Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Thai gov't to ask for royal pardon to two "Yellow Shirt" activists jailed in Cambodia

via CAAI

March 15, 2011

The outgoing Thai ambassador Prasas Prasasvinitchai said Tuesday that his government will submit a petition to Cambodian government in order to ask Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni to grant a royal pardon to the two high-profile "Yellow Shirt" activists jailed in Cambodia for espionage.

The ambassador made the remarks during a farewell meeting with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday.

The ambassador also told reporters after the meeting that so far the two Thais have not signed the letter for royal pardon yet.

"As soon as they sign the request, I will present it to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs; then, ask the royal government of Cambodia for high consideration," he said.

The two Thai prisoners are Veera Somkwamkid, one of the leaders of the People's Network against Corruption and a high-profile activist in the Thailand Patriot Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court, on Feb. 1, convicted Veera and Ratree of illegal entry, unlawful entry into military base and espionage and sentenced them to 8 years and 6 years in jail respectively.

Koy Kuong, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,declined to comment if Cambodia will consider royal amnesty for the duo.

According to Cambodian law, a prisoner can be granted a royal pardon only if he/she has served two third of the jailed term in prison.

Meanwhile, the ambassador also said that Thai government will hold an internal meeting on Wednesday to decide if it will join the ASEAN-arranged meetings on Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee (GBC) and Joint Border Committee on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) in Bogor, Indonesia on March 24-25 to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.

Source: Xinhua

Sounds from the past suggest a bright future


via CAAI

Traditional instruments create a modern sensibility in this Khmer master's work

Published: 15/03/2011
Newspaper section: Life

In 2003, I wrote about the Cambodian Master Performers' Program, which was set up by a young trdo ui (upright fiddle) player Arn Chorn to document and preserve traditional Khmer music.


Chorn had escaped the killing fields of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime to the refugee camps on the Thai border and eventually made his way to Lowell, Massachusetts, in the USA.

Many of his peers and teachers, however, were not so lucky: Some 90% of the country's traditional and popular musicians were either killed or left for exile in a new country.

The master chappei dong vang (long-neck, two-string lute) player and singer Kong Nay was one of the few to survive. There were many times he thought he and his family would perish but perhaps because of his musical ability he survived. The programme, now renamed Cambodian Living Arts and based in the US, England and Phnom Penh, brought Nay and nineteen other surviving traditional musicians in to teach young students, thereby passing on their skills and experience to a new generation. A studio, sponsored by Peter Gabriel's hugely successful global Womad festival circuit and the related Real World record label, was set up to record the master teachers and their students.

Nay, who lost his eyesight to smallpox when he was a boy, has been playing his instrument for nearly 50 years and is acknowledged as one of Cambodia's finest musicians. His first international album on the French Inedit label was a revelation and led to tours overseas, including a successful extended tour of the UK.

Chappei masters are rather like a cross between a US delta bluesman and a shamisen troubadour from Japan. His music, often improvised around a basic song structure, features satirical and often humorous songs that dispense a worldly wisdom on topics of interest (he steers clear of politics though).

I was in Phnom Penh last week, hoping to catch the master performing but alas he was playing down by the beach, so I decided to try to find his 2007 release on the Real World Works sub-label, Mekong Delta Blues, instead. Not an easy album to find there as it is an international release but I did find a copy in Monument Books (you can find the album on Amazon.com and there are various sites that offer MP3 downloads; the Cambodian Living Art site also has one or two sound samples of Nay's work).

I've wanted to get this album for some time, as some of my friends in Phnom Penh have told me that his student, Ouch Savy, who also appears on the album, is a fine player and singer. Although she comes from a famous musical family, Savy is one of the very few female chappei players and at 21 she has already appeared on Cambodian TV many times and has played all over the country, often with her mentor Master Nay.

The 12 tracks on the album were recorded at Philipthearan Temple in Battambang province and at Studio CLA in Phnom Penh during September 2006 to July 2007. Kong Nay kicks of the album with the pulsing Farewell Wishes, which segues into one of my favourite tracks, Brown Phalla, which bubbles along on a jaunty rhythm over which Nay dispenses words of wisdom in his trademark gravelly voice.

Ouch makes her first appearance on the album with a delicate song, Khmer Ladies Virtue, which features a 30-second wailing vocal intro that gave me the goosebumps (rather like one of those atmospheric intros to a maw lam glawn song) and some beautiful chappei playing - she has a softer attack to her playing than Nay and more trills and embellishments in her riffs on the instrument. She features on several other tracks, including the more strident Parent's Legacy and my favourite, the standout of the album, Kadeuk Breeze, the latter of which features a thudding bass line and buzzing string sounds; her vocal on this track seems to float, well, on the breeze.

The only song the two perform together is Ramvong, a "circle dance" and style of music as well known here as it is in Cambodia. The two alternate verses, with Ouch's soft vocals contrasting nicely with Nay's more gruff singing style. Her final song is the lament Missing My Youthful Beauty (if she's singing that at 21, then there's no hope for the rest of us). Nay completes a wonderful album with his view of what's to come in life on The Future of Cambodia. If it is up to Kong Nay, then I'd say the future of the country is in good hands.

This is a terrific album, well worth checking out. You can see Nay and Ouch play on YouTube and visit http://www. cambodianlivingarts.org. Translations of the song lyrics are also available at http://www.cambodianlivingarts.co.uk.

Cambodian unions threaten strikes over new laws

A Cambodian woman gestures during a rally in front of an advertising company in Kandal province March 15, 2011. The protesters said 75 employees were fired by the factory for planning to form a union. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

via CAAI

Tue Mar 15, 2011

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's biggest trade unions on Tuesday demanded a review of a draft law to regulate them, threatening nationwide strikes against what they said were government attempts to weaken the labour movement.

Union leaders and activists said their proposals for the legislation had been ignored and the law would allow the government to block protests, jail leaders, disband unions and prevent new bodies from forming.

The government says it is drafting the law to protect the interests and rights of workers. It follows similar plans to regulate non-governmental organisations, which have outraged rights groups and prompted criticism from the United States.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party is widely accused of abusing its parliamentary majority to pass laws curtailing freedom of expression and leaning on the judiciary to punish critics. The draft legislation for NGOs and unions is seen as a further effort to stifle dissent and entrench its power.

