Friday, 14 November 2008

Cambodia to unveil hybrid rice to interest investors


PHNOM PENH, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A newly developed Cambodian high-yielding hybrid rice variety will be presented in Kampong Thom province on Monday to interest investors in large-scale cultivation, national media said on Friday.

Louis Kek, director of Malaynesia Resources, part of the Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture responsible for the new variety's development, said that his company is holding discussion with foreign investors to cultivate 50,000 hectares of this kind of rice in the province.

Singaporean and Middle Eastern investors had been invited to inspect the first harvest of a 2-hectare test plot of the Cambodian Super Hybrid Rice, he was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily as saying.

The project will enlarge its production area in the province to200 hectares in the next growing season, he said.

"We are ready for large-scale implementation. I expect it to become widely accepted because of the increase in yields," he said, adding that 7 to 8 tons of yield of rice variety per hectare over the traditional 2.5 tons of yield of other types.

Cambodia used to lead the Southeastern Asian countries in exporting rice, but later lagged behind due to years of war. The government in recent years has established plans to improve its rice production for export and foreign currency income.

Farmers caught out by sudden change in rice demand

Porters and rice dealers bring high-quality Cambodian fragrant rice through the border at An Giang Province.

November 14, 2008

Competition from cheap high-quality rice from Cambodia has left Mekong Delta farmers with mounting stockpiles of suddenly unpopular low-quality rice.

The farmers from Vietnam’s southern rice bowl have thousands of tons of IR50404 variety rice from their fall-winter crop, harvested in late September.

Farmers had been expecting rice traders to snap up the high-yielding low-quality IR50404 variety rice, which was grown in about 30 percent of the Mekong Delta’s cultivated land.

But rice traders are no longer interested in IR50404, preferring to buy high-quality rice to meet increased domestic demand for fragrant rice.

IR50404 has a 15-25 percent broken grain rate, the cheapest type of rice. High-quality rice only has a 5 percent broken grain rate.

Rice dealers, who used to buy unhusked rice from farmers and resell the husked rice to traders, are now preferring to buy fragrant rice such as Jasmine or Khawdakmali from Cambodia.

Cambodian farmers are selling Jasmine and Khawdakmali rice for VND5,000-VND5,300 (US$0.30-0.32) a kilogram. Cambodian farmers are keen to sell their harvest so they have money for an upcoming moon festival and rice dealers are eager to buy, as they are offered tax breaks on rice traded with Vietnam’s neighbors.

Vietnamese farmers, meanwhile, have only a small amount of Jasmine rice, which is being sold for VND6,900 ($0.40) a kilogram.

Domestic IR50404 is being offered by farmers for as little as VND2,500 ($0.15) a kilogram but “the dealers just show no interest,” said one farmer from Hau Giang Province.

Some dealers have even told farmers, “If you have IR50404, please don’t call. Thanks.”

Over the past 10 days there has been more than 1,000 tons of unhusked fragrant rice a day imported from Cambodia over the border at An Giang Province’s Tinh Bien District, according to a Vietnamese rice dealer.

Cambodian Kim Pou said his team of 50 porters and three other groups of porters had been busy lugging rice across the border in recent weeks.

The change in demand has led to many Mekong Delta farmers considering turning all their fields over to fragrant rice for their winter-spring crop, planted in December and January, according to Ho Minh Khai, director of Co Do Agriculture Company, which owns thousands of hectares of rice field.

In the past, the farmers had not planted high-quality rice varieties because they were considered difficult to grow. But their large stockpiles are making them rethink.

Khai said his company also planned to further invest in growing fragrant rice in a bid to attract more customers.

However, if all farmers do the same it could be a disaster, said Le Van Banh, director of Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Rice Research Institute (CLRRI).

Banh said Vietnamese fragrant rice wouldn’t be able to compete with Thai fragrant rice in terms of quality and the domestic consumption of this type of rice remains low. “If every farmer grows fragrant rice, who will we sell it to?”

Up to 80 percent of Vietnam’s rice output is consumed by the domestic market, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat told a National Assembly session on Tuesday.

Cambodia and Thailand are growing only one crop of high-quality low-yielding rice a year. However, Vietnam should not try to copy the rice growing methods of its neighbors because “we have a big population and not much farmland and so we have to rely on high-yielding varieties,” Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper quoted Nguyen Tri Ngoc, director of the ministry’s Cultivation Department, as saying.

The best way to maximize yields and profits would be to reserve parts of the region’s rice fields for high-quality rice, said Ngoc.

He said five years ago the ministry started a program to promote this method but farmers had not changed their crop growing habits as “no local officials told them to.”

In August Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asked food companies and rice traders to buy rice from the Mekong Delta’s farmers for at least VND4,000 (25 cents) a kilogram.

Now that the farmers cannot sell their rice, even at VND2,500 (15 cents), the ministry can do nothing, Ngoc said. “The traders are not sharing the country’s difficulties,” he said.

Thailand must use Cambodian maps

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chan Veasna
Friday, 14 November 2008

Dear Editor,

Thailand is not keen on settling border disputes amicably and mutually, but on Thailand's terms. Thailand has consistently reiterated that it will only agree to negotiate based on maps unilaterally drawn by Thailand. In other words, Thailand will not settle the current border disputes with Cambodia if Cambodia does not allow Thailand to keep the territories it had claimed and occupied to date. So, is peace and a border solution possible between Cambodia and Thailand in the future?

Thailand's insistence on the use of maps drawn by itself, without Cambodia's agreement, is against the spirit of good neighbourly respect and contrary to international laws. Those maps have no legal basis under international laws.

If the 1904, 1907 maps are not used, it would be a betrayal of the treaties and a tragedy, as it will set a precedent that triggers future violations of subsequent [border] treaties.

So, if Thailand is insisting on using the maps unilaterally drawn by Thailand itself, will there ever be an agreement and peace at all?

