling border and territory-related issues.

At the signing ceremony, all three countries’ representatives affirmed their resolve to complete works related to the on-the-field demarcation of their land borders.

They pledged to spare no efforts to build, protect and manage the shared border into the one of peace, friendship, cooperation and development to support the implementation of the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle programme as agreed by the three Prime Ministers.

(Source: VNA)

Vietnam to Provide Telecommunication Satellite Services to Different Countries

Posted on 27 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“The Vietnamese newspaper Saigon Liberation reported on 22 August 2008 that a Vietnamese state company, Telecommunication International, which is responsible for the first Vietnamese telecommunications satellite VINASAT-1, has discussed with foreign customers the possibility to provide them services.

“Its important partners include Asia Broadcast Satellite [ABS], which is a big Asian company in telecommunications, based in Hong Kong, Universal Telecomm Services of the United States, Protostar of Singapore, and Thaicom of Thailand.

“Vietnam’s Telecom International and ABS have signed a protocol on the capacity of exchanges between VINASAT-1 and ABS-1. This document is used as a starting point for the cooperation between the two companies in telecommunication and satellite services.

“Medium scale satellite VINASAT-1 was launched in April 2008 with a capital of US$300 million. It can provide services over Southeast Asia, part of China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Hawaii. This satellite would last from 15 to 20 years. The transmitting capacity of VINASAT-1 corresponds to 10,000 telephone lines or 120 television stations.

“Before having its own telecommunication satellite, Vietnam had to spend $15 million each year on telecommunication satellite services of foreign countries such as of Russia, Australia, and Thailand.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6433, 26.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Tuesday, 26 August 2008

15 Years Reduced in Pedophile Appeal

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2008

The Appeals Court on Wednesday reduced the sentence of a Belgian man convicted of indecent acts with a minor by 15 years Tuesday, based on the enactment of a new anti-trafficking law.

Phillip Dassat, 46, was arrested in April 2006 and convicted of indecent acts with a 14-year-old boy at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Dassat to 18 years in prison under a previous statute.

Appeals Court Judge Um Sarith upheld the guilty verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but he said Article 43 of the "Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation" called for a sentence of only three years.

Dassat was also fined 6 million riel, or $15,000. The three-year sentence and fine are the maximum allowed under the new law.

Nou Chantha, lawyer for the accused, said Tuesday he was "satisfied" with the reduction of the sentence.

Samleang Seila, country director for the anti-trafficking group Action Pour Les Enfants, said the new law did not signal a strong intention to stop acts of pedophilia.

Imprisonments for sexual acts are "short," he said, calling for further amendments to the law.
The new law, which was enacted in trafficking, calls for five to 10 years in prison for sexual acts with minors and up to 3 years for indecent acts.

Under the old law, indecent acts could lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years, Samleang Seila said.

The number of pedophile cases against underage boys was lower in 2008 compared to 2006 and 2007, Keo Thia, deputy chief of the anti-trafficking and juvenile protection unit of the Phnom Penh police, said Tuesday.

"The criminals seem to be afraid of our police, who have cracked down on many pedophile cases," he said.

Police have made three arrests of suspected foreign pedophiles since January, he added.

Tribunal Kickbacks Still a Hurdle for US

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
26 August 2008

The US can directly fund some of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, if the courts can clear themselves of corruption allegations, outgoing US ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said.

"I think we need to find from the Cambodian side a clear, firm commitment to get rid of corruption on the administrative side," Mussomeli said. "I think in Washington everybody now is very much looking forward to finding funding to help directly assist the tribunal, if we could just work this last thing out."

The tribunal has been hampered by allegations of kickbacks, corruption and mismanagement.

Donor countries to the tribunal are now considering whether to continue funding the courts, following fresh allegations of kickbacks made by Cambodian staff in June.

The Cambodian side has established a task force to deal with the allegations.

Traffic Crashes More Serious in 2008: Police

Phnom Penh Deputy Traffic Police Chief Chev Hak and Meas Chandy, road safety coordinator for Handicap Cambodia

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
26 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 25 August ( 5.75 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 25 August ( 5.75 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Traffic officials and police said Monday excessive speeds on the roads were leading to more deadly accidents this year.

In the first five months of 2008, 10,555 people were injured in traffic accidents while 645 were killed, said Meas Chandy, road safety coordinator for Handicap Cambodia.

