A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Mekong Nations To Form OPEC-style Rice Cartel: Thai PM

BANGKOK (AFP)--Thailand's prime minister said Wednesday his country had agreed in principle to form a rice price-fixing cartel with Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia as costs of the staple grain rocket.
The grouping of Mekong nations would be similar to the oil cartel OPEC, and would be called the Organisation of Rice Exporting Countries (OREC).
"I have talked with Myanmar and invited them to join the rice exporting countries cartel, which will include Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, to fix the price," Premier Samak Sundaravej told reporters.
He said Myanmar's Prime Minister General Thein Sein, in Thailand for an official visit, had agreed to join, even through the military-ruled nation was not currently a large rice exporter.
"Thailand will help them in terms of technical support to improve their production for export," Samak said.
Samak said Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia had also agreed to join, and Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said OREC should begin meeting soon.
Thailand is the world's largest rice exporter, and shipped an estimated 9.5 million tonnes of rice overseas last year.
World rice prices have soared this year, a trend blamed on higher energy and fertiliser costs, greater global demand, droughts, the loss of rice farmland to biofuel plantations, and price speculation.
International demand for Thai rice has soared after other top exporters Vietnam and India imposed limits on exports to ensure domestic supply.
Thailand has repeatedly insisted it will not limit exports, but on Tuesday the government announced it was releasing its stockpile of 2.1 million tonnes into the domestic market to keep prices stable.

Cambodian sex workers better off home than Australia say officials

Phnom Penh - Cambodian officials expressed concern Wednesday after an Australian sex worker association called for skilled migrant visas for foreign prostitutes willing to work there, citing an Australian shortage.
Cambodia, infamous for its flesh trade, would not allow sex workers to travel to Australia on skilled migrant visas to ply their trade if it could possibly help it, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.
'We just banned marriages to foreigners because of exploitation issues. Now it is difficult to marry a Cambodian, but for sex work it will be even more difficult,' he said by telephone.
Cambodia banned marriages to foreigners earlier this month, citing potential abuse of often under-educated and poor Cambodian women who often do not understand their rights.
Australia's Scarlet Alliance, a lobby group for brothel owners, Tuesday demanded a skilled migration stream for foreign sex workers, saying Australia needs them as much as it needs more doctors.
'We're seeking a human rights approach to labour migration generally, so that any labour migration policy can include a non-discriminatory approach to sex workers as well,' Scarlet Alliance spokesperson Elena Jeffreys told national broadcaster ABC Tuesday.
She said that the millions of dollars a year the immigration department spent on deportations and brothel raids would be saved if sex workers could apply for visas under the skilled migrant category.
However, Cambodia urged caution when suggesting such a scheme.
Cambodian officials and rights activists pointed out Wednesday that most Cambodian sex workers, some of whom currently work for as little as 1.25 dollars a client and rarely fit criteria for an Australian work visa, were ripe for exploitation.
'We would not support a proposal like this, but of course it is up to the individual sex workers whether they apply,' leading rights activist Kek Galabru said by telephone 'I will advise against it.'

Dengue Fever Fever Spreads Worldwide

Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever's lead singer surrounded by bandmates.

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008
Cambodian-American rockers Dengue Fever have unveiled an extensive summer tour schedule that will see the band hitting a number of big name festivals and playing headlining shows in the States and abroad. The band launches its summer trek May 10 at the Santa Monica Music Festival at Clover Park in California. Other U.S. stops include the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, Wash. (May 24), Dawn '08 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (June 7), the Juneteenth Celebration at Martin Luther King Park in Long Beach, Calif. (June 14), Black Cat in Washington, D.C. (July 6), Museum of Fine Arts Boston (July 9), Empty Bottle in Chicago (July 11) and La Fete Du Marquette in Madison, Wis. (July 12). European destinations in Dengue Fever's sights include Borderline in London (May 27), the Tong Tong Festival in The Hauge, The Netherlands (May 30), Hovefestival at Tromoya in Arendal, Norway (June 27), Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton, U.K. (June 29), Roskilde Festival in Denmark (July 3), WOMAD Festival at Charleton Park in Wiltshire, U.K. (July 26-27) Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden (August 8), and Beautiful Days Festival in Devon, U.K. (August 16). Additional dates for North America and the rest of the world are expected. Venus On Earth, the band's latest album, was released in January and has garnered positive reviews from the press and fans. The album marks the latest step in the evolution that the group has undergone since the release of its 2003 self-titled debut, which featured primarily Cambodian cover tunes from the '60s. To give you an idea what Dengue Fever's unique synthesis of styles sounds like, here's a clip of the band performing "Tiger Phone Card" at the Viper Room in Los Angeles.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation Offers A Dialogue With Vietnam

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Seventh SessionThursday, April 25, 2008
Speaker: Sothy Kien (pictured)

Collective Statement by Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation

Madame Chair,

We would like to say thank you to Vietnam and the other countries for taking the positive step of supporting the 13 September 2007 adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, unlike many of our indigenous Native American and Native Canadian brothers and sisters, our people from Asia are not recognized at all.
We believe unless such recognition occurs, our people will continue to be denied our basic fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Already our rights are not realized. Future work will become irrelevant at the international level and for each individual Khmer if we are not recognized.
Taking advantage of the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we would like to request the help the Permanent Forum and governments around the world to help set up an appropriate timeframe for which countries who has not yet recognized its indigenous people to do so. The adoption must not only be superficial but substantive in the daily lives of indigenous peoples.
During Human Rights Council meeting last March, Vietnam announced that it was ready for human rights dialogue. For the last four years, we have affirmed the need of an open dialogue between Vietnam and the KKF on human rights at the Permanent Forum. Let us make a historic moment and start a human rights dialogue here today.
We would to contribute the following recommendation to the Permanent Forum in regards to this item:
• Request the aid of the Permanent Forum to set up an open dialogue between Vietnam and KKF during a session on the Permanent Forum.
• Through such interactions, we can begin to look at ways in which we can initiate the process of recognizing the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard as indigenous peoples and explore effective mechanisms to ensure that they are included in free and informed decision making processes affecting Khmer communities.
• Ask that Vietnam provides a detailed summary of specific policies or programs targeting Indigenous Peoples that are currently taking place or proposed in their Five Year Socio-Economic Development Plan.
• That a national education campaign is established in Khmer language about the MDGs as well as international human rights instruments such as CEDAW, so our Khmer-Krom people are aware of their basic rights and able to be active participants.
• That the consultation and implementation of such national plans are conducted under the principles of free, prior and informed consent with indigenous groups and local people to ensure that such programs do not destroy the ancestral lands and compromise our traditions
• Request that the aid from the World Bank and IMF to allocate specific funds donated to Vietnam to create vocational programs in the local areas where millions of the indigenous Khmer Krom people who are living in the Mekong Delta.
• Ask that Vietnam work in close collaboration in genuine partnership with specialized agencies and KKF and the Montagnard Foundation to meet mutual objectives.
• Seek a reversal of current trend of urbanization and Vietnamization. KKF ask that victims of the State’s failure or disastrous projects that result in contaminating land be immediately compensated to provide the basic living essentials and to halt the influx of Khmer Krom people being forced to move to other provinces to find employment.
• Request the aid of FAO, ILO and Vietnam to help provide employment opportunities for many local Khmer Krom people who are now finding themselves landless as result of land confiscation by corporations and the country of Vietnam.
• Ask that all special inter-agencies be open to workshops in Kampuchea Krom and where our people live in large diaspora around the world to allow for more effective partnership from indigenous organizations about policies and programs taking place in our homelands
• Ask that Vietnam allows independent organizations to be formed to enable further social and cultural development of indigenous peoples.
• Ask for projects that will integrate the indigenous peoples into mainstream society be culturally appropriate and sensitive to their distinctive culture without eroding their sense of identity.
• While Vietnam is recognized as Asia’s second fastest growing economy in recent years with GDP annually increasing over 8% and making 138.6 Billion USD in 2005, the rural areas where Khmer Krom people are living, does not have a proportional share of Vietnam’s social and economic progress. The KKF remain behind as we are deemed backward by the Vietnam government. We demand to be equal partners for the economic and social development of our homeland.
We are particularly concern that the MDGs for indigenous peoples will not be met if Vietnam continues to undermine the positive contribution of our work at the Permanent Forum.

