Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Raw Video: Sec. Rice Arrives in India

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in India, as Washington tries to ease tensions between India and Pakistan following the deadly attacks in Mumbai. Rice arrived in New Delhi to meet with Indian leaders. (Dec. 3)

Jia Qinglin chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) visitibg Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with Jia Qinglin, the fourth-most-powerful person in China's Communist Party, as they witness a signing ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008. Cambodia on Wednesday have received a loan US$207 million from China for infrastructure projects promoting economic development in the country's remote areas.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, second right, toasts with Jia Qinglin, second left, the fourth-most-powerful person in China's Communist Party, as they witness a signing ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008. Cambodia on Wednesday have received a loan US$207 million from China for infrastructure projects promoting economic development in the country's remote areas.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Jia Qinglin (L), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), shares a toast with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) after signing an agreement at the ministry of foreign affairs in Phnom Penh December 03, 2008. Jia said the two countries have carried out effective exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic and trade, cultural and other fields and maintained good coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Jia Qinglin (L), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) attend a signing ceremony at the ministry of foreign affairs in Phnom Penh December 3, 2008. Jia said the two countries have carried out effective exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic and trade, cultural and other fields and maintained good coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian youth delegation in City


HCM CITY — Vietnamese youth on Monday met a delegation of 50 young Cambodians as part of a friendship programme in HCM City.

The delegation is headed by Men Kuon, a member of the Cambodian People’s Party Central Committee and president of the Cambodia Youth Association.

The delegation will join several cultural exchange programmes and activities in the city and other localities during its week-long visit to Viet Nam.

During the opening ceremony at HCM City Youth Cultural House, Phan Van Mai, secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee, said he was pleased at the expansion of relations between youth of the two countries.

Mai said such relations had contributed to the solidarity and friendship of Viet Nam and Cambodia.

The get-together will also include discussions with students at HCM City Foreign Trade University, a water puppet show at HCM City Labour Cultural House, and visits to museums in the city and businesses in Dong Nai and Lam Dong provinces. — VNS

Cambodia moves closer to first trial of Khmer Rouge leaders

Peninsula On-line, Qatar
Source ::: AFP

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s genocide court will decide on Friday whether a charge that could have wide-ranging effects on top Khmer Rouge leaders should be added to the indictment of the regime’s former prison chief.

Kaing Guek Eav — better known as Duch —was indicted in August for allegedly overseeing the torture and extermination of more than 12,000 men, women and children when he headed Tuol Sleng prison, known as S-21. The 66-year-old faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first leader of Cambodia’s brutal 1975-1979 communist regime to stand trial at the UN-backed tribunal.

Court officials had hoped that the hearing would start in September, but prosecutors appealed against the indictment, saying it failed to go far enough and portray a “full and truthful account” of Duch’s crimes. The court is now set to rule on the appeal, under which prosecutors demanded that the charge of “commission of crimes through participation in a joint criminal enterprise as a mode of liability” be added to Duch’s indictment.

Because of its very nature, the charge is opposed by other Khmer Rouge leaders who fear that a conviction in Duch’s case could leave them automatically liable. “These are all important issues that need to be addressed for Duch and relate to the cases against the other defendants,” said John Ciorciari, a senior legal advisor for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which collects evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The controversial “joint criminal enterprise” (JCE) is a legal doctrine that allows a court to hold multiple people responsible for crimes when they act as part of a coordinated process, according to legal officials. “It makes it a bit easier to hold defendants guilty, because they need not kill someone or order killings themselves to be held responsible,” Ciorciari said.

He said the judges will also decide during the hearing whether joint criminal enterprise is a “viable principle” in the Khmer Rouge court. “The importance of the December 5 hearing for them is that it will set a few key precedents” for the senior Khmer Rouge leaders, said Ciorciari. “Their (judges’) decision will probably influence not only Duch but other defendants as well,” he added. Duch, a mathematics teacher who became the Khmer Rouge’s torturer-in-chief, has been in prison since 1999 for his role at Tuol Sleng. He was formally transferred to the tribunal and indicted in July 2007.

Thousands of inmates were taken from the centre he ran for execution at Choeng Ek, now known as the Killing Fields. Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation and overwork as the regime emptied Cambodia’s cities, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during its rule.

The defence teams of four other former Khmer Rouge leaders who are detained by the court for crimes committed by the regime have expressed fears that the court’s decision will affect their clients. They have asked for intervention on the issue of joint liability, but the court has denied them. “Every (defence) team is concerned that a major decision on a far-ranging-legal issue...will affect not only Duch but other accused persons,” said Andrew Ianuzzi, a legal consultant for Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea’s defence team. Nuon Chea was the Khmer Rouge’s former “Brother Number Two,” the most senior of the regime’s cadres held by the tribunal.

But the trial of Duch will be moving forward and is getting closer, court officials said. The hearing “marks the end of appeals... which will enable the trial to start sometime soon in the first quarter of 2009,” tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said, adding that “no more investigation” is needed for Duch’s case.

A lawyer for victims of the regime said that if the appeal is rejected the trial could start in March, but if not then it could be delayed for many more months. Established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the UN, the long-stalled tribunal seeks to prosecute crimes committed 30 years ago by senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodia hosts week of Viet Nam culture


PHNOM PENH — The Viet Nam culture week has kicked off in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia.

The highlight of the show, which wraps up tomorrow, is an exhibition of 300 photos capturing the life and landscape of Viet Nam today, especially for its ethnic groups.

The show, on display at Wat Phnom Pagoda, aims to present an image of solidarity among the country’s 54 ethnic groups to Cambodians. The photos had previously been displayed in China and Russia.

Wat Phnom Pagoda’s gallery is a popular destination for tourists to Phnom Penh, says Ouk Socheat, secretary of State for Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia. "We want to promote the image of Viet Nam to people in Cambodia and the world."

The opening ceremony of the cultural week was held at the 500-seat Chatamuk Theatre. Guests were treated to a traditional cultural feast with popular songs and dances. Audiences of the two countries sang in both Vietnamese and Khmer.

The Viet Nam cultural week is a special event for Vietnamese people living in Cambodia, says Nguyen Van Thong, deputy chairman of the Vietnamese Residents Association in Cambodia. "A number of Vietnamese people living here have taken part in the event to help promote their culture’s traditions."

According to Tran Chien Thang, deputy minister of the Culture, Sports and Tourism, the event will be organised annually in the two countries in rotation.

Viet Nam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Cambodia’s Culture and Arts Ministry this week signed a cultural co-operation plan to last from 2009-11. Under the plan, the two sides will send delegations of high-ranking officials to share experiences of managing cultural activities. Viet Nam will also train Cambodian students in the cultural field.

The first Vietnamese cultural week was organised in 2006 in Phnom Penh. — VNS

China's top political advisor starts visit to Cambodia

Jia Qinglin(L), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), arrives at the airport in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Dec. 2, 2008.(Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Jia Qinglin(C), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), arrives at the airport in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Dec. 2, 2008. Jia Qinglin arrived here Tuesday, starting an official goodwill visit as guest of Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

China to promote Sino-Cambodian relations to new stage

Jia Qinglin (R), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, Dec. 3, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

Special Report: Top Political Advisor Jia Qinglin Visits 4 Asian Nations

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- China will work with Cambodia to promote bilateral good-neighborly friendship and reciprocal cooperation to a new stage, said China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin here Wednesday at a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made a three-point proposal for furthering bilateral cooperation.

The first is to expand economic and trade cooperation of mutual benefit. The two sides should make joint efforts for an early realization of an annual bilateral trade volume of one billion U.S. dollars set for the year 2010.

The Chinese side supports reciprocal cooperation in various forms between enterprises of the two sides, and hopes the Cambodian side will provide facilities for bilateral cooperation.

The second is to strengthen cooperation in other fields such as culture, education, tourism and health, and expand exchanges between young people of the two countries.