In the previous year, more than 2,000 people were injured in the same period, but only 616 died, Meas Chandy said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

The increase of deaths was the result of "over-speed and drunken driving," said Phnom Penh Deputy Traffic Police Chief Chev Hak, also as a guest on the show.

Cambodia has the highest rate of traffic accidents in Southeast Asia, Chev Hak said.

Meas Chandy urged drivers to wear a helmet, which can greatly reduce the chances of dying in a traffic accident.

Responding to complaints that traffic police shake down Phnom Penh drivers for bribes, Chev Hak said the policy of the traffic policy was to fine officers up to 6 million riel, or $1,500, for illegally demanding money.

European Parliament Hears From Khmer Krom & Montagnard Representatives

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Subcommittee on Human Rights learned of the latest human rights abuses going unpunished in Cambodia and Vietnam directly from UNPO Members.

Below is an article written by UNPO:

In the first meeting of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights following the summer recess, representatives from the Khmer Kumpuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) and the Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI) have provided the committee with an up-to-date assessment of the human rights situations of minorities in Cambodia and Vietnam.

UNPO joined other observers in a packed committee room to hear KKF and MFI representatives give their evidence alongside counterparts from organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights in China, and Human Rights Watch.

On the subcommittee’s agenda were an exchange of views following the close of the Olympic Games in China, the current human rights situations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and lastly the state of human rights in Moldova.

Initial discussions dwelt on the impact the Olympic Games had had on China’s policy towards its citizens. Mrs. Hom, representing Human Rights in China, stated her organization’s belief that political change in China would have to be driven by civil society within the country. This was reiterated by representatives from the European Commission who referred attendees to the case of bloggers driving criticism of the authorities.

Despite these comments, the European Commission stated only its “disappointment” that any improvements in China’s human rights record had not been commensurate with the promises made in the run-up to the Games. In fact, it was felt that the Olympic Games may have put the promotion of Chinese human rights on hold – but that the conclusion of the Games may allow China to put its human rights record “back on track”.

This generous assessment was not shared by Mr. McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament. He declared China the “most brutal regime” in the international community and urged the European Parliament to continue to amass evidence on China’s human rights and the international community to maintain its pressure on China.

Attentions then shifted to the respective human rights situations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Mr. Vien Thach, of the KKF read an appeal (which is contained below) detailing a litany of religious, land right, education, and media curtailments that affected the daily lives of Khmer Krom in Vietnam.

Responses were heard from the ambassadors for Cambodia and Vietnam who respectively expressed their commitment to building political stability within their countries but who, in the opinion of many of those gathered, still had much to do to safeguard the rights of all those living within their states’ borders.

Mr. Kok Ksor, of the MFI, rebuffed claims by the Vietnamese government that it targeted only those who had committed criminal acts, and instead cited a long list of instances where the government had conducted surveillance and confiscations against the Montagnard minority. Using the opportunity to address the subcommittee, Mr. Ksor urged the European Parliament and the institutions of the European Union to take the lead in ensuring Vietnam’s observance of the international human rights instruments to which it is a signatory.

The Subcommittee on Human Rights will next meet in the European Parliament in Brussels at 15h00 on Wednesday 10 September 2008.
UNPO Members are reminded of the following
deadlines for the United Nations Human Rights
Council Universal Periodic Review:
Vietnam: Monday 3 November 2008
Cambodia: Monday13 April 2009
----------- o 0 o ----------

Below is the appeal presented by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation to the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament on 25 August 2008:

On behalf of the Khmer-Krom refugees in Cambodia, we would like to bring to your attention regarding the human rights violations that have been committed by the Cambodian government toward the Khmer-Krom refugees in Cambodia.

On February 27, 2007, some Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnem Penh to demand the Vietnamese release their fellow Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who were imprisoned in Vietnam after participating [in] a peaceful demonstration to demand freely practice their Theravada Buddhism. After [they] came back from the demonstration, Venerable Eang Sok Thoeun, 32 years old, was found with his throat slit at Tronom Chroeng pagoda, Boeng Thom commune, Ang Snoul district, Kandal Province, under mysterious circumstances. His body was buried in haste in the middle of the night by the Cambodian police. The police also forbade bringing his corpse for organizing a Cambodian traditional funeral ceremony.

On April 20, 2007, the Cambodia authority used a violent group of Cambodian monks who served for the Cambodian authority to beat up Khmer Krom monks conducting a peaceful demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy. Venerable Lim Yuth, 23 years old, was injured when a rock was thrown by the opposing monk and hit his left eyebrow.