If that is the case, is there any room for Cambodia to manoeuvre in the negotiations?

If Thailand does not conform to international laws by accepting the internationally-recognised treaties of 1904, 1907, the Khmer-Thai border disputes will become a quagmire and result in future deadly armed conflicts, similar to what already happened on October 15.

That would be a tragedy in Khmer-Thai relations. Not one single country, but both countries, will lose from these insignificant and petty disputes.

Chan Veasna
NSW, Australia

Send letters to: or P.O. Box 1234, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

68,000 poor families of Cambodia receive emergency food assistance from ADB

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Over 68,000 poor families of Cambodia have received emergency food assistance following the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Directors' approval of the project last month, said an ADB press release here on Friday.

"This assistance is making a very real difference in the lives of Cambodia's most vulnerable, particularly its children," said ADB Country Director Arjun Goswami.

"Putting food on the tables of Cambodia's poorest families, just one month after the project's approval, is a commendable accomplishment by the government," he said, adding that food distribution has been supervised by independent NGO monitors.

One of the primary objectives of ADB's emergency food assistance is to help support Cambodia's efforts to ameliorate the food price inflation shock on the poorest and most vulnerable families in the seven provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake, and in three urban slums around Phnom Penh, said the release.

The project targeted the poorest 20 percent of poor families in 200 selected communes, it added.

The ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, the ADB is owned by 67 members, 48 from the region. In 2007, it approved 10.1 billion U.S. dollars of loans, 673 million dollars of grant projects, and technical assistance amounting to 243 million dollars, according to the release.

Editor: Zhang

In Brief: Festival float fleet expanded

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by SAM RITH
Friday, 14 November 2008

Twenty-one illuminated processional floats, or pratips, were featured in this year's Water Festival compared with eight last year, as organisers looked to enliven the spectacle that has millions of rural Cambodians converge on the capital. The loudly decorated floats represent the Royal Palace and various government organisations. "We have more this year in order to pay tribute to the 55th anniversary of Independence Day as well as Cambodia's current economic growth," said Chea Kean, deputy director of the National and International Festival Committee.

In Brief: City raises duty on Doody

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 14 November 2008

Phnom Penh Municipality imposed a 300-riel "voluntary" fee for those wishing to use public toilets at this year's festivities, said city public works and transport department official Sam Samuth, adding that 10 times more bathrooms were on hand for visitors, including 100 holes dug into the ground on Chruoy Changvar to accommodate the thousands of boat racers encamped there. "After the festival, we will cover all the waste with dirt," he said.

In Brief: One death, three sinkings this year

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 14 November 2008

Only one rower, from Pursat, drowned in this year's Water Festival, organisers said, following a disastrous 2007 that saw five Singaporean racers die after their boat capsized, as well as the death of one Cambodian. But three, boats did sink, said Bou Chomsarey, an undersecretary of state with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Last year's tragedy kept foreign boats out of this week's races, he added. "We didn't have any foreign boats join this year because we didn't invite them," he said.

Capital residents skip town in droves for Water Festival

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Throngs of partygoers in Phnom Penh on the riverside. Cambodians are increasingly turning to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap to celebrate the Water Festival where crowds are thinner.

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 14 November 2008

Massive crowds, road accidents and pollution in Phnom Penh drove many cityfolk to favour getaways in Sihanoukville, Siem Reap

TRAVEL and tourism industry officials say a growing number of Phnom Penh residents this year have shunned the capital's Water Festival, choosing instead less frenetic environments offered by Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Government authorities estimated that as many as four million visitors would visit the capital to mark this year's Water Festival, packing the banks of the Tonle Sap to view the dragon boat races and choking traffic at intersections throughout the city.

However, hotels in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which also host Water Festival celebrations, reported record bookings.

Eng Panharith, owner of My Home guesthouse in Siem Reap's Phsar Krom commune, said he has turned away customers and referred them to friends' guesthouses because he could not accommodate the nearly 100 people trying to book rooms with him.

"The number of customers here has doubled or tripled the normal number, which is about 40 percent or 50 percent occupancy," he said.

"Most of them have arrived from Phnom Penh. I've already turned away 28 people."

Hut Sokim, 25, a booking agent at a Phnom Penh-based travel company, spent this year's festival in Sihanoukville with friends to escape the holiday bustle.

"We didn't want to stay in Phnom Penh because it gets so crowded with traffic everywhere," she said.

"We never stay at home during the Water Festival because the pollution [in Phnom Penh] gets so bad."

So Vong, 48, teaches primary school in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district.

He and his family returned to their home province of Battambang to spend the three-day holiday in a more relaxed environment.

"Phnom Penh gets so congested with all the crowds, and there are so many traffic accidents," he said.

"I can watch the festival on television at my home if I want, or my family and I can visit local temples, hike in the forest and enjoy the beautiful landscape of our province.

"Phnom Penh has attracted record crowds, but the increase in arrivals in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville outpaced the capital, said tourism sources.

Lorn Thin, supervisor of the Jasmine Hotel in Sihanoukville, said he has also seen a spike in business during the festival.

No vacancies

Jasmine's 55 rooms have been booked solid through the festival, while normal capacity generally runs between 18 and 20 rooms.

"While the number of foreign tourists has decreased recently ... local tourists have increased during the Water Festival," he said.

"Most of my customers have come from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri and other provinces," he added.

Reaksmey Sreynaph, a ticket vendor with the Paramount Tour Co, said passenger loads on buses from the capital to Siem Reap have risen nearly 50 percent, with buses running at full capacity compared with other times of the year.

"We have four departures from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap each day, and every bus has been full during the festival," she said.

Meas Rotana, who sells tickets for the Sorya Transport Co in Phnom Penh, said she has also seen increasing numbers of passengers buying tickets for Sihanoukville.

"I think more people in Phnom Penh are looking to spend the holiday in an environment with fresh air, where they can relax with family or friends," she said.

