Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Boeung Kak Lake: Residents plan 10 days of protests


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Boeung Kak Lake

REPRESENTATIVES of about 200 residents of the Boeung Kak Lake area plan to submit a letter to City Hall today requesting permission to stage a 10-day protest at the newly established demonstration zone in Phnom Penh.

Ly Mom, a representative from Srah Chak commune’s Village 24, said residents hoped the planned protest would draw attention to an ongoing dispute with development company Shukaku Inc.

“We want to ask the leader of the government to give us the land titles and stop Shukaku Inc pumping sand to submerge our homes,” she said. “We expect that [Phnom Penh] governor Keb Chuktema will give us permission.”

She added, however, that residents planned to stage the protest – set to begin on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day – regardless of whether or not they received permission from City Hall.

Keb Chuktema and other City Hall officials said they were too busy to comment yesterday.

The capital’s demonstration zone opened in November.

Pursat villagers face questions


Photo by: Photo Supplied
About 100 villagers gathered to protest against the Pheapimex company outside the Pursat provincial court yesterday morning.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:02 May Titthara

More than 250 villagers from Pursat province’s Krakor district accompanied 12 villagers to court yesterday who were being questioned for their role in a protest against the Pheapimex Group, a local developer.

Sok Chamroen, one of the villagers who travelled to the court house, said the protesters showed their support for the 12 villagers because “we do not believe the court will provide justice”.

The villagers were summoned last month to appear in court on accusations of inciting protests, destroying private property and preventing the company from developing private land, according to community representative, Kun Veng, one of those who received a summons.

Ken Veng said that no one incited the protest last month, when about 260 families barred the development company from clearing the community’s forest and farmlands for acacia and cassava plantations.

“I rejected the court official immediately when he questioned me as to who persuaded the villagers to protest,” said Ken Veng. “I also suggested to the court to not charge me and the other villagers, and I propose to the government to find suitable resolutions so both parties can benefit.”

Porng Chansoyutheara, a deputy prosecutor who conducted the questioning, could not be reached for comment.

In January 2000, Pheapimex was granted a 315,028-hectare land concession spanning Kampong Chhang and Pursat provinces. The company is owned by Choeung Sopheap, the wife of Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

The land concession has been controversial because it far exceeds the legal limit of 10,000 hectares.

Police Blotter: 7 Dec 2010


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

Fed-up wife confesses to murdering husband
A 42-year-old woman has been sent to court after confessing to police that she killed her husband – who she claims was an abusive alcoholic – in Kampong Cham’s Koh Sotin district. Police said the woman has admitted to attacking her husband on October 8 after he came home drunk and picked a fight with her. The woman allegedly knocked her husband unconscious with a bamboo stick, slit his throat with a cleaver and buried his body near their home, telling neighbours that he had died in an accident.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Suspect apprehended 10 years after murder
Kandal Province’s Ponhea Leu district police have arrested a 28-year-old man accused of involvement in a murder that that took place 10 years ago. The suspect, along with an accomplice who was arrested immediately after the incident in October 2000, is accused of beating a man to death with a wooden pole in a revenge attack following a previous argument that broke out during a drinking session. Police said the suspect – who had fled and lived in Thailand and Phnom Penh since the incident – had been arrested when he returned to Ponhea Leu on Wednesday.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Ill mother commits suicide with pesticide
A 21-year-old mother died in Kratie province’s Prek Prasap district after poisoning herself by drinking pesticide. According to the deceased’s relatives, the woman – who left behind two young children – had a chronic and incurable disease, and had made at least one other attempt to commit suicide. Police said the woman’s family had rushed her to the district health centre but that staff had been unable to save her, as the poison had already circulated through her body.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Drug trafficking arrest in Siem Reap
Military police in Siem Reap town have arrested and detained a 23-year-old man accused of trafficking illegal drugs. Police said they had “kept eyes on the man” for about one month before the arrest, and that the suspect was thought to have been buying the drugs in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Man, 29, nabbed for robbing 3 students
Stung Treng provincial police have arrested a 29-year-old man on suspicion of involvement in the robbery of three students late last month. Police said two men on a motorbike stole a necklace and two mobile phones from the students before fleeing the scene. Police said the 29-year-old was sent to prison and that they are still searching for the other suspect. Koh Santepheap.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Further investigation sought


Photo by: Sovann Philong
Matthew John Harland, 38, of the United Kingdom covers his face while being led into court yesterday.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday ordered further investigation into the case of a British national charged with purchasing child prostitution, citing a lack of evidence necessary to convict.

Matthew John Harland, 38, was arrested in May 2010 in a rental house in the capital on suspicion of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts against two underage girls in 2006.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy yesterday called for further investigation into the owner of the house in which Harland was arrested, as well as evidence presented by the child protection NGO Actions Pours Les Enfant.

Vandy also ordered that Harland remain in pre-trial detention until the court reconvenes for the case, though he did not say when the next hearing would be scheduled.

“It was right and just for the judge to order further investigations, because there are gaping holes in the case where the previous investigating judge lacked hard evidence to find him guilty of the charges,” Harland’s defence lawyer Neang Hay said yesterday.

“I hope that the court will free him from the charges in the next hearing if they still cannot find hard evidence to find him guilty because there was much suspicion in the case.”

However Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided by APLE to represent the victims, said the evidence against Harland was more than adequate for a conviction.

“We don’t oppose the court’s decision to investigate further, but we believe there is already enough evidence to find him guilty under the charges, based on two victims’ testimonies and that of witnesses,” said Phanith.

Harland pleaded not guilty during his last hearing in November and denied all charges against him.

“I knew the girls from along the riverfront, where they sold books. Later, we kept in touch and went swimming at a water park with several other girls ... but I neither committed indecent acts nor purchased child prostitution,” Harland said.

Under the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, Harland could face between seven and 15 years in prison if convicted of purchasing child prostitution, and up to three years if found guilty of committing indecent acts.

Military official admits to murder


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A suspect in the poisoning and bludgeoning to death of his female business partner confessed his guilt in a hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Military official An Sophoeun, 35, said he killed the woman in March with his accomplice, Meng Ly, 27, who had previously confessed his guilt at a hearing in late November.

