A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The planting of border pillars along Khmer-Vietnamese borders delayed until 2012

The inauguration of one of the border pillars along the Cambodian-Vietnamese borders.

Reaksmei Kampuchea newspaper
29th December, 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Mr. Nguyen Chien Thanh, Vietnamese ambassador to Cambodia, said that both Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed that the plantings of all border pillars along the Khmer-Vietnamese borders will be completed in 2012.

Initially, the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments agreed that the plantings of the border pillars along the Khmer-Vietnamese borders will be completed in 3 years, starting from 2006. The plantings of the border pillars have been agreed by PM Hun Sen and the Vietnamese prime minister , following the signing of the supplemental agreements in October, 2005, which were the additional agreements on the controversial 1985 Cambodian-Vietnamese demarcation border treaty.

The issues of the border demarcations were raised during a meeting between Mr. Chheang Vun, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and international co-operation (5th Committee) and Mr. Nguyen Chien Thanh, Vietnamese ambassador to Cambodia, on the afternoon of 25th December in the Cambodian parliament house.

In front of the 5th parliamentary committee chairman, Mr. Nguyen Chien Thanh said that the teams of the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Committee had had excellent relations with each other during the demarcation works and during the plantings of the border pillars in the past. But the implementations of the border pillar-plantings met some obstacles which required further delay until 2012.

Cambodia and Vietnam need to plant 370 border pillars along their 1270 kilometre-long borders. The Cambodian-Vietnamese border pillars are made from granites that cost 15 million dollars which Vietnam undertook to incur all the costs.

On 27th September, 2006, the Bavet- Moc Bai International Checkpoint in Svay Rieng province has been officially inaugurated by the Cambodian and Vietnamese prime ministers. This inauguration was the starting point of the demarcation works in other areas. In 2007, 4 border pillars have been planted at 4 international checkpoints among the 7 international border checkpoints along the two country’s borders needed to be planted, with the plantings of 100 other border pillars in other areas.

In regard to the delay, Mr. Var Kim Hong, chairman of Cambodian Border Committee, said that this is so because the technical teams from both countries need to survey the situations on the grounds first before signing an agreement to accept the locations of the pillars. He said that, in order to plant any border pillars, the technical teams of both countries need to survey the areas by using proper equipments including GPS (global positioning system) to determine the exact locations of the border pillars before they can start planting them.

New Thai foreign minister urges talks with Cambodia

Saffron-robed Thai monks walk through the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian side of the border with Thailand. Arguments over who owns the ancient ruins in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation continue to dog relations with its larger neighbour even after a ruling by the International Court in 1962 which handed Preah Vihear to Cambodia.

Saffron-robed Thai monks walk through the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian side of the border with Thailand. Arguments over who owns the ancient ruins in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation continue to dog relations with its larger neighbour even after a ruling by the International Court in 1962 which handed Preah Vihear to Cambodia.

The new Thai foreign minister has called on his Cambodian counterpart to organise border talks.

Kasit Piromya, appointed by new Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has told Hor Namhong by phone that he will visit Cambodia to discuss an ongoing border dispute.

The two neighbours have been at odds over territory near the Preah Vihear temple, a 900-year-old Khmer temple.

Troops from Cambodia and Thailand clashed on October 15 on disputed land on the border, leaving four people dead.

Hor Namhong says the Thai Foreign Minister also called to convey his best wishes for the new year.

Cambodia Muslims Enjoy Inclusion

By IslamOnline.net & Newspapers


"We consider this country as our own," Osman, who wrote two books on Muslims in Cambodia, affirms.

CAIRO — Deep-rooted connections of shared history and a longtime atmosphere of tolerance make Muslims in the small Buddhist Kingdom of Cambodia feel part and parcel of their country.

"We consider this country as our own," Osman Ysa, a Cambodian Muslim author and researcher, told the Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday, December 30.

In Cambodia, the Muslim minority enjoys a spirit of harmony and coexistence.

In villages and cities across the Southeast Asian nation, Muslims and non-Muslims have long lived side by side in unity.

"I've been living with Muslim neighbors since I was young," says resident Ouk Ros.

"When there's a marriage, we join together in the party."

Furthermore, government initiatives have helped fostering tolerance for Muslims in Cambodia, observers affirm.

The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has built large mosques and provided free radio airtime for Muslim-oriented programs.

Just this year, the government allowed Muslim students to wear Islamic attire, including hijab -- an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women.

Muslims also enjoy political say as there are about a dozen Muslims serving in top political offices from the Senate to the Commune Councils. Premier Sen has his own advisor on Muslim affairs.

As a result, and unlike the trend in many neighboring countries, Muslims' existence in Cambodia is not marred by independence ambitions, experts say.

"We don't have any separate lands, and we don't want any separate lands," said Osman, the author of two books on Muslims in Cambodia.

There are estimated 700,000 Muslims in Cambodia, making up 5 percent of the country's 13 million population.

The majority of Cambodian Muslims belong to the ethnic group known as Cham– a reference to an ancient empire of warriors.


"We are very disappointed by Al Qaeda because God tells: 'Don't kill people,'" Yousuf, a Muslim village elder, says.

For Cambodia Muslims, the unique history they share with their non-Muslim compatriots protects them from being penetrated by radicals.

"The Khmer Rouge look liked Al Qaeda," says Sley Ry, the director of religious education at the Cambodian Islamic center, the country's largest Islamic school, located near the capital Phnom Penh.

When the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge movement seized power in 1975, they outlawed religion and discriminated against the Muslim population.

By 1979, when the Khmer Rouge fell, about 500,000 Muslims had been killed.

As a result, Cambodia Muslims affirm that the violent ideologies of groups like Al-Qaeda could hardly win the hearts and minds of their minority.

"We are very disappointed by Al Qaeda because God tells: 'Don't kill people,'" says Yousuf Bin Abetalip, an elder of Choy Changua, a village just outside Phnom Penh, where about 300 Muslim families live.

"We've already suffered a lot."

Cambodia-English interest in new pork project

Senator Mong Retthy talks to reporters.


The joint venture between Cambodian pig processors and pig producers from Yorkshire in England, are going to build a US$4 million pork processing plant and abattoir.

The government assisted scheme, plans to process 10,000 pigs per day and they are investing US$5 million in breeding stock from the United Kingdom.

The British bloodlines, will enable the pigs to be slaughtered at 10 kilos per pig heavier, while the age and food intake will be the same as the current production.

Cambodian Senator Mong Retthy, said, "this is an initiative aimed at revolutionizing the pork industry in Cambodia", at a press conference.

Science from the Bottom of the Food Chain

The rare black-shanked Douc have just been in Cambodia.
Christina Pince: Ph.D. candidate, UW

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New Species Galore!

