Friday, 5 June 2009

Documents likely stolen from KRouge leader's defence: lawyer

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea (C) is helped to stand for a verdict

By Patrick Falby

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A Khmer Rouge leader's defence lawyer at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes trial said Thursday that confidential documents on an official's Leninist beliefs appeared to have been stolen from his office.

Michiel Pestman, the Dutch defence lawyer for the former regime's ideologue Nuon Chea, said he became aware of the "security incident" Wednesday when he found four confidential papers from his office floating in a pond at the court.

"We have no explanation. What we do know is that the documents should have been shredded. They were not, and they were most probably stolen from our office," Pestman told reporters.

"We have serious concerns about security and the confidentiality of our investigation," he said.

Pestman said that he had notified the tribunal's security team so that they could conduct an investigation into the probable theft of the documents, which were drafts of a letter to a court official.

"There will be an investigation into the matter, but at this time it's premature to conclude that anything has been stolen," tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen confirmed to AFP.

Pestman said the documents were drafts of a letter to the recently appointed head of the court's victims unit, Helen Jarvis, raising concerns about her membership of Australia's Leninist Party Faction (LPF).

Jarvis signed a 2006 LPF statement which proclaimed: "Against the bourgeoisie and their state agencies we don't respect their laws and their fake moral principles."

Pestman told reporters he was concerned that the statement indicated that Jarvis, who also serves as an ethics monitor at the court, might not follow Khmer Rouge tribunal regulations.

"We think that the victims unit should follow the rules, and if they don't follow the rules of procedure that could potentially affect the right to a fair trial of our client," Pestman said.

Jarvis told AFP she did not wish to comment on the matter.

The troubled tribunal, which is currently trying former Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, also faces accusations of political interference by the government and claims that Cambodian staff were forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

Duch has stated that he took orders to kill and torture from Pestman's client Nuon Chea, who is commonly referred to as the Khmer Rouge "Brother Number Two."

Others in detention awaiting trial besides Nuon Chea are former head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife and minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998 before facing justice, and fears over the health of ageing suspects hang over the court.

The long-awaited first trial has heard Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, acknowledge responsibility and beg forgiveness for overseeing the torture and execution of more than 15,000 people at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation, disease and overwork as the Khmer Rouge movement emptied cities and enslaved the population on collective farms in its bid to create a communist utopia.

Cambodian authorities consider opening Angkor Wat temples at night for tourists


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia is considering opening the famed Angkor Wat temples at night to draw more tourists to the impoverished country, an official at the archeological site said.

Similar night tourism efforts have been introduced at other sites in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia already has installed some lights at the network of centuries-old temples, said Bun Narith, who leads the agency responsible for managing the Angkor park.

Tourism is a major foreign currency earner for cash-strapped Cambodia. More than a million foreign tourists are expected to visit this year, with most from South Korea, Japan and the United States. More than half of tourists visit the Angkor temples, by far the country's biggest draw.

Visitors are now ushered out of Angkor at sunset, but authorities are considering extending visiting hours to as late as 8:30 p.m. local time.

"We want tourists to see all views of the temple, even in the dark places where they may have not have seen some of the sculptures and statues," Bun Narith said.

But conservationists have long expressed concerns about tourism's impact on Angkor. They say the uncontrolled pumping of underground water to meet the rising demand of hotels and residents in the nearby town of Siem Reap may be destabilizing the earth beneath the temples.

Korea, Cambodia to cooperate on new projects

June 05, 2009

South Korea and Cambodia signed a series of agreements yesterday to expand bilateral cooperation in the construction, transportation, natural resources and energy industries, the Blue House said.

President Lee Myung-bak met with Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Blue House yesterday afternoon and discussed measures to expand relations between the two countries.

“The two leaders agreed that the Korea-Cambodia relationship has improved rapidly since the two countries restored their ties in 1997,” the Blue House said. “They also welcomed a series of [agreements] that were signed between the two countries.”

In his meeting with the Cambodian leader, Lee explained his “New Asia Initiative” and stressed that Korea will share its expertise in development with Cambodia.

“Korea will provide official development aid, particularly focused on the agricultural, medical, educational and industrial energy sectors,” the Blue House quoted Lee as saying. “Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his appreciation and expressed hope for Korea’s continued support.”

The foreign ministers of the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding over Korea’s development aid to Cambodia. Korea will send experts and volunteers to the Southeast Asian nation and invite Cambodian trainees here as a part of the program. The Cambodian government pledged its support for the aid workers, including a plan to waive taxes on goods imported for official development assistance.

