Thursday, 8 July 2010

The New York Times: Great Homes and Destinations

Justin Mott for The New York Times
Darryl Collins, an Australian art historian, bought a majestic 1915 house on a remote island in Cambodia, moved it to Siem Reap, where he planned to retire, and renovated it. Inside, an intricately carved arch casts a stunning shadow on the exposed-beam roof when Mr. Collins lights the Chinese glass lanterns hanging behind it.

Justin Mott for The New York Times
Mr. Collins’s Buddhist altar is framed by cuttings from his garden, like pandanus leaves and bird-of-paradise flowers, in old vases.
 
Justin Mott for The New York Times
Two dozen 30-foot columns lift Mr. Collins’s home nine feet off the ground, creating a breezy space underneath. The house's original location was nearly 200 miles away.
 
Justin Mott for The New York Times
The house is furnished with pieces Mr. Collins bought in antiques shops and local markets, like the Art Deco-inspired dining table made of Cambodian hardwood.
 
Justin Mott for The New York Times
Mr. Collins sits beneath a spiritual painting by Leang Seckon, one of Cambodia’s emerging artists. Modern work in the traditional house “acts as a foil,” he said.
 
Justin Mott for The New York Times
More than five types of Cambodian hardwood were used to build the home. “This house is good for another 100 years,” Mr. Collins said.
 
Justin Mott for The New York Times
Two staircases made of a teak-like Cambodian wood called koki were added to the house. Mr. Collins made lamps out of semihemispherical, bamboo chicken cages like the one sitting on the floor.

Reuters/By Damir Sagolj : The Victims of Acid Attack in Cambodia

Former garment factory worker Channa Prak (L), 20, who is an acid attack victim is accompanied by Mob Ngieb (R), who suffers from burns caused by fire during a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Prak, who was attacked by unknown perpetrators over what she said was a love affair, is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Kam Srey Va (C), 18, who married a victim of an acid attack joins other victims during a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj


Former casino security guard Yim Sarun, 34, who is an acid attack victim, receives treatment from his daughter Srey Neath at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Yim, who was attacked by his mistress earlier this year is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Former salesman Sam Bunnarith, (R) who is an acid attack victim is accompanied by his wife Kimly at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Bunnarith, is blind in both eyes after he was attacked by his own wife due to his infidelity is now serving as a counsellor at the centre for acid attack victims. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Former garment factory worker Channa Prak (L), 20, who is an acid attack victim passes the time at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Prak, who was attacked by unknown perpetrators over what she said was a love affair, is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Former hair dresser, Um Dinay, 19, who is an acid attack victim, passes the time at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Um, who was attacked by unknown perpetrators six month ago is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Koe Srey Vy, 36, an acid attack victim attends a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj


Phallynai, 28, an acid attack victim is checked by a doctor at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Phallynai, who was attacked by her own husband over what she said was jealousy, is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Female acid attack victims attend a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Cambodia govt, unions agree to 9% rise in garment wages


via Khmer NZ

Published: 08 Jul 2010

PHNOM PENH, July 8 - Cambodia's government and several unions agreed on Thursday to a 9-percent minimum wage rise for garment workers but the industry's biggest unions said their demands were not met and a strike was still possible.

Garment workers have threatened a nationwide strike in Cambodia, where minimum wages are among the world's lowest, if pay levels fail to rise sharply in an industry vital to the impoverished country's nascent economic recovery.

Labor Minister Vong Sauth said wages would rise from $56 a month to $61 from Oct. 1 under a new four-year agreement that would be strictly enforced.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU), which had demanded a $70 minimum monthly wage and organised a strike for July 13-15, told Reuters those who voted did not represent the majority of workers. He had not been invited to the talks.

"We were not included to provide opinions," he said, adding he wanted to see more details of the agreement before deciding whether to go ahead with a strike.

His union was one of two in the industry -- Cambodia's third-biggest earner behind agriculture and tourism -- that did not vote on Thursday.

Ath Thorn, president of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, which represents about 40,000 workers and had sought a $93 monthly wage, told reporters he would ask his members if they agreed with the new wage.

"If they don't agree with this, we will strike. A $5 wage increase is not the demand of the workers," he said.

Five largely pro-government unions backed the pay increase, which was in-line with a June 25 government recommendation to the Garment Manufacturer's Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents 230 factories employing about 200,000 people.

The workers currently receive $50 a month plus a $6 living allowance bonus.

Van Sou Ieng, the chairman of the GMAC, said the unions' demands were not justified and that workers could afford living expenses in Cambodia, where annual inflation averaged about five percent last year.

Cambodia's garment industry shed almost 30,000 jobs in 2009 after a drop in sales to the United States and Europe.

GMAC data showed the country exported garments, textiles and shoes to the value of $2.3 billion last year, down from $2.9 billion in 2008. More than half go to the United States.

