Tuesday, 30 November 2010

From white cloth to precious gems: Cambodian women challenge gender stereotypes and defend against HIV


via CAAI

November 30, 2010

by Meghan Lewis
-Cambodia-

An ancient Khmer proverb says, “A man is gold; a woman is a white piece of cloth.” Gold can get dirty or be dropped in the mud, but it can be polished and become as shiny as new; if white cloth is dropped in the mud, it will be forever stained, soiled, and ruined. This is a sad reflection of how Cambodian society traditionally views female sexuality. The silencing and shaming of female sexuality means that women often lack their sexual rights and autonomy.
As the world marks World AIDS Day on December 1, Cambodia is often hailed a success as one of the only countries in the world to halt and reverse the spread of HIV from a peak of 2.8 percent in 1998 to an estimated 0.7 percent in 2010. However, harmful gender stereotypes like the one above threaten to undermine efforts and contribute to a second wave of the epidemic.

One woman familiar with today’s realities in Cambodia is Duong Sopheaktra, whose inviting smile and infectious giggle hide a world of pain and disillusionment. Sopheaktra grew up in war-torn Cambodia. Her father was away from home fighting, and she was raised by an abusive stepmother who beat her and did not give her enough to eat. The family lived far away from the nearest school, and subsequently Sopheaktra stopped going to school and worked on the family farm.

Sopheaktra tells the heartbreaking story of how her stepsister sold her virginity when she was 17 years old. “There was an old man waiting for me, and my stepsister told me to greet him saying that he was her uncle. I had a meal with them and after that I suddenly became sleepy and asked my stepsister to go back home. So she told the man to take us home by car.

“When I woke up my body was naked, and there was a man holding me. I realized that my future was finished at that time. I was very upset, unable to say anything; I just let my tears come out with the pain in my mind.”

Feeling worthless and ashamed that she had lost her virginity, Sopheaktra left home and did not tell her father what had happened. Like many women in the same position, Sopheaktra did not have many options.

“I found work as a beer seller. The wage was very low, though, and I could not afford to pay bills and send money home to my father, who was very ill. I decided to do the second job – whenever there was a customer who wanted to sleep with me, I would agree if the price was acceptable because I really needed the money to support my living costs.”

Sopheaktra's stepsister sold her virginity when she was 17 years old. Photo courtesy of the author.

Extreme poverty and low education levels are the main forces driving women into commercial and transactional sex work in Cambodia. This takes place in a variety of settings from brothels and streets to karaoke bars and beer gardens. There is an HIV prevalence of 14.7 percent among direct sex workers, and they often report pressure from clients to have sex without condoms. In some cases clients will offer to pay more for unprotected sex. To women living in poverty this can be hard to refuse. According to a 2007 report for Pharmaciens Sans Frontiers, 20 percent of entertainment workers were infected with sexually transmitted infections every month - indicating low condom use.
In a culture that promotes men’s rights to sexual pleasure and silences female sexuality, sexual violence is endemic. Sex workers are commonly referred to as srey koach (broken women), and are viewed as “spoiled.” As a consequence of this dehumanisation they frequently endure harassment, rape, and violence from a variety of perpetrators. Rape at the hands of clients is a common experience for most women working in the entertainment industry. Sopheaktra was not spared this ordeal.

“Sometimes customers took me to have sex without paying me and even threatened to kill me. When working in a restaurant, some customers cursed and mocked me and even hit my head with glass. Every time I recalled the pain I suffered, I asked why my life was full of sorrow and I just wanted to take poison to end this life because I could not understand.”

According to Amnesty International, rape in Cambodia goes largely unreported due to a number of reasons. Even though sex work in Cambodia is not illegal, the Cambodian Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Exploitation is often used by police to harass and blackmail sex workers. Consequently, sex workers who are raped do not trust the police. Furthermore, there is a general lack of confidence that the perpetrator will be convicted, and the shame that rape survivors feel often prevents them from reporting the crime.

It is not only sex workers who suffer such experiences of gender inequality. The majority of married women in Cambodia face the reality that their husbands will have extramarital sexual relationships with paid and unpaid partners. Men are more likely to use condoms with paid partners, but many do not use condoms consistently with unpaid partners. The result is that married women account for 43 percent of new HIV infections, according to a 2008 survey by Cambodia’s National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology, and STD. Domestic rape is against the law in Cambodia, but it is common and is rarely reported to authorities due partially to a widespread lack of understanding from both wives and husbands about sexual rights within marriage.

Sopheaktra has become a peer educator and facilitates discussions, support, and workshops for fellow entertainment workers. Photo courtesy of the author

Out of her great sorrow, Sopheaktra has found incredible inner strength and the motivation to help others in her situation. She has risen from depression and has become a role model for other entertainment workers. Through hard work and determination, Sopheaktra has become a peer educator and facilitates discussions, support, and workshops for fellow entertainment workers. She challenges harmful gender stereotypes and breaks taboos by talking candidly about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV. By talking about these subjects, she tells me, Sopheaktra hopes that other sex workers will be better equipped to negotiate safe sex with clients, and will not feel ashamed to seek sexual health treatment or report abuse.
The work that Sopheaktra does is invaluable to her peers and is much needed in communities where commercial sex is so readily available. But in order to meaningfully tackle the issues, it is not going to be enough to empower women and enlist them in the response. It is imperative that men share this responsibility and challenge prevalent male attitudes, not only to prevent a second wave of the epidemic, but to work toward a more gender equitable society.

Prominent female politician Mu Sochua is working hard to promote equality in Cambodia. She has led the influx of thousands of women into government positions, though change remains slow in the male-dominated society. One of Mu Sochua’s early ministerial acts was to launch a gender equality campaign to rewrite the Khmer proverb as “A man is gold; a woman is a precious gem.” This new version of the proverb represents women and men as equally valuable and challenges the belief that a woman’s actions will stain her forever.