The countries agreed to cooperate on energy and construction projects, and their transportation ministries agreed to work closer together as well. Additionally, the countries agreed that Korea will establish an agricultural technology development center in Cambodia in 2010 and dispatch experts and interns to the country.

Korea also cemented two Economic Development Cooperation Fund loans with Cambodia. One will provide a $30 million loan for the Siem Reap sewage project, the other will pump $30 million into the country’s plan to repair roads.

Lee also asked for support in encouraging more Korean companies to participate in an industrial complex project in the city of Sihanoukville. The project was initiated by the Korea Land Corporation, which has invested 20 billion won ($16 million).

While Korea seeks to build factories at a site about five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia had proposed a site about 20 kilometers away.

By Ser Myo-ja []

SKorea to give $60 million in loans to Cambodia

South Korea to provide $60 million in loans to Cambodia for roads, sewers

On Thursday June 4, 2009

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea said Thursday it will provide $60 million in loans to Cambodia to build roads and sewers as the two countries agreed to broaden economic cooperation.

The loans came as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Seoul for talks Thursday with President Lee Myung-bak. Hun Sen earlier this week attended a special summit between South Korea and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the southern resort island of Jeju.

South Korea's Economic Development Cooperation Fund will provide the loan money, Lee's office said in a statement.

About one in three Cambodians live below the national poverty line of just 45 cents a day.

Lee told Hun Sen that South Korea would help Cambodia in areas including agriculture, medicine and education, the statement said. Hun Sen asked Lee for South Korean assistance in setting up a stock exchange to develop Cambodia's financial markets, it said.

South Korea and Cambodia re-established diplomatic relations in 1997. Ties were broken off in 1975 after the Khmer Rouge's takeover of Cambodia.

Nuon Chea Defense Lawyer Claims Documents Stolen

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 June 2009

An international defense lawyer for Pol Pot’s No. 2 lieutenant said Thursday documents related to the Khmer Rouge tribunal were likely stolen from his Phnom Penh office.

The attorney, Michael Pestman, said the incident had made him concerned for his security. Pestman has pushed hard for the office of Cabinet Minister Sok An to release results of a UN investigation on corruption.

Pestman said he noticed some documents floating in a ditch on his way to the office recently. He found there drafts of a confidential letter he’d sent to the court last week.

“They were most probably stolen from our office,” he said.

A tribunal spokesman said an investigation would be conducted into the allegation.

Nuon Chea is facing war crimes and crimes against humanity at the UN-backed tribunal, but his defense team has said the corruption within the tribunal affects the court’s ability to conduct a fair trial.

The tribunal has faced persistent allegations that staff members pay kickbacks for their positions.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the allegations were “only accusations” and noted that the government and UN are working on finding a means to address such allegations in the future.

The UN and Cambodian governemnt are at loggerheads over whether complainants of corruption at the court should remain anonymous. The Cambodian side says so-called whistleblowers should be named.

Pestman also told reporters Thursday that he had “reliable sources” to confirm “the government has power over Cambodian co-prosecutors” to prevent further indictments of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang, who is at odds with her UN counterpart over whether more defendants should be indicted by the tribunal, denied the charge.

Opposition Lawyer Claims Bias in Bar Investigation

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 June 2009

An opposition lawyer said Thursday the Cambodian Bar Association should remove one its members from investigating him.

The lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, is involved in a defamation suit against Prime Minister Hun Sen and is under investigation by the bar association for misconduct.

Kong Sam Onn, who is representing opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua in her defamation case against Hun Sen, says the man inspecting him, Hem Voun, works for the prime minister’s attorney.

Hun Sen’s attorney, Ky Tech, is the former head of the bar association. He is representing the prime minster in the defamation case and a countersuit, including a complaint against Kong Sam Onn for a violation of the professional code of conduct.

Hem Voun’s appointment to investigate constitutes a conflict of interest, Kong Sam Onn said Thursday.

The Cambodian Bar Association “cannot ensure a neutral stance in its investigation because Hem Voun and Ky Tech are lawyers in the same office of the same lawyer’s club,” he said.

The Cambodian Bar Association appointed Hem Voun and other four lawyers to investigate Kong Sam Onn’s case, following the complaint of Ky Tech.

The bar’s president, Chiv Song Hak, called Kong Sam Onn’s request “really reasonable.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission in May called for the Cambodian Bar Association to adhere a neutral stance in resolving the complaint against Kong Sam Onn.

Government Files Suit Against NGO Chief

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 June 2009

The government has submitted a complaint of disinformation against the head of an NGO who has been critical of the authority that runs Angkor Wat.