On 30 June 2007, Venerable Tim Sakhorn, Abbot of North Phnom-Denh temple in Phnom-Denh village, Karivong District, Takeo province, Cambodia, was summoned to meet the Head Monk of the Takeo province at Takeo City. After the meeting, the Cambodia authority ad the Head Monk accused Venerable Tim Sakhorn of using his temple as a place “to propagate activities that divide their relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam” as stated in the letter used to defrock Ven. Tim Sakhorn by Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong.

After being defrocked, Venerable Tim Sakhorn disappeared. The spokesmen of the Cambodian authorities were flip-flopping with the whereabouts of Venerable Tim Sakhorn. The spokesman of the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom-Penh, Trinh Ba Cam, had previously denied any knowledge of Venerable Tim Sakhorn’s whereabouts after his disappearance from Cambodia.

What is more disturbing is the fact that the letter to defrock Venerable Tim Sakhorn was secretly approved on Frebruary 17, 2007 by Venerable Tep Vong who is the “King” of Cambodian Buddhist monks in Cambodia, but the people in Cambodia did not know about it until today. That approved letter was translated from Khmer to Vietnamese and the VC government distributed and posted the letter across all Khmer-Krom Buddhist temples in South Vietnam. It is a clear act of intimidation to suppress further human rights activities and movement by Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who want to stand up for their religious rights.

Today, Tim Sakhorn remains in house detention in An Giang under heavy surveillance, a condition which was not previously mentioned during the court hearing.

On 17 December 2007, approximately 50 Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia marched peacefully to Vietnamese Embassy to hand up a petition. The petition called on the VC government to release Venerable Tim Sakhorn and five other Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks currently imprisoned in Khleang province. The Vietnam Embassy refused to take the petition and ordered the Cambodian police to disperse the monks.

A fight broke out and electric batons were used by the Cambodian police against the defenceless monks. The monks tried to head back to their pagoda as fast as they could run. The police chased the monks for more than four blocks, some kicking the monks with their boots while others or shocking them with electric batons. Three monks were unconscious, namely, Venerable Ly Vanny, Venerable Meng Savan Dararithy and Venerable Lam Keo Samnang and fifteen others were wounded.

On bahlf of the Khmer Krom refugees in Cambodia, I would like to appeal for your assistance to:

1- Urge the Cambodian government to recognize Khmer Krom as refugees when they arrived at Cambodia because they flee from Vietnamese seeking fro refugee status. If Cambodia tactically considers Khmer Krom refugees as Cambodian citizens, then the world will not know that Khmer Krom escaped Vietnam because of the human rights violations committed by the Vietnamese government.

2- Urge the Cambodian government to negotiate with Vietnam for the release and return of Venerable Tim Sakhorn, who is a Cambodian citizen.

3- Ask the Cambodian government to implement initiatives, program to help refugees fleeing the border rather than just status recognition to ensure that these refugees are given immediate aid and protection rather than left to fend for themselves.

4- Urge the Cambodian government to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the murder case of the Venerable Eang Sok Thoeun and bring the killer to court.

5- Urge the Cambodian to respect the basic right to conduct a peaceful demonstration of the Khmer Krom Buddhist monks who just demand to release their fellow Buddhist monks from prison in Vietnam.

6- Urge the member countries of the European Parliament to provide support to Khmer Krom refugees who are living in difficult situation in Thailand. If possible, please help to grant refugee status to live in your country.

Smoking profits for farmers

RICK VALENZUEL; A Cigarette vendor Seng Ly plies her wares Monday on Sothearos Boulevard, where she has sold cigarettes for 15 years.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Brendan Brady
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Cambodia's small number of tobacco growers reap the benefits of rising prices as exports to Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Australia are set to increase

RISING tobacco prices and stronger ties to foreign buyers could jump-start Cambodia's idle tobacco industry, sector officials say.

Kong Triv, chairman of the Cambodia branch of British American Tobacco (BAT) and head of the government's tobacco export committee, told the Post that his company's export of tobacco to its sister operations in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Australia has risen from 400 tonnes in 2003 to around 1,500 tonnes in the past few years.

He said the country is prepared to increase exports even more as production increases.

"With a price of US$1,300 a tonne, about $10 million is generated annually in Cambodia from tobacco crops, and the number stands to increase," Kong Triv said last week.

Once harvested across a broad swathe of land northeast of Phnom Penh, tobacco crops are now limited to riverfront plots in Kampong Cham, where BAT has direct contract with local farmers harvesting some 7,300 hectares of land.