According to the draft law, unions or associations can be dissolved or suspended by court order if there is a complaint against them from a third person or the government. Union leaders face prison terms for organising protests or strikes that are deemed illegal.

"The conditions to even form a union are strict. It is also really easy to dissolve unions and leaders are facing lawsuits or imprisonment over minor union work," said Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodia Labour Confederation.

Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said recommendations of labour groups had been overlooked and warned that 70 percent of the country's 300,000 garment workers would strike if changes were not made.

The garment industry is the third-biggest contributor to Cambodia's $10 billion (6.2 billion pound) economy after agriculture and tourism and factory workers' wages are a key source of income for impoverished rural families. At least 210,000 workers went on strike last year over pay and working conditions.

Cambodia's government has been credited with reducing poverty and boosting economic growth in one of Asia's poorest countries, but critics and aid donors say its democratic institutions remain weak and its human rights record is worsening.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Martin Petty)

Cambodia charges six foreigners for drugs


Officer open a bareel containing millions of dollars worth of U.S. currency that was found buried in rural area

via CAAI

Mar 15, 2011

PHNOM PENH - A CAMBODIAN court on Tuesday charged five Vietnamese and one Laos national with drug trafficking after police seized more than 11kg of methamphetamine from Laos in a major raid.

The six were arrested after police confiscated nearly 88,000 methamphetamine tablets, weighing 8.8kg, and three kilograms of methamphetamine powder during a raid at a Phnom Penh residence on Friday, said national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith.

'The drugs were supplied from Laos... and could have been destined for Vietnam and Thailand,' he said.

If convicted, the six men and women face 'a minimum of 20 years in prison", Hing Bunchea, a prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told AFP.

Local media estimated the drugs have a street value of more than half a million dollars.

Cambodia has ramped up its war on drugs in recent months, resulting in hundreds of arrests. -- AFP

Japan to provide 94 mln USD to Cambodia despite quake impact

via CAAI

2011-03-15

PHNOM PENH, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The government of Japan on Tuesday signed up to provide a total grant aid of 94 million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for social and economic development though the country was severely hit by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The exchange of notes for the grant was signed between Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese ambassador to Cambodia, presided over by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

According to the media release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the aid will be used to implement three projects: the flood and drainage improvement in Phnom Penh (45 million U.S. dollars), replacement and expansion of water distribution system in provincial capitals (33.66 million U. S. dollars), and improvement of equipment for demining activities (15.83 million U.S. dollars).

The Friday's catastrophic earthquake in Japan, measuring 9.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale, has claimed 2,414 lives and left 3,118 others missing in Japan by 8:00 a.m. local time, said the Japanese National Police Agency.

Editor: Yang Lina

US envoy to take up Cambodia, Vietnam adoption

via CAAI

Mar 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - A US ENVOY will head this week to Vietnam and Cambodia to look at ways to resume adoptions, which have been suspended due to concerns over child trafficking, the State Department said on Monday.

Susan Jacobs, the special US adviser on children's issues, will head on Wednesday to the South-east Asian countries for talks with officials and other stakeholders on adoption, the department said.

The United States suspended adoptions from Cambodia in 2001 and from Vietnam in 2008. In Vietnam, a US probe found that some adoption rackets were paying US$10,000 (S$12,660) 'donations' to orphanages to claim falsely that infants were abandoned.

The State Department, in a statement, said it 'welcomes Vietnam's strong efforts to create a child welfare system and an inter-country adoption process that will meet its obligations' under the Hague treaty on adoptions.

The United States is the world's largest source of adoptive parents. Other countries have also been moving to restart adoptions in South-east Asia, with Cambodia drafting regulations for children to be adopted by French parents. -- AFP

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Thai government will talk on Indonesia’s proposal on March 24-26

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 08:04 DAP-NEWS/SORN SOPHEAK

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MARCH 15, 2011-“Thai government will discuss on proposal from Indonesia tomorrow on the meeting of joint border committee and general border committee on March 24-26 March in Bogor,” Thai ambassador said

Outgoing Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh told Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong in a courtesy ceremony, that Thai government will have an internal meeting on the Indonesia’s proposal tomorrow, Khuy Khuong, spokesman for foreign ministry quoted as telling media after the meeting. New Thai ambassador will be appointed in April, Kong said.

Cambodian side hopes that Thai side will receive Indonesian observers quickly to monitor the permanent ceasefire,” Kong said. “We are trying to shorten the conflict and expand cooperation, he added.

Samdech Hun Sen yesterday said that Cambodia also will buy walkie-talkies and transportation in Cambodia and other expenditure for Indonesian observers for their work in the country. Cambodian and Thai Foreign ministers agreed to get Indonesian observers on Feb 22.

Thai troop invaded Cambodian soil through unilateral map at areas near 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

______

50,000 environmental activists in Cambodia plan to clean city

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 07:58 DAP-NEWS

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MARCH 15, 2011-50,000 environment activists in Cambodia plan to conduct a campaign to clean city in a move raise awareness about the environmental issues.

“They plan to clean 8 places in Phnom Penh city and some places that need to educate about the environmental issues and stop throwing litters ,” statement from AIESEC.

The theme this year “Cambodia let do it,” the statement noted. They plan to clean the city on April 23, it added.

“They also will host the campaign at the universities and schools in Phnom Penh, it said.

Phnom Penh authorities announced about the money fine for litter throwers. They were fined about $2.5 but cases have still happened and some restaurants which put waste disorderly also fined.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM Asks Education Ministry to Check Cambodian Students’ Situation in Japan

Phnom Penh, March 15, 2011 AKP – Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has asked the Education and Foreign Affairs Ministries to check whether any Cambodian students are victims of the recent massive earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

He made the remarks here on Mar. 14 during the graduation ceremony for students of the Royal University of Law and Economic Sciences at the National Institute for Education.

Up to now, no Cambodian students in Japan have been reported dead or missing, said the Cambodian premier, asking the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to contact the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Japan and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to check on this matter.