No government figures were available on the exact number of arrivals in Siem Reap or Sihanoukville.

Tourism Ministry authorities were unavailable for comment.

Tying one on

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Rick Valenzuela
Friday, 14 November 2008

Boat racer Sao Run, wearing a mask, dances for his fellow rowers from Kandal province's Lvea Em district as they celebrate the end of the Water Festival boat races Thursday on Phnom Penh's riverside with a bottle of hooch and some homemade musical instruments. Thousands of racers from some 424 boats competed in this year's competition.

Temples to get World Heritage inscriptions

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Friday, 14 November 2008

THE government has announced plans to inscribe Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear temples with the date that they were listed as Unesco World Heritage sites, officials say.

Phay Siphan, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said that the government will inscribe Angkor Wat in early January and Preah Vihear temple when the situation along the border is peaceful.

"We plan to make inscriptions to mark the date the temples were listed as World Heritage sites," Phay Siphan told the Post. "In the original plan, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen was going to preside over the inscriptions, but we will wait and see."

Symbol of ownership

Preah Vihear, which sits on an escarpment near the Thai border, was given heritage status in July this year, sparking anger among Thai nationalists who claimed the temple was theirs.

The Cambodian government spent US$10 million "doing up" the 11th-century ruins before it was shown to delegates, officials said earlier.

Angkor Wat, located in the thriving tourist hub of Siem Reap, was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992.

Seung Kong, deputy director of the Apsara Authority, said that they had already posted signage outside the Angkor Wat complex to let tourists know it was a World Heritage site, but stone inscriptions would make it official.

"We have written them in Khmer, English, French and Japanese to make many people understand," Seung Kong said.

Land dispute arrests down in 2008, but still a problem, Adhoc says

Land-grabbing is a particular problem for ethnic minority communities in the northeast. Since 2004, more than 3,000 hectares of land have been seized in Ratanakkiri province, where the majority of people belong to ethnic hill tribes.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Friday, 14 November 2008

Arrests are still being used to combat land protests, claim rights groups, but local courts say they are only implementing the law

ARRESTS stemming from land disputes are down in 2008 compared with last year, but the number of people detained on charges of stealing or vandalising contested land remains a concern, say human rights monitors.

Ouch Leng, a land program officer at the rights group Adhoc, said that 117 people were arrested between January and October, 37 of whom remain in prison.

A further 300 are on the run from police as a result of unresolved disputes over valuable rural property.

"People usually protest against the rich and powerful for grabbing their land," said Ouch Leng.


"In some land disputes, villagers have been accused of stealing land, violating other people's property, committing violence and attempting to kill, so the courts have detained them in custody."

Land grabs endemic

With large hikes in the price of land since 2004, land-grabbing has become increasingly common in many parts of the country, pitting local villagers against large agricultural firms and well-connected figures.

"Villagers are always the ones who lose and are detained in prisons when they have disputes with powerful people. The court never arrests rich men and powerful people in their disputes with simple people," Ouch Leng said.

However, he added that the number of arrests and detentions resulting from land disputes was down from the same period last year, a change he puts down to Prime Minister Hun Sen's July 2008 intervention to halt the imprisonment of people involved in land dispute cases. Last year, around 130 people were jailed on charges arising from land disputes.

Ya Narin, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial court, denied accusations the courts had been used to break up village protests, saying officials followed the law and detained only those who have committed crimes.

"We have just followed the law. We don't detain innocent people," he said. "How can they say that courts arrest and detain only simple people? We are putting the law into practice.

"Anyone committing crimes will be arrested, said Prey Veng provincial court prosecutor Yam Yet.

"If anyone destroys another person's property and cuts trees on forested land, they will face detention because what they did is wrong," he added.

New photo exhibition offers rare glimpse into KR regime

AFP, Former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, who once dined with Bergstrom.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 14 November 2008

Swede Gunnar Bergstrom is returning to Cambodia for the first time since 1978 to tell about the things he saw, and ignored

AN upcoming exhibition featuring never-before-seen photographs of life under the Khmer Rouge will offer viewers an unfamiliar glimpse into the genocidal regime - one of smiling faces, full-bellied children and lush rice paddies.

Beginning Tuesday, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), in collaboration with the Living History Forum of Sweden, will exhibit photographs from a 14-day staged tour choreographed by the Khmer Rouge and taken by Gunnar Bergstrom, a member of a Swedish delegation invited to Cambodia in 1978 to rally support for the regime abroad.

Bergstrom, now 57, will return to Cambodia for the first time since the delegation to help the exhibition expose what he believed led to a "grave misjudgment" on his part for failing to see through the regime's thin veneer.

A new kind of truth
The photos, all of which are colour, offer a rare candy-eyed view of a regime determined to deceive Western visitors. Most of them are staged, but for Kalyanee Mam, one of the coordinators from DC-Cam, this is what makes them important.

"The staging process itself is revealing. It shows how much [the regime] was trying to hide," she told the Post Thursday.

As part of the Swedish Cambodian Friendship Association, Bergstrom was given a protected look into the country.

Wined and dined by regime leaders, and heavily guarded throughout the tour, he and his team members were largely oblivious to the turmoil around them. It was not until he heard stories of people escaping the regime that he realised his impressions were wrong.

The exhibition, titled "Gunnar in the Living Hell", will open at Reyum Arts Gallery and then travel to the ECCC, as well as galleries in Kampong Cham, Takeo and Battambang. It will finally be put on permanent display at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Khmer Krom gather in Mekong Delta for festival celebrations

Kampuchea Krom covers an area of 89,000 square kilometres in southern Vietnam. The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Foundation claims eight million ethnic Khmers live in the region, facing cultural and religious persecution by the Vietnamese government.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by kay kimsong
Friday, 14 November 2008

Despite government restrictions on religious practices, Khmers in southern Vietnam take part in the traditional Cambodian festival

THOUSANDS of ethnic Khmers known as Khmer Krom turned out Tuesday and Wednesday to celebrate the annual Water and Moon Festival in southern Vietnam, witnessing two days of dragon boat races and other festivities.