“I called the victim to meet at a local restaurant at about 6 pm on March 14 at Preak Leap commune in the suburb of the city to talk about our wood business, and I poisoned her by putting 10 sleeping pills in her ABC stout glass,” said An Sophoeun.

An Sophoeun said he and his accomplice then drove to Preah Vihear province, using to victim’s Lexus to transport her to an isolated forest. The victim was still alive when they arrived, so An Sophoeun told Meng Ly to kill her with a tyre lever.

“I decided to do this because I was angry with the victim for not repaying US$10,000 she borrowed from me for our wood business,” said An Sophoeun.

He said he had known the victim for about five months.

The victim’s car was sold for US$5,000 to a 53-year-old Vietnamese national, Din Yong Dave, who has been arrested and charged with receiving stolen goods. He was absent for yesterday’s hearing.

A note from the victim’s mother was read by a court clerk and requested the accused pay her US$100,000, in addition to the Lexus and US$2,000 she claimed was in her daughter’s possession at the time of the crime.

Defence lawyer Bun Kong requested the court slash the verdict to a minimum sentence, given the admission of guilt from the accused.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said a verdict would be announced on December 30.

Bumper harvest is forecast


Villagers harvest rice in Siem Reap province late last month. The government has forecast that the yield will exceed estimated figures this year. Photo by WILL BAXTER

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA’S rice harvest is expected to reach nearly 8 million tonnes this year, the highest level in the last decade, according to a forecast from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday.

Although production this year was affected by droughts in some areas and flooding in others, the ministry said total output from 2.76 million hectares of farmland was estimated to be 7.99 million tonnes – exceeding the ministry's target of 7.3 million tonnes by about 9 percent.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said yesterday the gain in production was due to good rice seeds, an increase in dry season farming, a greater amount of farmed land and better understanding of farming techniques.

“We hope that this year Cambodia will have a better rice output for use than last year,” he said. In 2009, Cambodia grew 7.6 million tonnes of rice.

The ministry's provisional estimate for rice output in the 2010 to 2011 season is for 6.5 million tonnes in the rainy season and 1.5 million tonnes in the dry season.

The total rice surplus this year was forecast to be about 3.8 million tonnes, greater than last year's surplus of about 3.5 million tonnes.

The ministry said “natural disasters” damaged 20,815 hectares of rice crops this year.

Droughts affected 3,216 hectares, insects 219 hectares and flooding 17,380 hectares.

Po Sovann, president of Sre Khmer, an NGO which works in 12 main rice growing provinces across the country, said farmers had been more confident this year.

“This year, we encouraged farmers who have small plots of farmland to produce rice for the market, by providing [knowledge of] growing techniques and building small irrigation systems,” he said yesterday.

MAFF's latest forecast is higher than that released last week by the United Nations-backed Food and Agriculture Organisation, which put rice production this year at 7.3 million tonnes, up from its previous estimate of 5.9 million tonnes.

Cambodia's rice output last year saw 6 million tonnes produced in the rainy season and 1.6 million tonnes in the dry season.

Natural disasters destroyed 41,163 hectares of rice crops.

New Siem Reap airport plans gather pace


Tourists exit the existing Siem Reap airport last month. Hun Sen has approved a plan to build a new facility, officials say. Photo by: WILL BAXTER

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:01 Soeun Say and Ellie Dyer

A GOVERNMENT official has claimed work on a new US$1 billion Siem Reap airport is set to begin next year, after the project was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Youn Heng, director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, confirmed yesterday that a new international airport in Siem Reap had won approval from Hun Sen in October.

The development – said to be backed by NSIA Company, a joint venture owned by two South Korean firms Camco Airport Company and Lees A&A Company - was given the green light from CDC a month previous.

Youn Heng declined to specify a schedule for construction, but Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Council of Ministers Tekreth Samrach claimed yesterday that work was due to start early next year.

“They will start as soon as possible. They will be starting construction in February 2011. Now, they’re preparing,” he said, adding that the "new airport would have capacity for 14 million to 16 million passengers a year”.

Plans for a new airport at the tourist hub have previously sparked debate within the sector. Both provincial and central government officials have said that a new airport, set 60 kilometres from the provincial capital, was needed to land large, long-haul planes and to protect historic Angkor Wat.

But Société Concessionaire Des Aéroports, which manages Siem Reap’s existing aerodrome, has questioned the claims. It has said the existing facility can handle flights with a range of 10,000 kilometres.

SCA’s Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Deviller yesterday stated: “At this stage we do not have reliable information allowing us to elaborate on the issue.”

He emphasised that SCA and the government has “a solid partnership” and the management firm “will be willing to continue in contributing to the development of the international airports in Cambodia”.

Eng Sour Sdey, undersecretary at the government’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said yesterday that he welcomed the plan, as it would provide more opportunity for long-haul, direct flights.

That view was echoed by Say Sokhan, civil aviation adviser to the Council of Ministers, who said yesterday that a new airport could accept larger planes and provide a boost for tourism. The Korean investors could not be reached for comment.

Alley aiming to strike it rich


A man bowls at Parkway Square Super Bowl in Phnom Penh yesterday. Cambodians have taken to bowling after a slow start. Photo by: Pha Lina

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:01 Matthew Backhouse and Sen David

MOST years, officials from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh celebrate their King’s birthday on December 5 with a few games of ten-pin bowling in a half-deserted shopping mall.

Owner of Parkway Square Super Bowl, Ben Sereilen, said the embassy had been marking the royal milestone at her bowling alley over the last 12 years.

Such regular customers are the lifeblood of the business, which is tucked away on the second floor of the capital’s ageing Parkway Square shopping centre on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard.

Visit early on a weekday, and you will likely have the whole place to yourself.

But it’s a different story in the evenings and weekends, when Ben Sereilen said regular groups from embassies, firms and English language schools booked out many of the alley’s dozen bowling lanes.

“On Saturday and Sunday it’s full, morning until evening,” she said.

Super Bowl was the first bowling alley in the Kingdom when it opened in 1996, she said .

Ben Sereilen said she invested a lot of money establishing the trail-blazing business – it cost US$20,000 a month just to hire an American engineer to install the equipment.

The alley was initially popular with foreigners who already knew how to bowl, but it took about seven or eight years for it to catch on with Cambodian players unfamiliar with the game.