The third is to enhance contacts between political parties of the two countries.

Jia, who arrived here Tuesday on an official goodwill visit as guest of Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim, said Sino-Cambodian friendship based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence conforms to the aspirations and fundamental interests of the two peoples.

China's policy on the development of bilateral friendship, which is part of China's foreign policy, will not change, said Jia, adding that China appreciates Cambodia's adherence to the one-China policy.

Jia also spoke highly of the development of bilateral relations in the past five decades of diplomatic ties.

Hun Sen said the Cambodian government attaches great importance to its friendly relations with China and will work with the Chinese side to expand bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields and strengthen coordination and support in international affairs.

He said China's development will not only benefit itself, but also contribute to peace and development of the region and the world at large.

Cambodia is the last leg of Jia's four-nation visit which has taken him to Jordan, Turkey and Laos.

Editor: Chris

Cambodia to form tourism task force to tackle crisis fallout

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's tourism sector is set to form a task force next week to address the Thai political crisis that has caused foreign arrivals in the Kingdom to plummet, national media reported Wednesday.

The task force will consist of 10 institutions, including airlines, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and government departments, and will develop a national strategy to attract foreign tourists, Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

He said the Ministry of Tourism approved the task force on Tuesday and it would convene next week.

Both of Bangkok's major airports have been occupied by anti-government protesters since last week, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded.

The crisis has hit Cambodia's tourism industry hard, as about a third of the Kingdom's visitors arrive via Thailand.

Ho Vandy said the task force hopes to shift Cambodia's tourist arrivals away from Thailand.

"Although most tourists in Cambodia come through Thailand, our tourism sector has survived because we have other gateways such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, South Korea and Vietnam," he added.

Editor: Zheng E

Reactions to the Arrest of Two Human Rights Organization Officials Who Are Accused by the Authorities and a Court to Be Troublemakers - Tuesday 2.12.2

Posted on 3 December 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 589

“The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – released an announcement about the arrest of Mr. Sven Vev and of Mr. Yang Than, volunteer human rights activists of ADHOC in Ratanakiri on 27 November 2008. The announcement condemns the activities of the Ratanakiri authorities and the court that arrested two human rights activists of ADHOC for the Lumphat district in Ratanakiri. The arrest is considered by ADHOC to be an unjust act to intimidate human rights activists and to break the determination of the minority tribespeople who protect the forest land of their community that is violated by dishonest merchants with the support and collusion of some persons in authority.

“At 5:00 p.m. of 27 November 2008, Mr. Sven Vev, 36, and Mr. Yang Than, 43, representing 136 families in Ba Tang village and commune, Lumphat, Ratanakiri, were summoned by the Ratanakiri court for direct questioning about a land dispute in Ba Tang. After the court finished asking about the land dispute (which is a civil case), it ordered police to arrest both of them and had them handcuffed; when both shouted, ‘Very unjust, help!’ immediately police grabbed their necks, and a co-prosecutor rolled up paper and forced it into their mouths, so that they could not shout. This cruel torture was committed by both persons of authority [police and prosecutor] against these human rights defenders.

“Seeing such cruel and unjust actions, around 40 citizens, who accompanied them and who were standing outside, rushed in to drag their representatives out from the court, though they were handcuffed, but they were hit by the police, then, they responded by hitting back so that they could take their representatives out of the court. The violent exchange between the citizens and the police lasted almost 10 minutes. But after that, the police could arrest Yang Than by shouting, ‘Arrest this motorbike robber!’ This accusation is a distortion of the truth by the state organ of the police, a blatant fraud and abuse of trust in the sate. Also, police cruelly hit and tormented some activists; furthermore, they incited other citizens to join in hitting the victim [whom the police had accused to be motorcycle thieves – and such situations lead frequently to lynchings]. After that, police put the victim into a car to bring him to a police office, and then to the Ratanakiri prison. They even severely hit the victim in the car. As for the other activist, he managed to escape safely so the police could not hold him.

“ADHOC considers the arrest of the two human rights activists as unjust and inhuman actions of the Ratanakiri police and court, they are bad and are directed against the right implementation of the law. These activities are to intimidate human rights activists, to` destroy activities promoting human rights, and to break the citizens’ determination, while they dare to protest and to prevent the intrusion into, and the violation of forest lands of the minority tribespeople’s communities. This happens almost in all districts of Ratanakiri. ADHOC investigated this case and had found that the land dispute between the Ba Tang community and the company of the DM Group started since 2003, and the citizens had lodged complaints to the authorities and to the court, but there was no solution, beside forcing some citizens to take small amounts of money in exchange for agreeing to deliver the land to the company. This company cleared many hectares of crop of the minority tribespeople, and felled high value luxury wood trees on hundreds of hectares. The citizens sued, but there was no solution at all.

“This shows that the court and the authorities of this province do not care to investigate illegal logging, which is a serious crime and is against the policy of the Royal Government. On the contrary, the company sued two representatives of the people at the Ratanakiri court for destroying public assets and for blocking the DM Group’s work to plant rubber trees. But the court of this province used very bad tricks to cheat and to arrest them without any reason.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6514, 2.12.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cambodia's golf plans now face financial hurdles

A golfer and a caddy are seen at Angkor Golf Resort, in Siem Reap province. Golf is part of the plan to get visitors to stay longer than the few days it takes to visit the ancient Angkor temples, but Cambodia's strategy to diversify its tourism industry might have landed in the sand trap of the global financial crisis.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A worker trims bemuda grass at Angkor Golf Resort, in Siem Reap province. The 18-hole Angkor Golf Resort designed by golfing legend Nick Faldo opened a year ago, becoming the country's second professional-level golf course.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

A golfer is seen hitting a shot at Angkor Golf Resort, in Siem Reap province. The 18-hole Angkor Golf Resort designed by golfing legend Nick Faldo opened a year ago, becoming the country's second professional-level golf course.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

by Suy Se Suy Se – Wed Dec 3

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP) – The sun rises over Cambodia's famed temples of Angkor Wat, while nearby, dozens of female caddies wearing long-sleeved green shirts and wide-rimmed hats await golfers.

The 18-hole Angkor Golf Resort designed by golfing legend Nick Faldo opened a year ago, becoming the country's second professional-level golf course.

This is exactly what the Cambodian government has in mind when it says it wants to lure well-heeled travellers.

"We are developing more golf courses in order to attract more tourists to visit the country," says Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

"Tourists can visit the Angkor Wat temples and stay to play golf in one trip."

At least four more luxury courses are now in various stages of construction in the impoverished country which drew more than two million tourists last year, but hopes to draw three million in 2010 and five million by 2012.

Golf is part of the plan to get visitors to stay longer than the few days it takes to visit the ancient Angkor temples, but Cambodia's strategy to diversify its tourism industry might have landed in the sand trap of the global financial crisis.

There are only four commercial courses in Cambodia right now, but the head of the national golf association, Suos Yara, thinks there needs to be at least 50 greens to nurture the game among locals and transform the country into a true golfing destination.

But as tourist arrivals slow amid the gathering global economic storm, he knows that dream looks increasingly distant.

"Many (Asian) investors want to build more golf courses here but because of the financial crisis, they have pushed back their projects," Suos Yara says.

Even the pristine Angkor Golf Resort, which was averaging more than 700 golfers a month, is starting to notice the drop in interest, says its manager Adam Robertson.

"I have already seen a decline in the number of visitors compared to last year. Usually in the time of a crisis the annual holiday is cancelled first," said Robertson.

"Without a doubt this (financial crisis) is a major worry for all hospitality oriented businesses."

Yet golf is here to stay. The country's defence minister last month teed off with Thai military officials in a spot of golf diplomacy before talks aimed at resolving a deadly territorial dispute.

The sport is so beloved at the highest levels of government that Cambodia's senate has its own nine-hole course.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's golf scores are posted on his cabinet website, even though he has a handicap of 15.