Thirty dragon boats competed for prizes in the event, which was chaired by the Vietnamese provincial governor and the head Buddhist monk, according to the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association.

Yoeun Sin, head of the Khmer Krom Monks' Association, said up to a million Khmer Krom from across the Mekong Delta attended the Water Festival celebrations in Vietnam's Soc Trang province - known in Khmer as Khleang.

" In kampuchea krom, we can't implement everything we would wish for. "

"Many monks came to support the dragon boats from each province," said Yoeun Sin, adding that the celebration was vital to preserve Khmer culture inside Vietnam.

"We have to organise the Water Festival every year to remember our traditions and cultural practices," he said.

Yoeun Sin added that the Khmer Krom boat races, which were held at a local dike, lacked the support of concurrent events inside Cambodia.

"There are no big sponsors here like in Phnom Penh," he said. "But Kampuchea Krom monks are following their boats and have supported them with food and money. The special thing [here] is that monks have freedom to support and watch the boat races freely."

Preserving Khmer culture

Hul Pirom, 26, a Khmer Krom student at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh, said that cultural practices - including the celebration of the festival - were limited by the Vietnamese government and less lavish than the national festival organised in Preah Vihear.

"I am very proud of the government for an exciting celebration of the Water Festival," he said. "In Kampuchea Krom, we can't implement everything we would wish for," he added.

Thach Setha, president of the Khmer Kampuchea Community, said the festival was a way for the Khmer minority in southern Vietnam to resist government oppression.

"Every family in Kampuchea Krom celebrates the Water Festival to remember Khmer heroes and military commanders who once protected the territory," he said. "The special meaning of the festival is to demand freedom."

Capital wraps up smooth holiday week

Thoy Plo, 42, wipes down his boat following Thursday's final races that marked the end of the annual Water Festival.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Friday, 14 November 2008

Flood of visitors to Phnom Penh reverse direction as cleanup begins and city gets back to business following the year's biggest blowout.
Full Story

Global HIV effort kicks off in PPenh

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
A booth worker arranges boxes of condoms as part of one of the safe-sex campaigns that are common at the Water Festival.
The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 14 November 2008

Water Festival seen as perfect time to reach tens of thousands of Cambodians with message of HIV/Aids awareness in campaign that will travel worldwide in bid to test one million people

TAKING the opportunity to reach the millions of Cambodians visiting Phnom Penh for the Water Festival, the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched the first phase of a global effort to test one million people for HIV/Aids this week.

The testing push, which started in Phnom Penh, will last until December 1, World Aids Day, according to Mam Sophal, the president of the HIV Program at the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, which has been working closely with AHF Cambodia.

AHF, the largest Aids group in the United States, currently provides Aids medical care and services to more than 83,000 individuals in 22 countries.

Dr Chhim Sarath, the country program manager for AHF Cambodia, said the group, which operates 11 free Aids clinics around the country, has donated 20,000 testing kits to the government.

AHF plans to test 10,000 Cambodians this month. According to Mam Sophal, they have already tested 579 individuals, with four positive results.

"The people who found out they had HIV have not been afraid. They've been given hope by the program," Mam Sophal said, "I tell the people with HIV/Aids, ‘Don't worry, because the program can help you live a long time. We have the medical care to support you'."

Needed support

Chhim Sarath said, "This testing is very important. If a person tests positive, we give them proper counseling and introduce them to care services. They also learn how to prevent spreading the disease.

"Initially, Mam Sophal thought this new campaign to encourage HIV tests might not be successful, thinking people would be too afraid to get tested, but he has been pleasantly surprised by the results.

"I thought people would be afraid of the results and would not join the program, but when it started, people came to the test with smiles on their faces," he said.

The goal, however, is not just to test people, but also to raise awareness and teach people about the virus. The Water Festival, organisers say, is an ideal place given the number of attendees.

"Many people from different provinces are in Phnom Penh. It is an opportunity to reach people and teach them about HIV/Aids," Chhim Sarath said, estimating that they reached 1,000 people a day during the festival, which ended Thursday.

In about a week, the testing push will expand into eight provinces. According to government statistics, Cambodia's HIV rate for people aged 15 to 49 fell from 1.9 percent in 2003 to 0.9 percent in 2007.

But AHF officials says HIV has spread beyond high-risk groups like injection drug users and sex workers to the general population, making a general HIV/Aids campaign even more important.

PPenh closes another festival

Photo by: Sovann Philong
A young boy sits on the Phnom Penh riverbank Wednesday night, watching a Water Festival fireworks display on the second night of celebrations.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Friday, 14 November 2008

Some revellers say better public order made for a more memorable celebration, but a major upset at the boat races has wrecked the year for one rowing crew

THE last dragon boats had crossed the finish line and the blare of the race announcer's voice over the speaker system had disappeared under the din of a city partying out the final few hours of this year's Water Festival.As the last concussion of the final burst of fireworks faded, Knol Samkol had only one complaint.

"I thought everything was great, but they only shot off fireworks for a few minutes," she said, standing amid the throng of party goers, talking loudly over the discord of wailing sirens and competing variety shows being played from multiple stages around the riverfront."

Last year they launched fireworks for about an hour," the 27-year-old, who had traveled to Phnom Penh from Prey Veng province, added.

Other visitors from the countryside commented on the more orderly nature of this year's festival, saying city officials had done a good job of curbing the chaos that often overtook previous celebrations, when millions of people descended on the city and partied unfettered for three days.

Better than before

"I come to join this ceremony every year, but I think this year I was happier than others because everything was so well organised, even the public parks," said Battambang native Ros Veasna, referring to the open spaces that had before become impromptu tent villages for crowds of rural folk with nowhere to stay."

There is a difference between this year and before."


