Saturday, 12 June 2010

Rural life in Cambodia

Local Cambodian villagers plow a farm field before planting rice in Kob Srov village, about 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Local Cambodian villagers plow a farm field before planting rice in Kob Srov village, about 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Tarantula Cocktails

via Khmer NZ News media

Posted 6/11/2010
by Ron Hogan


This Cambodian tuk-tuk driver is enjoying what people in his country believe is a heart-healthy drink with aphrodisiac powers: a tarantula cocktail. That’s right, it’s a noxious mixture of rice wine, jack fruit, and spider entrails, with the spider being alive until he ends up in the glass. Mmm, tasty!

Tim Whitby captured the drink, as well as the driver. Cambodia has had a vigorous spider-food trade since the 70’s, but it’s only recently that mystified Westerners are getting a chance to join the locals on spider-hunting tours and try the snacks (either in drink form or fried) alongside the friendly locals. Would you try the local dish of choice?

As for me, I, uh… I think I’ll pass, thanks. My heart and libido are healthy enough; I don’t need to make things worse by consuming a pulpy mass of spider entrails.

Gentle survivors leave indelible impressions

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

via Khmer NZ News Media

Catherine Marshall From: The Australian
June 12, 2010

Illustration: Igor Saktor

WEEKS after returning from Cambodia, I still dream each night I'm sleeping on a boat that drifts aimlessly across the Tonle Sap.
Beside me are the landless people who tether their vessels to the shifting edges of this vast freshwater lake, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

I wake confused, certain I will find a sleepy family squatting before the fire, stirring the morning soup, readying themselves for a new day on this body of water that is more welcoming for them than solid ground. So immersed have I been on my journey into this country that even in my sleep I am visited by its gentle souls.

It's a journey that begins in relative luxury: guests at Phnom Penh's Golden Gate Hotel, my fellow travellers and I sip cocktails at the Foreign Correspondents Club, straining for a view of the Mekong River. We have sealed ourselves off momentarily from the deprivation of this city, lingering over our cranberry mojitos and Singapore slings as motos rush by like fireworks on the street below.

But we haven't come to Cambodia to gawk from a distance at the flotsam washed up from decades of civil war and the unspeakable brutality of Pol Pot's regime. Under the guidance of the SeeBeyondBorders foundation, we will seek out the beauty of this place, build connections, target development initiatives and channel support to marginalised communities. In short, we will try to make a difference.

During several days, we are introduced to the complex Cambodian narrative: at Phnom Penh University, where we pair up with students desperate for English conversation, and at Pol Pot's Tuol Sleng prison, redolent still with incomprehensible evil. There's the non-government organisation-funded school at which we apply termite control and play shriek-inducing games with village children and the Khmer Rouge killing field transformed by Jesuit Services Cambodia into a vocational training centre for the disabled. The wares of the Mekong Wheelchair Shop are custom-designed for the country's robust roads and rice fields. The wheelchairs are as utilitarian as bicycles in a country still paved with five million landmines.

Thus initiated, we buy fish-stuffed baguettes for breakfast and board an early-morning bus to Battambang. Provincial Cambodia opens up like a storybook: ox-wagons heaving beneath clay vessels, a new highway arching optimistically above the morning bustle, the curiously titled Ministry of Cults and Religions building tucked into a side street. We stretch our legs at a roadside market where a Cambodian expat now living in the US offers me a bite of her whole fried chicken. I settle for a bag of dried jackfruit instead.

We are staying at the Arrupe Welcome Centre, run by Spanish Jesuit Kike Figaredo and a cohort of young volunteers; here, farmers rake mounds of rice set out in the sun to dry and wheelchair-bound youngsters zip about, shaping for themselves a destiny never imagined under Pol Pot.

SeeBeyondBorders has organised a three-day intensive maths workshop for 70 village teachers, many of whom are barely out of school themselves; they register bright and early on the first day, hungry for knowledge. The five Australian teachers in our group unfurl Khmer number charts and unpack wooden blocks, practising their counting. "Muoy, bir, bei," they chant.

The rest of us spend two days with Dhammayietra Mongkol Borei, a local health and development NGO. Our job is to construct salas, meeting places for elderly Cambodians. Dhammayietra founder Arlys Herem, an American nurse who came to Southeast Asia to work with refugees in 1983, says old people, always well respected in Cambodian society, are central to the country's social reconstruction. "There's [also] great potential for them to monitor what's happening to orphans and vulnerable children in the village," she explains.

Forming a chain gang with the villagers, we haul stones, pass buckets, lay bricks and concrete, and eat communal meals. Alex, a young Sydney-based Canadian, converses with the man beside her, she in English, he in Khmer. "We somehow understood one another," she says later.

As we're about to farewell the villagers, they present us with bowls of milky, purple brew and watch us expectantly. "You really should try some," SeeBeyondBorders founder Ed Shuttleworth whispers, noticing our hesitation. And so we tuck in, for if we don't at the very least accept our hosts' generous hospitality, what would be the deeper purpose of our visit? The dish, as it turns out, tastes much like a pudding my grandmother might have served.

Made with "chicken blood" potatoes, coconut milk, sugar and sticky rice, it's a parting gift as sweet and warm as the people who deliver it.

We travel by van to Siem Reap and settle in at the Reflection Centre, run by Denise Coghlan, Australian-born director of Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia and member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. The centre has a peacefulness that even the traditional sleeping mats and bucket baths can't dislodge. Indeed, these authentic surrounds only deepen the impression of our daily encounters.

We join a group of women who run a village nutrition program and set to work hacking the rinds off pumpkins, cooking soup in a blistering lean-to kitchen, dishing it out to rows of hungry, bright-eyed children.

When we gather each evening to reflect on our days, I feel increasingly impotent in the face of such overwhelming hardship.

While the teachers run another round of oversubscribed workshops, Adam, a landscape architect from Sydney, works on a gardening project with refugees from Sudan and Iraq, and the rest of us prepare parcels for destitute families living on the Tonle Sap. We visit disabled villagers with their wide smiles and agonising stories: in one home the grandmother has lost her legs, the father his arms and eyes. He has gone for a walk, his wife tells us; he feels his way with his feet.

The lake is wild and inaccessible the morning we are to deliver the parcels, but the day after, as we squeeze in some last-minute sightseeing, we get a call from the priest who runs the outreach program: the wind has subsided, he's off to the lake, would we like to join him? Angkor Wat or the people of the Tonle Sap? There's no contest.

