Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Girl with the Magic Tattoo

via CAAI

Even with Angelina Jolie's approval, Cambodia's mystical body artists are struggling to survive. Andrew Buncombe reports

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images
Cambodian tattooist Chan Trea at work in Phnom Penh. His clients believe they will be protected by magical symbols

With his fast feet and quick fists, Eh Phuthong believed even as a teenager that he had what was required to become one of his country's most celebrated kickboxers.


But when he was in his early 20s – aged either 23 or 24 – he did something he believes all but ensured his success. Visiting a traditional tattoo artist in the town where he lived and fought, he had four elaborate "magic" designs inked on to his toned, thick-set body. From then on, he never looked back.

"It made a huge difference. I increased the number of victories and reduced the number of defeats," said Mr Eh, a Cambodian national heavyweight champion. "Yet you have to believe in the tattoos for them to be effective. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time." The art of magic tattoos in Cambodia is believe to stretch back more than 2,000 years, part of a broad cultural inheritance that came from the Indian sub-continent. During various periods of the country's history, thought turmoil and peace, the popularity of such tattoos has risen and fallen with custom and circumstance.

During the hard years of fighting from the late 60s onwards, when the US-backed government sought to resist the menacing advance of Khmer Rouge rebels, government troops would often visit a traditional tattooist and request a design that would protect them against their enemies' bullets. During the four years of the rebels' rule, many of those forced to work in agricultural gulags turned to their tattoos, hoping they would protect them against the murderous tyranny.

Today, with the country undergoing rapid change, the current generation of young Cambodians has largely turned its back on traditional tattoos, preferring instead "non-magic" designs or images from the West. But while the number of artists who still offer the traditional hand-needled designs has dwindled, a handful continue their trade, creating tattoos that have been passed down through generations.

Their plight recently received something of a boost when it was revealed that Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie had a magic tattoo inscribed on her left shoulder in order to protect her and her Cambodian son, Maddox. The inscription in Pali – a traditional liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism – is said to read: "May your enemies run far away from you. If you acquire riches, may they remain yours always."

Chan Tra is one of the few remaining people able to do magic designs in the capital, Phnom Penh. Nowadays, almost all the visitors to his studio in a side street in the city centre ask for normal tattoos. But every few months someone will come in and ask for one of up to 10,000 magic designs, depending on what issue they are seeking help or protection for.

A Buddhist monk recently arrived carrying his own design, asking Mr Chan to create the elaborate eagle on his chest with an inscription in Pali. He did not ask the monk what the design was intended for, but he furtively copied it for future use. A rich Cambodian woman also visited, seeking protection for her possessions. An anxious building contractor showed up at the studio, placed himself in the old dentist's chair that Mr Chan uses to sit his customers, and asked for a business booster.

"There used to be a lot of customers during the 1980s when people were at war. People were always looking for help to protect themselves," he said. "Now people are at peace, who requires a magic tattoo?"

But it is not just a matter of having the tattoo needled onto the body, said Mr Chan, who has designs to protect against everything from tigers to landmines and black magic. It must be blessed by a monk to be effective. "It also makes a difference where the tattoo is located. Some people have it on the tongue, some have it on the back of the head," he added. "If an inscription mentions the upper part of the body and you have it on the leg then it will not be effective."

Miech Ponn, an urbane, white-haired 80-year-old, had his tattoos inscribed when he was called up to serve in the army when he was in his late 30s. An educated official in the government of Gen Lon Nol, an ally of the US, he was forced to serve a year in the military, which was then engaged in an ill-fated struggle with Khmer Rouge insurgents seeking to take control of Phnom Penh.

Aware of the danger he was soon to face, the softly-spoken official had magic tattoos drawn on his wrists and small gold pins inserted under the now scraggy skin of his upper arms. He also bought a hammered leaf of gold with Pali inscriptions and visited a temple where a monk cut a design onto his scalp and pressed powered gold into the lines. "It's invisible now," said Mr Miech, leaning forward, to better show off his whispery, white scalp. "But it becomes visible during times of crisis."

Mr Miech, who serves as an adviser to the country's Buddhist Institute, is adamant about the power of the symbols embossed on his body. He became convinced, he said, when he found himself in a raging firefight, surrounded by Khmer Rouge soldiers and cut-off from his comrades. "I was surrounded by bullets, explosions. Everyone thought I was going to die. Then I remembered the gold leaf. I had been told that in such circumstances I had to put it in my mouth. I did so and I fell asleep," Mr Miech recalled. "I saw a man dressed in white carrying a walking stick. He said he would protect me. Then I became covered in flowers and leaves and they protected me. I did not get hurt at all."

After quietly completing his remarkable story, he added: "But it will not help you if you do not believe. You have to believe."

That escape was a short-lived respite from the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime. Taken to a labour camp and set aside to be executed because he was considered an intellectual, Mr Miech managed to run away, pretend to be a rickshaw driver and slipped into a different camp. His first wife and five children, taken elsewhere, were killed. He never saw them again.

In Phnom Penh, a city undergoing fast-paced change, partly as result of widescale Chinese influence and investment, tattooists capable of doing magic designs are scarce. But in rural Cambodia, where the pace of development has been much slower, it remains easier to find them.

Eh Phuthong, the kick-boxer, had his victory-bringing tattoos done in the northern town of Battambang by a travelling artist, Sorn Sarin. Mr Sorn, who is 48, said he moved around the country for work, with clients passing on recommendations to others by word of mouth. He has also travelled abroad to work, creating magic tattoos for customers in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

"With traditional or magic taboos, there are hidden meanings in each drawing and each picture or symbol also has embedded meaning . It is full of spirit," he added. "Meanwhile, normal modern ones do not have any meaning and usually young people get themselves tattooed just because they want to have fun."

Mr Sorn, who learned his trade and his designs from his grandfather, insisted the tattoos work if people believe in them and could help win promotion at work or even secure the affection of someone a customer may be courting. As with Chan Tra, the artist in Phnom Penh, Mr Sorn said he could never ask directly for money for a magic tattoo, but only accept whatever the customer wished to pay. "If I ask them for money, my magic will go," he said.

