Thursday, 7 January 2010

Cambodia marks overthrow of Khmer Rouge regime




Cambodian dancers perform as the country marks the Khmer Rouge downfall in 1979, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. A Cambodian official warned a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on Thursday not to interfere in the country's internal affairs as the Southeast Asian nation marked the overthrow of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime 31 years ago. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thu, 01/07/2010
 
(CAAI News media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A Cambodian official warned a UN-backed genocide tribunal on Thursday not to interfere in the country's internal affairs as the Southeast Asian nation marked the overthrow of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime 31 years ago.

Speaking to some 7,000 supporters, Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said it would not allow the court to destroy the country's peace and national reconciliation. He said the tribunal must try only the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

The ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown by invading Vietnamese forces on Jan. 7, 1979.

The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the group's policies during its 1975-79 rule.

The tribunal, which includes both foreign and Cambodian lawyers, has charged five senior Khmer Rouge leaders with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

"We oppose attempts to use the chamber for ill intentions which would have an impact on peace, national reconciliation and development, which have been our hard-won achievements," Chea Sim, who is also senate president, said in a speech at party headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Some foreign prosecutors have attempted to bring more former Khmer Rouge members before the tribunal, but the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has so far blocked such moves.

Hun Sen and a number of other senior government leaders held positions in the Khmer Rouge, and China, now Cambodia's No. 1 ally, backed the Khmer Rouge regime.

Casting a wider net might ignite tensions and problems for Hun Sen's government and offend the Chinese.

The tribunal tried its first defendant, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, last year on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, commanded S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, where up to 16,000 people were tortured and taken away to be killed. A verdict is expected early this year, and he faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty. Cambodia has no death penalty.

Residents donate bicycles to Cambodian students


January 6, 2010 - by Karen Longwell

More than 100 bicycles will help students get to school in Cambodia thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge-Muskoka Lakes.

Lisa McCoy, a Rotarian and retired librarian from Gravenhurst, left for Southeast Asia in early October 2009. McCoy is volunteering to teach English in Cambodia and working on several projects including the bike project, aimed at helping students with transportation.

Students received 76 bikes at a huge distribution ceremony at Cambodia World Family - Krong Kep School on Dec. 18, said McCoy. Friends and family came from miles around to attend the presentation, she said.

Fifty bicycles were sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bracebridge-Muskoka Lakes and 22 by the Rotary Club of Orillia.

Four more bicycles were sponsored by Pauline Johns, an Australian resident who helped with the distribution in Kep, said McCoy.

The Rotary Club of Bracebridge-Muskoka Lakes will be donating another 53 bikes to villages around Takeo in mid-January, she said. Kep and Takeo are provinces in southwestern Cambodia.

The bicycle recipients are students of the Cambodia World Family - Krong Kep School. They live miles away from this “Free English” school, and from the nearest government school, said McCoy.

In Cambodia, children usually attend the government school for part of their day and then, if available, they attend extracurricular classes in English or other beneficial subjects, she said.

It costs some children a few cents a day to attend government school and many families can’t afford the cost. Many students rely on Free English schools that are supported by non-profit organizations, said McCoy.

In Kep province, the Cambodia World Family - Krong Kep School is the only Free English school around for many miles, she said.

“This area sadly lacks the wealth of organizations which are seen operating throughout the province of Siem Reap,” said McCoy. “I couldn’t have been happier to see this wealth of bicycles go to such needy rural children.”

The children will be able to attend the Khmer, English, sanitation and computer classes that are available for free at this small, rural three-room school, she said.

The students can also come to the school’s small library and borrow one of its few books, take it home, and share literacy with their rural family, she said.

The school also provides community outreach programs with a strong focus on bringing education and self-sustaining skills to rural women and girls, said McCoy. At present, there is a desperate need to have a few of the school’s sewing machines fixed so it can reinstate its sewing classes for women, she said. The library urgently needs both Khmer and English books, which can be bought here in Cambodia for a fraction of the cost in other countries, she said.

In December, McCoy said she was volunteering to teach at the English Cambodia World Family - Krong Kep School.

It is a remote area, one of the last to be free of the Khmer Rouge, the deadly political regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

“Up until 1998, the Khmer Rouge still had control of this area, and would come down from the mountains and forcibly disrupt all teaching,” she said.

There are many people illiterate in Khmer language in this area and the school conducts outreach literacy classes in six outlying villages, she said.

McCoy said there is a need for more bikes and she is hoping to get sponsors for a sewing course for the village women. A donation of $100 will sponsor a woman in a seven-month sewing course at the Kep school, she said.

More information about Lisa McCoy and her work in Cambodia can be found on her blog at http://schoolsforcambodia.blogspot.com/.

Cambodia's ruling party warns KRouge court


(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Jan 7 (AFP) - Cambodia's ruling party Thursday warned the country's UN-backed court not to disrupt national progress in its pursuit of Khmer Rouge leaders, as it marked the 31st anniversary of the regime's ouster.

The court is preparing to give a verdict in its first trial, of former torture centre chief Duch, while four other senior leaders of the hardline communist regime are awaiting trial on war crimes and other charges.

But Cambodian and international prosecutors have openly clashed over whether the court should pursue more suspects, while the Cambodian investigating judge has refused to summon high-ranking government officials as witnesses.

"We oppose any attempts to use the chamber for ill-intentions that would have an impact on peace, national reconciliation and development, which are our hard-won achievements" said Chea Sim, president of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Addressing thousands of supporters during a rally to mark the anniversary of the toppling of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime by Vietnamese-backed forces in 1979, Chea Sim pledged the party's continued backing.

"CPP offers its support to the current process of (the tribunal) in trying crimes committed by senior leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) regime," he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is also the deputy leader of the CPP, has repeatedly warned that pursuing more suspects from the hardline communist regime could spark civil war.

The process has often been hit by allegations that Hun Sen's administration has attempted to interfere in the tribunal to protect former regime members who are now in government.

