A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Thai soldiers crossed the borders to evict Khmer villagers in Oddar Meanchey

By Khmerization
Source: Radio Free Asia

A group of Thai soldiers have on Friday 29th crossed the borders to evict Khmer villagers from Choup Koki village in Oddar Meanchey province by claiming that those villagers built their houses on Thai soil, reports Radio Free Asia.

Khmer villagers and soldiers based in Choup Koki village said that, in the last 4-5 days, Thai soldiers have come to demand villagers demolish and dismantle 10 houses from East Choup Koki village which the villagers claimed to have been built many, many years ago.

Mr. Soy Thlai, chief of West Choup Koki village, said Thai soldiers demanded the villagers to dismantle 14 houses that they have lived in for many, many years already. "They have ordered the villagers from East Choup Koki to dismantle their houses. They have started to order the people from 22nd through to 28th (of January). Today, we haven't seen them come yet. Yesterday they had also came to order the villagers to dismantle their houses, in total 14 houses that they demanded demolished because they said that the lands are Thai territories. But so far, we have not moved out yet", he said.

villagers said recently a group of thai soldiers came in and ordered an old intellectually-disabled lady to dismantle her hut from the village by saying that the old lady built her house on Thai soil.

Capt. Phan Roeun, Cambodian commander based in the village, said on Thursday the Thais came again, but left when Cambodian soldiers challenged them. "There is an intellectually-disabled old lady who built her hut in a spot called "white (disputed) zone". The black-clad Thai soldiers came and ordered her to dismantle her house. Yesterday they came again. When we asked them they said they came for a visit, but when we challeged them they left. They said they wanted 10 houses to be dismantled because they said all these lands from here to the foot of the mountains are Thai territories. We didn't follow their order and we just live there as normal. We have deployed our troops in the area for the last 12 days already", he said.

Villagers said that many villagers from both West and east Choup Koki villages have already moved out because of the lack of food and because they are scared of harrassments from the Thai soldiers.

Cambodia: UN Should Review Role in Drug Detention

For Immediate Release

“‘Skin on the Cable’: The Illegal Arrest, Arbitrary Detention and Torture of People Who Use Drugs in Cambodia” is available at:


For more information, please contact:

In New York, Joe Amon (English): +1-917-519-8930 (mobile); or amonj@hrw.org

In New York, Rebecca Schleifer (Spanish, English): +1-646-331-0324 (mobile); or schleir@hrw.org

Cambodia: UN Should Review Role in Drug Detention

Press Government to Investigate, Close Down Abusive Programs, Hold Torturers Accountable

(New York, January 31, 2010) – The United Nations should conduct a thorough review of its support for Cambodia’s drug detention centers, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch issued a 93-page report, “Skin on the Cable,” on January 25, 2010, with reports of widespread beatings, whippings, and electric shock to detainees, including children and individuals with mental disabilities, in seven Cambodian drug detention centers.

In response, several United Nations agencies, including the joint UN program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have spoken out about the abuses. But the two UN agencies that work most closely with the government in detention centers and on drug policy, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), have been less vocal.

“UN officials agree that these centers are illegal and abusive,” said Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Now UNICEF and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime need to make clear to the Cambodian government that the centers should be shut down.”

The Cambodian government is in the process of finalizing a new law on drug control, with technical support from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. But the draft law, a copy of which was obtained by Human Rights Watch, does not provide adequate protection against abuse for children and adults forcibly detained under the guise of providing them with treatment for drug dependency.

In particular, the draft law purports to offer immunity from prosecution to "officers who implement drug treatment and rehabilitation measures in accordance with the right to drug treatment." International law does not permit immunity for officials who commit serious abuses – including ill-treatment and torture – in the course of their duties

“The UN agency responsible for drug control should forcefully oppose any laws that do not meet international standards,” Amon said. “The draft law on drug control would protect abusers and violate Cambodia's human rights obligations.”

According to its web site, the UNODC office in Cambodia has supported the government since 2001 in developing “effective approaches and techniques to deal with drug abuse” and “coordinated, community-based drug abuse counseling, treatment and rehabilitation care programs." Part of that support has involved technical assistance, with more than US$1 million earmarked for the development of community-based treatment.

The Human Rights Watch report revealed that, among other abuses in the detention centers, detainees are often forced to work at hard manual labor or exercise as a means of “treatment.” Human Rights Watch said that comments to the press by Interior Ministry spokesperson, Khieu Sopheak, that labor and “sweating” were “one of the main ways to make drug-addicted people to become normal people,” demonstrated that the Cambodian government is not committed to international standards. The remarks also show that the UN Office on Drug and Crime’s engagement with the government has not yet built sufficient understanding and capacity to provide effective treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

Since the release of the Human Rights Watch report last week, UNICEF has faced intense public scrutiny for involvement in the Choam Chao “youth rehabilitation centre.” A representative of the European Union has called for an investigation to determine if EU funding for UNICEF has supported human rights violations in the centers. UNICEF officials have said that they have supported government monitoring of the facilities and have not been aware of any abuses. The project is in the final year of funding, and plans for continued engagement are under review.

