Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Phnom Penh Post in KHMER language

Typhoon Morakot slams China, Taiwan

Map locates areas worst affected by Typhoon Morakot on Taiwan

A woman mourns for her missing relatives at the landslide affected village of Hsiaolin, in southern Taiwan August 14, 2009, following Typhoon Morakot, which swept through Kaohsiung County. REUTERS/Stringer

Family members of flood victims hold portraits of their loved ones as they mourn for them at the site of a major landslide that destroyed the mountain village of Hsiao Lin in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan August 15, 2009. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, under mounting pressure over his government's response to Typhoon Morakot, on Friday estimated that more than 500 people had died in flooding and mudslides. REUTERS/Stringer

Family members of flood victims mourn for them at the site of a major landslide that destroyed the mountain village of Hsiao Lin in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan August 15, 2009. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, under mounting pressure over his government's response to Typhoon Morakot, on Friday estimated that more than 500 people had died in flooding and mudslides. REUTERS/Stringer

Family members of flood victims hold portraits of their loved ones as they mourn at the site of a major landslide that destroyed the mountain village of Hsiao Lin in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan August 15, 2009. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, under mounting pressure over his government's response to Typhoon Morakot, on Friday estimated that more than 500 people had died in flooding and mudslides. REUTERS/Stringer

Family members of flood victims mourn for them at the site of a major landslide that destroyed the mountain village of Hsiao Lin in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan August 15, 2009. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, under mounting pressure over his government's response to Typhoon Morakot, on Friday estimated that more than 500 people had died in flooding and mudslides. REUTERS/Stringer

Relatives of victims pay homage to their late family members trapped by Typhoon Morakot during a ceremony in Jiahsien, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan. The typhoon dumped more than 2 meters (80 inches) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. (AP Photo)

Relatives of victims cry as they pay homage to their late family members trapped by Typhoon Morakot during a ceremony in Jiahsien, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan. The typhoon dumped more than 2 meters (80 inches) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. (AP Photo)

The portraits of Typhoon Morakot victims are arranged behind offerings during a ceremony in Jiahsien, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan. The typhoon dumped more than 2 meters (80 inches) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. (AP Photo)

EDITORS: THIS CORRECTS CITY NAME AND THEIR ACTION IN THE FIRST SENTENCE OF CAPTION**In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers load provisions for typhoon victims stranded in southern Taiwan to a rescue naval vessel in Chihpen in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009. Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers were ferried to safety and rescuers were working to save another 1,900 people. (AP Photo/Taiwan Military News Agency)

In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers load provisions for typhoon victims stranded in southern Taiwan to a rescue naval vessel in Chihpen in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009. Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers were ferried to safety and rescuers were working to save another 1,900 people. (AP Photo/Taiwan Military News Agency)

In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers load provisions for typhoon victims stranded in southern Taiwan to a rescue naval vessel in Chihpen in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009. Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain on the island and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers were ferried to safety and rescuers were working to save another 1,900 people. (AP Photo/Taiwan Military News Agency)

People carry supplies from a Sikorsky S-70C military helicopter to the mudslide affected village of Dabon in Alisan townships following Typhoon Morakot in Chiayi county, southern Taiwan in this handout picture taken August 15, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

A handout photograph from the Taiwan Military News Agency shows soldiers carrying supplies to a military ship to deliver from Chihpen to mudslide affected villages in Dawu and Daren townships following Typhoon Morakot in Taitung county, eastern Taiwan August 15, 2009. REUTERS/Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout

Thai planes flew 30 kilometres deep inside Khmer territory

Source: Reaksmei Kampuchea newspaper

Reported in English by Khmerization

Thai jet fighters have allegedly violated Cambodian airspace three times in recent weeks, some as deep as 30 kilometres inside Khmer territories.

Gen. Bun Seng, commander of the Cambodian Military Region 5, said at 10:20 am on 12th August a Thai jet fighter had caused a stir to the local population when it flew at low altitude over Pailin market (pictured), 30 kilometres from the Khmer-Thai border. The violation had really upset the Cambodian military, but the Thai side immediately sent a letter of apology by saying that the plane had mistakenly flew into Cambodian territory.

The apology did not satisfy the Cambodian military who said the violation is a sheer insult on Cambodian sovereignty and wanted the Thai side to apologise personally.

According to Gen. Bun Seng, Thai planes had flew deep inside Cambodian territory three times in recent weeks with spy planes flying off from Chantaburi-Trat Air Base. He said: "This an insult to the Cambodian Military Region 5 based in the areas who are trying to protect the Cambodian territorial integrity."

Mr. Chim Pheuy, commander of Division 52 based at Pailin-Samlaut areas, said since July 25th Thai planes had at least violated Cambodian airspace deep inside Khmer territories three times. He said on 3rd August, a Thai jet fighters flew over Ratanak Mondul, more than 30 kilometres deep inside Khmer territories, and flew back to Thailand through Border Pass Fifteen near Samlaut.

On 4th, another jet fighter flew over Phsar Proum village before turning back to Thailand. The last violation happened on 12th August when a jet fighter flew at low altitude over Pailin Market which has caused shoppers to panic.

