Friday, 17 April 2009

24 Hours in the Cloggersphere




bloggingincambodia

Discovering Cambodia's social media landscape. We chose Cambodia's social media landscape as our topic of interest for our module, Digital Media in Asia, that we're studying at our university, SMU.

We decided to study Cambodia from a different angle. Not through Lonelyplanet travel guides, encyclopedias or Wikipedia. We spent 24 hours in the country without stepping foot on land. Instead, we spent 24 hours in the Cloggorsphere, learning about the country from behind our screens. We learned the diverse nature of Cloggers and their interests, that include technology news and tips, politics and social interactions. We have included the list of blogs we referred to at the end of this message.

This activity has taught us many lessons that haven't been written about in books and told by teachers. What we've experienced can only be had by jumping headlong into what is known as the Cloggersphere.

The blogs in this video include:
ssfcambodia.blogspot.com
techradar.com
khmernz.blogspot.com
sokhourny.blogspot.com
khmerian.com
perfectsketch.blogspot.com
blackandwhiter.blogspot.com
khmerit.co.cc
Khmerak.com
Sambosamphors.blogspot.com
mongkol.wordpress.com
johnanderinmacy.com
piseth.info
Roubroum.blogspot.com
detailsaresketchy.blogspot.com
vuthasurf.com

Please direct all your suggestions and opinions to bloggingincambodia.gmail.com

Khmer Rouge survivors finally speak out

Joe MozingoFirst
Published : 16 Apr 2009

AT night, the old woman hears the voices of her children crying out for her. She knows they will never stop.

Um Sath is 89, and three decades have passed since the Khmer Rouge laid waste to Cambodia. But she shuts her eyes and taps her temples to show where the genocidal regime still rules with impunity. “We miss you, Mama,” the voices cry.

Sath spends much of her day sitting in silence. For years, she rarely left her old clapboard house in Long Beach, California. Although she now finds peace chatting with the other haunted figures at a seniors centre, she has kept the echoes of the ‘killing fields’ sealed tightly inside her head.

In March, she let them out — joining dozens of survivors at a recreation centre in Long Beach to face their memories. They longed to see a reckoning for perpetrators of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Since February, a UN-backed tribunal in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh has put on trial the first of five Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes against humanity, for the brutal experiment in communism that took at least 1.7 million lives between 1975 and 1979.

Activists in the US want refugees outside Cambodia to submit their testimonies to the tribunal in an effort to spur a judicial process beset by delays, limited funds and allegations of corruption. They hope, along the way, to relieve the emotional torture of survivors who rarely speak about what happened. “I’m hoping it will allow them to tell the world what happened 34 years ago,” said Leakhena Nou, an assistant professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach who is leading the outreach effort in Southern California, home of the world’s largest Cambodian refugee community.

“The Khmer Rouge leaders are getting old; the victims are getting old.

This is their chance to have their voices be heard before it’s too late.” In the centre at a park, Nou explains to Sath and other victims the importance of submitting their written testimony to the tribunal.

Nou understands this tribunal has problems. She knows it won’t touch even a fraction of the era’s killers. She knows political forces in Cambodia want to limit the tribunal’s reach. She knows survivors’ memories are fragmented and muddled. Asking them to condense incomprehensible horrors of that time — the turning point in their lives — into a few lines on a government form borders on cruel farce. And Nou hasn’t even been assured that prosecutors will read the forms. But she still hopes this could be a starting point for Cambodians around the world to rally for justice. She asks the survivors if they want to tell their stories to the group first.

Sath stands up. Her eyes crinkle before she speaks. Sath and her husband were farmers and merchants in the rich land along the Mekong River, south of Phnom Penh. In the middle class, with enough money to own a modest brick house, they were targets when the Khmer Rouge swept into power in 1975, brutally turning the country into a collective society of farm peasants. Intellectuals, teachers, doctors, businessmen, government bureaucrats and army soldiers were executed en masse.

Khmer Rouge soldiers showed up at Sath’s home with rifles, took her husband and told her to walk with her eight children. They had nothing but their clothes. The countryside was crowded with people on rutted roads.

For days they wandered and anyone who complained or asked questions was dismissed by a bullet to the head.

They let Sath and her children return to where she had lived. The family reunited with her husband and stayed for a month. The soldiers forced them back on the road, this time to a work camp near Pursat, where they lived in a straw hut with a dirt floor.

The family worked to exhaustion in the rice fields day after day. One day, soldiers locked Sath in chains and took her husband. Days later, she overheard soldiers mention his execution.

The soldiers took her three sons — two teenagers and the 6-year-old. Some time later, Sath heard that other villagers had seen the boys’ clothes in the plowed-up field where bodies were routinely buried. Soldiers came for Sath next. They took her to the same field and beat her unconscious. She woke up naked, amid decaying bodies and the smell that, decades later, could bring the horror back to life.

Born Pach, takes the microphone next. The stories pour out. No one remembers dates. Places are vague. Only one victim names an alleged perpetrator.

The rest do not remember their tormentors’ names, never knew them or are still scared.

© The Washington Post

Thailand to host a renewed session of the ASEAN summit

Fri, 2009-04-17

Bangkok, 17 April, (Asiantribune.com): Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday that his government is determined to host a renewed session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit with six dialogue partners, cancelled abruptly after anti-government protesters stormed into the hotel venue of the meeting last week.

At a press conference, Abhisit said, "we will decide on the dates for the ASEAN plus three and the ASEAN plus six in the next few days. I will meet with the secretary general of the ASEAN in the next two days."