After several years of haggling between Cambodia and the UN, the tribunal was created in 2006 to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation or overwork as the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime tried to create an agrarian utopia. After being toppled they continued to fight a civil war until 1998.

Hun Sen only PM candidate of Cambodia's ruling party: CPP


2010-01-07

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) reassured Thursday that Prime Minister Hun Sen is the only candidate for the prime minister from its party for the next elections.

Giving speech at the party's commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the downfall of the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime, Chea Sim, president of the CPP and president of the Senate said that Hun Sen will be the "only candidate from his party for prime ministerial position" in next general election.

Hun Sen, 57, has been in power for already 25 years and is considered the longest government leader in office in Asia.

After several decades of civil war, Cambodia held its first general election in 1993 under the full supports from the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).

Since then, Cambodia hold its election every five years and HunSen was re-elected prime minister ever since.

Editor: Anne Tang

Cambodia marks liberation under cloud of crackdown



(CAAI News Media)

07 Jan 2010 09:49:12 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Cambodia marked the 31st anniversary of the fall of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime on Thursday in celebrations clouded by the threat of a crackdown on opponents of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Before the festivities, attended by thousands of people in the capital Phnom Penh, the premier vowed to arrest anyone seen handing out leaflets opposing his rule, the latest in what rights groups say is a growing campaign to silence dissent.

Hun Sen's warning to his critics, who say the government is abusing its power to crush all forms of political opposition, came five days after a court issued an arrest warrant for main opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

The crackdown coincides with trouble in one of Southeast Asia's most impoverished economies after an unprecedented boom which saw economic production expand 10 percent annually in the five years up to 2008. Since then, foreign investment has collapsed, tourist arrivals have plummeted and construction has stalled.

Data this week showed about 30,000 workers in the garment industry, a mainstay of the economy, lost their jobs last year as exports to the United States shrank.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, sued by Hun Sen in July after she accused him of defamation, on Thursday called on the public to resist what she said were intimidation tactics by authorities. "We must still continue to express opinions, not back down because of threats," she said. "We must give a clear message that we can't accept the closure of free expression."

ARREST THREAT

Hun Sen on Tuesday announced the threat to arrest anyone handing out leaflets that express opposition to him or his policies. He said he had seen some such leaflets that were printed in neighbouring Thailand for distribution in Cambodia.

"Leaflet distributors be careful, I will arrest," he said.

He also rejected claims he had been using the courts to intimidate his opponents and warned Rainsy to "be prepared" to go to prison, adding that his long-time political rival, who is now in exile in Europe, would not be pardoned.

The threat appeared effective. No opposition leaflets appeared during Thursday's celebrations marking an invasion by Vietnamese forces in 1979 that toppled the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge, blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

The National Assembly, dominated by the ruling Cambodia People's Party, passed legislation last year outlawing protests of more than 200 people and tightening existing defamation laws in what opponents said were measures to prevent criticism and keep rival politicians in check.

Risk analysts say despite corruption and concerns over human rights and judicial interference, Cambodia's political and economic stability should remain intact in the foreseeable future, with little threat to the government's grip on power.

South Korea and China, the country's biggest sources of investment, signed agreements late last year to pour more money into Cambodia, which will open its first stock exchange later this year as part of a $2 billion project to build a new financial centre.

Rainsy, who heads a party named after him, is accused of causing criminal damage after uprooting several border demarcation posts to appease farmers.

The delusions of the January 7 debate



Photo Supplied
A propoganda poster from the Khmer Rouge era calling for solidarity between the citizens of Cambodia and Vietnam.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:01 Sophan Seng

Dear Editor,

Your article “PM blasts January 7 detractors” (January 5) didn’t demonstrate anything new for Cambodian politics. Leaders have always pronounced strong political rhetoric to create a clear dichotomy of pro- and anti-groups when this day has arrived. In reality, the government has consolidated full power to exercise over everything, including whether to celebrate this day or not celebrate. The current political environment in Cambodia has not given any clue of the possible threat to the stability of government at all. But why every year, when January 7 arrives, is there a flowering of incidents and controversial public speech in Cambodia?

The answers might be diverse. But I am impressed by the Khmer proverb which states: Veay tiek bong-erl trey, or, “to stir the water to see the fish clearly”. It has been 31 years since Vietnamese troops encroached on Cambodia’s borderlands, accompanied by Khmer Rouge defectors, to topple the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. The argument since has been endless. Vietnamese troops are presented in Cambodia as either liberators, or invaders, or both. In the past decades, the two debaters carried guns and ammunitions to fight against each other, at least between the Khmer nationalists based along the border and the Khmer troops based in Phnom Penh, and backed by a hundred thousand Vietnamese troops. But after the Paris Peace Accords of 1991 and the subsequent power consolidation of the Cambodian People’s Party, the debate remains only on lips and tongues.

Hence both guns fighting and lips quarreling have significantly divided Khmer society. It has shown division over unity, disadvantage rather than advantage, and myopia rather than long-sightedness. The more we hate the past atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, the more shameful we are as the same Khmer. The more we praise foreign intervention, the more we lose national identity to those foreigners. Thus, what inputs should we welcome and what outcome should we expect? Can Cambodian people come to a joint beneficial solution to this disgraceful quarrel?

Of course, from these 31 years, Cambodian people both old and young have focused on their living standards, schooling and future cultivation. The past has become a good lesson for them. The Khmer Rouge regime will never come back again for sure. The trial of the Khmer Rouge is going on to respectively bring national reconciliation and the healing of trauma. All Cambodian parties and individuals have to join this trial and be courageous to show up at the courtroom as the primary witnesses if you really need the genuine outcome of justice. Cambodian people have to look forward to determine the broader interests of the nation. They should not entrap themselves in a “quid pro quo” of this delusional date, January 7. Take Germany as an example: They have never taken as a big deal or celebrated the day the Allied Forces, led by the United States, liberated them from Hitler’s brutal Nazi regime. That tragic past and the liberation of the Allies has been buried deeply in Germany.