Earlier this year the premier, a huge golf fan, said he even wanted a luxury course built in the former Khmer Rouge rebel stronghold of Pailin.

Cambodia's leaders have also approved plans for a luxury golf course in Bokor national park, a protected wildlife area.

And despite the worldwide economic slowdown, the country's profile in the sport will be further lifted when the Asia Golf Tour stops by in December for the second annual Cambodia Open.

"Golf is still a new sport in Cambodia but I think it will continue to grow," Robertson said.

But there is still a long way to go as the sport remains alien to most Cambodians, he said, adding that the Angkor Golf Resort had to teach some 350 employees the rules.

"Not only do we at Angkor Golf Resort train our caddies, but we have taken it upon ourselves to train new golfers in the etiquette of golf," he said.

China to give Cambodia $215 mln to build roads

Khaleej Times Online
3 December 2008

PHNOM PENH - China is to give Cambodia aid and loans worth $215 million for road construction, and the two countries have also agreed to step up trade between them, officials said on Wednesday.

They expected trade flows to reach $1 billion by 2010 from $933 million last year, the officials said.

Beijing, which gave Cambodia $600 million in assistance in 2007, is looking to expand cooperation in oil and mineral exploration, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said, adding that his country welcomed this.

The announcements came as a Chinese delegation visited the Southeast Asian country to mark the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic ties between them.

Hercules rescue may not be needed

TV1 , TV New Zealand

Dec 3, 2008

The long, slow journey home continues for the hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded in Thailand, including many New Zealanders.

Even though anti-government protestors have abandoned their blockade of Bangkok airports, it will be days before things get back to normal.

The decision by anti-government protesters to end their blockades means a New Zealand Air Force Hercules on its way to rescue stranded Kiwi tourists in Thailand may not be needed.

Around 200 New Zealand tourists are believed to have been caught up in the chaos.

The Hercules spent Tuesday night in Brisbane and flew to Malaysia on Wednesday with the intention of ferrying Kiwis out of Thailand.

It will stay in Asia until the situation is clearer.

Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday the Hercules was being dispatched in case it was needed, with stranded kiwis encouraged to continue trying to get out on commercial flights.

Key said due to the period of time it takes for the Hercules to be in place, it was prudent that it is deployed as soon as possible, as the Air Force's two Boeing 757s are currently being repaired in the US and unable to be used.

He says the government is also exploring the use of a charter flight into Bangkok if it's viable to operate.

A trickle of travellers are finding their way home to New Zealand, glad to be getting out of the increasingly bloody situation.

Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat was banned from politics for five years and his party disbanded spurring jubilant anti-government protesters to end their blockades of Bangkok's airports.

Government party members said they would switch to a new "shell" party, already set up, and vote for a new prime minister on December 8, setting the stage for another flashpoint in Thailand's three-year political crisis.

Chavarat Charnvirakul, a construction mogul and first deputy prime minister, was named interim leader, an official said.

Anti-government protesters cheered Somchai's fall after only two and-a-half months in power, brought down by a Constitutional Court ruling that disbanded the ruling party for vote fraud.

Protest leaders said they would halt all rallies, including crippling sieges of Bangkok's two airports which have stranded a quarter of a million foreign tourists.

Thai airports reopen after PM ousted by court

People's Alliance for Democracy protesters celebrate as a court ruling brings down Thai government at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. The nation's Constitutional Court ruling set the stage for thousands of protesters to end their weeklong siege of the country's two main airports, but also raised fears of retaliatory violence by supporters of the government, which could sink the country deeper into crisis.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

By MICK ELMORE, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand – The first commercial flight in a week arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday as anti-government protesters ended their siege of the country's two main airports, declaring victory after Thailand's prime minister was ousted by a court ruling.

Thousands of jubilant protesters streamed out of the Suvarnabhumi international airport in cars and trucks, while others cleaned up the mess that had accumulated during their weeklong takeover. Similar scenes were witnessed at the domestic Don Muang airport.

"See you later when the country needs us!" one of them shouted while leaving, as other protesters waved and honked.

The departure of the People's Alliance for Democracy from the airport ended the country's immediate crisis, which had virtually severed Thailand's air links to the outside world for a week, and stranded more than 300,000 tourists.

The airport received its first commercial airliner — a flight by the national airline Thai Airways from the resort island of Phuket — at 2:15 p.m. (0715 GMT). It parked near a Thai Airways crew center, about 1 mile (2 kilometers) from the main building, where facilities including the docking bridge and baggage carousels were still not fully operational.

Thai Airways staff gathered on the tarmac applauded as the passengers came down the stairs from the aircraft. Taxis waited outside to drive them to the city.

Dale Northway, 34, from Manchester, England, said he was supposed to fly back to England on Nov. 29, but didn't mind the four-day delay.

"Phuket is a holiday destination, not a bad place to get stuck. It didn't even feel like being stuck," he said. However, he said he would have been upset had he missed his son's birthday on Dec. 10.

Taxi driver Chum Aaryaphom said he was happy to see the passengers. "The airport is about 30 percent of my business. I'm angry. (But) it's over so let's move on."

Six Thai Airways flights were scheduled to leave Suvarnabhumi later Wednesday for Sydney, New Delhi, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Seoul and Copenhagen.

In swiftly unfolding developments Tuesday, the country's Constitutional Court brought down the government by disbanding the three top ruling coalition parties, finding them guilty of electoral fraud. It also banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and other top leaders from politics for five years.

The ruling satisfied the People's Alliance for Democracy, which has been campaigning for months to topple the government. But the alliance warned it would be on the streets again if a new government tried to return to its past policies.

The months of protests and political uncertainty has hammered Thailand's economy and its vital tourism industry. It has also severely dented Thailand's image. At least six people have been killed and scores injured in clashes in recent months.

On Wednesday, a meeting among the three ousted parties endorsed Deputy Prime Minister Chaowarat Chandeerakul as the caretaker prime minister.

Members of the three parties who were not banned from politics are expected to form new parties that will form an alliance with three smaller parties of the outgoing coalition.

Chaowarat told reporters he was consulting with House Speaker Chai Chidchob to hold a parliamentary session on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 to select a new full-time prime minister.

But with the Chaowarat group's parliamentary majority intact, any new government will likely be very similar to the outgoing one, minus some key players, raising fears of renewed protests.

Charnvit Kasetsiri, a historian, said the end of the airport siege has provided little more than temporary relief.

"It is nothing more than an intermission. It is not over until the two sides of the political spectrum can reconcile and the prospect of that happening is very bleak," he said.

The protest group wants to abandon the system of one-person, one-vote, and instead have a mixed system in which most representatives are chosen by profession and social group.

It is also seeking to purge the nation of the influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accusing him and his cronies of massive corruption.

Thaksin was ousted by a September 2006 military coup, but the alliance alleges that governments voted into office since then have been proxies for the exiled Thaksin.

Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 81 on Friday, will give his traditional birthday eve speech on Thursday, and many Thais will be looking for guidance from him on healing the rift in the society.

Associated Press reporters Ambika Ahuja, Mike Casey and Vijay Joshi contributed to this report.


The Phnom Penh Post

Wednesday, 03 December 2008

The International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding of the Historic Site of Angkor held its 15th plenary session in Siem Reap Monday, focusing on sustainable development at the Angkor temple complex. During the session, Japanese Ambassador Katsuhiro Shinohara said that "Angkor has become one of the most attractive sites globally" and that there needs to be "more serious grappling with sustainability issues". The committee's next technical session will be held in June 2009.


Written by SAM RITH
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Officials at the Ministry of Health have called on residents to undergo checks for avian influenza if they are beset by worrying symptoms during the upcoming cold season. "I would like to call on all Cambodians and foreigners to check their health at the nearest health centre as soon as they contract a cold," said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the ministry's communicable diseases control department. He said the cold season, which lasts from January to April, presents a higher risk of a bird flu outbreak.