Returning to Government House for the first time in three weeks after the anti-government demonstrators ended their rally there on Tuesday , Mr. Abhisit told a press conference that his government could not allow the summits to meet with failure.

"We will decide on the dates for the ASEAN plus 3 and the ASEAN plus 6 in the next few days. I will meet with the secretary general of ASEAN in the next two days," the prime minister said.

The three-day summit between ASEAN and government leaders of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, began Friday at the hotel in the Thai resort of Pattaya, but was cancelled the next day by Mr. Abhisit in deference to the safety concerns of visiting government leaders after anti-government protesters led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) stormed into the hotel.

Before Thursday’s press conference, Mr. Abhisit invited foreign envoys based in Bangkok to to get a briefing at Government House about the present situation in the country as well as his government’s policy.

Thailand’s political situation has become fragile following violent street clashes between government forces and UDD supporters on Bangkok streets on Monday which left two local residents killed by the angry protesters and 135 protesters and government forces wounded or injured.

In an attempt to listen to opinions to members of parliament on the country’s politics, Mr. Abhisit said he had discussed with Parliament president Chai Chidchob to hold a joint parliament session next Wednesday and Thursday.

- Asian Tribune -

Free and Easy Mobile Tour of Cambodia's Angkor Wat

Travelers now have a free self-guided, multimedia tour of the Angkor Wat temple complex that they can take on their mobile phones and media players. The tour covers major sites along the Little Circuit of the Angkor Archaeological Park.

SANTA CLARA, CA, April 17, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Lost to the outside world for centuries, the exotic stone temples of Cambodia's Angkor Wat Archaeological Park inspire travelers with their massive facades covered in delicate carvings and draped in jungle growth. To help travelers who are short on time learn about the amazing empire and people who built these religious buildings, Geogad has just released its new tour of the Angkor Archaeological Park. The easy-to-use tour is packed with audio and images that provide in-depth information on the history and culture of the Khmer Empire, the kings who ruled it, the lives of the ordinary people who built it and its eventual fall and discovery by European explorers. Details of ancient and modern Cambodia life and culture are part of the tour and give travelers a better understanding of what happen to those people left behind when the Khmer Empire fell and how the actions of Western powers continue to influence the lives of Cambodia's today. Included within the tour itself are maps and directions to aid travelers on their explorations so additional guides are not required. Geogad's Mobile Tour of Cambodia's Angkor Wat is almost two hours long, but the actual exploration of the park itself can take a few days.

This new Geogad Mobile Tour is like an always-on, easy-to-understand tour guide. This detailed self-guided tour can be stopped and started whenever it is convenient for the traveler and can be downloaded or streamed to the mobile electronic devices that the traveler is already carrying. With its almost two hours of detailed content, Geogad has already done the research on Angkor Wat. Its tour provides the type of information that a visitor desires on the park but without having to spend time reading travel guides. The traveler has four different options on how to take this free tour including streamed over the Internet via Flash, uploaded onto an iPod or other mobile media player, downloaded as clips to mobile phones through the phone's built-in mobile web browser or through the Geogad's GPS-aware application that runs on all Google Android-enabled mobile phones.

All travelers can easily view and download a sample of this digital tour of Angkor Wat from the Geogad website at http://www.geogad.com. The entire tour is available for free when the traveler signs into his free Geogad account. If the traveler has a mobile phone with a built-in browser, he can stream the tour over Geogad's mobile site at http://m.geogad.com without having to plan his travels ahead of time. Travelers with smartphones that run the Google Android operating system can view the tour over Geogad's Android application which includes GPS mapping. Travelers also have the option of downloading the tour to their favorite mobile media player. To determine the format that works best, travelers can sample and view all of the Geogad Mobile Tours for free without logging into the Geogad website at http://www.geogad.com or on the Geogad Mobile site at http://m.geogad.com.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY

The Geogad Mobile Tour for the Angkor Wat Temple Complex and surrounding area is available for free at the Geogad website including sponsored advertisements. The Geogad Mobile Tours are also available without advertisements at a U.S. list price of $9.99. The tours can be downloaded and purchased directly from the Geogad website at http://www.geogad.com.

ABOUT GEOGAD

Geogad, Inc. is a private company based in Santa Clara in California's Silicon Valley. Geogad helps travelers explore the world by making digital tours of popular travel destinations that are fun and easy to use. News and information about Geogad are available at http://www.geogad.com.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Georgi Dagnall
Geogad, Inc.
Phone: (408) 868-4653
E-mail: news@geogad.com

Thailand protest leader wounded in shooting

Limthongkul is in stable condition after surgery that removed a bullet from his skull.

A Thai policeman looks at the bullet damaged rear window of an automobile of Sondhi Limthongkul.

Sondhi Limthongkul is a media tycoon who founded the People's Alliance for Democracy protest movement.

Gunmen riddle Sondhi Limthongkul's car with bullets. His 'yellow shirt' movement shut down Bangkok's airports in November.

Reuters
April 17, 2009

Bangkok, Thailand -- The founder of Thailand's "yellow shirt" protest movement, which was behind the weeklong occupation of Bangkok's main airports late last year, was shot and wounded early today, a spokesman said.

A doctor at Vajira Hospital in Bangkok told reporters that Sondhi Limthongkul was undergoing surgery.

Sondhi's car was attacked at a gas station near the country's central bank about 5 a.m., a spokesman for his People's Alliance for Democracy said.

His movement was not part of the latest political violence in Thailand, which involved counter-protesters who are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and now lives in self-imposed exile. His supporters distinguish themselves by wearing red shirts.

