Friday, 23 April 2010

Horror show

Photo by: Peter Olszewski
A ghastly ghoul at Siem Reap’s House of Horror

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Friday, 23 April 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Oh, the horror! The horror! I was trapped in the heart of darkness in Siem Reap’s newest tourist attraction, the House of Horror, part of Temple Town’s newest night market, the International Market Dream Flower.

Getting into the House of Horror was a trip in itself, but getting out was a bigger bugger.

I was lost in the maze that constitutes this mad tourist attraction, which has opened in the building that once housed the very dodgy Martini’s Nightclub and long before that the rats-nest-like headquarters of Khmer Rouge generals.

The House of Horror is basically a kid’s thing, as I discovered while queuing with a crowd of youngsters to buy a ticket. The ticket seller queried me as to where my children were. When I said I wasn’t with any kids, a questioning eyebrow was raised, and an entrance ticket slammed down on the counter after much hesitation.

Next came a security pat-down at the entrance. My cell phone was located and I was instructed to turn it off.

“Why?” I asked.
“Because the ghosts don’t like them,” answered the security man.
Right.

Inside the House of Horror I groped my way down dark corridors, bumping into dangling fake bits of human bodies, jangling skulls and the like. All pretty naff, I figured, but from the screams coming from further down the corridor, the kids seemed to be having fun.

I stumbled into a room where a dead guy lay on a stone slab but, to my surprise, he sat up and said casually, “Hello sir, which country are you from?”

I asked him if he was a dead guy or a ghost, and when he said he was a dead guy I said that where I was from dead guys did not sit up and ask questions of tourists, to which he responded, “Yes sir, but which country are you from?”

Ditto the next room, where a guy dripping with rotting body parts did a pretty weak “whoo-ooo-oo” ghostly moan in my face. When I told him his ghost impersonation was pretty lame he said, “Sir, where do you come from?”

I then continued my perambulation, eventually stumbling into a cell-like room that was actually a bar selling beer; curious, considering the joint was supposedly strictly kidsville.

So I asked the barman if he was a ghost and he said no, normally he’s a sailor, and told me I had to select a free soft drink from the selection on offer inside the freezer.

To live dangerously I opted for a pineapple Fanta and headed off, getting lost in the dark maze yet again. At one stage, while sucking my pineapple Fanta through a straw I staggered into a dimly lit room to confront a gaggle of about 10 prepubescent girls who took one look at me and collectively screamed at volume 11.

I bumbled away in horror only to become even more lost, then, turning a corner, I was back in the bar and the sailor told me he would help me find the exit.

“Go down here and turn left, then turn left again,” he said. So I did, and ended up in the bar again. Finally, after some desperate pleading on my behalf, the sailor guided me to the exit.

Having failed basic Horror House Part 1, I stepped out squinting and blinking into the bright sun, only to be confronted by one of the teenage girls I’d freaked out earlier. She approached me and said, “Sir, how long have you been working as a ghost? You are very good. You excited us.”

I noted that the suspicious ticket seller had now spotted me and was eyeing me even more suspiciously, so I said goodbye to the teenager and did the ghost-who-walks trick until I was safely clear of the House of Horror and its immediate environs.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


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Hello's triumph

Friday, 23 April 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

AXIATA, parent company of mobile-phone provider Hello, was name best regional telco group in the 13th annual Telecom Asia Awards held in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday. Its CEO Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim was voted Telecom CEO of the Year, after Axiata showed strong growth in the last 12 month. The judges’ citation said the company has achieved an “outstanding financial performance”. Hello recorded 6 percent revenue growth in Cambodia for quarter four last year, compared to quarter three, according to financial results released February.

Hong Kong trade

Friday, 23 April 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and Hong Kong saw a slight improvement of around 4 percent in the first two months of 2010, compared to the same period last year, data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) showed Thursday. The figures stated bilateral trade increased to more than US$71 million in January and February, a rise of 4.4 percent on the first two months of 2009. Hong Kong’s total exports to Cambodia went up 3.5 percent to $68 million. Cambodian exports saw growth of around 23.8 percent to $3 million, around $1 million of which was re-exported from Hong Kong. Sok Sopheak, director general of the International Trade Department of the Ministry of Commerce said the jump was due to increased garment production.

Live to air

Friday, 23 April 2010 15:00 Post Staff

ABC Radio Australia celebrated Khmer New Year with its first outdoor broadcast away from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap was the chosen locale for a two-day live broadcasting stint held on April 15 and 16.

Crowds of around 500 braved the midday sun to watch the broadcasts on a site across the river from the Old Market, and were entertained by Cambodian comedy duo Khat Sokhim and Khat Cham Roeun.

Seda Douglas, executive producer of Radio Australia’s Khmer service, said, “Over the past few years we’ve broadcast live from Cambodia at the Water Festival in Phnom Penh and received an overwhelming response from our audiences. So this year we felt it essential to share the important festivities of the Khmer New Year with our audience in Siem Reap and surrounding rural provinces.”

Gameweek 35 winner

Friday, 23 April 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

ONLY three more thrilling gameweeks of the Post fantasy league left, and things are spicing up nicely. At present, Jack Ellis and his side Norfolknchance holds a slender lead of three points at the summit so there’s still all to play til the end of the Premier season. Gameweek 35 had its pitfalls for many, with selections needing to be spot on to score heavily. Davey Boy’s team Le Tissier Saints were Le Gods of the week with a sparkling 89 points total. Midfield maestros James Milner (15 points) and Charles N’Zogbia (13 points) contributed nicely, as did the 20 points for putting Brad Friedel as captain. Davey Boy collects the US$20 phone voucher and T-shirt courtesy of Cellcard. Transfers for this weekend of whitehot action need to be made by 5:30pm Saturday.