Over the past ten years, over one thousand new species have been discovered in the "treasure trove" of diversity that is the Greater Mekong region. This is the area in SE Asia that includes parts of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. It encompasses many different habitats but is mostly straight up Asian tropics, which is not surprising considering that globally, tropical regions sport the greatest species diversity. Scientists have been trying to figure that one out for years and it's still a topic of debate.

In any case, highlights from the Mekong include a poisonous pink millipede that produces cyanide, a new kind of green pit viper with yellow eyes, a new species of striped rabbit, a color changing frog, a frog with green blood and blue bones, and a species of rat that scientists thought had gone extinct over 11 million years ago!

Check out photos of these guys at the World Wildlife Fund website. Just click here!

Posted by Christina Pince at December 30, 2008

Students put school motto into practice


A GROUP of 18 high school students from Georgiana Mooloy Anglican School travelled to Cambodia last month where they put the school’s motto, ‘rejoice in Service’, into practice.

The students, from Years 10, 11, and 12, spent 10 days in Cambodia visiting orphanages and building homes for Cambodian people in support of the Tabitha Foundation. The Tabitha Foundation is a community development program that aims to break the cycle of poverty in rural areas by helping poor people build homes, set up income-generating small businesses and purchase land.

In all, the students built 12 homes. They also raised the funds needed to build each house, and at $1200 per home, this was a massive effort. In total the group raised $24,000 through sausage sizzles, chocolate sales and a quiz night. They also approached organisations for corporate sponsors and were able to fund an entire house from sizable donations received from three local organisations – Escape Day Spas, Total Horticultural Services, and Naturaliste Medical Group – The Travel Clinic.

The trip provided a valuable opportunity for cultural exchange and the students formed some very strong relationships with local people – especially the children. They visited two orphanages, one for infants run by the Sisters of Charity and the other for older children, run by Awareness Cambodia.

The students took gifts for the orphans and spent time playing with them. Teacher Tim Russell who accompanied the group said that “we all found a connection and attachment to the land and people of Cambodia far more quickly than we could have believed possible”.

The students worked solidly for two days building homes and took part in the special ceremony at the handover of each house. “We were honoured to have been invited into their communities,” Tim said.

“We were sent off with a warmth and gratitude that we didn’t feel we deserved, given the generous and open nature of those we had worked with and who had so little, but were so very grateful.”

The trip was a real “eye-opener” for the students and the adults accompanying them. They were struck by the high traffic volumes and lack of traffic regulations and by the contrast between poverty and extreme opulence. They also visited the Genocide museum and the Killing Fields and learnt about the Khmer Rouge and how the Cambodian people suffered at the hands of dictator Pol Pot.

The students got an opportunity to do some touring through Cambodia and they visited some of the most historical sites of the ancient Khmer Empire. They had fun shopping at markets and at a special dinner, at least half the group savoured the local specialty – deep fried tarantula.

The group left on the trip with the intention of helping others. However, they returned home feeling that it was they who had been blessed by the Cambodian people they met.

Sar Kheng upbraids police for corruption

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Phnom Penh Post

INTERIOR Minister Sar Kheng (pictured) lashed out at his subordinates, accusing them of mismanagement and corruption in a speech last week.

Sar Kheng told about 300 police officers on Friday that funds earmarked for salaries were being siphoned by corrupt and incompetent officials.

"[Corruption] is a serious mistake and means they are stealing from the ministry and stealing official salaries by enlarging the budget. These mistakes will not be tolerated," Sar Kheng said.

Cambodia ranks near the bottom of corruption watchdog Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, at 166 out of 180 countries.

Sar Kheng, who is also a deputy prime minister, lambasted corruption in procurement of uniforms, petrol and rice. He called on all levels of the police financial department to reduce unnecessary spending on electricity, water and building upkeep.

"These were issues the ministry has to be concerned about. We have to reform financial management for 2009," Sar Kheng said.

"When we get the budget under control, the ministry will be able to increase salaries for police officers."

He also announced reforms in the ministry's rice distribution scheme that gave police officers bags of rice on top of their salaries.

The new system would provide 2,800 riel for each kilogram of rice given under the old system. A local police official speaking on condition of anonymity said officers receive between 10 and 20 kilograms of rice on top of the current salary of between $45 and $55 per month, depending on rank.

70 pc of Soviet-era debt will be forgiven, says CPP lawmaker

Mr. Cheam Yeap.

Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Phnom Penh Post

After previous denials from the Russian govt, a Cambodian lawmaker says most of the US$1.5 billion Cold War debt will be scratched


The Cambodian government has amassed US$2.37 billion in foreign debt since the 1970s. A whopping 63 percent of this is owed to Russia due to loans in the 1980s when the Soviet Union was a major benefactor to Cambodia.

A SENIOR Cambodian People's Party lawmaker insisted Monday that Russia will cancel 70 percent of debt it is owed by Cambodia, potentially reducing to a third what the country owes to foreign nations.

Lawmakers across party lines also pressed the government to reduce foreign debt and focus on obtaining aid with no strings attached.

According to Ministry of Economy and Finance figures, Cambodia owes more than US$2 billion to foreign countries, which is equivalent to 23 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Cambodia owes $1.5 billion to Russia, which loaned the money during the 1980s when Cambodia was under the Soviet sphere of influence.

Yim Sovann, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, said Cambodia will soon be unable to obtain foreign loans from any country if Russia does not eliminate the debt.

The debt rate will increase ... and Cambodia will not be able to ask for any ... loans .

"The debt rate will increase to the maximum rate, and Cambodia will not be able to ask for any more loans," Yim Sovann said.

Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Committee of Finance, Banking and Audits, assured lawmakers on Monday that Russia will cut 70 percent of Cambodia's debt, but he said in the unlikely event that it did not, Cambodia would still be in good shape financially.

"If Russia does not eliminate our debt, Cambodia will continue to repay it and will still be able to ask for additional loans from other countries," he said.

In early December, the Russian Finance Ministry denied reports that it had decided to eliminate most of Cambodia's debt to the country.

On December 9, the head of Moscow's International Financial Relations Department told the Russian media: "The talks are under way. The debt exists and should be settled ... but we have not signed a bilateral agreement."

A real plan
You Hockry, a Norodom Ranariddh Party lawmaker, demanded at the National Assembly that the government develop a plan to reduce foreign debt that does not rely on Russia's whims. "We will have to confront the fact that no foreign nations will be willing to loan to us in the future," he warned.

"I appreciate that the government can still collect foreign loans, but the aid that the Khmer people really welcome is nonrefundable," You Hockry said.

Ouk Rabun, a secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, confirmed that Cambodia is shifting its attention to acquiring aid.

"Cambodia will stop asking for loans in the future," he said. "Since 2005, our tendency has been to focus more on foreign aid than on loans."

"Most countries are happy to provide aid if they know Cambodia is capable of implementing its projects," Ouk Rabun said.