Eh Phuthong rarely fights these days. At the age of 37, he busies himself coaching younger fighters at his gym on the outskirts of the city and taking care of his family. He has also starred in two Khmer-language films. He does not actively promote magic tattoos to his students, but sometimes they ask about the intricate designs that spread like exotic foliage across his body. He explains about the magic and sometimes they decide to get their own.

Chan Raksa, a brother-in-law of Mr Eh, is also a kick-boxer and earlier this year he decided to have a magic tattoo, based on the sarika, or talking bird, inked on to his body. One of the reasons he had it done was done to give him "charm and popularity".

On a recent afternoon, the 20-year-old was leaving Mr Eh's house to head into Phnom Penh for an evening bout. He fights in the lightweight division. To date, he explained, he had a record of 14 victories in 20 fights. But he said he had already sensed an improvement since getting the tattoo. He said: "It has brought me more victories."

Global Ink: A history of tattoos around the world

The modern word "tattoo" originates in Tahiti. During James Cook's expedition to the island in 1769, he noted the tattooing technique of repeatedly pricking the skin with pigment. The Tahitian term for this – "tatau", meaning to strike repeatedly – was adopted and adapted to our Western term. Tattooing appears to have been a strong and evolving tradition across Polynesian history; tattoos were elaborate, covering large areas of the body, and the procedure was a rite of passage marking the arrival of puberty.

Maori tattoos – or "moko" – functioned as a kind of tribal barcode; each unique tattoo, predominantly on the face, contained information about status and ancestry. Bone chisels were used to cut the designs into the skin, which were coloured with a dark pigment made from soot. Moko were thought to make you more attractive to the opposite sex, and Maori women tattooed lines on to their lips to ward off wrinkles and keep them looking young.

Bodies preserved in ice in Siberia have proved that ancient cultures were in on the body art trend. A 2,400-year-old body of a Scythian man was discovered in 1948 sporting images of mythical animals on his body. In 1993, a preserved woman – the Siberian "Ice Maiden" – from the same era was found with similar tattoos.

Holly Williams

China's top legislator meets Cambodian King

 via CAAI

English.news.cn  
2010-10-02
Wu Bangguo (R), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, meets with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Shanghai, east China Oct. 2, 2010. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

SHANGHAI, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) - China and Cambodia pledged to further cooperation and bilateral ties as top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Shanghai Saturday.

"China attaches importance to relations with Cambodia and hopes to deepen and advance the mutually beneficial cooperation to lift bilateral ties," Wu told Sihamoni.

Wu, chairman of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said China cherished the special friendship with the Cambodian Royal Family.

The friendship nurtured by Chinese leaders and former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk had weathered the changing international landscape, said Wu.

Bilateral relations had seen frequent high-level visits, increased political mutual trust, and mutually beneficial trade cooperation and support on international and regional issues, said Wu.

Wu also thanked the king for his support to the Shanghai World Expo and presence at the celebrations of China's National Pavilion Day at the Shanghai World Expo Friday.

Sihamoni said the progress in bilateral relations was in the line with the two peoples' aspirations and the Cambodian Royal Family was committed to boosting bilateral cooperation.

Wu Bangguo (R, front), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, meets with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Shanghai, east China Oct. 2, 2010. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

PoliSci class take trip to Cambodia

http://www.theeasttexan.com/

via CAAI

By Adam Troxtell
Published: Friday, October 1, 2010

thecambodiaproject.com
Members of the Cambodia Project visit the Hometown School in Siem Reap.

Members of the Cambodia Service Learning Project took a trip to Cambodia from July 10-26, which included sightseeing, learning about the culture and history of the country, visiting Commerce's sister city Pailin, and helping some local schools.

Political science department head and associate professor Dr. JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz is the instructor of the Cambodia Project course, PSCI 497, and she said the trip helped students get the full experience of studying a country.

"This is the first time I had been to Cambodia, and it was amazing," DiGeorgio said. "We got to put context to what we were studying in the abstract. You can learn about something, you can look at a country on a map, you can look at pictures of a country and read about its history, but when you're there experiencing it, it becomes very real. It becomes something you can attach meaning to."

Senior political science major Kaycie Clark said the trip was a revealing experience.

"It was life changing, seeing people in a society that is completely different than what you're used to, a developing world," she said. "It changed my perspective on life. I realize how lucky I am to be here."

DiGeorgio said she feels most of the students who visited Cambodia came away with a similar feeling.

"I think, for most of them, it really opened their eyes to the developing world and situations in the developing world," she said. "Cambodia is what we would call a war-torn society rebuilding after years of war and a genocide that basically eradicated anything, any education, any infrastructure, and so on."

The Cambodian Civil War lasted from 1967-1975, and led to the Khmer Rouge, or Communist Party of Kampuchea, rising to power and instigating the Cambodian Genocide. During their four-year reign, millions of Cambodians were killed or imprisoned, and the Cambodia Project members spent some of this trip learning about those darker times in the country's capital.

"The first few days it was all learning about the genocide," Clark said. "During the first four days in Phnom Penh we went to the S-21 museum, the political prisoner museum. It was a political prisoner camp where they executed thousands of people."

Also during those first few days, the class met Youk Chang, who was named in Time Magazine's Most Influential People of the 20th Century. Chang is the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which, according to DiGeorgio, is tasked with tracking all the testimonies of anyone affected by the genocide.

"We also got to visit the international criminal tribunal that's trying the leaders for war crimes and genocide, and met with the U.N. special prosecutor there," DiGeorgio said.

While these remnants of the war still exist, Clark said she felt the people as a whole seem to be getting past it.

"Cambodia is making strides to advance themselves," she said, "but after a whole generation died, they're still trying to pick up the pieces from the Khmer Rouge destruction."

After their time in Phnom Penh, the group went to Battambang and met with people from Dewey International University, a partner of A&'M-Commerce.

"We met with students there, they had a big welcome for us, and we got to interact with university students in Cambodia and see what life is like for them there," DiGeorgio said.