CAMBODIA TO SEND ITS OFFICIALS TO TIMOR LESTE


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NAM NEWS NETWORK Apr 22nd, 2010 

PHNOM PENH, April 22 (NNN-AKP) — Cambodia will send its officials with expertise in economy, trading and agriculture to conduct a survey on a potential for Cambodian rice being imported to East-Timor.

The remark was made known during a meeting on April 21 between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and President of East-Timor Mr. Jose Ramose-Horta, who is on visit to Cambodia.

Mr. Jose told the Cambodian premier of his country’s situations and his visit to the Kingdom, the purpose of which he said was to make a bilateral cooperation on economy and commerce between the two nations, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the prime minister told reporters following the meeting.

He also asked Cambodia to support Timor Leste to become a full member of ASEAN countries, he said. — NNN-AKP

The Cambodian Prime Minister Regards Terrorism as a Cruel Specter – Thursday, 22.4.2010

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Posted on 23 April 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, announced strict anti-terrorism policies, as terrorism is not only a problem of Cambodia but of the whole world. The head of the Royal Government considers terrorism as the cruelest specter that must be eradicated.

“During the inauguration in the morning of 21 April 2010, of the secretariat of the National Counterterrorism Committee which cost more than US$1.6 million and took nearly one year to construct, at a military airbase, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen said that terrorism is a global issue that must be suppressed so that it does not cause instability for people and for whole societies.

“He said, ‘Our war on terrorism is part of the current global war on terrorism, and even though Cambodia is not a target of terrorist attacks, we must not miss to see any possible situation. If we are apathetic or careless, the country might become a safe shelter for terrorists.’

“It should be noted that the National Counterterrorism Committee is headed by the Prime Minister, and Mr. Om Yentieng is the deputy head who leads the forces of the unit by cooperating with other mixed forces to crack down on possible terrorism in Cambodia, as terrorists might take Cambodia as a basis to hide themselves and to attack other governments, or to commit illegal activities like human trafficking and drug smuggling.

“Samdech Hun Sen stressed, ‘The Royal Government of Cambodia regards terrorism as the most brutal crime in human history, as it can destroy social and political stability and cost human lives among people of all races and of every age group, and it can occur at any place in any region and any country and on the international and intercontinental levels.’

“Also, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia mentioned the strategies for the eradication of terrorism which he had developed himself, to achieve a successful crackdown on possible terrorism in three steps. Nevertheless, the head of the Royal Government said that though special anti-terrorism forces have been created, there must be cooperation with other forces, such as the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the police, the military police, as well as with the citizens.

“Samdech Hun Sen went on to say that it is essential to be ready to fight terrorism in order to guarantee the safety for one’s own people as well as for people of other countries.

“It should be remembered that Cambodia and its partner countries had cooperated to arrest a notorious terrorist, Hambali, who was behind the attack on Bali in Indonesia that killed hundreds of people.

“Also, the eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, General Dr. Hun Manet, is the commander of the special forces and the head of the Anti-Terrorism Department of the National Counterterrorism Committee.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #459, 22.4.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 April 2010

Former Forest Hunter Turns Eco-Tour Guide

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The 54-year-old had been a guide since 2007, but he has not always been so kind to the forest. At one time, he was a hunter and a logger in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia’s ecological gem, where elephants, tigers and crocodiles still live—although in dwindling numbers.

Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer | Preah Sihanouk province
Thursday, 22 April 2010

Photo: VOA
An elephant killed in Africa

“I had no choice but to hunt for a living then, because I had no capital to do any business.”

Grey-haired Soth Sophal prepared one recent day to lead a group of six villagers through the forest to a waterfall.

He would guide them in a way responsible to the environment, showing off the natural splendor of the area, near his home village of Prey Praseth, in Preah Sihanouk province’s Kampong Seila district.

The 54-year-old had been a guide since 2007, but he has not always been so kind to the forest. At one time, he was a hunter and a logger in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia’s ecological gem, where elephants, tigers and crocodiles still live—although in dwindling numbers.

“At that time, nothing in the forest belonged to anyone,” he told VOA Khmer on a recent trip in March. “We could do whatever we wanted with it: hunting, trapping animals, logging for valuable timber.”

Soth Sophal was one of many who exploited the mountains in the 1980s and 1990s, when the area of more than 2 million hectares suffered chaotic deforestation a decline in wildlife.

People on the edge of the forest depended on the jungles for survival. In the early 1990s, Soth Sophal bought a rifle from a solider, for hunting, and learned to lay animal traps from a friend.

“I went to the forest with him and helped him carry home hunted animals like wild pigs and deer,” Soth Sophal said. “Then I could lay my own traps, and the animals would be caught.”

For about 13 years from 1994, Soth Sophal would catch an average two animals per night, earning him up to $400 a month, above the average for Cambodia’s impoverished villagers.

“I had no choice but to hunt for a living then, because I had no capital to do any business,” said Soth Sophal, the father of five children. “I just borrowed some money from neighbors to buy stuff for a trap and pay them back after I sold off the animals I caught in the forests.”

Eventually, he had a change of heart. He began to fear arrest from the authorities, as they began cracking down on the wildlife trade and illegal logging. He was afraid he had sinned by killing the animals. An international conservation group, Flora and Fauna International, was teaching villagers to grow crops, to farm instead of hunt.

Soth Sophal decided to use his skills as a woodsman to guide tourists. He now walks them through the Thmor Roung ecotourism site in Preah Sihanouk.