Each hectare yields about two to three tonnes of dried tobacco, according to Kong Triv.

He said that currently Cambodia's four tobacco processing factories receive 85 percent of their supply from local crop. This represents a significant increase from a decade ago, when the Kingdom imported most of its tobacco.

Domestic tobacco production grew in the early 1990s, but plummeted by the turn of the cent nguon sovan and Brendan bradyury. It has seen a resurgence in recent years, however.

"The British American Tobacco company has exclusive rights to export tobacco out of Cambodia, and they have direct contracts with farmers," said Lim Saody, head of the marketing office at the Ministry of Agriculture.

With an exclusive contract for tobacco export from the Kingdom, BAT stands to benefit from any growth in the industry, he said.

And the rise of independent farmers is unlikely in this phase of the industry's growth since "farmers who are not part of a contract system are less likely to get into it because it requires a lot of technical advice and inputs," explained Tim Purcell, director of Phnom Penh-based NGO Agriculture Development International.

He added that the rise of agribusiness in Cambodia is a logical progression for a country that no longer has to focus solely on farming to feed its population and that tobacco is a lucrative cash crop.

" The level of quality achieved ... is a promising sign for the development of an exportable cash crop. "

According to a 2003 World Bank report, Towards a Private Sector-Led Growth Strategy for Cambodia, "the level of quality achieved in Cambodia for blending tobacco in recent years is a promising sign for the development of an exportable cash crop".

Sdoeung Trap, a member of Kampong Cham province's Koh Samrong commune council who is himself a tobacco farmer, said that over the last two years all 1,300 families, owning 450 hectares of land in the commune, have switched to planting tobacco.

Tobacco is grown on small plots but yields a higher output than other crops such as corn and beans, he said.

"Farmers have moved to tobacco since they are getting a high price. With a strong market for tobacco now, farmers in the commune are doing better than farmers elsewhere who are growing corn or beans," he said.

He said the tobacco crops from his commune are purchased by BAT as well as middlemen who sell to Vietnam.

Cambodia, however, still faces the task of better branding as it enters deeper into the international market.

"Like wine, smokers show loyalty to a particular flavour of tobacco," NGO director Purcell said.

"So it can be hard for a new variety to find buyers."

Tradition goes airborne

RICK VALENZUEL; A Kite-maker Roeung Sareth assembles a kite on Monday at the Kite Museum in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A unique museum in Phnom Penh preserves a high-flying tradition and encourages a new generation to go fly a kite

KITE flying throughout Cambodia's history has always flourished during times of freedom and diminished during times of war," says Sim Sarak, mastermind of the one-of-a-kind National Kite Museum in Phnom Penh.

"Kite flying is all about peace and happiness," said Sim Sarak, who is also co-author of the book Khmer Kite.

"Since 1992 a small number of older people who flew kites before the civil war and still remember ways to make them have taken to making kites again."

Kites have a long and vibrant history and hold an important place in the country's culture.

"Kite flying in Cambodia dates back to 400BC when the Phnong people of the northern provinces invented the ‘khleng', or rapacious bird, an unsophisticated version of today's kite," Sim Sarak said. "In Angkorian times kites were considered as gods of the wind as they were thought to create winds when flown."

The kite-flying festival traditionally marked the end of the wet season, Sim Sarak said. Ancient Khmer kings celebrated the festival on the full moon of the first month of the Khmer calendar, which falls in November or December.

"This is the time of the year, after planting and before harvest, when the farmers could spare the time to make and fly kites," Sim Sarak said.

Sim Sarak never forgot his early fascination with kites before the Khmer Rouge put a stop to the tradition in the 1970s. "When I was nine, I used to fly kites in Kampong Cham province. My friends and I would compete with each other to see who could keep their kite in the air the longest."

Building on this childhood obsession and the wish to preserve the tradition, Sim Sarak and his wife, Cheang Yarin, created the National Kite Museum in 2003. The museum now holds a collection of 200 kites from various times and different parts of the country, as well as kites flown at national and international festivals.

Most famous is the Khleng Ek, or musical kite, equipped with a vibrating hummer that produces seven different sounds and comes in 27 distinct designs.

"The Khleng Ek is fitted with a musical bow which produces a beautiful and ‘eerie' sound when it vibrates in the wind," said Sim Sarak. "The bigger Khleng Eks have a wing span of more than four metres, and around 5 people are needed to get the kite up in the air."