Lone Male Elephant Finally Found Mate From Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

SEOUL, July 8 (Bernama) -- A lone male elephant in a Seoul zoo has finally found a mate after 10 months of diplomacy with Cambodia, as a South Korean Air Force plane is airlifting a pair of elephants from the Southeast Asian nation.

Seoul's elephant diplomacy began last year, when an official in charge of Children's Grand Park, the largest zoo in Seoul, asked Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon for help in finding a mate for the only male elephant at the zoo.

There are only five female elephants in zoos across South Korea, and all of them are too old to become pregnant, reports Yonhap news agency on Thursday.

The country could not purchase elephants from foreign countries because international trade in elephants is banned under the Convention of International Trade In Endangered Species (CITIES).

Lee sought help from Cambodia, a country that holds one of the largest populations of Asian elephants.

After 10 months of negotiations, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has recently agreed to donate a pair of elephants, including a 27-year-old female, officials said.

South Korea dispatched an Air Force C-130 cargo plane to Cambodia on Tuesday to transport the animals to Seoul. The elephants are scheduled to arrive in South Korea late Thursday, officials said.

"This was possible because Cambodia's government accepted our request in consideration of friendly relations" between the two countries, a foreign ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.

The elephants will be made public at the Seoul zoo as early as this month, officials said.

Bombs away! Remember Cambodia

Asia Times Online

via Khmer NZ

By Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen

The United States war in Afghanistan is "going badly", according to the New York Times. Nine years after American forces invaded to oust the repressive Taliban regime and its al-Qaeda ally, "the deteriorating situation demands a serious assessment now of the military and civilian strategies".

Aerial bombardment, a centerpiece of the US military effort in Afghanistan, has had a devastating impact on civilians there. Along with Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents and suicide bombers, who have recently escalated their slaughter of the Afghan population, US and North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) aircraft have for years inflicted a horrific toll on innocent villagers.

When US bombs hit a civilian warehouse in Afghanistan in late 2001, then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld responded, "We're not running out of targets, Afghanistan is." There was laughter in the press gallery.

But the bombing continued and spread to Iraq in 2003, with the United States determined to use "the force necessary to prevail, plus some", and asserting that no promises would be made to avoid "collateral damage".

Afghan and Iraqi civilian casualties, in other words, were predictable if not inevitable. The show of strength aside, didn't the US underestimate the strategic cost of collateral damage? If "shock and awe" appeared to work at least in 2001 against the Taliban regular army, the continued use of aerial bombardment has also nourished civilian support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda anti-US insurgency.

In March 2010, the New York Times reported that "civilian deaths caused by American troops and American bombs have outraged the local population and made the case for the insurgency." Beyond the moral meaning of inflicting predictable civilian casualties, and contravention of international laws of war, it is also clear that the political repercussions of air strikes outweigh their military benefits.

This is not news. The extension of the Vietnam War to Cambodia, which the US Air Force bombed from 1965 to 1973, was a troubling precedent. First, Cambodia became in 1969-1973 one of the most heavily-bombarded countries in history (along with North Korea, South Vietnam, and Laos). Then, in 1975-79, it suffered genocide at the hands of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge communists, who had been military targets of the US bombing but also became its political beneficiaries.

Despite key differences, an important similarity links the current conflict in Afghanistan to the 1970-1975 Cambodian war: increasing US reliance on air power against a heterogeneous insurgency. Moreover, in the past few years, as fighting has continued in Afghanistan supported by US air power, Taliban forces have benefited politically, recruiting among an anti-US Afghan constituency that appears to have grown even as the insurgents suffer military casualties.

In Cambodia, it was precisely the harshest, most extreme elements of the insurgency who survived the US bombing, expanded in numbers, and then won the war. The Khmer Rouge grew from a small force of fewer than 10,000 in 1969 to over 200,000 troops and militia in 1973.

During that period, their recruitment propaganda successfully highlighted the casualties and damage caused by US bombing. Within a broader Cambodian insurgency, the radical Khmer Rouge leaders eclipsed their royalist, reformist, and pro-Hanoi allies as well as defeating their enemy, the pro-US Cambodian government of Lon Nol, in 1975.

The Nixon Doctrine had proposed that the United States could supply an allied Asian regime with the materiel to withstand internal or external challenge while the US withdrew its own ground troops or remained at arm's length.

Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos boost triangle dev't

via Khmer NZ

Publication Date : 08-07-2010

The Japanese government has offered a US$20-million-aid to boost the development of provinces along the border of Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos.

Cambodia and Laos each received $7.5 million and Viet Nam got $3.5 million. The rest will be used to rebuild the infrastructure in the zone.

Buffed by the Japanese aid, lawmakers from Cambodia, Vietnamese and Laos assemblies met on July 7 in Cambodia's Katie province to discuss the possibility of a triangle development among three countries.

The Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam Development Triangle covers the territory of the following provinces: Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri and Stung Treng (Cambodia); Attapeu, Saravan and Se Kong (Laos); and Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum (Viet Nam).