About the Author:

Meghan Lewis is the Policy, Advocacy and Communications Officer for the Khmer HIV/ AIDS NGO Alliance and works to reduce discrimination against marginalised groups in the response to HIV and AIDS. She has been a key actor in the formation of Cambodia’s first LGBT group, Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), a group of local and international LGBT volunteers working together towards a future free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She has published articles based on public health and human rights in Cambodian newspapers as well as international newsletters and websites including Purple Sky Network and Key Correspondents.

Meghan was born in South Africa and grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal before moving to the UK in 1997. She studied Education at the University of Brighton and has been living in rural and urban Cambodia since 2008. Throughout her personal, academic and professional life, her primary passion has been to try to reduce the inequalities that exist in so many areas of society and work towards a future where opportunities are accessible to all people regardless of ethnicity, economics, gender or sexuality.

Border memos panel seeks more time


Published: 30/11/2010
via CAAI

The joint House-Senate committee scrutinising the three Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission memorandums will ask for another 90 days to complete its work, panel secretary Ratchada Thanadirek said on Tuesday.

Ms Ratchada said a letter would be submitted to to Paliament President Chai Chidchob seek the extension to allow the committee to look into the three memos in full detail.

Representatives of all agencies concerned would be invited to give information to the committee because the documents on hand did not provide enough details.

Members of the committee would also travel to the border area to gather first-hand information, she added.

The joint committee reviewing the memos, comprising seven senators and 23 MPs, was initially given until Dec 1 to complete its job, she said.

Ms Ratchada said at this stage Thailand was not at a disadvantage because it was still in the stage of negotiation and surveying the area.

The people could rest assured that the parliament was duty-bound to protect the national interest and should not worry, she said.

The parliament agreed to set up the committee on Nov 2 when about 2,000 yellow-shirts of the People's Alliance for Democracy rallied to show strong opposition to the memos tabled for endorsement.

The PAD is concerned parliament's endorsement of the Thai-Cambodian memos, signed last year and in 2008 by the JBC, would result in a significant loss of territory to Cambodia.

PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul said his group would rally on Dec 11 at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue if it was not satisfied with the committee's review.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya had reaffirmed the three JBC memos would not affect Thai sovereignty as it kept the territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple on a bilateral, rather than a multi-lateral, level.

Cambodia: Lessons from the Water Festival stampede

 via CAAI

Posted 29 November 2010


Written by Sopheap Chak

During this time of the year in previous years, Cambodians were sharing holiday stories and how they happily participated in the Water Festival celebrations. But not today. Cambodians are still mourning the death of 347 people in the stampede tragedy which happened last week at Koh Pich Bridge.

Mainstream media channels and even online social network tools have been used to send news updates, to call for support, and to express condolence to families of the victims. Top government officials, civil society organizations, youth networks and individuals joined together and launched numerous initiatives to help those who are recovering in the hospitals and to support the victims’ family members.

While there were controversial issues like how government should be accountable for its failure to protect and ensure the people's safety, a number of individuals consider the tragedy as an opportunity to learn rather than focus on blame finding.

A Cambodian facebook user, Sreng Sopheap, from Ratanakiri, northeastern part of Cambodia says:

It is not to look for someone to blame but to find ways to heal the internal broken heart. A lesson to be learnt, but should not be blamed…

Another facebooker, Samsokrith Chhaly, identified as an active volunteer member of the organizing committee of the 2010 Barcamp Phnom Penh, urges the public to think of those who died during the Water Festival as heroes:

Let's not think of them as “unfortunate victims”… but think of them as “accidental heroes.” Their death give us priceless lesson…

This incident should be an adequate reason for the government to establish an effective risk management system in the country. A number of online users raised good suggestions.

Sophary Noy, a human rights worker, lists her recommendations through her facebook:

With death toll of innocent ppl @KohPich during dis festival, de gov't shld provide more protective arrangements such as install 1st aid booth in every 200-300m distance & reserve clear line 4 ambulance route. Any death is costly & a waste 4 de nation. With adaptation & correction, we can avoid unnecessary death by de next 5yrs. Bit by bit we can change de culture of blaming & re-activate our culture of responsibility

Similarly, Norbert Klein, founder of The Mirror, also offered some suggestions and reminders to the government on disaster management:

Sad for what happened with 339 persons accounted to be dead (and probably more to be added), and concern whether this will lead to sharp analysis of the reasons - and that it may lead to fundamental changes on how to plan safety. Safety for big crowds, but also for the many new high rise buildings going up, where the fire-fighting forces cannot reach with present equipment much higher than their ladders.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, tourism expert Ouk Vanna cited the lack of professionalism in public event management and the lack of risk management system in Cambodia.

[…] ការ​រៀប​គម្រោង​មេ ដើម្បី​ការពារ​ហានិភ័យ​ឲ្យ​បាន​ខ្ពស់​បំផុត គួរ​អនុលោម​​តាម​និយាម​អន្តជាតិ ដូចជា​សិក្សា​ភាព​ហានិភ័យ​លើ​ទីតាំង​ឲ្យ​បាន​សុក្រឹត រៀបចំ​កម្លាំង​ការពារ​សង្គ្រោះ​ឲ្យ​សមាមាត្រ​ទៅ​នឹង​ចំនួន​មនុស្ស​ដើរ​ កម្សាន្ត ឬ​ចំនួន​អ្នក​ទេសចរ ហ្វឹកហ្វឺន​ជំនាញ​បច្ចេកទេស​ដល់​កម្លាំង​សន្តិសុខ​លើ​ផ្នែក​នីមួយៗ និង​រៀបចំ​ក្រុម​បម្រុង​ដើម្បី​បង្ការ និង​សង្គ្រោះ​ពេល​មាន​ហានិភ័យ​ដែល​អាច​កើត​ឡើង​ជាយថាហេតុ​នៅ​នឹង​កន្លែង រៀប​ចំ​ស្លាក​សញ្ញា​បង្ហាញ​ផ្លូវ​ថ្មើរ​ជើង ត្រួត​ពិនិត្យ​ចរន្ត​មនុស្ស​ជា​ប្រចាំ​តាំង​ពី​ដើម​ដល់​ចប់​កម្មវិធី។[…]

[…] A master plan for risk management should be complied to international standards that include the detail study on the risk at the location where event will be organized; group preparation to save public should be compatible to the number of people or tourists; skill training and advanced preparation for security guards and protection groups when risk may occur in such public events; gate-way logo placement so that public can be aware where to go, and closely track the movement of the people from the beginning to the end of the event[…]

Though the government, with support from mainstream media, was quick to act and help the victims and their family members by shouldering the cost of hospitalization, transportation of dead bodies, and mourning ceremony, there are still reports of extortion from public officials who are assisting the victims. There is also a visible lack of health infrastructure to accommodate such huge inflow of victims at the same time. Obviously, there are still questions about government responsibility, fund management to directly benefit the victims, and disaster management reforms.