Education was one of the main focuses for members of the Cambodia Project, as this is one of the aspects of society the country is faced with rebuilding.

"The GDP per capita, the income, is about $300 per year," DiGeorgio said. "So, families are oftentimes faced with the choice of paying $15 a year to send a kid to school and you only have $300 a year."

Among the multiple schools the group visited was Hometown School in Siem Reap. The Cambodia Project is working to help this school buy a computer, bikes for their 5 teachers, and school supplies for the students, according to the group's website, thecambodiaproject.com. They also delivered supplies to Elizabeth School in Lak 62, a village settled by refugees from the war.

"We got involved with a village close to Thailand, actually on the border, where we delivered school supplies," Clark said. "That was a big part of the trip, delivering school supplies to these kids. It was really cool."

Toward the end of their trip, the group visited government officials from Pailin, which became Commerce's sister city on Nov. 19 of last year. Commerce City Councilman and Cambodia Project member Doug Rohrabaugh got the chance to meet with his counterparts.

"[The trip was about] a cultural exchange," group member and Student Government Association senator Adam Haney said. "A lot of southeast Asia, especially Cambodia, after Vietnam, was really ignored and forgotten about by the west. It's to try and re-establish some of these ties with regimes and peoples like the Cambodians that want to re-engage with the rest of the world."

Some of the students who took this trip are looking to go back along with new Cambodia Project members. DiGeorgio is already starting to plan her return, as well.

"I'm going back in December and going to be to be developing the service learning program for Dewey International," she said. "I'll be helping them to created programs like I have here for service learning. Then I'm going back in May mini and doing a small mini-mester for credit. I can only take about 10 students, and I've got some graduate students already signed up."

Clark said she is one of the members hoping to return and do volunteer work, and she is also planning on doing the same in other developing countries.

"I'm actually looking at going this summer to Guatemala, and Dr. DiGeorgio actually compares Guatemala to Cambodia as far as development," Clark said. "I think I'm going to go for two months; learn Spanish for a month and teach for a month."

ទិវា​ចាស់​ជរា​នៅ​បាត់ដំបង






ដោយ សួន សុផល មុន្នី

2010-10-01

ចាស់ៗ ជរា​ចូល​រួម​ក្នុង​ពិធី​ប្រារព្ធ​ទិវា​ចាស់​ជរា ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១ ខែ​តុលា ឆ្នាំ​២០១០ នៅ​ផ្ទះ​ដែល​ជា​ទីស្នាក់ការ​របស់​សមាគម​សាមគ្គីធម៌​ជួយ​ចាស់​ជរា នៅ​ភូមិ​គោក​ក្ដួច ឃុំ​តាពូង ស្រុក​ថ្មគោល ខេត្ត​បាត់ដំបង។

អ្នក​ភូមិ​បឹង​កក់​ធ្វើ​បាតុកម្ម​នៅ​មុខ​ផ្ទះ​លោក​ហ៊ុន​សែន









ដោយ ដែន អយុធ្យា
2010-10-01

ប្រជា​​ពល​រដ្ឋ​រស់​នៅ​តំបន់​បឹង​កក់ ដែល​ត្រូវ​អាជ្ញាធរ​បង្ក្រាប​ក្នុង​ការ​តវ៉ា​កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៣០ ខែ​កញ្ញា បាន​បន្ត​ការ​តវ៉ា​ជា​ថ្មី​ទៀត​ដល់​មុខ​ផ្ទះ​លោក​នាយក​​​រដ្ឋ​មន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន ដើម្បី​ឲ្យ​លោក​ជួយ​អន្តរាគមន៍​ជុំវិញ​ការ​បូម​ខ្សាច់​លប់​បឹង​កក់ របស់​ក្រុមហ៊ុន​ស៊ូកាគូ ដែល​បណ្ដាល​ឲ្យ​លិច​លង់​លំនៅឋាន​របស់​ពួក​គាត់។

Working To Protect A Vital Asian Resource

The United States is committed to fostering multilateral solutions to the problems faced by people living in the Lower Mekong River Basin.

VOA , via CAAI
10-01-2010

Photo: Soeung Sophat, VOA Khmer
A fishing boat floats on the Mekong river.

Poor water quality caused by pollution is harmful for the more than 60 million people in 5 nations who depend on the Mekong River for drinking water. It also endangers wildlife in Southeast Asia, one of the world's most bio-diverse regions. And it hurts the fishing industry, an important export business and local food source.

The United States is committed to fostering multilateral solutions to the problems faced by people living in the Lower Mekong River Basin. For example, the United States and groups in Laos are working together to restore a wetland near the capital, Vientiane, polluted by years of sewage and industrial waste dumping. The That Luang Marsh protects the Mekong River system by filtering and naturally purifying water before it enters the river and groundwater system. With funding from the U.S., the marsh is being cleaned up and reconstructed. Plans have been developed to help the Lao government better manage the area in the future to preserve this precious resource.

Agricultural, urban, industrial and mining wastes are major sources of pollution throughout the Mekong River basin. Untreated discharges are so numerous that even monitoring the flows – the first step in cleaning up and controlling these contaminants – can be difficult. In another effort to assist the people of Southeast Asia to protect their environment, the U.S. Geological Survey is conducting cooperative ecological research projects with and providing training for Mekong scientists.

This past summer, such training was offered in Cambodia and another course will be held next year in another country in the Southeast Asia region. The U.S. State Department, through its regional environmental office based at our embassy in Bangkok, has awarded a $200,000 grant to an university network spanning across Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam to do research on sources and levels of pollution in the Mekong. This one-year grant is being administered by the International Crane Foundation and will foster regional cooperation in land-based marine pollution prevention.

Protecting and managing a vital natural resource like the Mekong River is a transnational challenge. Regional cooperation is essential to meeting that challenge, and the United States is committed to furthering that effort.