Earlier on Mar. 13, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement, calling all compatriots to contact the officials of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Tokyo if they have no information from their relatives living or studying in Japan:

- Mr. Sim Vireak (1st secretary) Tel: (81) 80-40755704
Email: simvireak@hotmail.com.jp

- Mr. Hok Sophea (1st secretary) Tel: (81) 80-40755702
Email: sopheakh@gmail.com

- Mrs. Sok Soboth (2nd secretary) Tel: (81) 80-40755701
Fax: (81) 3-54128526

Cambodia has sent a condolence message to Japan and contributed US$100,000 for the relief of the victims, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said. –AKP

By LIM Nary

______

PM Urges Police to Crack Down on Drugs

Phnom Penh, March 15, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has urged the local police and other relevant government officials to be vigilant in cracking down drugs in their areas.

Speaking at the National Institute for Education in Phnom Penh yesterday, the Cambodian premier said crime, illegal timber trade, corruption should not be forgotten.

Some high-ranking officers involved in drugs and corruption cases including generals have been arrested, he said. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by KHAN Sophirom

______

Samdech Hun Sen Cup Football Tournament Ends

Phnom Penh, March 15, 2011 AKP – The Football Tournament for Samdech Hun Sen Cup was wrapped up here on Mar. 12 at the National Olympic Stadium in the presence of Phnom Penh Governor H.E. Kep Chutema.

As many as 32 teams from across the country participated in the competition, which began on Jan. 7, 2011.

Preah Khan Reach FC won the champion with the cash prize of 80 million Riel (about US$20,000) and the two runners-up, Build Bright United and Naga Corp FC, got 40 million Riel (about US$10,000) and 20 million Riel (about US$5,000) respectively.

The National Defense Ministry FC won US$5 million Riel (US$1,250) as the Fair Play team; the best goalkeeper, Khuon Laboravy from Preah Khan Reach FC; and the top scorer, Ouk Mich from the same team, received 1 million Riel (US$250) each.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen donated US$50,000 to the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) to further boost the football field in Cambodia. –AKP

Article in Khmer by SUOS Samrith
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

______

PM Asks Once Again Indonesia to Send Observers to Cambodia Soon

Phnom Penh, March 15, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has once again called on Indonesia’s observers for Cambodia-Thailand ceasefire to come to Cambodia as soon as possible.

Speaking here on Monday at the National Institute of Education at a graduation ceremony for students of the Royal University of Law and Economics, the Cambodian premier made an appeal to Indonesia to send its observers to Cambodia to observe Cambodian troops because the situation is still fragile.

He further hoped that both Cambodian and Thai troops will continue to exercise their most restraints.

Indonesian military attach├ęs have already examined Preah Vihear Temple area and Cambodia has set up two commissions, one led by Deputy Prime Minister and National Defense Minister H.E. Tea Banh to work with coordinators, and the other one in charge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong, he said.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also affirmed that Cambodia had already prepared itself for the Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee and Joint Border Committee on Demarcation for Land Boundary in Indonesia on Mar. 24-25 in the presence of ASEAN chair. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

______

Japan’s Grant for School Building in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, March 15, 2011 AKP – The Japanese government has provided US$254,113 in grant for school building in Cambodia under Japan’s economic cooperation framework, the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (“KUSANONE” Grant).

The grant contracts were signed here on Monday by Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Kuroki Masafumi and representatives of the grant’s recipient organizations.

Some US$85,300 of the total amount will be used to construct a school building at Pre-school Teacher Training Center in Phnom Penh, while US$70,225 for the construction of a men’s dormitory at Prey Veng Regional Teacher Training Center.

The rest, US$98,588, will be given to Phnom Penh’s Department of Education, Youth and Sports for the construction of a school building at Taing Kasang primary school in Phnom Penh. –AKP

Sounds from the past suggest a bright future


via CAAI

Traditional instruments create a modern sensibility in this Khmer master's work

Published: 15/03/2011
Newspaper section: Life

In 2003, I wrote about the Cambodian Master Performers' Program, which was set up by a young trdo ui (upright fiddle) player Arn Chorn to document and preserve traditional Khmer music.


Chorn had escaped the killing fields of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime to the refugee camps on the Thai border and eventually made his way to Lowell, Massachusetts, in the USA.

Many of his peers and teachers, however, were not so lucky: Some 90% of the country's traditional and popular musicians were either killed or left for exile in a new country.

The master chappei dong vang (long-neck, two-string lute) player and singer Kong Nay was one of the few to survive. There were many times he thought he and his family would perish but perhaps because of his musical ability he survived. The programme, now renamed Cambodian Living Arts and based in the US, England and Phnom Penh, brought Nay and nineteen other surviving traditional musicians in to teach young students, thereby passing on their skills and experience to a new generation. A studio, sponsored by Peter Gabriel's hugely successful global Womad festival circuit and the related Real World record label, was set up to record the master teachers and their students.

Nay, who lost his eyesight to smallpox when he was a boy, has been playing his instrument for nearly 50 years and is acknowledged as one of Cambodia's finest musicians. His first international album on the French Inedit label was a revelation and led to tours overseas, including a successful extended tour of the UK.

Chappei masters are rather like a cross between a US delta bluesman and a shamisen troubadour from Japan. His music, often improvised around a basic song structure, features satirical and often humorous songs that dispense a worldly wisdom on topics of interest (he steers clear of politics though).

I was in Phnom Penh last week, hoping to catch the master performing but alas he was playing down by the beach, so I decided to try to find his 2007 release on the Real World Works sub-label, Mekong Delta Blues, instead. Not an easy album to find there as it is an international release but I did find a copy in Monument Books (you can find the album on Amazon.com and there are various sites that offer MP3 downloads; the Cambodian Living Art site also has one or two sound samples of Nay's work).

I've wanted to get this album for some time, as some of my friends in Phnom Penh have told me that his student, Ouch Savy, who also appears on the album, is a fine player and singer. Although she comes from a famous musical family, Savy is one of the very few female chappei players and at 21 she has already appeared on Cambodian TV many times and has played all over the country, often with her mentor Master Nay.