By Sopheap Chak · Posted 29 November 2010

President Yadav dissatisfied with PM's series of foreign trips


 President Ram Baran Yadav (File photo)

via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

President Ram Baran Yadav has expressed dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal for his series of foreign trips at a time when the nation is going through a difficult time, Annapurna Post daily reported.

At a meeting in Shital Niwas Monday, President Yadav advised PM Nepal to take initiative to forge consensus among the parties and end the political deadlock instead of focusing on foreign trips.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal (File photo)

PM Nepal had gone to meet the President to apprise him of his trip to Cambodia to start Tuesday. He is leaving for Cambodia´s capital Phnom Penh Tuesday to attend the sixth International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

Soon after returning from Cambodia, PM Nepal is going to Belgium to chair a meeting of the Least Developed Countries (LDC)s. He had visited Russia last week for the Global Tiger Summit.

I had expected you would initiate dialogues among political parties and strive to end the ongoing political crisis after you returned from Russia, but then you are going on a foreign trip again, the President's press advisor quoted the President as saying.

At the meeting, President Yadav also asked PM Nepal about the government's position on calling a parliament session saying most of the political parties were in favour of calling the session soon.

In reply, PM Nepal said, there is no point in calling the parliament session without resolving the dispute among the parties outside the House. Speaker Subash Chandra Nemwang had also expressed dissatisfaction about the foreign trips of PM Nepal, senior UML leader KP Oli and UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, on Monday. nepalnews.com

Preah Vihear temple border gate with Thailand likely to open on weekend

via CAAI

November 30, 2010

Ten Thai soldiers stationed in Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda at Preah Vihear temple have already withdrawn and the Preah Vihear temple border gate with Thailand is likely to open on Sunday, said a top official at the Preah Vihear National Authority.

"Since Monday's evening, both sides have pulled out each side of the 10 soldiers stationed in Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda and Thai side asked to keep five of them dressed uniforms and equipped with radio transmitters, but no weapons to station at the Police station 795 nearby the Cambodian market nearby the temple," Hang Soth, General Director of the Preah Vihear National Authority told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Both sides have also been re-filled bunkers since on Monday, he added.

"We, both sides, agreed in general to open the border gate at Preah Vihear temple on December 5 upon the request by a Thai army commander," he added. "However, we are not yet to agree with the Thai request to allow her vendors to sell in our market nearby the temple."

Chea Dara, deputy commander-in-chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, who is in charge of the army at Preah Vihear temple, said Tuesday that tension between the two countries have been eased since four times of meetings between the two countries' leaders and subsequent meetings between commanders of both sides' armed forces.

The border gate has been closed since July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage site, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Since then, tourists have been allowed to enter the hilltop temple from only Cambodia side, preventing a larger influx of visitors from Thailand.

Source: Xinhua

PM off to Cambodia


via CAAI

KATHMANDU, Nov 30: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is leaving for Cambodia´s capital Phnom Penh Tuesday to attend the sixth International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

PM Nepal is standing committee member of the institution where political parties of Asia are the members.

The head of the governments of Asia are also invited at the general assembly this time.

Along with Prime Minister Nepal, the President of Maldives, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka are scheduled to address the general assembly.

The general assembly will hold deliberations on the issues pertaining to climate change and ecological security, participation of youths and women in politics, among others.

Prime Minister Nepal is set to address the inaugural session of the general assembly, informed PM´s press advisor Bishnu Rijal.

Being a standing committee member of the ICAPP from its establishment, Prime Minister Nepal has not so far missed a single meeting of the ICAPP.

After the wrap-up of the general assembly, Prime Minister Nepal will leave for Brussels to attend the meeting of Least Developed Countries (LDC) organized by the European Union (EU) on December 4.

Presently, Nepal is the chair of LDCs.

Hun Sen warns cash-strapped ministries to watch air-con bills

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Nov 30, 2010

Phnom Penh - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told government staff they must stay within budget for electricity use or take pay cuts to compensate for any overruns, local media reported Tuesday.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a ministry building on Monday.

'Starting today, if ministries have electricity costs such as those from air-conditioning higher than the target in their budget, the minister (and deputy ministers) will face a three-month salary cut,' Hun Sen said, according to the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

He said officials who objected to having their salaries cut were welcome to quit, and promised to monitor the electricity usage of the worst offending ministries.

Most of Cambodia's electricity is imported from neighbouring countries. Electricity prices, which are among the highest in the region, are regularly cited as a barrier to investment.

Senior Cambodian prosecutor arrested by new anti-graft body

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Nov 30, 2010

Phnom Penh - Officials from Cambodia's fledgling Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) have arrested a senior provincial prosecutor on unspecified charges, national media reported Tuesday.

It marks the first known arrest of a public official by the ACU, which was launched earlier this year to tackle pervasive corruption in public life.

The Cambodia Daily newspaper said Top Chan Sereyvuth, the senior prosecutor in Pursat province, was arrested early Monday.

ACU head Om Yentieng, who led the operation, refused to disclose the grounds on which the prosecutor was being held.

Top Chan Sereyvuth was last year named in media reports as being involved in a long-running land dispute case that was mysteriously moved to his court in Pursat from another province where he had previously worked as a judge.

The head of an organization that was contesting the land told media at the time that Top Chan Sereyvuth was to receive 2 hectares of land once the case was resolved.