Thank you Madame Chair

Wine Tasting & Auction Event for Demining Efforts in Cambodia

Joint Press Release –
Royal Embassy of Cambodia & Rotaract Clubs of Rotary International District 7620
More details click here

Press Inquiries: Brendan Adams (412) 848-6454 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Royal Embassy of Cambodia: Rachelle Blasco April 28, 2008
(202) 726-7742 Ext. 20
Wine Tasting & Auction Event for Demining Efforts in Cambodia – May 9, 2008 at Royal Embassy of Cambodia

WHAT & WHO: On May 9, 2008, from 6:30-9:30PM, His Excellency, Sereywath Ek, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United States will be hosting a Wine Tasting & Auction Event for Demining Efforts in Cambodia at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Washington, D.C. in partnership with Rotaract Clubs of Rotary International District 7620.
The Royal Embassy of Cambodia is committed to raising awareness about the landmine issue and raising funds for mine clearance and survivor assistance. Demining efforts contribute to the process of development, preventing damage to the environment and reducing poverty in Cambodia.
TICKETS & REGISTRATION: To purchase your tickets, please visit http://www.rotaract7620.org/.
EVENT DETAILS: The Wine Tasting & Auction Event will include Cambodian delicacies, ample hors d’oeuvres, and will feature Classical Cambodian Dancers. The funds donated through the wine tasting and auction will go towards The Halo Trust’s Foundation Coalition Project 3 to raise much needed funds to remove landmines from 3 villages in the Northwest Region of Cambodia along the K-5 Mine Belt.
Wines will be supplied by Wines of Moldova, whose wine is supplied by Milestii Mici, the largest winery in the world – the Golden Collection – which contains over 1.5 million bottles of wine. Rare and collection wines from Milestii Mici will be presented by Mr. Eugene McCord, Ambassador At Large for the Ambassador to Moldova, Knights of Malta OSJ & President of Moldova Georgia USA Business Center dba Wines of Moldova, company based in Georgia, USA that imports Moldovan Wine to the United States market.
Universal Wines & Spirits of the greater Washington, D.C. area is pleased to supply fine wines from the Brassfield Estate and Winery located in Clearlake Oaks, California. Just north of Napa Valley, the unique combination of minerals in the soil coupled with volcanic terrain are ideal for producing premium grapes, rich with flavor. Over the course of three decades, Jerry Brassfield's estate has cultivated a wide array of multi-award winning wines of all varieties. True to their word, the name Brassfield represents state-of-the-art winemaking at its finest.
PARTNERSHIP: The Royal Embassy of Cambodia and Rotary International have partnered with The HALO Trust, a non-profit de-mining organization previously supported by the late Princess Diana and more recently American Actress & Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, Angelina Jolie. The U.S. State Department has granted The HALO Trust a $50,000 matching grant for demining efforts in Cambodia - $25,000 to be allotted to Rotary-led projects including this event.
WHEN: Friday, May 9, 2008, from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Royal Embassy of Cambodia, 4530 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20011
His Excellency, Sereywath Ek, Ambassador of the
Kingdom of Cambodia to the United States &
Rotaract Clubs of Rotary International District 7620
Request the honor of your presence at a
Wine Tasting & Auction Event
For Demining Efforts in Cambodia
May 9, 2008
6:30 – 9: 30 p.m.
Royal Embassy of Cambodia
4530 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20011
Tickets: $125
Requested Dress: Cocktail Attire
Please visit http://www.rotaract7620.org/ by May 2nd to purchase your tickets online or contact district7620@gmail.com.
*All donations are tax deductible through the Rotary Club of
Friendship Heights Foundation, which is established as a 501(c)(3).
The Wine Tasting & Auction Event will include Cambodian delicacies, ample hors d’oeuvres, and will feature
Classical Cambodian Dancers. The funds donated through the cost of admission, wine tasting and auction will
go towards The Halo Trust’s Foundation Coalition Project 3 to raise much needed funds to remove landmines
from 3 villages in the Northwest Region of Cambodia along the K-5 Mine Belt. It is critical to remove these
landmines, as they cause death and injury, limit safe access to food and water, and endanger the agriculturally
productive land.
The Royal Embassy of Cambodia is committed to raising awareness about the landmine issue and raising funds
for mine clearance and survivor assistance. Demining efforts contribute to the process of development,
preventing damage to the environment and reducing poverty in Cambodia
Rotary International is a worldwide, non-profit organization that promotes professional development,
international service, community awareness, and fellowship. Rotaract is a program of Rotary International for
young professionals up to the age of thirty that promotes the same ideals as Rotary.
Rotary International demining efforts in Cambodia were initially started by the Seattle 4 Rotary Club in 2003 and
currently have 18 Rotary Clubs around the world involved. Rotary International has partnered with The HALO
Trust, a non-profit demining organization based in Great Britain and the United States. The HALO Trust's
demining efforts were previously supported by the late Princess Diana and more recently American Actress &
Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, Angelina Jolie. The U.S. State Department has granted The HALO
Trust a $50,000 matching grant for mine action in Cambodia - $25,000 to be allotted to Rotary-led projects
including the District 7620 event.

Soaring Food Prices Imperil Meals for Poor in Cambodia

Thomas Fuller/The International Herald Tribune
Chouan Chan, 13, left, is among the students who are served a free daily breakfast at a primary school in Pray Viev, Cambodia.

Published: April 30, 2008

PRAY VIEV, Cambodia — The Sun Sun primary school, two low-slung ochre-yellow buildings and a wooden shack, is surrounded by acres of rice paddies that recently yielded what farmers say is the best harvest in memory. But that has not shielded schoolchildren here from the effects of the global food crisis.
A countdown has begun among administrators at the school and at 1,343 other schools across Cambodia: in 30 days or less the schools’ rice stocks will run out and a popular free breakfast program will be suspended indefinitely because of soaring food prices.
Short of cash, the World Food Program, the United Nations agency that feeds the world’s poorest people, can no longer supply 450,000 Cambodian children with a daily breakfast of domestically grown rice supplemented by yellow split peas from the United States and tuna from Thailand.
In a country where a recurrent paucity of food has taught Cambodians to survive on a bare minimum of nutrition, children in this village are unlikely to starve. But some may miss out on an education.
“Most of the students come to school for the breakfast,” said Taoch Champa, a 31-year-old teacher.
The suspension of the breakfast program illustrates one of the many ways that the global food crisis, in which the price of grain has soared in recent months, is hurting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Only destitute schools were selected to take part in the program. Pray Viev is one of the poorest villages in Cambodia’s most impoverished province, Kampong Speu.
When the free breakfast was introduced here eight years ago by the World Food Program, it was an instant hit.
“Students brought their brothers and sisters, 2, 3 and 4 years old,” said Yim Soeurn, the principal at Sun Sun. “It was very hard to control.”
Breakfast has been a magnet for students ever since, as well as the teachers’ best friend. Well-fed students are more attentive, tardiness is no longer a problem (breakfast is served at 6:30 a.m., before classes begin) and attendance by girls, who for years had been kept home by their parents, has increased sharply.
Mr. Yim said he knew what would happen when the free food disappeared: “Poor students will not come to school.”
When the breakfast program was interrupted in January 2007 because of budget problems, attendance fell by 10 percent, Mr. Yim said.
Menh Veasal, a 14-year-old at the top of his class, skipped school to collect frogs and crabs from a nearby river, his contribution to meals with his parents and seven siblings. Sim Sreywat, 12, was ordered by her mother to trek to nearby mountains where she harvested tamarind buds and bamboo shoots.
The imminent depletion of rice supplies is particularly paradoxical for children who each day walk or ride their bicycles to school through miles of neatly delineated rice paddies. Rice is plentiful in Cambodia, and the country has been a net exporter for the past decade.
But it is becoming less and less affordable for the people who grow it. A 2006 survey, well before the spike in food prices, found that 22 percent of Cambodians in rural areas could not meet their own basic food needs.
The most productive agricultural land in Cambodia is near the borders with Thailand and Vietnam, and much of what is harvested there is exported at world-market prices.
But the soil in Kampong Speu Province is sandy and parched, yielding less than one ton per hectare, or 2.5 acres, half the national average. Local farmers typically have plots that are too small to feed their families.
Thomas Keusters, the World Food Program’s director in Cambodia, said he did not know whether the school feeding program would restart. “Not before the next school year, October 2008, at best,” he said.
Worldwide, the agency has begun an appeal for an additional $500 million to cover the increase in food prices. In Cambodia, the price of rice is now above $700 a ton, more than double the $295 per ton the agency budgeted for this year.