City officials before the festival sought to "beautify" the city's riverside neighbourhoods in anticipation of the coming crowds. But their sometimes heavy-handed approach earned them criticism from rights groups, which said homeless people and other undesirables were simply being detained, out of sight.

For Knol Samkol, city officials simply did not offer enough distractions beyond the obvious boats races and kerb-side shopping."

The government should try to develop more for people to do during the Water Festival," she said.

Major upset

This year saw a major upset among the dragon boat heavies, with a 10-year winning streak by the Kirivong Sok Senchey being broken in the championship race.

"We never dared to think we would win against that boat, but after we beat 84 others, we took the No 1 prize," said Ly Phal, a 33-year-old rower on the Preah Tineang Chang Han Hoy Sen Chestda, which took first place this year.

"I can bring honour back to my province and we will try to keep our No 1 place in the coming years," said the Kandal province native.

The Kirivong's manager, Oum Chhun Streng, was dumbstruck. "I never thought my boat would get second place because we are faster," he said.

"I had hoped we would keep our No 1 place, but we lost, and I really don't know why," he added. "Maybe we have some mistakes with our technique."

Thai PM plans cabinet reshuffle after royal funeral

BANGKOK, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said Friday that he has planned a cabinet reshuffle after the royal funeral of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the late sister of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

He would consider filling the vacant seat of deputy prime minister, which was left vacant by Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who, then in charge of security affairs, resigned after the Oct. 7 violent crashes between police and anti-government protesters.

He would not hint if the reshuffle would involve other cabinet positions. But when asked whether he will take opportunity to change other positions, Somchai said that he would think about it after the royal rites related to the cremation.

The premier also said that the ruling by the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) against himself and other ministers in previous Samak Sundaravej administration for their handling of the Preah Vihear temple border dispute with Cambodia would not impact the work of the government.

Editor: Sally

Cambodia, Thailand promise troop withdrawal

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed next month to startmarking out disputed parts of their border.(

Source: 11-14-2008

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed next month to start marking out disputed parts of their border.

Meanwhile, they will also withdraw troops in January to avoid a repeat of last month's armed clashes at the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

After three days of negotiations in the Cambodian resort of Siem Reap, Thai foreign minister Sompong Amornwiwat said "99 percent" of the problems had been resolved.

Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong also said his country wanted to work together with its neighbor. One

Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in last month's exchange of rifle and rocket fire, which both sides blamed the other for starting.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei

QSR to expand KFC outlets in Cambodia

Business Times
By Adib Povera

JOHOR Corp (JCorp), via QSR Brands Bhd, will invest about RM7 million to expand its Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast-food outlets in Cambodia.

Its chief executive officer Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim said another two outlets would be set up in Phnom Penh and one each would be open in Siem Reap and Kompong Cham by the end of next year.

It has already opened two stores in Cambodia early this year.

"Besides expanding the fast-food outlets, we are planning to set up our own chicken slaughter centre in Cambodia soon.

"The setting-up of the slaughter house would help to raise confidence among our Muslim customers, where we assured them that our fast-food chains serve 'halal' products," Muhammad Ali told reporters after giving a talk to some 300 entrepreneurs in Alor Star, Kedah, yesterday.

Present were Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak and State Industry and Investment committee chairman Amiruddin Hamzah.

JCorp, through its subsidiary QSR Brands Bhd, became the first foreign fast-food company to open up an outlet in Cambodia in April.

QSR, through its associate company KFC Holdings, now owns 489 KFC outlets across Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Muhammad Ali said another KFC store would be opened in Kedah soon.

Cambodia to unveil hybrid rice to interest investors

People's Daily Online
November 14, 2008

A newly developed Cambodian high-yielding hybrid rice variety will be presented in Kampong Thom province on Monday to interest investors in large-scale cultivation, national media said on Friday.

Louis Kek, director of Malaynesia Resources, part of the Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture responsible for the new variety's development, said that his company is holding discussion with foreign investors to cultivate 50,000 hectares of this kind of rice in the province.

Singaporean and Middle Eastern investors had been invited to inspect the first harvest of a 2-hectare test plot of the Cambodian Super Hybrid Rice, he was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily as saying.

The project will enlarge its production area in the province to200 hectares in the next growing season, he said.

"We are ready for large-scale implementation. I expect it to become widely accepted because of the increase in yields," he said, adding that 7 to 8 tons of yield of rice variety per hectare over the traditional 2.5 tons of yield of other types.

Cambodia used to lead the Southeastern Asian countries in exporting rice, but later lagged behind due to years of war. The government in recent years has established plans to improve its rice production for export and foreign currency income.


Sacravatoons :" The Universe's Prophecy "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon

Vested interestes behind rice pledging?

The Nation
By The deputy
Published on November 14, 2008

The deputy prime minister is always a hurdle for many of the ministry's projects.

It is simply a conflict between Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat and Commerce Minister Chaiya Sasomsap, which may not appeal to the public. But there is also a hidden agenda - to turn a blind eye to a big lot of the ministry's latest rice bidding going to a company that was once an illegal bidder, writes Petchanet Pratruangkrai.

On Wednesday, Chaiya lamented over his conflict with Olarn, saying the deputy premier is always a hurdle for many of the ministry's projects drawn up to assist farmers in dealing with the problem of dropping prices.

Is the reason valid? Or is Chaiya deflecting public interest from the conflict instead of focusing on suspected illegal bidding for rice, the price of which is now being negotiated.

The ministry announced the cancellation of bidding for 1 million tonnes of white rice, claiming that firms had offered very low prices. The ministry last week opened a bid for a total of 3.1 million tonnes of rice aimed at releasing its huge stockpile.

Questions are being raised about the cancellation, and whether it would pave the way for one company to reap the whole benefit.

The price for the remaining lot of 2.1 million tonnes is being negotiated in order to force higher bids.