“We met with UNICEF in Cambodia last September about these abuses, and they told us they would investigate,” Amon said. “But they haven’t, and they continue to claim that children are in these centers voluntarily.”

UNICEF also refused to share with Human Rights Watch their reports of past assessments conducted in collaboration with the Cambodian government.

Cambodian government officials have refused to meet with Human Rights Watch since the report was released and did not respond to written requests for information as the report was being prepared. Government and detention center officials have been quoted in local and international press reports denying the most severe abuses, though acknowledging physically punishing and drugging detainees.

In an interview with Radio Australia, Nean Sokhim, director of a center in Phnom Penh, said that detainees are given drugs to keep them from escaping. The commander of the military police detention center in the province of Banteay Meanchay described to the press how detainees at his center were forced to stand in the sun or "walk like monkeys" as punishment for attempting to escape.Justify Full

“The Cambodian government needs to investigate these centers and hold those responsible for these abuses accountable,” Amon said. “Instead of remaining silent, the United Nations should review its programs and support for these centers, and work with the government to shut them down.”

One Thai killed, several wounded in clash with Cambodian troops in Pursat

By Khmerization
Source: DAP News

One Thai soldier was killed and several were wounded after a brief clash with Cambodian troops on Friday night (29th) in Veal Veng district of Pursat province, reports Deum Ampil.

Lt-Gen. Keo Sokunthea, Deputy Police Commissioner of Pursat Police in charge of Border Protection Unit 502, said the clash happened at 10:30 pm when a group of heavily-armed 20 Thai rangers crossed into Cambodian territory at Veal O'Chamrong village, Thmor Da commune of Veal Veng district in Pursat province. Gen. Keo Sokunthea said he contacted a Thai commander based in the area to order those Thai troops to withdraw from the Cambodian territory immediately or Cambodian troops will use self-defence rights to protect Cambodian territorial integrity. He said the Thai commander responded by saying that those black-clad soldiers are not his soldiers. Gen. Keo Sokunthea said Cambodian soldiers know most of Thai border guards based in the area. "We have told the Thai side about this issue (encroachment). We never do things without consultation (with them). If they are not Thai soldiers, it means that they are bandits because they have crossed into Cambodian territory armed with weapons. So the fighting started and lasted for about 10 minutes", he said.

"When they saw us, they started shooting straight away, so we started shooting back by launching 4 B-4o rocket-propelled grenades at them. After they realised that they cannot withstand our attack, they decided to withdraw to the Thai side of the borders. In the morning, we checked the clashed spot and saw one dead Thai soldier and several were wounded. Our side did not sustain any casualty", he added.

Mr. Nga Sina, a police officer based at O'Som Checkpoint near the clash spot, told Radio Free Asia that one Thai was killed and more than 10 were wounded. "The clash happened at 11 o'clock at night, one Thai soldier was killed and more than 10 were wounded because we launched B-40 rockets at them", he said.

Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman for Cambodian Defence Ministry, confirmed the clash and also confirmed that Cambodian had not sustain any casualty.

This clash happened 5 days after another clash at Choam Te, 20 kilometres from Preah Vihear temple on 24th which have killed and wounded several Thai soldiers (The Thai Army only admitted 2 wounded and no death).


Below is comments from a reader after Son Ngoc Thanh biography was published in Khmerization.

Dear Bong S K MONOHA,

My following comment is based on what I have read online articles and books.

I remembered in the late 60’s Sam Dach Ov (Sihanouk) talked a lot about Son Ngoc Thanh, Dap Chhoun, and Sam Sary (Sam Rainsy’s father). He called them traitors; as a young teenager, I believed in him. After coup d’etat in 1970, Son Ngoc Thanh became hero of the country and he was even selected as prime minister in 1972 for a short period. If I remembered right, the newspapers harshly criticized him. They criticized him about corruption and his Japanese wife. They thought the prime minister should have Khmer woman as a wife, not Japanese; they labeled him as hypocrite. At the time as a teenager I was confused; he was a traitor in the eyes of Samdech Ov, suddenly became a hero overnight after coup d’ etat, and then became a bad guy in the eyes of newspapers.