Cambodia Cinema From 1960s Highlighted at Smithsonian's Freer Gallery

Hun Sen Finds Win-Win-Win in Labor Dispute: Analysts

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh Friday, 01 October 2010

via CAAI
 
Photo: AP
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I believe the courts will really give up the factories' complaints, and the factories will withdraw their complaints from the courts.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked the courts to drop cases against labor leaders brought by factories in the wake of September's general strike. At the time, he called this a “win-win” strategy. Analysts say his response was a winning strategy for the prime minster as well.

His foray into the strikes likely curried favor with workers ahead of elections in 2012 and 2013, said Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho.

“The prime minister changed his political attitude from supporting factory owners to supporting workers as an opportunity to attract the support of the workers and unions for his political affairs in the upcoming election,” he said.

Seventeen factories have cases against labor leaders, claiming the September strike was illegal. They have barred some 150 representatives from working, pending a court resolution. But that created strife in the industry, even as workers and managers have sought a compromise.

Ny Chakrya, head investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said Hun Sen's statements would appeal to both workers and nervous garment buyers alike.

“I believe the courts will really give up the factories' complaints, and the factories will withdraw their complaints from the courts,” he said.

Meanwhile, unions and managers are looking for ways to simplify their negotiations, to prevent strikes in the future. The four-day strike cost factories up to $15 million and caused major buyers in the US to call for a resolution.

Workers say they need better incomes as the cost of living rises, but factories say they have raised salaries as far as they can in the current marketplace.

But even the unions have had a hard time agreeing. Cambodia's garment industry—its main economic earner—is full of unions. Some lean politically one way or another; while others remain politically neutral. Not all of them get along.

Ath Thun, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation and a leader of September's strike, said labor disputes are hard to effectively solve because of these competing interests.

Hun Sen's warnings, he said, prevented the dispute from widening. “He prevented the dispute from spreading to destruction.”

But Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said both sides have a duty to avoid labor disputes that can discourage potential buyers. (The Free Trade Union did not enter last month's strike, he said, because it ran counter to his union's approach to strikes.)

“The buyers can stop orders from Cambodia and go order from neighboring countries,” he said. “Then Cambodia will meet with a big problem.”

Yim Serey Vathanak, project coordinator for worker education at the International Labor Organization, said the industry still lacks a quick response mechanism for solving disputes. In the absences of that mechanism, he said, Hun Sen was able “to reduce the tension in the garment industry.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said Hun Sen had not come down “on either side.”

“He wants both parties to negotiate and compromise for peace,” he said.

Whether the factories will now decide to drop their charges against labor leaders was now up to them individually, he said.

The important thing was that work continues, he said. If not, “no one benefits” he said. “The workers don't get paid a salary. The factories can't get production. So both sides lose.”

US Official Says Cambodia Must Repay a Debt Portion

Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer

Washington, D.C Friday, 01 October 2010
 
via CAAI
 
Photo: By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Joseph Yun, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

“We have communicated to the Cambodian government that if it makes scheduled payments for at least one year, the US government would signal to the IMF that efforts are underway to resolve the country's official arrears. Should Cambodia then obtain an IMF program and a future Paris Club debt treatment, the action could pave the way for generous rescheduling of the accumulated arrears owed to the United States.”

Cambodia will have to pay at least some of its war-era debt before the US can consider forgiving the rest, a State Department official told Congress on Thursday.

Joseph Yun, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, told a House of Representatives subcommittee that the US administration does not have a policy to cancel debt, for fear that it sends the wrong message in debt management.

Cambodia owes the US some $300 million, plus fees, in debt incurred during the Lon Nol regime of the 1970s, but current officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, say they should not have to pay back money borrowed by the pre-Khmer Rouge government.

Cambodia and the Paris Club group of creditors agreed to restructure the debt in 1995, but Cambodia has yet to ratify the agreement, Yun told the Foreign Affairs Committee's Asia, Pacific and Global Environment Subcommittee.

“The administration has therefore urged the Cambodian government to sign the bilateral agreement and re-establish a track record of timely repayment under that agreement,” Yun said in official testimony.

“We have communicated to the Cambodian government that if it makes scheduled payments for at least one year, the US government would signal to the IMF that efforts are underway to resolve the country's official arrears,” he said. “Should Cambodia then obtain an IMF program and a future Paris Club debt treatment, the action could pave the way for generous rescheduling of the accumulated arrears owed to the United States.”

The total amount owed the government with fees climbed to $445 million in 2009, Yun said.

However, Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat from American Samoa and chairman of the subcommittee, said precedents exist for debt forgiveness, including with Iraq and Vietnam, whose debts were much greater.

In those countries, the debt was canceled and the funds diverted to education, he said.

"Greater engagement with Cambodia could help the United States achieve our foreign policy goal in the region and counter adverse influence requiring a payment of debt,” Faleomavaega said during the hearing. “Requiring a payment of a debt incurred by an illegitimate government more than 30 years ago, without consideration of Cambodia's historical drama, will run counter to the need for greater engagement.”

The US has sought to expand its influence in Southeast Asia, where China holds much sway and provides aid packages and infrastructure without some of the Western benchmarks for human rights and democracy.

Cambodia, which benefits greatly from both Chinese and Western aid, has insisted the debt be forgiven, saying it could better spend the money on education and health programs.

Hem Heng, Cambodia's ambassador to the US, said it was “not reasonable” to expect Cambodia to sign onto a debt repayment schedule only to review it a year later.

“Once we sign it, we must be obliged to pay a certain amount per year,” he said. “It is not possible that we implement this for one year and then review it.”

Labor Leader Cautions Against Hun Sen Intervention

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer

Washington, D.C Friday, 01 October 2010
 
via CAAI
 
Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Chea Mony, president of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers.

“If I'm a worker, I'm happy when an employer wants to file a complaint but where the prime minister asks that it be stopped.”

The intervention this week by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a series of labor disputes could please workers but upset investors, a trade union representative said Thursday.

In public statements on Wednesday, Hun Sen urged the courts to drop a number of cases brought by factories against labor leaders, following a general strike in mid-September. The factories had been insistent on charging some union representatives for the strike, which managers called illegal.

“If I'm a worker, I'm happy when an employer wants to file a complaint but where the prime minister asks that it be stopped,” said Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“But if the courts say they are independent, they can't accept the prime minister's request,” he said. “That's the problem.”