“It was difficult because Cambodians never knew how to play, so we expanded the staff to explain and to show them,” she said.

The company now employs 15 people to operate the equipment, take care of customers, clean the premises and provide catering facilities.

Ben Sereilen said the business had made a good profit at first, but revenue had fallen off more recently due to the economic crisis. “Before, the economy of our country was so good. The customers dared to spend money, but right now some customers are saving money,” she said.

To attract more players, the alley has dropped prices from $8 an hour per lane to $6 an hour.

“If the economy is better we will raise the prices again,” she said.

Ben Sereilen was also planning to attract more customers by redecorating the premises and updating the equipment, including replacing broken machinery on two lanes. She said December was typically a busy month for the business.

“This month we have so many customers because it is nearly Christmas Day, and some customers want to throw a party, so they want to play here,” she said.

Tep Khunnah tourney sees thrills and spills


Cambodian Veng Chav plays a short during his U18 singles match against Le Man of Vietnam yesterday at the National Training Centre. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Vietnamese juniors met with mixed fortunes in the U18 boys singles as the Tep Khunnah Memorial tennis tournament entered the third day at the National Training Centre yesterday.

For visiting Vietnamese lad Le Man, consistency proved a vital factor in his comfortable 6-0, 6-2 victory over local player Veng Chav. Puting the width of the court to good use, Le Man built up a winning momentum and never allowed Veng Chav the space or the pace to get back into the match.

But for another Vietnamese hope, Tran Duc Trung, the going was real tough as the smooth stroking local talent Touch Sothearoth built up winning leads in both the sets to march out a 6-3, 6-2 winner.

For Long Samneang, who is in the reckoning for a secure place in the national junior team, it was a stroll in the park as he left Our Sarith clueless with a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing in their U18 singles match yesterday.

All the seeded players in the men’s singles competition had easy passages to stiffer rounds ahead. Notable winners during the first two days of the event over the weekend were Asian Games participant Orn Sambath and Cambodian Open semifinalist Peter Lucas.

The much publicised Super Six men’s singles round robin, involving national team members Orn Sambath and Bun Kenny along with four other invitees from neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, will start tomorrow with the final slated for Sunday.

Golf in Siem Reap: Senior masters hit the links with amateur partners


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

On a somewhat hot and windless day, 22 teams featuring a heady mix of one pro to every three amateurs served up a funfair of golf with an occasional flash of brilliance, as a pro-am event set the ball rolling for the Asian Senior Masters at the Siem Reap Lake Resort Golf Club yesterday. The 22 Pros are looking ahead to the start of the Masters proper tomorrow, but most of them were more than happy to be teaming up with amateurs, using the chance to get a sense of the course and its intricacies. For the 60-odd amateurs it was serious business as they keenly got on with the job with their esteemed new colleagues.

United States golf pro Alfredo Morales saw his Cambodian amateur partners Lee Hong, Ly Thuch and San Sean Ho pitch in splendid rounds that took them to the top of the leader board, while Cambodian amateur Ly Heng shot the best round score of 71 out of all the players yesterday. The pro-am event spills over today for another round of action. Nine amateurs with the best gross scores will get on board the Amateur Open which runs alongside the Masters tournament playing tomorrow and Thursday. The team score represents the total involving the pro’s card and two amateur scores, with the best amateur score blown out.

Top prizes offered in Finishing Post Texas Scramble


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

A rich swag of prizes has been rounded up for the Finishing Post’s Texas Scramble golf tournament to be held at the Angkor Golf Resort this Saturday morning as a prelude to the festive end of the calendar year. The event is a joint effort between The Post, the Angkor Golf Resort and the Sokha Angkor Resort to help celebrate the wind-up of 2010 in a companionable social setting.

Organisers are hoping for a good turn-out by Phnom Penh golfers due to the long weekend, with Friday being the Human Rights Day public holiday. Prizes are set to be awarded to winning teams, the longest drive and nearest to the pin on the four par-3 holes as well as other bonuses to be decided on the day.

Angkor Golf Resort’s operations manager Adam Robertson said he was delighted with the number of Siem Reap businesses who signed up to provide prizes for the winners.

“This has been a real contribution from the Siem Reap business community, and it’s the most number of prizes from hotels for any event we’ve ever held at the Angkor Golf Resort,” he said.

Several generous accommodation packages are up for grabs, including two nights accommodation at Sokha Angkor Resort in Siem Reap, two nights accommodation at Sokha Beach Resort, Sihanoukville and two nights accommodation with dinner for two at Siem Reap’s classy new boutique hotel, Karavansara Retreat.

Triumphant golfers will be well fed in Siem Reap with spoils including dinner for two at Hotel de la Paix’s Meric Restaurant and dinner for four including wine at Le Bistro in the Victoria Hotel.

Also on offer are complimentary entries into next year’s Sokha Hotel Texas Scramble and FCC Nations Cup, inclusive of green fees and accommodation in Siem Reap.

The Post is also providing a year’s free subscription to one lucky player.

Special VIP passes for the final day’s play of the 2010 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open on Sunday at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf course will also be available.

Meanwhile, it will certainly be a merry Christmas for any golfer who scores a hole-in-one on either of the two designated holes. There’s the chance to pick up a Chevrolet Spark car on the practice hole, while an ace on hole 17 will win a free return flight to any international destination within Vietnam Airlines’ extensive schedule.

Registration for the Finishing Post’s Texas Scramble is at 7.30am this Saturday morning, with a tee-off at 8am. Prize giving is scheduled for 12.30pm.

For player reservations please contact smsr@sokhahotels  or info@angkor-golf.com

Youngsters to benefit from first Xmas ball


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:00 Sarah Macklin

YOUNG people will be the beneficiaries of Phnom Penh’s first Christmas ball on Saturday, December 18.

The black-tie ball at Raffles Hotel Le Royal will support five NGOs focusing on young people, in recognition of this year’s International Year of Youth. And one of the ball’s highlights will be a performance by Epic Arts Cambodia.

This NGO, one of the five to benefit from the ball’s proceeds, offers professional dance, drama and art classes to disabled Cambodian youths.

The group’s aim is to break down barriers in a country where an estimated one in 10 people have a disability, and few have access to jobs or training.