A few years ago, I started reading more about Khmer history and did come across the people I mentioned earlier. Based on what I have read, I would say Ngoc Thanh is not a good nationalist like many of us believed. I would say Samdach Ov is right to call those people as traitors. Here is why I believe so. Yes he is one among other nationalists who fought for Khmer Independence in the late 40’s and earlier 50’s. They were called Khmer Issarak. When Khmer got independence in 1954, many nationalists (Issarak) joint the government under Samdach Ov and later were part of Sankum Reastr Niyum party, led by Samdach Ov. The only notable element to remain outside the S/R, other than the hard-line communists, was the right wing, anti-monarchist nationalist Son Ngoc Thanh. He later went on his own way and organized Khmer Serei militia, which is supported and funded by Thailand and South Vietnam. This action tells me that he is not a good nationalist; he just wanted to have the country in his way, not respecting the majority of other nationalists. He is not much different than the Khmer communists at the time. Organizing Khmer Serei militia while other nationalists tried to build the country together is not an act of a good nationalist. His militia act of terrorizing Khmer people is even worse to call him a nationalist.

The following excerpts and links are some of what I have read and the bases on my judgment that Ngoc Thanh was not a nationalist.

Thanh attempted to gain overall control of the Issarak movement (split between the Khmer National Liberation Committee, the more overtly leftist United Issarak Front, and a variety of regional warlords and guerrilla leaders) throughout the early 1950s; a few of these, such as Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey and Puth Chhay, temporarily supported his overall leadership. By 1954, however, he had been increasingly sidelined by the leftists, and received overtures from the CIA, who would fund many of his activities in future.Though Thanh retained a high degree of support amongst the Khmer Krom, in subsequent years he would have relatively little influence or popular support within Cambodian domestic politics, especially as Sihanouk's Sangkum movement absorbed most centrist and rightist elements.

The Khmer Serei

The First Indochina War ended in 1954. From his base near Siem Reap, Thanh organized the Khmer Serei militia, mainly recruited from amongst the Khmer Krom, to fight Sihanouk, who had come to regard Thanh as one of his greatest enemies. In his 1959 "Manifesto" of the Khmer Serei, Thanh charged Sihanouk with allowing the "Communization" of Cambodia at the hands of North Vietnam. The Khmer Serei operated in the border areas of Thailand and South Vietnam, making clandestine anti-Sihanouk radio broadcasts, but made little headway, although they were suggested as a source of military power in a number of coup plots (such as the Bangkok Plot). After the Cambodian military and Lon Nol overthrew Sihanouk in 1970, Thanh was invited to participate in the new Khmer Republic government - initially as an adviser to the Acting Head of State, Cheng Heng - and put his Khmer Serei troops at its service.

In 1972, Thanh again became Prime Minister, but after being the target of a bomb attack (possibly organised by Lon Nol's brother, Lon Non) he was soon dismissed by Lon Nol and exiled himself to South Vietnam.

Thanh was arrested after the Communist victory in Vietnam, and died in their custody in 1977.

The Khmer Serei and the Khmer Kampuchea Krom militia

The Khmer Serei also had loose links with the US-backed Front de Lutte du Kampuchea Krom militia, or "White Scarves" (Khmer: Kangsaing Sar; Vietnamese: Can Sen So), of southern Vietnam. This group, originally founded by a Khmer Krom monk named Samouk Sen, sought Khmer Krom independence and regularly clashed with the Viet Cong: it expanded in the 1960s and later became affiliated to FULRO, a paramilitary organisation for Vietnamese minority groups. Members of both the Khmer Kampuchea Krom and the Khmer Serei were trained by the US military for clandestine operations during the Second Indochina War as part of MIKE Force, and were partly financed and armed by the CIA. At their peak in 1968, the Khmer Serei and related forces were thought to number up to 8000 men.

After the 1970 Lon Nol coup, Son Ngoc Thanh became a government minister, and members of the Khmer Serei and Khmer Kampuchea Krom militias - some of whom had been infiltrated into the Cambodian army prior to the coup - appeared on the streets of Phnom Penh. However, due in part to the desperate military situation, and in part to Lon Nol's suspicion that this comparatively well-trained force might be used against him by his rivals, they were deliberately thrown into the most grueling battles and largely shattered.

Son Ngoc Thanh was dismissed from the government in 1972, and exiled himself in South Vietnam, where he was arrested following the Fall of Saigon; the remaining Khmer Serei in South Vietnam were eliminated by the North Vietnamese victory, while those in Cambodia itself were hunted down by the Khmer Rouge after the overthrow of Lon Nol's regime

(Khmer Sarei with CIA to terrorize Khmer people)

PROJECT CHERRY was not a Special Forces mission. This CIA activity employed Special Forces personnel who were selected for their expertise in relevant skills necessary for the conduct of BLACK TERROR and ASSASSINATION missions. The Project was buried deep within a Military Intelligence unit which was itself operating under the guise of a Civic Action Team, a common CIA cover for covert operations world-wide. Although members of the Civic Action team wore various military uniforms and carried on activities as though they were legitimate military officers, some were full time CIA Agents.