The floating villages bob about in their soupy waters, wooden vessels flanked by waterborne pens in which livestock and vegetables flourish. "You must hand over the rice with two hands," Ratana Som, our translator, instructs us. "You must also sit because it makes you equal."

I clamber awkwardly aboard a boat, settling into an incense-scented space occupied by a woman, her daughters and grandchildren. The ceiling is pasted with bright pink lace and images of the saints; a cat slinks casually by, a baby slumbers in a hammock. I hand the package to the grandmother, sceptical of the long-term effect of this gesture.

Perhaps she has sensed my despondency for as I leave she hugs me tightly and reassuringly, as a mother would.

And in that moment I have an unexpected, liberating epiphany: my world has expanded while I wasn't looking, stretching its boundaries to envelop Cambodia and its people, transforming the hungry, damaged faces on the evening news into the warm, flesh-and-blood people sitting before me. Leaving my shoes at the door, I have allowed a whole new consciousness to stream through me. I haven't saved the world, but I've taken an important first step.

We offload our remaining cargo against the backdrop of a lavishly setting sun, then float back towards Siem Reap and our own privileged lives.

Tucked into my metaphorical pocket are the mementos I wouldn't have found for love or money at Cambodia's markets and souvenir shops: the indelible stories of the people I've met along the way, and the profound cross-cultural acceptance that came with that motherly hug on the Tonle Sap.

Catherine Marshall was a guest of SeeBeyondBorders.

The Ministry of Interior Rejected Rong Chhun’s Request to Disclose the Number of Immigrants – Friday, 11.6.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ News Media

Posted on 12 June 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior will not respond to a request from Mr. Rong Chhun, a representative of the Cambodian Watchdog Council [he is also the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, surprisingly not mentioned in this article], for a public information about the number of immigrants in Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, General Khieu Sopheak, told Deum Ampil by phone on Thursday, 10 June 2010, that the Ministry of Interior does not have the right to respond to Mr. Rong Chhun’s request; the Ministry of Interior is an institution under the administration of the fourth term Royal Government that has the role to serve the citizens.

“A letter signed by Mr. Rong Chhun, a representative of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, to the Ministry of Interior and the Deum Ampil newspaper on Thursday morning says that the Cambodian Watchdog Council noticed that the number of immigrants in Cambodia keeps increasing from day to day, which worries Khmer citizens.

“The letter adds that the Cambodian Watchdog Council asked for information about the number of legal and illegal Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants living in Cambodia. The Ministry of Interior does not broadly publish the number of immigrants and does not have clear procedures to be taken against illegal immigrants living in Cambodia.

“General Khieu Sopheak responded to the letter, saying, ‘The Ministry of Interior is not under the command of that council!’

“He added that the Ministry of Interior is controlled by the fourth Royal Government under Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen as the head of government, which is obliged to serve the citizens. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior does not have the right to answer to the above request, and he asked Mr. Rong Chhun to look at himself and to see how much rights he has.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #501, 11.6.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 11 June 2010

Just Back From: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Saani Smith & Susie Jee in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Photo: n/a

http://www.sfgate.com/
via Khmer NZ News Media

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saani Smith, East Bay

I went because: To visit the many Angkor temples spanning from the eighth century to the 15th century that were abandoned and then rediscovered 150 years ago.

Don't miss: The Angkor Wat temple's 12th century Khmer architecture. It is the best preserved of all the temples and the wall carvings all tell stories of that period.

Don't bother: Taking the elephant ride up the mountain that is pricey and much too slow.

Coolest souvenir: The many carvings and prints depicting the Apsara dancers.

Worth a splurge: Definitely hire an English-speaking guide. The history is too great to miss, and the architecture will bring about 1,000 questions.

I wish I'd packed: Less clothing and more gifts for the very beautiful and super-friendly Cambodians.

Got a great photo of yourself on a recent vacation? Submit it and details of your trip at sfgate.com/mytrip.

Lessons in Cambodia

http://www.asiaone.com/

via Khmer NZ News Media

Fri, Jun 11, 2010
AsiaOne

[Above: The writer (bottom right-hand corner), with her friends in Cambodia. ]

By Yuslina Aziz

I remember hugging my parents before walking through the immigration gates at Changi Airport, thinking to myself, "How am I going to survive the next fourteen days in Cambodia?"

In retrospect, I felt silly for lacking the confidence and belief that I could serve and volunteer in Cambodia wholeheartedly - for it was me who ended up unwilling to leave the country at the end of my fourteen-day volunteering stint.

NTU Hall of Residence 12 Overseas Voluntary Expedition (OVE) Team 2010

Students practise their typing skills in the village library.

Village children greeting the OVE team

Getting to know one another on the first day of lessons.

The youths enjoying themselves during the orientation session

Bonding with the students through a game of soccer.

Together with twenty-three other team-mates of mine from Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Hall of Residence 12, I embarked on this inspiring journey, not knowing what to expect but coming out of it with an experience of a lifetime.

We spent a good proportion of our voluntary expedition tutoring Cambodian youths in the English language at the Boys' Brigade Learning Centre (BBLC) in Proyouth Village, Puok District. It was uplifting to discover that over a 6-day period of tutoring; the children absorbed our lessons and even put in the extra effort to practise the phrases and basic terms we taught them through simple games and question-and-answer sessions.

Interacting with these youths also changed my perspective on the value of education and I truly admire them for trying so hard to excel academically and to better themselves in a bid to carve out a brighter future for their families and themselves.

Besides tutoring, we also tried our hand at road-building and it certainly was no easy feat!

Day after day, we toiled under the hot sun, shovelling sand and stones to build the road within Proyouth Village.

It just amazed me that under such circumstances, none of us muttered a single complaint or voiced any forms of discomfort despite our laborious tasks. I only heard words of concern for each other, and the camaraderie we forged over road-building in the village was a highly invigorating affair.

Personally, the highlight of this expedition was our participation in the Rice-Soup Service Programme at Khana Thmey where we played with village children and served bowls of porridge to them.

As English is only taught in schools at the secondary level, most, if not all, the children we interacted with at Khana Thmey spoke no English.

The language barrier proved not to be a problem as all these children wanted was a companion and for someone to hug them and play with them, not worrying if they have food to eat for the day.