Gen. Chim Pheum warned: "From now onward, we don't care if they are Thai jet fighters or civilian planes, if they dare to fly deep into our territories again, the Cambodian troops will show them our skills so the Thai will not look down on the Cambodian army again."

A Cambodian military source said before these violations by Thai jet fighters, a Thai helicopter had once flew over Pailin, but because it did not fly too deep inside Khmer territory the Cambodian side did not protest.

Mr. Ee Chhean, Governor of Pailin province, said in regard to the violation over Pailin Market on 12th August that the Thai commander of the Chantaburi-Trat Air Base had written a letter of apology to the Cambodian Military Region 5. He said these are serious violations that warrant a public apology. He wants the Thai side to come to apologise publicly at the Pailin Town Hall to clarify their mistakes and to promise not to repeat the violations over Cambodian territorial integrity again.

Cambodia will Continue Preah Vihear Market Construction Regardless of Thai Protest

DAP News

A Cambodian market near the Khmer Preah Vihear Temple will be rebuilt, a Cambodian Government official insisted on Thursday.

The market was destroyed by fire from Thai soldiers on April 03, 2009, though Thailand has denied responsibility and criticized the current redevelopment.

“What Cambodia is doing is not due to being disappointed by or unhappy with Thailand. This is the full right of Cambodia; we must do it,” Hor Namhong told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Cooperation after the signing of an agreement with the Japanese Government.

The Cambodian Government’s reaction comes after Thai urging not to reconstruct the market at the foot of stairs leading to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple.

General Srey Doeuk, chief of Cambodian armed forces at Preah Vihear, said that “We still keep constructing this market even though Thai soldiers told us not to.”

Sor Thavy, Preah Vihear provincial deputy governor, said that some of the total 183 stalls have already been completely finished. He claimed that “The vendors are choosing some sample stores next week, then the working group and the vendors will construct the rest of the stores.”

“We do not care about Thai criticisms at all, and we keep our stance over building this market,” he stressed.

Thai soldiers on April 03, 2009 attempted an assault upon Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, an attack which completely destroyed the nearby market. Some damage was inflicted upon the ancient stonework of the temple, now a Cambodian UNESCO World Heritage Site, by Thai fire.

A Thai army official last week sent a letter to Cambodian authority asking to immediately halt building the market, raising the objection that Cambodia was abusing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) singed in 2000. Some protesters demonstrated in Bangkok over the market construction.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly insisted Cambodia will keep open bilateral discussions to defuse potentially dangerous situations.

A treasure of Buddha

Tom Wallace, Star Tribune
Buddhist Monk Moeng Sang looked over the Relic presentation temple early Friday morning, at the Watt Munisotaram in Hampton that is taking place this weekend to celebrate the arrival of relics of Buddha that will be enshrined there. Monks from Sri Lanka have delivered the relics, and this weekend's "flower festival" at the temple also includes a groundbreaking for a new building on the property in rural Dakota County.

A festival this weekend celebrates the arrival of a Buddhist relic at a temple in rural Dakota County.


August 14, 2009

After a trip to India in February, Cambodian Buddhist monk Sang Moeng returned to Watt Munisotaram, his home temple near Hampton, Minn., practically bubbling over with excitement.

The Maha Bodhi Society of India, a group that oversees many Buddhist shrines, including the Tree of Enlightenment, offered to help find a relic of Buddha -- remains believed to be perfect proof of enlightenment, and symbols of wisdom, love and compassion -- for the rural Dakota County temple.

This weekend, Watt Munisotaram hosts a festival to celebrate the arrival of the relic from another temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"We were fortunate to find a temple willing to share a relic with us," Yanat Chhith, a leader of Minnesota's Cambodian Buddhist community, said. "It's a very small piece, but that's good enough."

As many as 2,000 people from around the country and world, including monks from as far away as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, are expected to participate in ceremonies this weekend as the relic of Buddha is enshrined in the temple, located among nondescript farm fields a few miles east of Farmington.

They will also be celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society, the groundbreaking for a building called a stupa that will eventually house the relic, and a flower festival to raise funds for construction. The celebrations runs through Sunday and the general public, Buddhist and otherwise, is invited to participate.

"Our world is so divided, but here we're all working together," Chanda Sour, a temple board member, said.

Trying to convey the spiritual significance of the relic, Sour and the others said words failed them. "A lot of this is too deep for words," Sour said.

Just preparing for the festival has drawn dozens of volunteers to clean, cut grass, prepare food and decorate the temple. There are between 7,000 and 8,000 Cambodian Buddhist in Minnesota.

China, Asean ink agreement

Thai Commerce Minister Pornthiwa Nakasai shakes hands with Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming during the signing agreement between ASEAN and China during the 41st ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) Meetings. -- PHOTO: AFP

The Straits Times

Aug 15, 2009

BANGKOK - CHINA and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) took a major step on Saturday to broaden economic cooperation by signing an agreement to promote investment.

The investment pact is the third free-trade agreement concluded between China and the 10-member Asian regional group following separate FTAs on trade in goods that took effect from mid-2005, and on services two years later.

China is the eighth biggest investor in Asean with outstanding two-way investment totalling US$11.7 billion (S$16.8 billion) at the end of 2008.