Sophan Seng
University of Hawaii at Manoa
United States

K.Rouge overthrow celebrated



Speaking to some 7,000 supporters, Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said it would not allow the court to destroy the country's peace and national reconciliation. -- PHOTO: AP

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia) - A CAMBODIAN official warned a UN-backed genocide tribunal on Thursday not to interfere in the country's internal affairs as the Southeast Asian nation marked the overthrow of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime 31 years ago.

Speaking to some 7,000 supporters, Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said it would not allow the court to destroy the country's peace and national reconciliation. He said the tribunal must try only the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

The ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown by invading Vietnamese forces on Jan 7, 1979. The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the group's policies during its 1975-79 rule.

The tribunal, which includes both foreign and Cambodian lawyers, has charged five senior Khmer Rouge leaders with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

'We oppose attempts to use the chamber for ill intentions which would have an impact on peace, national reconciliation and development, which have been our hard-won achievements,' Chea Sim, who is also senate president, said in a speech at party headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Some foreign prosecutors have attempted to bring more former Khmer Rouge members before the tribunal, but the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has so far blocked such moves. MR Hun Sen and a number of other senior government leaders held positions in the Khmer Rouge, and China, now Cambodia's No. 1 ally, backed the Khmer Rouge regime. -- AP

Cambodia marks overthrow of Khmer Rouge regime


Thursday January 7, 2010

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A Cambodian official warned a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on Thursday not to interfere in the country's internal affairs as the Southeast Asian nation marked the overthrow of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime 31 years ago.

Speaking to some 7,000 supporters, Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said it would not allow the court to destroy the country's peace and national reconciliation. He said the tribunal must try only the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

The ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown by invading Vietnamese forces on Jan. 7, 1979.

The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the group's policies during its 1975-79 rule.

The tribunal, which includes both foreign and Cambodian lawyers, has charged five senior Khmer Rouge leaders with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

"We oppose attempts to use the chamber for ill intentions which would have an impact on peace, national reconciliation and development, which have been our hard-won achievements," Chea Sim, who is also senate president, said in a speech at party headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Some foreign prosecutors have attempted to bring more former Khmer Rouge members before the tribunal, but the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has so far blocked such moves.

Hun Sen and a number of other senior government leaders held positions in the Khmer Rouge, and China, now Cambodia's No. 1 ally, backed the Khmer Rouge regime. Casting a wider net might ignite tensions and problems for Hun Sen's government and offend the Chinese.

The tribunal tried its first defendant, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, last year on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, commanded S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, where up to 16,000 people were tortured and taken away to be killed. A verdict is expected early this year, and he faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty. Cambodia has no death penalty.

Laos, Cambodia extend cooperation



(CAAI News Media)

Panyasith Thammavongsa
Vientiane Times
Publication Date: 07-01-2010

Laos and Cambodia yesterday signed the agreed minutes of the 11th meeting of the Lao-Cambodian Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation and agreed to continue cooperation in the areas of politics and security.

Dr Thongloun Sisoulith ( right ) and Mr Hor Namhong shake hands after signing meeting minutes.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia Hor Namhong jointly co-chaired the meeting and signed the agreed minutes.

The meeting yesterday was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vientiane .

According to a press release from the ministry, in particular the agreement will continue cooperation in border demarcation, and the protection of forests and biodiversity.

It will also help to prevent illegal trade and damage to natural resources while controlling the spread of disease.

Both sides will continue to survey their shared border over the 12 percent that remains unmarked.

The minutes also cover the building of a high voltage transmission line to link both countries, which both sides will speed up following a sales contract for electricity that was signed in 2007.

Laos and Cambodia will discuss the details of transport at the sub-region level to facilitate border travel as well as immigration checkpoints on both sides. The two sides will also re-examine air transportation arrangements.

They also agreed to enhance the potential for trade and goods exchange between people who live in border areas, as well as to reduce taxes in the triangle development area of Laos , Cambodia and Vietnam to boost development.

In the area of tourism cooperation, both sides will improve roads links to promote tourism, and resolve import-export regulations to facilitate the movement of people and vehicles of both countries as well as passing through a third country, especially southern Vietnam .

In the area of education, the two countries will enhance and extend student exchange programmes under a contract between both education ministries for the period 2009 to 2013. The contract will also facilitate the issuing of visas for students until they complete their studies.

In health cooperation, the Cambodian side expressed appreciation to Laos for helping in emergency treatment extended to Cambodian people living in border areas and asked Laos to continue this assistance.

After the signing ceremony in the morning, Mr Hor Namhong and his delegation visited Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh at his office. Mr Hor Namhong also visited President Choummaly Xayasone at the Horkham Presidential Palace.

In the evening, Dr Thongloun Sisoulith hosted a dinner for Mr Hor Namhong and his delegation at the Don Chan Palace hotel. The Cambodian delegation leaves Vientiane today to return home.

The 12th meeting of the joint commission will be held in Cambodia in 2012.

Before the foreign ministers of Laos and Cambodia signed the agreement, the two Cambodian deputy ministers of foreign affairs also discussed bilateral cooperation with their Lao counterparts.

Cambodia: Bloggers promote Khmer Literature


By Global Voices Online • on January 6, 2010

(CAAI News Media)

អក្សររលត់ ជាតិរលាយ អក្សរពណ្ណរាយ ជាតិថ្កើងថ្កាន

Aksar roluat jeat roleay Aksar ponnareay jeat thkeung thkan.

“If letters disappear, the nation will disappear, if letters are brilliant, the nation is excellent.”

This is one of the prominent Cambodian proverbs used mostly in Cambodian literature classes from primary to higher education level. It is the most influential message that inspires the young generation to promote Khmer literature. Strikingly, young Cambodian bloggers have transformed this proverb into action by promoting the achievement of past generation authors as well as creating their own literature and developing talents through the publication of digital and hard-copy materials.

Established in 2007, Khmer Youth Writers is initiated by young authors who are talented in Cambodian literature with the purpose of promoting and improving Khmer literature and its market. Many of the young team members have won in the National Khmer Literature Competition, which is annually organized by the Ministry of Education.