All they needed was to feel safe, something we take for granted back at home.

The fourteen days spent in Cambodia was inspiring and uplifting, at best, and not for a moment did I regret my decision to go on this expedition. In fact, you may even see me back in Cambodia next year leading a new batch of undergraduates on another trip.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ News Media

Mr. Soy Sopheap to Show his face on Bayon Television Screen in the Morning News Program

Friday, 11 June 2010 13:46 DAP-NEWS

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 10, 2010 -Mr. Soy Sopheap, Director General of The DAP News Center and Wednesday Bayon Television Station's commentator, will show his face on Bayon Television Station in the Morning News Program, which starts on every Monday to Friday at 6: 15 to 7:00 o´clock AM.

3 People Killed, 12 Others Injured in Car Accident

Friday, 11 June 2010 13:51 DAP-NEWS

CAMBODIA,KAMPONG CHAM, June 11, 2010 -At least 3 people were killed and 12 others were seriously injured in car accident on Thursday of June 10, 2010 on highway 71 in Dournchi village, Bosknor commune, Chamkar Leu district, Kampong Cham province.

Foreign Funded NGOs Flag Cambodia in Eliminating Forest Crimes

Friday, 11 June 2010 12:00 By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, June 11, 2010 – Foreign funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) praised the Cambodian government’s efforts in fighting against forest crimes through crackdown on confiscating chainsaws, seizing illegal wood, arresting businesspersons, and government officers involved in illegal logging—in order to preserve natural resources.

“NGOs congratulate the government for recent action to eliminate forest crimes,” said a report, of NGO position paper on Cambodia’s development in 2009-2010, obtained by DAP News Centre.

Prime Minister Hun Sen fired the head of the forestry department, Ty Sokun, in April this year over his failure to stop the forestry crimes.

The group, however, has observed that “economic land concessions are the main root cause of land conflicts and forest disasters in the country”.

The government has issued hundreds of economic land concessions with the purpose of generating income for economic development and poverty reduction activities, it said.

The report noted that the government lacked of consulting with the local communities in the areas where their livings depended on the natural resources.

“This kind of development is found to be contributing more negative than positive impacts on the communities,” said the report published by NGO Forum on Cambodia.

“Some companies have been granted areas larger than what it stated in the law.”
The government has failed to closely monitor the economic land concessions which enabled some companies to violate their agreements by clearing forest land nearby.

An estimated 7 million hectares, which is about 70 percent of the forest area, has contributed to the destruction of the forest, said the report.

Cambodia in the past was criticised by the UK-based Global Witness that the country is run by a kleptocratic elite that generates much of its wealth via the seizure of public assets, particularly natural resources.

The Global Witness said that Cambodia’s army, military police, police and forest administration are all heavily involved in illegal logging. But the government rejected Global Witness’s comment as unsubstantiated.

Ministry of Interior Rejected Mr. Rong Chhun’s Proposal for showing the Immigrants’ Real Figure

Thursday, 10 June 2010 12:48 DAP-NEWS

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 10, 2010 - The Ministry of Interior’s spokesman Khieu Sopheak abruptly rejected Cambodia Watchdog Council’s proposal for showing the real figure of both legal and illegal immigrants who have lived in Cambodia.

“The Ministry of Interior will not be under Mr. Rong Chhun’s order and advice,” he added.

Mr. Rong Chhun, President of Independent Teachers’ Association and Representative of Cambodia Watchdog Council sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior in order to demand to publicly show the real figure of both legal and illegal immigrants living in Cambodia.

The letter signed by Mr. Rong Chhun the DAP-news center has received on Thursday morning stated that Cambodia Watchdog Council from day to day took notice of the growing figure of the immigrants living in Cambodia.

The Cambodian people as a whole have absolutely been concerned about the immigrants’ increasing figure.

“Cambodia Watchdog Council has demanded to show the real figure of both legal and illegal Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who have been living in Cambodia,” The letter continued.

For the immigrants living in Cambodia, the Ministry of Interior has never informed the Cambodian people of the immigrants’ real figure and has never let them know comprehensively about it; furthermore, the Ministry of Interior has never taken any concrete steps against the illegal immigrants. In response to the above-mentioned letter, Mr. Khieu Sopheak on Thursday morning told the DAP-news center on the phone that the Ministry of Interior is not under the so-called Cambodia Watchdog Council’s advice and order.

“The Ministry of Interior is under the Royal Government of Cambodia’s control,” he continued. So, the Ministry of Interior does not have the rights to answer this question. Please check your own rights. How much do you have the rights?

China Gas, International Taifeng: Hong Kong Equity Preview

via Khmer NZ News Media

June 10, 2010

By Hanny Wan

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- The following companies may have significant price changes in Hong Kong trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses. Share prices are as of the last close.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.1 percent to 19,632.70. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks so-called H shares of Chinese companies, advanced 0.1 percent to 11,178.17.

Bank of China Ltd. (3988 HK): The bank received approval in principle from Cambodia’s central bank to open a branch in Phnom Penh, Xinhua said, citing Thai Saphear, head of the Cambodian central bank’s governor’s office. The shares were unchanged at HK$3.86.

China Gas Holdings Ltd. (384 HK): The stock was rated “buy” in new coverage by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst Chris Shiu, who said the company was the top pick in China’s gas industry because of its “strong volume growth momentum, favorable customer mix and discounted valuations.” China Gas, the supplier of the fuel to mainland homes and businesses, advanced 1.7 percent to HK$3.64.

Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. (2038 HK): The company said its unit in Beijing, Foxconn Precision Component (Beijing) Co. Ltd., is reviewing the housing practices of other companies to ensure its practices are in line with the government policy and that of the industry. The company made the statement in response to media reports that the subsidiary failed to make contributions to a provincial government housing fund. The stock slid 2.5 percent to HK$5.47.

International Taifeng Holdings Ltd. (873 HK): The company, which manufactures cotton yarns and bedding products, said it sold 280 million shares at HK$2.06 each in an initial public offering, raising net proceeds of HK$445 million. Trading starts today.

--Editor: John McCluskey.

Electricity Cut to Rangoon Businesses


via Khmer NZ News Media

By THE IRRAWADDY JUNE, 2010 - VOLUME 18 NO.6

Electricity for businesses in Rangoon was cut off in mid-May by the state-owned Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise, which is responsible for electrical generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Burma.