U.N. to Address Food Crisis

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — The United Nations will set up a top-level task force to tackle the global food crisis and avert “social unrest on an unprecedented scale,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
Mr. Ban, who will lead the task force, said its first priority would be to meet the $755 million shortfall in financing for the World Food Program.
“Without full funding of these emergency requirements, we risk again the specter of widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale,” he told reporters.

One man builds hope in Cambodia

By Keith Kreitman

Photo courtesy of Hans Eide
Cambodia’s Rotary Elementary School of Mongkol Borei, founded by Foster City’s Hans Eide, has grown from 50 students in 2004 to to 249 students today. The school plans to extend to nine grades and is now approved to qualify graduates for higher education.

In the sad past, the U.S. government reached across the oceans to Cambodia to deliver carpet bombings in pursuit of elements of the North Vietnam army in this neutral country.
Then this tiny land was further ravaged by the political insanity and “killing fields” of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, taking the lives of millions more.
Today, private U.S. citizens and organizations are able to reach across the same seas to deliver “hope” instead of bombs. This can especially be directed for the children of the overlooked poor, who in this land of poverty are still, perhaps incredibly, a friendly, smiling people.
What can one private American of good will do?
There is Hans Eide of Foster City, now a member of the Rotary Club of Foster City.
During a tourist visit and later as the leader of a San Mateo Rotary Club’s 500 wheelchair delivery to Cambodia, he discovered the children of the very poor are even being deprived of participation in Cambodia’s compulsory educational system.
So, why not start a school for the very poor children in Cambodia?
The irony is, the cost of one single destructive American bomb could have built and funded a whole new school like this, but that was then and this is now.
Eide worked his way from his birth land Norway to San Francisco on a freighter for a life of better opportunity. After serving two years in the U.S. army, he found those better opportunities until he was able retire.
And that is what motives Hans Eide today.
“I have been very lucky in my life, and this school give me an opportunity to give something back to the less fortunate,” Eide said.
And as a private American, he has found ways to do it. He has borrowed school rooms free, saw to the hiring of teachers at a better salary than the national school system and at a cost of only $250 a year for each student, including free transportation and lunch — often their best meal of the day — he is helping poor children in Cambodia to a shot at what every deprived American child has come to expect, an avenue out of poverty.
Imagine! Only $250 a year, the cost of an American night on the town or a pair of fancy jogging togs for our kids can buy these children a future in a modern world where only an education can open most doors.
Should we be concerned about the children of Cambodia, half-a-world away from our shores?
In fact, should we be concerned about the impoverished children of all lands?
Of course, all, but we can’t help all, or even any, unless some machinery is set up to do so.
And that is when Americans traditionally respond with compassion and “know how” and Hans Eide is helping to pave a road for the children of the Cambodia’s poor by founding the Rotary Elementary School of Mongkol Borei.
After starting in April of 2004 with only 50 students, confirmed by home visits as being from the “poorest of the poor,” the school has grown to 249, and for these poor, a miracle. The school is planning to extend to nine grades and is now approved to qualify graduates for higher education and several of these students didn’t even begin their education until their early teens.
How is this being funded? Hans Eide has shown what one motivated American can do to deliver hope.
He has engaged support from friends, individual Rotarians, a number of Rotary Clubs and matching grants from Rotary International. He has even received donated equipment from Rotary chapters in other countries. A Rotary district from Japan sent over a 100 refurbished bikes. A matching grant funded by the Rotary Club of Solvang has purchased a truck converted to a bus for transporting 60 students to and from school each day.
So the school and “hope” are still growing.
For those who wish to help expand this hope, contributions may be sent to: Hans Eide, 720 Promontory Point, Foster City, 94404. Checks should be made out to “Foster City Rotary Foundation.”

Vietnam, Cambodia diplomats agree to hold annual meetings

VietNamNet Bridge – Foreign ministries of Vietnam and Cambodia have agreed to hold annual meetings at their first meeting in Hanoi from April 28-May 1. The two sides during their talks on April 29 also agreed that the second meeting will take place in Phnom Penh in 2009. On their own countries’ situation and bilateral cooperation, they noted the development of the two countries’ friendship and comprehensive cooperation, bringing practical benefits to both countries’ national construction and development. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry delegation is led by Deputy Minister Pham Binh Minh, and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation delegation, by Secretary of State Long Visalo. They proudly spoke of their close ties, which contributed to the bilateral relations as well as to improving the two countries’ positions in the region and the world arena.
The two delegations agreed to intensify cooperation in exchanging information and experiences, setting up a hot line to deal with urgent problems, and training personnel. They also agreed to serve as links to foster cooperation agreements between ministries, agencies and localities, and coordinate in regional and international cooperation projects. The Cambodian delegation was received by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem on the same day. At the reception, Deputy PM Khiem stressed Vietnam and Cambodia need to exchange more high-level visits, and hold meetings between their ministries, agencies and mass organisations.
According to Deputy PM Khiem, these activities would help tighten the two countries’ friendship and create new changes in their trade and investment ties.

PM: Northeast region will become Cambodia’s fourth economic ‘pole’

Eng Chhay Eang, Secreatry-General of the Sam Rainsy Party.

By Neth Pheaktra
The Mekong Times

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that by 2015 the northeast of the country will become the nation’s fourth focal point for industry and commerce after traditional economic powerhouses Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. “The areas of Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri provinces and other parts of Kratie and Preah Vihear provinces will become the fourth economic ‘pole’,” he said yesterday during the inauguration of National Highway 7 and Sekong Bridge in Stung Treng province.
The vast potential of natural resources in the Kingdom will transform the livelihoods of the ethnic minorities currently living there, said the premier. “For example, hydroelectricity is not only able to supply power to local markets, but also neighboring countries,” he said. “The northeast region is rich of mine deposits which can be exploited …. This is also a big tourist destination for Cambodia.”
Kang Chandararoth, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies, said the establishment of the northeast regions as an economic “pole” would benefit the country’s economic development. “Many economic poles would balance the development; labor forces would not be concentrated at only one place,” he said. “If there is no distribution of the investment capital and labor forces, economic instability could occur and hinder development.” “The more economic poles that are formed, the better it is for the nation’s free market economy,” Kang Chandararoth continued, adding that it will offer more options to potential investors. However opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang voiced concern over making any hasty decisions to develop the region, requesting the government conduct an in-depth study first.
“Before turning any area into an economic pole, [we] have to make a proper study of the economic potential including impacts and profits from the development,” he said. “We [the SRP] are worried because in the past there were mostly negative environmental impacts and citizens when the government introduces developments … It made the people lose their land because the rich and powerful people took the opportunity to abuse the development project for their personal benefit,” said Eng Chhay Eang.
However, Hun Sen defended Cambodia’s past developments. “I can say that in [my] political life, I rarely do anything by accident. I always take internal and external factors into consideration.”

A way out of the impasse

Map showing Khmer lands lost to Thailand around Preah Vihear temple.