The "operational" members of PROJECT CHERRY were Cambodians recruited from the KHMER SEREI, the Government In Exile from Cambodia, violently anti-SIHANOUK and dedicated to the overthrow of the Cambodian Government. The KHMER SEREI was recognized by the Vietnamese Government and operated openly in South Vietnam. PROJECT CHERRY employed twelve members of the KHMER SEREI. Their missions included the conduct of BLACK TERROR against the civilian population of Cambodia, while leaving evidence of their atrocities blaming Cambodian forces for their actions. The purpose of these activities was to create CIVIL UNREST and a rebellion against the Cambodian Regime. It worked. Similar operations utilizing KHMER SEREI were also directed from the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

PROJECT CHERRY, it turns out, had been compromised by the penetration of an individual who, while holding the rank as the First Secretary of the KHMER SEREI, was the PRINCIPAL AGENT of PROJECT CHERRY and also an Operative Agent of the SOVIET KGB. He was also employed by the SIHANOUK Government at the same time. This information was provided to the United States Embassy in Saigon in February, 1967, by the leader of the KHMER SEREI, SON NGOC THANH. The Americans of PROJECT CHERRY were not notified of this revelation. This triple agent's name was INCHIN LAM. As Principal Agent, LAM coordinated the activities of the Cambodian members of PROJECT CHERRY and also packed the parachutes used by all team members, including the Americans. Lam was also involved in the murder of one of the Cambodian members of PROJECT CHERRY.

The United States and Cambodia, 1870-1969: from curiosity to ..., Volume 1 By Kenton J. Clymer

Page 68 & 132 - He involved with Sam Sary in plotting to overthrough Samdach Ov called "Bankok Plot".

Many of the component groups of the Khmer Issarak - particularly its more rightist elements - participated in government under Prince Norodom Sihanouk after independence. Leading Issarak Dap Chhuon, for example, was given considerable power as Royal Delegate and Governor of Siem Reap, though he was to be killed by Sihanouk's forces in 1959 after being alleged to be involved in a coup plot.[2] The only major group not to be integrated with Sihanouk's government was Son Ngoc Thanh's Khmer Serai, who remained resolutely anti-monarchist.

Some people said that SOn Ngoc Thanh was a treateor to King NORODOM Sihanouk and misunderstand with Lon Nol ? but he was a Khmer nationalist to our Cambodia. So what you dear friend think so ?

Shared by S K MONOHA of Cambodia.
This comment was sent to me by a friend.

Sam Rainsy on Hello VOA program

Click here to listen to "Sam Rainsy on Hello VOA" on 28 January 2010 (in Khmer)

Mr. Rainsy was asked what the future hold for his party and himself in view of a court conviction and sentence.

Rainsy said "what is important is not the future of Sam Rainsy and the Sam rainsy Party. We are talking about the future of Cambodia because Cambodia belong to all Cambodians so we all must unite to defend the lands of our ancestors."

"Whoever said that this is Sam Rainsy's issue is trying to confuse the public opinions."

"They accused me of uprooting the border pillars. They are not the border pillars, they are just temporary stakes planted inside Khmer territory. I have measured their locations very thoroughly and that they were planted 280 metres deep inside Khmer territory. Those who said that those are border pillars/markers are not Khmer, those who are serving foreigners because foreigners have always wanted to move borderlines deeper into Khmer territory. Now they have moved borderlines 280 metres deeper inside Khmer territory. So, those wooden stakes are not real border markers, but the illegal, fake and encroached border markers. Those who said that they are real border markers are serving foreigners because I, Sam Rainsy, I serve Khmers, I serve my nation, our Motherland. I protect Khmer territory".

On the question of his promise to take this border matter to international community and international, Mr. Rainsy said the 19 signatories to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, including Vietnam and Thailand, have undertaken to guaranttee the territorial integrity of Cambodia. He said it is time to invoke these international agreements and all signatories must repspect and implement these agreements.

Rainsy said "If they think that my action of uprooting the wooden stake number 185 is wrong, why then after I pulled out border wooden stake #185, why the Vietnamese authority came and removed border markers # 184, #186 and #187? This means that my actions were right, my actions made them scared because I have exposed the truth and they removed those border markers because they are afraid that the truth will be exposed. They are afraid of their wrongdoings, so they have removed them by themselves before everybody knows. Why then Sam Rainsy is prosecuted because the Vietnamese themselves acknowledged that they have done something wrong".