“I also help protect the wild animals by informing the conservation group and local authorities when I learn about any hunter coming into my community,” he said.

His family earns a living selling meals and snacks to curious tourists, both foreign and local. And while some villagers continue to hunt and log in the forest, Soth Sophal says he rests easy, no longer afraid of arrest, or of sinning, knowing he is doing what he can to ensure the forest is their for the next generation.

Thailand's 'red shirts' open to talks


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Posted By MARTIN PETTY AND BILL TARRANT, REUTERS

Thai protesters occupying Bangkok's main shopping district for two weeks said on Wednesday they are open to talks but they also took steps to prepare for a clash with armed troops threatening to forcibly evict them.

While the demonstrators in Bangkok fortified their base with bunkers built of sharpened bamboo poles and tires, nearly a thousand protesters in northeastern Khon Kaen province seized an 18-car train carrying soldiers.

The comments on talks signalled some flexibility in a tense six-week confrontation that prompted the central bank on Wednesday to say interest rates would not start rising from a record low until the political situation was clearer.

The protests have frightened away tourists following a deadly clash on April 10 between the army and the demonstrators that killed 25 people and wounded more than 800.

Interviews with leaders of the mostly rural and working-class "red shirt" protesters indicated they may bend on their demands for a snap election.

Kwanchai Praipana, a red shirt leader from their stronghold in northeast Thailand, said he would propose to the group's leaders they consider a three-month timeframe for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call elections.

"The government has the upper hand and maybe we should show some flexibility," he told Reuters next to a stage of the rally site, where about 15,000 people have gathered in an area of department stores that have closed their doors for two weeks.

Talks between Abhisit and the protesters collapsed last month after two rounds when the red shirts rejected an offer to dissolve parliament within nine months -- a year early. It is unclear if Abhisit would agree to a three-month timetable.

In recent days he has shown no sign of compromise.

Government spokesman Panitan Watanayagorn said Abhisit would be willing to hold talks with the protesters only if they agreed not to escalate tensions -- a vague requirement that could suggest their rally must end before negotiations can resume.

He declined to elaborate or to comment on the protesters' insistence talks be conducted through a third party.

The offer of talks comes two days after hundreds of armed troops converged on a road in the financial district, just an intersection away from the shopping area controlled by the protesters. Some troops have guns trained on the protesters from atop a foot-bridge after the army said it might use force.

"They've seen the signs that the noose is tightening around their necks -- there's not much appetite to become martyrs," Federico Ferrera, a political science professor at National University of Singapore, said of the protesters.

By nightfall, hundreds of pro-government demonstrators taunted the red shirts at the financial district intersection, held back by a thin line of riot police, as troops looked on.

Thailand's unrest spreads as army train blocked


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

BANGKOK: Thailand's tense political crisis spilled over from Bangkok to the northeast last night, as anti-government demonstrators blocked a train carrying military vehicles that they claimed would be used to suppress fellow protesters in the capital.

The confrontation came as the "Red Shirt" protesters and security forces remained locked in a potentially explosive standoff in downtown Bangkok.

The determined demonstrators are demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve Parliament and call new elections immediately.

A failed April 10 attempt by security forces to flush protesters from another location erupted into the worst political violence Thailand has seen in 18 years, leaving 25 people dead and more than 800 wounded.

The protesters consist mainly of poor rural supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006.

The Red Shirts believe Abhisit's government is illegitimate because it came to power under military pressure through a parliamentary vote - not a general election - after disputed court rulings ousted two elected pro-Thaksin governments.

Explosions kill 1, wound dozens in Bangkok

An injured Thai woman is rushed to an ambulance after an explosion occurred near the site of where anti-government and pro-government protesters were facing off from one another across a street Thursday, April 22, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand. The cause of the blasts on was not immediately known.(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

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By GRANT PECK, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK – At least five grenades exploded Thursday in the center of Bangkok near the scene of political protests in Thailand, killing one person and wounding at least 75, sending panicked people running through the streets and fleeing an elevated train station.

The area of the explosions has been the site of a tense standoff between Red Shirt protesters, who are demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign, and armed troops over the past several days.

More recently, a rival group of protesters has rallied in the area, occasionally hurling stones and insults at the Red Shirts, creating a volatile mix. Several of the blasts were near where the rivals have gathered, under the elevated tracks of a Skytrain station.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said in a speech broadcast Thursday night on all Thai channels that five M79 grenades were fired from launchers within the Red Shirts' encampment.

Three fell through the roof of the station, which runs above Silom Road, the center of Bangkok's business district and also home to several strips of go-go bars. A fourth exploded on the pavement near the five-star Dusit Thani Hotel and the fifth near a bank, he said.

TV stations reported several more blasts. Previously, explosions at the site have been from fireworks.

The government's Erawan emergency center said the blasts killed one person, identified as a Thai woman, and wounded at least 75.

The TPBS television network reported three foreigners were among the wounded. Associated Press reporters saw at least four people injured, two with serious wounds who were not moving.

The streets were full of people tending to the injured and carrying away bloodied people.

Suthep, who heads the government's Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situation, expressed sorrow over the casualties. "The government has tried to set up measures to protect the people by sending security forces in to protect people," he said.

He asked the people who had been protesting against the Red Shirts to leave the area for their own safety.

A Red Shirt protest leader denied the group had any involvement in the blasts. "The explosions had nothing to do with us," said Weng Tojirakarn, who suggested the blame could lie with a variety of other groups, including the rival protesters, the government, the army or the police.