The criminal suit against Moeung Sonn, head of the Foundation for the Support of Khmer Civilization, follows his critical statements against Apsara Authority.

Moeung Sonn recently held a press conference critical of an Apsara Authority project to light up Angkor Wat’s temples at night.

“The Apsara Authority and Unesco have told the public already that the light on th temples will not affect the temples, but Moeung Sonn is trying to make trouble against it,” government lawyer Phal Chandara said. “So that is why the government decided to sue him.”

Informed about the suit, Moeung Sonn said he was not worried.

“What I said about the lighting on Angkor Wat temple was because I am worried about the temple,” he said. “I didn’t mean to incite people.”

A love of Cambodian culture compelled him to protect the temples, he said.

The Apsara authority and Unesco have said the night lighting at the famed ancient temples will not hurt the structures. A joint Cambodian-Korean venture has been casting light on the temple since April.

Opposition Lawmaker Summoned to Court

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 June 2009

Kampot province parliamentarian Mu Sochua, who is engaged in a reciprocal defamation case against Hun Sen, was summoned to municipal court Wednesday.

The opposition lawmaker filed suit last month claiming statements made by the prime minister during 2008 elections were degrading and defaming. Hun Sen filed a countersuit.

Wednesday’s summons was for questioning related to Hun Sen’s suit.

“If we take responsibility for what we have done, we dare to come,” Mu Sochua told reporters outside the court Wednesday. “I came to the court today because I want to tell the court that Prime Minister Hun Sen insulted my reputation.”

Hun Sen “affected the honor of Khmer women,” she said. “I want Phnom Penh court to summon Prime Minister Hun Sen too.”

Mu Sochua’s summons came as an opposition journalist was also called into court.

Hang Chakra, director of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, was brought in for questioning after he ran stories accusing Council Minister Sok An of involvement in corruption and praising Hun Sen for “destroying” corrupt officials under Sok An.

Sok An is a deputy prime minister and one of the most powerful officials in government. He oversees matters concerning the Khmer Rouge tribunal and oil exploration, among others.

Hang Chakra told reporters Wednesday his stories were based on evidence, and he accused the court of bias and political influence.

Groups Postpone Results of Corruption Survey

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 June 2009

An umbrella group of rights organizations postponed a press conference to discuss corruption research Wednesday, in the wake of a row between the US and Cambodian governments.

The group, Pact Cambodia, was scheduled to present findings of a 2008 corruption survey, funded by USAID, Thursday. No new date was set.

The government held a press conference on Tuesday lambasting anti-corruption statements by US Ambassador Carol Rodley, who said in a speech last week the country loses $500 million annually to corruption.

The Report on Corruption Barometer Survey in Cambodia for 2008 was supported by Transparency International and funded by USAID.

No reason was given by organizers for the postponement, but the cancellation came just a day after senior government officials said Rodley’s remarks on corruption were one-sided and unsupported.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia absolutely refutes the politically motivated and unsubstantiated allegation made by the United States diplomat in contradiction of the good relations between Cambodia and the United States Government,” the government said in a letter to the US Embassy.

US officials have declined to comment on the government’s statement.

Nuth Youthy, a senior researcher for Pact Cambodia, declined to comment on the postponement of the report’s release.

Khmer Krom: Commemoration of Territory Loss

Thursday, 04 June 2009

A recent article published in Cambodia Daily attempted to blame the Khmers for the loss of Cochin-Chin territory, an area known to be Grench Colony since the 1850s.

Below is a Press Release issued by Son San Foundation:

Press release

Commemoration of the June 4, 1949

Recently an article published in Cambodia Daily by Mr Henri Locard tried to put the blame of the loss of Cochin-Chin, which was Grench Colony since the 1850s, to the responsibility of the Khmers themselves who lost all these territories before. It was precisely, because we were too weak to be able to defend ourselves that since King Ang Duang we have tried to ask the French authorities to come and protect us from the expansionist neighbours of Siam and Annam. We thank the French to save us by granting the Protectorate under King Norodom and get back all the lost provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom including Preah Vihear and Koh Kong, since 1907.

But Cochin-China, which was a possession of the French as a colony, has always been claimed by our successive kings, King Ang Duang, King Norodom and King Sihanouk as Khmer territories, inhabited by Khmer ethnic groups that we call Khmers Krom. The government of the Prime Minister Coste-Floret unilaterally decided to deliver Cochin-China to Emperor Bao Dai for political reasons, by trying to gain the favour of the Annamese Emperor in the wake of Vietminh communist insurgencies, despite the Gaston Deferre Motion adopted by the majority of the French deputies, as to organise a referendum for the local people to decide which country they would join and to solve the pending questions with the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially the question of Koh Tral, alias Phu-Quoc.