An army's anniversary

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Heng Chivoan
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

A Cham Muslim joins several hundred members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) at a gathering Tuesday at Hun Sen Park to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of its United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK), the armed forces that, backed by Vietnamese troops, toppled the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. The event was presided over by Chea Sim, chairman of the CPP, Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, all senior founders of the UFNSK.

Cambodia to seek less donor aid

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady and Kay Kimsong
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

World financial crisis likely to slash foreign contributions

CAMBODIA will reduce the amount of aid requested from donors in the coming year, a government official said Tuesday, as the global financial crisis puts a pinch on the Kingdom's foreign backers.

Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the government would seek less than US$600 million in official direct assistance (ODA).

"Last year the government requested $602 million, but they ended up giving us more - $690 million," he said ahead of a three-day meeting between donors and the government that begins today.

Cheam Yeap said the global financial crisis could prevent countries from maintaining their normal levels of assistance.

While no country has announced plans yet to reduce its aid, the US embassy said changes at the White House could affect its contribution.

"The global economic recession will not necessarily affect our pledge, but due to the transition of our government, we won't be able to make a specific pledge yet," US embassy spokesman John Johnson said.

The effects of the global economic recession will be one focus of the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum, an annual event that is supposed to provide the government, civil society and donor groups with an opportunity to review key public policy issues and their financial requirements.

Today's session of the three-day meeting will concentrate on financial reform legislation to decentralise public spending and step up the monitoring of it.

Participants are also expected to discuss donor contributions later in the week, officials said Tuesday.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said Cambodia should also brace itself for a decline in foreign direct investment, "especially from countries in the region, like Korea, which has already begun to cut back its investment here quite a bit".

Asean summit to be postponed: govt

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chean Sokha
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

THE 14th annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, scheduled to be held in Chiang Mai from December 13 to 17, has been postponed due to the continuing political crisis in Thailand, Cambodian and Thai officials said Tuesday.

"I have received ... information that the meeting has been delayed," Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said, but could not comment on when the summit would take place.

Thai government spokesman Nattawut Saikaur said the summit had been postponed until March.

Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Cambodia would await developments in Thailand to see whether it could guarantee the security of leaders from the 10 Asean member states.

"If the two main airports in Thailand are reopening and are operating as normal, it means the situation is calm and Thailand could host the meeting," he said.

"But if not, the situation will continue to worsen," he added.

The Asean charter, which commits the bloc's 10 nations to promote democracy and human rights, and was due to be signed at the summit, will now be adopted in Indonesia.

"The Cabinet agreed to the Foreign Ministry's proposal to declare the Asean charter in Jakarta, and the Ministry will write a letter to inform group members," Nattawut said.

News of the delay came shortly after Thailand's Constitutional Court dissolved the country's ruling party and barred Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years.


New Chinese delegation arrives for economic talks

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Interior Minister Sar Kheng (left) greets the delegation led by Chinese Minister of Public Security Meng Jiangzhu last Sunday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Sebastian Strangio
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

200-strong government-business delegation an indication of increasing Chinese involvement in the Cambodian economy

AHIGH-RANKING Chinese government and private-sector delegation - the third to visit Cambodia in as many weeks - touched down in Phnom Penh Tuesday evening for talks that officials say will strengthen bilateral ties and mark five decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"The purpose of the visit is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the relationship between Cambodia and China," said Qian Hai, first secretary of the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, adding that Beijing was hoping to sign agreements of cooperation in the fields of education, health and economics during the four-day visit.

The 200-strong delegation, headed by Jia Qingling, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), will hold talks Wednesday with Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni, and take part in a Chaktomuk Theatre ceremony celebrating the continuing ties between the two allies.

According to local officials, the trip is part of a mutually beneficial series of exchanges between the two countries, which hope to strengthen economic ties in the years ahead.

" [China] needs to maintain the status quo by making friends around the world. "

"Today, 200 Chinese delegates arrived in Cambodia, including businessmen, who will see the situation and consider the possibility of investment in Cambodia," said CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap.

"I am optimistic that exchanging delegations with China will continue to help Cambodia in all sectors."

Frequent callers

The current visit comes just two days after the departure of a delegation led by Minister of Public Security Meng Jiangzhu, who held talks with Hun Sen and senior officials Sunday.

Recent weeks have also seen a Chinese donation of supplies to Cambodia's Ministry of Defence, and a November "goodwill" tour by a high-ranking CCP delegation.

Analysts say the rash of state visits from China - which has pledged the Kingdom $880 million in loans and grants since 2006 - is a result of the country's thirst for natural resources to fuel its economic boom.

"The economic achievements in China are pushing the government to maintain its economic development, and the natural resources of Cambodia are getting China's attention," said independent analyst Chea Vannath.

"They need to maintain the economic status quo by making friends throughout the world - not just in Cambodia."

But SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the influx of Chinese money was unlikely to benefit Cambodians, since Chinese infrastructure loans, in addition to attracting interest, were only used to pay Chinese building contractors.

"It's not good for Cambodia to move closer to China," he said. "We don't see the Chinese will bring Cambodia to a better stage of development. There is no sign they have done that anywhere in the world."

NEC, Sam Rainsy to face off in court over duelling complaints

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Both sides say they will pursue legal action in Phnom Penh Municipal Court over actions stemming from July's national elections

A LEGAL complaint to be filed against opposition leader Sam Rainsy by the National Election Committee (NEC) seeking fines for insults made against Cambodian People's Party leaders while on the campaign trail has sparked a counter-suit by the outspoken government critic.

Sam Rainsy told journalists on Tuesday he was not concerned about the NEC suit, which he dismissed as "nothing important", and said he was preparing to file his own complaint against the committee for allowing commune chiefs to issue counterfeit 10-18 voter forms during July's elections.

"I will be filing a complaint about the NEC ... providing counterfeit forms to people who had no right to vote," he told reporters. "This is counterfeiting, and penal law states that counterfeiters must be jailed.

"The NEC complaint against me is a small story. Paying a few thousand dollars in fines is not important, but for their criminal counterfeiting of documents, [NEC Director] Im Suosdey and [NEC Secretary General] Tep Nitha should be in jail," he said.

Tep Nitha said he was not concerned about the SRP complaint, adding that the complaint against Sam Rainsy was being prepared for submission to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

"We must lodge a complaint against him. The Constitutional Council has already decided that our actions are in accordance with the law, and we will formally submit the complaint some time next week," he said.

"The SRP has the right to lodge their complaint, but we are not worried because we have not faked any forms. The NEC and commune chiefs have done nothing illegal," he said.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said both sides have a right to take legal action but that they must both be held to the same legal standard.

He said both parties face reasonable complaints, as the SRP insulted fellow politicians and the NEC was responsible for irregularities in the elections.

"Both [complaints] must be decided by the law, and both [parties] must be under the law," Puthea Hang said.

Begging for change in Svay Rieng

Photo by: Thomas Gam Nielsen
Twenty-year-old former child beggar Ly Chhat stands in front of his soon-to-be finished motorbike repair shop.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Svay Rieng province
Hundreds of Cambodians travel to Vietnam every year to beg. Officials say a change in attitude among the beggars is needed, but others believe grinding poverty leaves them no alternative

BAREFOOT with rashes on his arms and the tell-tale wheezing of an asthmatic, 54-year-old Suon Krouch sits inside his thatch to escape the baking midday sun.

As a father of 10 with no regular work, his poverty is exacerbated by flooded farmland and empty fish ponds.

To counter the situation, he says, he rented his eight-year-old son in April to a beggar broker from their region and was expecting a US$50 return each month from his son's panhandling in Ho Chi Minh City.

Money arrived the first month, but on the next payday the broker delivered a no-money message: "Your son is missing, so I cannot give you anything."

After threatening the broker with police involvement, $150 shut Suon Krouch's mouth and fed his hungry family for some time. His son remains missing. When asked how he could rent his son in the first place, he answered: "We felt scared of losing our boy, but we sent him anyway because we needed the money.