These provinces are located in the border area of the three countries. They share many similarities in terms of natural, economic and social conditions. The development level of the provinces in the triangle zone is generally low compared to the average national level of their respective countries. The share of agriculture in GDP remains high.

The project aims to develop the economy in the remote area and to reduce the poverty of the people. “The National Assembly of each country will push the sustainable development and economic growth in order to help people in the triangle zone,” said Heng Samrin, president of the Cambodian National Assembly.

Over the last few years, the triangle zone has been developed. Unfortunately, last year, it was affected by typhoon Ketsana.

Cambodia posts over 6,000 traffic casualties in 1H

via Khmer NZ

July 08, 2010

Cambodia has recorded more than 6, 000 casualties in traffic accidents across the country in the first six months of this year.

A report by Ministry of Public Works and Transportation showed on Thursday that from January through June this year, there have been 3,040 traffic accidents, which resulted in 931 deaths, 2,853 serious injuries and 2,562 slight injuries.

However, if compared to the same period last year, the number of deaths in traffic accidents declined 0.31 percent, the number of slight injuries declined 14 percent, but total traffic accidents rose 7 percent and the figure of serious injuries also increased 7 percent.

In the first six months last year, the Ministry recorded 3,257 cases of traffic accidents, which caused 934 deaths with 2,669 critical injuries and 2,986 slight injuries.

The statistics showed that since 2000, the number of traffic accidents has been on steady increase.

In the year 2000, there were 2,951 accidents and 401 deaths, while in 2003, there were 3,760 accidents and 824 deaths.

The accidents also damaged 3,520 motorbikes, 975 cars, 315 trucks in the first six months this year.

Cambodia has been alarmed with traffic accidents in recent years.

Last year, Cambodia recorded a death toll of 1,717 and a lost of 248 million U.S. dollars by traffic accidents across the country.

Drunken driving and disrespect to traffic rules are blamed for the accidents in the country.

Source: Xinhua

Local company honoured for work in Cambodia


via Khmer NZ

By: Trevor Suffield
8/07/2010

SUPPLIED Enlarge Image
Winnipeg native Cordell Jacks, centre, is an integral part of IDE’s success in Cambodia.

A St. James-based enterprise that aims to make life easier for Cambodian people in Southeast Asia has been honoured for the second time in less than two months.

International Development Enter­pri­ses, a registered charity, works with farmers to help them develop sustainable technologies that will allow them to become participants in local markets.

IDE’s goal is to bring 20 million poor, rural families out of poverty by 2020.

It has already helped approximately 3.8 million families with its initiatives, according to Stuart Taylor, executive director of IDE Canada.

Last month, IDE’s latest program, the Easy Latrine, was honoured with Best in Show at the IDEA International Design Excellence Awards.

The latrine is a low cost, easy-to-install device that costs $25, is installed in less than a day and helps combat the poor sanitation that kills many people in Cambodia each year.

"The components are pre-fabricated and we work with local crafts people that make the parts and are able to sell them and make money doing that," said Taylor, who lives in St. Boniface.

More than 3,000 latrines have already been sold since the program was launched approximately six months ago.
It was the second time IDE has been lauded recently for its efforts in the developing world.

In May, it won the inaugural Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value for an innovation program in Cambodia.

The Farm Business Advisor program has facilitated 60 rural Cambodian entrepreneurs to start agricultural distribution and consulting services.

To date, the program has enabled 4,500 small-scale farm families to enhance their net income by 27%.
The award comes with a cash prize of more than $450,000, which the company will use to recruit and train 36 new advisors.

Taylor said that part of the success of the program was due to Tamara Baker and Cordell Jacks, IDE’s program manager for the water and sanitation program in Cambodia.

"It is so important, especially here in Cambodia where society is still rebuilding from the legacy of genocide and international support is necessary for a productive and healthy society to flourish," said Jacks in an email interview from Cambodia.

"The locals really appreciate the support too."

Jacks said that one of the latrine producer entrepreneurs was illiterate and went from making $50 a month, to over $600 a month by selling latrines.

With a worldwide staff of more than 400, and eight international field offices, Taylor said the company’s success goes much further than simply giving the proper tools to residents.

"Our approach is to design and market programs in such a way that those tools are available to them in the local market, through local retailers, produced by local manufacturers who are all making a profit, including the farmers," Taylor said.

Taylor said that in the next few years, IDE Cambodia will look to expand both the water and sanitation work and the farm business advisor work and act as a catalyst for other IDE programs.

In order for IDE to reach its goal of helping 20 million people, Taylor said other organizations need to step up and get involved.

"We need other businesses to come on board and look at investments in for-profit enterprises that are producing value for small rural farmers, be it affordable irrigation, affordable clean water or affordable sanitation for these latrines," Taylor said.


"We talk about basic human needs, and this is a way of using a market orientated approach to try and achieve that goal."


For more information, visit http://www.ide-canada.org/.