Anyone who has been to Preah Vihear, or Khao Phra Viharn in Thai, can attest to the breath-taking beauty of the ancient Khmer ruins atop the Dongrek Range on the Thai-Cambodian border. They might also feel the tension that seems to envelop the surroundings _ a result of the bitter wrangle over ownership of the 11th century temple. Thailand and Cambodia should realise that visitors to this sanctuary appreciate the first aspect, not the latter. And if they want ever more travellers from all over the world to appreciate this architectural wonder of Southeast Asia, the authorities have no choice but to strike a deal. This means they must stop quibbling and start searching seriously for a way to manage the sanctuary together.
This option of joint management should have been clear from the start, considering the location of the sanctuary atop a hill that sits right on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, with the more convenient access located on the Thai side. Still, what should have been an issue for amicable discussion became a problem to solve, when Cambodia unilaterally requested the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to register the temple as a World Heritage Site last year. Thailand is opposed to the proposal, as such a listing would include not just management of the temple site but the outer areas that serve as a buffer zone, which lie in disputed territory and which have still to be cleared of mines laid by the Khmer Rouge.
Cambodia has been pursuing the World Heritage status by itself and it is expected that its application will be accepted this year. Without a resolution on the territorial conflict, however, it looks like the new status will bring more problems and feelings of animosity to the ancient stone ruins. This would be a pity and defeat the whole purpose of having it recognised as a heritage of the world.
The only thing that is clear in this otherwise very complicated tussle over Preah Vihear is the ruling by the International Court of Justice that the sanctuary itself is under Cambodian sovereignty. This judgement has left some room for argument about the surrounding area, where demarcation between the two countries has not been settled. In fact, the entire 195km border in the Preah Vihear area remains in dispute. The optimistic estimate is that it will take slightly more than 10 years to settle the border issue. The pessimistic forecast predicts it will take forever, as the Thai and Cambodian authorities hold two different maps when they come to the negotiating table.
Considering the circumstances, it seems likely the pessimistic view will prevail. For that reason, both countries might as well leave the territorial dispute aside and take the time to work on a solution regarding the temple itself. In this light, it would be in their best interests _ and for Preah Vihear to receive the smooth, sustainable conservation and management it deserves _ to get the World Heritage status, while agreeing on some form of joint management of the overlapping areas. Neither country need concede any land area or agree on the demarcation line at this point. They only need to agree that since they cannot yet find a solution, they will therefore manage it together, with clear guidelines over which country would be responsible for which aspect of the management. Though the long-standing territorial dispute might not be solved, at the very least the long-overdue preservation and management of the much-admired ruins will be able to proceed.

Military Police Assault Protestors in Land Dispute

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
29 April 2008

Dozens of military policemen in Koh Kong province beat and arrested protesters seeking a redress in land-grab case, a rights worker and protesters said Tuesday.
At least 75 families have accused two businessmen of taking land, destroying crops and building houses in Chhuk village of Sre Ambel district, and villagers have torn down the two men’s houses in the dispute, a rights worker said. Military police “came to arrest us and then violence ensued, resulting in injuries to some protesters, the loss of jewelry and the arrest of one protester,” one witness told VOA Khmer by phone Tuesday. The villagers were on their way to Phnom Penh to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen for help, the witness said.
“The violence is a serious violation of human rights,” said In Kong Chet, an investigator with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Sam Samean, the military police commander for nearby Kompong Sila district, denied the assault accusations.
“We followed the law without opposition, and we did not beat or torture anyone, but there was a confrontation,” he said. Villagers have said 159 hectares are at stake in the land dispute, which has been ongoing since 2006, despite complaints to the prime minister, the Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly.

Group Seeks Education for All

By Nuch Sarita,
VOA Khmer Washington
29 April 2008

The Global Campaign for Education is gathering together members of the government, society and the community this month in an effort to help strengthen education programs for all.
The campaign is holding events between April 21 and April 30, as it seeks to put more students in school, facing an education system that has yet to recover from decades of civil strife.
“Children, most of them girls, are out of school,” said Vorn Samphors, chairman of the Global Campaign for Education and a program coordinator for the Inclusive Education for Disability Action Council.
“We plan to visit His Majesty the King with 50 children and adult learners,” said Vorn Samphors, a guest on Monday’s “Hello VOA.” “The purpose of the visit is to report on the progress that has been made towards achieving education-for-all goals and to request his support for inclusive and quality education for children with disabilities, children from poor families, from ethnic minorities, children who have suffered domestic violence, orphans, children with HIV/AIDS, street children and child laborers.”
More than 300 students from Phnom Penh universities organized “My Day for Education,” which was held Sunday at Olympic Stadium to held develop feelings of solidarity between students, teachers and the public.
On Tuesday, the campaign held a roundtable discussion with participants from the government as well as parent-teacher associations, aid groups and journalists.

Sam Rainsy Denies Apology to Minister

Hor Namhong (left) and Sam Rainsy (right)
By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
29 April 2008

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has declined to apologize to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong for remarks made earlier this month at a ceremony to remember the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh.
Sam Rainsy told reporters as he arrived from a two-week trip to the US Tuesday that he was not wrong.
Hor Namhong filed suit against Sam Rainsy earlier this month, claiming the opposition leader implicated him as a member of the Khmer Rouge at the Boeung Trabek detention camp, which operated during under the regime, in an April 17 public speech.
Hor Namhong could not be reached for comment Monday, but he has said he wants a public apology for the remarks. Sam Rainsy has so far not apologized.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Ouk Savuth confirmed Tuesday the courts had received the suit, but he declined to comment further.

Inflation Hits Cambodia

By Rory Bryne
Video Editor: Manilene Ek
29 April 2008

As in other developing countries from Egypt to Haiti, soaring inflation has recently emerged as a threat to Cambodia's hard won social stability. While wages have remained low, the price of rice and other staples have skyrocketed pushing millions deeper into poverty. While the Cambodian government says it is doing its best to curb the worst effects of inflation, opposition politicians say it is not doing enough. Rory Byrne reports for VOA from Phnom Penh and Yann Ker narrates in Khmer.
On the face of it, Cambodia's economy is doing well. Phnom Penh, the nation's capital, is undergoing a building boom, which is changing the face of the city. Expensive new cars fill the city's streets as a resurgent middle class has emerged to take advantage of new business opportunities. But while some are prospering, many of the country's poorest people are slipping deeper into poverty. The reason is inflation.
While the incomes of the poor have remained constant, the price of food and other staples have risen dramatically. Cambodia's annualized rate of food inflation hit 24 percent last month, the highest in almost a decade, and one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The price of staple goods has fluctuated week by week. Prices for pork, chicken, beef, and prahok - a pungent fish paste that is the main source of protein for millions of poor Cambodians - have all jumped.
Market Sellers: "Last month I sold a kilo of prahok for 60 cents but today it costs a dollar-50." "Last week I sold beef for a dollar-25, but today it costs two dollars." "One kilo of dried fish now costs six dollars. Last week it was five dollars."
The prices of non-food items -- such as gasoline and cooking gas -- have also increased, adding to the country's inflation woes. But it is the high cost of rice that is causing the most concern, according to the World Food Program, which feeds almost a million poor Cambodians.
Thomas Keusters, the WFP's Country Representative in Cambodia, says the high cost of rice on the world market has led many growers to export their crop, driving up the domestic cost of the grain.
Thomas Keusters: "There are not that many big exporters of rice so obviously those who are producing rice in this country see a benefit of seeing the rice going out of the country. Secondly, in general I think there has been an increase in the cost of producing rice, so by definition, people are producing, or selling rice more expensively."
He adds with money running out, the WFP is in danger of running out of its remaining rice reserves in a matter of weeks: Cambodia's rural poor, who make up over 80 percent of the population, are particularly at risk from inflation. Many are poor rice farmers who only grow enough rice to feed themselves and their families for half the year
For the rest of the year they rely on handouts from the WFP, or they harvest wild plants and fruits from the forest, which they sell to buy rice. High prices at the market mean that they cannot buy enough to feed their families. Chan Mom, 46, lives with her family in a small village in Kampong Speu province north of Phnom Penh.
Chan Mom: "I sell wild fruit and bamboo to make a living. That is all I can do. If there is no bamboo or fruit I have nothing. That's all I can do to stay alive. I don't have any cows or rice fields only this old house. Now it is very difficult for me to feed my family because the price of food and rice is increasing."
With a general election in July, inflation has become a highly politicized issue in Cambodia. Marchers in this recent demonstration organized by the main opposition party in Phnom Penh accused the government of not doing enough to curb soaring prices. Sam Rainsy is the leader of the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party.
Sam Rainsy: "We want the government to take appropriate measures to stop or to curb inflation. And we want the government to increase salaries for civil servants, wages for workers."
For its part, the government says it is doing what it can. On the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, rice exports have been banned for two months while tons of surplus rice were released onto the market at reduced prices.
A ban on pig imports was also lifted in a bid to lower pork prices.
While these measures have had some success, experts expect that, as in the rest of the world, prices here will continue to rise over the long term. And that - the World Food Program says - could have damaging long-term consequences.
Thomas Keusters: "A lot of people who are now on the verge of surviving are going to face even more difficulties to make ends meet and really survive. This is condemning possibly a whole lot of generations because people will not go to school, people will not go into productive activities, because they will really be constrained by their search for food."
Experts say that most poor rice farmers in Cambodia will run out of their remaining rice stocks by June at which point they will have to buy rice at the market. That means that the worst effects of high inflation on the poor may be yet to come.

