Sunday, 26 July 2009

Cambodia fears growing resistance to malaria drugs


The war against malaria — the parasitic illness transmitted by mosquitos that kills more than one million people each year — remains a huge global health problem. One of the biggest challenges in fighting malaria is drug resistance.

In Cambodia, health officials are seeing new evidence of resistance as they try to treat the most deadly kind of malaria.

The concern is that this deadly strain will spread to Africa with devastating results, as Gary Strieker reports, in association with the Global Health Frontline News Project.

Group 78 evicted


Between 60 to 80 low-income families in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, forcibly evited from their homes on 16 & 17 July.

Cambodia: Rice field during the rainy season

A Cambodian farmer drives his ox cart on the way home after work in rice paddy in Prey Pdoa village, Kandal province, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, July 26, 2009.
(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A farmer works in a rice field during the rainy season in Kamport province July 26 , 2009.

Farmers work in a rice field during the rainy season in Kamport province July 26 , 2009.

50,000 monkeys held in Chinese hell farms
By Richard Jones
Nick Owens 26/07/2009

Cowering behind bars in secret breeding farms... these are the monkeys trapped in China's cruel plan to become the world's biggest exporter of chimps for scientific tests.

One farm nearing completion will be able to hold 50,000 monkeys - making it the largest in the world.

Thousands of these frightened creatures are heading for the UK, victims of a booming global demand from pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies for animals to use in tests.

Figures released last week reveal that the number of live tests on monkeys in Britain soared by 16 per cent to 4,598 in the past year.

And yesterday animals rights groups blasted the increasing use of chimps for testing in the UK and called on politicians here to end the cruel trade.

Andrew Tyler, of Animal Aid, said: "Testing on monkeys is a savage, ugly and pointless business. If the public were to see what is happening to these poor monkeys during tests they would be horrified."

The Sunday Mirror uncovered disturbing images inside the monkey farms after visiting the Conghua area of Guangzhou province in China. Home to more than 40 farms, chimps arrive here from Cambodia and are bred to be sold across the globe.

Obscured by hills and notoriously secretive, the chimp camps are hidden away from the world. But our investigators - posing as businessman looking to help supply monkeys to the UK for testing - were able to get access to some of the farms.

Inside, monkeys were packed tight into cages. Mothers clutched their babies in the sterile prisons awaiting the journey to the labs of Europe, America and the Far East where they will be tortured in the name of science.

Most of the monkeys fetch about £1,000 each. But cruel farm managers spend as little as 20p a day caring for them.

China's market in exporting chimps - sought after by companies to test on because they are the closest animal to man - is now worth an estimated £150million a year.

Around 90,000 monkeys were used in tests in labs across the world last year, and the vast majority were from Chinese farms.

One farm currently being built by the Guangzhou Blooming Spring Biological Technology Development Co is hidden in the countryside and invisible from any main road.

Cages are concealed in a pink-tiled compound over a kilometre in length and are surrounded by a 12ft guarded wall. On arriving at the farm a supervisor boasted to our investigators: "We have bought that hillside and soon it will be covered in cages. We already have feeding facilities for 50,000."

In the farm's laboratory - where scientists test monkeys for diseases petrified chimps, many carrying babies, are locked behind steel doors and let out high-pitched screams as they are tested.

At another camp, the Huazhen Laboratory Center, a manager explained how the UK is now becoming an increasingly important market for Chinese monkey farm owners to crack.

Laboratory manager Mr Huazhen said: "I have already visited animal laboratories at Huntington, Oxford. I have no doubt in my mind China will soon be the most important exporter of monkeys in the world."


Scientists carried out 3.7million experiments on live animals in Britain last year - the highest number for two decades. As well as the 4,598 experiments on monkeys they included:

2.4million on mice

605,000 on fish

355,000 on rats

123,000 on birds

17,000 on rabbits

9,000 on horses and donkeys

360 on cats

Investment bank to open offices in Cambodia


HA NOI — The Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) plans to open a representative office and an investment company in Cambodia next week.

BIDV, working with Phuong Nam Co, plans to establish the Investment and Development Joint Stock Company of Cambodia (IDCC) with a charter capital of US$100 million, Tran Bac Ha, BIDV chairman said at a press conference in Ha Noi on Thursday.

The IDCC will focus on investment activities, merges and acquisitions. Initially, the IDCC was in negotiations to acquire a 90 per cent stake in a private Cambodian bank to form the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC) with an expected charter capital of about $50 million.