The 12 tracks on the album were recorded at Philipthearan Temple in Battambang province and at Studio CLA in Phnom Penh during September 2006 to July 2007. Kong Nay kicks of the album with the pulsing Farewell Wishes, which segues into one of my favourite tracks, Brown Phalla, which bubbles along on a jaunty rhythm over which Nay dispenses words of wisdom in his trademark gravelly voice.

Ouch makes her first appearance on the album with a delicate song, Khmer Ladies Virtue, which features a 30-second wailing vocal intro that gave me the goosebumps (rather like one of those atmospheric intros to a maw lam glawn song) and some beautiful chappei playing - she has a softer attack to her playing than Nay and more trills and embellishments in her riffs on the instrument. She features on several other tracks, including the more strident Parent's Legacy and my favourite, the standout of the album, Kadeuk Breeze, the latter of which features a thudding bass line and buzzing string sounds; her vocal on this track seems to float, well, on the breeze.

The only song the two perform together is Ramvong, a "circle dance" and style of music as well known here as it is in Cambodia. The two alternate verses, with Ouch's soft vocals contrasting nicely with Nay's more gruff singing style. Her final song is the lament Missing My Youthful Beauty (if she's singing that at 21, then there's no hope for the rest of us). Nay completes a wonderful album with his view of what's to come in life on The Future of Cambodia. If it is up to Kong Nay, then I'd say the future of the country is in good hands.

This is a terrific album, well worth checking out. You can see Nay and Ouch play on YouTube and visit http://www. cambodianlivingarts.org. Translations of the song lyrics are also available at http://www.cambodianlivingarts.co.uk.

Cambodia Considers Repercussions of Japan Disaster

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Monday, 14 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AFP
Local residents walk though a devastated street in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 following a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Japan battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at a quake-hit nuclear plant, as the full horror of the disaster emerged on the ravaged northeast coast where more than 10,000 were feared dead. An explosion at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant blew apart the building housing one of its reactors on March 12, a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.

“We cannot predict what will happen to the upcoming Japanese aid for Cambodia.”

As Japan continued to assess the damage from a major earthquake and tsunami on Monday, Cambodian officials and development workers considered the implications here, where Japan is a major donor.

Speaking at a graduate ceremony at the Royal University of Law and Economics, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Japanese government was set to sign a large aid package on Tuesday. But he warned that the devastation from the disaster could have knock-on effects for Cambodian development.

“The destruction in Japan was the largest, and it will affect the Japanese economy, as well as Japan’s international obligations and implementation [of projects] overseas, including us,” he said.

The severe earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan’s northeast coast on Friday, leveling entire villages and likely killing many thousands, though the official death toll and economic damage is so far unknown.

However, Japanese Ambassador Massafumi Kuroki told reporters at the Japanese Embassy on Monday that aid would continue, including a $94 million package he will sign Tuesday.

The grant aid will go toward flood protection, water distribution systems and demining activities, underscoring the reliance of many groups on Japanese aid across many sectors.

In the period between 1992 and 2009, Japan was the country’s single largest donor country, providing more than 18 percent of overseas development aid, or about $1.83 billion, according to government figures.

“We’re thinking about the earthquake that hit Japan and the following tsunami,” said Yong Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for the Study and Development of Agriculture, which has $800,000 in Japanese funding for 2011 and 2012. “We’re worried that it can hurt or stop or suspend Japanese aid to these projects.”

Chheam Chan Sophorn, chief of the Battambang provincial department for agriculture, said he worried about the possibility of losing Japanese aid that promotes rice production across nine districts.

“We cannot predict what will happen to the upcoming Japanese aid for Cambodia,” he said. “But I have my own worries. It can badly impact our project.”

Him Sophal, chief of the Prey Veng provincial department of education, said the province had at least three projects funded by $150,000 in Japanese development funds to provide study centers and build schools.

He had seen footage as the massive tsunami swept the coast of Japan, he said.

“I just saw the event of the biggest wave, the tsunami,” he said. “I’m very worried because our donor met with a serious earthquake and tsunami. So I’m very worried we won’t reach our goal.”

Cambodian Students Shaken, But Unharmed in Quake

Soeung Sophat, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Monday, 14 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: Reuters
A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan, March 14, 2011.

“We were not allowed to use the elevator. I was terrified as Hell.”

The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan Friday was the strongest in the country’s history. Among those caught up in the disaster were Cambodian students currently enrolled in various Japanese universities, who were frightened but otherwise unscathed.

“I was so terrified that I ran downstairs barefoot,” Chea Poleng, an economics student in Tokyo, told VOA Khmer shortly after the quake. “We were not allowed to use the elevator. I was terrified as Hell.”

Chea Poleng said she had lived in Japan for two years, and though she had felt earthquakes before, they were small in comparison.

Friday’s main quake, off the northeast coast of Japan near the city of Sendai, reached 8.9 on the Richter scale and triggered a 10-meter-high wave that swept people away amid cars, ships and homes. Fatalities are estimated in the thousands.

“Everything fell down,” said Chea Poleng, who was on the 9th floor of her university dormitory when the quake struck. “My books, water bottles, teapot, even one television—they fell down and broke. In my kitchen, too, things were thrown out of place and broke. We were frightened and were told to run down, not because the building would collapse but because things could fall on us.”

Him Sopheak, a Japanese-language student, said he was stuck in a 32-story building in Tokyo’s Sinagawa district. “When the shaking started, we were certainly frightened because we had never experienced such strong tremors,” he told VOA Khmer by phone.

There are 350 Cambodians registered with the Cambodian Student Association in Japan, 200 from the Tokyo area. The head of the association, Ly Socheath, said the group was quick to locate its members by phone, e-mail or social media to learn their whereabouts.

“Most reported that they were safe and unharmed, none injured or dead,” he said. “They were mostly unaffected except for the disruption it has caused to their daily lives, because phone services were down and train services were halted.”

Ly Socheath said the quake had been light in his area, 30 kilometers outside Tokyo. He had been educated about potential natural disasters on his arrival as a student, and he had faith in Japan’s social services, he said.