The protests ended Tuesday when the red shirts, who had been occupying the grounds of Government House, surrendered to hundreds of troops surrounding the building, the main office of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Sondhi's group of royalists, academics, former military people and Bangkok's middle-class residents united in their loathing of Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire who draws his support from the rural poor.

Sondhi founded the People's Alliance for Democracy, or PAD, in 2005 after falling out with Thaksin, a former business associate.

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said a driver and bodyguard in Sondhi's car were also wounded, the driver seriously.

He said the attack was carried out by two men in a vehicle who shot out the tires of Sondhi's car and then riddled it with bullets.

Malta Red Cross to assist in repatriation of girl injured in Cambodia

Times of Malta

Friday, 17th April 2009

A Malta Red Cross team of paramedics is departing for Cambodia tomorrow to assist in the transportation and repatriation of Lisa Gatt, the girl badly injured in a road accident in Cambodia last week.

The Malta Red Cross said members of the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Cambodian Red Cross proved invaluable in the logistical organisation of the operation and even visited the injured girl at the clinic in Sihanoukville.

Notwithstanding that the clinic intended dismissing Lisa Gatt on Sunday, arrangements were made for her to be kept under observation until arrival of the team of paramedics sent by the Malta Red Cross.

The society thanked all those who sent donations to this cause and the organisations who offered their support, particularly Medcomms Ltd and Emirates, as well as the organisations Kilimanjaro Challenge 4 and Reaching Out.

Donations can still be made at the Red Cross Offices, 104, St Ursula Street, Valletta, at the Malta Red Cross, Room 6, University of Malta, Xewkija, Gozo or in “Bank of Valletta” Account number 10206374012.

Not just Cambodia on trial

Boston.com

April 17, 2009

WITH THE first trial of a Khmer Rouge figure now underway, the people of Cambodia have an opportunity to make sense of their country's grisly past. The tribunal, created to assess the crimes of a murderous regime that was overthrown in 1979, has been long delayed, and its ambitions are too limited. Even so, the proceedings could embarrass not just Cambodia's current government, but also the United States.

The Khmer Rouge was a shadowy group of Communists that gained power in 1975 and killed 1.7 million people. The tribunal, based in Phnom Penh, is a joint effort of the Cambodian court system and the United Nations. Its first defendant, a man known as Duch, was the commander of Tuol Sleng, an interrogation center where thousands were beaten and tortured to death.

The Cambodian government is clearly undermining the tribunal in several ways. The country's current leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen, has insisted that only Duch and four other elderly defendants be tried, presumably to avoid publicizing any connections between the Khmer Rouge and people in the current government. The tribunal, funded with foreign donations, has suffered from corruption; some Cambodian staffers had to pay kickbacks for their jobs. Anticorruption initiatives should be at the heart of American policy toward Cambodia.

Then again, the United States has a poor record of involvement with Cambodian affairs. In his testimony, Duch blamed the Nixon administration for the rise of the Khmer Rouge. One should be careful about accepting historical analyses from commanders of torture centers, but the critique has some truth. At the least, American bombing helped destabilize the country and radicalize some of its inhabitants, and US support for a 1970 military coup against the country's erratic leader eventually led to a power vacuum that the Khmer Rouge managed to fill. The episode underscores how dangerous it is when a superpower makes decisions about another country in ignorance of its internal politics.

Of course, rehashing the carnage at Tuol Sleng should unsettle a more recent group of former White House policymakers. In paintings that now hang in the former camp, Tuol Sleng survivor Vann Nath documented the torture techniques that jailers used to extract confessions from prisoners. One of them is waterboarding - an act that former vice president Dick Cheney specifically defended. But no one can look at Vann Nath's paintings and conclude that these are acts Americans should emulate.

Cambodia may be intent on sabotaging the tribunal. Even so, the trials can remind the world what happens when political leaders can rationalize anything.

Student gives voice to Cambodian melodic chants

Press-Telegram Long Beach, CA

Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/16/2009 08:47:50 PM PDT

In Cambodia, the music of smot, or dharma songs, is most often heard at funerals and only rarely is it performed live.

The ancient melodic chanting was one of the many oral traditions passed from master to student that was very nearly extinguished during the Khmer Rouge reign of the late 1970s.

Trent Walker, a student at Stanford University believed to be the only Westerner to train with Cambodian masters in the form, will help ring in the Cambodian New Year when he performs and discusses the art in the fourth installment of the Khmer Arts Salon Series in Long Beach.

And if you take anything away from the show, Walker would like it to be an understanding that smot isn't just funereal.

"I plan to show how it can be used to convey a broad emotional range," said Walker. "The gift or magic of it comes in its emotional expressiveness."

Walker says in addition to funerals, smot can be chanted at ceremonies of giving, healing and the consecration of religious images.

As an art form, smot is a complex and demanding way of melodically reciting Khmer and Pali literature that came out of the Buddhist temples. However, whereas the chanting of monks is typically monotone, smot songs require melodic dexterity, vibrato and range.

Walker began studying smot chanting in 2005 in Kompong Speu, Cambodia, under the tutelage of achar Prum Ut, one of the most renowned, revered and accomplished chanters in Cambodia. Walker also studied under neak kru Koet Ran and Royal University of Fine Arts professor Yan Borin.
The student, who is also one of just a few doing academic work in the field, comes to smot from a musical perspective as a jazz trumpeter, composer and Chinese erhu player.

He continues to study Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhist texts and has translated many Khmer smot chants into English.

Through his work with Cambodian Living Arts, a project of World Education, Walker has digitally archived more than 400 smot chants.