"So far this year, 746 people have been recorded as having been bussed back from Vietnam to Svay Rieng province as part of ongoing cooperation between the two governments. The actual number of people involved could not be determined, as recent research shows that in some cases an individual can be deported from Vietnam as many as five times in one year.

Most of the Cambodian beggars come from the border area of Kampong Ro and Chantrea districts, where a woman the Post spoke to started her begging activities in 1984.

Skewed attitude to blame

In 1996, the Department of Social Affairs, Youth and Rehabilitation in Svay Rieng began working with Vietnamese authorities to help repatriate Cambodian beggars. Its director, Va Saren, sees poverty and low levels of education as key factors driving people to take up begging, but he also blames a skewed attitude to parenting among many of the villagers.

"Parents are sometimes greedy and want to be rich, and they do not think about the children's future education," Va Saren said, adding that many children are not in a position to object to their parents' commands.

After crossing the border, most beggars go to Ho Chi Minh City, population 6.6 million, where they will often know some relatives.

According to Va Saren, some earn a decent amount of money, which makes the begging industry look prosperous to neighbours back home.

'' We felt scared of losing our boy, but we sent him ... because we needed the money '

"Some of them go voluntarily because they see others coming back from Vietnam with a whole lot of money," he said.

In Svay Rieng, the government runs a program called Trafficking Prevention and Victim Protection, together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The program's statistics from 2007 show that two-thirds of the roughly 1,000 Cambodians registered as having been begging in Vietnam were children, and although some travelled with their parents, more travelled with other relatives, neighbours, by themselves or with brokers.

Ly Chaat, 20, was 10 years old when his father rented him to his uncle for begging.

He said that at first he was excited to be going to another country for the first time but was soon shocked by the harsh realities of life on the street.

"I needed to provide my uncle with 60,000 dong ($3) each day, and if I could not find enough he would hit me," Ly Chaat said, adding that when he went home to visit his parents with the collected money, it was hard leaving them again for a beggar's life on the streets.

"I did not want to go back because I knew I would be beaten by my uncle, but at home life was very difficult and I would not have been able to find a job to support my brothers and sisters," he said.

Ly Chaat stopped after three years of begging, when his mother died in 2001, and his father now takes care of his 10 children by himself.

He is classified as a victim of trafficking because he went to Vietnam without his parents. But he might disagree with the term.

According to the IOM's 2007 statistics, 97 percent of people classified as victims of trafficking said they went to Vietnam voluntarily, highlighting the startling difference between trafficking as defined by governments and nongovernment organisations - which are built on UN definitions - and the view of trafficking among the villagers themselves.

Providing new opportunities

Besides using education as a way of preventing trafficking, government programs have tried to offer families new income-generating opportunities to help counter their dependence on begging.

So far this year, 18 families of trafficking victims were given training on how to feed and breed fish to sell at the market, while another 64 families received vegetables and farming education.

"Some [of the beggars] are children of teachers and commune council members, [and] we always go to the communities to educate, and explain to parents about the children's right not to be trafficked," Va Saren said, adding that a long-term commitment is needed to change this attitude.

Moreover, when the repatriation buses reach the border crossing point, the program provides free health checks and vaccinations because begging in the streets leaves many children with an array of diseases.

But this is often not enough for families dependent on the money.

Despite their eight-year-old son still being missing, Suon Krouch sent his daughter to Ho Cho Minh City together with a daughter-in-law.

"We now rely on the income that she can find for us," Suon Krouch said, adding that they were not afraid of losing their daughter because she went with a person they knew, unlike their son.

No consistent trend can be gathered from statistics on beggar trafficking.

The years 2002 and 2003 had the highest number of returnees from Vietnam, and though the numbers dipped briefly, 2007 saw a rise again.

Data has not yet been analysed for 2008.

Ly Chaat said he is confident after his three-year experience of begging as a child he would never want to beg again.

Last year, the IOM program helped him train to be a mechanic, and now they are helping him build a small repair shop in his home village in Svay Rieng.

"I feel more comfortable and free now that I have the skills to repair a motorbike," he said, adding that he would stay and help his younger siblings, and maybe start his own family one day.

Hok Lundy eyewitnesses claim arrest for thefts at crash scene

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Helicopter crash witness claims he has been arrested on suspicion of pocketing property belonging to late National Police chief Hok Lundy

FIVE eyewitnesses to the helicopter crash that killed National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy were arrested by police in Svay Rieng's Romdoul district Tuesday, accused of stealing property from the scene of the accident, according to one of the accused.

"Today, Romdoul district police arrested me and accused me of keeping Hok Lundy's property," said Hing Phon, 47, a resident of Romdoul's Prey Keav village.

"Police accused us of keeping [Hok Lundy's] ring, belt and one of his guns ... but I saw only one wallet with $70 and Thai currency, and I gave it to the authorities at the scene."
The former police chief was killed when his helicopter lost control in heavy rain and crashed into an empty field on the night of November 9.

Hing Phon, who claims he was one of the first to come to the aid of the victims after the crash, said he would be sent to Svay Rieng provincial court Saturday to answer the charges.

"If we do not confess, they will put us in jail, but I'm not worried because I didn't do it," he said.

Meas Chork, police chief of Romdoul district, said the five witnesses had just been invited for questioning about what they did during the air crash, and that if anything was taken from the scene of the accident, it could be returned.

"In the morning, when we asked them to give everything back, they gave us one GPS unit. We have not arrested them, but only invited them to answer," he said. "We need to conduct investigations. We will not mistreat them, and I never said to them that they will be sued in the provincial court."

Kheut Phally, a provincial monitor for local rights group Licadho, said the charges as described by the accused were no grounds for arrest.

"Whether they give something back or not is up to the people. They cannot force them," she said. "There is no case for arresting them."

KRouge tribunal to consider additional charge for Duch

Photo by: AFP
The dock at Cambodia's Extraordinary Chambers where former S-21 prison chief Duch will appear on Friday when the hybrid tribunal announces its decision on the co-prosecutors' appeal of his indictement.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Legal experts say prosecution for participating in a ‘joint criminal enterprise' could expand scope of trials, leading to indictment of additional suspects

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is expected to rule Friday on whether top prison chief Kaing Guek Eav should face an additional charge that observers say could make other defendants automatically liable for crimes committed during the regime.

Co-investigating judges submitted their case against Kaing Guek Eav, more commonly known as Duch, to the trial chambers in August with the hopes of a trial starting the following month.

But prosecutors appealed, saying the case against the 66-year-old former head of Tuol Sleng prison was not broad enough.

The court is set to rule on whether to apply the additional charge of "commission of crimes through participation in a joint criminal enterprise as a mode of liability".

The controversial doctrine would allow prosecutors to pursue multiple people for crimes when they acted as part of a coordinated group, according to legal experts.

"[Joint criminal enterprise] allows the court to try defendants for crimes in which they didn't pull the trigger or inflict abuse directly ... [defendants] can be held liable if they planned, instigated, or aided and abetted crimes," John Ciorciari, a senior legal adviser to the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, wrote in the latest edition of the centre's magazine, Searching for the Truth.

"JCE matters largely because it would expand the universe of acts by Khmer Rouge defendants that could constitute crimes. Consequently, it would raise the likelihood of convictions," he added.

The speed of justice

Legal observers say that it is unclear whether applying joint criminal enterprise would speed up the trials of the five regime leaders currently in custody.

"[Joint criminal enterprise] could either speed up the trial, or it could delay the trial further," Long Panavuth, a court monitor for Open Society Justice Initiative, told the Post Tuesday.

"If the same evidence is used to try many suspects, then it could be faster. But if it is used to cover more crimes, it could delay investigations," he added, saying that the ruling could also help determine whether additional suspects would be submitted to the court.

In a response to the prosecution's appeal, the defence has argued that the doctrine was only designed to be used when the various roles of the defendants were unclear, which was not the case during the Khmer Rouge regime.