Global graft monitor Transparency International ranks Cambodia among the world's most corrupt nations.

It took the government 15 years to promulgate an anti-corruption law, whose eventual passage followed years of pleading from donors who annually give hundreds of millions of dollars.

One recent survey found that Cambodians regard the judiciary as the most corrupt institution in the country.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Cambodia’s Trade Tops $4.440 billion in 2010: Report Said

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 06:33 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 30, 2010-“The recent trade figure shows that Cambodia’s overall trade grew by 18.63 per cent to $4.440 billion from January to end of July, compared to $3.743 billion for the same period last year,” the report from the Cambodian chamber of commerce obtained on Tuesday said.

The report added: the value of Cambodia’s import to end of July this year is $2.613 billion, up more than 20 per cent from $2.199 billion for the same seven months last year, while exports increased an annualized 16 per cent to $1.826 billion for the first seven months.

It noted: Economic growth was at the lower end in Asia in the year just ending, due the significant impact of the crisis on our garment exports and tourism which are highly exposed to developed world markets. Cambodia expects economic growth to be around 5 per cent and possibly a little higher.

Cambodian Prosecutor Arrested

Monday, 29 November 2010 11:20 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 29, 2010-Cambodian government on Monday said that a prosecutor in Pursat province has been arrested for investigating the cases from the local people.

“We will tell about the report of the transparency to know, Dr. Sok An said media in a press conference.

Local people said that prosecutor involved the case of illegal issues in his dealing. But no information for clearness is to be informed. This case would be the first one for implementing the regulation.

Cambodian government passed the anti-corruption law recently, and committed to fighting against the corruption. .

Border Gate at Preah Vihear Temple will be Able to Open: Senior Official

Monday, 29 November 2010 11:08 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 29, 2010-Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said on Monday that border gate at 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple with Thailand will be able to open unless Thai side needs recognizing the temple as Cambodians.

“We could open that border gate unless they recognized the temple as Cambodia,” He told media in a press conference. The opening of the border gate could attract the visitors to see the areas and the temple,” he said.

The border gate shut down when Thai troops invaded the area near the temple on July 15, 2008, and Cambodian side now want to see the situation of the area normally.

Thai side always opposed the management plan of the temple which submitted by the Cambodian authority with the world heritage committee. Cambodia successfully registered the temple with the UNESCO on July 15 a week before Thai troops occupied illegally at the area near the temple.

Yesterday, Cambodian singers and dancers joined with Thai counterparts to perform at Hua Mark in Bangkok for normal ties between the two countries after the restoration of diplomatic ties.

Thailand needs to approve the three minutes of documents which approved by the border committee to reach to measure the area near the temple for planting border post. PMs from the countries met for four times already to ease tension for border issues.

Cambodia’s Civil Society Launches Comprehensive Strategic Plan to Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Monday, 29 November 2010 03:20 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 29, 2010-KHANA will make symbolic launching of KHANA’s Strategic Plan for the upcoming five years (2011-2015). “Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance has its new five-year strategic plan which will be implemented from 2011 to 2015. “In this strategic plan, KHANA will focus not only on HIV, but also on broader health and development,” said Dr. Oum Sopheap, KHANA Executive Director, “This new strategy will lead our evolution as an organization, as we embrace new opportunities to develop our holistic approach for the communities we work with.”

Cambodian people live with HIV and aids classified about 0.6 of the whole people, the government and all partners are trying to fight against this deadly illness and nee the contribution from all sides.

Dr. Pheap said over the last ten years, KHANA has been known as one of the leading local NGOs in HIV and AIDS through different programs including HIV focused prevention with most at risk populations (MARPs), care and support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and impact mitigation to improve the quality of lives for those populations.

This contributes to a reduction of HIV and AIDS prevalence in Cambodia and also brings Cambodia to the global recognition in the success of HIV/AIDS response. In addition, our policy dialogues and networking through closed partnership with government and other relevant institutions support the building enabling environment for those who are the forefront of the epidemics accessing health and non health services.

Dr Pheap added but now, there is an increasing and urgent need of other public health concerns in the community and many efforts remain to be fulfilled in order to achieve the MDG 4 and 5 by 2015. To anticipate and respond to these changes, KHANA has revised its vision and mission to focus not only on HIV/AIDS, but also broader health including other infectious diseases, sexual reproductive, child and maternal health, TB and livelihoods

Dr. Pheap added: The robust experiences, excellent expertise and evidence based researches which KHANA has gained from HIV works for many years will serve as a bridge for KHANA to reach its new goals, new objectives and new strategic directions for the sake of the community.

Teng Kunthy, secretary general of the National AIDS Authority said that “we need all partners for fighting against HIV and Adis in the country. We all are concerned about the MSM, girls at the entertainment clubs, and drug users,”.

Cambodia Concluded 351 Dead from Stampeding

Monday, 29 November 2010 11:11 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 29, 2010-the Cambodian government on Monday concluded the result from investigation of over 351dead from stampeding during the last day of water festival in Phnom Penh.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr.Sok An told the media in press conference that the phenomenon had occurred from the stampeding which led the people die 351 and injured 395.

“After investigating, we concluded that it came from the stampeding,” Dr. Sok An said, adding that we also provided the donation and treatment for dead families and the injured people.

We gave over 1000 US dollar for each dead families and other compensation for injured people, “he noted.

PM Hun Sen also expressed that for injured people who could not be treated in the local hospital, they could be sent to treat at the neighboring countries.


AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

Koh Pich Tragedy: The Main Mistake Is Under-estimation of Situation

Phnom Penh, November 30, 2010 AKP -- The main mistake leading to the stampede tragedy on the last day of the Water Festival was carelessness and under-estimation of the situation.

“Our main mistake was under-estimation of the situation and the number of the people who came to enjoy the Water Festival,” said here yesterday Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen while presiding over the inauguration ceremony of the office building of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

“It was not a crowd of people, but a sea of people,” he added.