Recently the NGO has branched out to give creative workshops to youngsters with intellectual disabilities and also runs a café in Kampot that’s a focus for the town’s deaf community.

Rose Rehabilitation Cambodia is another NGO that helps disabled young people. Based in Kandal province, the group uses physiotherapy and holistic health care to help train medical workers and help the most vulnerable.

Children living amid sickening conditions at Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey dump are helped by A New Day Cambodia, another NGO to benefit.

Two centres care for about 100 children full-time, providing shelter, clean clothes, food, and an education. With the chance to enter vocational training or university, A New Day Cambodia gives youngsters everything they need to escape the cycle of poverty.

Hip hop music, breakdancing and contemporary arts are used by Tiny Toones Cambodia to spread its message of living healthily.

Encouraging children to protect themselves against the dangers of HIV and drugs, the group offers free English classes, lessons and computer lessons as well as a creative programme that reaches out to young people with Hip-hop.

The Youth Resource Development Program is the final beneficiary of next Saturday’s event. Since 1992, the YRDP has helped university students question the world around them and learn about human rights, peace, and public dialogue.

Tickets are on sale for US$80, at The Shop on Street 240 from 5pm to 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week during the street’s Christmas Fair.

Purchase tickets also through ppchristmasball@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by telephone, 077 998 439.

Book before December 11 to secure your table.

Young NGO artists auction their work


via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:00 Emilie Boulenger

MORE than 200 artworks are displayed for sale through an auction at Java Cafe and Gallery this week.

The works have been created by students of the Visual Arts School run by the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak, located in Battambang.

The silent auction component of the bidding has already begun. A base price has been set for each piece and buyers can anonymously offer their bidding price, adding increments of US$10 for each bid.

A live auction of 20 selected works will also be organised on Thursday at 6pm, in the presence of three artists, Pen Robit, Sin Rithy and Nov Cheanich. Both live auction and silent auction will end on Thursday.

Paintings, drawings, mixed media pieces and sculptures make up the eclectic collection available at both auctions.

As of yesterday, over two dozen people had registered for the silent auction and the popular expat gallery is expecting many more.

It is also possible to turn up on Thursday, the final night, without registering.

“The aim is to let people ... know about our organisation, especially the English-speakers,” explained Isabelle Drouillard, who is the representative for Phare Ponleu Selpak in Phnom Penh.

“Of course, the objective is also to engender incomes for the artists,” she added. Seventy percent of the price goes to the artist and 30 percent is given to the Children’s House of the NGO and to the Visual Arts School.

The money earned will enable artists to further invest in their futures. The paintings that remain after the auction will be on sale at the cafe until the end of the month.

World of wicker


Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:01 Sovan Philong

Basket weavers from Svay Rieng province prepare their merchandise for transport to markets in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Villagers irate over drainage project


Photo by: Pha Lina
A man who lives along the edge of Boeung Trabek lake in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district tosses a tyre onto a fire during a protest. About 50 Boeung Trabek residents turned out to protest after officials started digging a canal through their farmland, destroying various crops, including morning glory. Residents say that 153 families will be affected by the canal.

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 19:29 May Titthara

Residents of the capital’s Boeung Trabek lakeside gathered in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh before returning home and burning tyres near the lake to protest against the alleged loss of their farmland to a drainage project.

Oen Sothon, a village representative from Chamkarmon district’s Phsar Doeum Thkov commune, said 153 families had lost access to their farmland after 50 police officers set up a blockade in the area to protect the project.

“They are encroaching on the land where we’ve planted our crops,” Oen Sothon said.

Khut Khunvicheth, who also claimed to have been blocked from his land, said the blockade had been set up without consultation with residents affected by the move.

Many in the area are concerned that the land will be given to a private company rather than being used for the drainage project, he added.

But Chamkarmon district governor Lo Yuy said those affected would be free to replant their crops upon the conclusion of the project, adding that the land in question was state land.

“We are doing this to serve the public interest,” he said.

“If I fill the lake with sand and keep the land titles for government officials, please let lightning strike me.”

In a related case, 500 families from Phsar Doeum Thkov were ordered in September to dismantle their homes to make way for the project – which is set to refurbish the area’s existing sewer system and reduce flooding – though the deadline for their eviction passed without incident.

Thai border ‘normal’: PM


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 20:34 Cheang Sokha

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday that the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple has returned to normal after more than two years of tensions.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the premier said the situation at the temple – which flared after it was listed as a Cambodian UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008 – had eased.

“I don’t want to make comments publicly, but I can say that the issue has been resolved,” Hun Sen said. “The situation has returned to normal like before July 15, 2008.”

The tensions over the eleventh-century Preah Vihear temple have forced the closure of a border crossing near the temple, and sporadic border clashes have taken the life of at least seven soldiers from both sides.

Hun Sen said that following four meetings with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the relationship between officials stationed at the border and the cross-border exchange of goods had been resolved. Border demarcation, demining and the reopening of the border gate are still under negotiation, he added.

Hun Sen said that on December 19, Cambodia will host a celebration marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Thailand. “I can say that we have a full normalisation of relations,” he said.

Officials said last month that the border gate at Preah Vihear was set to be reopened in the first week of December following mutual troop withdrawals.

Hang Soth, secretary general of the Preah Vihear National Authority, later said the reopening had been delayed by a month due to disagreements between the two sides. Yesterday, Hang Soth said that it was too early to comment about the reopening of the border crossing.

Thai officials have denied any troop withdrawals have taken place on the Thai side, but Khon Savoun, a Cambodian soldier based at Preah Vihear, said the Thai border troops positioned at Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara since July 2008, had pulled back as of Wednesday last week.

Thani Thongphakdi, deputy spokesman of the Thai Foreign Ministry, said he had not heard Hun Sen’s comments.

He instead referred to comments made by Abhisit last week, when he said troop withdrawals should not be decided at the local level, but should rather be settled in direct talks between the two governments.

Photographer to be set free


Photo supplied
Japanese photojournalist Go Takayama (R) poses for a photograph with newlyweds he photographed as part of a photo essay he was working on in Siem Reap on November 19.

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 19:39 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

A Japanese photojournalist jailed on charges of producing pornography was set to be released following intervention from Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, Siem Reap Provincial Prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said yesterday.