Making a Khleng Ek is a difficult process which usually takes around a week. "The kite is made out of natural materials including bamboo, rattan, slek trang [leaves prepared for writing], or silk."

The nation's first kite-flying festival in 135 years was held in Phnom Penh in 1994 and brought together enthusiasts from nine provinces. By 2007, all provinces were represented.

"This year the kite festival will be held December 6," Sim Sarak said. "Last year about a hundred competitors attended, and I am expecting a similar number of participants this year."

A location has yet to be chosen, but past festivals have been held in Hun Sen Park.

Sim Sarak hopes that Cambodia will not lose the tradition of kite flying again. "With elders passing on their knowledge, kite flying is becoming more popular among the younger generation, and I am hoping that as long as there is peace in the country the tradition will not be lost again."

Illegal cattle exports to Vietnam on the rise, border villagers say

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Local officials allegedly colluding with smuggling gangs rustling cows from across Cambodia

SVAY RIENG - Cattle smuggling to Vietnam is on the rise, according to residents in Svay Rieng province, who say local police are turning a blind eye to a flourishing cross-border trade.

Villagers in Svay Rieng's Sala Rean commune told the Post that packed cattle trucks were constantly moving over the border in open violation of Cambodian law.

Mechanic Chum Kroch said last week that trucks pass through his village regularly at 7:30 each morning on their way to the border. "In each truck [convoy] there are about 50 or 60 cows, and while I heard that they keep [the cows] at the border, in fact they are importing them into Vietnam," he said. "These people must have high-ranking officers behind their business, because the border police don't dare to speak to them."

Chan Thon, a farmer from Sala Rean, said Vietnamese demand was encouraging Cambodians to sell cattle over the border. "It is a smart business.

The big cows are exported to Vietnam and the baby cows are kept in farms near the border," he said. "Vietnam doesn't only buy cows. They even buy our cow manure, so my village does not have as much manure [to use as cooking fuel] as in the past.

"But Mao, a customs officer at the border in Kampong Rou district, said there was little he could do to stop the smuggling, saying that he was in a "simple position" and had no real ability to make arrests. "We know everything but we need to keep quiet," he said.

Meun, a police officer at the border, said that on the one occasion when local authorities tried to stop a cattle truck, shots were fired from the passenger side. Since then, they have waved every truck through.

Farmer Bun Ry from Bassac commune said the cross-border cattle trade posed risks for local livestock.

"It is not only destroying the road. If the cattle are diseased, they could infect the village's cows and buffalo," he said, adding that most of the smuggled cattle came from as far away as Kampong Cham, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces.

Nhoung Yenu, chief of Svay Rieng's Bassac commune, said that heavy cattle trucks were heading towards the frontier with increasing frequency and called on the government to staunch the illegal trade.

"The police, who should be controlling them, never listen," he said. "I want people with higher ranks to put a stop to this traffic."

Svay Chrum District Governor Uy Han, however, denied that cattle were being smuggled into Vietnam, saying that only one company has an export licence.

Mental health in cambodia: some facts and figures

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

TPO estimates that 30 percent of Cambodians suffer from mental health issues, which include anything from depression and alcoholism to forms of psychosis. They estimate the current figure in most Western countries is four percent. The National Institute of Mental Health in the US has estimated that 51 percent of Cambodians suffer from mood-related disorders, compared with an estimated 9.5 percent in the West.

Ka Sunbunat, professor of psychiatry and director of the National Programme for Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, estimated that about 60 percent of Cambodians who were alive during the Khmer Rouge regime are living with a mental illness.

The Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital is the only hospital in Phnom Penh where people can seek psychiatric care, suffering serious overcrowding as a result. It offers three different treatment methods: consultation, medication and rehabilitation. Psychologist Mony Sothara said that ideally treatment is tailored to individual needs. The biggest problem, Mony Sothara said, was a lack of resources: There are only 26 psychiatrists in Cambodia and 40 psychiatric nurses.

Dey Krahorm activist sentenced to 3 years for eviction protest

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Community representative claims he is not guilty, while local rights groups decry the sentence, half of which was suspended

THE latest episode in the protracted dispute over the Dey Krahorm community played out in a legal battleground Monday when the Phnom Penh Municipality Court sentenced a former community representative, Lor Seiha, to three years in jail and ordered him to pay US$250 in compensation.

Lor Seiha was arrested July 16 on charges of falsifying documents and defamation as he sought to mobilise the community against developer 7NG.