The Red Shirts, who believe Abhisit came to power illegitimately and are pushing for him to call elections immediately, have rallied in the streets for several weeks. On Thursday, the army warned time was running out for the protesters to clear the streets, saying soldiers would crack down soon.

"To take people in Bangkok hostage is not right," army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd warned the Red Shirts. "Your time to leave the area is running out." The army has issued several warnings that it will move to break up the protests if they are not ended voluntarily. They are already in violation of several laws, including a state of emergency.

The head of the United Nations urged all sides to show restraint.

"The secretary-general is very concerned about the continuing standoff and tensions in Thailand, and the potential for this to escalate," Martin Nesirky, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, said. "He appeals to both the protesters and the Thai authorities to avoid further violence and loss of life and to work to resolve the situation peacefully, through dialogue. This is a moment requiring restraint on all sides."

Prospects for a peaceful solution to the political crisis appear slim, and every night brings a new flurry of rumors of an imminent crackdown.

A failed April 10 attempt by security forces in Bangkok to flush protesters from their first encampment erupted into the worst political violence Thailand has seen in 18 years, with 25 people dead.

At the intersection where Thursday night's blasts occurred, the Red Shirts have erected a formidable barrier of sharpened bamboo sticks and old tires atop which their guards perch. Behind the Red Shirts' line is their redoubt, which extends for more than a mile (2 kilometers) up to another intersection, where tens of thousands of supporters gather around a stage to hear nearly nonstop speeches.

Across from the Red Shirt wall on Silom Road are several police trucks, dozens of police in riot gear, and a few hundred anti-Red Shirt demonstrators.

The anti-Red Shirt group includes office employees, middle class families, academics, some low-wage workers and members of the Yellow Shirts, a group that supports the current government and who themselves rampaged through Bangkok and seized the city's airports two years ago.

While some are genuinely aggrieved by the inconveniences wrought by the protests, many seem to have primarily political objections to the Red Shirts, including claiming the movement is directed against the country's widely revered monarch. A songsheet distributed to followers included hateful right-wing songs used in military-backed anti-communist campaigns of the 1970s.

Weng accused the government of hiring the mob in order to cause trouble that could be blamed on his group.

In one effort to avert further violence, the head of a pro-Red Shirt political party has asked for an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who in the past has stepped in to end violent political crises, the newspaper Matichon reported.

The ailing, 82-year-old king has been hospitalized since Sept. 19 and has made no comments on the turmoil. In 1992, the king ended a bloody confrontation between the military and pro-democracy protesters by calling in leaders of the opposing sides and instructing them, on nationwide television, to cease hostilities.

Now, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a former prime minister who now heads the pro-Red Shirt Pheua Thai Party, is seeking a similar intervention.

The protesters consist mainly of poor rural supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006 after months of demonstrations by the Yellow Shirts.

The Red Shirts believe Abhisit's government is illegitimate because it came to power under military pressure through a parliamentary vote after disputed court rulings ousted two elected pro-Thaksin governments.

___

Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker, Denis D. Gray and Thanyarat Doksone contributed to this report.

No Funding in Emergency Tribunal Meeting

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Khmer Rouge tribunal and government officials met with UN and donor representatives Thursday to discuss an impending budget crisis for the Cambodian side of the UN-backed court, but pledges for funding failed to materialize.

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Thursday, 22 April 2010

Photo: AP
Cambodians look on during the first day of a U.N.-backed tribunal, inside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The Cambodian court needs about $500,000 per month to operate, but its coffers have dwindled to $200,000, officials said Monday

Khmer Rouge tribunal and government officials met with UN and donor representatives Thursday to discuss an impending budget crisis for the Cambodian side of the UN-backed court, but pledges for funding failed to materialize.

The Cambodian side says it only has enough money for two more weeks of operation.

Council Minister Sok An and the UN’s top legal adviser, Patricia O’Brien, both said Monday the court needed an infusion of money to continue, as it works toward its second trial of jailed Khmer Rouge leaders.

The Cambodian court needs about $500,000 per month to operate, but its coffers have dwindled to $200,000, officials said Monday.

In meetings Thursday, tribunal administration officials told donors that Cambodian staff will only receive half salaries for April, according to a court spokesman, Dim Sovannarom.

O’Brien also attended Thursday’s meeting, and she “called on the representatives of the countries in the meeting to continue their support for [the tribunal] and to provide funding as quickly as possible,” Dim Sovannarom said.

No new funding came forward, however. Japan said earlier this year it would give $3.4 million to the court, a pledge followed by a US promise of $5 million, but all of that funding will go to the international side of the court.

Dim Sovannarom said the Cambodian half of the hybrid court expects $3 million from the European Commission, which would resolve the current crisis.

Learning Cambodian Culture, and Its Restrictions

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She lived in a foreign country, with foreign food and a foreign lifestyle, but Peace Corps volunteer Erica Herrmann said it was the best way to learn about Cambodia.

Im Sothearith, VOA Khmer | Washington
Thursday, 22 April 2010

Photo: Courtesy of Erica Herrmann
A Cambodian, left and Erica Herrmann is among the first group of 29 US volunteer to join the Peace Corps mission to Cambodia, right.

“The prime minister himself spoke very kindly of the work that we do. I think we have had a very, very good start, and we’ve enjoyed a wide range of support.”

She lived in a foreign country, with foreign food and a foreign lifestyle, but Peace Corps volunteer Erica Herrmann said it was the best way to learn about Cambodia.

Herrman was among the first group of 29 US volunteers to join the Peace Corps mission to Cambodia. From 2007 to 2009, she lived in a remote village and learned about Cambodian culture, including some of its restrictions.