Local officials have alleged that Go Takayama, 28, photographed women at brothels in Siem Reap, though organisers of the recently concluded Angkor Photo Festival say the photos in question were inoffensive portraits of a married couple.

Ty Soveinthal said Takayama and the couple arrested along with him would likely be released today or tomorrow, following a hearing at the provincial court scheduled for today.

“I have already completed my investigation of the Japanese photographer, and I think his punishment should be very minor and he should not be jailed in Cambodia,” Ty Soveinthal said, adding that Takayama would likely be fined 1 million riels (US$245) and would possibly receive a suspended sentence.

“The reason why we have considered releasing this Japanese man is because we have found that his mistake is very minor, and he was supported by Cambodia’s Ministry of Information, His Excellency Khieu Kanharith.”

Khieu Kanharith said in an email yesterday that he had contacted Siem Reap officials about the case and would be sending a formal letter to secure Takayama’s release.

“I got messages from many friends, some are Cambodian journalists trained in USA, affirming his innocence. I also checked his blog and understood the nature of his art,” Khieu Kanharith wrote.
“Also there was some misunderstanding about his works. In the future I suggest any foreign journalist ... to first
contact our provincial information office [on our website] for arrangement.”

Conflicting claims
Chea Heng, deputy chief of Siem Reap’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection office, said Takayama had hired the couple arrested with him to help him shoot illicit photos.

“He has taken many naked photos of teenage women in brothels in Siem Reap,” Chea Heng said.

But Jessica Lim, coordinator assistant for the Angkor Photo Festival, said the photos in question consisted exclusively of clothed shots of the married couple, and were shot as part of a project for the festival based on the Cambodian folktale “The Seven Colour Princess”.

Takayama’s female subject posed in a t-shirt and sarong, later removing the shirt to reveal a bra, while the male subject posed in shorts and no shirt, Lim added.

“He was trying to demonstrate the aspect of possessive, strong love,” she said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

Kingdom crops up in WikiLeak again


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 18:42 Sebastian Strangio

Cambodia has appeared in a second United States diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks, which alludes to a government crackdown against a local branch of a Kuwait-based Islamic charity that has been linked to terrorist groups.

The cable, labelled “secret” and dated December 2009, was sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to US embassies across the Middle East.

It outlines Washington’s policy of trying to restrict illicit finance activities of known terrorist organisations.

In a series of talking points relating to Kuwait, the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society is singled out as a specific concern of the US government.

“We designated the organisation in the United States as a specially designated terrorist entity based on information that RIHS funds have supported terrorist groups in various regions of the world,” the cable states.

It added that the US government was “not alone in its concern”, saying that six governments including Cambodia had taken “enforcement action” against RIHS branches in their countries.

In February, The Post reported that RIHS was listed in a 2008 US treasury department statement claiming it had delivered “financial and material support” to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliates such as Jemaah Islamiyah, as well as providing “financial support for acts of terrorism”.

The statement noted that an RIHS employee had provided logistical support to Indonesian Riduan Isamuddin – better known as Hambali – a key JI operative who hid in Phnom Penh during 2002 and early 2003.

Ahmad Yahya, a Cham government adviser, denied the authorities had cracked down specifically on any organisation, saying the only firm action was directed against the Saudi-funded Um Al-Qura madrasa, or Islamic school, north of Phnom Penh.

The madrasa was raided and closed down by police in 2003.

Ahmad Yahya said the US Embassy had provided substantial support for outreach to Islamic communities following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“We have very good links with the embassy here and with the US government,” he said.

The cable is just one of more than 250,000 leaked American foreign policy documents WikiLeaks has pledged to release in the coming months. A total of 931 documents had been released as of yesterday.

US Embassy spokesman Mark Wenig yesterday declined to comment on the cable and the nature of US cooperation in curbing the spread of Islamic militancy in Cambodia.

Mobile market shake-up move


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 18:20 POST STAFF

Smart Mobile and Star-Cell are merging under the Smart brand to form what could be the Kingdom’s third-largest mobile- phone provider. The deal, which is pending approval from Cambodian authorities, would see Star-Cell’s parent TeliaSonera granted 25-percent ownership of the combined firm.

Both companies said yesterday the merger would see Smart Mobile swell to 850,000 subscribers.

That would leave it third in the market, behind Mobitel and Metfone, in terms of active SIM cards, according to Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications statistics released in June.

Smart Mobile Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hundt declined to comment on the payment terms of the merger yesterday, but described the agreement as “pioneering” for the mobile market.
The sector – which now has eight players – is widely regarded one of the most competitive in the world and in need of consolidation.

Hundt said the advantages of the merger went beyond an increased subscriber base and broader network coverage.

The merged entity would also benefit from “combined distribution network, new services – such as the introduction of 3G during 2011 – and combined know-how”.

Star-Cell staff would be added to Smart Mobile’s payroll, Hundt said, while signal towers considered “redundant” by infrastructure sharing would be relocated.

Tero Kivisaari, TeliaSonera president for Eurasian business, described the merger as “inevitable”, pointing to the “fierce competition” and “high churn” of the Cambodian mobile market.

“We are therefore pleased to drive this development and thereby create a stronger mobile operator in Cambodia,” he said in a release to the Stockholm stock exchange yesterday.

Simon Perkins, CEO of mobile operator Hello, echoed Kivisaari’s comments. “It’s a totally obvious move for smaller players in the sector,” he said.

However, he questioned the legitimacy of the claim the pair would form an 850,000-strong subscriber base.

“That’s rubbish,” he said. “The figures are absolutely incorrect.”

Providers have previously pointed to the difficulty in evaluating subscriber numbers, as the way they are measured varies from firm to firm.

NGO launches women’s rights campaign


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 20:57 Chhay Channyda

A local NGO has said it would distribute 5,000 books designed to increase awareness of laws and services related to rights for women and children in a bid to improve gender equality and reduce domestic violence.

Chim Manavy, executive director of the Open Institute, said during a launch in Phnom Penh that the 210-page “Women Guide Book” would be especially useful for women in remote areas who may not be aware of available support services.

The book is set to be distributed to female community representatives nationwide and includes information and contact details for government and NGO services including legal aid, reproductive health and local officials.

The book, which is also aimed at informing local authorities, explains that domestic violence is illegal and that officials have a right and duty to intervene to protect victims.

Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women Affairs, said domestic violence is in part caused by gender inequality and that the guide book will enable women to “be more empowered” to know and demand their rights.

She noted, however, that about 40 percent of Cambodian women are illiterate and that the impact of the book would rely in part on local authorities helping to disseminate the information.

US Navy Docks in Cambodia

Cambodia Watchdog Council Says 2 Boeder Marker Installed in Memut District, Kompong Cham

Cambodia and Thailand agree on visa-free entry


http://www.ftnnews.com/

Published by Ozgur Tore
Monday, 06 December 2010

via CAAI

Thailand and Cambodian signed on November 16 a visa exemption agreement during the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit in Phnom Penh.

The visa-free entry will be effective from 16 December, allowing citizens of both countries to visit without having to apply for a visa, either at the embassy, or on arrival at a border check point.

It will undoubtedly encourage travel, foster people contacts and bolster the tourism sector of the two countries. Thais and Cambodians can stay in each other's countries for 14 days without the need to apply for a visa, as is required at present.

The agreement between Cambodia and Thailand now means the majority of the 10 ASEAN-member countries are in compliance with the ASEAN charter that calls for member countries to allow visa-free travel for all citizens of the regional community. The exception is Myanmar, which continues to require visas from all visitors whatever their nationality.

Soi Lek appointed vice-chairman of international NGO


The Malaysian delegation: Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek with Malaysian representatives at the 6th Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI) conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Tuesday 7 December 2010: The Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI) has appointed MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as its vice-chairman during its just concluded 6th international conference held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia,

Chua was also invited to deliver a speech at the conference. He said that the CAPDI was one of the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed by political parties. Based on its status as an international NGO, all the different ideologies and political parties in the organization can conduct a cross-border exchange of ideals and opinions through dialogues.

"We firmly oppose any form of racial extremism, which is very important to ensure that multiracial Asian countries are able to maintain peace and stability,” Chua said.

"The CAPDI held its first executive board meeting in a conference room at the Cambodian Prime Minister’s Office, and based on the Phnom Penh Declaration, the CAPDI calls upon all countries in the world to ensure long-term peace, security, stability and prosperity in this in region,” he said.

Besides that, the Phnom Penh Declaration is also in line with the United Nation Millennium Development Goals i.e. establishment of the Asian Anti-Poverty Fund and the Asian Micro-Financing Fund , fostering debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, environment protection and expression of views such as ideas on the new economy.

It also hoped that regional cooperation and dialogue between centrist political parties such as the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), Asean People’s Assembly (APA) and other regional political parties will broaden the representation of Asian political parties.

In dealing with international matters, the declaration also calls upon countries to take a non-aggressive and interventionist approach to resolve the territorial disputes by peaceful methods, and to comply with international treaties and international laws.

Other representatives included former Indonesia Golkar Party chairman Jusuf Kalla, Philippines House of Representatives Speaker Jose de Venecia, Pakistan Muslim League general secretary Mushahid Hussain, United Russia Party international affairs chairman Konstantin Kosachev, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Cambodian People's Party life member Sok An, Funcinpec Party chairman Keo Puth Rasmey, International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization (IESCO) chairman Dr Jiang Mingjunf, and South Korean United Democratic Party foreign relations committee's former chairman Chung Eui Yong.

The many faces of Cambodia

via CAAI

By Ashleigh McIntyre on 7 December 2010

High up on the list of anyone travelling to Cambodia is the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Why? Because this ancient temple complex is not only a powerful symbol of national pride, it is also the ultimate expression of Khmer genius. In fact, it is matched only by sites like Machu Picchu and Petra when it comes to amazing feats of construction.

These ancient remnants of a mighty empire draw in visitors from across the globe, who come to experience its spirituality, symbolism and majesty of the world’s largest religious complex. But when staring at the mind-boggling complex, with its elaborate carvings and intricate design....

As Cambodia continues to recover from the dark days of the 1970s, tourists are gradually discovering the rugged beauty it has to offer. With wilds as remote as those found in neighbouring Laos, as well as pristine beaches, Cambodia is quite the treasure trove.

For those clients wanting a beach holiday of Thailand’s Ko Samui calibre, a visit to Cambodia’s south coast, with its abundance of tropical islands, won’t disappoint. One of the best ways to experience this beauty while travelling is to ditch the wheels and take a boat from the capital, Phnom Penh, to Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor. The journey gives visitors a chance to take in the scenery and culture of this kingdom’s waterways and experience life on the river Cambodian style.

While Cambodia has many faces that will leave visitors feeling uplifted and inspired, there is also a darker side to this kingdom. Before travelling, clients should at least understand the brutality and horror that the Khmer people have endured over the ages, from the Cambodian Dark Age in the mid-16th century, right through to the Vietnam War and the more recent Khmer Rouge regime.

To obtain a clearer understanding of the atrocities committed during the reign of Pol Pot and Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, clients should visit the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh, where large numbers of people were killed and buried from 1975 to 1979. It is believed around one-fourth of the Cambodian population lost their lives — a sobering reminder of the realities this country has faced. Yet the resilience and warmth of the locals are another aspect to this destination that make it worth the visit.

Cambodian trek aids victims of landmines

Katrina Doherty is off to Cambodia.

http://south-east-advertiser.whereilive.com.au/

via CAAI

SOUTHSIDER Katrina Doherty is on a Cambodian hike to raise awareness of the continuing impact on the local population of unexploded landmines, cluster bombs and other remnants of the conflict.

Speaking to the Advertiser before she left for Community Challenge Cambodia, Ms Doherty said she was impressed with hike organiser Mines Advisory Group’s (MAG) work.

“The effects of war last a very long time and people forget about them,” Ms Doherty said.

“MAG trains staff, of whom 90 per cent are Cambodian nationals they are victims of bombs and land mines and have prosthetic limbs.

“They do the day-to-day work of clearing rockets, missiles and grenades and they’re not only trained in that dangerous task but also in community development.

“This is because large areas have been heavily mined throughout Cambodia so staff work with authorities to decide what are the most important areas to clear for schools, water access and farming land.”

On the challenge, Ms Doherty is spending two days trekking around the temples of the greater Angkor Wat region and then working on a community project to build traditional Cambodian houses for the poor and landmine victims.