Nonetheless, Ouk Rabun said that Cambodia will still ask for about $200 million in foreign loans this year to develop infrastructure in the provinces.

Cambodia's Sibling Band achieves unexpected fame

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Phnom Penh Post

When Heng Srey Sambath bought his son a guitar, he never imagined that music would become his family's fascination and even make them famous

Photo by: Mom Kunthear
The Sibling Band in action.
Formed at the end of 2007 as a family pastime, Dantrey Bang Phoun, or the Sibling Band, is slowly starting to make waves around Cambodia.

Heng Srey Sambath smiles as he talks about how he initially hesitated when his eldest son, 16-year-old Pis, asked him whether he could learn how to play the guitar.

"I hesitated because I had never seen my son play music before. We don't come from an artistic family, and I have never thought any of my children would become musicians," Heng Srey Sambath said.

Concerned that his son would go out on the street out of boredom, Heng Srey Sambath eventually conceded and bought his son a guitar to provide him with a worthwhile hobby.

"I bought a guitar for him to learn, and two weeks later I saw that my son was already playing the instrument very well. I also saw that my two daughters and nieces were interested and always listened when he played," he said.

Seeing his family's fascination with music, Heng Srey Sambath decided to get them all involved in the pursuit and vowed to save money in order to buy instruments for all his children.

"Initially I didn't have money for instruments, so I collected objects that they could play music on, such as cans and trays to make rhythm," he said. "My wife was against me buying any more instruments because she thought that the children would not be successful and she didn't want to waste money, but I comforted her and used my power as the head of the family to buy them," he said, adding that now his wife is happy with the family's musical progress.

I didn't have money for instruments, so i collected objects that they could play on.

Turning point
The family fortune took a turn for the better when one day Heng Srey Sambath asked a local restaurant owner whether his family could entertain customers at the restaurant by playing music and singing songs.

"On one occasion after the band finished playing, there was a musician there who was interested in them, and he said that the children could be famous if we tried to teach them more."

Heng Srey Sambath said that while he initially worried about the negative impact of fame and money on his children, he now thinks that his children will not be spoiled by success.

"I think my children will have no problems if they become famous because I have taught them that when they do something wrong they will be punished, and when they get money they have to share it," he said.

The Sibling Band has recently performed for a show on Bayon TV, and they received US$500 from Prime Minister Hun Sen after they performed twice on CTN.

They also have plans to perform in Australia in March next year, but Heng Srey Sambath says that this still depends on their sponsors.

"Before, I would have never thought that the Sibling Band would be famous, but after the children got a good music teacher who also writes songs for them to sing, I have changed my mind," he said.

While Heng Srey Sambath hopes that one day the Sibling Band will be able to support the family, he says that he will never force the children to keep performing.

"If they want to play, I will allow them to continue, but if they don't want to play any more, I will let them give it up," he said.

"I would be very disappointed if this band did not work out. I consider this band as a diamond, and it would be a shame to lose it," Heng Srey Sambath said. "But as I am a Buddhist, I usually tell myself that nothing can last forever, so I don't think too much about losing, and while I think that this band will finish one day, I want everybody in Cambodia to remember them."
Pis, the Sibling Band leader, says he just wanted to learn how to play guitar because he wanted to be like his classmates who played the instrument.

"I never wished to be a music player or a singer. I just wanted to know how to play guitar for pleasure, but when I found a good teacher and built a band, I wanted to continue to do it," he said. "I am very happy with my band, and I never thought that it would be possible for me to perform on TV in front of an audience."

Cambodian FM: Thai FM plans to visit Cambodia for border issues

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Newly appointed Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (pictured) plans to visit Cambodia to continue discussion on the border issues between the two countries, said the Cambodian foreign minister here on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, the Thai foreign minister called me to extend the best wishes for a happy New Year and said that he plans to visit Cambodia," Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told reporters at his office.

"He is willing to continue the discussion to seek resolution inpeaceful and friendly ways for the border issues," he said.

We all put aside the possibility of military conflict and will keep restraints over the border issues, he said.

"As you all have seen, the internal matters of Thailand have made the border resolution so slow," he added.

Cambodia will resume talks with Thailand over their disputed border in late January, as a tense military standoff at contested areas of the frontier enters its sixth month, English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post said on Monday.

Cambodia and Thailand have never finally demarcated their 805-km shared border, but a meeting between both foreign ministers in November yielded an agreement to scale down troop numbers along the border and begin demarcation and demining operations from mid-December.

It was the most concrete progress made yet to resolve tensions on the border, which escalated after Cambodia first accused Thai troops of entering its territory in July, shortly after Cambodia'sPreah Vihear Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Editor: Lu Hui

Border talks to continue

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (pictured) said on Tuesday that his new Thai counterpart had telephoned him to say that he will visit soon for talks on a border dispute between the two countries.

Mr Hor Namhong said Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who was appointed earlier this month after a new government came to power, had called to convey his best wishes for the new year.

Troops from Cambodia and Thailand clashed on Oct 15 on disputed land near an 11th century Khmer temple, leaving four people dead.

'He (Kasit) said he has planned to visit Cambodia and he will continue negotiations to find a resolution peacefully and amicably with Cambodia on the border issue,' Mr Hor Namhong told reporters.

There was no immediate confirmation from Thailand's foreign ministry.

Thai and Cambodian officials agreed in principle in a meeting earlier this month to reduce troops at the disputed border and to form a border task force.

They also plan to meet again in January to resolve their border spat.

But former Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornviwat has said that the country's parliament must first approve the agreements before any activity starts.

Mr Hor Namhong admitted that a raging political crisis in Thailand had slowed down the negotiations, but said Cambodia is still showing 'patience.'

Mr Kasit was one of the most controversial appointments by new Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, because of his role in protests which shuttered Bangkok's airports earlier this month and helped to bring down the previous government.

As a staunch nationalist Mr Kasit has also criticised the previous government's handling of the crisis with Cambodia.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

The most recent tensions began in July when the Khmer temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over the ownership of the surrounding land. -- AFP

EXILED TO CAMBODIA: Toehold on a new life

By Greg Mellen,
Staff Writer

Tuy Sobil, aka KK, keeps an eye on break dancers at Korsang, a center for returnees in Phnom Penh. KK teaches break and hip-hop dancing to street kids in Tiny Toones, a group he created. In addition to dancing, the organization teaches English, Khmer and lessons in other life skills. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)
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Drug users huddle in an abandoned building as they smoke yama, a form of crystal meth, and strip copper from electronic fixtures to sell in the Boueng Trabek area of Phnom Penh. The slum, among others, is frequented by drug-addicted exiles and those with mental illnesses. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Where the paved portion of Street 123 turns to dirt in the back streets of Phnom Penh seems

Charlie, a Cambodian returnee and former gang member from Oakland, shoots up heroin with a clean needle from Korsang s needle exchange in Boueng Trabek. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

like the end of the earth.