Donated Cambodian elephants to be flown to S.Korea

A man and a boy riding on an elephant in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

via Khmer NZ

SEOUL — Two elephants donated by Cambodia will be flown to South Korea Thursday to swell the country's depleted ranks of the endangered species, a zoo official said.

A South Korean air force cargo plane has left for Cambodia to collect a 20-year-old bull and a 27-year-old cow elephant after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the donation, the Seoul Children's Grand Park official said on condition of anonymity.

They will join a 36-year-old bull elephant called Taesan, who has been leading a lonely life at the park zoo since his mate died of colitis 14 years ago.

There are hopes the female will become pregnant from either Taesan or the 20-year-old bull.

South Korea currently has only 11 elephants including five females past breeding age.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species bans the buying and selling of elephants, sparking off a round of diplomacy by Seoul which led to the donation.

The Cambodian elephants weigh a combined 5.5 tons and to ensure they have a comfortable ride aboard the C-130, air force officials prepared two large shockproof containers, the JoongAng Daily said. Three Cambodian elephant experts will accompany them to South Korea.

Following acclimatisation, the Cambodian pair will be on public view later this month.

Unforgettable faces: Survivors of acid attack in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

English.news.cn
2010-07-08
Former hair dresser, Um Dinay, 19, who is an acid attack victim, passes the time at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Um, who was attacked by unknown perpetrators six month ago is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators. The move comes as Cambodia seeks to tidy up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, some of many factors that have deterred foreign investors.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


Former garment factory worker Channa Prak, 20, who is an acid attack victim sings during a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Channa, who was attacked by unknown perpetrators over what she said was a love affair is receiving shelter and medical treatment at the centre.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Kam Srey Va (C), 18, who married a victim of an acid attack joins other victims during a therapy session at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Former salesman Sam Bunnarith (L), who is an acid attack victim plays the piano and sings for other victims at a secure shelter run by non-profit organisation "Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity" outside Phnom Penh July 7, 2010. Bunnarith, blind in both eyes after he was attacked by his own wife due to his infidelity is now serving as a counsellor at the centre for acid attack victims. After years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, authorities are drafting up legislation to restrict acid sales and to punish perpetrators.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Editor: Tang Danlu

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

Cambodia Gives Two Elephants to South Korea for Friendship Ties

Thursday, 08 July 2010 09:21 DAP-NEWS / Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JULY 8, 2010-Cambodian government has given two elephants to South Korea to strengthen cooperation for the two countries, a senior official said on Thursday.

“The two elephants will keep at the children zoo in Seoul,” Chan Sarun, minister of agriculture and forestry, fishery said. The two will help to promote the bilateral ties for two countries after the two leaders exchanged visits for mutual benefits,” he added.

South Korean ambassador said at the ceremony yesterday that two elephants will play a historic role for bilateral ties and it showed deep relations.

A South Korean air force cargo plane has left for Cambodia to collect a 20-year-old bull and a 27-year-old cow elephant and they all are in 2.4m in height and weigh over 2.3 tons and South Korea currently has only 11 elephants including five females past breeding age. Currently, Cambodia has about 500 elephants in country.

Philippines Will Organize First Trade and Investment Fair in Cambodia

Thursday, 08 July 2010 07:53 DAP-NEWS / Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JULY 8,2010-The Philippines will organize trade and investment fair in Cambodia on 9-10 July in Phnom Penh, embassy’ statement obtained on Thursday said.

The event will feature various products and services from the Philippines and it will also include an investment mission with the objective of identifying investment opportunities in Cambodia for Filipino investors as well as promoting investments in the Philippines, Ms Nativida Q. Nethercott, charge attaché said.

The embassy hopes that the event will provide an opportunity for our friends in the ASEAN women’s circle to be more acquired with some of the leading products manufactured in Philippines, the statement from embassy said.

Cambodian Government Decides Salary Increase for Garment Workers

Thursday, 08 July 2010 07:45 DAP-NEWS / Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JULY 8, 2010-Cambodian government said on Thursday that it had decided to increase salary for garment and workers with 6 US dollars per month across the country.

Vong Suth, labor minister said that from first October this year, basic salary for workers is worth about 56 US dollars for fresh workers who work from one month to three months in probation term in garment and shoe factories.

For full workers, they will get 61 US dollars per month from now on as basic salary and the wage did not count for overtime,” he added.

The agreement was signed on July 8 at the labor ministry with joining with 20 of 28 representatives of workers’ union leaders. The agreement will be effective to January 2014 and the salary increase will imply from October 2010.

Cambodia has 267 factories and over 300,000 workers, most of them are women from rural areas.

At Thon,a leader of democratic union said that we could not accept this salary hike. We need about 93 us dollars to support workers’ living condition because the inflation is higher.

Elephants pack their trunks for South Korea


Photo by: Sovan Philong

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:00 Sovan Philong

South Korean Ambassador Lee Kyung-soo blesses one of two elephants handed over to South Korea during a ceremony at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Kandal province yesterday. Chheng Kim Sun, director of the Forestry Administration, said Tuesday that the elephants were given to South Korea to express Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appreciation of the two countries’ friendship. They are set to depart today.