Japan must now struggle with the aftermath of the quake, which damaged nuclear power facilities and swept entire villages away. Power remains out or intermittent for many in the areas hardest hit, and the death toll has yet to be tallied.

On Friday night, one student, Tea Seang Houng, who had traveled to Sendai city ahead of the quake, was at first unaccounted for. Chea Poleng, her friend, said she seven hours after the quake she was still worried and had not heard from her.

“Just this morning she called me, saying that she was in Sendai visiting her host family,” Chea Poleng said. “I saw on television that the city was hit by a tsunami that swept away whole houses, and even the Sendai airport had water rushing in. I have been concerned all day because I unable to reach her.”

However, Tea Seang Houng later contacted friends and family to say she was unhurt.

Cambodian Embassy officials could not be reached late Friday, but the student association said embassy officials had made calls after the quake to learn the status of the students.

On the far southwestern island of Kyushu, far from the areas most affected, Chea Vitcom, a doctoral student at the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and head of the student association’s branch there, said some 50 Cambodian students on the island were fine.

“It is too early to tell what will happen next, because it just happened today,” he said Friday. “Cambodians and particularly the Japanese are just starting to assess the destruction, firstly, and secondly, we will continue to monitor the situation. So we are preparing for what can happen while keeping in contact with other Cambodians.”

Tribunal’s Supreme Court Prepares for Duch Hearing

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Monday, 14 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Duch was arrested in May 1999 and was later charged by the tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and homicide.

"The Supreme Court Chamber will “review whether or not Duch is a most responsible senior official.”

The Supreme Court Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will conduct three days of hearings later this month in the case of torture chief Kaing Kek Iev, who was found guilty last year of atrocity crimes.

His 2009 trial lasted 77 days under the Trial Chamber of the UN-backed court, and many victims of the regime were outraged by the 19 years he received in commuted sentence.

The Supreme Court hearing will mark the completion of the trial, the court’s first. It is scheduled to begin March 28 and will be much shorter than the original trial because the appeals are limited in scope, a tribunal spokesman said.

“There are a few questions in the appeal,” the spokesman, Lars Olsen, said. “So we don’t need to hear all the witnesses and experts that appeared during the trial chamber. In addition, they have made long written submissions before this hearing.”

The Supreme Court hearings will mark the official end of the tribunal’s first trial, during which Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch, admitted responsibility for the more than 12,000 deaths that took place at Tuol Sleng prison under his leadership. He expressed remorse and sought forgiveness from the families of his victims, and in the end, he asked to be released.

His sentence was commuted form 35 years to 19 years. Tribunal prosecutors are now seeking a full 45 years imprisonment. The lower court also issued little in the way of reparations for civil parties, choosing to list the names of some on the tribunal website.

The Supreme Court Chamber will “review whether or not Duch is a most responsible senior official,” Olsen said. “Then they are going to review sentencing and they are going to review the decision on civil party application admissibility and reparation.”

The question of whether Duch is one of those most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge—a key mandate for the court—was raised by his defense lawyers following his trial. The question of sentencing was raised by prosecutors. And the question of reparations was raised by civil parties.

According to the tribunal schedule, the first day will be dedicated to Duch’s personal jurisdiction and whether he committed crimes against humanity; the second day will focus on his sentencing; and the third will focus civil party appeals.

PM targets private school pay

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/

vis CAAI

Monday, 14 March 2011 21:13 Vong Sokheng

Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed today to private educational institutions operating in Cambodia to pay taxes on teacher salaries after reports that many such facilities have sought exemption status.

“[Tax] is an obligation, and it is not only in our country. Many other countries have to pay higher tax on salary than us, and I think that many institutions of education have requested exemptions,” Hun Sen said during an address to graduating students at the Institute of National Education in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia’s Taxation Law implemented in 1994 stipulates that employees earning more than 500,000 riel (about US$125) per month must pay salary tax, said Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said he was not opposed to the measure but said all forms of tax collection should be transparent.

Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the government must also focus on other areas of tax collection, particularly from businesses.

“Imposing salary tax on workers averaging $125 per month is not appropriate in the current economic situation, when all kinds of goods are at higher prices, including gasoline,” he said.

PAD struggles to ward off mid-life crisis


via CAAI

Published: 14/03/2011
Newspaper section: News

A political mid-life crisis has come too soon for the People's Alliance for Democracy.

Odd behaviour stemming from a fear about ageing normally shows up in middle age.

Typical symptoms include getting depressed when things don't go your way; and failing to accomplish a task which was once easy.

These symptoms seem to fit well with what is happening to the PAD and its hardcore yellow shirt followers.

The PAD was once a formidable pressure group, having toppled governments and chased prime ministers out of office, including its nemesis Thaksin Shinawatra.

But as it marked its fifth anniversary on Feb 8, the movement is a pale shadow of its old self.

It's not too cruel to say that principal leaders such as Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang are struggling to make themselves heard from the group's stage at Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

The Cambodian card they're playing has failed to rattle the government, even after months of trying.

The PAD's calls on the government to rip up the 2000 memorandum of understanding on land border demarcation signed with Phnom Penh has yet to excite the group's supporters or the public at large.

National sovereignty is supposedly at stake, but the group has yet to strike the right chord with voters so that we really care what is happening at the border, or in meeting rooms where border demarcation lines are decided.

The yellow shirt group felt frustrated when their allies, Veera Somkhwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon of the Thai Patriots Network, who are serving jail time in Cambodia for spying, chose to apply for a royal pardon favoured by the government, rather than the PAD-preferred option of carrying on with their court fight.

Now the only way left for the PAD is how to exit this rally in a way which leaves supporters with a sense that they won.

That is an essential matter now, as the psychological reward from having scored a big hit will draw them back next time the PAD has found a pet cause.

They want to go back home with a sense of pride, a belief that they were part of the historic mission to protect Thai territory for future generations.

The poor response to the Cambodian issue, which the PAD has played up for months, is the group's second big disappointment after the unimpressive debut of its political party spin-off, the New Politics Party.

The NPP was shocked in by-elections last December when voters in Bangkok opted for the Democrats, even though the capital is also a strong base of the yellow shirts.