Rights Group Blasts Prison Death

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
29 April 2008

The death of a Prey Sar prison inmate Monday has prompted calls for reform of health care in the prison system.
Yan Sokea, who was arrested in November last year over a land dispute in Preah Vihear province, died Monday in the Cambodia-Soviet Friendship Hospital, after falling ill at Prey Sar, in Phnom Penh.
Yan Sokea showed symptoms of a fever as an inmate but did not receive medical treatment, the rights group Adhoc said Tuesday.
His death should be a call for review of the health care in all of Cambodia’s prisons, the group said.
Ny Chakriya, Adhoc’s monitoring unit chief, said 24 prisoners and suspects died in 2007 due to illness.
Those who are detained in Cambodia’s prison system face a shortage of medicine and food, as the prisons do not have the budgets to properly care for them, he said. “And corruption occurs in the prison that affects the healthcare for suspects and prisoners.”
Heng Hak, director of Cambodia’s prisons, denied the accusations.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

CAMBODIA: Malaria on the decline due to concerted awareness efforts

29 April 2008

Source: IRIN

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

PHNOM PENH, 29 April 2008 (IRIN) - "Please sleep under the insecticide-treated nets," runs the message on a large banner erected for Malaria Day on 25 April. In Cambodia, that message is sinking in.
Malaria, one of the world's deadliest diseases, appears to be on the retreat in Cambodia as the number of infections and deaths due to the disease has decreased in recent years thanks to better health education and concerted efforts at mosquito net distribution and village-level treatment, officials said.
Duong Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said 100,000 malaria cases were reported in 2006, falling to 59,000 in 2007. Although the downward trend is believed to be continuing, data for the first three months of this year are not yet available.
"There were 396 deaths [from malaria] in 2006 and 241 deaths in 2007," Socheat said, "so it decreased from 2.81 percent to 1.68 percent for every 100,000 people. This is a real success."
Early intervention
Preventing malaria in its early stages and treating it rapidly is key to this success, according to health officials. Wide-scale distribution of insecticide-treated nets and providing awareness training to village volunteers on the frontlines in the battle against the disease have also been crucial.
Some 557,000 mosquito nets were distributed free in 2007, and in 2008, one million nets will be distributed to the most needy communities, Socheat said.
"Mosquito nets will reach [everyone] in 2010," he said. At present, only 54.2 percent of Cambodians have received them.
"Community-based participation is very crucial in combating malaria," Socheat said, adding that village health volunteers were trained to test blood for infection, make diagnoses and provide medication.
Awareness campaigns
For Malaria Day, provincial officials, villagers and students launched province-wide campaigns to raise awareness about the disease, he said. Such campaigns have been ongoing for some time: in 2004 a village health volunteers programme was launched and now reaches 100 villages in the provinces of Ratanakkiri, Kratie, Kampot and Koh kong.
Not only bed nets are distributed. People in remote areas who spend much of their time in forests foraging for food and hunting are most vulnerable to malaria. A discussion is under way about distributing hammocks that have treated nets attached for free or to sell them at extremely low prices.
Battambang Province provides an example of the successes and challenges in fighting malaria. Ouk Vithiea, communicable disease control unit manager in charge of malaria and dengue fever at Battambang's Provincial Health Department, said the province had experienced a significant decrease in malaria cases. Some 10,000 people in the province were infected in 2006, with 44 deaths, but in 2007 those figures dropped substantially to 600 cases with 25 deaths.
Vithiea said he remains concerned about those people living in forested areas of the province such as Samlot and Sampov Loun districts because they remain at high risk of contracting malaria.
In 2007, some 12,000 new mosquito nets were handed out to villagers and more than 20,000 nets were re-treated with insecticide, according to Vithiea. In 2008, an additional 20,000 nets will be distributed and 40,000 nets re-treated, he said, adding that new settlers and migrant workers in the forested areas of Battambang remained vulnerable and difficult to reach.
Keo Sokha, malaria programme officer for the NGO Partners for Development in Koh Kong province, which borders Thailand, told IRIN that education programmes and growing awareness of the malaria threat had been crucial in reducing infections. Malaria awareness campaigns had reached the schools, with third- to fifth-grade primary school students in Koh Kong province learning how to prevent and treat the deadly disease. "I think that education about malaria is one of the successful factors in fighting malaria," Sokha said.
© IRIN. All rights reserved.
More humanitarian news and analysis: http://www.IRINnews.org

Cambodia hopes to lead world rice exports

Tuesday April 29, 2008,
Cambodia is seeking to become one of the world's leading rice exporters, with the country's agriculture minister Chan Sarun (pictured) saying he hopes to produce enough rice to export some 8 million tonnes annually by 2015.
This follows an announcement by Thailand's Prime Minister that his country, the world's leading rice exporter, will not cut down on exports.
Fears of rice shortages have led to dramatic increases in the global price of rice.
Major producers and exporters like India, Vietnam and China have adopted protectionist measures by imposing limits on exports, further exacerbating the problem.
Although Cambodia remains one of Asia's poorest countries, the head of Cambodian centre for the study and development of Agriculture, Yang Saing Koma, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program the prospect of becoming a leading rice exporter is a distinct possibility.
"There is the potential to increase the rice production of Cambodia," he said.
"Of course, we still have big land areas and the rice productivity in Cambodia is still low in those areas, and there is still the potential to expand the cultivated area."
Cambodia's ambitions to increase exports follows Sunday's announcement by Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej that his country will not cut down on rice exports.
A spokesperson for the International Rice research Institute in the Philippines, Duncan Macintosh, welcomes the initiatives by both Governments, and says such moves could help quell the panic that has gripped the international rice market.
"Clearly both responses by Thailand and Cambodia to try help stabilise the market - they make good sense and seem to be very good decisions," he said.
"I think most governments in Asia are looking to calm things down, because there's every reason for the markets to be stable."

China donates 600,000 USD for de-mining operation in eastern Cambodia

China has donated 600,000 U.S. dollars for Cambodia to clean the mines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) along National Road No. 7 from Kratie province to Stung Treng province in the country's eastern part bordering Laos, said government official here on Tuesday. "The finance has helped the people avoid risking their lives," said Sun Chanthol, Minister of Public Works and Transportation, while attending the inauguration ceremony of the national road. The de-mining work was also an necessity for the safe construction of the road, which now links Cambodia and Laos, he said. The road can help improve the people's living conditions and expand the tourism areas in the eastern provinces, where much natural view of forestry, mountain range, lakes, waterfalls and tribal culture can be seen, he added. National Road No. 7 runs 186.648 kilometers and is connected with National Road N. 13 of Laos. The inauguration of National Road No. 7 is widely believed to be able to perfect the Asian road network and strengthen the economic relationship and development of the regional countries. Source: Xinhua

Cambodian shoots at rain and hits drinking buddy

Phnom Penh - Furious that it began raining when he was trying to drink, a Cambodian man shot at the offending rain cloud but missed, hitting his friend instead, local media reported Tuesday. Dy Sovannara and his drinking partner Hiem Vuthy were enjoying beers Monday evening in Phnom Penh when rain spoiled their evening, the Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper reported.
Sovannara, who claimed he was a soldier, borrowed a pistol from a nearby guard and shot into the air to "scare the rain away," but the gun misfired and the bullet hit Vuthy in the knee.
Luckily, the pair was carousing outside the city's largest hospital, allowing Vuthy to receive immediate treatment, and he was in stable condition, the newspaper reported.
Police were still seeking Sovannara, who immediately fled the scene, the daily said. Witnesses said the rain continued unabated.