A sidewalk vendor in Rangoon uses a battery-powered light to show his wares.

Electricity Cut to Rangoon BusinessesThe cutoff affected private hospitals, shopping centers, small businesses and industry zones, most of which have generators as a back-up electricity supply. The water supply of the Lawpita hydroelectric plant, located 210 miles (350 kilometers) north of Rangoon, one of the main sources of electricity for the former capital, depends on Inle Lake in Shan State. High temperatures this year caused the lake’s water level to sink to a 50-year low, according to Weekly Eleven, a Rangoon-based journal.

Crony Capitalism Blamed for Power Woes

The Burmese junta’s habit of awarding lucrative contracts to regime-connected companies has been blamed for the ongoing failure of efforts to improve Rangoon’s access to electricity. Officials said that a plan to build a pipeline from the Gulf of Martaban to Burma’s former capital was stalled due to quality-control issues. The pipeline project, worth an estimated US $500 million, is being carried out by IGE Co Ltd, run by Nay Aung and Pyi Aung, sons of Minister of Industry 1 Aung Thaung. IGE is a major supplier of substation and transmission line materials, oil and gas and CNG filling stations. With an election coming later this year, the regime had promised to increase Rangoon’s power supply by the end of April. Minister of Energy Lun Thi pushed IGE to conclude the pipeline project one month ahead of its original deadline. Now accused of shoddy quality control in its work on the project, IGE has blamed Lun Thi for the problems it faces.

Thai Unrest to Crimp Economy

The Thai government’s National Economic and Social Development Board predicted that political instability at home and risks to the global economy from Europe’s debt crisis would adversely affect the country’s economic growth. The agency said that domestic unrest would hit tourism, slow household spending and private investment and cause delays in government spending. Bangkok regained a semblance of normality after a violent army crackdown in May cleared the city’s commercial district of thousands of Redshirt protesters, who were accused of burning nearly 40 buildings in the commerical district, including the stock exchange and the city’s largest shopping mall. The crackdown brought the death toll in Bangkok to 88 with nearly 2,000 injured during two months of protests.

Gold Selling Well in Burma

The crisis surrounding the common European currency, the Euro, has pushed the price of gold to record highs. With world market prices at an all-time high, Chinese and Thai gold traders have rushed to Burma, where the precious metal is cheaper than in neighboring countries. According to Burmese dealers, gold is relatively cheap in the country because exchange rates favor foreign buyers. Another factor, they said, is government pressure to keep prices under control. Traders have been warned to limit price increases, but they say this is difficult to do because the rapid rise is driven by international demand.

Sand for Singapore Devastates Cambodian Coast

Cambodia is eroding its coast by dredging vast quantities of sand to sell to Singapore for expansion projects, with multimillion-dollar profits going to tycoons close to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to the London-based environmental watchdog Global Witness. Operations from just one Cambodian province were estimated to be worth US $248 million annually in retail value in Singapore, the group said. Cambodian law bans only river sand from export, but Global Witness said its investigators found that both sea and river sand have been exported since the law was passed. The group also criticized Singapore for the practice, pointing out that the wealthy island city-state “presents itself as a regional leader on environmental issues.”

Sudbury contingent celebrates opening of Lincoln- Sudbury Memorial School in Cambodia


Courtesy photo by David Barron.Mira Vale, Bill Schechter, and the district governor cut the ribbon.

Courtesy photo by David Barron.Two students with new school supplies

Courtesy photo by David Barron.Students hold Eric Drobinski's ('99) lacrosse jersey

via Khmer NZ News Media

By Mira Vale/Special to the Town Crier
GateHouse News Service
Posted Jun 10, 2010

SUDBURY — On Tuesday, May 11, I handed in my statistics final exam and headed back to Lincoln, a joyous return home after what was by all accounts a wonderful first year of college. The next afternoon, I set off to visit Lincoln-Sudbury. This little jaunt was not to drop by my former high school. Rather, the journey on which I embarked was to attend the opening ceremony for the Lincoln-Sudbury Memorial School, a sister school to our own L-S in the Thmar Kaul district of Battambang, Cambodia.

Over the past twenty months, students and community members involved with the Lincoln-Sudbury Memorial School Project have worked to raise funds to build and maintain a sister school in memory and honor of the students and graduates of L-S who died before their time. Working alongside American Assistance for Cambodia (AAfC), a prominent nonprofit that has constructed over 500 schools in rural Cambodia since 1999, we passed our initial fundraising goal of $13,000 last June, about the same time as the L-S Memorial School finished construction. The school building, which boasts five classrooms furnished with desks, benches, chalkboards, school supplies, and English-speaking teachers, opened for its 300 high school-aged students on October 1, 2009. This trip, which sent what I hope will be the first of many contingents from Sudbury’s L-S, was intended to celebrate our partner school’s existence and to begin to establish relationships between our school communities.

So twenty-one long and altitudinous hours after leaving Lincoln’s luscious and temperate verdure, I touched down in Phnom Penh, the nation’s capital. I stepped off the plane into heat more penetrating than I can describe and met up with Peng Ty, the AAfC representative assigned to take us around. I also met up with L-S legend Bill Schechter, much-beloved history and journalism teacher of several decades, and David Barron, a professional photographer, Sudbury resident and L-S alum from 1978.

After a day in Phnom Penh spent catching our breath and touring the most important sites, museums, and genocide memorials, we drove up to Battambang on National Highway 5, Cambodia’s main roadway. A single-lane, startlingly straight thoroughfare, the highway took us by countless villages and rice fields.

The next morning was the opening school ceremony. Something of a misnomer, given that school has been in session for seven months, the students were nonetheless thrilled to see us as we pulled up to the school complex. The ceremony was so colorful and joyous. Bill and I both delivered speeches, as did the school principal, the provincial minister of education and sport, and the district governor. We were blessed by Buddhist monks, listened to the Khmer national anthem sung in unison, and cut a ceremonial ribbon in front of the school’s main entrance.

As the students filed into their classrooms, our L-S contingent went through each room, handing out school supplies and pointing out Massachusetts and Cambodia on the first world map these children had ever seen. All the kids wanted to take pictures with us, and though I think my smile broke from the photo ops, I appreciated the chance to meet students and ask them about their lives.