Higher prices will give Chaiya and the coalition government a chance to launch a propaganda campaign among farmers. The ministry is likely to increase the pledging price for the main rice crop from the Bt12,000 approved by the Cabinet, to Bt14,000.

The farmers are also threatening to put pressure on the government to increase the pledging price to Bt14,000 soon. However, nobody knows whether funds are available for such a move.

The government has never revised the pledging price once the Cabinet has given its final approval.

It is irrational to quote a high pledging price amid a downward trend in the global market. In fact, the ministry should be guided by market supply and demand as key factors in determining the guaranteed price.

All bidders have kept their eyes closed to a new bidder, Siam Indiga, known in rice export circles as the alleged nominee of the country's former biggest rice exporter President Agri Trading.

Banks have graded the company (President Agri) for its non-performing loans, while the ministry has seen the company default on rice contracts totalling more than 1 million tonnes.

Sources said Siam Indiga staff, who submitted the bidding document, belonged to President Agri Trading. Although it offered a high bidding price, the company's offer was not the highest.

Siam Indiga will offer an additional price of Bt1,000 per tonne to the ministry during the bargaining period in order to win the big-lot auction. This will enable the company to control huge volumes of rice.

Other rice exporters have to compete with each other to purchase from millers, for which they will have higher costs than Siam Indiga.

Exporters who handle a big supply at a low price can offer an attractive export price.

The modus operandi seems similar to one tried a few years ago by a company that was exposed and later blacklisted by the ministry.

If the ministry agrees to increase the pledging price, it means it is undertaking market distortion. Some rice-growing countries such as India and China will return to the export market after lifting their export bans this year.

China has signalled that it will return to the market by bringing down tariffs. The country exports an average of 1.2 million tonnes per year.

Cambodia has struck a deal with Senegal to export 120,000 tonnes of white rice.

Rice export prices are also declining. For instance, jasmine rice is quoted at US$ 796 (Bt27,908) per tonne, down from $800.

The prices of other varieties have also dropped - 100-per-cent white rice is at $591 per tonne compared with the previous price of $595, while 5-per-cent white rice has fallen from $580 to $576.

It is forecast that global rice prices will gradually drop in line with predicted increase in output. In these circumstances, is the government doing the right thing by increasing the pledging price?

Burmese Migrants to Get ‘Passport Documents’


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Burma is preparing to offer new nationality identification papers to Burmese migrant workers, which would allow them to work legally in Thailand, according to a source within the Burmese immigration department.

“We are preparing to open these three offices,” said the immigration officer in Myawaddy, a border town opposite Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese border. “We’re just waiting for the order from Naypyidaw.”

The three passport registration offices where migrants could apply for the documents are due to be opened along the Thai-Burmese border at Myawaddy, Tachilek and Ranong townships, according to the source.

The officer added that the new passport documents would be cheaper than applying for a Thai work permit; however, it would mean that workers would be subjected to tax.

The new nationality identification paper, which is called a “passport document,” will effectively grant successful applicants a one-year work permit in Thailand. To receive the passport document, a Burmese migrant worker will need a recommendation letter from a Thai factory or business, the officer said.

Sompong Srakawe, a director with the Labor Rights Promotion Network in Thailand, said the Thai Ministry of Labor already told Burmese migrants working in Mahachai in Samut Sakhon Province about the development last month.

However, a Burmese worker in Mahachai told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that to date only a few Thai factory owners have told their Burmese workers about the new permits.

“Many workers are unclear what kind of benefits they will get from a new passport document. They will also worry about being cheated by passport agents,” she said.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, a member of a Bangkok-based migrant workers’ support group, the Migrant Working Group, said, “I think very few people will go to the registration centres to apply for passport documents, because they are afraid they will be sent back to Burma. This process might take a long time.

“Also, most of the migrants are ethnic people and they are afraid the military authorities will use the information to persecute their families back home.”

Burmese migrants who are working in Thailand and who want to apply for these new passport documents have to bring all their information, including their ID cards, to these centres, he said.

Thailand and Burma agreed to set up nationality identification centers for Burmese migrant workers in 2006, however the two countries couldn’t reach an agreement on where the registration centres would be situated. Originally, the Burmese authorities wanted to situate the registration centers in Pa-an and Moulmein, both towns in eastern Burma. However, their Thai counterparts objected as these towns were too far for the workers to travel to and from.

The Thai government has said it hopes that the new passport registration process would help stop the influx of illegal Burmese migrants into Thailand by offering the opportunity to work in the country legally.

According to official estimates in 2006, Thailand hosts more than 1.2 million migrant workers—some legal, but most illegal—from Burma, Cambodia and Laos. However, the country still faces a severe labor shortage and is unable to meet growing industrial demands, prompting officials to frequently revise registration procedures.

The governments of Laos and Cambodia operate nationality identification centers in Thailand in cooperation with the Thai government. The centers have so far processed some 70,000 Lao and Cambodia workers and registered them with the Thai Labor Department. They are eligible to work in Thailand and have access to the same social welfare benefits as Thai workers, including legal support and medical services for their children.

Perfect ending to a life-changing trip

Cambodia has the highest percentage of handicapped people in the world. It is common and normal to see people with only one leg hobbling along the roadway. We assisted with the distribution of 1,000 wheelchairs donated by the Latter-Day Saints Church to handicapped individuals. It was a very moving experience to witness the emotions of the many recipients. (Contributed)

Times Recorder

Mike Morgan
• Guest Columnist
• November 13, 2008

I am writing my final article from Cambodia and wondering where the last year and a half has gone. Time seems to have flown by. We have had many wonderful experiences and made many wonderful friends while serving here.

We will leave Cambodia with very mixed emotions and many fond memories. We have met some of the finest people in the world. Their ways are different from ours in the United States, but, in many respects, they are the same. Many of the people have the same wants and desires as ours; we are all truly "Children of God." We would like to feel we have made a difference in the lives of some people, but the question is how much difference? Our purpose has been to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and self-reliance. We are very careful not to continue the "give away" programs that are very prevalent in this third world country. There is a lot of money from many organizations and countries donated here, and it is questionable how much of the money actually reaches the people.