Asean groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

The investment FTA calls for host countries to provide protection for foreign direct and portfolio investments, and compensation against damages caused by riots and political disturbances. It also eases restrictions on equity ownership and land acquisition.

The pact, signed by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and his ASEAN counterparts, requires their governments to facilitate speedy settlement of business and labour disputes, and repatriation of corporate earnings.

Chinese investment in Asean has jumped in recent years. In late July, about 300 Chinese businessmen, attending a seminar at the Thai resort of Pattaya, signed deals committing about US$590 million of investment in industrial property in Thailand.

In April, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced China was setting up a US$10 billion China-Asean Fund on Investment Cooperation to support infrastructural development in the region.

China is Asean's fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade rising to about US$231 billion in 2008, up 14 per cent from a year earlier.

With most Western economies facing a severe downturn since 2008 due to the global financial crisis, China has this year emerged as the biggest buyer of products from Asean members such as Thailand. -- REUTERS

A helping hand is rewarded

Philadelphia Daily News 215-854-5218

Van Morn's eyes lit up when he talked about moving to Lancaster this Sunday to begin studies at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

"I'm pretty scared, but I'm fine with it," the 18-year-old graduate of Olney High School said. "I believe in myself. I know I can do it."

And thanks to his tireless work in his community during the last two years since he moved to Philadelphia from Cambodia with his family, Morn was awarded a new laptop and a $1,000 bond — just in time for college.

Morn, one of 26 students chosen from several hundred applicants, was honored yesterday at Philadelphia's National Liberty Museum as part of TD Bank's Young Heroes awards. For his work in his community and around Philadelphia, Morn received the President's Honor Award.

Morn's parents and his two sisters looked on as he accepted his medal, check and laptop from TD Bank Greater Philadelphia President Ron Matthew.

Although his older sister, Chanry Morn, said his family expected him to do big things, Morn's triumph yesterday was a far cry from just three years ago when he and his family lived in poverty in Cambodia.

"It's remarkable," Matthew said of Morn's ability to come to the United States and, despite the language barrier, go on to serve his community. "So many people faced with adversity and tragedies give up."

In Cambodia, three members of Morn's extended family were killed in the Khmer Rouge rule.

When he moved to Philadelphia, Morn said he overcame his struggles by volunteering at Inglis House for disabled adults, at Belmont Avenue and Conshohocken State Road, Wynnefield Heights; by serving as a photographer for the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program; and by initiating cleanup projects in his neighborhood.

Morn said that much of his volunteer work resulted from his senior project, and that he plans to improve his English for his two years at the college before transferring to Penn State University or Marywood University, in Scranton.

He said he is looking forward to studying politics and computers in college.

"It was a tough choice," National Liberty Museum CEO Gwen Borowsky said of Morn's selection. "But his story is so compelling. You talk about someone who's overcome so many odds and started with so little."

Along with the awards, an exhibit detailing the lives and work of this year's young honorees, the rest of whom did work in everything from youth-culture blogs to fundraising, will be erected in the Old City museum.

"Every year, it's just inspiring all over again," she said, adding that this is the national program's ninth year at the museum.

"We want all 65,000 visitors to see these stories and be inspired."

Africa, Indonesia, Cambodia -- land rent is fought over

Competing needs -- some need Earth for food, others for money -- plays out constantly around the world. That is, until we recognize the worth of Earth is for us all to share. Such sharing we can implement via geonomics, a sane shift of taxes toward natural resources and subsidies to everybody. We trim, blend, and append three 2009 articles from: (1) the Jakarta Post, Aug 9, on Sulawesi by A. Hajramurni; (2) BBC, Aug 12, on Cambodia by R. Walker; and (3) BBC, Aug 5, on Africa by K. Hunt.

by Andi Hajramurni, by Robert Walker, and by Katie Hunt

Villagers clash with police in South Sulawesi

Villagers clashed Sunday with local police at a sugarcane plantation field in Takalar regency, South Sulawesi, which belongs to the State Plantation Company (PTPN) XIV, wounding 10 people.

Six of the injured people were civilians and the rest were police officers.

The brawl began when villagers banned PTPN XIV workers from the plantation field in Timbuseng village, North Polongbangkeng district. Villagers claimed they owned the land. Police came to break up the two parties.

Then someone threw a stone to the villagers, who responded by throwing more stones to the police. Police then hunted the villagers who ran to residential areas.

The villagers re-grouped, returned to the plantation field, and fought against the police.

The land rent agreement ended two years ago. PTPN XIV spokesman Bahrun said his firm had a land usage permit, due on 2024 from the Takalar regency administration. “So if anyone claims that they own the land, they should take legal action.”

JJS: Their legal action should downplay ownership and emphasize sharing the rent. When rent is shared broadly, one has less motive to try to monopolize the land.

Cambodia: A land up for sale?

In north eastern Cambodia for the past five years, the Jarai people of Kong Yu village have been fighting for, and losing, their land.

Local officials said they wanted to give part of the land to disabled soldiers. They said if you don't give us the land, we'll take it. So farmers agreed to give them 50 hectares.