The Cambodian premier also took the opportunity to underline that no official resigns or to be punished from this tragic event because, he explained, no one knew it in advance. The royal government was trying utmost efforts on the day of accident to help the victims on the spot and to avoid mass chaos or panic from the public gathering in the whole city on the day, he stressed.

He further warned some politicians not to politically exploit the corpses and their families’ pain.

Despite the tragic incident, the Water Festival will be celebrated as usual, but the government will take strong measures and all necessary precautions to avoid a repetition of the accident, said Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

For Koh Pich, it will be developed as planned without any change and the government will use the place for one of the venues for the upcoming meeting of more than 100 political parties scheduled to be held in early December.

The Koh Pich tragedy occurred on the night of Nov. 22 on Pich Bridge of Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh when millions of Cambodian people were celebrating the last day of the annual Water Festival. The official dead toll has now reached 351 with 395 others injured.

According to the prime minister, each family of the deceased victims could receive the cash donation of at least US$12,000, while the injured people, they get free treatment. If they are in critical condition, they can be sent abroad for treatment and the government will be responsible for the cost. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

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Cambodia Requests S. Korea to Assist Its Film Sector

Phnom Penh, November 30, 2010 AKP -- With a plan to establish Cambodia film school, the Culture and Fine Arts Minister H.E. Him Chhem requested the Republic of Korea to support the sector.

The Culture and Fine Arts minister made the request in his Nov. 26 meeting with the newly-appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Cambodia Chang Ho-jin at the ministry office, Phnom Penh.

In response to the request, H.E. Chang Ho-jin promised to endorse it for a discussion with his government.

Support in terms of musical instruments was also proposed by Cambodia when the two countries are committed to strengthen cultural cooperation for mutual interest.

Taking the opportunity, the South Korean ambassador invited H.E. Him Chhem and other concerned officials to attend the Korean Film Festival in Cambodia to be held from Dec. 3 to 5 at Lux Cinema. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

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Archeological MoU’s Signed with Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 30, 2010 AKP -- The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Nov. 26 signed two Memorandums of Understanding – ancient bone research with Sydney University of Australia and archeological research with Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Heritages.

According to Heritage Director Aok Sophon who represented the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in the signing, the 2-year cooperation with the Sydney University is worth US$12,600. It aims to research ancient human bone and natural environment so as to understand ancient people’s movement and housing.

To be carried out in Banteay Meanchey province, the result of the research will be included in the Asian ancient context.

The cooperation with the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Heritage, added H.E. Aok Sophon, is worth 250 million yen (opproximately US$3,000,000) and will last for five years in Kampong Chhnang province. This is both a research and training coordinated by Japan for Cambodia in terms of archeological research.

Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Heritage collaborated with Cambodia since 1993 in various Angkorean areas. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

Stampede hotline launched


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol

AN official at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation said yesterday that staff had received 20 calls to a newly established hotline set up to offer free counseling services to people traumatised by last week’s stampede on Diamond Island.

“Among the 20 callers, only one was a victim at the scene, while the rest learned of the tragedy from TV,” said Taing Soeun Hun, a mental health advisor at TPO.

He said the hotline was opened on Friday and would receive calls from victims, witnesses, emergency workers and anyone else experiencing trauma following the stampede.

Preliminary results of a government inquiry have indicated that the incident occurred around 10:30 pm on Monday last week when thousands panicked following the swaying of a suspension bridge.

The official death toll stands at 351, and 395 people have been reported injured, according to government figures.

Men Sothy, who survived the stampede along with four family members, said he and other survivors “cannot forget for their whole life” the tragedy they witnessed.

He said, however, that he had felt some relief after talking with TPO staff.

“I feel much better now after the experts suggested I forget the old memories and do whatever makes me happy,” he said. “I want to erase those memories but will need some time.”

Nhim Sobotra, deputy chief of the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital’s Mental Health Consultation and Treatment division, said very few victims or witnesses of the stampede had taken advantage of the hospital’s free counseling services.

“Apart from physical treatment, they also suffered serious mental problems … but so far there is still a small number of direct and indirect victims coming for our consultation,” he said.

He added that many people didn’t take advantage of such services because they didn’t “understand clearly what a mental problem is”.

“They consider nightmares, or being shocked, stunned, frightened and sad … as normal for people, but these are mental problems which they could share with their friends and family members or go to the mental health specialists to heal the problems,” he said.

Taing Soeun Hun said TPO hotline staff would provide initial 30-minute telephone consultations, followed by further treatment if necessary.

To contact the TPO hotline, dial 017 222 372 or 017 666 506, and a staff member will return your call.

AIDS authority urges state to up funding


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:02 Khoun Leakhana

Cambodia must raise US$238 million to combat HIV/AIDS between 2011 and 2015, an official at the National AIDS Authority said yesterday.

At a conference at the Cambodiana Hotel commemorating World AIDS Day, NAA Secretary General Teng Kunthy said the Kingdom’s effort against the global epidemic would cost $510 million.

Based on estimates drawn from the national budget, passed on Friday by the National Assembly, and commitments from development partners, Teng Kunthy said Cambodia has secured $272 million.

But, he said “to fit with the plan, we are lacking about $238 million.”

Teng Kunthy said the NAA would prioritise three areas, including efforts to review past work with those most vulnerable to HIV infection, continue monitoring and researching HIV prevalence and focus on local education.

“These are strategies we’ll consider in the days ahead,” he said.

Dr Oum Sopheap, executive director of the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance KHANA, said he anticipated an increase in annual spending to about $60 million on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He urged the Cambodian government and NGOs to pick up more of the tab, adding that the reliance on outside donors for 90 percent of HIV/AIDS funding may no longer be tenable.

“I think that in the next few years, the donors will not be able to give as they used to. So, what we can do is find out a new strategy to guarantee the funding without depending [so much on donations from the international community],” he said.

According to the latest data from UNAIDS, the adult HIV prevalence in Cambodia fell to 0.5 percent last year, down from 1.2 percent in 2001.

But various groups face much higher rates of infection, including injecting drug users (24.4 percent), sex workers (14.7 percent) and men who have sex with men (5.1 percent), according to UNAIDS country director Tony Lisle.