I have worked in the International University Dental School both instructing and supervising the students with their treatments. The fees the university charges are minimal (extraction is $3, amalgam filling $3, denture $50, root canal $13), but they are still often difficult for the people to manage financially. We have supplemented the expenses for many, but we try to have some small investment from the patient. We try to have them pay something for the services and we pay the difference.

Occasionally there are individuals who, through no fault of their own, are left severely handicapped due to accidents. We assisted with a wheelchair distribution of 1,000 wheelchairs donated by the Latter-Day Saints Church to handicapped individuals. It was a very moving experience to witness the emotions of the many recipients. Cambodia has the highest percentage of handicapped people in the world. It is common and normal to see people with only one leg hobbling along the roadway. There is a long history of war in this part of the world, and there have been a large number of landmines placed throughout the country by many countries and enemies. Even today, there are hundreds of people a year killed by residual landmines and many more injured. The heavily-mined borders of the country during the Vietnam War and during the Khmer Rouge massacre that followed have left many dangerous landmines. The landmines and fear was quite successful in keeping the people confined within the country borders. The Khmer Rouge killed 25 percent (2 million people) of the population during the rein (1970-75) following the removal of troops from Vietnam by the United States.

We have been very thrilled to work with the young people in this land of Cambodia. We feel certain this next generation will be much stronger in their faith and confidence than the "shell-shocked" generation of the Khmer Rouge experience. Almost everyone we meet had someone from his or her family killed by the regime. The current generation has, for the most part, put the KR behind them and they are ready to move on.

Education is important to them and they seem to have a desire to improve their skills and knowledge. Almost all of the young people speak English to some degree. They know learning English is very important in assisting them to obtain good employment and financial success. There are many private schools and universities throughout Phnom Penh. The public schools are quite weak and, as a result, many private schools have emerged to educate the young people.
We will be happy to return home to our comfortable surroundings, family and friends, but this experience in Cambodia has been life changing. We are grateful to the Lord for allowing us to serve in this part of His vineyard.

Mike and Mary Lee Morgan are on an 18-month assignment in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They have been assigned to do both proselyting and humanitarian services for the Cambodian people. Dr. Morgan retired from his dental practice in Zanesville, after 41 years of practice. He will periodically write about their adventures.

Cambodia to host ministerial trade conference of least developed countries

People's Daily Online
November 13, 2008

Cambodia will host a meeting of ministers of industry and commerce from around 49 of the world's poorest countries described as "least developed" on Nov. 19-20 in Siem Reap province to discuss issues related to international trade, a press release said Thursday.

The conference aims to search for solutions to common problems faced by the poorest nations in their integration to global trade, the press release from the office of Cambodian government said.

One of the main topics of discussion is "Aid for Trade" (AfT), a package of incentives designed to help overcome structural and resource constraints of least developed countries in exchange for more speedy trade reforms, it said.

South-South Cooperation for Poverty Reduction is also on the agenda of the meeting, it added.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is to open this event, the release said.

The Cambodian government, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are jointly organizing this conference.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia welcomes visa exemption agreement with Vietnam

November 13, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 13 - Cambodia has welcomed the visa exemption agreement with Vietnam which was signed during a visit to Vietnam by Prime Minister Hun Sen early this month.

The agreement, expected to come into effect early next year, will create an important impetus for the non-smoking industry's development as well as other services of both countries, Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khun told reporters on November 12.

The agreement will also help increase the number of those who travel cross Cambodia-Vietnam border gates for tourism, trade and health treatment, according to the Cambodian official.

In addition, the agreement contributes to facilitating other services like transport, restaurants and hotels, generating more jobs for people of both countries, particularly in tourist sites and common border areas. (PNA/VNA)

Cambodia to host annual film festival

People's Daily Online
November 13, 2008

Preparations are under way for the CamboFest, Cambodia's first internationally recognized film festival, to be held in Siem Reap on Dec. 26-30, national media reported Thursday.

The three-day festival will show 50 international films, including independent features, documentaries, shorts, animation and films dealing with social issues.

The X Bar will be a focal point, decking out its rooftop with a massive screen and a 4,000-lumen projector, the Phnom Penh Post said.

This venue will screen "out there" and cutting-edge features, shorts, animation and experimental films, it said.

Another confirmed venue is FCC Angkor, which will screen art flicks, documentaries and worthy social issues material, it added.

There will also be an "online venue", namely, the newspaper said, adding that a complete schedule is expected soon.

The Golden Buffalo awards will also be announced at the end of the festival.

Source: Xinhua

‘Hope’ Rings True for Cambodian Author

Ambassador Sichan Siv with Denise Lew of VOA China Branch at the Heritage Foundation.

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
13 November 2008

Khmer audio aired 8 November (1.01 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 8 November (1.01 MB) - Listen (MP3)

A former US ambassador to the United Nations, Sichan Siv, says he is very pleased by the positive reaction from Americans as he travels around the country to promote his autobiography.

"Since the book was published on July 1, I have traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast and to many places in between," the former ambassador told VOA Khmer in Washington last week. "And the reaction from the people has been very good.

"Sichan Siv's "Golden Bones," an autobiography describing his life in Cambodia and journey to America. In the book, he describes his journey from the jungles of Cambodia to the halls of the White House.

Americans from all professions, waiters, doctors, politicians and others, not only understand the important message in his book, which is hope, but they also believe in it, he said."As human beings we must have hope," he said.

"My mother used to tell me when I was younger that no matter what the situation you're in, you must not give up hope."

Sichan Siv said he wanted the world to know about his ordeal. A number of foreign publishers have already expressed interest in translating his book into foreign languages, he said.

UN Official To Visit for Tribunal Discussions

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
13 November 2008

Deputy UN Secretary-General Patricia Obrience will visit Cambodia next work for discussion of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, as the courts continue to face allegations of mismanagement and corruption, UN and government sources said.