The villagers were invited to a party and when many of them were drunk they were asked to put their thumbprints on documents. "Most of us don't know how to read or write, and the chiefs did not explain what the thumbprints were for," said Mr Fil. The villagers later found they had signed away more than 400 hectares -- and the land was not for disabled soldiers, but a private company who began making way for a rubber plantation.

Businesswoman Keat Kolney insists she bought the land legally. She is married to a senior official in the ministry of land management. It is not the only case where those closely connected to senior government figures have taken land from poor Cambodians.

Chamran, a farmer in the area, said “we organized a demonstration. The military police pointed a gun in my stomach and said if you hold another demonstration we will kill you."

Beginning in the 1990s, large swathes of the country's rich forests were bought up by logging companies. Now mining and gas concessions are being granted to insiders. Global Witness says members of the government, right up to the highest levels, are using Cambodia and its assets as their own personal slush fund.

Cambodia's recent stability, following decades of violence, has attracted a rapid boom in tourism and a race for prime real estate on which to build new resorts. Many of the country's beaches have already been bought up.

Rights groups estimate that 30,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their homes in the capital Phnom Penh over the past five years to make way for new developments. The UN estimates hundreds of thousands of Cambodians are now affected by land disputes.

JJS: If landowner, government, and military act in concert, aren’t they really one body, as they’ve always been, since hunting and gathering ended?

Africa investment sparks land grab fear

African land has rarely been associated with financial reward. But population increase, changes in eating habits, and demand for bio-fuels are putting sub-Saharan farmland at a premium worldwide while its prices are the lowest in the world.

Countries short of arable land, such as China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Kuwait, have been seeking agricultural investments in Africa.

South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics was forced to abandon a project to lease one million acres of land in Madagascar to produce corn earlier this year. The country's new president scrapped the deal following criticism that local people had not been consulted, and Daewoo was unsettled by unrest on the island.

Sub-Saharan Africa - $800 to $1000
Argentina/Brazil - $5,000 - $,6000
Poland - $6000
US - $7000
UK - $18,000
Germany - $22,000

"We only operate in counties where we can have clear land title. If we can't get this, or we don't have a 99-year lease from the government, then we won't operate in that country," investor Ms. Payne says.

Investors say their ownership leads to better harvests and creates jobs paying above-average wages.

For now, the vast majority of the food stays in the country in which it is produced although it can be exported.

Since the state often owns the land and favors the investor, they’re prone to push out the poor.

As Africa's land becomes more sought after by international investors, the risk only grows that a continent that has often extended a begging bowl to the world could instead feed its richer neighbors.

Vietnam joins Cambodia, Thailand to cope with oil spills

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Prime Minister has ratified a plan to implement a joint statement and a framework program between Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand on an oil spill response in the Gulf of Thailand for the 2009-2015 period.

The plan aims to build a better sea environment and resource management system, train human resources, and assess the risks involved in oil spill prevention, preparedness and response within Vietnam’s waters.

Under the plan, Vietnam will also work with Cambodia, Thailand, and related individuals and organizations to cope with and clean up oil spills in the Gulf of Thailand in addition to mitigating environmental pollution in conformity with the regulations defined in the joint statement and the framework program.

The plan will cover five missions relating to oil spill preparedness and response which will be jointly implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Transport, the National Committee for Search and Rescue and the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam).

US senator meets Myanmar's democracy leader

Fact file on Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, recently sentenced to another 18-months of house arrest by a Myanmar court for allegely breaking the terms of her house arrest. US Senator Jim Webb has arrived in Myanmar for historic talks with military supremo Than Shwe, the first ever meeting between a senior American official and the junta chief, officials said.

In this Aug. 14, 2009 image taken from a video footage shot by MRTV via APTN, U.S. Senator Jim Webb, D-Va., center right, shakes hand with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Days after the world slammed Myanmar for sentencing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to more house arrest, U.S. Senator Webb arrived in the military-ruled country's capital Friday.
(AP Photo/MRTV via APTN)

YANGON, Myanmar – Witnesses say U.S. Senator Jim Webb is meeting with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her first talks with a foreign official since being sentenced this week to more house arrest.

The witnesses said Suu Kyi was driven Saturday to a government guest house not far from her residence for a meeting with Webb, who is on a three-day visit to Myanmar.

The witnesses declined to be identified by name, fearing reprisals in the military-run state.

A pioneer in services for the deaf — in Cambodia

August 14, 2009

When he was a seminarian in the late 1960s, the Rev. Charles Dittmeier figured he would specialize in counseling. But some older priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville urged him to join them in doing ministry for the deaf.

“I never met a deaf person until I was 25,” he said. But he soon embarked on a long journey in every sense of the word. He now lives in the other side of the world from his native Louisville — in Cambodia since 2000, and in Asia for a total of more than two decades.

And he's helping to pioneer services for the deaf in an impoverished, war-torn country that has had virtually no programs for the deaf — in schools or elsewhere, he said.

“What that means effectively is that no deaf adult can read or write, because there was nothing for them,” he said.

Dittmeier is working in cooperation with a New York State-based religious order, the Maryknolls, to help rectify that.

They operate schools for deaf adults in the capital, Phnom Penh, and some outlying provinces. The first step — teaching them the still-developing sign language in the native language, Khmer.

“Then we teach simple literacy, simple mathematics, and life skills,” he said. “How do you bargain in a market, hygiene and things like that.”