The Khmer Arts Academy Salon Series consists of performance/lectures on the third Saturday of each month that focus on Southern and Southeastern Asian art forms. Past performances have featured Cambodian dance and Balinese puppetry, and classical Indian music is scheduled in May.

The series is curated by Prumsodun Ok, a dancer, filmmaker and teacher at the Khmer Arts Academy.

On Saturday, in addition to performing chants, Walker will talk about the history and background of smot and there will be a discussion session.

At a time when tribunals are being held in Cambodia to prosecute surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, Walker's performance is a reminder of something that was almost lost and reinforces the importance of keeping traditions and stories alive.

By sharing his art, Walker says, he hopes to do that.

"Each of us has our own story to share and stories in our religious traditions that touch our hearts," he says. "I will be sharing that. It is my wish and (my teachers') wish that this tradition be shared with the world."

Walker says he hopes it will "inspire (others) to tell their own stories."

Greg Mellen 562-499-1291 greg.mellen@presstelegram.com

Khmer Arts Salon Series - Smot: Songs of Healing

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Khmer Arts Academy, 1364 Obispo Ave., Long Beach.

Admission: Free.

Information: 562-472-0090, www.khmerarts.org.

Human Rights Study Project Presents Cambodia Research

Seven students share experiences from their trip to Cambodia.
Andy Howlett '10

Virgina Law Weekly
By Andy Howlett '10
News Editor

It’s been a long time since Cambodia has been at the forefront of the nation’s attention like it was in December of 1972, but, at least for an afternoon, the Law School community was focused on the Southeast Asian state as seven students from the Human Rights Study Project (HRSP) presented their findings from their trip there last January. The presentation took place last Thursday in Caplin Pavilion.

As a country, second-year student and director of HRSP Robin Freeman noted, Cambodia faces many challenges, including abject poverty, ethnic disparities, and a history of war. But Cambodia is also a nation with many assets, the most significant of which is its people, Freeman explained. “They are kind and respectful . . . and they are also curious and entrepreneurial . . . and most of all hopeful, a people who look forward to a future of opportunity rather than back toward their troubled past.”

Freeman conducted her research on people living with disabilities in Cambodia, which accounts for around 21 percent of the population. These people face serious discrimination from the government and from other Cambodians, Freeman discovered.

Focusing on a different group of discriminated Cambodians, second-year student Kathleen Doherty examined the status of some of Cambodia’s indigenous (i.e. non-Khmer) ethnic groups, who often have the highest rates of poverty and least access to education and healthcare. Doherty visited several remote areas in the country and concluded that many indigenous Cambodians were not even getting the minimal level of education that the rest of the country was getting. Doherty suggested that non-government organizations had drafted a blueprint for better schools, and it was “now up to the Cambodian government to do something about it.”

Second-year Zach Williams presented on “The Availability and Role of Legal Counsel to the Criminally Accused.” He concluded that many Cambodians lack access to a lawyer, especially during the “investigation phase” of proceedings against them, which in a civil law country like Cambodia carries a weightier significance. Reflecting on the experience, Williams noted that “lawyer jokes are popular in this society but we don’t know what it is like to live in a country where there is no one around to defend you . . . when the Khmer Rouge was finally forced from power there were only about ten attorneys left in Cambodia.”

Third-year student Dana Jupiter examined the causes and effects of the rampant commercial sex industry in Cambodia. A key problem is that, in a society where the line between voluntary prostitution and sexual slavery is blurry, there is too much of an emphasis on prosecution and not enough on victim’s rights. “Even though the commercial sex industry is legal, the sex workers themselves are stigmatized, and the general focus on prosecution of sex workers only exacerbates this,” said Jupiter.

Speaking of the criminal justice system, third-year Gabe Walters examined the tribunals that were trying members of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, which terrorized Cambodia in the late 1970s and killed millions. Walter’s research left him skeptical: “I question the court’s ability to achieve justice broadly,” he concluded. “I don’t think the court will be able to bring the closure, fairness, and justice that is desperately needed to heal this deeply traumatized society.”

Other HRSP students examined a wide variety of topics dealing with human rights in Cambodia: Second-year Guillermo Jover-Cataldi looked at the phenomenon of forced evictions in Cambodia which has “become a human rights issue through international covenants the Cambodia has signed.”

Second-year Kathleen Ho examined the connection between microfinancing and human rights. “The link lies in access to finance,” Ho explained. “Microfinancing equips the poor with the tools reduce their own vulnerability against the conditions of poverty,” and therefore simply providing access to microfinancing is not enough: it must be coupled with access to healthcare, education, and other resources.

Third-year Pamela McElroy looked at the situation of ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia and their access to citizenship rights. “I think that most Vietnamese living in Cambodia would be recognized as Cambodian citizens if they sought to be,” she said, “but this doesn’t really solve their problems if they are not being granted the same level of access to rights of citizenship.” The law in Cambodia denies many rights to ethnic Vietnamese in a discriminatory manner, and in violation of international agreements, she concluded.

Approximately 25 members of the Law School community attended the talk on a sunny Thursday afternoon, which was accompanied with an assortment of traditional Cambodian fare. The presentations were followed by a lengthy question-and-answer period during which the students discussed their experiences.

Dengue Fever cranks up Cambodian rock

Mary Snow
take5 correspondent
Published April 17, 2009

Get your passports ready because Los Angeles-based Dengue Fever is going to take you to the jungles of Cambodia and back with its psychedelic pop rock performance.

The band is revising Cambodian rock ‘n' roll, which was nearly destroyed in the 1970s by the brutal Pol Pot regime.