Chinese company completes restoration of Cambodia's National Road No. 7

STUNG TRENG, Cambodia, April 29 (Xinhua) -- National Road No. 7in northeastern Cambodia totally opened Tuesday, after an over-three-year restoration work by the Shanghai Construction Group of China.
The 186.648-km-long road, running through Kratie and Stung Treng provinces and directly leading to Laos, was refurbished brand new, thanks to the interest-free loan provided by the Chinese government and its construction team.
"It is the latest achievement during the 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) told the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday at the end of the road bordering Laos.
The restoration of National Road No. 7 will help improve the economic development of northeastern provinces including Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, Hun Sen told the ceremony attended by hundreds of officials and local residents.
After it has enough infrastructures, the northeastern provinces of Cambodia will be a region of development from 2015 to 2020, he said, adding there are various mines here, which are a very important factor for investment.
It will also help advance the internal integration of the road network of the neighboring countries, especially the triangle are of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, he said
It is part of the road linkage for the ASEAN countries and also perfects Asian Highway No. 11, he added.
Also at the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jinfeng said that the Cambodian-Chinese friendship bore another fruit, as the road is renovated to provide convenience for the local people, upgrade the regional road network and help materialize China's will to consolidate ties with its neighboring country and strive for common development with them.
Later at the ceremony, Hun Sen presented National Construction Medals to Zhang, some Chinese experts and Cambodian government officials.
The restoration of National Road No. 7 started on Nov. 8, 2004.It has 13 bridges, including the 1,057-meter-long Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge over the Sekong River near the border with Laos.
Currently, China is still helping Cambodia build National Road No. 8 and two bridges respectively over the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap River.
Editor: Amber Yao

Cambodian PM wishes Beijing Olympics success

STUNG TRENG, Cambodia, April 29 (Xinhua) -- China will succeed in organizing the Beijing Olympic Games and Cambodia conveys its best wishes for China, Cambodian Prime minister Hun Sen (pictured) said here on Tuesday while inaugurating National Road No. 7.
"We all will watch and follow the sport activities of the game event in China," he said.
As a measure of support, all the government officials will be banned from gambling over the Beijing Olympics, he added.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni will attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing in August and the government will also send a 10-member delegation to attend its activities.

Prisoner Yan Kok Kea died due to lack of treatment

CAMBODIAN HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION No: 3, St 158 Oukghna Toeung Kang, Beng Raing Daun Penh P.P Tel: (855-23) 218653 & 990544 Fax: (855-23) 217229 P.O. Box: 1024 P.O. Box 20 at CCC E-mail : adhoc@forum.org.kh Web: http://www.adhoc-chra.org/

Public Statement

Shortage of Health Treatment for Prisoner and Delayed until Yan Sok Kea die

The Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) strongly condemn about shortage of health treatment for a suspect Yan Sok Kea becoming seriously ill and also condemn about medical doctor's delay and negligence which led Yan Sok Kea to die fatefully.
Yan Sok Kea was innocent, arrested by theory of not mistake of police, he was indicted of “destruction of nature”by Phnom Penh court which processes until now this case is not yet rightfully investigated. Yan Sok Kea is healthy when he was arrested by police then he was sent from Preahvihear province on November 14, 2008 for temporary detention in the correction center 1 “Preysar ” where he had got high fever for several days without treatment until he become unconscious and his limb become unmovable then he was sent lately to Preah Monivong hospital. Yan Sok Kea is hospitalized in Preahmonivong from April 12, 2008 until April 24, 2008 when medical doctor was negligent, not carefully and treat in risk without medical consultationbut in contrast doctor muttered about lack of medicine, no budget, no modern medical tool; doctor did to take action to save life of Yan Sok Kea and delayed until he die momentously without treatment likely to life of animal.
Even if there are several times of intervention by Human Rights Organizations but procedure and style of bureaucracy in transfer Yan Sok Kea to modern hospital is so late that is lead Yan Sok Kea to die in Hospital of Cambodia-Russia friendship on April 28, 2008 without awareness of result of consultation.
ADHOC insist to Government to pay more attention again to examine thoroughly in treatment of prisoner’s health and medical service of patient in hospital in avoid of allowing patient as Yan Sok Kea die hazardously anymore, likely to life of animal without treatment following the United Nations Rule of Minimum Standard for treatment of Prisoner. Furthermore ADHOC urge to Government to penalize all involved officials who make prisoner died and especially ADHOC request for all level of court have to investigate rightfully before imprisonment and make human life considered as in vain without responsibility in duty.

Phnom Penh on April 28, 2008

Further information please contact to:
-Mr. Chakrya Ny, Head of monitoring ADHOC
H.P : 011 27 49 59
-Mr. Soveth Chan, Human Rights Officer ADHOC
H.P : 016 93 75 91

Hun Sen: Sdech Korn or Sdech Kon, A Clownish Theatrical King Who Could Topple the Monarchy One Day

“By constantly comparing himself to Sdech Korn, a usurper who assassinated the king and enthroned himself, Mr. Hun Sen has put all members of the royal family, and especially the monarchy, on notice that he could be that modern day Sdech Korn. And Hun Sen’s bitter rivalry with Prince Ranariddh has made that scenario a real possibility.”
Editorial by Khmerization: - The not so sweet, and sometimes bitter political exchanges, between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, once political bedfellows, has seen their on-again, off-again political relationships evolved into a royal-bashing. Hun Sen and Ranariddh have, once, enjoyed a short but turbulent political relationship. Their political union, as they were unlikely political bedfellows from the start, has led to a bloody street fighting which led to irreversible political competition until today. And that competition had led to a political and personal rivalry which has become an issue of Mr. Hun Sen versus all members of the royal family and, ultimately, it has pitted Mr. Hun Sen against the monarchy.(Read Hun Sen’s speech attacking the monarchy).
By constantly comparing himself to Sdech Korn, a usurper who assassinated the king and enthroned himself, Mr. Hun Sen has put all members of the royal family, and especially the monarchy, on notice that he could be that modern day Sdech Korn. And Hun Sen’s bitter rivalry with Prince Ranariddh has made that scenario a real possibility.
Up until today, the personal dispute of these two, if anything at all, have become a national distraction that no one wants to see. It has become so bitter that Prime Minister Hun Sen has devoted all his energy, paid time and state resources, the likes of national TV’s and Radio’s, to vehemently and constantly attacking his princely nemesis.
The political and personal bickering between these two clowns, one an autocratic strongman of peasant origin and the other is a princely lame duck politician, has put national reconciliation at risks and created conditions not conducive to the holding of a free and fair election. If he wanted to be hailed as a true winner, Mr Hun Sen must compete with an equal footing. He must allow, not just Prince Ranariddh, but all Khmer citizens, to participate in the election process without prejudices.
The Hun Sen-Ranariddh animosity derived from a trivial personal and political differences between an egotistical person with an arrogant attitude and a bully personality and a princely political leader who need to be led. Their argument is childish and is a non-issue. Their bickering has done nothing to advance anyone’s interests. And therefore, Mr. Hun Sen should stop. Instead, he should devote his full energy, paid time and state resources to solve the problems facing the nation and today’s voters, and that is to curb the high costs of living and the soaring prices of goods and the issue of Cambodia’s territorial integrity.
This bitter war of words, if not restrained, can cause a political instability and lead to an unstable government and, to a certain extent, the throne. And that will be a bad premonition for Cambodia. History has shown that the destabilisation of the government and the throne had led to devastating consequences which brought wars and misery. Cambodia had enough of these and I appeal to both of them, Prime Minister Hun Sen in particular, to stop the bickering.
And for the sake of the nation, the people, peace and political stability, to both of them, I say: Enough is enough. Enough of blood and tears. //

Hun Sen: Some People Said That I Am A Reincarnation of Sdech Korn* Because I Dare To Put A Prince In Jail

Hun Sen (left) and Ranariddh (right) whose on-again, off-again political relationships have caused ongoing bitter personal attacks and rivalry among themselves.