This is where you'll find Boney, a former gang member from Long Beach, leaning against a concrete wall smoking cigarettes and talking smack. Inside the compound, Trip, another former Long Beach resident, is regaling others with his latest exploits.

This is Korsang, the last building at the border where homes turn to rubble and huts.

The corner compound -- from where you first feel, then hear, the bass beat of hip-hop music thrumming from a battered CD player -- is a place where the Wild West meets the Far East.

This is ground zero for a number of Cambodian-Americans who were deported for crimes committed in the U.S. And while they may be Cambodian by birth, in every other way

they are unabashedly American, from their street patois to their baggy urban dress.

For many of these former gangsters and urban hipsters, Korsang is a toehold at the end of the world, something that keeps them from falling into the oblivion and despair of modern Cambodia.

An internationally funded, nongovernment organization, Korsang employs deportees to handle needle exchanges and provide an array of aid, education and social services to a burgeoning population of drug- addicted

Former Long Beach gang member Boney, left, hangs out at Korsang, a deportee gathering place.

youth in Boueng Trabek and other slums of Phnom Penh.

While Korsang has been a savior to some deportees, many others have fallen without a net.

For those who don't find their way to an assistance program or lack family to take them in, for those without money or connections, for those who suffer from addiction and mental illness, repatriation to Cambodia can be a lingering death sentence.

Korsang crew

The deportees in Cambodia come from various walks of life. Many are former gang members, career criminals and drug users. But others were tradesmen, family men or wayward youngsters who stumbled into crime, sometimes only once. And a good percentage suffer from mental disease.

But all were

Boney shows off his tattoos. A self-proclaimed former big shot in the Tiny Rascal Gang, he said he has made his peace with deportation. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

criminals in the U.S., and all face the same fate.

They are people like Boney.

As he cracks jokes, Boney is all attitude. A self-proclaimed former big shot in the Long Beach Tiny Rascal Gang, or TRG, Boney, 40, is one of the OGs, or original gangsters, of Korsang. He prefers to be referred to by his street name, by which everyone knows him.

"In Long Beach they all know me," Boney says. "I'm like the main guy in my neighborhood. I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to hide."

Boney says his introduction to Long Beach was having his bike "jacked" and being bullied and harassed at school. He says he and other Cambodians living in the inner city joined gangs for protection.

Although he doesn't agree

A returnee who wanted to be known only as Trip, a Poly High School graduate, said he misses Long Beach and would return in an instant if he had the choice. (Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer)

with the American policy that requires deportation for felons who are not citizens, he bears no grudges.

"I'm not going to say I hate America because America gave me a chance," says Boney, who admits to being a career criminal. "I just f----- up."

Boney says he has come to terms with his life in Cambodia and moved on. Had he stayed in the U.S., he admits he probably would have ended up back in jail.

Nearby is KK, whose real name is Tuy Sobil. Decked out in mesh gym shorts and a T-shirt, KK used to pal around with Boney, although they were in rival gangs.

KK was born in a Thai refugee camp. He was convicted of armed robbery when he was 18. After completing his jail sentence and while he awaited deportation, he and his girlfriend had a son, Kayshawn.

KK says he saw the boy once before he was sent away.

"It hurts," KK says. "It hurts so bad. I was lost in a way. I was thinking, `I will never see my son again."'

At the time, KK did not understand the difference between being a permanent alien and a citizen under U.S. law.

"I lost my son and my whole family," KK says.

A self-described "B-boy," what some break dancers and fans of that culture call themselves, KK now teaches break and hip-hop dancing to impoverished street kids through a group he created called Tiny Toones.

He has drifted away from Korsang to concentrate on Tiny Toones, which is supported by the NGO (nongovernmental organization) Bridges Across Borders.

At Tiny Toones, KK and other staffers and volunteers teach not only dancing but English, Khmer and other life skills to hundreds of children from the slums.

And that has given him life and a sense of purpose.

"When I came here, I lost hope like everyone else," KK says.

Now he says, "If I could go back to the U.S., I wouldn't want to. I want to stay with my kids."

KK's son attended a recent hip- hop competition held in Long Beach as a fundraiser for Tiny Toones.

When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, Kayshawn said he wants to dance, "just like my dad." The dad he barely knows.

Then there's Trip, a self-described Mike Tyson.

Ask Trip about Long Beach and his face lights up.

"Oh, man, I miss it a lot," Trip says. "I miss the cars. I miss the girls, my cousins, my city."

Given a chance, unlike Boney and KK, Trip would return to Long Beach in an instant - if it were a choice.

To keep a semblance of his hip- hop persona, Trip and some friends are putting together a demo music CD. For the project, Trip goes by the handle of Trip Loc Capone.

Trip, 30, came to Cambodia in 2002 at just 24 years old. He graduated from Poly High in 1997. He says he was just a mischievous kid who got into stealing Hondas for street racing when that was popular.

After his deportation, Trip went to live with relatives in the countryside.

"I'm a city boy," Trip says. "Out there by 8 p.m., it's silent. I was going crazy."

So Trip made his way to Phnom Penh.

"I started volunteering and that straightened me out," he says.

Like most of their ex-pat compatriots, the Long Beach guys hang around decked out in hip-hop clothing, heavily tattooed and exuding American urban swagger.

Except for the surroundings, they could be any group of Cambodian guys hanging out in front of the Golden Villa on Anaheim Street.

Boney, KK and Trip say they have stayed away from drug use. They are the success stories, people who are now giving back to the community.

In an odd way, being deported may have been good, even saved them. They kicked drug habits, left lives of crime and the incarceration cycle.

The flip side

Many deportees do not fare so well.

People with mental illness like Chan and drug users like Charlie.

Charlie is trying to figure out how to die.

Chan succeeded.

A 33-year-old from Long Beach who suffered from depression and drug addiction, Chan hanged himself in his room. He had been dead more than a day when he was discovered.

It's 9 a.m. and Charlie is waiting for his fix. Charlie, who wouldn't give his last name, is one of the more animated and desperate characters in Boeung Trabek.

He can be found drifting along dirt alleys, hanging out in burned-out hovels where ravaged addicts smoke, huff chemicals, shoot up or do whatever they can to get high.

On this day Charlie has been waiting for the Korsang volunteers to show up with fresh needles to exchange.

As a policeman on the corner looks away indifferently, Charlie pops the needle into the back of his arm.

Then comes the rush as the heroin surges into Charlie's veins. His eyes pop open. Suddenly, he is a happy Charlie.

He turns around and pretends to jab at a photographer with his empty syringe.

"If I poked you with this, would that be cool?" he says, feinting with the needle. Wisely, the photographer backs away quickly.

Charlie cackles. Charlie is waiting to die.

He has attempted suicide several times. He has had and lost jobs. He's been in and out of rehab and spent time in jail.