I met with Dittmeier, a gentle, bearded priest with an easy smile, during a visit to his native Louisville earlier this summer. He returned home to visit with family, friends, the Maryknolls in New York and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in Louisville.

Unknown to him, I'd been following his work for years on his Web site, (, where he regularly posts updates about life in Cambodia — along with photos of the ever-present motorbikes in the capital, some heavily laden with boxes and other cargo, others plowing through floodwaters or stopped at a fruit stand.

“I never know who's reading that,” Dittmeier said with surprise. He said he didn't even know the word “blog” until friends began describing his site as such.

Dittmeier's vocation began when he was a seminarian in Baltimore, close enough to Washington's Gallaudet University for the deaf that he could train with some of its staff.

Three other priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville led the local Catholic deaf ministry, but soon after Dittmeier's ordination, in 1970, they all moved away. “They said, ‘You're it.'”

For years he worked in the archdiocese's office for the deaf, ministering to local deaf Catholics while also teaching at Angela Merici High School off Dixie Highway and serving as a chaplain for the Holy Cross brothers. At a national conference on Catholic deaf ministry, he learned about missionary efforts among the deaf in Asia.

At first he put it on the back burner, but he finally realized, “There's never a good time to leave everything. I said, ‘What the heck.' So I applied.”

He was accepted, and received permission from Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly to go to a Catholic deaf program in India from 1983 to 1985.

“I just fell in love with Asia,” he said.

Dittmeier returned to Louisville for two years and then joined a program with the Maryknolls in Hong Kong, working in a well-established deaf program at Catholic schools and parishes.

After 13 years, he moved on to a very different area — Cambodia, where there are virtually no Catholics and where he helped build a program almost from scratch.
Often the parents of potential students — older teens and young adults — are wary of the opportunity.

“We have a great deal of trouble recruiting in this age group because they have such high economic value,” Dittmeier said. “Sometimes they're the main support of the family. Very often the parents are disabled from land mines, disease, old age. Life is rough in Cambodia. There's no medical care. They're living on malnutrition.”

But he also reminds parents that after they die their children will need some way of earning a living, and education would help. Those who get the message value the education highly.

On his visit here, Dittmeier brought with him a crucifix made by an artist, depicting Jesus Christ as a Cambodian on a bamboo cross with a maimed lower leg — a common tragedy in a land strewn with landmines from decades of warfare.

Add to that the chronic poverty and political corruption. I asked Dittmeier why he persists.

“It's discouraging, but we see it as planting seeds,” he said. “It's not going to stay this way forever.”

Reporter Peter Smith is the religion writer for The Courier-Journal. This column is adapted from his Faith & Works blog at He can be reached at (502) 582-4469.

Opposition Leader Suggests New Policy for Land

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
14 August 2009

With forced evictions hitting urban and rural families alike, opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Thursday proposed a new policy to provide benefits for all.

Many evictions come under the pretext of development, but Sam Rainsy said these developments should consider the needs of the poor and not just the rich.

Sam Rainsy was referring especially to the Boeung Kak lake development in Phnom Penh, where more than 4,000 families have been moved off 133 hectares of land. People there had no rights to a proper solution, he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“Public debate must be conducted before a decision is made,” he said, adding that this was the role of democracy. “Such a project should not happen again.”

Under his suggested policy, city authorities should be able to legally, fairly and peacefully clear land considered a state asset, but they should refrain from selling it or leasing it to a private developer right away.

Instead, the land should be divided into three parts, one for commercial development, through open bidding, one for the social dwellings that would receive public subsidies derived from the commercial development, and one for the creation or extension of public space, such as gardens, playgrounds, libraries or sports facilities.

Development should be undertaken in a pleasant way, not in a manner that causes sorrow or suffering, he said. Thousands of families have been evicted from development sites to unwanted areas where there are no schools, infrastructure, health care, electricity or water, he said.

Two Rights Workers Under Investigation

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
14 August 2009

Banteay Meanchey provincial police on Friday began an investigation into two local rights workers who were supporting 100 protesters in their demands for the release of two jailed men.

In April, Banteay Meanchey provincial court charged Van Saroeun and Kloeung Da for committing armed robbery, killing one man and injuring another, in a robbery in Poipet in April.

In July, protesters built a small camp in front of the court, demanding the release of the two men.

Under order from the provincial court, police questioned Ung Samith, from Licadho, and Pen Bonlay, from Vigilance of Cambodia, after both helped distribute food to the protesters.

“If the two human rights representatives know about armed robbers and they still helped support and supply the protesters…it will be a problem, because we hate armed robbers very much,” said Hun Hean, Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief.

“If they know that the group is really a group of armed robbers, and they help support them, it is a problem of law. If it is a humanitarian gift, it is no problem.”

Licadho’s Ung Samith said he told police about a distribution of water, rice, and canned fish, “for humanitarian purposes.”

“The principle of Licadho is to help victims and the vulnerable,” he said. Sun Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the authorities seemed to be threatening “the spirit of human rights workers” by frightening them into hesitation.

“This process worries the non-governmental organizations’ rights workers…because it was just a food distribution,” he said. “The human rights workers have been questioned and investigated. This could be an investigation toward a charge of incitement.”