The Free Trade Union was not among those who went on a four-day strike last month, but it is one of the most powerful unions in the garment sector.

Since the strikes, workers and managers have sought to simplify the negotiation process, but it remains unclear how far factories are willing to go to increase the incomes of workers, especially in a tightened global marketplace.

Chea Mony, whose brother and former president of the union was murdered in 2004, said the best way to deal with the current dispute is to find a compromise, before both sides lose.

“The workers need factories and factories need workers, so one side should not upset the other,” he said.

He also cautioned against the court's simply taking the lead of a single individual, which erodes the confidence of investors in Cambodia's dedication to the rule of law.

Worried investors may well decide instead to take their businesses to other countries, such as Bangladesh, Kenya or Nepal, he said.

City's thirst for groundwater threatens ancient temples

http://www.smh.com.au/

via CAAI

Ben Doherty
October 2, 2010


Angkor Wat ... two million tourists visit each year.

SIEM REAP, Cambodia: The five-star hotels around the ancient temples of Angkor are oases of green - sleek new buildings ringed by tropical forests and sprawling lawns.

But the water used to keep them so is being sucked from groundwater under the nearby city of Siem Reap, threatening the stability of the centuries-old World Heritage-listed landmark.

The widespread, unregulated pumping of groundwater throughout Siem Reap has raised concerns that the temples, including the world's largest religious monument, Angkor Wat, could crack or crumble if too much water is drained away.

The temples and towers of the 400-square-kilometre Angkor site sit on a base of sand, kept firm by a constant supply of groundwater that rises and falls with the seasons, but which is now being used to supply a burgeoning city.

With the number of visitors approaching 2 million a year, increasing pressure is being put on the scarce water resource. Thousands of illegal private pumps have been sunk across the city, pulling millions of litres of water from the ground each day.

UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, says that no one knows just how much water is being drawn from the ground, or how much can be taken safely.

Water is a precious commodity in Siem Reap, particularly during the dry season, when tourist numbers are highest. And the population of the city, barely five kilometres from Angkor Wat, has doubled in a little more than a decade to about 200,000.

The government-run Siem Reap water supply authority has the capacity to pump nine megalitres of water a day from underground, its director general, Som Kunthea, said.

But Mr Som estimates the city, even at its current size, is already using more than 50 megalitres daily. Authorities believe there are more than 6000 private pumps and 1000 wells sunk across the city.

The deputy director of water management for the Cambodian government's Angkor conservation body, Peou Hang, said the pumping was unregulated and almost impossible to police.

The Cambodian government has commissioned the Japanese government development agency JICA to investigate future water options for Siem Reap.

Its report, now in draft stage and to be completed by the end of the year, is likely to recommend regulating the pumping of groundwater as well as bringing water from other sources, including Tonle Sap, a lake 20 kilometres south of Siem Reap, an option that Mr Som would ''cost a lot and make water more expensive''.

Mr Som said the government's water authority does not have the capacity to supply all of Siem Reap with drinking water.

''Right now, there is no sign of impact on the temples,'' he said. ''But if we don't move now … if we keep letting people pump water and the population continues to increase, it will have an impact.''

Danville man charged in marriage scheme

via CAAI

By TODD KLEFFMAN
October 1, 2010


LOUISVILLE — A Danville resident is among 35 people from three states who have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to smuggle Cambodian citizens into the United States by way of fraudulent marriages.

Kong Cheng Ty, 43, is charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Ty is one of the leaders of the alleged scheme which involved paying U.S. citizens to travel to Cambodia to engage in sham marriages to Cambodian citizens in order to help them come to America, according to court records.

“He is what they consider one of the organizers of the conspiracy,” said Christopher Francis, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville.

Ty is a foreign-born Cambodian citizen who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005, Francis said. He is among six other organizers who, working through nail salons in Kentucky, paid Americans to travel to Cambodia to participate in phony engagements and marriages.

$7,000 exchanged

Court records allege that Ty met with Christopher James McAlister at a Steak and Shake restaurant in Versailles in November 2005 to discuss the marriage scheme.

Ty allegedly paid McAlister more than $7,000 and arranged for him to fly to Cambodia to meet Sokunthy So. McAlister and So posed for pictures during an engagement ceremony and at other locations before McAlister returned to the United States, court records show.

In 2006, McAlister met with an attorney in Louisville to fill out visa paperwork for So. McAlister traveled back to Cambodia in 2008 to get So and bring her to America.

In February 2008, McAlister and So participated in a civil marriage ceremony in Louisville “knowing that the marriage was not entered into in good faith but was in exchange for something of value, and that the purpose of the marriage was to enable So to obtain permanent legal resident status in the United States,” according to court documents.

Ty is listed as a witness at the marriage ceremony.

The larger marriage conspiracy began in 1999 and continued through April of this year. The 35 people indicted are from Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.

Eleven of the people who were among the first charged in the conspiracy already have pleaded guilty.

An arraignment date for Ty, who was indicted earlier this week, has not yet been set.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Claire Phillips, and it was investigated by the Immigration Customs

Treatment reduces swelling in Cambodian girl's 'elephant arm'


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2010/10/01

Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) A tailor-made elastic bandage has helped reduce swelling in the arm of a two-year-old Cambodian girl who checked into Taichung Veterans General Hospital in central Taiwan for treatment on Aug. 28, her doctor said Friday.

The young patient from Cambodia, Reachny Mich, whose condition has been described as an "elephant arm, " was prescribed the elastic garment by pediatric hematologist Chang Teh-kao.

The sleeve reduced her right arm's circumference from 31 centimeters two weeks ago to 26 centimeters, Chang said at a news conference at the hospital.

"It proves that our conservative therapy to reduce the massive swelling in her arm has worked, " he said.

The two-year-old was brought to Taiwan by her mother about one month ago for examination and possible treatment of her arm, which weighed so much the girl was unable to walk.

Chang said Mich's right arm was four to five times larger than her left arm. He diagnosed the girl with a rare case of Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, a deformation of blood vessels and bones.