The interpretation of these historical facts by Mr. Henri Locard is rather biased and groundless. The commemoration of June 4, 1949 loss of the Kampuchea Krom territory is to assert the Cambodian rights on this territory and to defend the rights of Khmers Krom living there, victims of the harassment and of violations of human rights, such as the recent cases of those Khmers Krom Buddhist monks.

Phnom Penh, June 3, 2009-06-04

Son Soubert
President of the Permanent
Committee of the SON SANN Foundation

Hun Sen with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (R) during their meeting at Presidential Blue House in Seoul

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (R) during their meeting at Presidential Blue House in Seoul June 4, 2009.REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd L) shakes hands with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (2nd R) as Hun Sen's wife Bun Rany Hun Sen (R) and Lee's wife Kim Yoon-ok pose for the photographers before their meeting at Presidential Blue House in Seoul June 4, 2009.REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool

The 60th anniversary to commemorate the Kampuchea Krom territory handed over to Vietnam by the French government on June 4, 1949

Cambodian Buddhist monks read local newspapers at a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 4, 2009. Hundreds of Buddhist monks and other people mark the 60th anniversary to commemorate the Kampuchea Krom territory, a large part of southern Vietnam, handed over to Vietnam by the French government on June 4, 1949.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian man holds a burned incense sticks in front of a painting poster of Son Kuy, a hero of Kampuchea Krom, a large part of southern Vietnam, at a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 4, 2009. Hundreds of Buddhist monks and other people mark the 60th anniversary to commemorate the Kampuchea Krom territory handed over to Vietnam by the French government on June 4, 1949.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Korea, Cambodia expand cooperation


Korea and Cambodia yesterday celebrated their fast-expanding ties and agreed to further cooperation in resources, construction, finance and other diverse fields.

Seoul also pledged to assist Cambodia in improving agriculture, medical service and energy development while agreeing to offer $60 million in loans to finance the building of roads and renovation of sewers.

The agreements were made during a summit between President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Hun Sen at Cheong Wa Dae.

Hun Sen arrived here Saturday to attend a summit between Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which took place on Monday and Tuesday on Jeju Island to mark 20 years of official dialogue between the two sides.

Lee and Hun Sen agreed to support a plan to build an exclusive industrial complex for Korean companies in Sihanoukville, a port city in southern Cambodia.

Korea Land Corp. proposed the 20 billion won-project in 2008 to host the increasing number of Korean businesses in the nation.

The location will be finalized within the year and the first stage of construction will be complete by 2012, according to Seoul officials.

The industrial estate would help firms save costs and spur Korea's investment, they said.

Korea is the largest foreign investor in Cambodia with $830 million poured in as of 2007.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate on the establishment of a bourse for equities and bonds in Cambodia.

In March, Korea Exchange signed an agreement with the Cambodian government to set up the exchange this year, each owning 45 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

The Korean bourse operator will offer information technology systems and Phnom Penh will provide the facility and site.

After the summit, they observed the signing of six memorandums of understanding, involving cooperation for the development of residential and industrial towns, the exploration of energy and mineral resources in Cambodia, among other things.

Korea will offer its know-how in transport management and set up a research center for agricultural technology in the nation.

The state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea also agreed to extend loans worth $30 million for the development of the Siem Reap River and the renovation of wastewater treatment system around the river.

Another $30 million credit will be offered for construction and maintenance for roads in Cambodia.

The premier is making his fifth visit to Korea, with which he has maintained close relations.

Korea is Cambodia's closest partner in investment, tourism, cultural exchanges, job training, information technology, construction, finance and aviation industries.

Two-way trade was $310 million in 2008 with Korea's exports and imports standing at $290 million and 14 million.

The two nations reestablished diplomatic ties in 1997, which Hun Sen regards as one of his proudest foreign policy achievements.

The leaders are also known to be close. Lee served as an economic adviser to Hun Sen for eight years from 2000, and the Cambodian leader attended Lee's inauguration in February 2008.

Hun Sen also deeply impressed citizens here when he personally headed rescue efforts after a passenger flight carrying many Koreans crashed in his country in 2007.

He recently told the Korean media that kimchi, Korea's signature side dish, is one of his favorite foods and that he can make it.

By Hwang Jang-jin

SCG Cement defers Cambodian

By Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul
The Nation
Published on June 4, 2009

SCG Cement has postponed its plan to build a further kiln in Cambodia following a considerable drop in demand in the neighbouring country.