Hun Hean said the provincial police promoted respect for human rights.

Lawmaker Worried Over Recent Hun Sen Remarks

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
14 August 2009

A new round of barbs opened between an opposition lawmaker and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, with the Sam Rainsy Party’s Mu Sochua cautioning the premier to curb rhetoric about a crackdown on the opposition.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen responded to critics of the government by saying he had the power to eliminate the opposition through force in only two hours but hadn’t.

“I as the prime minister use the court of law, and it is the same as the armed forces if it is not allowed,” Hun Sen told a forum in Phnom Penh. “Is it the rifles or what? I only need two hours to take over all of Phnom Penh. If you want to try, from this hour, I only need two hours, not longer than that, to grab you all.”

Mu Sochua, who is in the US, told VOA Khmer Thursday she was “horrified” by the comments.

“I think that such language should not be used at all, especially by a leader,” she said.

Mu Sochua was fined earlier this month in a suit brought by Hun Sen after she charged he had defamed her in a derogatory speech in April.

She has said she will appeal the decision, which spot-lighted alleged political bias in the courts.

The government and the courts have come under increased scrutiny lately, following a rash of court cases against opposition lawmakers, journalists and rights workers that critics say could mark a crackdown on government dissent.

The Phnom Penh Post in KHMER language

Hun Sen threatened to wipe out Phnom Penh and the oppositions in two hours with his military force

Hun Sen: Only two hours to silence opposition with guns
Uploaded by khmermediawatch. - News videos from around the world.

On the morning of August 13, Hun Sen delivered a memorable speech in which he lashes out at pretty much everyone (EU, USA, local and international NGOs, etc.) who have recently criticized the government's ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression.

The most violent moments of his speech is addressed to opposition MP Mu Sochua, who earlier this year filed a court complaint against Hun Sen.

Khmer Rouge's evil led Peacock to quit

Mark Dodd
August 15, 2009

FORMER foreign minister Andrew Peacock's resignation from the Fraser government in 1981 was triggered by the revelation that Australian sailors Ronald Dean and David Scott had been tortured to death by the Khmer Rouge.

Already angry he had been forced by Malcolm Fraser to recognise the Khmer Rouge regime, Mr Peacock's anger boiled over on a flight to New Delhi when he showed the prime minister a report of an investigation he had commissioned after the fall of Pol Pot in 1979.

En route to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Mr Peacock said the report from Australian officials he had sent to Cambodia to investigate the deaths of Scott and Dean was the final straw, after years of growing tension over Mr Fraser's interference in his portfolio.

"I was so angry about that. Our primary duty was to our own bloody citizens and when these bastards treated them the way they did and we had the increasing evidence about the behaviour of Pol Pot -- all I wanted to do was withdraw the recognition that had been granted to them as the deepest form of protest," Mr Peacock said in Sydney yesterday.

"As far as I was concerned, international law was rather like beauty -- it was in the eye of the beholder.

"There were various conventions and there was nothing, but nothing, that prevented me from doing it. Of course we eventually did do it but only after a lot of haggling.

"Their treatment was so bestial, so bad."

Hansard records show the report indicated the pair had been "gruesomely tortured" before being executed.

Canberra's recognition of the Khmer Rouge regime, responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million Cambodians, remains a controversial chapter in Australia's foreign policy.

Hawke government minister Lionel Bowen accused Mr Fraser of kowtowing to Beijing, Pol Pot's chief sponsor, in order to ensure harmonious relations between China and Australia. But the two men's murder -- which led to the eventual withdrawal of recognition of the Khmer Rouge as part of Cambodia's government in exile after the Vietnamese invasion -- may have left a permanent legacy.

Mr Peacock said as a result, Australian governments no longer recognised regimes or governments -- only nation states.

"I was totally ill at ease about the recognition and said so at the time," he said.

"All this led to a much more sensible form of recognition where we now recognise nation states and we don't recognise regimes.

"In those days we recognised regimes. It did not of itself connote any moral approval but the test was 'did they have control over the majority of their jurisdiction', but these days recognition is bestowed on a nation state so it (recognition) doesn't change all the time."

Intrepid larrikins defied Pol Pot's killers

Mark Dodd and Marianne Harris
August 15, 2009

IN late November 1978, in the Killing Fields of Cambodia, a 35-year-old Sydney pub and club worker Ronald Keith Dean signed a confession that he was an operative for the CIA.

Three weeks later, another Australian, David Lloyd Scott, signed a similar statement detailing years of anti-communist activity and a long career with the premier US spy agency.

Dean and Scott, two knockabout Aussies, who had embarked on a Southeast Asian yachting adventure and strayed into contested waters, thinking they were in Thailand, were, of course, nothing of the sort. Captured by the Khmer Rouge and undoubtedly terrified in Pol Pot's S-21 death camp, they produced a final act of defiance.

Now with the discovery of confessions which were buried in a Cambodian archive and testimonies to a war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, the full details of their capture, interrogation and murder are emerging. Their forced confessions, which have emerged 30 years after their deaths, cast new light on the enduring mystery over their disappearance and have again thrown into stark relief the brutality and paranoia of the Pol Pot death machine.