Mr. Rainsy proposed that if the government is sincere and has nothing to hide, it should allow all the people interested in border demarcation works to monitor and paticipate in these works by allowing them, without restrictions, to visit the border demarcation sites so they can independently verify the locations of the border markers.

Thai, Cambodia Clash Kills Soldier

A Cambodian commander talks on two-way radio during the fighting 15th October 2008 in which several soldiers were killed (AFP).

Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia reported Saturday its troops killed one Thai soldier in the latest border clash between their militaries.

Khuy Sokha, governor of western Pursat province, said troops from the two sides fought for about 15 minutes late Friday after about 20 Thai soldiers crossed into Cambodian territory and refused to leave when confronted by Cambodian soldiers.

Cambodian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat said one Thai soldier was killed, with Cambodian troops firing AK-47 assault rifles and B-40 rocket propelled grenades.

Thai officials were not immediately available for comment.

Cambodia's relations with Thailand deteriorated two years ago, when nationalistic public opinion forced Bangkok to withdraw its support for a Cambodian application to designate a famous border temple a U.N. World Heritage site. The issue sparked renewed interest in some small tracts of disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple, and the two countries' soldiers since then have clashed several times.

Khuy Sokha said the body of the Thai soldier killed in the latest clash was turned over to Thai authorities Saturday morning after negotiations.

Cambodian, Thai troops clash on border: Phnom Penh

A Cambodian soldier stands guard on the eagle terrace near the Preah Vihear temple

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian and Thai troops have had a brief shoot-out on their disputed border, a Cambodian defence ministry spokesman said Saturday, in the latest such flare-up.

Chum Socheat told AFP that soldiers from the two countries exchanged fire for two or three minutes on Friday evening.

"We are now further investigating into the problem to find out how it started. We can't tell who started it first," he said.

He added that Cambodian troops reported a Thai soldier was killed in the skirmish, however Thai military officials were not immediately available to comment.

Troops from the two countries briefly exchanged fire in disputed territory near an ancient Khmer temple last Sunday.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their border for decades. Nationalist tensions spilled over into violence in July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

Four soldiers were killed in clashes in the temple area in 2008 and three more in a gunbattle last April.

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

Relations plunged further in November after Cambodian PM Hun Sen appointed ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption, as an economic adviser.

Cambodian Vessel Not Hijacked, Held by Somali Court

31st January 2010
Web Editor: Wang Wenwen

A Cambodian-flagged cargo ship that was reported to have been seized by Somali pirates is held by a local court in northwestern Somalia, an official statement said Saturday.

It was widely reported in local and international media that the Cambodian ship was hijacked by Somali pirates after offloading commercial goods in Berbera, a port town in the breakaway state of Somaliland.

However, the statement from the Berbera Port Authority said the local court in Berbera ordered the detention of MV Layla-S after a local businesses man filled a law suit against the company owning the ship, following the destruction of the businessman's goods in a fire on another ship of the company, MV Mairiam Star.

"On Sep. 15, 2009, the MV Layla-S was detained by Local Court of Berbera after it was accused by the merchant for goods of estimated cost of 250,000 U.S. dollars," said the statement.

The statement expressed dismay that the incident was misreported in the media and said owner of the ship was notified of the case.

Earlier on Saturday, Andrew Mwangura, a regional maritime official in Kenya, also confirmed that the hijacked Cambodian cargo ship is being held off Berbera port by businessmen owing to a deal which has gone sour and not pirate attack.

Mwangura, East Africa's Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program, said the MV Layla-S which was seized on Wednesday has 14 crew members on board from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Syria.

Piracy is rampant in the southern part of the war-torn Somalia where dozens of ships and hundreds of crew are being held for ransom by local pirate gangs.

The breakaway state of Somaliland which proclaimed its independence from the rest of Somalia 1991 enjoys relative peace and has its separate government, parliament, security forces, flag and currency although it has not received international recognition since.

Royal honour for croc doc who saved ‘extinct’ species


Home - A young Siamese crocodile
A young Siamese crocodile
A SCIENTIST from Cambridge has been given a royal honour by the government of Cambodia – for saving one of the world’s rarest crocodiles.

The Siamese crocodile was believed to be extinct in the wild, but several years ago Dr Jenny Daltry, from the Cambridge-based conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI), discovered a tiny number were still alive in Cambodia.

She has since spearheaded a successful campaign to save them – and yesterday the Royal Cambodian Government recognised her efforts by awarding her the title Officer of the Order of Sahemetrei.

The award is given for “distinguished services to the king and nation”.

Dr Daltry, a senior conservation biologist at the charity, told the News: “I’m overwhelmed and grateful.