"Cambodia now has only 24 commercial banks with few services and this is a good opportunity for Vietnamese investors to enter into the market. Whereas, about 400 Vietnamese enterprises that are doing business in Cambodia can be promising clients for BIDC, partly contributing to investment and trade promotion between the two countries," Ha said.

BIDV also plans to set up the Viet Nam Cambodia Insurance Co (CVI).

In addition, the bank plans to establish an association of Vietnamese investors in Cambodia by August to promote investment and trade between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines plans to join Cambodian partners to set up Cambodia Angkor Air, Tran Ngoc Minh, chief executive officer, said. The new airline will flyfrom Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on Mondays. Later, it will launch flights to countries in North-eastern Asia, Indochina.

In 2002, bilateral trade between Viet Nam and Cambodia was $240 million. In 2007, it increased to $1.1 billion. Last year, bilateral trade reached $1.7 billion, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam. It is estimated that two-way trade will hit $2 billion next year.

Viet Nam’s main exports are instant noodles, plastics, confectionery and fruit, while it imports chiefly rubber, wood, raw materials for garments and auto parts. Viet Nam has a trade surplus with Cambodia.

In terms of investment, Vietnamese companies are pouring money into hydro-power, mining, telecommunications, tourism, trade, finance and banking.

The main investors are Viettel, Electricity of Viet Nam, National Oil and Gas Group, Coal and Mining Industries Group, Viet Nam Rubber Group, Vinamilk, Sacombank, Logistics Germadept Corporation and Toserco Company. — VNS

Exchange Programme For Cambodian Legal Officers

SHAH ALAM, July 26 (Bernama) -- The Asean Law Association of Malaysia will organise an exchange programme for eight officers of the Cambodian Justice Ministry with the objective of providing better understanding of Malaysia's law and legal system.

"The pilot project is also to promote cooperation and solidarity among members of the legal profession between Malaysia and Cambodia," said S. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Standing Committee on Asean Students Exchange Programme, Asean Law Association of Malaysia.

The programme is organised with the support and assistance from Cambodian Ambassador to Malaysia Princess Norodom Arunrasmy and staff of the Cambodian embassy.

Radhakrishnan said Cambodia was the first country in the Asean region to be invited to join the programme which will take place on Aug 2-8.

"The eight officers will be attached to four legal firms throughout the programme," he told Bernama.

He said the Asean Law Association of Malaysia would consider extending the programme to other Asean countries based on the evaluation and feedback upon the completion of the pilot project.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, who is also the Asean Law Association of Malaysia president, is scheduled to launch the programme at the Royal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur on Aug 3.

Ambassadors and high commissioners from the Asean countries are expected to attend the function.

The Asean Law Association of Malaysia, established in 1980, is the Malaysian chapter of the regional organisation known as the Asean Law Association (ALA).

The primary objective of ALA is to promote greater cooperation and better understanding among members of the legal profession in the Asean region.

The secretariat of the regional body is in Bangkok, Thailand.


Cambodia struggles with domestic-violence tradition

Joel Brinkley
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Phnom Penh, Cambodia --

Ing Kantha Phavi is an impressive woman. She's a medical doctor, a specialist in tropical diseases, but also Cambodia's minister of women's affairs.

Male-hierarchical societies dominate Asia, and Cambodia is no exception. In this region, women's affairs offices are generally showpiece ministries.

Presidents and prime ministers parade their women's affairs ministers before visiting Western leaders as unconvincing demonstrations of their interest in gender equality.

If Ing were the sort of person who could accept that, her ministry would fit nicely into this paradigm. But she's not. Still, her challenges are Herculean. As she told an interviewer last year: "When you come up against these male dinosaurs, do you sometimes feel like giving up? I feel like giving up always." Nonetheless, four years ago, she pushed a bill through the national assembly that, for the first time, made it illegal for men to beat their wives and children. Domestic violence is an endemic problem here. Arguing for the legislation then, she cited statistics showing that almost one-quarter of the nation's women are beaten or otherwise abused by their husbands - sometimes even murdered. But that's a family matter, the male legislators argued. Why are you bringing us another one of those liberal Western fads? "They treated me like a revolutionary," she said.

After voting it down once, the legislators finally approved the domestic violence bill in 2005. But now, four years later, domestic violence in Cambodian society has increased. Ing and others now talk about one-third of the nation's women being victims. One woman out of three - one of the highest rates in the world.