Charlie remains rebellious and defiant and in this way is utterly American.

He might as well be screaming at a wall for the indifference he faces, for the hopelessness he feels.

To Charlie, Cambodia is the stuff of nightmares. He ping-pongs between humor and despair.

A former gang member, Charlie boasts of the trouble he got into in the rough neighborhoods of Oakland.

"I moved to the United States when I was 1 years old, man," Charlie says. "To tell you the truth, I don't know s--- about Cambodia. I'm American man. I'm a f------ American, they're never gonna make me Cambodian. I like hamburgers. ... I don't like rice every f------ day. I eat so much rice my face looks like rice."

When death comes, Charlie says he will welcome it.

Anything would be better to him than leaning against a wall waiting for his fix. Or trolling the streets for a hit of yama, a harsh, local form of crystal meth popular in the slums.

Charlie is always looking for that moment of a high when he is lifted out of the filth of the streets, above the emptiness of his spirit.

"I've tried to commit suicide three times, man. The last time, I bet you I'm gonna do it. I'm tired of this," he says. "That's why I run with drugs, to kill the f------- pain, man."

Charlie is homeless and shacking up with a sex worker.

Asked how he makes money, Charlie says, "I hustle. I put the `h' in hustle."

Charlie wanders off into the devastation of Boueng Trabek.

Around the corner, drug addicts lie around in small knots of humanity, looking like piles of dirty laundry. Several are sharing yama, which they smoke through pipes fashioned from water bottles and straws.

Charlie spies a group and dives in, smoking and hamming for a photographer.

"I put the `h' in hustle," he says again with a raspy laugh.

Boney eyes him conspiratorially, one former gangster to another, before riding off on his tuk-tuk to deliver more clean syringes

Charlie is left behind to whatever fate awaits.

Death sentence

While Charlie survives, Chan did not.

The former Long Beach resident was found dead on Dec. 7, 2007.

He was a drug addict who had been diagnosed with depression in the U.S. and kept stable with medication.

Holly Bradford, founder of Korsang, says people like Chan are the dirty secret of deportation -- those who are mentally unstable, in Chan's case suicidal, yet sent to fend for themselves in a country with almost no social services.

"In my opinion, it is a direct violation of his human rights to send somebody who has that kind of mental illness to a country where there's no resources to treat him," says Bradford, who reports that 25 percent of deportees suffer from mental illness.

Because of his depression, Chan began smoking yama, which triggered his fatal, final tailspin.

"He was hearing voices, ghosts and the whole 9 yards. You could see him going downhill," Bradford says.

Chan also felt guilt for disappointing his mother and leaving her in Long Beach.

"He was a sad, sweet, gentle and lost kid. No matter what we did for Chan, it wasn't enough," Bradford says.

Chan was cremated and a traditional seven-day Buddhist ceremony was held. His ashes were sent to family in the countryside.

Across town at the Returnee Integration Support Program, another NGO that helps deportees, a 50-year-old known as Cowboy built a hut in the backyard because he didn't want to live inside a real house. Although he is harmless, he is unable to function in society.

Another man, formerly from San Diego, who asks not to be identified, describes how he intentionally mutilated his hand in the U.S., cutting off several fingers and a thumb, to collect disability insurance while awaiting deportation.

RISP, which is run by returnee Sonec Tan, has become virtually dormant after several years as the main resource for deportees in Cambodia. It is the last refuge for Cowboy and the San Diegan.

Deportee population

The deportees fall into several categories.

While some have family in Cambodia with whom they can move in or connections and money, many arrive with no family or support and struggle just to survive. Of those, Bradford says, some resort to crime and drug use.

Several Long Beach residents who have traveled to Cambodia say old friends and acquaintances have gone back into gang life and drug dealing and abuse.

Prach Ly, a rapper from Long Beach, has friends who have been deported. He has seen firsthand the devastation.

"I think some can't cope. It's like a silent death sentence," Ly says.

He tells a man he identifies only as Kun, who came to see Ly perform in Phnom Penh.

"He was a friend, but he couldn't even look me in the eye," Ly says. "After the show, I wanted to talk to him to keep his spirits up. But when the show was over he was gone."

While Chantha Bob, a Long Beach resident and waiter at Sophy's restaurant, was in Cambodia, he met a former Long Beach resident he knew only as John.

Bob said John was living on the streets in Phnom Penh and begging for money for food.


Regardless of how they feel about the deportation laws and process, many deportees make peace with their new lives.

"It takes a while to feel like home, I mean, once you adapt to it and stop feeling sorry for yourself," says Wicket, an employee at Korsang who asked to be identified by his nickname. "I mean, it's home now. (You've) got to get on with your life. I have a couple of kids, a stable relationship. I got a good job, a career and I get to be involved in the community."

Boney, too, was recently married, KK has his dancers and Trip his music.

Most at Korsang say they wouldn't return to the U.S. even if they could.

For all the deprivation and loss, for all they feel may have been unfair about their sentences, these are guys who have found something in Cambodia that was lacking.

Call it purpose. Call it redemption. Guys who may have spent the majority of their adult lives in prison in the U.S., have a chance to actually give something back.

And while the Chans, Charlies, Johns and Cowboys may be poster children for what's wrong with U.S. deportation, some of these former gangbangers and drug abusers are setting things right here at the edge of the earth.

greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1291

Vietnam jails five for trafficking women to Malaysia

A Vietnamese family rides past a poster appealing to people to be vigilant in the struggle against human trafficking

HANOI (AFP) — A court in communist Vietnam has jailed five people for up to 17 years for trafficking women to Malaysia and forcing them to work as prostitutes, a court official and media reports said Tuesday.

The gang had sent 18 women from Vietnam's poor southern Mekong delta region to Malaysia over the past three years before the ring leaders were arrested in January, said a Can Tho court official who declined to be named.

Hua Thi Thuy Trang, 35 -- identified in media reports as a former prostitute who had worked in Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore -- was jailed for 17 years, while her four accomplices received terms of five to 12 years, the official said.

The Thanh Nien daily reported that the gang lured the women to Malaysia with promises of waitressing jobs, paying their families 800 dollar each while forcing the women to sign promises to pay the group 4,400 dollars each.

Once in Malaysia, the women were closely guarded during the day and forced to have sex with about seven men per night each without payment, the report said, adding that while those who resisted were beaten and starved.

Thousands of Vietnamese women are believed to be trafficked every year, especially to neighbouring China and Cambodia, lured with promises of jobs but then forced to work as prostitutes or to marry.

Between 2005-07, Vietnamese police say they detected 900 trafficking cases involving 2,200 victims, state media have said.

The true extent of the trafficking is unknown and police suspect many of the more than 20,000 Vietnamese women and children who have gone missing since 1975 were victims of trafficking.