“They called me daughter and sister right away,” Herrmann told VOA Khmer in a recent interview in Washington. “It was really nice. But quickly I began to realize that that meant I was under their watch all the time.”

When she wanted to travel, she needed to inform the family. And it took several months for the family to recognize her independence.

“Being an American woman, I was used to going out and just doing whatever, not having to check in all the time,” Herrmann said. “That’s probably the most frustrating of the challenges, and of course trying to communicate that all in Khmer just complicated things.”

Ouy Seng Chan, Herrmann’s hostess, told VOA Khmer by phone she considered the American as family.

“I told her not to go out too late because I was worried about her,” Ouy Seng Chan said. “I looked after her and loved her as my real daughter. So I gave her some advice, asked her where she was going. But she never went out too late. She always came home at dusk.”

“We played and joked around together happily,” Ouy Seng Chan said. “She was never angry with me. When she left, I missed her badly, because she used to play with me everyday. At first she did not speak Khmer well. Later she could speak Khmer a lot.”

Ouy Seng Chan would call Herrmann to eat, and the American would answer, “Yes, Mom.”

“Her voice was as sweet as a bird’s singing,” Ouy Seng Chan said.

The two women exchanged cooking, Khmer and American, which Ouy Seng Chan said tasted good.

“At first she did not like Khmer food, but after about a year or so she could eat such food as sour soup, curry, Khmer traditional soup,” Ouy Seng Chan said.

Herrmann was welcomed by villagers and by those she worked with at Samdech Hun Sen Peam Chi Kang High School, in Kampong Cham province’s Kang Meas district.

Eng Sangha, Herrmann’s English teaching partner, said she had a strong work ethic and a friendly personality.

“She is hardworking and very punctual,” Eng Sangha said. “She always comes to work and is never late.”

And her presence helped students, like Leang Hy, now a third-year student at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia.

“Before she came, most students didn’t go to study English,” Leang Hy said. “But when she came, every student came to study. She opened an evening study club for female students. She paid attention to students. She liked sharing what she had.”

For her part, Herrmann, a graduate student of public policy at American University, said she valued her time spent in the remote area.

“Just daily interaction with my students, my host family,” Herrmann said. “Learning about the culture, because I love studying different cultures and different people, and I’ve come to realize a lot of things about, not Asia in general, but Cambodia in particular, the stuff that you can’t pick up from reading and books.”

The Peace Corps was established by US President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to promote international friendship through US volunteers overseas. The Peace Corps has three main goals: to provide trained volunteers who contribute to the development of interested countries, to promote understanding of US citizens, and to promote understanding of people around the world.

Since its inception, the Peace Corps has sent nearly 200,000 volunteers to work in 139 countries throughout the world.

The Peace Corps has had an agreement with the Cambodian government since 1994, but security concerns prevented volunteers from going until 2006. So far, about 100 volunteers have entered the country.

Jon Darrah, Cambodia’s Peace Corps director, told VOA Khmer by phone the volunteers were welcomed by government leaders and local officials.

“The prime minister himself spoke very kindly of the work that we do,” Darrah said. “I think we have had a very, very good start, and we’ve enjoyed a wide range of support.”

Tribunal Not a Cure-All, Experts Warn

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Cambodia remains a fractured society, with people divided amongst themselves and differing on how they might one day, if ever, have national reconciliation, a leading researcher told a US university on Monday.

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer | New Jersey Thursday, 22 April 2010

Photo: Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Chhang Youk, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia

“So you can see that Cambodia is not just only broken but also [Cambodians] are divided as an individual, as a family, as a nation.”

Cambodia remains a fractured society, with people divided amongst themselves and differing on how they might one day, if ever, have national reconciliation, a leading researcher told a US university on Monday.

Chhang Youk, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, told a gathering at New Jersey’s Rutgers University that survivors prefer different ways to seek reconciliation and justice.
Some only require a simple apology; some seek the full truth; some want legal punishment for the perpetrators; still others would prefer the country move beyond a trial of Khmer Rouge leaders.

“So you can see that Cambodia is not just only broken but also [Cambodians] are divided as an individual, as a family, as a nation,” Chhang Youk said. “And that’s [not] because we don’t care about justice—because we do care about justice, so much.”

Cambodians don’t want to see atrocities like those of the Khmer Rouge repeated, because these are difficult to reconcile, and at times “impossible,” he said.

Chhang Youk’s Documentation Center has worked for years to compile evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities. This has included interviews with survivors, documenting their accounts, and writing a book of history on the regime.

Chhang Youk told the audience Monday that the prevention of genocide was the responsibility of every individual, university, institution and nation. Once genocide occurs, reconciliation of a nation’s suffering is hard to find.

The Khmer Rouge ruled for only four years, but it has taken more than 30 to relieve the trauma, he said. And it’s still there.

Still, he said, all is not lost.

“It sounds very disappointing about Cambodia with the number of people killed, with the infrastructures that have been destroyed, with poverty, corruption, good governance, and so forth, but there’s hope,” he said. “There’s hope for change.”

That change requires action now, he said, or the trauma will remain, not just within victims, but in their children.

Currently, the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal is holding five leaders of the regime. It has completed the trial of one, Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, and is working on its second case, which involves Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

Proponents of the trials, which have cost the international community millions of dollars and been plagued with delays, say they will bring a measure of reconciliation. Skeptics say this may not be so, at least not entirely.

“With genocide, I don’t know if the people will get closure with the tribunal,” said Marco Oliviera, a third-year student of criminal justice and political science who attended the lecture. “The way, I think, is a simple apology, [which] will largely bring closure, and we have to move on.”