In an interview with the Post last week, Lisle also warned of upcoming constraints on funding.

“The level of resources that were enjoyed in previous years may not be available in the years ahead”, he said.

“One of the challenges in Cambodia is to reassess resources that are available and target them – to look to low-cost, high-impact interventions and ensure at the same time the quality of those interventions,” he said.

German guilty of child assault


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

PREAH Sihanouk provincial court yesterday sentenced a German national in absentia to a year in prison after finding him guilty of committing indecent acts against two underage boys last year, but court officials suspended all but two months of the sentence.

Walter Orson Novak, 46, was arrested in March last year from a guesthouse in Sihanoukville, where he was renting a room.

He was accused of taking the two boys – aged 14 and 11 – down to a beach on multiple occasions to molest them, and paying them up to US$5 each time, according to prominent child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants. He was freed on bail after serving a month of pretrial detention.

Following the hearing yesterday, Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided to the victims by APLE, said presiding judge Im Manith also ordered Novak to pay 500,000 riels (US$121) to each victim.

“I think this is a petty conviction for this type of crime,” said Nuon Phanith. “500,000 riels in compensation seems to look down on the victims.”

Officials have so far been unable to locate Novak after he changed addresses without notifying local authorities, Nuon Phanith said in an earlier hearing.

Presiding judge Im Manith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

PM issues warning on power use


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Vong Sokheng

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned government officials that their salaries could be in jeopardy if they don’t curtail their use of electricity.

Speaking to several hundred government officials at the inauguration of the new office of the Ministry of Social Affairs in Phnom Penh yesterday, the premier warned that they could face dire consequences for excessive electricity use.

“Starting today, if individual government ministries have electricity costs, such as those from air-conditioning, higher than the target in their budget expenditure, the minister, secretary of state and undersecretary of state will face a three-month salary cut,” Hun Sen said.

He added that if individual government officials were not happy with having their pay suspended, they were welcome to step down.

“I will follow up closely with the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to monitor which ministries have the highest electricity bills,” he said.

Kong Vibol, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Court hears case on smuggling


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against a man accused of importing, exporting and stockpiling chemicals used in the manufacture of illegal drugs.

Siek Cheng, 35, was arrested on April 4 in Tuol Kork district’s Chraing Chamresh commune after police searched his home and found 30 litres of acids allegedly used in the manufacturing of drugs.

During the hearing yesterday, presiding judge Sin Visal said the suspect was facing charges of illegal drug smuggling and stockpiling drug substances.

“Importing and exporting drugs is a very serious charge and is prohibited in Cambodia,” he said. “We will not pardon those who have committed such crimes in this country.”

Defence lawyer Lim Hong rejected the charges against his client.

“According to police investigations, results have shown that this amount of acid did not contain any chemicals for drugs, and my client was not involved,” he said. “I request that the court drop the charges and free my client.”

Sin Visal said a verdict will be announced on December 17.

Police Blotter: 30 Nov 2010


viaCAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

Drunk driver caught after 5km car chase
Battambang town police on Friday arrested three drunken men following a car chase. According to witnesses, the car’s driver was extremely drunk and cruising through Ratanak Mondul district, when he ran into a motorbike coming in the opposite direction. The bike rider suffered injuries to the face and feet, but the driver sped off. Police began to chase the car, which was forced to stop about five kilometres down the road due to a flat tyre.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Grandfather distraught after grandson dies
Police said an 18-month-old boy died after his grandfather accidentally wounded him in Battambang town on Friday. The “restless” boy was secretly following his grandfather, who was clearing grass at his home with a sickle. However, the sickle slipped from his grasp and struck the boy in the shoulder. The grandfather fell unconscious due to the shock of what happened, and the boy was sent to hospital. However, he died not long after. Police said the death was an accident and they would not be arresting the distraught grandfather.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Lonely, ill woman hangs herself with scarf
A 70-year-old woman was found dead by her house owner on Saturday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. The woman at the time was suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and other kinds of diseases, and instead of suffering the agony of multiple illnesses, she hanged herself with a scarf. A few months ago, she allegedly tried to kill herself but was saved. She had no relatives, and the house owner was giving her free food and shelter.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Electrocuted wife dies in husband’s arms
A 46-year-old woman was electrocuted at her home in Kampong Speu’s Chhbar Mon district on Thursday. Her husband said that after she had finished a load of washing, her hands were wet when she went to charge her mobile phone. She was immediately shocked, and the husband pried her away from the electricity with the use of a scarf. He began to massage her while they waited for an ambulance, but his wife died in his arms before help arrived.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Three men nabbed for $8,000 truck heist
Two men were arrested on suspicion of committing a robbery in Kampong Thom’s Stung Sen district on Saturday. Police said the two suspects ambushed a truck from a local company and made away with US$8,000, but were arrested just a few hours later at a guest house. After questioning the suspects, police then arrested the 29-year-old marketing manager of the company, who is accused of colluding with the bandits.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Rally seeks climate funding


Photo by: Photo Supplied
Members and supporters of the National Climate Change Network rally yesterday at Freedom Park to urge developed nations to devote more money to alleviating the impact of climate change.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Matt Lundy

The National Climate Change Network gathered in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park yesterday to urge developed countries to contribute more funds to the fight against climate change,
More than 100 members of the NCCN, a group of 52 civil society groups, asked developed nations to solidify a long-term financing contract that would contribute billions of dollars to help developing nations like Cambodia adapt to the effects of climate change.

At a conference in Copenhagen last year, some of the world’s biggest economies said that US$100 billion would be pledged to developing countries on an annual basis by 2020, though no contract was formalised.

A group of 22 delegates from Cambodia, across several government ministries, joined a new round of climate talks that started yesterday in Cancun, Mexico, where financing will be on the agenda. Nearly two weeks ago, Cambodian officials demanded that developed countries allocate 1.5 percent of their GDPs annually towards funding for climate change adaptation.

Ponlok Pin, deputy director general of climate change at the Ministry of Environment, says he doubts this international dialogue will bring about any significant changes.