She has raised $4500 for the hike.

She plans to spend the next year working in Timor off the coast of Darwin.

Cambodia's first merger of mobile operators announced

via CAAI

December 07, 2010

Cambodia's two mobile phone operators will merge their operations from March next year, according to a joint statement Monday.

Smart Mobile and Star-Cell will merge their operations under Smart Mobile to become one of the market leaders, the first merger among Cambodia's mobile operators.

It stated that Smart Mobile will become, with this combination, one of the market leaders with more than 850,000 subscribers and aims to be a market leader both in subscriber base and new subscriptions through its further aggressive growth and strong market presence.

"Our subscribers will enjoy the benefits of the merger without any change of telephone numbers and SIM cards," said the press release.

Smart Mobile's network will, after both networks have been combined, serve 23 out of 24 provinces of Cambodia and will extend to the remaining province in the course of 2011.

The completion of the transaction is, subject to final approval by Cambodian authorities, expected to be in December 2010, and the finalization of the network combination by March 2011.

Cambodia currently has 9 mobile phone operators with more than 6 million users, according to the statistics from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication.

Source:Xinhua

Seychelles signs economic and technical cooperation agreement with Cambodia


December 6, 2010 in Travel Related

via CAAI

(Forimmediaterelease.net) As part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' strategy to strengthen ties of political friendship and cooperation with Asian countries, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam, signed, last week in Phnom Penh, an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with his Cambodian counterpart, Mr. Hor Namhong who is also Deputy Prime Minister.

In August this year, Minister Adam had signed a similar agreement with Vietnam, in addition to the two other ETCA signed during the last 2 years with Korea and the Philippines, giving Seychelles competitive advantages, in terms of legal instruments, to implement the government's “look East" policy aimed at tapping into the resources of the Asian market, especially with reference to tourism, fisheries, agriculture, trade, and investments, and to complement the benefits of the country's relations with its traditional friends in Europe, the Middle-east, and North America in particular.

Mr. Adam's visit to Cambodia coincided with the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP - founded in 2000) attended by representatives of 100 political parties from 40 countries. ICAPP's main purpose is to enhance cooperation and exchange of viewpoints among and between different political parties with different ideologies and to improve mutual understanding and trust among the nations and countries in Asia. Other purposes of ICAPP are to promote regional cooperation through the unique role and channel of political parties; and to create an environment for sustainable peace and shared prosperity in the region.

Seychelles' Minister for Foreign Affairs was the only non-Asian envoy invited to address the Opening Ceremony. Other speakers included Cambodia's Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen; Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mr. Najib Razak; Nepal's Prime Minister, Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal; as well as former President of the Philippines, Mr. Fidel Ramos; and former President of Indonesia, Mrs. Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Minister Adam availed of this opportunity to advocate Seychelles' stance in the fight against piracy and highlighted the challenges Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face in connection with climate change.

Minister Adam was accompanied by Seychelles' non-resident Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Philippe Le Gall, who is based in Beijing, China.

Alain St.Ange CEO, Seychelles Tourism Board Email: alain.s@seychelles.com

Cambodia must ensure release of Japanese photographer

http://cpj.org/

via CAAI

New York, December 6, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government of Cambodia to ensure the release of Japanese photographer Go Takayama. According to the English-language Phnom Penh Post and the online magazine for the National Press Photographers Association, Takayama was arrested on November 23 after photographing a married couple inside a home. Undercover police detained him and he was eventually charged with "producing pornography for the purpose of distributing pornographic content," the Post reported.

The Post reported today that, following intervention from Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, Siem Reap provincial prosecutor Ty Soveinthal has said he will drop the charges and free Takayama after a hearing on Tuesday. "I have already completed my investigation of the Japanese photographer, and I think his punishment should be very minor and he should not be jailed in Cambodia," Ty Soveinthal said. He also said Takayama would likely be fined 1 million riels (US$245) and would possibly receive a suspended sentence, the paper reported.

"We call on the government to withdraw its charges against Go Takayama and release him," said Bob Dietz, CPJ'a Asia program coordinator. "From his website and the widespread support of his colleagues, it seems clear that he is a responsible photographer caught up in a misunderstanding, and should not be treated as a criminal."

Takayama had been in Cambodia to take part in a photo workshop at the ruins of Angkor Wat, for the annual Angkor Photo Workshops for young Asian photographers.

Empowering Cambodian women--and themselves


Paonessa (left in blue) and Moore (back) with Harpswell students at a town hall meeting hosted by Hillary Clinton. Courtesy photo

December 6, 2010

Danielle Moore and Kristen Paonessa knew they wanted to do a cubicle-free international co-op that enabled them to apply their skills, and fulfill their passion for empowering women. But they didn’t know that their experience working for the Harpswell Foundation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, would, in turn, empower them.

Since July, they have been providing supplementary education — English language classes, leadership training and current-event discussions — to young women from rural Cambodia who are attending universities in the capital city.

One of their ongoing projects has been to help organize Harpswell’s first conference, "Women Innovators in Cambodia," taking place on January 22, 2011. Six Cambodian women from the medical field, the arts and social entrepreneurship will discuss the challenges and successes of being an ambitious woman in Cambodia.

Moore and Paonessa, who won Presidential Global Scholar awards from Northeastern to support their co-op, are serving as leadership residents in one of the two women’s dormitories built by the foundation in Phnom Penh.

They also had the opportunity to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visited Cambodia while on a tour of Asia. Clinton summoned a Town Hall meeting for the country’s youth and asked the U.S. ambassador to invite 50 Harpswell students, and their leadership residents.

Both Northeastern students say they have gained insight into themselves and their future careers by upholding the mission of the Harpswell Foundation to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia and throughout the developing world.

"Convincing the women of (their equality) is also convincing me of the strength I have as a woman and what I could be back home in the States," said Paonessa, an international affairs major and economics minor.

She said the experience has helped her cultivate her leadership skills and made her realize that she wants to pursue a career that will allow her to impact people’s lives on a daily basis.

Moore, a dual major in human services and international affairs with a minor in Spanish, said it is "very fulfilling to feel as though Harpswell’s mission is being carried out each and every day and we’re contributing to that."

The co-op is providing Moore with a glimpse into what her chosen career path — to work in conflict and disaster situations — might be like.