The Koh Santepheap Daily
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Prime Minister Hun Sen declared that “some people said that Hun Sen is a reincarnation of Sdech Korn (King Korn), because since his time until now only Hun Sen alone dares to put a prince in jail.”
Mr Hun Sen made this speech in the morning of 27th April at the Cambodian People’s Party headquarter during the commemoration of the 122nd International Labor Day with the gathering of about 7,000 factory workers, union and party members.
Mr Hun Sen said that someone wanted to kill him but he added that he was not scared of this attempt on his life. He said that he had enough evidence and witnesses, including the interception of Prince Norodom Sirivudh’s phone conversations and they were presented to the then King Sihanouk. He ordered the arrest of the prince and sent him to T3 Prison, but a few hours later the king requested for him to be transferred to the Ministry of Interior‘s detention.
Mr. Hun Sen said: “from 1993 to 1995 there were numerous people who used a female form of the word ‘yes’ (referring to princes who usually use a female form of the word ‘chah’ to answer ‘yes‘) and that anyone was a prince. These people, if I don’t suppress them they will become unruly and they will take anyone’s wife as they wish. I respect the members of the royal family but some princes are not respectable. They need to be pounded because they are insolent and they look down on the people. For me, in a meeting of the Council of Ministers or in the National Assembly, whoever wanted or not wanted to use the honorific title of ‘your royal highness’ I don’t mind, but I will not use it”.
As for a royal form of address of “Toul Bongkum” which is a word that the ordinary people used as the word “I” to address the members of the royal family, Mr Hun Sen said: “the origin of the word ‘toul bongkum’ came from the word ‘toul bongkun’ (to carry a toilet on one’s head). We are the same human being, why should we carry a toilet on our head for them?…. I can use this word for the king, but for the princes, whoever wanted to use it they can, I will not forbid them (but I will not use it).”
In relation to the assassination of Sdech Korn (King Korn in Khmer) Mr Hun Sen criticised the king’s sycophants who wanted to please the king so they predicted that a person who was born in the Year of Dragon wanted to usurp and this prediction led the king to devise a plan to kill Sdech Korn.
Mr Hun Sen said: “It was only an assassination plan and a dream only but it was painful enough (for Sdech Korn to murder the king), that was Sdech Korn, if it was Hun Sen I would have done much worse. Sdech Korn took from 1506-1512 to win, but Hun Sen only need 4 hours at this modern time. It was not in the time when we still use arrows to fight a war. This is a time when we use BM 21 weapons to fight a war to settle the scores, so don’t be so insolent. I don’t want to play with these kinds of games. He doesn’t know how Hun Sen is. When he (Prince Ranariddh) resigned as Chairman of the National Assmebly he wanted to change his mind and asked Hun Sen and Samdech Chea Sim to help him, but it was too late and after I consulted Samdech Chea Sim and Mr. Say Chhum, they signed a decree appointing Samdech Heng Samrin as the Chairman and Mr. Nguon Nhel as First Deputy Chairman and we let Funcinpec Party choose the Second Deputy Chairman. This is what we called ‘ a disappointed person who wanted to resign, but when we let him resign he wanted to come back, but is was too late!’”
Mr. Hun Sen said that he did not believe it as a true story that a minister in the coalition government has to agree to let his wife sleep with the party president in order for him to get appointed as a minister in the coalition government. He sad: “That’s why all the innocent Funcinpec officials have defected to the Cambodian People’s Party, from senior ministers down to ministers, secretaries of state and under-secretaries of state. There is in one ministry, the Ministry of Women Affairs, all Funcinpec appointees have all defected to the CPP, except one person. And in the Ministry of Finance, all have defected.” //

Note: King Korn, or Sdech Korn in Khmer, who, like Hun Sen, was of a poor background who became a trusted military commander of the king. According to history, he usurped and assassinated the king and declared himself king. Hun Sen often likened himself to Sdech Korn because he came from a peasant background who rose to become the most powerful Cambodian prime minister ever and was the only person who dared to arrest a prince (Prince Sirivudh in 1995) and put him in jail and, since the re-establishment of the monarchy in 1993, he has constantly reminded the royal family that the continued existence of the monarch is at his mercy.

Orwell's Here in 2008

V. Anantha Nageswaran

There is inflation in everything. Yes, even in the choices available to a columnist who has to write something every week. I mulled over suggesting to Cambodian schoolchildren that they should charge Ben Bernanke, chairman of the American Federal Reserve Board, in the International Court of Justice for depriving them of their free breakfast. The World Food Programme (WFP) cut off rice deliveries to 1,344 Cambodian schools last month after prices doubled and suppliers defaulted on contracts. Schools will run out of food by 1 May, depriving about 450,000 children of meals, WFP estimates. But it appeared more interesting to explain that their policies may be more the result of believing their own disinformation than anything else.
Yes, America’s decision makers have continued to delude themselves that inflation — as measured by their dubious approaches — was contained just as they thought that the subprime mortgage crisis would itself be contained. Their support to Wall Street institutions, supported by their comrades in China, has extracted a global inflation price.
We were wrong to believe that democracies were mostly exempt from the ills of disinformation that authoritarian societies are prone to. “Weapons of mass destruction” should have sharpened our sceptical instincts. False prosperity, instead, dulled them. But disinformation is persistent and growing stronger.
On Thursday, the US released the somewhat arcane monthly durable goods orders statistics. It refers to orders received by manufacturers of durable goods — consumer and manufacturing. On the same day, data on sale of new homes in the US was released, too. That was a dismal report. Sale of new homes was worse than expected and was at its weakest in 17 years. In contrast, orders for durable goods were seemingly better than expected. Details that revealed growing inventories and reduced capital spending were ignored.
What happened then was fascinating. Major newswire services and newspapers chose to highlight the apparently better reading on durable goods orders and either soft-pedalled or ignored the terrible new home sales data. It was too much of a coincidence for most news services to do so. “Hear no truth, speak no truth” is now intrinsic to the era of embedded journalism. The consequence of this would be to bear out the bears on the American economy.
If American stocks enjoyed the benefit of the “Greenspan put” and subsequently the “Bernanke put”, then China’s stock investors are beginning to appreciate the value of the “Wen put”. The Chinese government is working overtime to put a floor under its domestic stock market. Not a day passes without announcements meant to boost the stock market — whether it is restriction on sale of blocked shares, on new share offerings or reduction of stamp duty on stock market transactions. In true authoritarian tradition, they believe that they are the puppet masters who can keep growth up, inflation down, asset prices up and the renminbi down.
All the talk that China is allowing an accelerated appreciation of the yuan is just that. The central bank has quietly allowed the currency to weaken against the US dollar in response to the recent dollar stabilization. It appears that, for China, rebalancing is just a matter minding the bilateral dollar-yuan exchange rate and to ignore the rest. On a trade-weighted basis, the nominal exchange rate of the Chinese yuan has barely moved up against all other currencies since October 2006. Dissembling is universal in a globalized world. China’s inflation problem would be here to stay.
Indian readers tempted to chuckle at this evolution of America into a “People’s Republic of America” and China into a “United States of China” should hold back. The Indian government is trying to address inflation through export caps, threats and other administrative measures while pursuing fiscal expansion, administrative expenditure and lower interest rates for home loans. There would be no dearth of examples of injurious policymaking, if we examine further.
Policymaking is now routinely made a slave to the fate of political parties and narrow interest groups
Let us be clear on one thing. Governments, when faced with extreme instances of threat to sovereignty and integrity, are allowed to deviate from established norms of accountability. Such instances are effective if they are rare and if they pass a stiffer burden of proof. Instead, policymaking is now routinely made a slave to the fate of political parties and narrow interest groups.
History’s verdict on the ultimate effectiveness of such practices is unambiguous and overwhelming. They end up achieving nothing, not even the selfish objectives that motivated them in the first place.
The reaction of investors to these developments has the stamp of indifference and complacency—attitudes that prevailed for the better part of the last two years. Nothing, it appears, has been learnt. They have bought stocks, bid up the dollar and risky assets almost everywhere, including Indian stocks. Further, they have also sold down precious metals. Forgetting the lessons of history condemns investors to relive them.