“For a conservationist to receive this rare honour does, I think, signify the importance that Cambodia places on its wildlife, forests, and protected areas.”

She has worked for FFI for 15 years and much of her time has been spent in Cambodia, where she has led several field expeditions, resulting in increased protection of forested areas in the Cardamom Mountains.

After discovering Siamese crocodiles surviving there in the year 2000, she set up a community-based programme to protect the endangered reptile.

She has also led a ground-breaking initiative to establish a new generation of Cambodian scientists.

An FFI spokeswoman said: “Because the Pol Pot regime largely wiped out the educated classes, the country lacks enough qualified practitioners to manage its wildlife and help it to develop sustainably. Under FFI Cambodia’s University Capacity Building Programme, Dr Daltry created the first permanent Masters of Science programme at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Nearly 150 Cambodians have enrolled on the course so far.”

The honour was presented to the Cambridge scientist at a ceremony attended by senior government officials, international dignitaries and the British ambassador to Cambodia.

Dr Daltry said: “The achievement I feel most proud of is helping talented Cambodians to become leaders in biodiversity conservation. I also thank my colleagues and co-workers for their tireless commitment and support for more than a decade.”

Same same, but different

The 4WD convoy heading through the gateway to Bayon Temple in the Angkor complex.
Returning to camp at dusk after a day’s adventuring around Pailin.
Less than 30 minutes away from the camp was Phnom Khiev waterfall. PAUL SI

The Star Online

Four-wheel-drive adventures in Cambodia are similar yet different compared to Malaysia.

The party was in full swing and I couldn’t remember the last time I had so much fun. What made the mirth and merriment even more memorable was that I was having such a good time despite not understanding a single word of the song being belted out with gusto by the band.

But help is always at hand in this friendly land of ready smiles, and I soon found out that the Cambodian song was about how it’s good to be alive.

Sipping a cold beer and occasionally joining in the impromptu line dancing, I could see that my new friends, many of whom I had just met, were truly enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Good music, good company and dance — what more could anyone want?
The 4WD convoy heading through the gateway to Bayon Temple in the Angkor complex.

Now this may sound naïve, even child-like in many other places, but I was atop a rocky hill near a town called Pailin, Cambodia and it seemed the most natural thing to be feeling.

Here, the memories are still vivid from the horror years of the “Killing Fields”. Many of my fellow revellers that night had lived through the terrible “three years, eight months and 20 days” of Pol Pot’s murderous regime. To them, being alive is reason enough for celebration.

Even young Cambodians are well aware of the country’s recent history. So, life is good, and it’s good to be alive, and that’s as good a reason as any to party! With a live band, professional sound stage and speakers and fireworks thrown in, this elaborate production was certainly turning out to be unlike any camping trip I’d ever been on.

The story of how I ended up here goes all the way back to 2002.

Several unfamiliar faces showed up during one of the Ford Lanun Darat 4X4 adventures I was on. They were officials from the various Ford distributors in the region. One of them, Seng Voeung from R.M. Asia Ltd, the Cambodian Ford distributor, told us that he had come to learn how to organise 4X4 events — camping and so on — with the aim of doing something similar for his customers.
Returning to camp at dusk after a day’s adventuring around Pailin.

Five years passed, and then in mid-2007, Voeung showed up again. This time, he brought along three colleagues. They did not say much but took plenty of notes. When finally we were invited to join the Cambodians on their own Ford Adventure, we did not hesitate.

When we arrived in Phnom Penh for the first time, our initial impressions were mixed.

Traffic seemed chaotic, with many beat-up jalopies and motorcycle-towed rickshaws which they call “tuk-tuk” like in Thailand. But, there was also a surprising number of large modern 4X4s like the latest Toyota Landcruisers, Prados and even a few bling-bling Hummers. Fossil fuel-burning vehicles with four, three and two wheels competed noisily for space with pedal power, with everyone honking madly.

The biggest surprise was the staggering scale of the event that our Cambodian friends had put together.

On our own 4X4 outings, we always try to help the less fortunate rural folk, like the orang asli in the areas we visited, by giving them used clothes and a bit of rice and other foodstuff. The Cambodians took this idea to a whole new level by bringing along about 10 tonnes of rice, as well as thousands of bottles of soy sauce, fish gravy and bags of salt.

And while the Ranger is the most popular Ford model sold there, they also had customers who showed up with huge US-specced F-150s, and the even bigger F-250 pick-ups! These humongous trucks certainly came in handy for hauling all that rice and sauces.

Hitting the road, we wide-eyed Malaysians noticed the wide variety of vehicles pressed into service all over the country. Motorbikes (kapcai) ruled, carrying entire families or towing trailers or lugging logs or pigs. There were also Toyota Camrys — that had been converted into pick-ups and loaded up to 3m high — tractors and bullock carts.