Obrience will meet with Council Minister Sok An, who is the head of Cambodia’s UN negotiation team, on Nov. 20, sources said.

No details were available for her visit. UN tribunal spokesman Peter Foster could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The joint UN-Cambodia tribunal has five former Khmer Rouge leaders in custody and is preparing for the first trial ever, of prison chief Duch, in early 2009.

But the courts have been hounded by lingering allegations that Cambodian staff were forced to pay kickbacks to supervisors and officials in order to keep their positions at the courts, allegations that led to a freeze of funding to the Cambodian side of the courts by international donors.

Exhibit of 1978 ‘Hell’ Photos To Tour Country

In 1978 photographer Gunnar Bergstrom was shown factories, fields and classrooms, in a Khmer Rouge propaganda effort.

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 November 2008

A Swedish photographer who in 1978 was given a staged tour of the Khmer Rouge’s communist utopia will return to Cambodia for the first time Saturday, in part to exhibit the photographs he took on the trip and in part to apologize for missing the truth.

As part of the Swedish Cambodian Friendship Association, Gunnar Bergstrom spent 14 days in Cambodia in August 1978, where he was given a public relations tour by top leaders of the regime, including Pol Pot and Ieng Sary.

He visited factories and rice fields in Phnom Penh and the countryside and walked away believing Cambodia’s economy was showing promise, that the communist agrarian experiment was working. Only later did he learn of the nearly 2 million who died under the regime.

Bergstrom will return Saturday to begin a two-week tour “to speak with over 400 commune chiefs and villagers,” the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which is supporting the exhibit, said in a statement. “He will tell Cambodians—and ultimately the world—about the things he saw, ignored, and was never shown during his first visit.”

Bergstrom will be visiting a post-war Cambodia where some the regime leaders who hosted him are in jail under the Khmer Rouge tribunal, awaiting trials for atrocity crimes. The first, for jailed prison chief Duch, is expected in early 2009.

The 93-photograph exhibit, “Gunnar in the Living Hell,” features “never-before-seen photographs taken exclusively from Bergstrom's personal archive of his 1978 tour,” the Documentation Center said. “They are in color—unusual for pictures taken in Democratic Kampuchea.”

The exhibit will open at Reyum Arts Gallery and the Khmer Rouge tribunal building in Phnom Penh Nov. 18, before traveling to the provinces of Kampong Cham, Takeo and Battambang later in the month. Finally, the exhibit will be permanently displayed at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, with a duplicate exhibition shown in Stockholm, Sweden.

“The Khmer Rouge prepared [the visit] for him, so he could tell his people what he saw,” said Kalyanee Mam, a public affairs officer for the Documentation Center. “He was shown factories, and he visited a hospital and schools, but those were only an ideal picture that they had organized for him. He could not see behind the scenes.”

“What he saw was busy activity, and that made him think that Cambodia was developing its economy,” she said. “But later, he knew that nearly 2 million were killed in Pol Pot’s regime, and then he felt so guilty. He wanted to present his apology to everyone, because he did not know the truth.... He strongly supports the Khmer Rouge tribunal.”

“As with most visual documents produced for the Khmer Rouge, Bergstrom's collection includes no photos of the torture, starvation, death, and despair for which the Khmer Rouge is so reviled,” the Documentation Center said. “These omissions beg the questions: Was there any justification for the Swedes' support of the Khmer Rouge? Did the Khmer Rouge cadres filter what the Swedes saw, or were the Swedes willfully blind to the conditions surrounding them? Were the Swedes hapless bystanders—or were they, too, victims of the Khmer Rouge,manipulated and duped by the regime?”

Cambodia to host ministerial trade conference of least developed countries

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will host a meeting of ministers of industry and commerce from around 49 of the world's poorest countries described as "least developed" on Nov. 19-20 in Siem Reap province to discuss issues related to international trade, a press release said Thursday.

The conference aims to search for solutions to common problems faced by the poorest nations in their integration to global trade, the press release from the office of Cambodian government said.

One of the main topics of discussion is "Aid for Trade" (AfT), a package of incentives designed to help overcome structural and resource constraints of least developed countries in exchange for more speedy trade reforms, it said.

South-South Cooperation for Poverty Reduction is also on the agenda of the meeting, it added.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is to open this event, the release said.

The Cambodian government, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are jointly organizing this conference.

Editor: Zheng E

Progress in Thai-Cambodia talks

The mood was relaxed and optimistic, but many obstacles remain

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Thailand and Cambodia have pledged to begin placing markers along their common border and withdraw troops from around a disputed temple.

The move came in a meeting of foreign ministers aimed at preventing further clashes after four soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire last month.

The two countries have just finished three days of talks on the dispute.

But they say obstacles remain to settling sovereignty of the land around the temple, which lies inside Cambodia.

'99% successful'

After days of talks the language from both foreign ministers was so relaxed and conciliatory you would hardly have known their soldiers were shooting at each other less than a month ago.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong described the talks as a "big practical step forward", and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornwiwat said they had achieved "99%" of what they had hoped.

In reality, though, all they agreed was to start the difficult task of hammering out a deal on the border, and to scale down the armed stand-off around the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Troops will be withdrawn early next year, and in the meantime instructed to avoid further armed clashes.

And the two countries will begin marking out the border, which runs for nearly 800km (500 miles), much of it heavily mined.

They say they will make the stretch next to the temple their first priority - but this will certainly prove the hardest bit of border to mark, as both countries claim a 5-sq-km (1.9-sq-mile) patch of land around the temple, and each is working from different maps.

With nationalist feelings still running high over the temple, which in July was listed by Cambodia as a World Heritage Site, neither government is likely to back down over the claim.

Thailand's room for manoeuvre is even narrower, as every agreement it makes with Cambodia must now be approved by parliament.