“Too often, I think, people think the tribunal is somehow going to bring truth and reconciliation, and that is setting the tribunal up for failure,” Alexander Hinton, director of the Center for the Study of Conflict Resolution and Human Rights, told VOA Khmer. “We have to recognize the tribunal for what it is.”

The tribunal can accomplish some things, such as bringing forward evidence and understanding of the past, as well as holding leaders responsible for their actions, he said. “But it can’t do everything.”

In Pictures: Cambodia

Cambodian men drive their ox-carts as they head to collect sands for a local construction at Kandoal village, Kampong Speu province, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, April 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Former Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth Becker (L) consoles former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama, as she prays at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010, in memory of her husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, who was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama, prays at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010, in memory of her husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, who was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Carle Robinson (L), former Associated Press correspondent, Yoko Ishiyama (C), former staff member of Kyodo News whose husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973 and former Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth Becker (R) pray at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Carle Robinson (L), former Associated Press correspondent, Yoko Ishiyama (2nd L), former staff member of Kyodo News whose husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973 and other foreign correspondents pray at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Former Time-Life photographer Tim Page and other foreign correspondents pray at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the Cambodian civil war, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Carle Robinson (L), former Associated Press correspondent prays at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the Cambodian civil war, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Former foreign correspondents observe a moment of silence in front of a grave on a rice field at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010 . About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the Cambodian civil war, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Former Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth Becker (L) looks as former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama (R), places an incense at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010, in memory of her husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, who was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

 
Former Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth Becker (L) reads a list of killed foreign correspondents as former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama (R), weeps at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. The list includes Yoko Ishiyama's husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, who was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Carle Robinson, former Associated Press correspondent (L), as former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama (C), pours water during a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010, in memory of her husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, who was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973.About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Carl Robinson (R), former Associated Press correspondent and Chhang Song , former Khmer minister of information, stand near the sign dedicated to the memory of Cambodian and foreign journalists killed or missing during the Cambodian civil war April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Former Time-Life photographer Tim Page prays at a Buddhist ceremony at Po Kandal village in Kampong Speu province 65 km (40 miles) west of Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the Cambodian civil war, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Sylvana Foa (R), two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Price, former Newsweek and United Press International (UPI) correspondent and currently a journalism teacher at New York University's Tel Aviv campus and former staff member of Kyodo News, Yoko Ishiyama (L), place a flower at the dedication of memorial of journalists in Phnom Penh April 22, 2010. Yoko Ishiyama's husband, Koki Ishiyama, a former correspondent for Kyodo, was killed covering the Cambodian civil war in 1973. About 40 retired journalists gathered on Thursday to officially commemorate more than 50 correspondents from Japan, France, the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, India and Laos, who were killed while covering the conflict, which lasted from 1970-1975. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Soon South Koreans To Be Permitted to Marry Cambodians


via CAAI News Media

04/22/2010

Previously a ban was imposed in Cambodia which forbade marriages between South Korean men and Cambodian women. The ban was put in place due to a large number of brides that were being illegally send to South Korea.

The marriage ban was enforced in order so that a screening process could be set up to stop so many women from being trafficked to South Korea. The government said once the new protocols were in place the ban would be lifted.

The Cambodian government has announced the ban will soon be lifted, but no new protocols have been created to protect the women from being trafficked.

BHP probed over Cambodia payment: reports

Authorities in the US are probing mining giant BHP Billiton over a payment related to an exploration project in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

SYDNEY — Authorities in the United States are probing mining giant BHP Billiton over a 2.5 million US dollar payment related to an exploration project in Cambodia, reports said on Thursday.

The Australian newspaper and the Sydney Morning Herald both said possible corruption uncovered by BHP, which has refused to give details, had been linked to an abandoned bauxite exploration project in the impoverished country.

The Anglo-Australian miner on Wednesday said it had evidence of possible corruption involving "interaction" with government officials, related to a minerals exploration project which was terminated about a year ago.

It declined to reveal the location of the project, but said it was not in China, where four staff of rival miner Rio Tinto were jailed for bribery and commercial espionage last month.

The Australian said BHP has admitted paying 2.5 million US dollars to a community in Cambodia's east, near the Vietnam border, but has denied a Cambodian government minister's claim that it was "tea money", or a bribe.

The company has said the money was put into a development fund investing in social welfare programmes, and that it paid one million US dollars to the government for bauxite exploration rights, according to the newspaper.

BHP declined to comment on the reports. On Wednesday, it said it had handed evidence to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and was also conducting an internal investigation.

Cambodian toddler recovering after surgery in Dominican Republic


Millikan High senior Lauren Briand, left, and Socheat Nha in her Briand's Long Beach home in February. Behind her is Nha's father, Phin Ken, and her cousin, Kenha Heang, right. (Jeff Gritchen/Press-Telegram)

via CAAI News Media

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer

A Cambodian girl taken from her homeland to receive life extending surgery was resting comfortably after a four-hour surgery performed in the Dominican Republic.

Socheat Nha, who turned 3 years old Wednesday, survived a tricky operation to repair a large hole in her heart and also had work done on the pulmonary artery that connects the heart ventricle to the lungs.

Although Dr. Rodrigo Soto, who performed the procedure, said the next 48 hours remain critical, he did say Socheat left the operating room in good condition and that in some ways her condition was not as bad as initially feared.

Soto, a surgeon from Chile working for the International Children's Heart Foundation, said he closed the hole, called a ventricular septal defect. Socheat, however, might need more work done in 6 to 10 years on her pulmonary artery, he said.