Also, they were further trained by literature associations like the Nou Hach Literary Association whose motto is to strengthen and promote Cambodian literature. Their publications have gained admiration from readers who are curious to know more about how to become talented authors.

Asked about his interest in writing and becoming a literature author, 26 year-old Chanphal Sok, who claims to be the oldest in the team (the average age in the group is between 19 to 22), replied in Khmer language:

ខ្ញុំចាប់អារម្មណ៍ព្រោះយល់ថាជាសិល្បៈដែលមិនងាយនឹងធ្វើបានទាល់តែមនុស្សពូកែទើបអាចសរសេរ ស្នាដៃបាន ចង់ក្លាយជាមនុស្សពូកែក៏ចង់ក្លាយជាអ្នកនិពន្ធគិតថា មិនមែនមនុស្សគ្រប់គ្នាអាច អ្វើការងារនេះបានទេ បើខ្លួនឯងមាននិស្ស័យអាចទៅរួចគួរតែខំប្រឹង

I am interested in this work for the fact that literature is a difficult artistic task. Only few talented people can do so. With special talent in literature, I therefore want to become an author.

Sophal also expresses the significance of his team’s literature work on Khmer reader and the whole society:

ទីមួយ ខ្មែរមានអក្សរសិល្បអាន។ អប់រំតាមស្នាដៃនិពន្ធ។មនុស្សអាចសិក្សាពីសង្គមមួយតាម ស្នាដៃអក្សរសិល្ប៍ ។ខ្ញុំសង្កេតឃើញថា បើប្រទេសណា មានអ្នកនិពន្ធពូកែច្រើនប្រទេសនោះក៏រីក ចម្រើនដែរ ។ មនុស្សរៀនតាមសៀវភៅ បើមានសៀវភៅល្អច្រើនប្រាកដជាល្អ។

Firstly, Khmer readers can benefit from Cambodian literature. It can be used for educational purposes. People can understand a society through literature. I observe that a country is prosperous when there are many talented authors. People learn by reading books; therefore, it is great if there are many books published.

Some members who live in the provinces could not join the team meetings regularly. The internet facilitates instant communication in the group. Sophal considers blogs as great communication tools. “A blog is like our officewhich we can share and make our works widely visible,” said Sophal.

One of the initiators of this Khmer Youth Authors, Archphkai or Asteroid, in his profile gave a brief history of the group as the following:

«ក្រុមអ្នកនិពន្ធវ័យក្មេង» ត្រូវបានបង្កើតឡើងដោយក្រុមសិស្សនិស្សិតមួយក្រុម ក្រោយពីបាន ឆ្លងកាត់វគ្គសិក្សារឿងខ្លីនៅសមាគមអក្សរសិល្ប៍នូហាចរួចមក។ ក្រោយមកក្រុមនេះត្រូវបានដូរ ឈ្មោះជា «ក្រុមយុវអ្នកនិពន្ធខ្មែរ» វិញម្តង ដោយបានទទួលការផ្តល់យោបល់ពីអ្នកស្រីប៉ិចសង្វាវ៉ាន អ្នកនិពន្ធខ្មែរនៅប្រទេសបារាំង។

“Young Authors Group” is established by a group of students who took literature training course at Nou Hach Literary Association. This group later changed its name to “Khmer Youth Authors” with the advice of Khmer author, Mrs. Pich Sanvavan.

Here are the links to the blogs of these young team members as well as literature authors who have written various short stories and poems: Archphkai, Boran, Chanphal Sok, Chetra, Khmeng Toch , Narath , Nimol

Notably, Cambodia is fortunate to have many scholars and authors who are talented in literature. These writers employ chbap, or didactic codes, Reuang Preng, or folktales, and novels, for example, in order to educate and reflect the reality of society during their lifetime. For instance, the most popular novels published during late 1930s, which have been used as main school texts are Phka Srapon or Faded Flower by Nou Hach, Sophat by Rim Gin and Koulap Pailin or Pailin Rose, by Nuk Thiem. These novels have film adaptations. Also within the period of 1950s to 1975, about 50 books per year were published (Nepote, Jacques and Khing Hoc Dy, “Literature and Society in Modern Cambodia,” 1981: 64).

However, much of Cambodian literary heritage was destroyed during the rule of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979) when the National Library was maintained to raise pigs instead. It was estimated that about 80 percent of written works in Khmer were destroyed (read “A Building Full of Books” by Ledgerwood in Cultural Survival).

Cambodia lacks its own text materials, especially since the fall of the Khmer Rouge Regime. Hopefully, the inspiring works of young Cambodian authors will help reawaken the past golden era of Khmer literature.


Syndicated from http://GlobalVoicesOnline.org: Cambodia: Bloggers promote Khmer Literature
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

News by Pictures: 7 January











Photos courtesy of DAP News

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap


(CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Hard Year is Over, Prosperous Years to Come

Wednesday, 06 January 2010 13:36 DAP-NEWS .By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH– Cambodia likes others countries across the globe has hit hard by the international financial crisis which began in mid-2008, but today this Asian nation sees prosperity to come given the sign of economic recovery in the region.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday that the emerging East Asian economies to growth higher than expected to 6.8 percent for 2010 from early projected 6.5 percent. The Bank also said last year’s Asian growth should be 4.2 percent for last year rather 3.6 percent.

“The global economic situation is changing rapidly, necessitating frequent reassessments. The prospects for much of the region look rosier than they did in September when we last did a full study of the region,” said the release seen by DAP.

Another contribution to Cambodia’s growth is the injection of the financial assistance from China. During the visit of China’s vice President Xi Jingping to Cambodia in December, 2009, he pledged another $1.2 billion in grant aid and loans for Cambodia to develop own nation, whose infrastructures were devastated by wars.

This budget is another big plus for the nation’s upgrading its infrastructures, which partially contributes to allure more foreign investment to the kingdom.