On Monday he was found guilty on both charges, as well as of assaulting Dey Krahorm community leader, Soeung Yikou, and sentenced to jail. He is to serve half his term.

The accusations against Lor Seiha were made by seven Dey Krahorm community representatives who had agreed to leave the land and accept payment from 7NG.

Lor Seiha argued that he did not falsify any documents but that some 972 Dey Krahorm families had genuinely asked him to represent them.

"I did not force people to put their thumbprint on paper to get rid of the community leader, but people asked me to help them," Lor Seiha told the Post after his hearing Monday.

Lor Seiha's lawyer, who was absent from the hearing, questioned the verdict, saying "the people nominated my client as their representative to help them reclaim their land".

Unjust verdict

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor from the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said that the judgment is unjust because all Lor Seiha did was to try to protect the Dey Krahorm community.

According Phan Narin, one of the community representatives, only 90 of the original 1,465 families remain in Dey Krahorm, while the rest have moved to Damnak Trayoeng village in Dangkao district.

Development company 7NG has claimed the land, but residents say that their properties were given to them by Prime Minister Hun Sen as a "social land concession" in July 2003. The remaining families are currently fighting for an on-site apartment building.

Pailin farmers cry foul over land seizure

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

VILLAGERS in Pailin municipality say high-ranking local officials are preventing farmers from tending lands granted to them by the government.

"About 80 hectares of land have been taken away by municipal authorities," said Vor Roum, chief of Stueng Trang district. "Our people are very poor and rely on this land for their survival."

Neang Thy, a farmer in Stueng Trang, said authorities told him his latest corn harvest would be his last.

"I have worked my farm since 1999," he said. "Now, authorities say the land belongs to the municipality for development and I can no longer farm it."

The dispute arose when municipal officials last week attempted to survey boundaries around Preal Mountain outside Pailin, according to Yem Lang, governor of Sala Krau commune.

The governor said officials are not trying to steal land from farmers but protect it from illegal logging and attempts by local residents to take land that doesn't belong to them and sell it to others.

"We are trying to protect the area as we decide how to develop the municipal land," Yem Lang said.

Vor Roum said the municipality had previously stated in 2001 that it would grant rights to the disputed land to the homeless as a social land concession but that nothing has yet materialised.

Neang Thy said officials have other plans for the land. "They say it will be used for future development in the municipality, but they simply want to sell it to rich businessmen," he said.

Residents willing to relocate if developer makes right offer

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Real estate developer with eyes on prime Phnom Penh location finds residents are holding out for a good price for their land

MORE than 300 families who have lived in the T85 area of Tonle Bassac commune since the early 1990s said that they are willing to leave their prime real estate if the Khov Sambath company, which announced plans to develop the land in 2009, offers them acceptable compensation.

Ay Sokun Thoeun, 50, who has lived since 1993 on her 40-square-metre block in the T85 area - which is just off Phnom Penh's Sothearos Boulevard - said that since the price of land started skyrocketing a few years ago, at least two companies have either tried to buy her land or have claimed ownership over it.

" I just want a sufficient amount of money to buy a new house. "

"I want US$1,000 per square metre," Ay Sokun Thoeun said. "I don't want to resist leaving my home. I just want a sufficient amount of money to buy a new house in Phnom Penh, and land is expensive now."

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told the Post that he had met with representatives of the companies that wish to develop the land in a closed-door meeting Monday.

"The meeting was held to confirm that Khov Sambath company purchased the T85 area in 1991 from the Ministry of Defence and that other companies could not compete with Khov Sambath to buy land from the villagers," Chuktema said.

Sim Vey, chief of Village 8 in the T85 area, confirmed that there are currently two development companies vying with the Khov Sambath company to obtain the land and said that the area's residents were squatters.

"The land belongs to Khov Sambath," he said.

Their final offer?

Khun Bun Soeun, Khov Sambath's general manager for the T85 area, told the Post Monday that the company is prepared to pay villagers up to $550 per square metre in compensation for the land.

"It is the current market price for the land in the area, and we will not be offering more money to the villagers in the future," Khun Bun Soeun said, adding that half the villagers have sold their houses to the company for $300 per square metre.

Khun Bun Soeun said that he did not know when the company would start to develop the land but added that the villagers would probably have to leave the area within the next six months.

Bonna Realty Group President Sung Bonna said that the price of land in the T85 area was currently $550-$600 per square metre for public or government land and $1,000-$2,000 per square-metre for private land.