Festivities celebrate temple


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Government and military officials and local residents release balloons at Preah Vihear temple during a ceremony yesterday marking the second anniversary of its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:04 Vong Sokheng

Preah Vihear province

MORE than 1,000 officials, soldiers and local villagers turned out at Preah Vihear temple yesterday to celebrate the second anniversary of its inscription as a World Heritage site.

During the ceremony, Buddhist monks chanted blessings while performers beat traditional Khmer drums representing the warrior ethic of the Angkorian empire.

In an address, Chea Dara, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, paid tribute to the “smart leadership” of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which he said had helped protect the temple from Thai occupation.

“We are determined to protect Preah Vihear temple and its sovereignty according to the policy of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who ordered us not to invade 1 millimetre into Thailand, and also not to allow our sovereignty to be invaded by 1 millimetre either,” he said.

The temple’s July 2008 listing by UNESCO was highly controversial in Thailand, and triggered a rapid troop buildup along the border with Cambodia. The standoff has been punctuated by a series of small-scale clashes – some of them deadly – along the frontier.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the celebration was designed to raise awareness about the value of the ancient temple as an emblem of Cambodian history and culture.

In a press conference at Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak yesterday, he said the issue of ownership was definitively settled by a 1962 World Court ruling that handed the temple to Cambodia.

“We are here to look for cultural conservation and preservation, but the government of Thailand looks at the temple as a border conflict,” he said.

“We take this important day to send a message to Thai soldiers and the international community that Cambodia has no border conflict with Thailand.”

He added that in 2009, the government spent US$99 million conserving Preah Vihear and improving road access to it.

Hang Soth, director general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said that ever since the UNESCO listing, projects had been undertaken to ready the temple for an increase in tourists.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Apsara dancers perform at Preah Vihear temple yesterday during a ceremony marking the two-year anniversary of its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“My work here is to focus on the conservation, restoration and research of the heritage site in order to ensure its sustainable development as a tourist destination,” he said.

Hang Soth said much progress on preservation had been made in the past two years, but that work had been hamstrung by tension with Thailand.
He said that with international support, the 11-century ruins could finally get the attention they deserve after years of civil war and conflict.

“We hope that the international community will support our research and conservation projects,” he said.

Evidence in Thai bombing
Also yesterday, Thai police said they found evidence linking a pair of Red Shirt activists to the attempted bombing of a political party headquarters in Bangkok on June 22, following their deportation from Cambodia on Monday.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thailand’s department of special investigation (DSI) found a notebook belonging to suspect Varisareeya Boonsom, 42, that contained instructions on how to make bombs.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said Varisareeya admitted to owning the notebook, but denied any knowledge of the notes.

Varisareeya and her husband, Kobchai Boonplod, also 42, were arrested on Saturday in Siem Reap province before being handed to Thai authorities in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Torture inquiry launched


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 Cameron Wells

THE Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday accused Thai law-enforcement officers of torturing a Cambodian man detained in a May crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in Bangkok.

Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said 27-year-old San Mony Peth, who remains in Thai custody, “suffered from torture” before being visited by officials from the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

“He suffered from torture before the Cambodian embassy visited him,” Koy Kuong said. “He had wounds on his chin and his chest.”

He said that the suspect had not been “tortured” since the first visit, which occurred shortly after he was detained.

A native of Battambang province, San Mony Peth had been legally working in Thailand “for five or six years” and is married to a Thai woman who has cooperated with embassy officials and Thai authorities in order to secure her husband’s release, Koy Kuong said.

San Mony Peth was at first accused of being involved in an arson attack as part of clashes between government forces and Red Shirts that left at least 86 people dead and 1,900 injured. Koy Kuong said yesterday, however, that he was “not sure” what San Mony Peth was being accused of, and noted that he had not been charged with any crime.

The Thai National Human Rights Commission’s subcommittee on civil rights is preparing a report following complaints from San Mony Peth and two other foreign prisoners – Australian Conor David Purcell and Briton Jeff Savage – arrested in the crackdown on Red Shirts.

Subcommittee chairman Dr Niran Pitakwatchara said the report would investigate human rights violations reported by the three prisoners, who he said had complained because “they want freedom”.

“We have tried to define the lack of lawyers, as well as the health of the prisoners and their communications with their families,” he said. “We will call for government officials and police to see” the report.

He did not have the details of Savage’s complaint, but said Purcell had reported abuse at the hands of other prisoners. Purcell “wants to go back to Australia because some injuries happened to him in the prison”, he said. “It was not government officials, it was prisoners who did something to him.”

He added that he did not know when the report would be submitted.

Officials at the Thai foreign and interior ministries either declined to comment or could not be reached.

Vietnam to boost trade with Kingdom


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 May Kunmakara

THE VIETNAMESE government has agreed to build a business centre in the heart of Phnom Penh to further encourage trade and investment with Cambodia, as the two nations aim to hit a US$2 billion bilateral trade target this year, officials told the Post yesterday.