We returned the next morning to talk more, and I was supremely relieved to be able to walk into classrooms without receiving a standing ovation and enthusiastic applause. I spent most of my time with Nary, a cheerful twelfth-grader who plans to attend university in the fall. Clearly at the top of her class, Nary relished the chance to practice her English, which is her favorite school subject among Khmer, math, biology, chemistry, and physics. The Cambodians I met were not especially physically affectionate, but Nary gave me a big hug when we had to part ways.

I returned home several days later, mind swimming with ideas, hopes, and plans for our two Lincoln-Sudburys. Amidst effusive thank-yous in his speech, the school principal noted that the Memorial School could use another two computers; the solar panel that powers the one we currently have installed can support up to three, and having only one computer for three hundred students is a ratio that borders on absurdity. One of my hopes for this project is to continue raising money to support and improve our sister school.

In my own speech, I focused on the three goals I have for this project. The first goal, to positively direct the grief of my own community so as to heal from our losses, is one that is ongoing and can never be fully achieved. The countless letters and emails I have received to date give me hope that this project is helping that process of healing.

My second goal is to help another school community by enhancing opportunities for education. From talking with students and hearing how appreciative they are to learn in this building, I am confident that we have and can continue to assist our friends at the school in Thmar Kaul.

My third goal is to establish a lasting, sustainable connection between our two school communities, relationships that afford everyone an opportunity to learn from each other across thousands of miles. I hope students from Lincoln and Sudbury will email with students from Thmar Kaul, and I hope L-S will send groups to visit and volunteer at our sister school in years to come.

Cambodia has been through times of unspeakable hell, tragedy beyond what we can comprehend. Some of this suffering came at the hands of the United States, which dropped more tons of bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War era than it did on Japan in the Second World War. Lincoln-Sudbury has also seen its share of sadness, though I will not pretend our suffering lies on a comparable scale. Our communities stand to learn so much from each other. It is my sincere hope that L-S in Cambodia will become a proud and sustained point of contact, and that L-S in Sudbury will develop involvement in Cambodia as a continuing part of its curriculum and its legacy.

Mira Vale, a student at Yale University, came up with the idea of starting a school in Cambodia and led many fundraising efforts while a student at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High.

Disagreement among Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 10.6.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ News Media

Posted on 11 June 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“Phnom Penh: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [ECCC], called the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, announced that there is disagreement among co-investigating judges after there had been some misinformation, and an international co-investigating judge considers it as disagreement.

“According to the announcement by the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, released on 9 June 2010, the co-investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal want to correct some information that led to a misunderstanding in a publication on 8 June 2010 of The Cambodia Daily, with the headline, ‘Khmer Rouge Tribunal Begins Investigations of Five New Regime Suspects’ and on 9 June 2010 ‘Khmer Rouge Judge Does Not Sign On to New Investigations.’

“The same announcement says that to ensure clarity, the co-investigating judges decided to make a public announcement on the above case, and declared on 9 June 2010 that the international co-investigating judge considers that there is disagreement between two investigating judges (a national judge, Mr. You Bunleng, and an international judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde) over the appropriate time to begin inquiries.

“The announcement adds that relating to the plan for investigations on Case 003 and 004 to be organized before the end of this year, the international co-investigating judge will continue this work alone in accordance with the regulations of Procedure 27 of the internal procedures of the ECCC.

“Regarding the background of the disagreement, an international co-investigating judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, wrote a letter dated 2 June 2010 to Judge You Bunleng, saying, as the investigations on Case 002 have been completely finished, the investigators should not be kept to get their salaries paid without having work to do. He added that he cannot wait longer without a clear result. Therefore, if a warrant to begin new investigations would not be signed by Friday, 4 June 2010 at noon, he would have to write a note about the disagreement, because it could possibly lead to various negative consequences.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal asked The Cambodia Daily to correct the information published on 8 June 2010 with the headline “Khmer Rouge Tribunal Begins Investigations of Five New Regime Suspects” on page 26, claiming that the press quoted information that was ‘non-basis information’ and was not from the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2271, 10.6.2010

Note:

The Cambodia Daily added on 10 June 2010 that Mr. Marcel Lemonde stated that the letter to start further investigations waited for three weeks to be signed. Then Mr. You Bonleng signed it.

The Cambodia Daily then quotes Mr. You Bonmleng’s letter from 8 June 2010:

“Throughout the process of reflection on your proposal and the ultimatum you imposed on me, I had thought that it seemed time to take action as part of cases 003 and 004; I therefore signed the draft rotatory letters on Friday, June 4, 2010.

However, upon more attentive and deeper consideration of the question, I think that it is not yet opportune to take action in cases 003 and 004.

So I permit myself to return to you the draft rotatory letters containing your signature, mine being crossed out, and we shall contemplate discussion on any measures concerning cases 003 and 004 in the month of September 2010.”
 
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 10 June 2010

Medics train Cambodian staff


via Khmer NZ News Media

Jun 11, 2010

By Victoria Vaughan

MEDICS from Singapore recently travelled to Cambodia to help train local doctors and nurses in paediatric intensive care.

The mission was part of a capacity- building project by volunteer charity Singapore International Foundation (SIF) which started in 2008.

The four-year project comes under the SIF's Singapore Volunteers Overseas programme and is funded by Metro for Children charity. It supports the further training of medical staff at the hospital with tutorials and practical demonstrations by medics from Singapore.

Two doctors and two nurses from KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) travelled to the capital, Phnom Penh, for two weeks in March to share their expertise with their Cambodian counterparts at the National Pediatric Hospital (NPH) of Cambodia.

The Singapore team, picked and led by Dr Loh Tsee Foong, senior consultant at KKH's intensive care unit, lectured on administration, admission criteria, the ventilation of babies and children, as well as the management of infection.

NPH's Dr Srour Yina said the training was helpful. 'Some of the things we are taught are new to us and will help us to further cut down the number of deaths. We're leaning to intubate and carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Before, we did these things but not so well.'

Cambodia to protect land around Tonle Sap lake

via Khmer NZ News Media

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Cambodia announced plans Thursday to conserve forested shore areas around Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake.

Sam Nov, a deputy director of the country's Fisheries Administration, said that some 1.6 million acres (640,000 hectares) of forest land that floods during rainy season with be declared off-limits for development, including encroachment by farmers planting rice.

The lake covers about 618,000 acres (250,000 hectares) during the dry season and expands to about 3 million acres (1.25 million hectares) during the rainy season. It is the habitat for more than 200 species of fish, 42 types of reptiles, 225 species of birds and 46 kinds of mammals.