“I don’t think that there will be any breakthrough,” said Ponlok Pin. “This is understandable, taking into account this problem, which is multi-faceted.”

Ponlok Pin said that climate change financing was the responsibility of industrialised nations.

“For some countries, moving to climate-friendly technologies and energy requires a lot of investment and the support of the public,” he said.

The demonstration was also attended by nearly 20 rural farmers, including Ree Phalin, a 23-year-old vegetable farmer from Kampong Thom province, who suggested that climate change might be responsible for erratic weather patterns, and that farmers bear the brunt of this.

“Over the past few years, it’s been getting drier and drier and tougher to produce vegetables,” she said. “The water has become very warm, which doesn’t help the fish populations.”

The United Nations conference will attempt to extend the current Kyoto Protocol, which limits carbon emissions from all industrialised countries, except the United States.

Six robbery suspects to serve total of 49 years


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday handed down verdicts against six men in four separate cases of robbery and possession of illegal weapons, with the suspects set to serve a combined 49 years in prison.

Chhay Ara, Nou Sotheara and Chhim Visal, all 21, were arrested in September in connection with motorbike and necklace robberies in Sen Sok district’s Teuk Thla commune in September.

All three were found guilty of possessing illegal weapons and robbery and sentenced to seven years each in prison.

Hem Daro was arrested in May and charged with the theft of a necklace, and was also sentenced to seven years.

Say Mony, 41, was arrested in December last year and charged with two cases of motorbike robbery, and sentenced yesterday to 14 years, while Chet Yorn was arrested and charged in September for stealing a motorbike and sentenced to seven years.

But in a separate case also heard yesterday, presiding judge Ker Sakhorn ordered the reinvestigation of the case against Kheng Pov, 21, who was arrested in October last year in Kandal province’s Ksach Kandal district in connection with the robbery of a motorbike taxi driver.

Police said a separate driver was wounded after the suspect allegedly shot him several times in the leg when he came to the victim’s defence. Kheng Pov was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this year.

With the suspect facing attempted murder and illegal weapons charges in relation to the same crime yesterday, judge Ker Sakhorn ordered the case to be reinvestigated but failed to give a reason for the decision.

Kheng Pov’s mother Pheng Kim Hourn, 53, said she was happy with the court’s decision.

“I hope that he will receive his fair judgment and sentence,” she said.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Pursat court summons

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 May Titthara

PURSAT provincial court has again summoned 12 villagers from four communes in Krakor district to appear for questioning in relation to complaints filed by a company with which they are involved in an ongoing land dispute. Village representative Kun Veng said the 12 were ordered to appear December 6 after they requested a delay from hearing scheduled for last Friday. In 2000, Pheapimex was granted a 315,028-hectare land concession in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat to grow acacia trees, a project locals claim will affect thousands of villagers. But the future of the case is uncertain following the arrest yesterday of provincial court prosecutor Top Chanseryvuth by officials at the Anticorruption Unit. Duok Sary, another representative, said he now hoped the villagers would get a fair hearing from the courts. Top Chanseryvuth could not be reached.

Post Mini Soccer league comes back at Kidzcool

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

After a week’s hiatus due to the Water Festival, the Post Mini Soccer Championship resumes tonight at the Kidzcool Astroturf pitch. None of the top three – JBCF, Devenco and Infinity – feature in tonight’s matches, but PPPost will look to reclaim second spot, while Cellcard, Ezecom, and Me Mates are also chasing a rise in the standings. Banzai and hosts Kidzcool are seeking their first points of the campaign.

Koh Pous group puts first island villas on market


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

LUXURY homes slated for the US$1 billion Koh Puos development off the coast of Sihanoukville have been put on sale and are already attracting interest, according to the island’s developer.

The firm behind the Morakot Island resort put 36 forthcoming sea-front villas on the market this month, according to Marina Khrisanova, director of sales and marketing for Koh Puos (Cambodia) Investment Group.

With a square metre starting at $2,000, the homes will range from 450 to 570 square metres each – making each property worth at least $900,000.

An official from the company confirmed the villas are part of phase one of construction, set to begin early next year.

“Our clients are Cambodian and foreigners, from middle and high classes,” Marina Khrisanova told The Post.

“A few villas have been reserved by high net-worth individual clients.”

The company is confident they will attract interest and is backing Sihanoukville’s potential as a destination.

“We strongly believe in Cambodia’s economic potential. Sihanoukville is also rapidly becoming the next hot tourist destination nowadays,” she said.

The development of Sihanoukville has hit headlines in recent months, with developers and real estate agents along the coastal region, including Song Saa island resort developer Rory Hunter, calling for action to create regular flights to the coastal hub’s airport – or risk the tourist development on the coast. Nevertheless, KPIG is confident about the future.

“We’re going to build 140 villas as part of the project,” said Saing Heng, assistant to Koh Puos project director Andrew Halturint, yesterday.

Construction of low-rise apartment buildings, as well as island utilities, infrastructure and a ring road are also due as part of phase one, due to start next year. A $31 million bridge linking the island to the mainland is also 70 percent complete and is due to finished in June.

Sung Bonna, president of Bonna Realty Group, said yesterday that the island had potential, but warned marketing the homes may have come early.

“It is the best location. In term of timing, it seems early. If they started sales next year, it would be best,” he said.

The massive development has been planned since 2007. Future phases will see hotels and a casino build, according to the project’s plans.

Indonesian telco 'planning acquistion in Kingdom'


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 BLOOMBERG / JEREMY MULLINS

INDONESIA’S largest telephone company plans to acquire a telecommunications company in Cambodia, according to its commissioner Tanri Abeng, Bisnis Indonesia newspaper reported yesterday.

The Cambodian company in question was not identified by Abeng, but according to sector insiders a number of domestic telecommunications companies are said to be actively seeking buyers.

Officials from PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia – also known as Telkom – had previously announced the firm’s intention to expand to other regional markets.

“Telkom is looking for acquisition opportunities in Southeast Asia, including mobile phone providers as our market is starting to mature,” Chief Executive Officer Rinaldi Firmansyah said in September, according to Reuters.