Trade facilitation and business cooperation will form the focus of the capital’s new centre, set to boost relations with what was Cambodia’s second-biggest importer last year.

The director of the Investment and Trade Promotion Center (ITPC) in Ho Chi Minh City, Tu Minh Thien, said yesterday: “Everything is in progress. The [governments] have approved the scheme and are letting the private sector enter a bidding process.”

Le Bien Cuong, commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that construction is set to commence next year.

Both China and Thailand already have business centres in Cambodia, Cuoung said, but “when Vietnam comes it will give more choice of products for Cambodian people to buy”.

Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said he believed the establishment of the centre would boost bilateral trade and investment between the countries.

“It will make it easier to distribute goods in our country. It will be easier to understand our demands and to supply the right goods – that’s good for our economy,” he said.

On completion of the centre, a small school will be opened there to foster intercultural communication skills, Tu Minh Thien said.

According to Vietnamese embassy statistics, trade between Vietnam and Cambodia rose by 38.6 percent in the first five months of this year – to $718 million from $518 million in the same period of 2009.

Deum Ampil backers to launch new company


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 Chhay Channyda

THE backers of the Deum Ampil Media Centre, which closed its doors last week reportedly because of financial constraints, have announced the creation of a new company, the Nokor Wat Media Centre.

Dim Sopheavy, the former deputy director general of Deum Ampil, said yesterday that the official launch of Nokor Wat would take place during a ceremony on Friday to be presided over by Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith and Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.

“Our new media centre will consist of a newspaper, magazine, radio station, website and, in due course, a television station,” she said.

On July 1, Soy Sopheap, Deum Ampil’s former director general, said operations would cease because of a lack of funds.

He said the move was necessary after the company’s financial backer, the Heng Development Company, demanded that he cut operating costs by firing many of the media centre’s 110 employees, an allegation the company has denied.

Dim Sopheavy – the daughter of Heng Development’s owner, Sieng Chanheng, who will also serve as director general of the new media centre – said yesterday that Nokor Wat did not have enough staff members following the rift with Soy Sopheap.

“Some former employees from Deum Ampil have agreed to join us, and those who are still unsure of their next move should also feel free to apply at our media centre,” she said, though she noted that Soy Sopheap would not be welcome.

Soy Sopheap said yesterday that he was focused on his search for new financial backers that would enable him to reopen Deum Ampil.

Oum Chandara, president of the Khmer Journalist Friendship Association, said the new media centre is named after Nagaravatta (Angkor Wat), the earliest known Khmer-language newspaper, first published in 1936.

He added that the newspaper is set to publish its first issue on Saturday, as Heng Development is in a rush to honour previous advertising commitments.

City selects ‘freedom park’


Photo by: Pha Lina
Construction workers clear land on Street 108 yesterday to make way for a “freedom park” reserved for public protests.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 May Titthara

MUNICIPAL officials have selected a site near Phnom Penh City Hall for the capital’s first “freedom park”, drawing criticism from some observers who say the move will do little to encourage free and open demonstrations.

Sok Penh Vuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said officials had chosen a public park along Streets 106 and 108 to be designated as a demonstration zone. The zone is part of the government’s effort to enforce the new Law on Nonviolent Demonstrations, which critics have slammed for placing size limits on public protests.

Selecting the 50-by-210-metre area near Canadia Tower on Monivong Boulevard and the Spean Neak, or Dragon Bridge, serves multiple purposes, Sok Penh Vuth said.

“The reason our authorities decided to choose this area is because a lot of car vendors are parking along the garden, so we want them to move away,” he said. “And it is a place that is near City Hall, so it is easier for authorities to receive people who file complaints and also find resolutions for them.”

Sok Penh Vuth said officials began clearing land to build a garden area for the demonstration zone yesterday morning.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong confirmed that city officials had selected the area to be a demonstration zone. The decision now awaits final approval from the Interior Ministry, he said.

The Law on Nonviolent Demonstrations calls for designated areas to be developed in municipalities nationwide.

It has drawn criticism from rights activists, who contend that some aspects of the legislation needlessly stifle rather than encourage nonviolent protests.

Critics were particularly concerned over an article that caps demonstrations at 200 people and demands that organisers obtain approval from authorities before holding them.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the rights group Adhoc, reiterated those concerns yesterday.

“Authorities should give people the right to express themselves and also allow them to go anywhere they want to protest,” he said.

“Don’t put pressure on people by allowing them to protest only in one place.”

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the move to designate demonstration zones might be well-intentioned, but described it as poorly conceived.

“We demonstrate not because of freedom parks; we demonstrate because of real issues that people have,” he said.

“You can’t just draw these boundaries and say you have to get in there in order to protest. That defeats the whole purpose of public demonstrations.” He predicted that the demonstration zones may end up limiting free speech more than promoting it.