V. Anantha Nageswaran is head, investment research, Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd in Singapore. These are his personal views and do not represent those of his employer. Your comments are welcome at baretalk@livemint.com

Party Registration Begins; Few Takers So Far

Election workers carrying electoral box.

By Seng Ratana,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
28 April 2008

The National Election Committee opened the registration process for political parties Monday, but only the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has so far signed up.
The 15-day registration period should see each party register its candidates for parliament, said NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha.
Only political parties that have been recognized by the Ministry of Interior can register, he said, and registration will require the filing of internal party rules and a deposit of 15 million riel in the national bank. The Ministry of Interior has said 45 political parties have been approved so far, up from 23 parties in the 2003 election.
The NEC estimates that only 20 parties will actually participate in this year’s election.
While the CPP has already sent its documents to the NEC, officials from the three other leading parties, Sam Rainsy, Human Rights, and Funcinpec, said they still had some documentation to complete.

Workers Eye Opposition: Survey

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
28 April 2008

The Cambodian Center for Labor Rights organized a meeting Sunday, bringing together representatives of five construction worker unions and three garment factory unions in one restaurant.
The meeting, on “worker decisions on politics,” gathered the political expectations of more than 4,000 workers, many of whom say they would vote for the opposition if it were able to meet their needs.
The unions sent official letters last week to the four main political parties—the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, coalition partner Funcinpec, opposition Sam Rainsy Party and competing Human Rights Party.
The letter was a political questionnaire, asking how each party would approach worker issues, such us minimum monthly salaries for construction workers, who currently are paid day wages.
The unions informed party officials they would vote for the party that best met their needs.
So far, only the Sam Rainsy party has responded, said Rath Rothmony, president of the Cambodian Center for Labor Rights.
“We held a discussion yesterday, in which 54 of 56 leaders, representing more than 4,000 workers, voted for the Sam Rainsy Party in a secret ballot,” he said. “This is our survey in accordance with democracy.”
But with more than 400,000 workers in Cambodia, 4,000 is a small number, said Nguon Nhel, CPP first vice president of the National Assembly.
“Usually, the political rival is looking for many kinds of ways to degrade the reputation of the ruling party, or any political party, to bring its popularity up,” he said.
Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha said the announcement of Sam Rainsy support affected the freedom and neutrality of unions.

Authorities Tear Up CPP Banner: Protestors

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Phnom Penh
28 April 2008

At least five copies of Cambodian People’s Party pictures were torn up Monday morning in Battambang province, following a protest over land, witnesses said.
About 100 land-dispute protestors were holding banners depicting the CPP leadership—Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin—when police stopped them and ripped up the banners, witnesses said.
Long Som, governor of Moung Russey district, where the incident reportedly took place, denied authorities had ripped up the banners, but said instead they had confiscated them.
Villagers are protesting the arrest of six people, on charges related to the clear-cutting of land that Agriculture Ministry officials should belong to its fisheries department.
Villagers say they need the land, and fisheries officials said this week they were considering the needs of the people, but they were not judges and could not release the accused.

Embassy Plans Wine Tasting for Mine Clearing

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
28 April 2008
For details about the auction visit here:http://www.rotaract7620.org/.

On the evening of May 9, 2008, several Rotaract Clubs in Rotary International District 7620 will be hosting a Wine Tasting & Auction Event for Cambodian demining Efforts at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Washington, DC.

“I expect to have 250 people to join the event. I have offered the Embassy as the venue for the event, and I’ll also provide Cambodian food and Cambodian Classical dance,” said Ambassador Sereywath Ek.

The funds donated through the cost of admission, wine tasting and auction will go towards The Halo Trust Foundation to raise much-need funds to remove landmines from three villages in the Northwestern Region of Cambodia along the K-5 Mine Belt.

“Halo Trust is a non-political, non-religious NGO and is the world’s largest
humanitarian landmine clearance organization, which specializes in the
removal of the debris of war,” said Kurt Chesko of Halo Trust. “It was founded in Afghanistan in 1988 and moved to Cambodia in 1991 and first partnered with Rotary International to remove landmines from Cambodia in 2001 and the State Department in 2005.”

Halo has over 1,200 demining staff working in the province of Banteay
Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Battambang, Preah Vihear and Pailin.
Halo Cambodia is currently funded by the governments of Finland, Great
Britain, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, and the USA.

“These are some of the poorest people in the world and literally they’re
living in minefields, collecting firewood in minefields. They’re
planting the field in minefields, children are walking through minefields
to go to school, people are walking through minefields to get access to
water, so it is an urgent situation in northwestern Cambodia; this is
where most of the country’s accidents are happening, and it’s just
crucial that Halo and other organizations get these mines out of the area
quickly as possible,” Chesko added.

Approximately 18 Rotary Clubs are now involved in the mine removal
effort in northwestern Cambodia.

The US State Department matched $1 for $1 for past efforts. Rotary International has more than 1.2 million members who volunteer their time and their talent to provide humanitarian service, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

“People were living either right next to landmines or the houses were built on the top of landmines,” said Brendan Adams, Rotaract Executive Director for the District 7620 Rotary Project for Mine Action in Cambodia.we want to do something to make a world of difference and give these people opportunity to live on their lives,”

Over 63,000 mine and UXO casualties have been recorded since 1979. Cambodia has more than 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio per capita of any
country. Most of these casualties occurred around the villages of provinces bordering Thailand.

UN Insists Tribunal Strengthen Management

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
25 April 2008

The UNDP called on Khmer Rouge tribunal administrators Friday to improve some of their operations in order for the courts to continue to meet international standards, but said a recent review had found some improvements.

A UNDP-sponsored review in February made “positive findings,” said Cambodia’s UNDP director, Jo Scheuer, said at a Press conference Friday. “The special review team noted significant improvement in all of these areas and there is no recent allegation of mismanagement in the ECCC.”

But that did not mean the management system of the courts was now perfect, he said.

The independent Open Society Justice Initiative said in 2006 the courts were facing allegations of corruption.

The corruption allegations and previous findings of poor management practices are important because donor countries like the US say the tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, must meet international standards before more money is promised.

“There is a need for continued capacity development support to the ECCC, [so that] systems are further strengthened in order to continue to meet international standards,” Scheuer, said Friday, referring to the tribunal by its official acronym.

“The report also identifies some areas that need to be further strengthened, such as in goal setting and performance evaluation, in the conduct of job interviews, job classification and the definition of appropriate minimum qualifications for recruited positions,” he said.

The tribunal’s administrative director, Sean Visoth, said at the press conference the tribunal was “capable and committed.”

“I am not satisfied with the results of this review,” he said. “But I was always confident to say [the courts were] maybe not perfect, maybe not the best possible, but capable and committed.”

As administrative director, he had never “resisted nor rejected” proposals to address shortcomings in the courts.

“The ECCC has suffered considerable damage, including to the morale of the staff, on this issue, over the past eighteen months, following certain broad-brush allegations that were raised in late 2006 and early 2007,” he said. “These included recruitment of unqualified staff, excessive salaries and supposed kickback by judges and other officials for appointment at the ECCC.”

Cambodian judges have strongly denied they pay kickbacks in order to sit in the courts.