The girl was fortunate as she has not suffered from arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between veins and arteries that would otherwise cause heart failure, Chang said.

"It is hoped that the circumference of the child's arm will decrease to about 20 centimeters in a month," Chang said.

He said that doctors decided not to perform surgery on the child because they felt she was too young and the surgery could cause complications.

"It will take six months to one year for us to complete the current treatment. We will make a new assessment if there is a problem with the sleeve," he said.

Reachny Mich is expected to be released from the hospital in one month so she and her mother can rent a home near the hospital and visit the doctor twice a week, according to Hsu Yu-pi, a volunteer at the hospital.

Hsu has been assisting the two with their finances as they seek medical attention in Taiwan. They have also received a donation of NT$100,000 (US$3,125) from Royal Philips Electronics.

Mich was discovered by a Taiwanese medical team when it visited Cambodia in April to provide free medical services. (By Hau Hsue-chin and Deborah Kuo)

Acid Draft Law Discussed

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Friday, 01 October 2010 09:35 By Amatak .CAMBODIA,Phnom Penh, 30 October 2010:Acid draft was sent to relevant ministries to double check before it is sent to be approved by the council ministry. Official said.

Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State at the Interior Ministry Ouk Kimlek told DAP News Cambodia that the Acid draft is now at relevant ministries such as Ministry of industry Mine and energy, Ministry of health for double check process before sending to Cambodia’s Council Ministry.

“I am waiting to get feedback from the relevant ministries to prepare sending to Council Ministry. We want to set up a confident law. I will send the draft as soon as possible ” he said.

Chhun Sophea, programme manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said that her organization has observed any update of draft law, adding that the victim and all people wish the acid law approval to find justice for the victim and sentence to the suspected persons.

“I am happy when the government effort this work. It show that the victim got justice for them” she said.

In 2010, there are 33 of acid case which the suspected men have not yet been charged.

Vietnam, Cambodia localities co-operate in disaster control

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October 1, 2010

The Mekong Delta province of An Giang and the Disaster Management Committee (DMC) of Cambodia’s Kandal province have jointly held a seminar on urgent cross-border co-operation in disaster control between the two neighbours.

‘The An Giang-Kandal Urgent Cross-border Co-operation’ is one of the five components of a programme on flood management and mitigation in the Mekong River, which began in June 2007.

The programme focuses on research and rescue work, information exchange on storm and flood forecasts, health care, as well as agricultural, seafood and veterinary co-operation.

The participants at the seminar agreed that the co-operation between the two provinces has been implemented under signed contents.

However, localities in An Giang province should provide more support for their Cambodian neighbours, especially in medical check-ups and treatment, mushroom growing and vaccination for livestock.(VNA)

Chinese company inks MoU with Cambodia on economic acceleration platform project

via CAAI

October 01, 2010

China's ZTE Corporation on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cambodian government to cooperate and participate in Cambodia's Economic Acceleration Platform (CEAP) project which was launched by Cambodian National ICT Development Authority (NiDA).

The signing ceremony of the MoU on cooperation was held Thursday in the presence of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Council of Ministers Sok An and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue and other government officials.

Zhao Yong, vice-president of ZTE for Southeast Asian region said at the ceremony that it is the day of a milestone for ZTE. He promised to closely cooperate with NiDA, and to fulfill task well within required time and with high quality.

Sok An and Ambassador Pan highly valued the cooperation project between the two countries, and expressing their belief that the project of CEAP will help the Royal Government of Cambodia to develop information and digital age, to enhance government's working efficiency, and to promote the rapid economic development, as well as to contribute for the further enhancing and deepening of the traditional friendly relations between the two countries.

In an effort to speed up the process of building a digital Cambodia, Cambodian NiDA plans to develop Cambodia's Economic Acceleration Platformt to promote the building of a nationwide high-speed fiber optic information network which will help the building of electronization of commerce, finance, communication, digital television, education, medical, customs administration and others.

The project came in line with the Cambodian government's priority policy to develop the industry of communications with wide acceptance of investments from foreign countries.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodian garment strikers victimised as unions enter talks


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By John Roberts
1 October 2010

Thousands of Cambodian garment workers faced continuing victimisation by employers as talks commenced between union, employer and government representatives last Monday.

Union leaders used the negotiations, called for by the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, as the basis for calling off industrial action on September 16. The strikes had gone on for four days and attracted support from an estimated 210,000 of the industry’s 345,000-strong workforce. The workers were demanding a minimum monthly wage of $US93, instead of the $61 imposed by an agreement between some union leaders and the government in July.

As soon as the strikers returned to work on September 17, employers began to suspend factory delegates and initiate legal cases against them. Up to 300 were singled out.

Sections of workers began strike action in defence of the suspended representatives almost immediately. Employers’ spokesman, Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) general secretary Ken Loo, said about 10,000 workers from four factories in the capital Phnom Penh and Kandal province were involved in the new strikes.

The government sent in military police to attack protesting strikers. On September 18, at least 12 workers were reportedly injured in clashes with the police. In one incident, 2,000 workers refused to report for their shifts at the River Rich factory because 25 union representatives had been banned from returning to work. According to police officials, the military police moved in when workers tried to stop the factory owner’s car. By the end of last week, around 30 injuries were reported from various confrontations.

The Phnom Penh Post reported that the workers in Kandal province took action on September 18 in defence of the delegates, defying employers’ notices on factory walls warning of automatic sackings if there were no a return to work by the following morning. Industry representatives estimated that as of September 23, 7,000 workers were defying court orders to return to work.

The unions called on the government to intervene. Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union general secretary Ek Sopheakdey said labour leaders had on September 20 appealed to the government to allow the return to work of the delegates.

However, as reported in the Phnom Penh Post on September 21, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a directive for government officials to cooperate with employers in pursuing legal action against leaders of the September 13-16 strikes and ordered law enforcement officers to prevent any resumption of the strikes.

On September 24 and 25, employers began firing those taking action in defence of the delegates. According to union representatives, 3,300 workers were sacked in Kandal province for striking in defiance of court orders.