"The flooded forests are very vital shelters for several species ... and their offspring," Sam Nov said. "We urgently need to conserve this forest. If not we will lose it forever."

Several areas of flooded forest and wetlands have already been cleared by farmers and agribusiness companies in recent years to convert the land for dry season farming, he said.

Officials from the six provinces that surround the lake, located about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, will soon begin informing villagers of the ban on destroying the forest areas, said Sam Nov.

He flips, spins, turns his life around


Deported from the U.S., a former Long Beach gang member makes a name break dancing in Cambodia and becomes a role model.

Tuy "K.K." Sobil, right, dances with Sovann "Fresh" Dyrithy, 18, a teacher, at the Tiny Toones youth center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Lianne Milton / For The Times / April 22, 2010)

via Khmer NZ News Media

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia — His arms and chest coated with gangland-style tattoos, his eyebrow pierced, Tuy "K.K." Sobil sits in a cafe in Phnom Penh beside his 5-year-old son, Unique, adopted from drug dealer parents who couldn't cope.

"I'm trying to get him to eat his vegetables," he said. "He gets his bad habits from me."

K.K., short for "Krazy Kat," knows all about bad habits: The onetime member of the Long Beach Crips served eight years in prison for armed robbery before being deported in 2004 to Cambodia, his parents' homeland.

Now, six years after he found himself abandoned, impoverished and largely unwelcome in an ancestral land he'd never seen, the 32-year-old has tapped into long-forgotten break-dancing skills to become one of Cambodia's unlikeliest role models.

His goal: to keep thousands of street children from making the same mistakes he did.

K.K.'s life was upended by a U.S. law that authorized deportations of noncitizens with any criminal conviction, from murder to shoplifting. Although he was born in a Thai refugee camp, never visited Cambodia and lived in the United States since he was 4, neither K.K. nor his illiterate parents formally applied for citizenship after he turned 18.

But K.K. reckons the deportation pulled him out of a life that probably would have led him back to prison, or possibly to his death by now. "Doper, may he rest in peace, Doper passed away," he said of one former gang member.

When K.K. landed, shellshocked, in Phnom Penh and looked around at the impoverished, war-torn country, the last thing he envisioned was a return to break dancing, which he hadn't done since he was 13. But after another deportee who knew of his reputation spread the word of his skills, street urchins badgered him until he finally agreed to give lessons in his living room.

"There were 40 kids in the room every night," said Michael Otto, K.K.'s best man at his wedding to a Cambodian woman. "It was like a sauna."

Working with youngsters left little room for self-pity. Sure, he'd had it tough. But at least the United States had public schools and welfare departments, both sorely lacking here.

"I realized I needed to help out," he said.

Before long, he left his job at Korsang, a nonprofit drug treatment center, to start the Tiny Toones youth center, housed in a run-down building with surging electricity, rats and leaking walls. Poverty, gangs, drugs and family abuse, a legacy of decades of war and dysfunctional government, left thousands of orphans and street children badly in need of help.

Although rapping, break dancing, beat boxing, and deejaying — and K.K. — are the center's trademark, its real mission is to empower youngsters, help them kick drugs, and teach basic language, arts and computer skills.

"K.K.'s my hero," said Sun Makara, 19, who grew up on the street scrounging garbage, stealing and doing drugs.

Makara, who sports a pierced left eyebrow and wears exposed underwear over low-hanging pants, has turned his life around and is teaching break dancing to troubled youths at Korsang and Tiny Toones.

At the center's large outdoor dance floor, young wannabe hip-hop stars do headstands, back flips, one-hand hops and windmills to a pounding boombox, while around back, new tracks are being cut in a makeshift recording studio.

The center is partly funded by grants from charitable foundations, individual donations and money earned selling T-shirts, hats, stickers and a short Tiny Toones album mixed on aging equipment. Funders say the group needs to get more organized to help more youngsters, and hire more support staff. K.K. acknowledges that administration isn't necessarily his strong suit.

"K.K.'s story is very inspirational at many levels: himself, the children and Cambodia trying to come back," said Hoa Tu Duong, a program officer at the charity Global Fund for Children. "We see enormous potential, but we also see there's lots of work to do."

Many of the songs coming out of the center have a social message; one, "Huff Gow," is about sniffing glue. They often integrate modern vocals and beats with 1960s Cambodian oldies, which took their inspiration from Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and big band music.

Break dancing, which started in the 1970s in the U.S., has expanded worldwide, especially in Asia, with a global Battle of the Year dance competition featuring top contestants from around the world.

As Tiny Toones' reputation has grown, other doors have opened. American hip-hop group Jurassic 5 has stopped by, and six top dancers whom K.K. taught toured the U.S. last year.

As a deportee, K.K. couldn't accompany them. But he followed them on YouTube as they showed off their moves and out-danced competitors in formal and informal matchups in Madison, Wis., New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Seeing them perform without him by their side was bittersweet.

"It made me sad, but also proud," he said.

Tiny Toones dancers will represent Cambodia at the regional Battle of the Year in Singapore this summer. (In a strange coincidence, during a previous performance overseas, in Hong Kong in 2008, K.K. ended up sitting beside former President Clinton, who had signed the deportation law.)

Tiny Toones' success is a reflection of K.K.'s charisma and his connection with youngsters, said Holly Bradford, an American who was his employer at Korsang.

"He has a magic to him that continues to amaze me. He's done right, he's proven himself. It's America's loss in my book."

K.K., the oldest child of impoverished onetime farmers, started hanging out on the streets of Long Beach early and drifted into break dancing when he was 8.

Over the next few years, he developed a reputation for his hip-hop moves as far south as San Diego.

"We had no fear," he said.

At 13, he joined the Crips, drifted into crack and dropped break dancing, leading to his armed robbery conviction at 18.

He insists that he wasn't guilty, but he's not making excuses.

"What I didn't do, I got caught for," he said. "Everything I did do, I didn't get caught. What comes around goes around."

He was deported in 2004, a few weeks after his release in 2004, leaving behind his estranged former partner and son Kayshawn — now 10 or 11, he's not sure — with whom he stays in periodic phone contact.

Gang life in Phnom Penh and the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is similar, he said, but Cambodia is more violent. Police here often respond slowly or not at all, and it's more a knife than gun culture.