The defeat is a bad sign given that a general election will be held within months.

The PAD hoped the rally against the governments of Thailand and Cambodia over the border stand-off would have improved its traction with voters.

What's worse than their failing to excite voter interest is that the PAD leaders have failed to keep their composure and apparently are making more enemies than friends as the rally goes on.

They have attacked anybody who refuses to bend to their demands.

That will isolate them politically after the election, assuming some NPP candidates are elected to parliament.

That's something for the future; the more pressing concern is the present.

The PAD urgently needs medical advice to pull itself out of its premature political mid-life crisis.

It needs to cast aside its crisis of confidence and shape itself up to fight the forthcoming poll.

The yellow shirt leaders cannot make a U-turn on the NPP as it needs heads in parliament to fulfil its political agenda, where it will have to take on parties which are experienced in political trench warfare.

The PAD's best-known faces, Mr Sondhi and Maj Gen Chamlong, have decided to leave the election fighting to a younger generation of leaders.

They are sitting out the the poll from the ringside, rather than making themselves available as candidates.

That could be another mistake, if the younger ones aren't yet well known enough to voters, even after months of campaigning from the PAD stage.

The PAD will have to take careful stock of itself before the election.

The PAD was once a political force to be reckoned with.

If only for that reason alone, nobody wants to see the PAD's mid-life crisis getting worse and turning out to be full-fledged political suicide.

Over 5,100 sets of volunteers’ remains repatriated from Cambodia

http://english.vovnews.vn/

via CAAI

14/03/2011

Over 5,100 sets of remains of Vietnamese voluntary soldiers and experts have been repatriated from Cambodia during the 2001-2011 period.

The figure was released at a meeting in Phnom Penh on March 12 to review 10 years of the search for remains of fallen Vietnamese voluntary soldiers and experts who laid down their lives during the war in Cambodia.

During the 10-year period, search teams have completed a large volume of work thanks to their active cooperation and coordination with Cambodian localities under an agreement signed between the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments on August 28, 2000.

Vietnam’s Military Zone 9 said it is in charge of searching for the remains of some 8,500 fallen Vietnamese soldiers in 10 Cambodian provinces. In 2011, the zone will continue the work, especially in such provinces as Kandal, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham.

Between 2012 and 2015, the zone’s search teams will search and gather remains of Vietnamese martyrs in all remaining areas.

Vietnamese doctors give sight to poor Cambodian patients

http://www.saigon-gpdaily.com.vn/

via CAAI

Monday ,Mar 14,2011

At the invitation of Men Sam An, Standing Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, the Sponsoring Association for Poor Patients (SAPP) in Ho Chi Minh City sent doctors to perform eye surgeries on poor people.

A poor Cambodian woman after eye surgery (Photo: SGGP)

Vietnamese eye surgeons performed operations on disadvantaged residents in the Cambodian districts of Prey Veng, Kongpongthom and Longpongcham with financial assistance of Long Thanh Golf Club.

SAPP’s Chairman Tran Thanh Long told the mission group to perform surgeries and help save the sights of people.

The mission group received a warm welcome from Men Sam An, her delegation and the local people at the border crossing of Dinh Ba in district Tan Hong of the Mekong delta province of Dong Thap.

The local government had given prior information to residents about the eye camp and many had come from distant parts to avail of the facility. After the operation they returned to tell their neighbors how Vietnamese medics had helped their blindness and even gave them VND50, 000 cash as transport fee.

After three days, the mission moved camp to Kongpongcham district where the doctors performed surgeries for four days instead of two days as scheduled. Kongpongthom residents hailed the Vietnamese doctors, complimenting them on their golden healing touch.

Of the 3,000 people registered for eye surgery, 1,714 patients were operated upon but the remaining were not able to, because of prolonged blindness or having been born blind or being too old to be operated upon.

At the farewell meeting, Men Sam An thanked the mission, saying that she would convey to Prime Minister Hunsen and Deputy Minister whose fatherland was Kongpongcham and Prey Veng, about the successful trip made by the Vietnamese doctors to help needy eye patients.

By Nguyen Tuong Loc - Translated by Uyen Phuong

Festival addresses Cambodian repression

http://www.browndailyherald.com/

via CAAI

Published: Monday, March 14, 2011

In Cambodia, all news is good news. Or at least, all news broadcast in the media is good news. The lack of freedom of the press in Cambodia, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries is the topic of this year's week-long International Freedom-to-Write Literary Festival.

The annual festival, started and run by the Program in Literary Arts and International Writers Project, begins on Monday at 4 p.m. in Smith-Buonanno 106 with readings by Vietnamese author Linh Dinh and American playwright David Rabe.

"Every year, we have a fellow running some kind of (International Writers Project) literary festival about the art, culture and politics of that country or region," said Robert Coover, visiting professor of literary arts. "We choose our fellow on basis of need, of threat against him. Sometimes they are in exile," he said.

The festival provides an opportunity to celebrate the fellow and also to "become more knowledgeable about the literature and culture of that nation," as well as the problems of the nation, said Gale Nelson MA'88, assistant director of the literary arts program.

The focus on Cambodia and neighboring countries was sparked by this year's visiting fellow Tararith Kho.

Hundreds of writers either apply or are nominated for the fellowship every year, but Kho's many impressive nominations — by groups like Poets, Essayists, Novelists, an international literary and human rights organization — solidified his selection.

He stood out for his "energy and enthusiasm for literature and human rights," Nelson said.

Kho was born to a family of rice farmers and was the "only one of his siblings who got out of that and got educated," Coover said. Kho has been very involved in helping others in Cambodia do the same, especially women who are trapped by tradition and unable to get an education, Coover added.

"Freedom of speech is difficult to find in Cambodia," Kho said. "I promoted people to write about contemporary issues."

Kho said the media in Cambodia is controlled by the country's high-ranking members of society.

"Televisions, newspapers, magazines are all under the government," he said. As a result everyone only hears the same "good" news, he added.

Kho's reading on Tuesday will be about the state of the media in Cambodia and how it has created a "cage" for writers.