The Khov Sambath company bought over four hectares of land in T85 in 1991 from the Ministry of Defence, which had used it as a military base, says Khun Bun Soeun, general manager of the Khov Sambath company’s T85 development.

CPP weighs shake-up of foreign diplomat posts

HENG CHIVOAN; Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is considering a reshuffle of diplomats.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Funcinpec faces further losses in a new government as foreign diplomatic appointments are re-evaluated

The Cambodian People's Party is considering changes to its foreign missions in a reshuffle that could further marginalise Funcinpec members in the Kingdom's new government, which is to be announced in September.

"We are in the process of discussing the issue," Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith told the Post on Monday.

"Funcinpec has asked the CPP to keep their party's members in current overseas posts, and we are considering the request."

He added that some Funcinpec ambassadors have a good work record and could see substantial promotions in a new government if they are replaced.

Sin Bunthoeun, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said several Funcinpec diplomats have completed their three-year terms while others were set to expire soon.

"I think Funcinpec has about five or six ambassadors currently posted overseas," Sin Bunthoeun told the Post.

The government has already announced one change to its overseas missions: You Ay, currently secretary of state at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, will replace Ung Sean as head of the Thailand mission.

Ung Sean will be named secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He has served in diplomatic posts for the last nine years.

The potential reshuffle follows an announcement earlier this month that all Funcinpec ministerial posts had been given to the highest-ranking CPP secretary of state at the relevant ministry.

Funcinpec Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay, who helped garner support among party members to collaborate with the CCP after last month's polls, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

US ambassador hopeful for Cambodia as mission ends

HENG CHIVOAN; Outgoing US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli and Prime Minister Hun Sen at a ceremony Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Joseph Mussomeli cites economic growth, improved political climate as successes as he gets set to return to Washington

CITING closer cooperation in a number of areas, including military and counter-terrorism measures, departing US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli bid farewell Monday to a diplomatic tour that he described as "by far the best" in his 28 years in the US Foreign Service.

"The sense of mutual respect, appreciation and even friendship between [America and Cambodia] is improving," he said.

He added, however, that "a few years of good relations can't really compensate for decades of misunderstandings and distrust", referring to the long thaw in relations that has taken place since Cambodia was a communist pariah state.

But while Mussomeli has never shied away from criticising Cambodia's most obvious flaws, he told reporters that the Kingdom's political and economic climates had improved fundamentally during his tenure.

"The new generation of Cambodians are not as easy to intimidate, not as easy to manipulate," he said, adding that Cambodia remains one of the "last frontiers" in Southeast Asia - a largely undiscovered country with vast potential in terms of future growth.


In the last 18 months alone, four American business delegations, including majors such as General Electric, Microsoft and Carghill, have come to Cambodia in a development that Mussomeli said was "remarkable because before that, we had not had any US business delegations since before the Vietnam War".

He credited the Kingdom's market-friendly policies as one of the reasons why businesses from the US have been, over the course of his tour, slowly rediscovering Cambodia.

No China contest

Mussomeli also downplayed the suggestion that the US and China are vying for influence in Cambodia.

"If there is one thing I would hope for in the future, that would be better coordination (among donors).... I would like to see in the future that China comes into that fold," he said, referring to the fact that China is not a member of the Consultative Group of donors - which includes European countries, Japan and the US.

On the eve of his departure, the ambassador described his memories of the country as bittersweet and often contradictory.

Sometimes "it seems like there are two countries occupying the same space", he said, in an allusion Cambodia's extremes of poverty and wealth.

Mussomeli introduced Piper Campbell as the temporary charge d'affair until his expected replacement, Carol Rodley, is sworn in by the US Senate.

That could happen, he said, in a couple of months, but might possibly be delayed until next year.

Ruling party promotes women

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio and Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Ministry appoints female deputy governors in all but one province

THE ruling Cambodian People's Party has announced an increase in the number of female appointees to government, according to officials who said women have now been elevated to the position of deputy governor in 23 of the Kingdom's provinces and municipalities.

"The Ministry of Interior has appointed women as deputy provincial governors in all the provinces and municipalities except Pailin, where it is still looking for a candidate," said Sak Setha, director general of the ministry's General Administration Department.

"We are carrying out our long-term policy regarding the integration of women into [Cambodia's] political affairs," he said, adding that the appointments were made just prior to the July 27 general election, which saw large gains for the CPP.

Each province and municipality has five or more deputy governors, posts that have historically been dominated almost entirely by men.

Chou Bun Eng, the director general for social development at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said the appointments were an important first step on the road to equality.