Although he understands the code of the street among gang members, K.K. said he's become increasingly worried about getting caught in the middle when he's called to break up a fight.

"You try to be a role model, but it gets scary," he said. "Over here, there's no insurance, no benefits. And I have a family now."

His growing fame has attracted critics. Some Cambodians assume from his looks that he must be a drug dealer. Others accuse him of undermining Khmer culture.

His response: "Everywhere in the world you have hip-hop. Don't forget your culture, but you got to learn new things."

He's made peace with the move here and now considers Phnom Penh home, though he misses his parents and three siblings.

During his proteges' U.S. tour, someone put his mother, whom he hasn't seen since 2004, on the phone without warning. Although he's talked to her often, emotion overwhelmed him and the tough street guy broke down.

"She cried," he said. "Then I cried. Everyone started crying."

As he looks back, his biggest regret is not being a better father to his American son.

"Every day I ask forgiveness; I made big mistakes," he said. "But I've fallen in love with what I'm doing: Tiny Toones is now my life, my family. Let these kids have a chance."

Cambodia to protect land around Tonle Sap lake

Cambodia announces plan to conserve land along shores of Tonle Sap lake

via Khmer NZ News Media

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- Cambodia announced plans Thursday to conserve forested shore areas around Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake.

Sam Nov, a deputy director of the country's Fisheries Administration, said that some 1.6 million acres (640,000 hectares) of forest land that floods during rainy season with be declared off-limits for development, including encroachment by farmers planting rice.

The lake covers about 618,000 acres (250,000 hectares) during the dry season and expands to about 3 million acres (1.25 million hectares) during the rainy season. It is the habitat for more than 200 species of fish, 42 types of reptiles, 225 species of birds and 46 kinds of mammals.

"The flooded forests are very vital shelters for several species ... and their offspring," Sam Nov said. "We urgently need to conserve this forest. If not we will lose it forever."

Several areas of flooded forest and wetlands have already been cleared by farmers and agribusiness companies in recent years to convert the land for dry season farming, he said.

Officials from the six provinces that surround the lake, located about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, will soon begin informing villagers of the ban on destroying the forest areas, said Sam Nov.

Endangered crocodiles hatched in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

By OUK NAVOUTH and JERRY HARMER (AP)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Conservationists in Cambodia are celebrating the hatching of a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most critically endangered animals.

Thirteen baby Siamese crocodiles crawled out of their shells over the weekend in a remote part of the Cardamom Mountains in southwestern Cambodia, following a weekslong vigil by researchers who found them in the jungle.

Experts believe as few as 250 Siamese crocodiles are left in the wild, almost all of them in Cambodia but with a few spread between Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand.

The operation to protect and hatch the eggs was mounted by United Kingdom-based Fauna and Flora International, for whom conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program.

"Every nest counts," program manager Adam Starr told Associated Press Television News. "To be able to find a nest is a very big success story, to be able to hatch eggs properly is an even bigger success story."

The nest, with 22 eggs inside, was discovered in the isolated Areng Valley. Fauna and Flora International volunteers removed 15 of them to a safe site and incubated them in a compost heap to replicate the original nest. They left seven behind because they appeared to be unfertilized.

A round-the-clock guard was mounted to keep away predators like monitor lizards. Last weekend the crocodiles began calling from inside the shells, a sure sign they were about to hatch.

Within hours 10 emerged — and a further surprise was in store. Three of the eggs left behind at the original nest also hatched. A field coordinator, Sam Han, discovered the squawking baby crocodiles when he went to recover a camera-trap from the site.

"When I first saw the baby crocodiles they stayed and swam together near the near site. They were looking for their mother," he said. He snapped a few photos of the hatchlings, their noses poking out of the water.

To cap the success, the camera-trap yielded two infrared shots of the mother crocodile returning to the nest.

The reptiles are now being kept in a water-filled pen in a local village in the jungle-covered mountain range. The indigenous Chouerng people who live there revere crocodiles as forest spirits and consider it taboo to harm them. It's likely they'll be looked after for a year before being released into the wild.

But the euphoria is tempered by hard-edged reality. This part of the Areng Valley has been earmarked for a major hydropower project. The conservation group is looking for other areas of similar habitat to release the juveniles when the time comes.

"To put these crocodiles back into the Areng Valley could spell certain doom for them," Starr said.

The Siamese crocodile has suffered a massive decline over the last century, because of a high demand for its soft skin. Commercial breeders also brought them to stock farms where they crossed them with larger types of crocodile, producing hybrids which further reduced numbers of the pure Siamese.

In 1992 it was declared "effectively extinct in the wild" before being rediscovered in the remote Cardamoms in Cambodia eight years later.

Siamese crocodiles take 15 years to reach sexual maturity, complicating efforts to revive the population. Only a handful of the 13 new crocs are likely to survive long enough to make a long-term impact on numbers.

Migrant Workers Lack Protections: Report

Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh

via Khmer NZ News Media

Photo: AP
A group of Cambodian men wait to return to their families after they were rescued by human rights workers.

“It’s a very serious matter to send domestic workers there without adequate protection, because we’ve found that none of these countries provides comprehensive protection that needs to be there."

The trend of workers seeking employment abroad has helped alleviate employment pressure in Cambodia, but weak frameworks and a lack of protections mean migrants remain exposed to many forms of exploitation, a national employment report has found.

The government report, due to be released later this month but obtained early by VOA Khmer, says migration can help reduce poverty, but it also points out that potential migrants have legitimate concerns.

“In this circumstance, migrant workers are at risk of exploitation by companies, employers and some officials [where] they are working,” according to the report, which was undertaken by the Ministry of Labor and the International Labor Organization.

Chuop Narath, deputy director of the employment and manpower department of the Ministry of Labor, told VOA Khmer that challenges remain in protecting migrant workers.

“First, our sub-decree and policy were created in 1995, which doesn’t suit the current situation,” he said. “Meanwhile, educational training for migrant workers before they go abroad is limited, and we also don’t have officials responsible for constantly solving the issues in countries where we send our workers.”

Protections also depend on regulations from 2006, but the regulations don’t contain solid protection measures for domestic workers abroad. Instead, the regulations are concerned with pre-departure language training and health protection.

That leaves workers open to many abuses, including salary withholding, long hours, captivity, physical and sexual abuse or trafficking. Moreover, most migrants return to Cambodia without developed skills that might benefit the nation.