Some of this violence is positively grisly; Cambodia remains an extraordinarily violent nation. Consider a couple of recent news stories from local media:

-- "A man has confessed to pouring gasoline on his fiancée and her sister and burning them at their home in Cambodia's northwestern Battambang province, authorities here say, amid what the government describes as a worsening pattern of violence against women."

-- Also in Battambang, "Police say they are searching for a man who beat his wife unconscious in an argument over $50, and then killed his brother-in-law when he tried to intervene."

After the government enacted the domestic violence law, it never wrote the enabling regulations, nor instructed police and prosecutors to enforce it. That happens often here when the government is pressured to enact laws it doesn't really like. "I admit that it was never implemented," Ing told me. "We have a lot of good laws. The problem is the enforcement of the laws."

The problem is also history - centuries of subservience and docility. Nothing embodies this more than the Chbab Srey, a piece of Cambodian traditional "literature" that describes a woman's place in the home, written in the form of a mother talking to her daughter. One passage says: "Dear, no matter what your husband did wrong, I tell you to be patient, don't say anything ... don't curse, don't be the enemy. No matter how poor or stupid, you don't look down on him. ... No matter what the husband says, angry and cursing, using strong words without ending, complaining and cursing because he is not pleased, you should be patient with him and calm down your anger."

For as long as anyone can remember, this homespun advice, pulled together into a small booklet, was required reading in the nation's school. Most every literate adult remembers reading it.

"It's not law, it's tradition," Im Sethy, the education minister, insisted. "It was taught as literature" until just two years ago, when the women's affairs ministry finally managed to have it pulled from the schools' curriculum.

In much of the world, women are second-class citizens, at best. In parts of the Arab world, that is legislated; Islamic law, followed in most Arab nations, places women in subservient roles.

In Asia, gender discrimination is generally the result of cultural norms, not legislative mandates. As an example, Ing noted that, while the Chbab Srey was pulled from the schools in 2007, "it is still followed in rural areas." But then, 80 percent of this nation's population is rural. Traditions, she lamented, are quite difficult to reverse. So are psychological paradigms. "It is well known," she noted, "that children who grow up in a home with domestic violence are likely to commit domestic violence themselves. The next generation will be the same. "So the way to cut this vicious cycle is to cut into domestic violence now."

For this country, a tall order.

Joel Brinkley is a professor of journalism at Stanford University. To comment, e-mail

SRPs candle vigil in front of the PPenh Municipal Court


At 07:55AM on Friday morning, in front of the Phnom Penh municipal court, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and SRP MP Mu Sochua, whose parliamentary immunity was suspended by the [CPP-controlled National Assembly], as well as numerous other SRP members held a candle vigil in order to seek justice for their representative. Mrs. Mu Sochua will show up in court on Friday morning to clarify in the lawsuit case brought up by Hun Xen who is accusing her of defamation. Mu Sochua will defend herself in court without any legal defense lawyer. Outside the court, numerous cops can be seen tightening up security.

MP Mu Sochua answered her cases in PP court


SRP MP Mu Sochua showed up in Phnom Penh Court without defense lawyer and she chose to use her right to remain silent during the trial on July 24, 2009.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tries Oposition MP Mu Sochua


The Cambodia's Phnom Penh Municipal Court tried the opposition Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Mrs. Mu Sochua on Friday 24 July 2009 over the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's defamation lawsuit,

News In pictures: Mu Sochua's court hearing (24th July)

Mrs. Mu Sochua's court hearing today (24th July) ended at 11 am without a verdict, with the judge reserving his judgement for 4th August.

Supporters of Ms. Mu Sochua held a candlelight vigil in front of the Phnom Penh Court since the morning to support her. They cheered as she exited the court.

Even the judge did not pass his judgement, Mrs. Mu Sochua and her supporters anticipated a guilty verdict as the court is under the influence of the plaintiff, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Mr. Sam Rainsy, president of the Sam Rainsy Party to which Ms. Mu Sochua belongs, told the Cambodia Daily yesterday that his party will pay the fine for her if she is found guilty. He added that his party will not appeal the court's decision because he considers it a waste of time.

Many analysts predicted that the 4th August's verdict will be a guilty verdict.

To List or Not to List?