Also, the Vietnamese and Cambodian businesses have signed on December 26, in Saigon, South Vietnam, on the investment agreements and contracts—worth US$6 billion to invest in Cambodia’s power generation, food processing, fertilizer production, rubber plantation and health care—are contributing to Cambodia’s growth.

Both countries signed more than 60 documents for bilateral cooperation in almost all areas, and established appropriate mechanisms to facilitate cooperation. Two-way trade has increased significantly in recent years, reaching US$1.7 billion in 2008, up 40 percent against 2007.

Vietnamese businesses have invested in over 60 projects in Cambodia with a total capitalization of nearly US$900 million, making Vietnam among the top three foreign investors in Cambodia. Most invested projects have been operating efficiently, especially in forestry, agriculture, mining, telecommunications, banking and insurance.

Cambodia will create a favorable investment environment for Vietnamese businesses to operate in Cambodia which was assured by Prime Minister Hun Sen assured his Vietnam’s counterparts who attended the event.

The increasing of foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia last year and the country’s bountiful rice production are contributing to the economic growth for the coming years.

Tourist arrival in Cambodia increased 2 percent for 2009. That is to say Cambodia received 2,160,000 tourists last year compared with 1,125,465 in 2008, a 2 percent increase—which is a sign of recovery of tourism industry, according to the tourism ministry obtained by DAP.

Cambodia received 2,015,128 tourists in 2007. It was 1,700,041 in 2006, said the report.

Tourism minister Dr. Thong Khon said the recovery of the regional economy also contributed to the last year’s increase. Cambodia’s tourist arrival in Cambodia is projected a 15 percent increase per year. Dr. Thong Khon said Cambodia has planned to establish more tourist destinations in the southwest, the north and northeast where the resources in the areas can be transformed as attractive sites for natural loving tourists.

“We have abundant resources for the development of eco-tourism and cultural tourism sector,” Dr. Thong Thong said.

Cambodia has more than 800 ancient temples, 900 historic hills and 80 ancient bridges.

Also, the Kingdom is expected to produce 7.286 million tonnes of rice for 2009/2010 of which the country saw another surplus of rice of 3.1 million tonnes for exports, said the agricultural report on Tuesday.

“Although we faced some problems with bad weather of drought and Ketsana storm during the cultivation period of the rainy rice season, but the government’s supplies along with the farmers’ hard working enabled us to achieve a remarkable result,” said the report.

Last but not least, Cambodia also foresees the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area is to play a key role in attracting the foreign investment to flow millions of dollar investing in this kingdom given the political stability and trade facilitating policy in addition to a high potential investment in the area of agro-industry, tourism and garment sector.

The establishment of the China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA) on Jan. 1, 2010 would be another plus to promote the development of trade and economic cooperation of the region and benefit greatly the country and the people.

The world’s largest free-trade area (FTA) came into force since Friday, an initiative that analysts said gives a shot in the arm for global trade troubled by rising protectionism.

That means most goods traded between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) attracted zero or little tariff. The average tariff on goods from ASEAN countries is cut to 0.1 percent from 9.8 percent. The six original ASEAN members - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand - will slash the average tariffs on Chinese goods from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

By 2015, 90 percent of goods are expected to flow without tariffs between China and the four new ASEAN members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Border traders were happy with the launch of the FTA, the world’s largest in terms of population, 1.9 billion, and third largest by GDP, trailing the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area.

SRP Lawmaker Calls for Reconciliation on VN Border

Thursday, 07 January 2010 02:51 DAP-NEWS

A Cambodian Opposition Party lawmaker on Wednesday called for reconciliation over the case of Sam Rainsy. Svay Rieng Provincial court has charged opposition leader Sam Rainsy with pulling up 6 border markers between Cambodia and Vietnam on October 25, 2009.

SRP lawmaker Chea Pohc asked for discussions after Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday insisted that he would not request the Cambodian King pardon Sam Rainsy. The premier said he had already helped Sam Raisny several times.

The December 14 visit by an SRP parliamentary delegation, accompanied by independent observers, to Svay Rieng border allegedly exposed evidence of countless Cambodian farmers having lost their rice fields because of border encroachments, say the opposition SRP.

Cambodians Awarded in Azerbaijan

Thursday, 07 January 2010 02:52 DAP-NEWS

Four Cambodian students under the age of 16 were awarded silver and bronze medals during an exam held in Azerbeijan. All were awarded with 3 million riel from the Education, Youth and Sports Ministry.

The awards were for the mathematics subject as an Olympic International exam.

“In 2009, Cambodia sports players achieved a lots as we achieved in SEA Games so that it showed our making effort and the development in our country,” the Minister, Em Sothy, said during the award ceremony.

“The government is making effort to improve the education sector, leading to success,” he stated. “Since 2000, Cambo- dia has sent 140-150 students to take exams internationally, and this week, we will send some to camp in the South Korea.”

Sorn Sopheak, one of those to win an award and a valued DAP staff member, said that two factors had led him to such an incredible achievement. “The first, it is the student factor and the second is teacher factor,” he said, “Following our achievement and the successful result, international partners admired us, especially they admired Cambodia traditional dancing.”

Cambodia encourages more investment in rubber

Thursday, 07 January 2010 02:52 DAP-NEWS

(Xinhua)-The Cambodian government is urging more investment in rubber plantations in the country to take advantage of high prices on global markets, local media reported on Wednesday.

Ly Phlla, director general of the General Department of Rubber under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying that rubber was now fetching around 2,800 U.S. dollars per ton, up from 1,000 U.S. dollars per ton early last year.

“There is high demand for rubber on the global market, so we need more investment in the sector. Whoever wants to plant, we welcome them,” he said, adding that investment in rubber plantations has no negative impact on local farmers.

Prices for rubber in Cambodia have soared in the latter half of the year, reaching 1,918 U.S. dollars per ton in October, 2,435 U. S. dollars per ton in November and about 2,800 U.S. dollars at the end of December 2009, Ly Phalla said. The increase came as demand for robber soared on the global market amid expectations that manufacturing may recover from a slow 2009 as the U.S. economy began to “sing” in recovery, he said, adding that rising oil prices also contributed.