Cambodia receives Khmer Rouge films from Vietnam

Mr. Youk Chhang (L).
A man visits Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh. [AFP]

A man visits Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh. [AFP]

Cambodia has received 20 Khmer Rouge documentary films from Vietnam, which will be used as evidence against the regime at the trial of top Khmer leaders.

Chhang Youk, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, says the films are in English and Khmer, and were mostly made by Vietnamese soldiers between 1973 and 1982.

He says they cover several aspects of the regime of interest to the trial, including conditions for children, the notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, treatment of foreigners, and killings of Vietnamese citizens in Vietnam's Tai Ninh Province.

Chhang Youk told reporters that Vietnam is the first ASEAN country to provide key documents ahead of the trials of jailed Khmer leaders, which Cambodia is preparing to open early next year.

Five Khmer Rouge leaders are being held in a pretrial detention center at the United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

''The films are parts of our history and they are considered as hard evidence besides the reading texts," Chhang Youk said.

"These films will help the younger generation to a better understanding of our history,'' he added.

He says while Vietnam has cooperated with his center since 1998, China and Thailand have failed to do so even though he says they may have similar films.

Cambodia: Jail Term For US Child Abuser Upheld In Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: A Cambodian court upheld a 13-year prison term Tuesday (30 Dec) for an American man convicted of sexually abusing a teenage girl.

Appeals Court judge Seng Sivutha handed down the verdict against Myron Maboris for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The 46-year-old from Virginia was originally sentenced to 13 years by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in June last year.

During a court hearing Thursday (25 Dec), Maboris denied the charges, telling the court "I asked her to massage me only, I did not have sex with her."

Police arrested Maboris during a raid on his Phnom Penh guesthouse room in Oct 2006 while he was with the ethnic Vietnamese girl, who was naked.

Kov Soupha, Maboris's defense lawyer, said he will discuss with his client whether to appeal to a higher court.

Lax law enforcement and poverty have made Cambodia a prime destination for foreigners seeking sex with minors. But police have recently stepped up efforts to fight the crime and several foreigners are serving lengthy prison terms. (AP)

Titanic Unveiling on Top of Angkor Wat

What links the RMS Titanic and the Cambodian jungle temple of Angkor Wat? Author Helen Churchill Candee survived the infamous maritime disaster to write Angkor the Magnificent, history's most captivating account of Southeast Asia's mysterious Khmer Empire. Her book just reached new heights in Cambodia when publisher Kent Davis unveiled an expanded modern edition of her classic literally on top of Angkor Wat.

Siem Reap, Cambodia (PRWEB) December 30, 2008 -- Balanced precariously atop a metal scaffold 20 stories above the Cambodian jungle, publisher Kent Davis unveiled Angkor the Magnificent (ISBN: 978-1-934431-00-9), an expanded edition of Helen Churchill Candee's 1924 Asian travel classic featuring the first published biography of the 20th century adventuress.

Titanic Unveiling at Angkor Wat
Titanic Unveiling at Angkor Wat

"It's astounding to think of ancient Khmer stone masons experiencing this view 1,000 years ago. This is the type of travel adventure Helen Churchill Candee lived for...her spirit is certainly here today!" said Davis at the top of the temple's central tower on a temporary metal framework erected for restoration of the complex pinecone-shaped structure.

Davis held the ceremony at Angkor Wat before donating copies of the book to Cambodia's key libraries including the Biblioteque Nationale, the Center for Khmer Studies, the Khmer Arts Academy and L'Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient.

It's astounding to think of ancient Khmer stone masons experiencing this view 1,000 years ago. This is the type of travel adventure Helen Churchill Candee lived for...her spirit is certainly here today!
Angkor Wat is one of the most magical places on earth. Candee's travelogue vividly portrays an Angkor of yesteryear for those looking for insights into these truly magnificent Cambodian ruins
"Angkor Wat is one of the most magical places on earth. Candee's travelogue vividly portrays an Angkor of yesteryear for those looking for insights into these truly magnificent Cambodian ruins" comments Yale archeology professor Dr. Dougald O'Reilly who founded Heritage Watch to preserve Cambodia's heritage.

This historic release marks the first time in 85 years that readers can enjoy Candee's evocative descriptions of Asian adventure travel in the land of the lost Khmer civilization. Today, Helen Candee is still the perfect guide to bring the temples to life...for visitors experiencing these wonders in person or from their reading chairs. Angkor the Magnificent (ISBN: 978-1-934431-00-9) is available on Amazon.com in the US and Europe.

DatAsia press publishes books focusing on Cambodia and Southeast Asian history. As a researcher with Devata.org, Kent Davis works to document the importance of women in Asian history and to decode the meaning of the 1,780 apsara (female goddess) portrait carvings found Angkor Wat.

Dr. Dougald O'Reilly is an author, archaeologist and Yale University professor specializing in prehistoric Southeast Asia. He is committed to preserving Cambodia's cultural heritage and founded Heritage Watch (www.heritagewatch.org), a non-profit organization working to preserve cultural icons and stop antiquity theft in Cambodia.

Prison death highlights need for judicial reform

Written by Sophan Seng
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Phnom Penh Post

Dear Editor,

I appreciate appealing for a thorough investigation by UN representatives into the death of Heng Touch ("UN representatives call for investigation into prison death", November 27).

This case is not the first one of impunity to happen in Cambodia. Legal frailty is strongly rooted in Cambodia and it has gradually become the "culture of impunity".

Since 1993, administrative and judicial reform has been one of the priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). After the Untac-sponsored election, the UN and other international stakeholders have utilised the carrot-and-stick tactic to speed up the reforms in Cambodia.

On one hand, they have urged the RGC to accelerate reforms with soft and hard pressure, while on the other hand, they still keep providing funds to develop various projects run by the government. But we can see that the writing of laws has become the only result of their efforts, while implementation [of these laws] is still slack.

The RGC has to achieve its obligation in the Cambodian Constitution, as well as the treaties that it has signed with foreign donors to pursue good governance, decentralisation, curbing of corruption and strengthening of the rule of law.

I admire the RGC's "Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development of Cambodia", otherwise named the "Triangular Plan", "Rectangular Plan" and "Millennium Development Goals of Cambodia".

Each strategic plan well describes the willingness to reform the legal system, particularly the national court and judiciary. The fourth mandate of RGC is going to carry out the same strategic plan with little adjustment for its next five years in power, and I wish that this good plan should not exist solely on paper.

The question of Heng Touch dying as the prisoner is relevant to the issue of the RGC's achievements in legal reform and ongoing impunity in Cambodia.

This single case has drawn our attention to many other victims savaged by the hidden and rarely-punished perpetrators. Politicians, actresses, popular singers, Buddhist monks, unionists and ordinary people who have been devastated or even murdered have been waiting for the day when this culture of impunity will be eliminated.

The UN, as well as foreign donors and the Cambodian people, is eagerly looking forward to seeing the complete achievement of judicial reform in Cambodia.