Thailand's largest cement producer is the major shareholder of Kampot Cement, the biggest cement firm in Cambodia. The plant is located in Kampot province and has a production capacity of 950,000 tonnes per year.

"We earlier planned to build one more kiln to double our production capacity to 1.9 million tonnes, but the plan has been scrapped because demand in Cambodia plunged sharply due mainly to the economic slowdown," said SCG Cement marketing director Syamrath Suthanukul.

Despite the global economic crisis, the company has maintained its export target at 8 million tonnes this year as demand in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Burma remains high.

The company has also explored the possibility of penetrating African markets such as Tunisia and Madagascar, he said.

Meanwhile, SCG Cement forecast that its domestic sales would slump 10-15 per cent from last year's 9 million tonnes, unless special measures were taken. The projection is in line with the overall market, where cement demand is predicted to fall from 25 million tonnes in 2008 to 22 million tonnes this year.

The company has as a result spent Bt70 million on aggressive marketing activities and promotions, in the hope that it can maintain its domestic sales at last year's level.

"We hope the government will start its mega-projects as soon as possible, once Parliament passes the Finance Ministry's planned borrowing of Bt400 billion. The earliest recovery we see for the cement sector is the fourth quarter of this year," Syamrath said.

Sales revenue is likely to drop from last year, even if the company can maintain its volume. This is because of the upward trend in energy prices, freight costs and tougher domestic competition, he added.

He said the prices of some SCG Cement products had been cut by at least 10 per cent since the beginning of the year, in order to maintain market share and compete with rivals that were dumping prices to increase their sales.

However, the company can save Bt1.64 billion per year on energy, thanks to its installation of waste-heat generators at six cement plants.

SCG Cement currently operates at 70 per cent of its capacity. It has a 40-per-cent share of the Thai cement market.

Group hopes to put on Cambodian rock opera in Long Beach

A creative team that produced a successful premiere of the Cambodian rock opera "Where Elephants Weep" in Phnom Penh showed film clips of the play to residents in an attempt to generate interest in bringing the play to Long Beach. (Vanta El/For the Press Telegram)

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/03/2009

LONG BEACH - After a failed attempt to land in Long Beach in 2007, and a highly successful run in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a Cambodian rock opera may be ready for some West Coast exposure.

At least that's what the creative team behind "Where Elephants Weep" is hoping after local residents reacted enthusiastically to film clips from the play's run in Cambodia that were shown recently at Mark Twain Library.

Although members of the New York-based group are reluctant to talk about what exactly it will take to bring the production to Long Beach, they were upbeat after meetings with several young leaders in the Cambodian community.

The first time the project was proposed in Long Beach, playwright Catherine Filloux said her group "did not feel a groundswell in Long Beach."

This time, however, her hopes are higher that the community will rally behind the project, especially in the wake of the play's popular run in Phnom Penh in November and December.

"Where Elephants Weep" was first opened in Lowell, Mass., in what Filloux said was a workshop. But the community response was "awesome," according to Filloux, and she hopes the same kind of momentum and support can be built here.

However, she notes that since her team is based on the East Coast, it will be up to the Long Beach community to make it happen.

Director Robert McQueen predicts it could take a year-and-a-half to bring the production to Long Beach.

In Phnom Penh, the cast was led by Cambodian star Ieng Sithul, who plays the Buddhist abbot, and Michael K. Lee, an emerging Broadway musical performer.

The play is a sort of bicultural take on the ancient Cambodia tale of "Tum Teav," which has been called the Cambodian "Romeo and Juliet."

It is in both Khmer and English, with subtitles projected onto screens around the stage.

In this telling, however, gray-clad rappers and traditional Apsara dancers intermingle as an expatriate Cambodian-American returning to his homeland struggles to reconcile an internal clash of cultures and desires.

The play is a collaboration between Soviet-

trained composer Dr. Him Sophy and Filloux.

Him, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s, received a scholarship to study music in Moscow in 1985, where he earned a doctorate in musical art and composition.

Filloux is an American of French-Algerian descent who has lived and taught in Cambodia. This is her fourth Cambodian-themed drama.

Bringing the production to Long Beach is not a small task. Organizers plan to talk to operators of venues in the Southland and members of the arts community. However, they stress it will be up to the local community to spearhead the effort.

Local residents are enthused about the prospects.

"Cambodia has so much to share with the community," says Richer San, who was part of the group that invited the play's producers to air the clips of the play at the library.

"I feel like this a a grand slam for Cambodians and for getting past the killing fields," said Filloux. "It's appealing to the young because it's supermodern and accessible. It shines a light on Cambodian culture that's so accessible."