"Every [defence] team is concerned that a major decision on a far-ranging legal issue ... will affect not only Duch but other accused persons," said Andrew Ianuzzi, a legal consultant for Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea's defence team.


No party mergers, Funcinpec leader says

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

FUNCINPEC Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay on Monday denied reports that his party would join forces with the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP).

He said rumours of a merger may have been spread by individual party members, but that no Funcinpec leaders have ever discussed it. "I never said we would merge with the NRP," he told the Post on Monday.

Nhek Bun Chhay refused to speculate on whether the two parties might merge in the future. "We have no plans to unite with the NRP. It is not time for that yet," he said.

Chhim Seak Leng, acting president of the NRP, said that he was not aware of current plans for a party merger, adding that plans exist for a future union of the two royalist parties and referring questions to NRP Secretary General Yu Hokry.

Yu Hokry could not be reached for comment, but NRP spokesman Suth Dina told the Post that officials from both parties have met unofficially to discuss cooperation in district and provincial elections in 2009. "We are not yet ready for the parties to merge, but maybe in four or five years' time and closer to the next national election," he said.

Dam wrong about Mekong River Commission's role

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Jeremy Bird
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Dear Editor,

I would like to draw attention to the letter published in The Phnom Penh Post on November 27 titled "Dam Wrong" by Mr Stan Khan.

Mr Khan states: "Worse yet, the Mekong River Commission [MRC], which ostensibly would have a role in protecting the river's environment, is too weak to demand ecological considerations."

A recent regional consultation on the MRC's role in hydropower development held in Vientiane, Laos, with representatives from governments, developers, NGOs and development financiers, took a starkly different view to that in Mr Khan's letter. They concluded that the MRC has a major role to play in advising governments on decisions for hydropower development.

Firstly, there are the formal intergovernmental procedures for such projects, which are a requirement of the 1995 Mekong Agreement, before any such project can be approved for implementation. Some preliminary information is shared prior to the formal process of notification, a process that is expected to start in early 2009, once developers have provided sufficient information which the MRC can consider.

Secondly, participants at the meeting encouraged the MRC to expedite its work on strategic and cumulative assessment so that any such proposed projects can be assessed within a basin-wide framework, taking into account the types of impacts to which Mr Khan refers.

Thirdly, the consultants recognised the importance of the MRC in convening a world-renowned group of aquatic ecologists and mitigation specialists to investigate the likely scale of impact on migratory fish, and the prospects for future Mekong fish stocks and peoples' livelihoods that depend upon them. Experience from river projects around the world was also discussed at the conference.

The MRC is actively engaged in all areas of environmental concern, supporting the sustainable development of hydropower that is mutually beneficial to member states and implemented in accordance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement. It has long recognised that there are opportunities and risks with hydropower development.

At the MRC Secretariat, we have been guided by the MRC Council to ensure that these opportunities and risks are fully analysed. It is precisely the types of issues in Mr Khan's letter that are being considered by the MRC, and these issues will be highlighted to government decision-makers responsible for determining whether individual mainstream dam proposals will proceed to implementation.

For those interested in more information on the MRC's work, please contact us at or find more information at BirdCEO,

Jeremy Bird
CEO, MRC Secretariat
Vientiane, Lao


Send letters to: or P.O. Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by HOR HAB
Wednesday, 03 December 2008

The China-Asean Association donated a US$70,000 electronic library to the Royal Academy of Cambodia in a ceremony on November 25, marking the 50th anniversary of relations between the two countries. Wu Tao, vice president of the association, said the donation of the library, which will be known as the Confucius Centre, reflected China's willingness to improve education in Cambodia. "Education is the key to sustainable development and the future of the country," Wu said.

Cambodian bizmen wish to do business with Indonesians


Phnom Phen (ANTARA News) - Some 25 Cambodian businessmen have expressed interest in establishing business contacts with Indonesians among other things in the industry and tourism sectors.

The Cambodian businessmen expressed their wish to cooperate with Indonesian businessmen during a "Business Matching" function, in Phnom Phen on Tuesday.

Harry Warganegara, chairman of the Indonesian Young Businessmen Association (HIPMI), who also attended the event said that the Cambodian businessmen were interested in cooperation in hotel business and tourism industry.

In addition, they also wish to purchase construction materials and handicraft products from Indonesia, Harry said.

Meanwhile, South Korean builder living in Cambodia, JW Kim of Young Shim Trading Co., said Cambodia has been importing cement from Thailand.

"Indonesian cement is of course good, but it is a question whether the price is competitive or not?" Kim said when attending the Indonesian Trade dan Tourism Promotion in the Cambodian capital city.

PT Bosowa`s production manager, Iwan Zulkarnaen said South Korean businessmen working in the Cambodian infrastructure sector, had showed a great interest in construction and building materials from Indonesia.

"We will give competitive price so that Indonesian products can get a wider market in Cambodia," Iwan said.

In the meantime, Lily Suliani Haryati, head of marketing extension for Asia, Australia and New Zealand at the National Agency for Export Development (BPEN) reminded Indonesian businessmen who wish to penetrate Cambodia`s market to select products for export to that country.

Lily said that Indonesian Batik clothes are currently traded in Cambodia at low prices, but the Batik clothes came from Malaysia.

This happened because there is no direct flight from Indonesia to Cambodia, she noted, adding that the quality of Cambodian garments are now getting better.

Cambodia and Indonesia are part of the ten ASEAN member countries, which comprised Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Khmer Rouge and Past Actions in Cambodia

Skulls of Victims of Khmer Rouge
Credit: Wikipedia Commons

AC Associated Content

By Gary Davis
Published Dec 02, 2008

20% of Population Destroyed

It makes my jaw tight. Cambodia's "killing fields" and the existence of the Khmer Rouge are memories that put me in a solemn trance. It was one of the great crimes against humanity in the early 1970's. has posted an article "Priest tried to warn of Cambodia's insanity." In 1970 the violence of the Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia. By 1975 Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia.

Francois Ponchaud was a Catholic priest who watched as residents of Phnom Penh were removed to the countryside. He tried to warn people about what was happening but people didn't listen. Further, ultimately, he was held as a semi-prisoner.

Khmer Rouge means "red" Rouge or "Marxist" government. The Khmer Rouge was led by an evil despot named Pot Pol.

The aim of Pot Pol and the Khmer Rouge was to make Cambodia a classless society and return to an early agrarian society in which the farmers were the proletariat.

The people that were forced to leave the city were called the "New People" and the favored Khmer Rouge saying about them was "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."

As a soldier in Vietnam during this period, I had friends who were sent on missions to Cambodia and found remnants of butchery that was starting in the early 1970's.

The net result of Pot Pol and the Khmer Rouge's actions was that they isolated people who were part of the previous government, intellectuals; people involved with capitalism, urban dwellers and professionals and, ultimately murdered them through execution, slavery or torture.

By the time the priest, Francois Ponchaud was free to travel on his own, the damage had been done.

The Khmer Rouge murdered between 800,000 and two million people although the typical figure given is 1.5 million. This represents a full 20% of the existing 7.5 million Cambodians living at that time.

I don't like to be reminded of Cambodia. Our country propped up a government for no good reason and yet let 1/5 of a nation die.

I don't like to be reminded of Cambodia. It makes my jaw tight.


Successful NGO should be replicated

Pacific Daily News, GU
December 3, 2008

Once, Cambodia was a powerful empire that ruled areas of today's Laos to the north, the former South Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west and a portion of Malaysia to the south.

Imperial expansionism, wars, disease, mismanagement of state power and the economy, and internal discord, have reduced Cambodia to its present size of 69,898 square miles, of which 90 percent is rural and poor. Thirty-five percent of the country's 14 million people, earn less than 50 cents a day; some scavenge city dumps and live on rat meat.

Several miles southeast of Battambang city, on the Sangker River, lies a village called Ksach Poy. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, villagers there revolted and the village became a killing field.