They also tell a tale of bravery and creativity under the gravest pressure, with Scott spinning a yarn of how Muresk College in Western Australia was a CIA training farm that churned out "active probationary CIA agents".

Scott, a former roadie with West Australian rock band Bakery, thumbed his nose at his captors, naming members of the band entourage, such as manager John Hopkins, as a CIA agent and saying he was recruited into the CIA by a "Mr Magoo". Dean also treated his torturers with contempt, spinning a fanciful tale of being recruited into the CIA in Prague.

But with their signatures on each page of the confessions and their thumbprints at the end of the documents, they were effectively signing their death warrants at the hands of Pol Pot's brutal regime. Documents obtained by The Weekend Australian show the two men were among about a dozen foreigners, including other yachtsmen, killed at the death camp.

Confirmation of their deaths has also cast new light on Andrew Peacock's resignation as the Fraser government's foreign minister in 1981 over his unease at Australia's decision to recognise Pol Pot's regime under pressure from China.

Pol Pot's infamous extermination centre, through the entrance of which passed about 16,000 victims, lies off a quiet, dusty side street in the southern suburbs of Cambodia's bustling river port capital, Phnom Penh. Khmer know the old French lycee as Tuol Sleng, or Hill of Poisoned Trees. According to testimony to a UN-backed war crimes tribunal inquiring into the genocide in the Killing Fields, Dean or Scott died in horrific circumstances.

"At least one of the yachtsmen may have been killed on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard ... In this instance on an unknown date in 1978, a witness indicated that he observed a Westerner being taken to this location and incinerated on a pile of automobile tyres. It was stated that this prisoner was alive when set alight."

Scott and Dean met in December 1977 after spending their lives a continent apart. Scott had brushed with fame as a roadie for the band Bakery, while Dean had worked in pubs and casinos and travelled through Britain, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the then Czechoslovakia.

"I guess I just want to know what happened," said Jenny Morgan, a friend of Dean from his Sydney days.

"They took off on a carefree adventure and it went pear-shaped, and it just seems so unfair that nothing was ever done about it."

Peter Walker, a former guitarist with Bakery, has been haunted by Scott's disappearance for three decades. He remembers Scott as a knockabout country bloke who was the band's ever-reliable roadie.

"Dave was a very solid friend to the band and not forgotten by Hank (Davis, drummer) or John (Hopkins, the manager)," Walker told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "Dave was loyal and showed surprising enterprise and ability. His confession sadly demonstrates that behind the laconic farmer boy was a very creative mind."

Yesterday, Scott's sister-in-law, Pauline Scott, was reluctant to speak about the case after more than 30 years. "Let us hope and push the government in any way possible to actually make sure that these people who just carried out these atrocities are actually brought to justice," she said.

Former West Australian agriculture minister Kim Chance grew up near the Scotts' farm and was in Scott's year at Wesley. Chance said when he read Scott's 1978 "confession", he knew his former school mate had not been defeated.

"There was some real black humour in there," he said. "I knew it was meant to be seen as a funny document by those who knew him. I have been to Cambodia ... I just felt haunted by David the whole time I was there."

Dean and Scott met after Scott accepted an invitation from commercial diver and friend Kim Barnaby for a sailing holiday in Southeast Asia. The three men met in The Philippines and sailed to Brunei, where Barnaby left the yacht.

Scott and Dean continued for the final leg of their voyage to Sattahip, a port in southeast Thailand. But two days away from their destination, they were arrested by a Khmer patrol boat.

A war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh is starting to shed new light on the fate of the two men and and other Westerners, including four Americans, three Frenchmen, a Briton and a New Zealander. Held apart from the Cambodians, they were kept shackled by leg irons in a special section of Tuol Sleng reserved for "important prisoners".

They were fed twice a day -- a gruel of "banana stalk soup" or sometimes a little rice if they were lucky. Their toilet was an ammunition case and they were washed with a firehose. And they were tortured, beaten and given electric shocks to obtain the correct confession of offences.

Readers with additional information about Dean or Scott are encouraged to contact this newspaper.

Hong Kong movie star to visit Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- A famous Hong Kong movie star, Jackie Chan, will visit Cambodia and give a lecture in the university here later this year, the official news agency AKP reported on Friday.

If the schedule will not be changed, Chan will arrive in Cambodia on November 10 and will stay here for three days, according to AKP.

While he is in Cambodia, Chan will give lecture to students at the University of Cambodia the experiences and humanity work that he has achieved and engaged with, and after that he will be awarded with an honorable doctoral degree in humanity, Kao Kim Hourn, president of the University of Cambodia, said earlier.

Meanwhile, Chan will also receive an education award from the University of Cambodia for his humanity's work and activities, Kao added.

According to the plan, Chan will also pay courtesy calls on Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, and meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Jackie Chan made his first visit to Cambodia in 2004 under the sponsors of the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations AIDS Program.

Chan is a keen philanthropist and UNICEF/UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador who has worked tirelessly to champion charitable works and causes.