Sophan Seng
PhD student in political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Thailand clarifies its stance on gibe at Prime Minister Hun Sen and Preah Vihear temple

29th December, 2008
Kampuchea Thmey newspaper
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Thai Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya (pictured), has on 26th December made public statements for the first time regarding the Preah Vihear issues and regarding his gibe at Prime Minister Hun Sen when he was in the opposition.

Regarding Preah Vihear temple, Mr. Kasit said that Thailand has no intention of reclaiming the ownership of this temple, but Thailand will continue to co-operate with Cambodia to help protect and preserve Preah Vihear. He added that the Preah Vihear disputes will be resolved in accordance with the 1904-1907 Khmer-Thai treaty, in accordance with the 1962 verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2000.

In 1962, the ICJ adjudicated to give ownership of the temple to Cambodia. However, the territories surrounding the temple are still in disputes. The new Thai PM, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, when in opposition, accused former Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama for supporting the Unesco inscription of the Preah Vihear temple. He went further by saying that the ICJ only judged to give the ownership of the temple to Cambodia, but the lands around and under the temple belong to Thailand.

A Cambodian official told Kampuchea Thmey newspaper that Mr. Abhisit’s comments were the comments of a person who is ignorant of history by saying that his comments must be ignored. At that time Thai protesters have demanded that the Thai government does everything within its power to reclaim back the Preah Vihear temple. One Cambodian historian described the demand as ignorant and unwise.

Mr. Kasit, who used to be a member of the PAD, said clearly that he will change the resolution of the previous Thai Foreign Ministry. He said that Thailand will continue to negotiate with Cambodia on border issues in the not too distant future.

Mr. Kasit has touched on the subject of his gibe at PM Hun Sen when he was with the PAD. He said that his past comments regrading Preah Vihear and his gibe at PM Hun Sen will not affect the Khmer-Thai relations, especially with PM Hun Sen because he had a close and friendly working relationship with PM Hun Sen for the Paris Peace Agreements since 1989. Mr. Kasit added that PM Hun Sen was the first world leader to send his congratulations to newly-elected Thai PM, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, after his election by the Thai parliament.

The History of Cambodian -Portuguese Relations

20th December, 2008
Written by Khmerization

I wrote the article below out of friendship. A Portuguese blogger, Francisco Castelo Branco, who has recently found my blog Khmerization by chance has asked me to write something about Cambodia in his blog so that the Portuguese people can learn something about Cambodia. Here is his message to me: “Can you make a text about Cambodja and your people to my blog? for people here in Portugal known more about Cambodja...I think it was interesting to maintain this Portugal- Cambodja contact (sic)”. As a goodwill gesture, I’ve have done a quick research of the Portuguese-Cambodian relations and come up with a short article below. Through this short article, I hope that the Portuguese people can learn of the historical Cambodian-Portuguese relations which dated back to about 600 years ago. Here it is:
1. Introduction

The Khmer people were among the first in Southeast Asia to adopt religious ideas and political institutions from India and to establish centralised kingdoms covering comprehensive large territories. The earliest known kingdom in the area, Funan, flourished from around the first to the sixth century A.D. It was succeeded by Chenla, which controlled large areas of modern Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The golden age of Khmer civilisation, was the time from the 9th to 13th century, when the kingdom of Kambuja, which gave the name Kampuchea, or Cambodia, which according to sources, derived from the Portuguese name of Cambodja, had governed large territories from its capital in the region of Angkor in western Cambodia.

The Portuguese were the first recorded Europeans to do Christian missionary works in Cambodia. They arrived in Cambodia as early as in the 15th century and were very active in the Cambodian affairs.

2. The Prominence of Portuguese People in Cambodian Society

The Cambodian-Portuguese connections dated back the mid 1400s when Portuguese traders and missionaries first set foots in Cambodia. But it was in the 19th century that the Portuguese have played a very significant role in the Cambodian society. Many descendants of Portuguese traders and missionaries took many leading roles in the shaping of the Cambodian affairs.

The Diaz and the Moneiro played an important part in the Cambodian society of the 19th century. Constantine Monteiro, on a mission to Singapore in 1850, wrote an article on Cambodia titled “notes to accompany map of Cambodia” which was published in the journal of the “Indian Archipelago and Eastern India” in 1851. Another Portuguese wrote “Lettre sur le Cambodge” which was translated into the “Revue Maritime et Coloniale” in June 1865. Another Portuguese, Col de Monteiro (1839-1908) had become King Norodom’s secretary and the Kralahom or the minister of the navy. His father, Bernardos Ros de Monteiro, who was later became one of the major mandarins of king Norodom, had accompanied Father Bouillevauv when he visited Angkor Wat in 1850 in which he described Angkor Wat as “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world.” Col de Monteiro’s grandfather had come to Cambodia on a missionary works in the early nineteenth century and decided to settle in Cambodia permanently and played an important part in Cambodian politics at the time.

The De Monteiro descendants have played very prominent roles in Cambodian politics up until the mid 1950s. Some of their descendants have served as ministers during Prince Sihanouk’s rule. Today, many of the De Monteiro Cambodian descendants have spread across the continents. Some are still living in Cambodia and some have settled in some western countries, especially in Australia where some of the De Monteiros have settled after escaping war-torn Cambodia in the 1970s and 1980s.

3. The Portuguese Influence?

The Khmer people called their country Kampuchea, a word which derived from the Pali word of Kambuja. But the word Cambodge in French and Cambodia in English was said to be derived from the Portuguese word of Cambodja. This rationale might have some merits and truth in it since the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Cambodia in the mid 1400s. The Portuguese word of Cambodja was certainly derived from the Khmer word Kampuja but it was certainly the Portuguese word of Cambodja that has introduced the name of Kambuja to the vocabularies of the European languages as they were the first Europeans to have arrived in Cambodia.

Another Portuguese influence in Cambodian language was the name of the Cambodian currency, the Riel. There are suggestions that the Cambodian unit of currency, the "Riel", is probably derived from the Portuguese unit of currency "Real" that was in use between A.D.1430-1911.

4. The Cambodian-Portuguese Earliest Connections

When the Thai kingdom of Ayudhya sacked Angkor in 1431, the Spanish and Portuguese, who had recently become active in the region, also played a part in these wars until resentment of their power led to the massacre of the Spanish garrison at Phnom Penh in 1599.

The first known Portuguese missionary to have come to preach in Cambodia was Gaspar de Cruze, who came to Longvek, the Cambodian royal capital, in 1556 in an attempt to convert Cambodians to Christianity. He leaves a year later disappointedly unable to convert any Cambodians, whom he blames for believing in superstitions and loyalty to Buddhism. During that period, many Portuguese came as traders and missionaries and were met with fierce resistance from the local Chinese merchants and the devout Cambodian Buddhists. Many of them were massacred.