If she gets through the recovery period without incident, "she should be able to grow, put on weight and live a normal life."

Socheat overcame a big hurdle by making it through the operation without issue, but there are myriad other complications that can arise in the two days of recovery, according to doctors.

Peter Chhun, the head of Hearts Without Boundaries, which brought Socheat from Cambodia for the procedure, was cautiously optimistic.

"We all jumped up and down with joy that she survived the surgery," he said, "but I told her father we will celebrate when we all walk out of here together."
Socheat has gone through a circuitous and fretful route to get this far.

When she was first accepted by Hearts Without Boundaries to receive the surgery, it was planned that she would have an operation done in Las Vegas. However, doctors canceled her surgery because of complications and fear she would not survive.

With the help of a cardiologist in San Diego, Chhun was able to connect with International Children's Heart Foundation, which specializes in treating children from Third World countries.

That organization offered to perform the procedure in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Chhun had to raise funds to cover travel expenses and to pay for the hospital, although the surgeon donated his services.

Despite his immediate relief, Chhun sound exhausted when reached by phone in the Dominican Republic.

He said the celebration will come when Socheat walks out of the hospital doors.

Camp Cambodia: Teens in Asia serve


PHOTO BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD
Angkor of Faith - Angelize Tham shares a laugh with her new friend, Pala, at Angkor of Faith 4 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Tham, who lives in Malaysia, joined youths from across Southeast Asia for the weeklong camp.

via CAAI News Media

ERIK TRYGGESTAD | The Christian Chronicle

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA - "Today I felt so embarrassed,” Vinod Brennaven said. The 15-year-old from Tampin, Malaysia, had just checked into his hotel for the Angkor of Faith youth camp.

“When I came out of the lodge, I heard a boy calling my name,” Brennaven said. “I couldn’t remember his.”

The Cambodian children who roam the streets of this tourist city, famous for the ancient Angkor Wat temples, don’t forget the teens who visit annually for the weeklong camp.

Launched four years ago, Angkor of Faith gives teens from countries including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand the chance to interact as they serve food, host parties and play games with less fortunate children in Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world.

An estimated 24,000 children live and work on the streets of Cambodia, according to humanitarian groups. The country is a source of, and destination for, human trafficking. Children here are sold for sexual exploitation and forced labor, according to humantrafficking.org. Hotel rooms in Siem Reap post warnings for tourists not to engage in sex with children.

“They really need us. They need people to care for them,” said Aaron Wong, 16, a member of the Bedok Church of Christ in Singapore, who has attended Angkor of Faith since its beginning. “They live very simply, and they’re content with what they have — not like Singapore.”

A group of missionaries and Asian church leaders got the idea for the camp after visiting Siem Reap for the Asia Mission Forum, said Joel Osborne, a missionary in Japan, who coordinates the camp.

In addition to serving kids in Cambodia, Angkor of Faith gives young Christians a chance to connect with fellow believers across the region.

“It’s a good opportunity to give them a vision,” Osborne said.

The young Christians also have taken an expanded role in planning and coordinating camp activities — a promising sign for the future of the church in Southeast Asia, he added.

During the camp, the 80-plus participants were divided into “international groups” for meals and service projects. Using a common language, English, they prayed and sang hymns during spirited devotionals in the lodge’s common area. Some of their Cambodian friends watched.

“We have different cultures, but we have the same love for service,” said Mark Anthony Metilla, a church member in Davao, Philippines.

The teens found unique ways to serve during parties they hosted for more than 170 children. Some set up a hair-washing station while others played an aggressive, three-legged balloon pop game with the kids. Por Khumvan, a 17-year-old from Chiang Mai, Thailand, brought a huge box of fingernail paint and gave free manicures.

“I love to paint,” she said. “I do that in Chiang Mai as an outreach.”

Some older Cambodian children who have attended the parties in past years helped the teens serve the younger children, said Robert Reagan, a missionary in Chiang Mai.

“Plus, these same older kids helped as English teachers during our service projects to teach English in poor village schools,” Reagan said. “So we are now teaching the older street kids to serve the younger ones.”

Not all of the teens who participate in Angkor of Faith are Christians. Some are the children or friends of church members who heard about the camp and wanted to attend.

After seeing Christians in action, some attendees have decided to be baptized, Osborne said.

Several non-Christian Japanese teens told Reagan that they were moved by seeing the Cambodian children cry as they said their goodbyes.

“These (teens) said this is the first time they have felt the power of Christianity,” Reagan said.

Grace Ong, another member of the Bedok church in Singapore, has attended each Angkor of Faith and said she enjoys seeing the Cambodian kids “grow bigger, smarter and taller.”

Working with the youths also has forced the 18-year-old to ponder a problem faced by missionaries in many developing countries — showing charity without creating dependence.

“How can I help them without them becoming dependent on me … just handing out things?” she said.

As she shared steaming plates of rice and chicken with her international group, Ong said the camp has helped her become “more optimistic” back home.

In Singapore, many of her peers worry about which university they’ll attend. Few seem to realize how blessed they are to be able to choose a university at all.

“Of course I’m privileged … I get to choose what I want to wear and eat,” she said.

Brennavan agreed. He and Ong paid for their dinners — and meals for a few of their Cambodian friends — before heading back to the lodge. The next day he helped lead the children in a rousing chorus of “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”

“It’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said. “I’m really glad I came.”


Work starts on Pyle Architects’ Cambodia library



via CAAI News Media

22 April, 2010

By Anna Winston

Construction work is underway on Pyle Architects’ £1.3 million library for the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

The 2,800sq m Hun Sen library extension, named after Cambodia’s prime minister, has been developed by the London practice’s office in Phnom Penh headed by practice founder Geoff Pyle.