His efforts to "get the entrapped rice farmer people out of their circumstances" was seen as a threat in Cambodia, Coover said, and on occasion, Kho had to flee to the Thai border. Now if he returns to Cambodia, he will likely be arrested.

Though Kho's family is here in the United States right now as well, he may have to return to Cambodia when his visa runs out. Kho said he did not want to talk badly about his country, but he wants life to change for the people of Cambodia.

"Writers are simple, not fighters. We have no weapons," Kho said.

The festival does not focus on Cambodia alone but also explores neighboring countries, especially Vietnam.

"Cambodia and Vietnam have this really tangled history," Coover said. During the Vietnam War, the United States targeted both countries, and both countries also targeted each other, he said. After the end of the war, Vietnam invaded Cambodia.

The goal of this year's festival is to "provide greater insight into the real nature" of Cambodian and Vietnamese relations, Coover added.

A panel Thursday will explore these relations by bringing together Vietnamese and Cambodian writers and American veterans of the war.

Other speakers for this festival were chosen based on their connections to Cambodia and neighboring countries, Nelson said. Coover said the speakers that were selected are "fellow workers in the field of protecting human rights and expression."

The hope is that this festival will promote "greater awareness" of the situation in Cambodia, he added.

Kho said he hopes to help other writers who are receiving threats in response to their work. "Democracy is a human right," Kho said. "If I know myself how to fight for human rights, I want to do it."

"Cambodian people did not know how to find people's help," he said, because they have no media and no network for contacting people from other countries. They are "living in a cage," he said, and can never open their eyes to see another world.

Kho said that he hopes the festival will generate American support for Cambodia. "Americans must fight for Cambodia to have a new generation," he said.

Massive earthquake in Japan harms its economy, aid abroad: Cambodia PM

via CAAI

March 14, 2011 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the massive earthquake in Japan on March 11 will not only damage Japanese economy, but also will affect Japanese assistance overseas.

"The destruction by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were the worst and caused hugely losses both human lives and properties," he made the remarks during a graduation ceremony for students at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

"The natural disaster will impact both Japanese economy and Japan's internationally obligatory implementation abroad including Cambodia."

The premier said that tomorrow (Tuesday), Masafumi Kuroki, ambassador of Japan will still sign up to provide a grant aid package of 94 million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for flood protection, water distribution system, and demining activities.

He confirmed that so far, there is no report on Cambodian students were killed or injured in the massive earthquake in Japan.

A total of 1,598 people have been killed and 1,720 others are still missing by 8:00 a.m. (2300 GMT) Monday in Japan following Friday's catastrophic earthquake 9.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale and ensuing enormous tsunami, said the National Police Agency.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia ready to join ASEAN-proposed meetings on border conflict with Thailand: PM

via CAAI

March 14, 2011

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday Cambodia is already prepared itself for the ASEAN- proposed meetings on March 24 on Cambodia-Thailand border conflict near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

"Cambodia has already prepared to depart for Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee and Joint Border Committee on Demarcation for Land Boundary in Bogor, Indonesia on March 24-25 under the presence of ASEAN chair," he said during a graduation ceremony for students at the Royal University of Law and Economics. "Now we are waiting Thai side's confirmation of participation."

Hun Sen repeated that ASEAN chair has to join in the opening ceremony of the meetings, and after Cambodia and Thailand discuss, the two sides have to report to ASEAN chair about the results.

"And if any agreement needs to be signed between Cambodia and Thailand during the meetings, Cambodia will ask the third party (ASEAN chair) to sign together," he said.

Cambodia's General Border Committee will be lead by Defense Minister Tea Banh and the Joint Border Committee will be lead by Var Kimhong, the president of it.

Meanwhile, the premier said that so far, the tension between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border dispute is rather calm and troops from the two sides even played volleyballs together over the weekend.

"However, it's still fragile, I hope that both sides will continue to exercise their most restraints," he said.

The premier announced that Cambodia will no longer allow Thai troops to come to worship at Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda next to Preah Vihear temple.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Temple of Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia; however, the row over the 4.6-square-km territory around the temple has never been resolved.

Conflict occurred just a week after Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, since then both sides have built up military forces along the border, and periodic clashes happened, resulted in deaths of troops on both sides.

The latest clashes on Feb. 4-7, unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border, had killed and wounded many soldiers and citizens of both sides, and caused tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fleeing for safe shelters.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Cows to go to Cambodia under University of Utah economics class project

http://www.therepublic.com/

via CAAI

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: March 13, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah economics professor is hoping a class project will help some Cambodians rise out of poverty and teach his students a life lesson.

Members of Wade Roberts' international economics class are trying to raise $10,000 to buy cows for Cambodians as part of a lesson on microcredit, the Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported.

Under the project, the Cambodians will milk the cows, use them for work and then use the income to pay off the loans.

"We have some very dedicated students who have educated themselves on microcredit, its potential, the impact it can have on lives," Roberts said.

Students said they chose Cambodia because the dollar will buy much more there. Each cow costs $250, which includes shots, feed and shelter.

Some students plan to travel to Cambodia in June as part of the project.

"When we've discussed poverty and social ills in economics classes, a lot of times the theory doesn't fit with what we see outside," student Jake Frischknecht said. "And it's easy to throw up our hands and say, 'great abstract theory, but we're really not going to do anything about it.' But this micro financing is a fantastic proven tool."

Roberts called it a bold endeavor that will pay off for both the Cambodians and his students.

"I'm passionate about it because I've been there and I know it works and I love having the kids see that spark and see that they actually become part of the solution," he said. "With microcredit, there's a responsibility and accountability that comes back and shows that, yes, this works."

The students are partnering with the nonprofit organization YouthLinc in Utah, and have two fundraisers in April and a Facebook page for donations.

I'm no troublemaker, says Kasit


via CAAI

Published: 14/03/2011
Newspaper section: News

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya insists he has not been a "troublemaker" for Thailand's neighbouring countries during his two-year tenure.


Mr Kasit spoke to four selected reporters yesterday before the censure debate which starts tomorrow and runs for four days.

Mr Kasit is one of 10 ministers to be grilled by the Puea Thai Party over a range of allegations.

The corner he will fight covers his handling of the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.