By William Underhill NEWSWEEK
Published Jul 25, 2009

The ancient city of Dresden, a delicate baroque confection lovingly reconstructed after the Second World War, has thrilled visitors with its skyline, best viewed from the banks of the River Elbe. Not for much longer. To the outrage of conservationists, work is underway on a new bridge to carry a four-lane highway across the valley, marring the vista forever. In a potent gesture of protest, UNESCO recently stripped the city of its status as a World Heritage site.

Some might consider that a harsh penalty. After all, the World Heritage ranking placed Dresden alongside the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal as a monument of "outstanding universal value." But to the locals, ridding the city of choking traffic was more important than any accolade. In two referendums, they supported the bridge plan. As city councilor Jan Mücke said, "In a democracy, we cannot have a dictatorship of a minority that, acting out of esthetic grounds, thinks they know more than the overwhelming majority of citizens."

World Heritage status sure isn't what it used to be. Plenty of countries still strive to earn a place on UNESCO's list and reap the benefits of the tourism boom that normally follows, but some are beginning to question the honor's long-term value. In the developed world, there's sometimes resentment at outside interference; elsewhere there's deepening concern that the scheme, intended to preserve the world's greatest treasures, may actually be contributing to their demise. Underfunded and armed with little more than moral authority, UNESCO can't do much to help the swelling number of sites—the tally now approaches 900—it singles out for distinction. "Among conservationists there is sometimes a feeling that if conservation is the goal, then we should leave these places alone," says Peter Fowler, a British archeologist who has worked with UNESCO.

Trouble is, conservation is not always the goal. For national governments and local traders, a World Heritage listing represents a marketing tool that can turn obscure sites into must-see destinations. The repercussions are hard to prevent. In the ancient western Chinese city of Lijiang, the number of annual visitors climbed from 1.7 million to 4.6 million in the 10 years since it was listed in 1997. In the words of a UNESCO mission last year, "Commercial interests have driven measures to facilitate large numbers of tourists, compromising the authentic heritage values which attracted visitors to the property in the first place.''

The same is true of Angkor Wat, the vast temple complex that is now Cambodia's leading tourist draw. Since the site gained World Heritage status in 1992, the number of visitors has leapt from fewer than 10,000 to more than 1 million a year. Now a sprawling town has grown up to serve the hordes of tourists that arrive daily. Worse, local hotels have been extracting water from underground reserves, threatening to undermine the temples themselves. "Being a World Heritage site can contribute [to visitor numbers] between 10 times and 500 times over five years," says Jeff Morgan of the World Heritage Fund. "Instead of a small paragraph in Frommer's, it suddenly gets three pages. And if a site is not ready, you can get thousands of people crawling over it."

There is no question that UNESCO can exert a positive influence. The organization can be "discreetly effective" in preventing the worst depredations, says Francesco Bandarin, director of the Paris-based World Heritage Center, which runs the list. If the Great Pyramids of Giza can be seen against the sunset without a highway marring the view, tourists can thank pressure from UNESCO. Still, Bandarin concedes, "We can provide one more layer of protection, but it's far from perfect."

Resources are severely stretched. The World Heritage Center employs fewer than 100 people, and its annual revenue of some $20 million, including donations, leave nothing to help poor countries struggling to save sites. "It needs 10 times as much money," says Morgan.

Some national authorities resent UNESCO's meddling. UNESCO can place listed sites that it believes are being compromised on an endangered list and, in extreme cases, scratch them altogether—a punishment applied only twice in the program's 37-year history. In addition to Dresden, an oryx sanctuary in Oman was struck off in 2007 after the government reduced the park's size by 90 percent to allow for oil drilling. UNESCO's decision to place Yellowstone National Park on its endangered list in 1995 after a private company proposed mining for gold nearby fortified American mistrust of U.N. interference—and helps explain why the U.S. has since failed to propose any new sites.

One option might be to restrict the list and focus resources on those most in need. In the past five years UNESCO has added more than 100 sites—including 13 this year alone—which only undermines the concept, say critics. "The longer [the list] becomes, the more it dilutes the brand," says Jonathan Foyle of the World Monuments Fund. Already it's hard to see what unites, say, a volcanic island off Iceland, Namibian rock paintings, and the Sydney Opera House.

Competition between countries—Italy and Spain have long vied for the largest number of sites—has already forced UNESCO to limit the number of new nominations per country to just two a year. Yet the organization is keen to encourage more applications from outside Europe and North America—home to more than half the sites—to correct what's been seen as a Western bias. At fault may be the very idea of highlighting a site's particular merits. In the end, the best hope for saving the legacy of the past may be a future of obscurity.