Cambodia currently has 123,000 hectares of rubber plantations and is expected to have 150,000 hectares under rubber by the end of this year, according to Ly Phalla.

However, Cambodian Rubbet Association President Mak Kimhong said he expected the area under plantation to exceed government estimates, with Vietnamese investors in particular beating a path to the country.

Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding in November with the Vietnam Rubber Group in Cambodia, a consortium of 14 Vietnamese firms that plan to invest 600 million U.S. dollars in Cambodia’s rubber sector by 2012.

Mok Kimhong, who has 15,000 hectares in rubber in Kampong Cham province, 7,000 of which is currently producing, said most rubber exports already go to Vietnam. The rest goes to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, with some bought by Germany and France. Mok Kimhong said he exported around 9,000 tons of natural resin to Vietnam last year. Official export figures of resin were not available Tuesday but Ly Phalla previously said Cambodia exported 50,000 tons last year and 40,000 tons in 2008.

NGOs slam supplement cuts




Photo by: Sovan Philong
A nurse attends to a sick child at Treal Health Centre in Kampong Thom last year. The elimination of salary supplements is expected to affect healthcare workers.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:03 Robbie Corey Boulet

Termination of salary supplements could jeopardise aid projects, groups warn

DEVELOPMENT organisations on Wednesday offered scathing criticism of the government’s recent decision to terminate salary supplement programmes for civil servants, a move that could cost government workers at least US$4.5 million this year in the health sector alone.

At a meeting convened by the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia, more than 40 NGO leaders said the abrupt termination of the programmes could lead to a rise in absenteeism among civil servants tasked with staffing health centres and schools or administering other aid projects.

Under salary supplement programmes, development organisations had been bolstering salaries for civil servants in a range of sectors.

Development experts fear a reduction in public sector pay could lead to increased corruption, as civil servants look to maintain their present incomes.

A December 4 letter from Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said the programmes’ termination – the result of a sub-decree that went into effect January 1 – was “applicable to all donor-assisted as well as [government-] funded projects and programmes”.

Sharon Wilkinson, country director for Care International in Cambodia, said at the meeting that the sub-decree had caught NGOs completely by surprise.

“NGOs did not really start to comprehend that this sub-decree had come into effect until perhaps the early hours of Christmas,” she said, adding that the announcement had given them “no time to prepare for the implementation of this”.

Apart from slashing services to poor Cambodians, including the provision of antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive patients, Wilkinson expressed concern that the termination of salary supplement schemes could set up “a parallel system” between NGOs and civil servants.

“If we are no longer allowed to support our government counterparts, it will be a true wedge between NGOs and the government, and we will be working in a parallel system, something we must not allow to happen,” she said.

In his December 4 letter, Keat Chhon justified the termination by saying that salary supplements could jeopardise attempts at broader civil-service reforms.

Wilkinson, who has worked in Cambodia for 11 years, said Wednesday that she was sceptical of that reasoning.

“The public-sector reform programme is an ongoing debate that for 11 years has not been solved,” she said.

Keat Chhon also said in the letter that incentive-based pay schemes could be seen as unfair, a claim that was echoed by Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who said last month that they could “cause bad feelings in the workplace and lead to declines in productivity”.

Belinda Mericourt, senior programme manager at Aus-AID, Australia’s foreign aid arm, said she was unconvinced by the argument that salary supplements were excessively “divisive”. “It can’t be any more divisive than patronage,” Mericourt said.

A December 18 letter from Keat Chhon to government officials that was distributed at the CCC meeting said the sub-decree had been drafted “per instruction of” Prime Minister Hun Sen. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday that the government’s “conservative” national budget had made salary supplements “unsustainable”.

“It’s sustainability we want,” he said, adding: “We have to depend on our own budget. We cannot depend on aid all the time.”

He also reiterated government concerns that salary supplements could “create an unjust environment in the workplace” before referring further questions to the Ministry of Economy, which could not be reached.

According to the December 18 letter, the government “will continue to jointly discuss with the development partners on the short-term strategy to be laid out urgently to ensure effectiveness of project implementation and to amend financing agreements affected by the termination”.

But Mericourt said at the Wednesday meeting that a request from development partners for a meeting with government officials – sent on December 17 and signed by bodies including the United Nations and the World Bank – had gone unanswered, adding that she did not expect a response before next week.

She said the government had provided little direction on how development organisations should adapt to the terms of the sub-decree, which many at the meeting described as unclear.

“There is apparent confusion and a lack of understanding of what this means,” she said, adding that there had been no word from officials regarding whether alternate forms of compensation – such as per diems – could be used in place of salary supplements.

Development partners have largely refrained from criticising the sub-decree. A statement issued Wednesday by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, for example, reads in part: “The UN in Cambodia will align with the Royal Government’s decision to terminate salary supplements. While we are aware of the potential short-term impacts of this decision, it is clear that restructuring civil service salaries represents an opportunity for the UN and development partners to work with the Government on salary reform.”

At the meeting Wednesday, however, Mericourt was more candid, at one point saying the move had the potential to become “a total disaster”.

“I think the emphasis has to be on the humanitarian impact, not on government politics,” she said.

Government officials and development organisations have been unable to put a dollar amount on the salary supplement programmes.

On Tuesday, Maxim Berdnikov, East Asia and the Pacific portfolio manager for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said active Cambodia grants included provisions for $381,500 in monthly salary supplements, making for a 12-month total of roughly $4.5 million. A Global Fund spokesman said the fund was in compliance with the sub-decree, meaning the salary supplements had been suspended.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR

Suspect in acid attack released



(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:03 Tep Nimol and Mom Kunthear

AUTHORITIES have released a woman accused of dousing a rival with a litre of acid, an official said, sparking criticism from the victim’s associates and a local rights group amid a string of recent violent attacks.

Lim Soma, 41, was released Wednesday morning – two days after she was arrested and accused of pouring a bottle filled with acid on a man following an argument in Prampi Makara district.