Goldfame Enterprise factory delegate Keo Boeun said that workers there had agreed to end their strike on September 23 but when workers arrived for their shift the following day they were told they had been fired.

This week, as the tripartite government-union-employer talks began, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng called for suspended workers to be reinstated but some employers have ignored this request. Winner Garment Factory representative Lim Phengdsam said the plant had no plans to reinstate suspended workers, citing lack of work.

Employers have claimed that the September 13 to 16 strikes cost the industry $15 million and resulted in the cancellation of overseas orders. At the Goldfame Enterprise plant, workers have this week been allowed to return but were told there is no work. As a result, 2,000 workers were idle, according to union delegate Chea Thida.

Sam Heng’s call for reinstatements followed a letter sent to Cambodia’s commerce minister by five major foreign corporations: Adidas, Levi Strauss, Gap Inc, Hennes and Mauritz and the Walt Disney Company. These clothing giants, which have made billions in profits by exploiting cheap labour in Cambodia, fear that the regime is losing control over the working class.

The letter appealed for the government, unions and employers to work together to restabilise the situation: “As buyers in Cambodia it is important that we can see mature industrial relations taking place, and that the process respects and includes all parties and stakeholders.”

At Monday’s talks, it became clear that the union officials were working for just such an outcome. It was agreed that a committee would be established to conduct the negotiations, with five union representatives, five from the employers and two government officials. Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions official Vong Sovann said senior union leaders would be nominated, including Confederation president Ath Thun.

The committee was due to begin work on September 29. Despite the virtual lockouts in some factories, the unions were urging calm. Although the government has set no timetable for the negotiations to be completed, the Confederation position was that all strikes would be cancelled pending the final outcome, as long as all workers were reinstated and legal action dropped.

The employers have flatly ruled out any change to the minimum wage increase, which was due to come into effect this month. GMAC secretary Loo said: “We shut the door for the minimum wage, but we always made it very clear we will negotiate the other allowances after October.”

Labour Confederation head Ath Thun said he accepted that the employers would not allow any wage rise, but the unions would seek other concessions. Among those being mooted by union officials are daily food allowances and seniority payments. In effect, the unions have repudiated the wage claim on which the September strike movement was based.

Vietnam provides Cambodia with security equipment

via CAAI

10/01/2010

The Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security has provided the Cambodia Ministry of Home Affairs with a consignment of technical and combat equipment worth VND20 billion.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Dang Van Hieu and Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minster and Minister of Home Affairs Sar Kheng witnessed the hand-over of equipment in Phnom Penh on September 30.

At a reception for the Vietnamese delegation led by Mr Hieu, Mr Sar Kheng said that the assistance will help to ensure security and social order in Cambodia as well as promoting closer cooperation with Vietnam in maintaining security along the common border.

The Royal Cambodian Government also presented a Friendship Order to the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security’s leaders and staff.

Khmer and face the music

http://www.smh.com.au/

via CAAI

October 1, 2010

Dengue Fever's journey back to their Cambodian roots saw them embraced by the locals and inspired to keep spreading their sound, writes Anthony Carew.

IN 2005, Dengue Fever suddenly found themselves suffering an identity crisis, brought on by an imminent tour of Cambodia.

The Los Angeles-based band formed in 2001 with the intention of re-creating ''Khmer rock'', the uniquely Cambodian music of the late 1960s/early '70s, which fused the guitar rock heard on US armed forces radio with traditional Cambodian music. They were serious enough to recruit Chhom Nimol, who was plying her trade as a wedding band and nightclub singer in the Little Phnom Penh neighbourhood in Long Beach.

With their first two albums, 2003's Dengue Fever and 2005's Escape from Dragon House, sung entirely in Khmer, the sextet became global ambassadors not just for the Khmer rock sound but, in many ways, for Cambodia itself.

''It's a strange position to be in,'' Dengue Fever drummer Paul Smith says. ''We never intended to take on that responsibility, to be these ambassadors spreading the word about Cambodia. We just loved this music and wanted to play it.''

This strange cultural situation came to a head when they were set to travel to Cambodia. For Nimol - and Dengue Fever's music itself - it was a homecoming. For four of the band's remaining members, however, it was a journey into the unknown: they'd never been to Cambodia.

The sense of pseudo-danger - would they be loved? Hated? - encouraged filmmaker John Pirozzi to tag along and the result is 2008 documentary Sleepwalking through the Mekong.

''The first time we went back, it was really wonderful, if somewhat surreal,'' Smith says. ''Even as we were there, you knew that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you're going to hold on to for the rest of your life.''

The tour - which included a showcase on Cambodian national television, a day jamming with local schoolchildren, and a concert staged in a Phnom Penh shanty town - found Dengue Fever almost universally embraced.

For younger crowds, the sight of a towering African-American bassist (Senon Williams) and a profusely bearded hipster guitarist (Ethan Holtzman) playing something uniquely Cambodian was out of this world.

For elders, it took them back to a more innocent era, before the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and sentenced the stars of the local music scene - such as Dengue Fever's heroes, Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea - to forced labour, torture and death.

''It gave us such a deeper understanding of the culture and the history,'' Smith says.

In the five years since, Dengue Fever have moved away from being sound-specific re-creationists to, on 2008's Venus on Earth, something more eclectic, with songs now sung just as much in English.

But at the same time, they've grown more comfortable in their ambassadorial role, with live shows now featuring history lessons on the millions who died during the Khmer Rouge's bloody reign.

''Playing in Cambodia changed how we felt about what we were doing,'' Smith says. ''To ourselves, it also gave us a sense of credibility. It wasn't that other people were saying we lacked credibility but we were worried about being accepted for playing this music.

''Taking it back to the country that it came from, we weren't sure how they were going to see us. But, being embraced, it felt a little like we were getting the blessing of the people who created this music.''