The extension will more than double the size of the existing library building, which was built in the early 1990s, and create a new entrance.

Large double-glazed openings in the building will create spaces with clear views of the landscape while withstanding Cambodia’s seasonal weather extremes.

Areas of louvres provide permanent natural ventilation, and the north and south elevations feature heavy shading to deal with strong solar gain.

the rear view of the library

Funding for the scheme has been provided by a grant from the World Bank as part of the Cambodia Education Sector Support Project.

But the grant does not cover the building’s operating costs, so it has been designed to require minimal electrical services, with ramps replacing lifts and selective air conditioning. Air from the undercroft of the building will be used to help cool internal spaces.



It is due for completion in early 2011.

Pyle has also set up an organisation with local students and architects to provide tours of Cambodia’s 1960s architecture. For more information visit http://www.ka-tours.org/

BHP probed over S$3.4 million Cambodia payment

http://business.asiaone.com/

via CAAI News Media

Thu, Apr 22, 2010
AFP

SYDNEY - Authorities in the United States are probing mining giant BHP Billiton over a 2.5 million US dollar (S$3.4 million) payment related to an exploration project in Cambodia, reports said on Thursday.

The Australian newspaper and the Sydney Morning Herald both said possible corruption uncovered by BHP, which has refused to give details, had been linked to an abandoned bauxite exploration project in the impoverished country.

The Anglo-Australian miner on Wednesday said it had evidence of possible corruption involving "interaction" with government officials, related to a minerals exploration project which was terminated about a year ago.

It declined to reveal the location of the project, but said it was not in China, where four staff of rival miner Rio Tinto were jailed for bribery and commercial espionage last month.

The Australian said BHP has admitted paying 2.5 million US dollars to a community in Cambodia's east, near the Vietnam border, but has denied a Cambodian government minister's claim that it was "tea money", or a bribe.

The company has said the money was put into a development fund investing in social welfare programmes, and that it paid one million US dollars to the government for bauxite exploration rights, according to the newspaper.

BHP declined to comment on the reports. On Wednesday, it said it had handed evidence to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and was also conducting an internal investigation.

Former war correspondents mourn slain colleagues in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

WAT PO, Cambodia, April 22 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A group of over two dozen former war correspondents held a solemn ceremony Thursday to mourn the loss of their colleagues who were killed or went missing while covering the war in Cambodia more than three decades ago.

The "Old Hacks," as they call themselves, gathered at a remote spot 63 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh where eight fellow journalists and a Cambodian driver were killed by the Khmer Rouge in May 1970 and where the bodies of four of them were dug up and recovered in 1992.

The slain media workers are among 37 who were killed or went missing in Cambodia between 1970 and 1975, including 10 Japanese, eight French, seven Americans and five Cambodians. Others were from Switzerland, West Germany, Austria, Netherlands, India, Laos and Australia.

Carl Robinson, 67, a former Associated Press correspondent who co- organized the first-ever reunion of war correspondents in Cambodia, said their visit to the remote site, located down a dirt track more than 2 km off the main road, was "like a day of pilgrimage."

"It was a very moving ceremony with a few tears shed," he said. "To use an overused word, it was like a 'closure' for a lot of people to actually be able to visit and to pay their respects here today."

The ceremony began with the chanting of Buddhists monks and local villagers amid the burning of incense, which was followed by the reading of the names of all 37 journalists.

They then held a moment of silence and planted a Bodhi, the tree under which Buddha found enlightenment, on the side of the road, which the monks of the local temple promised to take care of.

"The memorial as such is the Bodhi tree," said Robinson, who was based in Saigon from 1968 through 1975.

The Old Hacks, mostly former journalists in their late 60s or early 70s who had worked for Western major news organizations, arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday for a reunion which also involves a public open forum, a photo exhibition, a visit to the notorious "Killing Fields" and the installation of a more formal memorial in front of the Le Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh where many correspondents stayed and worked while covering the war in this country.

Among participants in Thursday's ceremony was the widow of Koki Ishiyama, a Kyodo News correspondent slain in Cambodia in 1970.

Kurt Volkert, 73, a former CBS cameraman who was instrumental in mapping where executed journalists were buried and who returned in 1992 to help a U.S. military team recover the remains of some of them from the bank of a river, said he regrets Ishiyama's body was never found despite the "heroic effort" put into the search by diggers, who had to dam up the river to dig.

"We were not close friends but I respected him and it's infinitely sad that he's still here somewhere, swept away by the waters," he said. "He just didn't get to go home."

Volkert said he visited Ishiyama's wife in Tokyo later that same year to deliver her a little silver box containing soil from the digging site where the bodies of two other Japanese, one Frenchman and one American were found.

Robinson said the number of journalists killed in Cambodia was much higher than in Vietnam during the Vietnam War because in the latter case, "journalists could count on the U.S. military to take them to wherever the fighting was" whereas in Cambodia journalists had to basically take a taxi ride to the war zone.

To make matters worse, he said the Khmer Rouge policy then was to "smash" or execute all perceived enemies, including journalists.

The Old Hacks have held three reunions in Vietnam for those who covered the Vietnam War and they are slated to hold their fourth next week.

"But this is the first time we've ever had one in Cambodia so it's been a wonderful experience, a really nice and wonderful feeling," Robinson said.

At the same time, he said, feelings are mixed. With some Old Hacks not having been back to Cambodia since the early 1970s, "it's been quite an emotional return for a lot of people."

"You enjoy it but you can't help remember the sadness as well."