As the first American students and first Northestern co-ops to work for the Harpswell Foundation, they are also helping to forge a global partnership.

"They are both so smart and dedicated," said Harpswell’s founding director, Alan Lightman. "They have really done a superb job. I’m really delighted with the co-op program at Northeastern, and the opportunity to have two star students working at Harpswell."


For more information, please contact Kara Thompson at 617-373-2802 or at kara.thompson@neu.edu.

In Cambodia, gays take refuge in their own 'town'

http://madikazemi.blogspot.com/

via CAAI

Source: Global Post

By Terry McCoy

Along the train tracks in one of Phnom Penh’s ubiquitous slums, the noise never stops and everything is changing. Longtime residents are fearful that they’ll soon have to move. This place isn’t safe anymore, they say. It isn’t moral anymore.

Along these same tracks, roughly 100 new residents, in search of asylum and community, have trickled in over the last several years and now lead lives of shocking desperation. Most of them only sleep during the day. Some perform acts of prostitution. Others dress as women. Almost all of them are homosexual men. And this place, Beoung Kak 2, has become a home: Cambodia’s first gay town.

But this isn’t Boystown in Chicago, nor the Castro in San Francisco. This isn’t a place where homosexuals can celebrate sexuality, individuality, love. Make no mistake: It’s a place for survival.

Every month more newcomers arrive, and as this community expands and supplants longtime residents, it represents both a burgeoning confidence among Cambodia’s gay population, as well as the difficulties that lie ahead for homosexuals here struggling for acceptance and equality.

As two worlds converge and clash in Beoung Kak 2, each seems allegoric, as though re-enacting a bigger national issue. The young, radically sexual newcomers stand juxtaposed against a traditional set of neighbors that are baffled, and sometimes frightened, by the swelling number of openly gay Khmer down the road.

“We’re scared that more [homosexuals] will keep coming here and make more terrible activities back there,” said Srey Oun, 48, who lives behind her now-defunct hair salon in Beoung Kak 2. “Everyone is scared like me. Khmer culture isn’t changing, but the people are.”

Since 2004, the number of “out” homosexuals in Phnom Penh has exploded from around 900 to approximately 10,000 today, according to nongovernmental organizations that track the city’s gay community. Other provinces have seen such staggering growth among their gay communities as well, census records show.

For years, the ever-growing number of openly gay Khmer had scattered themselves, meeting socially, but living separately, NGO workers say. Last March, however, Prime Minister Hun Sen castigated Cambodia’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism. Soon after, police shuttered brothels and karaoke bars across the capital, where many transgenders worked and lived. Destitute and homeless, some staggered to the slums of Beoung Kak 2.

“If we’re not with each other, we’re scared everyone will look down on us or beat us,” said Kong Chan Rattna, 24, amid eight fellow transgender homosexuals inside a hut stilted above a stream. “Together, we can have happiness — we can go anywhere. Nothing’s a problem.”

Cambodia’s definition of homosexuality and gender challenges Western notions. In Cambodia, there’s a third gender — frequently called “lady boys” — that falls somewhere between male and female. By all appearances and mannerisms, they’re female and identify as such though born male; most haven’t undergone any sex-change operations, they say.

Transgender homosexuals inhabit the shadows of Khmer society. Though they’re emphatically proud of their lifestyles and sexuality, such proclamations might come out stilted or forebode some admittance of shame. Don’t tell my parents. Don’t use your real name. Don’t go home. Don’t.

Of the many narratives that have taken Beoung Kak 2’s homosexual residents into this fetid and cramped place, the story of a slight, curly-haired transgender named Srey Pisey seems emblematic. Pisey, gregarious and bright despite little formal education, has always had a secret inside her.

Pisey, now 28, was 13 when she realized she was different. Living in rural Kandal just outside Phnom Penh, she couldn’t stop the thought that she wasn’t right in this body, that she couldn’t relate to her family or anyone in her village. She felt alone. She felt scared. She said she knew she was supposed to be a woman, and the recognition was tortuous.

“I tried to kill myself twice when I was a child,” she said at home in Beoung Kak 2. “I took too much medication. I was very upset and disappointed that I was gay and my parents beat me and wanted me to go away from my home. I tried to change myself into a boy, but I couldn’t. Because, me as a woman, it’s natural.”

In 2002, Pisey’s parents disowned her and kicked her out, she said. So, without any skills, she came to Phnom Penh. She hasn’t been home since and says she misses her family every day though not sure what they would think of her now, a homosexual prostitute in Phnom Penh.

“I don’t know how to read,” Pisey said, echoing a theme in many stories here. “I don’t know how to write. I only know how to be a prostitute.”

Meanwhile, around 100 meters down the tracks, longtime resident Kaulap Kho sat inside her wooden shack rocking her 5-month-old son in a hammock. While she talked and her baby slept, Kho became angrier and angrier. This squat woman, with her husband, Tho, has lived here selling clams for 10 years. It has become their home. Where they want to raise their four children. But soon, she said, they’ll have to move back to the provinces to find work.

Kaulap’s profits selling clams have recently plunged 50 percent from $5 per day to $2.50, and the homosexuals, she spat, are to blame. Good Khmer folk don’t come to shops near such “sinful” people, she said. And so Kaulap broods as she rocks her baby, hatred in her eyes.

“These people are not the same as the general people; they talk and act very differently” said Meas Chanthan, executive director of Cambodia’s Corporation for Social Services and Development, one of Phnom Penh’s dozen non-governmental organizations that study and assist the country’s homosexual population. “They talk loudly, they scream and they’re not afraid of their neighbors.”

Meas continued, “These homosexuals think they’ve become isolated and that they have no one. They don’t like the general people either so they have no choice but to live together and so the homosexuals are so sad.”

Isolation seems an insurmountable and profound thing for some transgenders in Beoung Kak 2. At 9 a.m. on a recent Friday, while most residents here were already thinking about lunch, five transgender homosexuals slept inside their shack on a wooden floor. They had gotten back late the night before. No one had purchased them, and now they didn’t have enough money for rice.

Yet deep into midmorning, despite the light, the hunger, the noise spilling inside, the transgender homosexuals snuggled together, eyes closed: The rest of the world firmly outside.