In 1979, after Vietnamese troops knocked Pol Pot out of power and sent his gangs fleeing to the Thai border, 16-year-old Soth Plai Ngarm, from a Khmer Rouge forced labor unit, walked through Ksach Poy, where his mother and relatives lived. He saw "dead bodies and corpses everywhere." He shed tears and moved toward the Thai border. As Ngarm later speaks, he had "almost no hope" in humanity.

In the 1980s, destiny drew a path for Ngarm and me to meet.

Ngarm never really lost hope. Following the October 1991 Paris Peace Accords, Ngarm, 28, left the refugee camp in 1992, headed to Ksach Poy, which he remembered fondly as a beautiful place with peaceful and "warm-hearted" people. There Ngarm saw beauty. And he saw young people. Ngarm saw a role for himself.

In 1994, Ngarm and some committed, perhaps idealistic, colleagues founded the "Friends Economic Development Association," or FEDA, with a purpose to help the villagers to help themselves and to build a community that is "strong, inter-dependent and self-reliant."

Fast forward. Ngarm is now 45 and I am 64, but destiny had us meet again, this time in cyberspace. Ngarm is executive director of FEDA, a registered non-governmental organization.

He holds a master's degree in peace studies from England's Bradford University, and is also executive director of the Alliance for Conflict Transformation, or ACT.

Ngarm has sprouted his wings: He's a community organizer and a peace worker.

Cheang Sokha, executive director of the Youth Resource Development Program (, a promoter of critical and analytical thinking, peace studies and conflict resolution -- a topic worth examining -- also is a core member of ACT.

Ah, Ngarm is really walking the walk!

So, what has become of Ksach Poy today?

You can Google "FEDA Cambodia" and watch a nine-minute video on YouTube about the 3,000 inhabitants (the majority are young people) who are rice farmers at Ksach Poy, with "no running water or electricity." Families with an average household income of about 30 dollars a month, grow fruit, run small enterprises -- trading stalls and "taxi" services to town -- to supplement their income from rice sales.

FEDA says many of the children of Ksach Poy suffer from malnutrition; basic medical facilities are lacking. While most of the 300 children between 6 and 18 years old finished primary school in the village, many must help their families in the rice fields or at home and cannot attend secondary school.

A British charity organization, "Cambodian Children's Educational Foundation," raises funds to support the work of FEDA.

Listing as its mission to "help alleviate poverty" of villagers in Wat Kor Commune in Cambodia's northwest, "by developing self-sustaining income generation projects, and by providing children with educational opportunities (to become) responsible citizens," locally, nationally and globally, FEDA describes its vision as striving "to build a prosperous and peaceful society where opportunities for education, viable work and healthy social relationships are accessible to all people without discrimination (and) focuses on working with young people to build positive and peaceful attitudes in their communities."

Its "core values" are "creativity, empathy, non-violence, non-alignment with government, political independence, and non-discrimination." It aims for "transparency, accountability and sustainability" in its actions.

In 1997, FEDA curbed migration of rural women to urban areas and kept local resources local by creating a garment production facility to enable women to earn a living and bring in the money that benefits local markets and village businesses.

An "alcohol and drug-free ... Green Orange Café" -- named after the renowned Battambang orange -- allows young and old to meet and socialize, provides employment and raises money for other projects. The Café uses only local ingredients.

FEDA's "free community/youth center," called the "House of Light and Knowledge," now has more than 800 students who learn English, environmental and peace studies, art, music, sports and vocational skills. It has classrooms, an office, computer lab, library, music room, sports facilities and playgrounds. FEDA says that this "already successful venture could well be replicated in other parts of Cambodia as funds permit."

The Hun Sen government should pour money to support and replicate the project. "The project hopes to contribute to rebuilding the country's social fabric," FEDA states. Amen!

Ngarm has contributed to humanity. He began with "almost no hope." But he developed ideas, and he put ideas into practice. That's how he and his colleagues have brought about change!
Ngarm's inspiring efforts and determination to do something for the common good are an example to us all.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 16 years. Write him at

Cambodian rice to flood market soon

Commodity Online

NEW DELHI: Even as India is shying away from exporting non-Basmati rice fearing inflation rise, Cambodia is all set to play a big role in rice market with a surplus crop helping the country ship at least 2 million tonne.

Media reports said Cambodia’s production of unmilled rice has increased 12 per cent this year, which would create a surplus of 2.8 million tonnes in 2008, up 300,000 tonnes over last year’s figures.

The country also hopes that the quantity of rice production will continue to increase next year.

The Cambodian government expects total production of unmilled rice to hit 6.8 million tonnes, which would represent a million-tonne gain over last year.

Cambodia is negotiating with several countries to secure additional markets for Cambodian rice.

The country will export at least 2 million tonnes of rice in 2009 to countries in the region, in the Middle East, the European Union and in Africa.

China's top political advisor starts visit to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin arrived here Tuesday, starting an official goodwill visit as guest of Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim.

In a written statement delivered upon arrival at the airport, Jia said China and Cambodia are friendly neighbors and the two peoples enjoy time-honored traditional friendship.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-Cambodia friendship has grown from strength to strength, said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

He said the two countries have carried out effective exchanges and cooperation in the political, economic and trade, cultural and other fields and maintained good coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs.

"The growth of China-Cambodia relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but also peace, stability and development of the region," said Jia, who will have an in-depth exchange of views with Cambodian leaders on issues of mutual interest for the purpose of cementing friendship, deepening mutual trust, promoting cooperation and pursuing common development.

He said he is confident that the visit will "be productive and contribute to the long-term stable growth of China-Cambodia good neighborly friendship and cooperation".

Cambodia is the last leg of Jia's four-nation visit which has taken him to Jordan, Turkey and Laos.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Amazing Race: Dallas On Losing Passport, Romance with Starr

December 1, 2008

Dallas and Toni — the hunky college student and his doting mother — made a strong bid for The Amazing Race’s $1 million prize. Unfortunately, leaving their money and Dallas’s passport in a Russian taxi was a fatal misstep that cost them their chance at victory. But it wasn’t a total loss. Dallas got to know fellow racer Starr, leading to a romance that is going strong. Dallas and Toni spoke with PEOPLE after their elimination episode aired Sunday to discuss the money-and-passport gaffe, how the Race led to romance and what Toni discovered in Cambodia. – Nicholas White

How did you feel after the show?

Toni: It was pretty emotional because it had been such a wonderful run and such an incredible experience. The circumstances are what they are, and that’s just life. I don’t think that was something that weighed too heavily upon us.Dallas: Since the show aired, I haven’t been back to my college town to the bars for everybody to call me an idiot yet. I should still feel alright for at least another week.

How did manage to lose your money and passport?

Dallas: I hopped out of the cab I was in to get into another cab. We were in that cab for about 20 or 30 minutes. After I went to pay that second cab, I finally realized that [the money and passport] were left in the first cab during the microphone exchange.

Did you think you could get it back?

Dallas: What I did was take that second cab back to a hotel that we stayed at on that last Pit Stop. I used the concierge service to get the taxi that I was going to then take later. I had got the money from some of the other Racers. [The plan was to] get a free taxi for a little bit, and then figure out the passport situation.Toni: I was just praying on the fact that I hoped somebody in Russia would return that passport and that taxi driver would turn it in knowing that he’d be at that hotel would turn it in there or the embassy. I was kind of banking on that.

How hard was it to beg for rubles?

Dallas: A lot of the younger kids gave us money … It was the older people who were stingier.Toni: One man was actually going to pawn his cell phone to give us money. He was begging taxi drivers to take us and they wouldn’t do it. That’s what I realized, here in America, who would pawn a cell phone to help somebody they didn’t know?

Dallas, what’s the connection with Starr?