“In Cambodia, we rented a studio and recorded with some artists who survived the Pol Pot regime. It's amazing that people survived. The artists we played with were all traditionally master musicians,” says Senon Williams, bass guitarist.

Dengue Fever's recent documentary, “Sleep Walking Through the Mekong,” chronicles the band's visit to Cambodia in 2005 and the influence the trip had on their music. The sound is the perfect backdrop for a 1960s spy movie with all the elements of a seductive thriller. Chhom Nimol sings each its song in the mystic Khmer language, which transforms listeners to a place lost in time.

Williams sits down with take5 to talk about the band's unique and pulsating sound.

Question: How was the band formed?

Answer: Ethan Holtzman (keyboards) and Zac Holtzman (guitarist) had this crazy idea of starting a band based off of 1960's and ‘70s psychedelic rock from Cambodia. Just outside of LA is a large group of Cambodian immigrants, so they went down to that area and looked for a singer. It was one thing to think of this idea and another to do it. We had auditions in Long Beach, and when Nimol started singing, we were all amazed at how beautiful her voice was.

Q: Did you know how famous Chhom Nimol was in Cambodia when she auditioned?

A: At the time we didn't know that she was famous in Cambodia. We had no idea about the Cambodian music scene. Her whole family is like a Jackson family. Her parents and her older sister and brother are both famous singers in Cambodia. When you are famous in Cambodia, you are famous wherever there is a Cambodian community.

Q: What was the idea behind creating the documentary/soundtrack “Sleep Walking Through the Mekong”?

A: Initially, it was trying to figure out a way to get all of us to Cambodia to experience and play music. We went into the capital, Phnom Penh, and hooked up with Cambodia Living Arts, an organization that preserves Cambodia's culture through dance and music. Through this group we set up a stage and performed, which was really amazing.

Q: What music is featured on the soundtrack to the documentary?

A: The soundtrack is music from some of the original '60s Cambodian rock that influenced us and the music we wrote for the film, once we returned home.

Q: What is it about Cambodia's music scene in the '60s and '70s that inspired you?

A: In 2002, when we started in LA, the music scene was described as shrug rock, and we wanted to do something different that was a little bit celebratory and vibrant. That was evident in the early ‘60s and ‘70s Cambodian rock scene.

Donations flow in for Cambodian orphans

Wellingtion Times (New Zealand)
17/04/2009

Fifteen Cambodian orphans will have a chance at a better life, thanks to generous donations by members of the community.

Former St Mary’s primary and Wellington High School student, Clare Holman, 21, recently challenged the community to sponsor one of the 49 orphans at the Chres Village Orphanage in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where she volunteered for two months.

After an article in the Times, The Daily Liberal and an interview on ABC radio, many people have decided to sponsor the orphans and a number of others have opted to donate money towards buying items for the children.

“I just deposited the money from donations today and that will buy the children mosquito nets, shoes, food and toiletries,” Miss Holman said.

The sponsorship program has been set up by Miss Holman, where sponsors donate $30 a month and one hundred per cent of all money goes directly to the child to feed them.

The non-government funded orphanage, which also operates as a free English school for 400 local village children, survives off donations and the work and goodwill of volunteers.

“Once again thankyou so much, I really appreciate it and so do the orphans,” Miss Holman said.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a child can do so by contacting Clare on 0413 303 569or via email at clarehol_87@yahoo.com.au

Fit for a king


Ennis Daily News

Candie Beck-Adams, Community Editor
04-16-2009

Local writer Randy Bigham has received an honor of the royal kind.

A book, written by Helen Candee Church, was re-released and a chapter written by Bigham documenting her life and travels was added. The completed and published work was recently presented to the king of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni, by the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, Carol Rodley. The ceremony was held at the nation’s royal palace in Phnom Penh, Khmer.

During a brief ceremony in the throne room of the palace, Rodley presented three gifts to His majesty, including two American books on Southeast Asian culture and a DVD of native dance footage from the U.S. National Archives. The books, published by Datasia, Inc., were “Earth in Flower” by Dr. Paul Cravath as well as the Candee selection.

Candee’s “Angkor the Magnificent” was published in December 2008, a re-release of the original 1924 study of the legendary "Lost City" of Angkor Wat. The first English language account of the ancient Khmer civilization, its author was a famous early 20th century personality, an eccentric individual who traded the privileged world of Washington, D.C., high society for the adventures of world travel and exploration.

A Face of Cambodian Courage

ILLUSTRATION: S.M. VIDAURRI


The Indypendent
By Katrin Redfern
April 17, 2009

In Cambodia, the weight of many struggles for justice is carried by a courageous woman. In a nation that suffers from police and government corruption, gender inequality, influence from foreign nations and corporations, and battles for control of resources — land, timber, fisheries and oil — it is remarkable that Sochua Mu has accomplished so much.

“Cambodia is a democracy on paper, but in reality, is a dictatorship,” said Sochua in an interview with The Indypendent in March. “Life is still cheap in Cambodia. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, land grabbing and forced evictions are all carried out under the nose of the government.”

A life-long social justice activist for women, the poor and refugees, Sochua, 55, was the first female Minister of Veterans and Women’s Affairs, a position she served from 1998 to 2004. Frustrated by corruption in the Hun Sen ruling party, she resigned to join the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP ) with dreams to rebuild Cambodia from the bottom up. She was elected to the Cambodian National Assembly in 2008.

Hoping to change the course of U.S. aid and influence in Cambodia, Sochua met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 19 in Washington, D.C., at the annual Vital Voices Global Partnership awards, an international non-profit that supports women leaders.