Mr Kasit insisted that neither he nor the government had instigated conflict with any neighbouring countries.

Instead, he said since he took up the position, he has helped promote a wide range of cooperative efforts. including trade, tourism and investment.

"There is no evidence that I or the government have created problems," he said.

"There has only been accusations both from inside and outside parliament without acknowledging [the positive things] we have done over the past two years."

Mr Kasit said he only knew of three allegations made against him since he took up the ministerial position, and insisted all three were baseless.

The first allegation was that he used the word "tramp" in reference to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in October 2008 when he spoke on the People's Alliance for Democracy's stage during its protest against the People Power Party-led government

The alleged remark came at a time when the Cambodian premier was demanding the Thai army withdraw troops from Preah Vihear temple, which is disputed by both countries.

Mr Kasit said the second allegation stemmed from the meaning of his words being distorted.

He said he once praised Hun Sen as having the heart of a lion but reporters who disliked him misinterpreted the phrase and only quoted Mr Kasit calling Hun Sen a "gangster".

He said he apologised to Hun Sen but the opposition party nevertheless intends to grill him in parliament about the matter.

The third claim was that he had hit someone in Russia, which Mr Kasit denounced as a plain lie.

"If I had done that, I could not have become ambassador," he said.

Mr Kasit said the tense relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been a problem since before the current administration took power, but he said this government had tried the best of any to solve it.

He said during a visit to Phnom Penh soon after taking his ministerial post, he "told Hun Sen that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and I had no conflict of interest and we tried to build up the relationship [between the two countries]".

He said the government and the Foreign Affairs Ministry did not know exactly what had happened in the past with Cambodia but he could clarify all current positions to parliament during the censure debate.

Mr Kasit believed he has been frequently criticised because his personality did not sit well with the opposition, and not because of his ministerial role.

"My face might look aggressive but I have never lied to the media or tried to please anybody just to get a vote," he said. He admitted he sometimes might have made "a slip of the tongue", but he put this down to him simply being an ordinary person prone to making occasional mistakes just like any other.

"What I fear most is that the public won't know the facts [behind the allegations] because this society has been distorted," Mr Kasit said.

"I thought I would play by the rules and I never thought I would become a political target."

Art review: 'Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia' at the J. Paul Getty Museum


via CAAI

March 13, 2011

At the J. Paul Getty Museum, "Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia" is a very small show on a very large subject. For a viewer, its primary achievement is to make you want to see more.

The Khmer Empire was born in 802, when a Hindu monarch, Jayavarman II, declared himself a god and established his seat of power in Angkor in the northern reaches of what is today Cambodia. The city grew to be immense, among the largest cities in the world, with a sphere of influence that encompassed a large chunk of modern-day Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The empire lasted more than 600 years -- nearly until the birth of Columbus.

Say the word Khmer today, however, and visions of horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated in the 1970s civil war by the brutal Communist leader Pol Pot still linger. "Gods of Angkor" evokes an entirely different world.

Among the show's most impressive works is a 12th-century "Crowned Buddha," with upper arms held close to the ramrod-straight torso, forearms raised forward from the body and open palms held up. Even to the uninitiated, this formal, highly ritualized pose presents a thoroughly unprotected gesture that demonstrably offers peace.

Nearly 3 feet tall, the cast-bronze sculpture is less ornate than a Chinese counterpart might be. Still, the exquisite ornamentation sets the figure apart from an everyday human being. Erect and symmetrical, its head, throat and waist encircled with elaborately modeled jewelry, the serenely smiling Buddha speaks of dignity, eternity and unostentatious majesty. A human form assumes an otherworldly presence.

Khmer sculpture registers as an obviously complex subject -- produced over half a millennium, influenced by powerful crosscurrents from India and China and responding to compelling varieties of Hindu, Buddhist and secular forces. Also complex is the treacherous process of lost-wax casting in bronze. The technically arduous method can result in sleek objects with a spirit very different, and often more elegant and stately, than the carved sandstone Khmer sculpture that is more commonly encountered.

Typical, however, and evident in the majority of the show's sculptures, is the straight, columnar modeling of the figures' legs. Feet face forward and are separated in a firm stance that conveys stability more than rigidity. It's unusual for a divine Khmer sculpture to stand in a posture that reveals the slightest sense of ordinary bodily relaxation.

Any one of the many technical demands of bronze casting is unlikely to explain this standard design. Instead, it draws a subtle distinction between a mundane person, who would not be memorialized in expensive bronze, and a deity who warrants such noble and enduring treatment. It's almost as if the formality of the deity's posture creates a portal to another dimension.

Also imposing are two very different sculptures that find their considerable strength and charm in close observation of nature -- specifically the animal kingdom. One is Nandin, the decorated bull that serves as Shiva's primary vehicle and the gatekeeper of his temple. The other is Ganesha, Shiva's elephant-headed son. Perhaps because both animals are already differentiated from a person, each is endowed with a more relaxed naturalism.

The Getty show was organized by the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, where it had its debut last spring. (Former Getty Museum Director Michael Brand, a specialist in Southeast Asian art, helped initiate the exhibition.) One drawback of its installation here is that most of the objects are in cases or on pedestals that stand against the walls. The sculptures are typically frontal, in keeping with their ritual function; but you can't get behind the "Crowned Buddha," for instance, to see the modeling in the back. That's a shame.

The show was also significantly trimmed from its Washington debut. Mostly works from the prehistoric and pre-Angkor period were cut. Twenty-six of the show's original 36 bronzes are at the Getty.

The sculptures and decorative objects were loaned from the incomparable holdings of the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, signaling something of a return from the dark and insular days of the Khmer Rouge a generation ago. If it inspires a desire to see more Cambodian bronzes of the Angkor period (802-1431), two nearby options are at hand.

The most impressive collection is at Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum, where nine Cambodian bronzes are among more than two dozen Angkor period and pre-Angkor objects. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has six small decorative bronzes in its collection, including jewelry and a finial. For comparison, both museums also house impressive Cambodian sandstone carvings.

Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia, J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, (310) 440-7300, through Aug. 14. Closed Monday. www.getty.edu