To protect these traders from local attacks, in 1580 Portugal and Spain sent reinforcements of Spanish soldiers of fortune and Dominicans from Manila, the Philippines, to protect Portuguese in Cambodia. Many Portuguese traders and missionaries are in the Khmer royal court of Longvek during this period.

Another Portuguese, who perhaps played the most important parts in the Cambodian affairs at the time was Diego Belloso (Diogo Veloso), an adventurer, who came to Longvek in 1585. He later married a relative of the King.

At the same time as other Iberian adventurers were trying their luck in Cambodia, a few missionaries had gone there as early as the 1550s, but Buddhist opposition had always forced them to leave again. This changed in the 1580s, when an ongoing struggle between Siam and Cambodia turned against the Cambodians. As the Siamese king, Naresuen, advanced on Longvek (Cambodia's capital for much of the 16th century), the feeble Cambodian king, Settha, became desperate. Using Diogo Veloso, a Portuguese as his envoy, soldier of fortune, Settha pleaded for aid, first from the Portuguese at Malacca, then from the Spaniards at Manila. A Spanish force was sent from Manila in 1594 but it arrived too late; the Spaniards found that Cambodia had fallen to the Siamese, Veloso was a prisoner in Siam, and King Settha was a refugee in Laos. The Spanish leader, Blaz Ruiz, was captured and placed on a prison ship headed for Siam. Unwilling to give up so easily, Ruiz managed to hijack the ship and take it back to Manila. Meanwhile the equally resourceful Veloso gained favour with Naresuen, the Siamese king, and got himself placed in command of a ship carrying the Siamese ambassador to Manila.

The adventure became even more bizarre once Veloso and Ruiz were united in Manila. Forgetting that he was now officially a diplomat of Siam, Veloso claimed that he represented Cambodia's ex-king and signed a highly irregular treaty. This document allowed Spanish troops, merchants, and missionaries to travel freely in Cambodia, and promised that the king and queen would become Christians in return for military aid. Then Veloso and Ruiz led a raid on Siamese-occupied Phnom Penh. Deciding at first to return to Manila after this affair, they later changed their minds, jumped ship in a Vietnamese port, and marched overland from Vietnam to Laos, where they discovered that Settha and his eldest son had died. The adventurers returned to Cambodia in 1597 with Settha's second son in tow; fearing another Spanish invasion, the terrified Cambodians allowed them to crown the prince as King Barom Reachea II.

In 1595 Diego Belloso managed to convince Dasmarinas, the Governor of the Philippines, to send military expedition to protect King Settha's throne and at the same time established the de facto Spanish rule over the Khmer court. Three ships with 130 soldiers were sent.

The Hispano-Portuguese expedition sent from the Philippines arrived in Phnom Penh in 1596, but the King, Ream the second or Chau Ponhea Nou (1596 – 1597), had already fled the court at Srei Santhor and Reama Chong Prei was installed. Belloso and Ruiz, who comes with the expedition, along with 38 men travelled to Srei Santhor and attacked the palace at night. They killed King Reama and fought their way back to their ships at Phnom Penh.

On April 12, 1596, Portuguese Belloso and Spaniard Ruiz’s men attacked and ruthlessly killed many Chinese traders in Phnom Penh. They also burnt houses in the Chinese quarter of Phnom Penh.

In May 1596, Veloso (Belloso), Ruiz and some 40 of their men made a surprise attack on the Khmer court at Srei Santhor, killing the King, burning his palace and blowing up a powder magazine. They then returned to their ships in Phnom Penh and fled.

In May 1597, Veloso and Ruiz, fled Cambodia after killing a Khmer King Reama Chong Prei the previous year. They reappeared in Cambodia with the son of King Settha, Chau Ponhea Ton (Barom Reachea II), who took the throne at Srei Santhor.

In 1599, the Spaniards and the Malays (the Chams, the Cambodian Muslims) in Phnom Penh clashed, in which Veloso and Ruiz were killed. At the time, the two Portuguese and the Spaniard adventurers were at Srei Santhor for discussion with the King as violent incident occurred in Phnom Penh between Spaniards and Malays (the Chams). Against the King’s advice for them to hide and wait for the violence to calm down, the two adventurers rushed to Phnom Penh to help their compatriots and were both killed by the Chams.

The Cambodian-Portuguese connections have been the longest of any European peoples. Britain, the greatest empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, only had contacts with Cambodia in the early 17th century. Peter Floris, who arrived in Phnom Penh through the Mekong River in July 1612, appeared to be the first British to reach Phnom Penh and Cambodia. Even the Dutch who had established themselves in Batavia (Indonesia) much earlier had only made contacts with Cambodia in the mid-1600s, when the manager of the Dutch factory, Pierre de Regemortes, arrived in Oudong, the Cambodia royal court, in September, 1643 to protest to the Cambodian king against the violence and damages suffered by his company. Irritated by his insolence, the Royal Guard killed him and 36 of his followers, while some 50 others were thrown into prison.

The French, the colonial power of Cambodia for 90 years, arrived in Cambodia much later than the Portuguese. Bastian de Bouillon, according to the English documents, appeared to be the first Frenchman to arrive in Cambodia when he docked at the Cambodian port in 1653. He arrived from Batavia (Indonesia) with two junks laden with cloth worth 30,000 reals.

The French people only returned back to Cambodia some two hundred years later, to colonise it in the mid 1800s. France signed a treaty with the then Prince Norodom on 11th August 1863 to establish a Protectorate over Cambodia which France maintained a colonial rule for 90 years until Cambodia gained independence on 9th November, 1953.
5. The Present Cambodian-Portuguese Connections

It is hard to know to what extent Portugal and the Portuguese people have played a part in the Cambodian society of today. But there must be some Portuguese people who have come to do volunteer works in Cambodia. I am sure that there must be some Portuguese people who have set up businesses and charity organisations in Cambodia. At the time of writing this article I was unable to find any evidence of significant Portuguese involvements in the Cambodian society. However, I hope that Portuguese people and their government can play a leading role in the Cambodian society as what their ancestors have done from the 15th to the early 2oth century.

1. http://books.google.com/books?id=h6SOvP6FLskC&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=col+de+monteiro&source=web&ots=6qugoEOgJY&sig=5N7QB-FA_upK0aVLeN-vswzbR-0&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result
2. http://books.google.com/books?id=CMTBAB-D2soC&pg=PA250&lpg=PA250&dq=ros+de+monteiro&source=bl&ots=Qrz3t100Jl&sig=6W8isricEsySybNREl2L5YawH4w&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA250,M1
3. http://www.globeaware.org/Content/trips/cambodia/cambodiahistory.php
4. http://www.geocities.com/khmerchronology/1400.htm
5. http://www.guidetothailand.com/thailand-history/cambodia.php
6. Miltom E. Osborne, The French Presence in Cochinchina and Cambodia