If something had wheels, the Cambodians had a use for it.

Safety standards are somewhat different; people riding atop vans without handholds do not attract a second glance. Once out of the hustle and bustle of the city, we found the countryside to be a picturesque procession of padi fields as far as the eye could see, as well as various cottage industries.
Less than 30 minutes away from the camp was Phnom Khiev waterfall. — PAUL SI

Depending on which part of the country you’re in, roads can be good, like the old trunk road from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, or bumpy and dusty. One unpaved stretch that I drove on was wide and straight but very dusty and had many potholes that were so big, they ought to be called craters.

Generous aid from donor nations like Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union means many civil engineering programmes, including road construction, are under way so these dusty adventures may not be around much longer. One horror stretch I had heard much about was between touristy Siem Reap and the Thai border town of Poipet but it is now a smooth sealed road on which traffic zooms along at up to 100kph.

Heading west from Siem Reap, our convoy of about 50 Ford trucks and SUVs quickly reached Banteay Meanchey, a big town about 45km from the Thai border. Then we turned left and headed south to Battambang, a charming town that still boasts French architecture.

After a sumptuous lunch of Cambodian delicacies that resembled Thai cuisine, but was a little different and had red ants, we hit the dustiest 80km I had ever driven on. It was so bad that visibility was down to about a car-length in parts. The plants, shops and houses lining the road were all coated in a thick layer of orange dust in stark contrast to the trees and padi fields just 100m on either side, which were a lush green.

But here, too, the road is being progressively tarred over, so progress is coming.

Arriving with relief at Pailin late in the afternoon, we were invited to make thanksgiving offerings at a pretty Buddhist temple, where a welcoming committee put on a musical and dance reception worthy of VIPs. Then, it was a short bumpy drive to the campsite, which I was to discover only later was a bare hill because it had been stripped off all vegetation by miners scouring the slopes for diamonds!

Wished I had been able to pick up a pebble or two myself.

Pailin used to be famous for its gems. Mining them brought fabulous wealth to the area and helped finance the Khmer Rouge’s struggle against government forces until peace came several years ago. Although our Cambodian hosts were all very positive about the future, memories of the traumatic past were never far away.

For instance, just the year before, a landmine blew up an overloaded truck and killed three Pailin locals 30km from our campsite. Mine-clearing teams have been active in the area, and much of the land has been declared safe, and yet the fatal explosion occurred in a place where many cars had travelled over frequently. It turned out to be a massive anti-tank mine which was finally set off by the unfortunate vehicle because it was just way overloaded.

While Malaysian-styled camping meant finding a scenic spot near a clean river or stream to set up tents, the Cambodian way was to find a wide expanse of ground that allowed everyone plenty of space — and a great view. Necessities like water and toilets, complete with plumbing, would be brought in or built for the camp. A local fire engine was even commandeered to supply the water tanks!

After dancing the night away, the expedition would set out the next day to visit nearby attractions like spectacular waterfalls, but only after handing over the tonnes of goodies to the grateful local folk.

A visit to Cambodia, especially a driving holiday like Ford Adventure, is a feast of interesting experiences, with so many exotic places and sights to see and “interesting” food to eat. But the enduring memory that one takes away is of the incredible warmth and friendliness of the people.

As a country whose economy depends heavily on tourism, there are naturally parts that are touristy but what’s a holiday without some souvenirs?

My favourite memento is the T-shirt that says “Same Same”, a phrase often heard at markets where tourists haggle with traders. On the back, it reads: “But Different”. That sums up my Cambodian experience — in many ways, it was the “same same” (like, say, in Thailand), and yet, in a special way, it was very different.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Sam Rainsy´s condition for his return to jail​លក្ខខ័ណ្ឌលោកប្រធានសមរង្ស៊ីចូលគុក

Originally posted at: The Son of the Khmer Empire
In his intervier with RFA MP ​​​Sam Rainsy said that he would return to Cambodia to serve the 2-year jail term sentenced by the Svay Rieng kangaroo court of the puppet govt if his condition met.
”I will not return back to Cambodia yet. I wish to request for the release of the two who have been jailed, namely Mr. Prom Chea and Mrs. Meas Srey, from the prison first. If I return now I will be arrested (and jailed) as well, so what is the point if all of us are in jail. Who will help whom if all of us are in jail? Now I demand for the releaseof the two first. After that I will return to let them arrest me”, he said.