Editor: Yan

New Dragon Bridge of the Council of Ministers Worth More Than US$2 Million Was Demolished though It Had Never Been Used – Friday, 14.8.2009

Posted on 14 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 625

“A dragon bridge of about 100 meters built from sand stone worth more than US$2 million was totally demolished last week, even though it had not yet been used. Some days after the demolishing of the dragon bridge, two stone posts in front of the new Council of Ministers building were also demolished without specifying any reason.

“The dragon bridge was built with a beautiful design to connect the staircase of the building of the Council of Ministers to the double roads in front of it. This demolition wasted millions of dollar and raised questions among the public. Some people asked to which extent those responsible for these reconstructions will be blamed.

“The demolishing of the dragon bridge and the stone posts at the Council of Ministers, which cannot be hidden from the public, brought much criticism from many circles, including from a senior official of the Sam Rainsy Party.

“A parliamentarian from Phnom Penh and senior official of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay, told Khmer Machas Srok about the demolishing, ‘In fact, we see that there has been strong criticism of the whole building.’ He added that the construction of this good building is paid for by loans from the Chinese government, which is a shame. Asking for a loan for this construction is a shame; moreover, there are quality problems and it is not known well what the irregularities are.

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say, ‘As far as I know, that dragon bridge costs US$2 million, and it was built from sand stone. We do not know anything more, but normally, before any such constructions start, construction plans must have been organized, and there must have been technical discussions and discussions about esthetics.’ He added that the demolition is regrettable, as it wasted national resources and the money used for the construction was loaned.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that the government’s construction plan is paid for by loans from the Chinese government of more than US$36 million, and approx. US$32 million had already been spent; it is simply because loans are not yet used up and that is why they demolished the dragon bridge and those stone posts.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘We regret it, because we are poor; we must not waste loans, it is not like when we draw pictures and then erase them again – here something was constructed and then demolished again. We have to think about the necessities we want to achieve before they are created. If something has already been constructed, we have to keep it, but not to demolish it. We still wonder what will be the explanation of the Council of Ministers.

“Phnom Penh residents and other people who travel along the Russian Federation Boulevard are wondering about the construction of another building for the Council of Ministers next to the building which has already constructed. They wonder, because the government does not explain it to the citizens.

“However, Mr. Hun Sen stated on 5 August 2009, when he handed degree documents to students at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, that another building, being constructed next to the new Council of Ministers’ building – which has already been built – is an international conference center, and the plan was designed by himself. Mr. Hun Sen stated, ‘An international conference center is being constructed next to the building of the Council of Ministers. I planned the building myself, with a 120-by-45-meter layout. This building had five floors, but then it was recalculated to have seven floors.’

“The Cambodia Daily quoted Mr. Hun Sen’s words on 10 August 2009 as saying, ‘With the help of China, we built the Council of Ministers building, but now, we construct the new building [by ourselves] for the next generation. It is not only for me and how long I can stay.’

“Cambodia is a country with leaders good at boasting and at arguing among Khmer nationals. The construction of a new international conference center still leaves doubts among the general public, and Mr. Son Chhay suggested that the Khmer National Assembly should summon the Minister of the Council of Ministers and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Sok An, to explain all this to the National Assembly.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that, ‘in such a case, there must be a call for a proper explanation at the National Assembly. When citizens have doubts about such accomplishments, the parliament should call the people responsible for it, such as H.E. Sok An, to give an explanation, like we did previously regarding the fixing of lighting at the Angkor Wat Temple, so that everyone knows what is going on, otherwise it might result in misunderstandings and lead to the arrest of people. Therefore, the state has to release a statement to explain why there is this new construction… as a principle, there must be a explanation.’

“The Khmer public has more doubts about the new building of the Council of Ministers, after the dragon bridge and the stone posts worth millions of dollars had been demolished. Government officials gave unreasonable explanations that the demolition was made to gain place for a parking lot. This explanation leads to the criticism that something was done before, without thinking carefully, or not having had a right plan, which then led to the demolition, which wastes national resources, while Cambodia is suffering from the global economic crisis.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #468, 14.8.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 14 August 2009

ASEAN economic ministers start annual meeting in Thailand+

Aug 14, 2009

BANGKOK, Aug. 14 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met here Friday to discuss trade issues, focusing on economic development in the region and the road to becoming a single market and production base.

In the opening speech of the 41st ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu said he believed that ASEAN could achieve the goal of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 with strong cooperation among members.

"This would undoubtedly create a true single market and production base where our goods, services and investment can flow freely across the region and benefit our people," he said.

Korbsak also called on ASEAN to strengthen its own institutional mechanism under the ASEAN charter, establish the body as the economic center of Asia, and use resources creatively.

Korbsak later told reporters at a press conference that he was calling on ASEAN to meet more frequently in order to tighten economic cooperation and resolve economic problems among members when needed.

He also mentioned that the global economic and financial crisis will have a limited effect on the ASEAN economy, saying the region would recover in two years.

By Jan. 1 next year, the six original ASEAN countries -- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore -- are committed to dismantling import tariffs on most commodities within the region.

The other four members -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- will have to do so by 2015.

They also set up intra-region liberalization plans on trade in services and investment as a principal aim of the group to achieve a free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor within the region.

The ASEAN ministers are scheduled to meet with counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea on Saturday where they are expected to discuss an ongoing feasibility study of a region-wide free trade agreement covering the 13 countries.