Dallas: Starr is very adventurous and outgoing. She’s definitely got a strong personality like me. That’s kind of where we clash. We butt heads because we both want our way all of the time. As you can see on the show, she gets pretty upset when things don’t go her way. I get upset when things don’t go my way. We both like to go out and do adventurous things. We both fight for the same stuff. That’s the level we connect on. She has a real good heart. She works with kids with autism in New York. That’s another side of her that I really like.

Who was the pursuer?

Dallas: She was the pursuer, for sure. Finally I gave in. I was like, “I don’t want to see this girl work too hard.”

What’s the future look like?

Dallas: Only time will tell. She’s in New York and I’m in California. We’ll have to see where it goes. It’s positive right now. We’ll take it one day at a time. She came out after the show ended and we went skydiving. On her birthday, we went spelunking, an intense cave dive. We’ve done some amazing adventures. We’re going to do some bungee jumping as well. We’ll see how that goes.

What did you get her for her birthday?

Dallas: I got her a little mushy sweetheart [present], a picture frame with pictures and some music. We went out to dinner for the night, a fondue restaurant. Solid.

Toni, what was your favorite part of the Race?

Toni: Cambodia, without a doubt … The people of Cambodia were the most peaceful, gentle, loving people I’d seen in my life. It really showed me that we need to refocus our lives. It’s not about the stuff — it’s about the people.

Monty Brinton/CBS

Priest tried to warn of Cambodia's insanity

Francois Ponchaud said refugees' accounts of the genocide "went beyond my wildest imagination."

The Cambodian capital Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975.

More than 2 million people died in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge

By Erika Colin

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Francois Ponchaud was a newly ordained Catholic priest when he arrived in Cambodia in 1965 from a small village in France.

He was sent to do missionary work. But within a decade he would become a crusader against the worst genocide since the Holocaust.

"I was staying by the Cambodian people's side," Ponchaud said, "through the good and the sadness and the suffering."

When he arrived at age 26, Cambodia was a peaceful place: a bucolic land of villages, peasants, rice paddies and Buddhist monks. Ponchaud studied Cambodian history and Buddhism, became fluent in Khmer, made friends and immersed himself in the culture -- falling in love with the country and its people.

But the peacefulness was short-lived.

By 1970, Cambodia was descending into chaos as the Vietnam War spilled across its borders. In the countryside, the Americans were carpet-bombing Vietcong outposts. In the capital, Phnom Penh, Washington was propping up a corrupt government.

From the jungles, a sinister and brutal communist rebel group called the Khmer Rouge was fighting to overthrow Cambodia's U.S.-backed regime.
On April 17, 1975, Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge. They began to reinvent Cambodia according to an insane blueprint. They emptied the cities, including some 3 million in the capital, forcing all the residents into the countryside -- and toward a dark future.

"As of noon, all the people started leaving," Ponchaud said. "Then I saw all my friends who were leaving. ... There were hundreds of thousands of people who were trudging along a few kilometers an hour. It was truly a staggering sight. Incredible." Watch Ponchaud describe the exodus from Phnom Penh »

Ponchaud was told to stay at the French Embassy, where thousands fleeing Phnom Penh desperately sought asylum. One of the few foreigners able to communicate with the Khmer Rouge, he spent days at the embassy gate, trying to negotiate. Watch Ponchaud discuss the significance of the embassy gate »

In the weeks that followed, the Khmer Rouge let him leave the embassy twice. Both times he searched for clues about what was happening in the country. But Phnom Penh was empty. Read a reporter's notebook of his journey through Cambodia's killing fields »

Ponchaud was expelled from the city in the last evacuating convoy, as the Khmer Rouge forced all foreigners onto trucks and out of the country. At the border, Ponchaud broke down, weeping.
"It was as though we had gone mad," he said. "We were getting out of a country of the living dead."

With the country sealed, the Khmer Rouge went about creating their new Cambodia -- and the killing began in earnest.

The Khmer Rouge envisioned a return to Cambodia's medieval greatness -- a "pure" nation full of noble peasant farmers.
For that, though, they had to purge everyone else: the rich, the religious, the educated, anyone from a different ethnic group.

"All those who were opposed to the government were killed," Ponchaud said. "And all those who didn't work quite hard enough were killed."

Hundreds of thousands were worked -- or starved -- to death. "Perhaps a good chunk -- a solid half -- died from sickness and lack of health care," he said.

By September 1975, Ponchaud was back in France and ready to resume his work. His missionary society in Paris asked him to keep track of events in Cambodia. He quickly became the "go-to" person for Cambodian refugees arriving from Thailand, and he began documenting their stories.

At first, Ponchaud had a hard time believing the accounts of execution, torture, deportation, forced labor and starvation. Read how a Khmer Rouge survivor is documenting the genocide
"They were burning villages ... sending people into the forest without giving them anything to eat," Ponchaud said. "It went beyond my wildest imagination."

Horrified, Ponchaud devised a plan to gather more information: A friend living on the Cambodian border would record and send him broadcasts from Radio Phnom Penh -- the official voice of the Khmer Rouge -- in which the government described its transformation of the country. Read a former Khmer Rouge member's account of the killings

Ponchaud found that the broadcasts substantiated the refugees' claims. As unbelievable as those claims were, the broadcasts told of the same policies. What the refugees were saying was true.

"I decoded the radio -- the official declarations. And then the refugees would give me the 'experienced' side. It matched up," he said. "On one hand, the ideology, and on the other, the lived experience." Watch Ponchaud describe how he was able to decode the Khmer Rouge ideology »

For months, Ponchaud gathered and documented information, repeatedly denouncing the Khmer Rouge. His testimonials appeared in the French press as early as October 1975.

He also wrote to the president of France and Amnesty International, and appeared before the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Watch Ponchaud discuss his efforts to alert people to the genocide »

In 1976, angered by inaccuracies in Le Monde's reporting on the Khmer Rouge, Ponchaud fired off a letter to the newspaper's editor -- along with a dossier of refugee accounts and radio transmissions. He was contacted immediately and asked to write for the newspaper. His articles were published in February 1976. Watch Ponchaud tell the Le Monde story »

Though few accounts of Cambodia's nightmare were appearing in the press, the U.S. government was receiving frequent briefings about what was happening there. In a meeting in November 1975, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger acknowledged the brutality of the Khmer Rouge. But he also knew that they shared an enemy with the U.S. -- Vietnam.

"Tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them," Kissinger told an official in the region, according to a declassified State Department account. The Khmer Rouge "are murderous thugs," he said, "but we won't let that stand in our way." Read Kissinger's words in the declassified State Department document (pdf)

By 1977, the Khmer Rouge had been in power for two years, and much of the world remained unaware or uninterested. Many who did hear accounts of Khmer Rouge brutality found them hard to believe. Even prominent liberals and intellectuals doubted that a supposedly egalitarian peasant movement would perpetrate such horrors on their own people.
Ponchaud then published a startling book called "Year Zero." It was one of the first to expose the brutal totalitarian regime of the Khmer Rouge to the world. Still, no help came for Cambodia.

"I was pretty frustrated," he said. "The governments did not react. You know, countries don't defend human rights. They are always subservient to politics."

In January 1977, the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter promised a change. Carter vowed to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. But it would take 15 months for him to publicly condemn the Khmer Rouge as the world's "worst violator of human rights."

Even then he took no action to stop the slaughter. Invasion, he said, was not an option for a country still recovering from the Vietnam War.

Instead, in December 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia after years of cross-border skirmishes. The Vietnamese quickly overthrew the Khmer Rouge, who fled back into the jungle.

The world would finally start to see that all Ponchaud had said was true. More than 2 million Cambodians were dead. The scope of the catastrophe quickly became clear. In the fall of 1979, Carter responded, raising $32 million to help the refugees.
Today, Ponchaud is back in Cambodia, continuing his efforts for the Cambodian people, building schools, holding Mass and working on local projects. Often referred to as "the friend of the Cambodians," he is considered an expert on the country. But this time he has no illusions.

"No one defends human rights," he said. "Governments are cold beasts looking out for their own interests."