“We need a new market but we will not go to Africa. It’s too far. But in Asia we’re open any acquisition possibilities.”

Company officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The firm closed up 0.63 percent in Jakarta trading yesterday, finishing at 8,500 rupiahs (US$0.894).

Several mobile service providers have recently been identified as possible acquisition.

Star-Cell – which claimed to be Cambodia’s seventh of nine mobile providers at the end of the third quarter – has received offers from rival providers Smart Mobile and qb, Alan Sinfield, qb CEO, has said.

Star-Cell has been widely viewed as on the market in recent months. Its Sweden-based owner TeliaSonera AB announced it had “written down” its value by more than US$100 million late last month, claiming “no goodwill” in a market it said was characterised by fierce competition and high churn rates.

Cambodia’s largest mobile provider Mobitel had also been in negotiations with France Telecom, an official from the French embassy in Phnom Penh said in October. The firm had refinanced through a $591-million loan from the Bank of China earlier this month, with a portion of the credit to be used expanding its service. Prime Minister Hun Sen witnessed the refinancing deal in Phnom Penh, along with Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China.

The deal will enable The Royal Group to refinance a $421 million loan used to buy out a majority stake in Mobitel from Luxembourg-based Millicom last year. The Royal Group CFO Mark Hanna said the group was still “reviewing options“ when asked if the deal meant Mobitel was for sale.

Girls' side seal Cup triumph on tour


A defender from the US Schools selection team makes a headed clearance off the line from a Kim Sopheak (number 9) effort during their friendly in Singapore. Photo Supplied

via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Surpassing all expectations and belying their international inexperience, members of the combined Indochina Starfish Foundation and SALT Academy women’s football team rounded off their tour of Singapore by finishing first and third in the seven-a-side Barclays Cup tournament.

“Victory for our team came against all odds and this successful tour has done a world of good for women’s football in Cambodia,” said Sam Schweingruber, the designated team coach who was forced to stay back in Phnom Penh after he was robbed of his travel documents, cash and a laptop barely hours before the team left for Singapore last week.

The coach was clearly in a reflective mood as players began their journey back home to various provinces after returning to Phnom Penh on Sunday. “It is bitter sweet for me,” he said. “On one hand, I had this nightmarish personal setback; on the other, I was delighted that the tour went so well for our members on the pitch as well as on the social front.”

The visiting Cambodian squad fielded two teams in the eight-team seven-a-side competition, which involved 10 minute games and was hosted by the United World College at their Dover campus.

The first team clinched the title Saturday at the expense of Singapore American School with a thrilling 2-0 victory in the final after narrowly edging out their own second side in the semifinals. The SAS has scrambled through their semifinal 3-2 by way of a sudden death penalty shootout against Overseas Family School.

In the third place play off, Cambodia’s B team came up with an extra time goal to pip Overseas Family School 1-0.

The sight of the imposing Jelan Besar stadium, where the side met a Singapore national U16 squad on November 22 for an 11-a-side friendly, was a jaw-dropping experience for many of the Cambodian team members, some of whom had never travelled beyond their own provinces.

Despite a nervous start, the visitors struck first against the run of play when Kim Sopheak found the net. The Singapore youngsters stormed right back with two goals before half-time for a 2-1 lead. Despite a strong showing in the second half, the Cambodians failed to find an equaliser.

In their second friendly last Wednesday against a US Schools Selection side, striker Dep Panida and free roaming midfielder Theary fired a goal each to steer the Kingdom’s girls to a comfortable 2-1 victory. The squad was also involved in two practice games against Singapore school teams in the run up to the Barclays Cup.

The Cambodians attended several social get-togethers, and a visit to the famous Singapore Zoo was part of their sightseeing package. Plans are afoot for a return visit to Cambodia by a Singapore junior squad next year, and several schools in the city-state have also expressed their willingness to undertake a tour of the Kingdom.

A fresh look at heritage buildings


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Emilie Boulenger

“DESTROYING old heritage buildings is like killing old people – they can tell us a lot of stories,” says photographer Kim Hak. His exhibition, now on display amid the decaying elegance of La Mansion on Sothearos Boulevard, as part of Photo Phnom Penh, is called ON.

“ON comes from two words, old and new,” the artist said. Whereas “old” refers to ancient buildings, from colonial time up to Vann Molyvann period, “new” hints at the generation of urban youth living in the city.

“I have seen some old buildings, in Phnom Penh and in other parts of the country, being knocked down and replaced by new buildings to meet the current demand,” Kim Hak said.

In 2008, the artist started to take photos of interesting buildings around town from the outside, selecting public buildings such as schools, universities, cinemas, theatres, the Olympic stadium and some private villas.

His message is simple. Kim Hak is asking people of all ages to pay attention to old buildings and preserve them.

“As I was born after the Khmer Rouge regime, I also wanted to do something for my generation, so I chose urban youth, people who were born after 1979, to work with in this series,” he said.

As Kim Hak wanted to know how these people felt in different situations, he photographed people who were associated with the buildings both inside and outside of them. “These people live or work in the buildings, or are studying architecture,” he said.

So far, has taken pictures of 30 buildings in Phnom Penh, 21 of which are exhibited at La Mansion. “This festival is a kind of challenge for Cambodian photographers. It opens our eyes on the world’s photography but at the same time, we have to show things from our country to people in the world,” he said.

Kim Hak plans to keep working on his ON project next year – this time, travelling around the provinces to document decaying buildings across the Kingdom.

Photos to float on the Tonle Sap


via CAAI

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

ONE of the best things about Photo Phnom Penh is the chance to catch free art around town. And Sisowath Quay is the place to be every evening from now until Saturday starting daily at 6:30pm. A parade of boats with large LED screens will be floating along the Tonle Sap river.

Featuring work by both established and amateur photographers, the “image boats” bring art to the people, whether strolling along the riverside or eating dinner at a café.

Other venues around town for photos in the festival include Orussey Market and the walls of the French embassy on Monivong Boulevard.