"Even if there are still no female provincial governors, the women will learn a lot in their new positions," she said. "We lack a balance between men and women, [but] the policy has encouraged more women to have roles in government."

But Mu Sochua, Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary general, said the government's progress in gender equality was being offset by the exclusion of talented women who were not members of the CPP.

"I am in favour of having more women in decision-making positions, but these should not be political appointments," she said.

"These are positions within the government, and should therefore be open to other qualified women in the civil service."

Opposition demands re-vote in provinces

HENG CHIVOAN; Human Rights Party leader Kem Sokha (left) and Sam Rainsy Party’s Mu Sochua speak to reporters on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Opposition parties continue attack on NEC over vote tallies

Sam Rainsy Party leader claims new proof of massive voter fraud by the NEC in three provinces and calls for a re-vote

OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy hurled a slew of fresh charges Monday at the Kingdom's National Election Committee, claiming that it had falsified vote tallies from polling stations in three provinces at the behest of the Cambodian People's Party and demanded a revote.

"Our election observers found that 11-04 forms from 119 polling stations had been changed," Sam Rainsy said at a press conference.

"The NEC has accused us of making these changes, but we would have no reason to do this."

The 11-04 forms are used to note the total number of votes received by each party at a particular polling station. They are NEC documents and are taken by NEC officials from individual polling stations to their central headquarters.

Sam Rainsy said his complaints focus on irregularities at polling stations in Svay Rieng province, but that observers found major discrepancies in Kampot and Pursat provinces as well, adding that a re-vote in these provinces should be held.

" The CPP’s 90 seats do not belong to them. Some of them belong to us. "

"We should have opened the ballot boxes and recounted the votes," he said, adding that he had asked for recounts on 16 boxes but was refused.

"I believe that if we had asked for only one box to be recounted, our request would still have been refused because even one case would show that the vote tallies had been changed."

HENG CHIVOAN; Sam Rainsy speaks to reporters at a press conference in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Kem Sokha, president of Human Rights Party, which has aligned itself to the SRP in the aftermath of the polls, said it would be meaningless for both parties to join the National Assembly when it convenes in September to announce the new government.

He argued that the Assembly does not represent the people or the nation, but belongs to the CPP and is a pawn of the Vietnamese government.

"It would not be right for us to sit in parliament," Kem Sokha said. "The CPP's 90 seats do not belong to them. Some of them belong to us."Khieu Kanharith, CPP spokesman and information minister, could not be reached for comment Monday.

NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said Monday the SRP documents were handwritten and prove nothing, while the voter tally forms submitted to the NEC show no irregularities. He added that any changes to the documents would have been done by the opposition.

"If [Sam Rainsy] has clear evidence of irregularities, a revote could take place," he said. "If he does not, that should be the end of the matter.

Constitutional Council Denies SRP Recount

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2008

The Constitutional Council on Tuesday rejected the request for a ballot recount in Svay Rieng province, claiming the Sam Rainsy Party showed false evidence in its case.

The Sam Rainsy Party had requested a recount in 650 ballot stations, citing a difference in counting results between the party and the National Election Committee results.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy walked out of the hearing, telling reporters the proceeding was like a movie "scene" and the decision by the Council had been made in advance.

A recount would have showed cheating by the NEC, he said. NEC representatives denied the accusations during the hearing.

The Council should have taken more time to investigate before declaring its decision, as it is the last place for complaints to be heard, said Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

Ministry Yet to Detail FBI Aid in Murder Case

Opposition journalist Khim Sambor, who wrote for Moneaksekar Khmer, was killed July 11.

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
26 August 2008

The Ministry of Interior has formed an "investigation committee" to determine how to move forward in the murder case of opposition journalist Khim Sambor, an official said Tuesday.

The ministry has received a letter from the FBI, but the investigation committee will decide how the FBI can help, said Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak told VOA Khmer.

The ministry has requested the help of the FBI, but US officials said this week they were still waiting for a specific responses on how the US agency might help the investigation.

"We're still waiting," former US ambassador Joseph Mussomeli told reporters before leaving the country Monday. "We are still awaiting from the police a list of exactly what they think they need from us."

"We have very good ideas of what they need from us, and we are sharing that as well," Mussomeli said.

The FBI could help, for example, through the use of a sketch artist or forensic specialists, US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said Tuesday.

Khim Sambor was shot dead in Phnom Penh on July 11, along with his son, two weeks ahead of national elections. No suspect has been arrested.