“It seems like they will make spontaneous protests illegal,” he said. “They don’t want spontaneous demonstrations, so they create these freedom parks where only a maximum of 200 protesters can congregate at one time.”

Although the designated freedom park is within walking distance of City Hall, it remains far from other institutions of power where people often protest, such as the National Assembly, said Yim Sovann, a lawmaker with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

“The place is too small. It’s not big enough for villagers to join together to protest,” he said.

“It seems the government is just trying to put pressure on villagers’ freedom of speech.”

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, confirmed Wednesday that ministry officials had received the city’s request to construct the demonstration zone, but deferred comment on the issue to Sam Samoth, the head of the city’s garden office under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Sam Samoth declined to comment yesterday, saying that he was busy in a meeting.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

Frontier Strife: Thai protest blocks off border gate



via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 Thet Sambath

Frontier Strife

The O’Smach international border gate in Oddar Meanchey province was closed for a few hours yesterday after Thai villagers demonstrated in an attempt to block Cambodian vehicles from transporting goods across the border, officials said. Chhim Sivuth, chief inspector for the province, said the border was reopened at about 10am after being closed around three hours earlier, but that protesters on the Thai side were still preventing Cambodian vehicles from carrying passengers and cargo over the border. “Thai people are demonstrating to prevent Cambodians’ motorbikes and carts from crossing into Thailand,” he said yesterday. “They wanted visitors to ride on Thai motorbikes and transport goods using Thai vehicles,” he said. Meat and vegetable vendor Chan Tha called for an end to the blockade, saying that businesses on both sides rely on cross-border trade. “I am worried that the price of goods will be higher if the protests continue longer,” he said. Chhim Sivuth said his officials were negotiating with their Thai counterparts to restore access for Cambodian vendors, but had not yet reached a solution.

Seized wood auctioned off


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Forestry Administration cantonment in Ratanakkiri province has begun auctioning wood seized earlier this year as part of the government’s crackdown on illegal logging, a court official said yesterday.

Provincial court director Lu Susambath said that more than 600 cubic meters of wood had already been sold by the state, with the proceeds going to government coffers.

“More than 600 cubic metres of wood has been confiscated, and it has all been recently sent back to the Forestry Administration cantonment for auctioning to get money for the state budget,” he said.

He said last month that a request from forestry officials to auction off the wood would not be granted until the court received an explanation as to why no arrests or prosecutions had resulted from any of the roughly 45 illegal logging raids carried out in the province.

However, he said yesterday that no one had faced criminal charges in Ratanakkiri as part of the well-publicised crackdown, announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in January.

“Not one businessman or forestry official has been prosecuted,” he said. “Forestry officials may be involved in illegal logging with businessmen, but there has been no evidence to press charges against them.”

Elsewhere, some officials arrested and held in pretrial detention after raids have been released despite the fact that they were still under investigation. On June 24, four Koh Kong forestry officials were freed after being charged in April for involvement in an illegal logging ring.

Pen Bonnar, Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the release of the Koh Kong officials could weaken early momentum Hun Sen was able to build around the illegal logging issue.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] used to warn his officials that no matter how big and powerful they are, they would be arrested and prosecuted if they get involved in illegal logging,” he said. “But with lower officials seeking interventions, that message loses its meaning.”

Koh Kong provincial court officials declined to comment yesterday.

In Ratanakkiri, Pen Bonnar said, illegal logging seems to have picked up again. “Now you can see wood being carried on many motorbikes throughout the province. What you hardly ever see, is a forestry official crack down on them.”

Angkor Thom vendors to relocate


Photo by: Rann Reuy
Luch Sary, 41, shown at her stall yesterday, is one of more than 50 vendors who have been ordered to relocate from designated areas around Angkor Thom in Siem Reap.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:02 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap province

THE Apsara Authority said yesterday that it plans to relocate 52 vendors from three sites at Angkor Thom, prompting some vendors to voice concern that they will be cut off from tourist traffic.

Chrun Sophal, director of the communications department at the Apsara Authority, said the 52 vendors – who are currently stationed on the southern side of Bayon temple, near the Angkor Thom gateway and near Phimeanakas temple – would need to register today for a lottery to ensure they receive plots of land at the new site.

He said officials had become concerned that the vendors were damaging the site by “throwing dirty water onto the ground”.

“Our purpose is to ensure sanitation, good environment, good order and good security,” he said. He added that the new site would be temporary, and that officials had not yet settled on a permanent site that would afford the vendors access to tourists while preventing damage to temples and artefacts.

Earlier this year, officials relocated 97 vendors from the north side of Bayon temple, saying the area needed to be cleared for festivals there.

So Sokhan, a vendor who has been based at Phimeanakas temple since 1996, said the proposed relocation site 500 metres away was “too far and quiet”.“We want to protest, but we realise that we will not win because northern Bayon’s vendors protested, but they did not win at last,” he said.

He and other vendors said that 100 stalls stood to be affected by the planned relocation.