Sochua hopes to lobby the Obama administration to take a firmer stance on supporting democracy and human rights, as well as redirect U.S. aid that she says the Bush administration focused on military and security. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States provided Cambodia $54 million in 2008 and $700 million total since USAID opened an office in the country in 1992.

“The international donor community is reluctant to criticize the government for its poor performance on human rights, preferring to practice closed-door diplomacy,” Sochua said. “This practice has yielded next to no reforms and donors continue to be satisfied with token actions taken by the government to give a fa├žade to democracy and social justice.”

Sochua traveled to New York City to participate in the March 26 documentary theatrical performance of “Seven,” which presents her and six other courageous female leaders’ lives, from Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Guatemala, in struggles for justice and freedom.

At 18, Sochua was forced to flee to Paris in 1972 as the Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia and the country fell under the command of the communist Khmer Rouge party in 1975. Her parents vanished during the genocide that claimed the lives of roughly one-quarter of Cambodia’s population. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, and worked with Cambodian refugees that immigrated to the United States. She returned to southeast Asia in 1981 to work in the United Nations refugee camps established on the Thailand-Cambodia border. Sochua remained in exile for 18 years until 1989 when she was able to re-enter Cambodia.

“What I saw when I returned home was a country in ruins,” Sochua said. “But I was no longer a child. I came back to help rebuild a nation.”

In 1991, Sochua founded Khemara, the first organization to focus on improving the lives of women. In 2002, she mobilized 25,000 women candidates to run for local commune elections, which were reinstated after 30 years. More than 900 women were elected. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2005 for her work against female sex trafficking in Cambodia and Thailand.

Today, the majority of Cambodians depend on small-scale agriculture, lumbering and fishing. However, due to the country’s turbulent recent history, land ownership is generally undocumented and often contested. As a result, it is easy for the powerful to acquire land and hand it over to investors for commercial and tourism development. Sochua continues to visit these communities who are battling to stay on their land and fight for their livelihoods.

“It is now common practice for powerful corporations and government officials to utilize armed forces to push citizens off their rightfully and legally held land,” Sochua explained during meetings with officials from the U.S. State Department and members of Congress in March. These evictions are often violent, with soldiers wielding guns, tear gas and tasers and burning houses to the ground, while citizens are beaten, maimed and arrested.”

When asked if she was hopeful about the situation in Cambodia, Sochua’s response was clear: “No, not until there is a change of regime,” she said. “That can only happen when we have a real election that is free and fair. The West should insist on that, otherwise all the aid they have poured into Cambodia will not work.”
To read a longer version of this article, click here.

N.J. Supreme Court rules teachers accountable for actions while protecting students

Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger
A 2007 photo of the Justices of the NJ Supreme Court hearing arguments in Trenton.


NJ.com
by Mary Fuchs/ Statehouse Bureau
Thursday April 16, 2009

A Jersey City teacher who said she was assaulted by police after another teacher claimed she had threatened her students may sue the state for defamation and causing "emotional distress," the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today. The justices said that public school teachers were first and foremost responsible for students' safety in the event of a threat. But teachers and administrators are still accountable for their actions if they deliberately try to hurt someone while trying to protect the students.

"We must balance those important rights and responsibilities in one such apparent conflict," wrote Justice Helen Hoens, for the court.

But the state's highest court said Sopharie Leang could not accuse the city's Board of Education with "assault" and "battery" because her medical records did not show she was harmed after the police sent her to the hospital.Leang, who taught ESL at Jersey City's Public School 11, is fluent in five languages and was born into a royal family in Cambodia, her lawyer said.

Stanford Study of Malaria Vaccine Needs Participants

Genetic Engineering News
Apr 16 2009

News source: Business Wire

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine need additional participants to complete the first study of a new vaccine against malaria.

The phase-1 clinical trial, which is under way at both Stanford and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., aims to test the safety of and immune response to different doses of the vaccine in a total of 72 healthy adults. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Results from this study will allow a second trial to begin in Africa this year.

“This a chance for those who know that malaria causes millions of deaths every year to step forward and help in the search for preventive vaccine,” said Cornelia Dekker, MD, medical director of the Stanford-Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Vaccine Program. “It’s through the testing of promising vaccine candidates that we may find out how to eradicate malaria.”

The study is one of many under way testing a number of potential malaria vaccines, as part of an international effort whose goal is to have a malaria vaccine by 2025 that will protect more than 80 percent of those who receive it.

The need for malaria vaccines has become more pressing in recent months, with reports of a new malaria strain in western Cambodia that is resistant to the most effective treatment, a combination of medications featuring the drug artemisinin. While steps are being taken to contain and eliminate this strain in the region near the Cambodian border with Thailand, the long-term goal is to eradicate the disease worldwide—and that requires successful and widespread immunization.

Malaria is caused by the Plasmodiumparasite and is transmitted by mosquito bites. Some 300 to 500 million individuals worldwide have severe malaria cases annually, with as many as 3 million deaths every year. Most of these deaths occur among children and pregnant women in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

“One of the difficulties in developing a malaria vaccine is that the malaria parasite has a very complicated life cycle,” said Dekker, professor of pediatrics and the principal investigator of the trial at Stanford. When an infected mosquito bites a human, it releases early-stage parasites into the victim’s blood. In only a few minutes, the parasites have migrated to the liver, where they transform into later-stage parasites that invade red blood cells and cause disease. The vaccine that Dekker and her team are testing is designed to halt these parasites in the blood before they get into the liver. Nearly 100 groups worldwide are working on possible vaccines. Ideally, a number of them will prove effective.