“I don’t understand why the police released her,” said businessman Kea Soheang, who identified the victim as 22-year-old Hor Tin, an employee at his shop.

Kea Soheang claimed that the attack was the result of a long-simmering dispute between the suspect’s family and his own. Lim Soma, he claimed, “ordered two of her employees to hold the victim down. Then she poured acid over him”.

Rather than laying charges against the suspect, however, authorities have urged the two parties to reach a monetary agreement outside the court system.

“The victim needs the perpetrator to pay him US$10,000 for compensation,” said Soam Sovann, the district’s governor. “But the perpetrator wants to pay only $5,000.”

District police and officials with Phnom Penh Municipal Court declined to talk about the case when contacted Wednesday.

Lim Soma, a dentist, admitted to the attack when reached by The Post Wednesday – but she insisted she never used acid.

“The liquid that I poured over him is the water you use to make your teeth look white. It is not acid,” Lim Soma said.

She said she only doused the victim with the liquid in order to break up an argument between him and her sister.

“The victim and his boss are trying to fabricate false evidence in order to accuse me,” she said.

Recent attacks
The incident follows a string of acid attacks in December that sparked concern among rights groups and organisations that help victims of acid attacks.

“The police should not have released the perpetrator,” said Am Sam Ath, senior monitor at local rights group Adhoc.

“They should have sent her to court.”

He suggested the case was part of an alarming trend that has often seen the vicious attacks go unpunished.

“It is rare for perpetrators of acid attacks to be arrested and face court action,” he said.

“Perpetrators should face maximum punishment.”

The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity counted at least five attacks in the Kingdom during December alone – a figure that represents roughly half of the attacks the group had tallied for the entire year up until that point, said spokesman Ziad Samman.

Four detained in casino torture case



Photo by: Sovan Philong
Sun City Casino in Svay Rieng province, the scene of an alleged hostage-taking and beating, is shown in this file photo.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

FOUR men were ordered into pretrial detention by Svay Rieng provincial court on Monday on suspicion of holding hostage and torturing two men suspected of cheating a casino, police said Wednesday.

Sing Kim Soeun and Sim Piseth, both 30, were taken hostage and tortured over suspicions they conspired with casino customers to steal money from the venue, police said.

Tanh Kinh Yung, a 34-year-old Malaysian who rented part of the casino from Sun City, and casino staffers Khou Nevan, a 28-year-old Indonesian, Chan Vuthy, 29, and Phan Sambath Romany, 24, have been charged with deliberate battery and illegal human detention.

Major General Chhay Sinarith, director of the Internal Security Department at the Ministry of Interior, said police were tipped off by the casino owner.

“Our police forces stationed in the Svay Rieng province on Sunday operated a crackdown to free the two Cambodian hostages, who had been locked in a secret room and tortured for several days,” the major general said.

The two victims were allegedly stripped naked and placed in a closet at a Sun City hotel room on Friday. They were then subjected to several days of violence by their captors, according to investigating officials.

“They were seriously beaten with belts and walkie-talkies, injuring their heads to force them to confess to the conspiracy with other customers to cheat cash from the casino,” Chhay Sinarith said.

Tanh Kinh Yung and Khou Nevan confessed to beating the two victims in order to force a confession from them, police said. The two Cambodians – Chan Vuthy and Phan Sambath Romany – had no part in the beatings, police said, but simply brought the victims to the room where they were tortured under orders from their employer.

“It is an act of brutality,” Chhay Sinarith said.

“They didn’t follow the law, but violated the law, when they should have sent the two victims to the police over the accusations.”

Coercion used for land deal: villagers



(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:03 May Titthara

A GROUP of 51 families from Popoak commune in Kampong Thom province’s Steung district say they were forced to thumbprint an unfair compensation agreement on Wednesday under pressure from commune authorities and representatives of the Vietnamese rubber company hoping to clear the area for a plantation.

“They made us agree to take only 5,000 riels (US$1.69) per cashew tree, which is unacceptable,” said village representative So Ley. “They told us that if we did not agree to their terms, they would simply clear the land without paying us.”

Villager Phorn Yi dismissed as a pretext the officials’ further claim that the cashew farms were planted illegally in a protected wildlife area.

“We’ve farmed here since 1999, and in all that time nobody told us it was a problem. Now that the authorities are helping this company, it’s suddenly illegal,” he said.

Popoak commune chief Sam Sang, however, said the villagers were aware of the land’s status when they began farming there.

“In1993, the area was made a wildlife preserve by Royal Decree. The villagers took over the land to plant cashews in 2002, so they should understand why their farms can only be considered temporary. They have no permanent right to this land.”

In November 2009, Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnam Rubber Group, a consortium of 14 Vietnamese firms, granting them 100,000 hectares of land concessions. The company involved in the Popoak commune dispute, CKCRII, received a 7,300-hectare concession under the agreement.

Governor targets land NGOs



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Residents of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community on Wednesday examine a board detailing the replacement homes that are due to be built for them – not without controversy – courtesy of City Hall.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

PHNOM Penh Governor Kep Chuktema blasted human rights organisations for their criticisms of the city’s housing and resettlement policies as he presided over the presentation of replacement housing at the Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on Wednesday.

“Human rights organisations have accused me, [Deputy Governor] Mann Chhoeun and city officials of evicting poor people. The facts do not bear out their accusations,” Kep Chuktema said during the ceremonial handing over of an onsite resettlement complex to 174 families at Borei Keila.

The building, constructed by Phanimex, a local company, was the fourth that City Hall has given to Borei Keila’s residents, he said, after three buildings were presented to 522 families in March 2007.

While acknowledging that everything the city did was not perfect, the governor described the new Borei Keila buildings as “hotels for poor people”, adding that rights NGOs had criticised the municipality’s policies without acknowledging the pace of development in the city.

“If Borei Keila was kept like it was previously, what would it have been like?” he said.

“It is difficult to understand those who have ears but pretend to be deaf. Their eyes are bright, but they pretend to be blind,” he said.