“Cambodian migrant workers still have a lot of risks, because we don’t have a clear control system that allows us to observe all the workers,” said Tuos Sophorn, an ILO technical consultant. “We know of accidents only after [workers] already have a problem.”

The ILO estimated in 2007 an influx of 270,000 Cambodian job seekers entering the market each year. Only some of them will be able to find jobs within Cambodia, whether in the government or private sector.

With an increase in the population putting more pressure on jobs, the government has been looking outside the country. In recent years, at least 50,000 migrant workers have legally traveled abroad, especially to Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea, according to the national policy report.

Most of the women travel to work as housekeepers or in restaurants and food factories. Men tend to work in construction, fishing, garment factories and plantations. Workers can earn between $150 and $800 a month.

More recently, the government has sought deals to send domestic workers to Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada and countries in the Middle East, Chuop Narath said.

Osman Hassan, secretary of state with the Ministry of Labor, said Cambodia will start sending workers to Saudi Arabia within the next six months.

Cambodia does not have full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of allowing serious abuses.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2008 that little is done to punish Saudi employers “for committing abuses including months or years of unpaid wages, forced confinement, and physical and sexual violence, while some domestic workers face imprisonment or lashings for spurious charges of theft, adultery, or ‘witchcraft.’”

Cambodia hopes to send between 5,000 to 10,000 workers.

“It’s a very serious matter to send domestic workers there without adequate protection, because we’ve found that none of these countries provides comprehensive protection that needs to be there,” said Nisha Varia, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. “So if Cambodia wants to send its workers there, they must be prepared to handle cases of abuse.”

Lim Tith, Cambodia’s national program coordinator for the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, said poor protection derives from the lack of human and financial resources in Cambodia’s embassies abroad.

“When we send more workers, more and more workers will be exploited,” Lim Tith said. “So the government has to strengthen its control system and establish a team responsible for solving migrants’ problems.”

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry plans to establish offices in countries where a high number of Cambodian migrants work.

Meanwhile, some responsibility can fall to the brokerage companies moving migrants from Cambodia to other countries.

On Bun Hak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said the association looks for high-profile companies that respect laws and human rights.

And the national policy suggests new measures to protect migrants, including distribution of public information and punishment for recruitment agencies who violate laws and worker rights.

Sam Rainsy Meets State Department Official

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer | Washington, DC

via Khmer NZ News Media

Photo: by Pin Sisovann
Sam Rainsy, leader of SRP, talks to VOA Khmer on 'Hello VOA', while visiting Washington DC, on Thursday.

“The current ruling party in Cambodia uses the court system as a tool to prevent opposition or minorities from having a legitimate right to protect the people’s interest against corruption."

Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with a senior US State Department official in Washington on Wednesday, claiming Cambodian courts were working to marginalize his party.

“The current ruling party in Cambodia uses the court system as a tool to prevent opposition or minorities from having a legitimate right to protect the people’s interest against corruption,” Sam Rainsy said, following a meeting with Scot Marciel, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Asean affairs.

Sam Rainsy is currently on a visit to the US to build political support for his party, which holds 26 seats in the National Assembly, compared to 90 held by the Cambodian People’s Party.

Sam Rainsy is facing criminal charges for publishing a map on his party’s website to support claims that a border arrangement between Vietnam and Cambodia has eroded national land, and he is facing a jail sentence on charges related to uprooting border markers in Svay Rieng province.

Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer that he had raised issues of forced evictions, restricted freedom of assembly, the prosecution of journalists and a biased judiciary with Marciel.

“So there should not be one group that tries to eliminate another group, like in Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy said. “In the US, democracy is lively because they know how to respect each other, especially the majority that respects the minority.”

Cambodian government officials said Wednesday they were not concerned with Sam Rainsy’s visit to the US.

Sam Rainsy is scheduled to meet with other officials from Congress and rights groups before giving a speech to a group of Cambodian-Americans in Virginia.

Dengue Fever Raises $7,500 For Cambodian Living Arts

via Khmer NZ News Media

New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ It's Alive! Media) - Cambodian Living Arts (http://www.cambodianlivingarts.org/ ), an NGO based in Phnom Penh, announced today that the Los Angeles-based band Dengue Fever (www.myspace.com/denguefevermusic), featuring Cambodian lead singer, Chhom Nimol, raised more than $7,500.00 (U.S.) for the organization during a sold-out concert at the Parkway Studios in the Cambodian capital last month.

The benefit concert was organized by Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), which is focused on reviving traditional Cambodian performing arts and supporting contemporary artistic expressions by providing teaching and performing opportunities to Master artists and nearly 300 students.

Dengue Fever and CLA have had close ties since 2005 when the band performed in Cambodia, the first western band to perform Khmer rock in Cambodia since the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

'It is great to be working along side Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) again and raise money for such a fantastic NGO,' said Dengue Fever Bassist Senon Williams. 'Dickon Verey, CLA's President, has been a huge help to us and it just feels right to be involved with an organization that helps keep Khmer music and dance alive. We hope to come back to Cambodia and help CLA raise even more money in the not-too-distant future.'

The May 11, 2010 concert at Parkway Studios was a 700 capacity sell-out, which opened with Klap Ya Handz, a Khmer hip-hop group, followed by Cambodian Chapei Dang Weng master artist, Kong Nay and headliner Dengue Fever. The band opened their set with Kong Nay and included solo and duet performances with the Children of Bassac, Cambodian Living Arts' emerging dance troupe. The benefit was also a success due to the support of Rubies Wine Bar, Studio 182, and Garage Bar who all generously donated time and services.

Dengue Fever is currently writing and recording new material for their next release.

ABOUT DENGUE FEVER
Dengue Fever is Cambodian songstress Chhom Nimol, Zac Holtzman (guitar/vocals), Ethan Holtzman (keyboards), Senon Williams (bass), Paul Smith (drums) and David Ralicke (horns). The band's music has been featured in a number of film and television shows including City of Ghosts, Must Love Dogs, Broken Flowers, True Blood and twice on Showtime's hit series, Weeds. They have released three albums, Dengue Fever, Escape From Dragon House Venus On Earth and the DVD/CD soundtrack to the band's documentary Sleepwalking Through The Mekong, in addition to a collection of lost Cambodian classics, Dengue Fever Presents: Electric Cambodia. They are based in Los Angeles.