The Stanford/Packard study is looking to enroll healthy adults, ages 18 to 45. Over a 12-month period, participants will make 17 clinic visits to Stanford Hospital and will receive three injections into the upper arm muscle of either the vaccine or a placebo.

Participants will receive $30 reimbursement for each non-vaccination clinic visit and $60 for each vaccination visit. For more information, call (650) 498-7284, e-mail Vaccines_Program@stanford.edu, or visit http://vaccines.stanford.edu/clinical_trials.html.

Our coasts have long drawn the desperate

Matthew Clayfield April 17, 2009
Article from: The Australian

WHILE the vastness of Australia's coastline has always allowed for irregular movements across its borders, the history of boatpeople arriving in the country really began in the 1970s.

It was then that the term boatpeople was first used to describe groups of people who in significant numbers started making calculated and sometimes desperate efforts to reach this country's coastline.

The first wave of boatpeople arrived in Australia between April 1976 and August 1981, comprising 56 boats from Vietnam and involving about 2100 asylum seekers. Fleeing from a regime Australia had been fighting less than a decade earlier, this first wave was welcomed without too much official concern, and was processed for permanent residence on arrival.

The second wave of boatpeople began to hit our shores in November 1989 with the arrival from Cambodia of the boat Pender Bay, carrying 26 people. In 1990, two more boats arrived, carrying a total of 198 people. In 1991, six more boats brought 213 people.

In the six years from Pender Bay's arrival, about 2000 boatpeople arrived in Australia from China and Cambodia, while onshore applications for protection climbed from 1148 to 13,045. The third wave, comprising 2000 Vietnamese and Chinese boatpeople, arrived between 1994 and 1998.

The fourth and largest wave started in mid-1999. Unlike the previous waves, which were comprised predominantly of South-East Asian boatpeople, the fourth was made up of people fleeing from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan .

The number of boatpeople arriving in Australia climbed after the election of the Howard government in 1996. Between 1996 and the Tampa incident of August 2001, an average of 39 boats a year came ashore.

In 1999, 86 boats arrived, carrying more than 4000 people. A similar number arrived again the following year. It was the first time illegal arrivals by boat had outnumbered those by plane.

Between mid-1999 and mid-2001, about 8300 boatpeople arrived in Australia -- twice as many as the total who arrived in the preceding waves.

In August 2001, the Norwegian container vessel the Tampa picked up 433 people from an overcrowded boat that was in the Indonesian maritime rescue zone and 75 nautical miles from Christmas Island. The Howard government denied the vessel permission to enter Australian waters, but on August 29 it entered anyway, and John Howard told parliament the captain had been given no choice after the boatpeople started threatening to jump overboard.

By the time of the Tampa incident, the Howard government had intelligence suggesting another 2500 people were waiting in Indonesia.

It was then that the Pacific Solution -- sending the boatpeople to Nauru -- was implemented. In 2001-02, there were 1212 illegal arrivals aboard six boats. But over the next six years, there were just eight boats.

Since August last year, when the Pacific Solution was abandoned by the Rudd Government, 379 asylum seekers have arrived aboard 12 boats.

Suspects Sought in Battambang Shooting

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
16 April 2009

Police are searching for three businessmen in Battambang province, following the near-fatal shooting of a villager in Bavel district Wednesday night, in possible relation to an ongoing land dispute.

Bun Sophoas, 32, was shot outside the home of a representative for families who say their land is under threat by business interests in Knarch Romeas commune, local authorities said Thursday.

Bun Sophoas remained in serious condition in Battambang provincial hospital late Thursday.

Bun Sophoas is married to the sister of Kong Chan Mony, who represents 38 families of the Ovar Preng community, which spans 160 hectares of mostly rice fields. He had spent the night in their home Wednesday and was roused by the barking of a dog, around midnight. When he went outside to investigate, he was shot in the back.

Kong Chan Mony told VOA Khmer Thursday that the shooting was likely related to a dispute over the community, which he said has been under threat from three local businessmen—Nhiek Oeun, Mon Nika, and Moek Heng—since 1999.

“Before the shooting, the community received a verbal threat from [the businessmen], that they would be killed if they didn’t provide 160 hectares of land to them,” he said.

Police are searching for the three men to question them over the shooting, Knarch Romeas Commune Chief Lam Vanny said Thursday.

None of the suspects could be reached for comment Thursday.

29 Charged After Battambang Violence

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
16 April 2009

Battambang provincial court charged 29 people with destruction of property and assault on police Thursday, following a night of New Year’s violence in Kamreang district.

The 29 men face sentences of up to four years if convicted on both charges. They were arrested as suspects in a group of 60 people who threw stones at the main building of a Thai-owned Tang Nasy casino on the border early Tuesday morning.

The stone-throwers had been angered by an earlier fight between New Year’s revelers at a concert on the Thai side of the border, according to police.

Prosecutor Sar Yos Thavreak told VOA Khmer the defendants allegedly brought their own truck full of stones to the Tang Nasy compound and began hurling them at the building. When provincial and military police arrived to stop them, members of the crowd began throwing stones at them, injuring three and damaging police vehicles, he said.

The 29 defendants, who are being held in Battambang prison, are so far without legal representation, due to the New Year holiday.

Yin Meng Ly, a Battambang rights advocate for the group Adhoc, said he would begin investigating the case on Monday.

“I’m concerned that the police have made arrests without serious investigation,” he said. “If they’ve done so, it’s a violation of human rights.”