This figure was dismissed by Chrun Sophal, who said some of the stalls in that tally did not have owners, and thus were not being considered for inclusion in the lottery.

Scores of evicted families flout orders and return, citing disease


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:02 May Titthara

A TOTAL of 173 families evicted in May from protected forest in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng commune have moved back, villagers said yesterday.

Villager Sam Sileang, 40, said that former residents of O’Ampil village had decided to return on June 29, after a protest staged in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Takhmao home did not spur official intervention.

“We could not live in the new relocation site just waiting to die,” Sam Sileang said. “Many families got sick, and we have no clean water.”

He said that about 16 villagers had become sick with malaria, typhoid and diarrhoea since moving to a relocation site in O’Rumchek village, 10 kilometres from O’Ampil.

On May 25, around 103 houses in O’Ampil were burned down by local authorities after Siem Reap provincial court ruled that the villagers were living illegally on the protected land.

Anlong Veng district governor Yim Phanna said that authorities had already tried to assist the villagers at the relocation site and would not allow them to stay on the protected land.

“We will force them to move to the new relocation place. I don’t know why they say it’s impossible to live in O’Rumchek, when others have been living there without problems,” he said.

Chhaom Chhoeun, 42, said the villagers were living in temporary housing in their old village, and that no authorities had forced them to leave again as of yesterday.

He said that if officials attempted to evict them, the villagers would appeal again to Prime Minister Hun Sen for intervention.

Otres residents get higher offer


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana and David Boyle

PREAH Sihanouk provincial authorities have moved closer to resolving a standoff with 70 business owners and vendors slated for eviction from a 1.5-kilometre stretch of Sihanoukville’s Otres beach by increasing the size of a financial “gift” offered to those who choose to leave peacefully.

Sok Phorn, deputy provincial cabinet chief, said yesterday that authorities had offered lump-sum payments of US$4,000 for business owners and $1,500 for landless vendors if they were to leave, a $500 increase on an offer made earlier this week.

Officials say the owners are not entitled to compensation because the land they occupy is state land.

Sok Phorn also said yesterday that he had rejected a request to extend the eviction deadline from Sunday until the end of the rainy season.

“This season is the low season, so there aren’t many tourists visiting the beach. That’s why the business owners can move their homes to another place,” he said.

“When their homes are built, they will be ready to make new living at the start of the new tourist season,” he added.

Business owners and landless vendors originally demanded $5,000 and $2,500 respectively to leave the beach.

Sor Kem, owner of the Sunshine Cafe, which lies inside the affected area, said that the new offer was insufficient, but that many would accept it because they had no other choice.

“Many people will just move to town because there is no option,” he said.

“Many of the Khmer families here have no money to invest in new land.”

Green light for Korean marriages


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 08 July 2010 15:02 Christy Choi

THE government has accepted all applications from South Koreans seeking to marry Cambodians since a temporary ban on such unions was lifted in April, an official said yesterday.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said a total of 300 applications had been processed in the past three months.

The ban was announced in March after a marriage broker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for recruiting 25 girls from rural areas and arranging for them to be paired with South Korean men.

Officials said at the time that the ban would remain in place until the government had established an effective screening mechanism to prevent cases of trafficking.

When it was lifted in late April, Koy Kuong said the screening mechanism had taken the form of a requirement that foreigners looking to marry Cambodians appear in person to submit applications to his ministry as well as to the Interior Ministry and local authorities.

Koy Kuong said yesterday that the screening mechanism had yet to prove its effectiveness, but that the government would be on the lookout for possible shortcomings.

“It is not 100 percent effective,” he said. “But if we see a shortcoming in the procedure we will evaluate and fix it. We are trying our best. It is also up to the other governments to help combat human trafficking in their countries.”

The Korean embassy said yesterday that it could not comment on the statistics provided by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, noting that all applications were processed by the Cambodian government.

Its main activity, counsellor Huh Jungae said, was to advise Koreans of the process.

An undated post on the embassy’s website states that foreigners wishing to marry Cambodians must submit documents to the Foreign Affairs Ministry proving that they have no criminal records and are single, among other things. The documents must be notarised by the embassy before being passed on to the Interior Ministry, which in turn must notify officials in the Cambodian’s home province.

The statistics from the Foreign Affairs Ministry came the same day that the Korean ministry of gender equality released data showing that foreigners were brides in 1,987 marriages to farmers and fishermen in 2009 – 35 percent of all marriages.

The data showed that 10 percent of those brides were Cambodians, compared to 26 percent from China and 47 percent from Vietnam.

In 2007, the International Organisation for Migration released a study pointing to a spike in the number of marriage visas issued to Cambodians by South Korea. That year, a total of 1,759 marriage visas were issued to Cambodians, up from only 72 in 2004.

Huh Jungae said yesterday that the government operated support hotlines for foreign women married to Korean men in seven different languages, including Khmer. “I hear quite a number of women call in and talk about everything from small domestic issues to bigger legal issues,” she said.