Dengue Fever play the Melbourne International Arts Festival's Beck's Bar, at the Forum, on October 16. melbournefestival.com.au

IN BRIEF: TB, HIV warning for Cambodia's prisons


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01 Oct 2010
Source: IRIN

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

PHNOM PENH, 1 October 2010 (IRIN) - Tuberculosis and HIV rates in Cambodia's largest prison are roughly six and four times the respective national averages, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

MSF screened 1,783 inmates at the Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh and found 4 percent had TB, and 3 percent were HIV-positive. The World Health Organization and government report Cambodia's general population has rates of 0.68 and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Overcrowding in Cambodia's prisons has exacerbated this global problem, Heng Hak, head of the prison system, told IRIN. The country's 25 prisons have an official capacity of 8,000 inmates but hold nearly 14,000 people, attended to by 96 health workers, he added. Since the beginning of this year, seven prisons have gained healthcare facilities, but they are not yet fully staffed.

Emmanuel Lavieuville, head of MSF in Cambodia, said the screening was "part of a longer process that will take at least a couple of years" to significantly improve healthcare services in Cambodia's prisons.

More effort needed in fighting malaria along Thai-Cambodia border

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Posted : Fri, 01 Oct 2010
By : dpa

Bangkok - Efforts to combat a more resistant strain of malaria are showing results on the Thai-Cambodia border, but more needs to be done, a Thai official said Friday.

Efforts to combat malaria intensified two years ago after mosquitoes along the Thai-Cambodia border were discovered to be more resistant to the artemisinin drugs treatment.

That discovery worried experts since artemisinin remains the main combination therapy to combat malaria, and a resistant strain could have significant public health consequences.

The situation is worst parts of south-eastern Thailand's Chantaburi and Trat provinces and Cambodia's Pailin province.

"There the mosquitoes are more resistant and can spread. We want to eliminate them before they spread," said Saowanit Vijaykadga, of the Bureau of Vector Borne Disease.

Cambodia is making progress battling the disease. As of mid-September, there were only two cases of plasmodium falciparium, one of the most deadly forms of malaria, among 5,686 people screened in 16 villages in Pailin, according to the bureau website.

In the adjacent Soi Dao and Pong Nam Ron districts of Chantaburi province, there was a similar trend, with incidence dropping from 16 to seven from 2008 to 2009.

In an effort to wipe out mosquito-borne diseases, the World Health Organization has developed a cross-border containment effort with the Thai and Cambodian governments.

This 22.5-million-dollar project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uses a combination of prevention and treatment methods.

Saowanit said those include newer insecticides, mosquito nets for people who spend time in the jungles, and better application of treatment for those who get malaria.

But more collective regional efforts are needed to make a difference in addressing the malaria problem on the border, the WHO said in a press release Thursday.

Dr Charles Delacollette, co-ordinator of the WHO's Mekong Malaria Programme, said the members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to "be more aggressive" in their anti-malaria efforts.

Delacollette said more political will from ASEAN governments was needed, as was wider coverage of the campaign areas to increase awareness among people at risk.

"As a body for regional socio-economic growth, it is important for ASEAN to show strong commitment," he said

Weightlifter shows strength in face of adversity

http://www.abc.net.au/

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Triumph through adversity ... Vannara Be has risen from grape farming to gold medal-hunting. (Getty Images)

By Jano Gibson in Delhi
Updated October 1, 2010

As a little boy, Vannara Be grew up hearing about the torture inflicted on his relatives by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Two of his father's siblings were murdered, his grandmother lost an eye and his father was left with severe psychological mental scars.

But almost 30 years since that reign of terror, 22-year-old Be has become the first Cambodian-born competitor to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

The diminutive weightlifter, who lived with his parents and three siblings on the outskirts of Phnom Penh until he was 10, only received his Australian citizenship late last year.

Not until today, at a press conference in Delhi, did he learn he was the first Cambodian to wear the green and gold.

"I just found out today," he said.

"It's pretty nervous. Suddenly you are representing your country."

His family's first link to Australia came through one of his uncles, who fled to the country on a boat in the 1980s.

His uncle was granted refugee status and eventually persuaded Be's father to come to Australia for a short work trip at a farm in Victoria.

The owner of the farm offered to sponsor him to return on a working visa.

The whole family arrived in Australia in 1998, but it was only last November that Be received his citizenship.

He said he took up weightlifting to get out of school and had never really had the ambition to represent Australia.

"As a little kid you go to school. To get out of school you go play different sports," he said.

Be, who will be competing in the 62-kilogram weightlifting competition, said he can hoist 148 kilograms.

He credited some of his physical strength to his early days working with his mother in her Cambodian shop and later with his father on the farm.

"During picking season you carry weights around, like grapes in a bucket," he said.

"I'm not too sure where I get my strength from.

"Maybe from there, picking grapes."

Joint marketing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos


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By Ilja Pankow | Sep 30, 2010

The sixth edition of the ITE HCMC opened its doors on September 30th in a two day event which ends on the 2nd of October in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The event is the flagship event of a fair which features the joint marketing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The event offers exhibitors, buyers and visitors the opportunity to explore Asia´s most authentic and exciting tourism potential from the three countries, as well as Thailand and Myanmar. Myanmar is expected to join the trio of Southeast Asian nations in their joint-marketing initiatives.

Visitors can see over 150 travel specialist, tour operators and national tourism organizations from some 16 countries and regions at Vietnam´s largest tourism event. The exhibition was opened by the ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar in a colorful event which included traditional dance, trumpets and singers. It should be the largest and most exciting ITE exhibition ever.

The aim of the show is to bring all of regional and local exhibitors, international buyers and travel trade professionals to exchange growing business for inbound and outbound travel opportunities in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam: Three Countries One Destination. This year is the first at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre (SECC) what will provide a more conducive environment for buyer seller networking and a better expansion of the event.

The exhibition offer to discover new tourism products and also allows exhibitors, buyers and trade visitors the opportunity to network with key decision from provincial departments of tourism.

Some event highlights included Vietnam Night on the 30th of September with the second annual Tourism Alliance Awards (TAA). The TAA is an event within the ITE HCMC umbrella, designed to recognize the brightest travel-trade companies in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The winners will be featured on the 1st of October on our site. Cambodia Night will be on October 1st, and we will include further reporting about this event.

Source: tourism-insider.com