Emergency Measures Remain In Thailand After Clashes

RTTNews
Thursday April 16, 2009

(RTTNews) - Wednesday, Thailand maintained a state of emergency across Bangkok to ensure security, a day after combat troops cracked down on large-scale anti-government protests that left two dead and plunged the kingdom into chaos, reports say.

The government said troops would remain on the streets despite red-shirted protesters of exiled ex-premier Thaksin Shinwantara calling off their demonstrations Tuesday and authorities arresting three protest leaders besides issuing warrants for Shinawatra and other leaders over the bloody street battles.

"The situation is under control. The government will keep watching the situation and monitor the movements of leaders who are not in detention," an official spokesman said, adding that the prime minister wants to lift the state of emergency as soon as he can because he does not want to affect business.

Earlier Tuesday, a court in Bangkok issued arrest warrants for exiled ex-premier Thaksin Shinwantara and 13 leaders of United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), charging them with inciting thousands of demonstrators who staged a three-week rally at Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's offices to demand his resignation.

The protest escalated with the storming of a regional summit on the coast last weekend, forcing its closure, before a bloody showdown in Bangkok between demonstrators and troops.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com

Thailand issues 22 more arrest warrants for protestors - Summary

Earth Times

Thu, 16 Apr 2009
Author : DPA

Bangkok - Thai courts on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 22 people allegedly involved in violent demonstrations and denied bail for three protest leaders amid calls for fair investigations into politically motivated mayhem over the past year. The Bangkok Criminal Court has refused bail for three leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who turned themselves in to authorities Tuesday after their followers blocked intersections, burned buses and allegedly killed two people Monday before authorities moved in to end the protests.

Veera Musikhapong, Weng Tojirakarn and Natthawut Saikua were accused of violating an emergency decree declared Sunday by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

They were among 14 UDD organizers against whom arrest warrants were issued Tuesday, including fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been leading the protests from abroad.

On Thursday, the Bangkok Criminal Court issued 10 new arrest warrants for protestors who attacked Abhisit's car in Bangkok and a Pattaya court issued another 12 for protestors who attacked the prime minister's vehicle in that beach resort city. The prime minister escaped injury in both incidents.

Hundreds of protestors forced Abhisit to cancel a regional summit in Pattaya, 90 kilometres south-east of Bangkok, over the weekend, after they forced their way into the conference venue.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged the government to set up an independent commission to investigate the recent politically motivated violence "by all sides," including those responsible for this week's mayhem and demonstrations last year by rival protestors.

Thailand has been wracked by street protests for almost a year, starting with demonstrations led by the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which began in May and culminated with the closure of Bangkok's two airports for a week in November and December.

To date, none of the PAD leaders - dedicated to the overthrow of last year's elected government that was openly supportive of Thaksin - have been prosecuted or jailed for the damage they caused the country, including airport shutdowns that cost Thailand billions of dollars in tourism and export revenues.

"Now that the protests are over, it is time for the government and protest leaders to make public commitments to end abuses and ensure that those committing violence are properly investigated and prosecuted," said Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"The many casualties during the protests cannot simply be forgotten or ignored," he added.

The international rights watchdog called for the establishment of an independent commission to carry out "a prompt, effective and impartial investigation" into the politically motivated violence over the past year and "hold those responsible accountable."

It said the commission should also investigate alleged abuses perpetrated by the PAD last year.

A clash between yellow-shirted PAD protestors and police in October left two protestors dead and 443 people injured.

"To date, there has been no independent and impartial investigation into politically motivated violence and human rights abuses related to the PAD protests," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

While Abhisit has been widely praised for his handling of the UDD-led violence on Monday and Tuesday, there have been calls for him to address some of the protestors' demands for a more equitable society and judicial system.

Abhisit came to power after the Constitution Court disbanded the previous government, led by the pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP), for election fraud.

His Democrat Party has close ties with the PAD, which helped bring the PPP government to its knees.

"The question now is what lessons Mr Abhisit will take from the short-lived rebellion," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a Thai political scientist, said in an analysis published in the Bangkok Post newspaper.

"His call for justice for all consistently fails to address the legal infractions of the yellow-shirted protestors of last year," Thitinan said. "His sense of justice apparently starts from January 2009 when he took office but not seemingly before then."

ElectraCard EFT Switch live at Foreign Trade Bank, Cambodia

Finextra

16 April 2009

ElectraCard Services, India's leading electronic payment solutions provider, has launched electraSwitch for Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), Cambodia.

The Switch will drive biometric ATMs in Cambodia, the first of its kind in the country.

The bank has deployed ATMs with fingerprint recognition technology, voice instruction and simple screen graphics to help customers get the most out of a new way of banking. The system also saves them the trouble of remembering their ATM PIN as they can use their fingerprint to withdraw money through ATMs.

Elaborating on the security concerns electraSWITCH addresses, Mr. Gui Anvanith, General Manager and Board Member of Foreign Trade Bank said, "A large number of our customers are still not technology savvy enough to use ATM machines themselves. Handing over their own cards and sharing their PIN numbers with a friend or a relative to withdraw cash from ATMs are commonly found cases. The electraSWITCH with biometric technology will make ATM usage more user-friendly and convenient for FTB customers, thus averting ATM fraud risks to a large extent."

"Biometric ATMs are the way of the future and ElectraCard Services' deep domain knowledge, superior software technology and professional implementation methodology of this solution has provided FTB Bank with an exceptional solution which is in line with their objectives of operational excellence, cost reduction, and profitable growth." said Ramesh Mengawade, CEO, ElectraCard Services.

FTB has also tied up with ElectraCard Services for other solutions including Credit cards and Prepaid cards that will be deployed soon to serve their customers in Cambodia.