Tuk-tuks for Tuol Sambo
Contrary to the criticisms of many human rights NGOs that the relocation in June and July of HIV-positive families from Borei Keila to Tuol Sambo on the outskirts of the city put them out of the reach of medical care, Kep Chuktema said authorities always cared for those residents once they reached the new sites.

He added that residents at Tuol Sambo had been provided with tuk-tuks to ferry them to hospital for vital treatments.

Som Sovann, the governor of Prampi Makara district, said that a total of 10 buildings were planned for the Borei Keila residents, on 4.6 hectares of land, and that the construction company would be completing two more in the near future.

He said that those who were eligible to receive land were divided into 4 categories, but warned that short-term renters or those who falsified documents were not eligible for on-site housing.

Resident Moul Davy, 35, who received a 4-by-9-metre house on the first floor of one of the new buildings, said that she was “happy” with the on-site development, but sad for those who have been relocated.

“The Borei Keila case is better. We have not been vacated to live on the outskirts. We are lucky.”

Although the municipality was promoting the development of the city, Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said Wednesday that urban evictions were “still a concerning issue for civil society” and said criticisms were not made without proof.

He said victims of eviction had complained to NGOs about their fears that they will lack basic services at relocation sites, which prompted them to provide recommendations for authorities.

“We admire the city’s development. But there are many challenges remaining for City Hall in dealing with poor people,” he said. “We do not want development only in the city centre.”

Sexual Abuse: Rape suspect released from detention



(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A man awaiting trial for the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl was released from pre-trial detention by Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, prompting outrage from rights activists. Judge Khim Pon ruled in favour of the 37-year-old Korean national’s appeal after the defence and prosecution agreed that, because the defendant was a foreigner and had effectively been guaranteed by the Korean embassy, he should be released. Co-defence lawyer Than Phanith said the court’s decision relied on the embassy’s guarantee “not to renew [the defendant’s] passport because he cannot be trusted or relied on, as these were felony crimes.” The suspect was arrested on charges of sexual assault and unlawful removal with purpose after he allegedly raped a girl who had been drugged, abducted and sold to him by a Cambodian couple. Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided for the victim by NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, condemned the court’s decision. “I am very unhappy … for fear the man will commit more crimes, intimidate the victim or witnesses, or fail to appear in court,” he said.

Siem Reap prison gets upgrade as part of UN-govt programme



(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:02 Sen David and Tharum Bun

INMATES at one of the country’s largest prisons have improved access to clean water following the installation of a rainwater harvesting system, authorities have said.

The new system at Siem Reap Prison, the Kingdom’s third largest with roughly 1,300 inmates, was introduced as part of a prison reform effort by the Cambodian government and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“In some provincial prisons, insufficient and unclean water are major issues facing inmates,” said Heng Hak, director of prisons at the Ministry of Interior. “I hope that this innovative project … will help improve prisoners’ living conditions.”

Officials have credited the OHCHR-Cambodia prison reform programme with nearly doubling inmates’ daily food rations, from the equivalent of US$0.37 to $0.70 in each of the country’s 24 prisons.

“Siem Reap’s prison is one of the country’s largest,” said Mao Yin, provincial coordinator with rights group Adhoc. “Severe overcrowding, poor hygiene and unsafe drinking water from a lack of sanitation are the most critical issues that require our attention.”

The OHCHR-Cambodia collaboration has allowed UN officials to visit prisons across the country to gather confidential information from prisoners as part of an effort to ensure standards for how inmates are treated.

“It’s about human rights monitoring and at the same time working with the General Department of Prisons (GDP) to tackle the root causes of problems,” said Marie-Dominique Parent, the OHCHR’s officer in charge of the programme.

An OHCHR report released late last year praised its collaboration with the GDP, while noting that the prisons bureau suffered from a lack of funding that made it difficult to improve inmate conditions.

“The GDP is faced with a growing prison population, without a corresponding increase in the prison budget,” the report stated. Last month, a 16-year-old inmate died in Takhmao prison while another 20 fell seriously ill after a suspected outbreak of cholera.

Illegal logging and wildlife trafficking prosecutions up



(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 07 January 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE number of prosecutions in illegal logging and wildlife-trading cases increased by one-third in 2009, though the involvement of “high-ranking officers and businessmen” in such activities continues to complicate authorities’ efforts to crack down on them, the director of the Forestry Administration said Wednesday.

“Last year, our authorities arrested more than 80 perpetrators in illegal logging in wildlife cases and sent them to court,” Ty Sokhun, adding that only 60 such prosecutions took place in 2008.

“But I believe that these cases continue – not just because of the people we arrest, but because there are also high-ranking officers and businessmen behind them,” he said.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We are...concerned because illegal loggers... are coming from other areas."
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The Forestry Administration tallied a total of 675 illegal logging and wildlife-trading cases in 2009, down slightly from 686 in 2008, Ty Sokhun said.

But the amount of illegally logged wood confiscated by the administration increased by 400 cubic metres to 2,700 cubic metres in 2009, he said, adding that confiscated wild animals – both dead and alive – weighed about 2,000 kilograms in total.

Though Ty Sokhun said the authorities had aggressively cracked down on illegal logging and wildlife-trading, Keo Chhan, chief of the Boeung Cha protected forest area in Kratie’s Sambo district, said the local threats had not diminished considerably.

“My forest community has many wild animals, forested areas and other resources,” Keo Chhan said. “And currently we are very concerned because illegal loggers and hunters are coming from other areas to invade our community.”

Chainsaw massacre
The Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday held a chainsaw-destruction ceremony in the capital to demonstrate another component of the government’s efforts to crack down on illegal logging. A total of 695 chainsaws were crushed by bulldozers in a ceremony near the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ouk Sokhon, a secretary of state at the ministry, said: “According to our figures, from 2006 until now we have found and confiscated more than 11,000 chainsaws, and we have destroyed more than 3,000.”

Chan Soveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said efforts to curtail illegal logging could be aided by a reduction in economic land concessions.

“We need to keep telling law enforcement to crack down on illegal logging and also the illegal export of luxury timber,” he added.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KIM YUTHANA