I think this only condition is not just and it seems that MP Sam Rainsy forgets his another condition which he used to raise along with it, ie., the return of the lost rice fields to the farmers.
To my concern is that other conditions must be demanded and practically met besides the above two conditions.
  1. The Svay Rieng court must evidently and technically prove that those rice fields are in Vietnam because if those border posts were installed in Cambodian rice fields, MP Sam Rainsy is absolutely right (he explained it here). The court must also prove which racial comment or act has MP Sam Rainsy made then? And bring those who uprooted the rest border posts namely border posts #184, #186, and#187 to trail as well.
  2. Va Kim Hong or Hun Xen must unconditionally cooperate with MP Sam Rainsy in order to verify the alleged border posts together by using the documents that MP Sam Rainsy and Hun Xen´s government use as evidences according to our constitution. Then the loser, regardless who he is, must be brought to justice accordingly after the verification.
Otherwise, MP Sam Rainsy must be trapped by the CPP again. I means the CPP can release the jailed farmers with some secret conditions/threats and then MP Sam Rainsy would be jailed, if he really returned. Then, the new play would be arranged. The jailed farmers would join the puppet govt and push all the crimes onto MP Sam Rainsy. But if he would not return to serve his jail term as promised, then MP Sam Rainsy would be called by the CPP and viewed by other Cambodians as the “COWARD”, the “IRRESPONSIBLE”, the “CRIMINAL”, and his political life would be ended. Or maybe many other plott would be conspired to weight more crime on MP Sam Rainsy! So watch out MP Sam Rainsy!

MP Sam Rainsy should remember that, “It is most importantly not about his serving jail term under the kangaroo court, but it is about the protection of Cambodia and Cambodians.Therefore, please don´t take it so easy with the puppet CPP.

A Political and Moral Victory for Cambodia

January 30, 2010

Because of irrefutable evidence of border encroachment presented by the Sam Rainsy Party as shown at http://tinyurl.com/yeaoxyf , the Cambodian government has started to reconsider their official position on the issue of border delimitation with Vietnam. This change in attitude has been exposed in SRP January 29 statement “Government admits mistake on border post location,” which can be read at http://tinyurl.com/yhnee57

But even before the Cambodian government was forced to realize their mistake, the Vietnamese authorities implicitly but publicly recognized their own mistake on November 16 when they removed themselves “temporary border posts” (#184, 186 and 187) in the immediate vicinity of post #185 which Sam Rainsy removed on October 25, 2009. See photos at http://tinyurl.com/yeaoxyf

Vietnamese border officials took those alleged border demarcation stakes back to Vietnam, which constitutes a political and moral victory for Cambodia. Hopefully, the Vietnamese (tactical?) retreat will pave the way for Cambodian farmers to recover their ancestral rice fields.

SRP Members of Parliament

Temporary Border Post Sits Well Inside Cambodian Torritory

Sam Rainsy’s clarification published in The Cambodia Daily, January 30-31, 2010

In your article "By Video, Sam Rainsy Courts International Support" (January 29, page 1), you wrote, "Mr Rainsy pointed again to maps created by the Sam Rainsy Party."

I would like to stress that the SRP has not "created" any map. The ones we have recently presented are well-known official maps used and put forward by the Royal Cambodian Government itself. They are the French-era 1952 1/100,000 map and the US Army 1966 1/50,000 map. The 1952 map was deposited at the United Nations by the RCG under then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk [in 1964] in order to help secure international guarantee for Cambodia’s borders as inherited from the French colonial administration.

The SRP technical work on this issue is rigorously based on the above-mentioned official maps and consists of a two-step demonstration that anybody with good faith can easily follow or check:

1- Go on the spot, meaning to the exact location of the "temporary border post #185" in Svay Rieng province which I pulled out on October 25, and get the exact and precise geographic coordinates of that spot using a GPS device. The data collected are also known as GPS locations.

2- Locate on the maps the precise position of this "temporary border post #185" according to its geographic coordinates as collected from the GPS device. This can be done manually using a simple computer-designed grid as shown in SRP document "How to manually position border posts on a map," available at http://tinyurl.com/ycmw48z . The same result can be obtained more quickly by using specific computer programs.

The result is clear and irrefutable: The "temporary border post #185" sits well inside Cambodia’s territory, at a distance between 250 meters and 300 meters from the legal border with Vietnam as delineated on any of the two existing official maps.

Therefore, I did not pull out any real and legal border post, and the accusation against me and two Cambodian farmers, victims of land grab associated with border encroachment, is groundless.

Any independent map expert anywhere in the world could certify the accuracy of the SRP presentation provided the geographic coordinates (collected at Step 1) are accurate. The methodology itself (used at Step 2) would be acceptable by all.

Therefore, in order to allow a transparent assessment and a fair judgment, the government should publicize, and the court should ask for, the GPS locations of the concerned "temporary border post #185" and those of similar alleged border demarcation markers in the immediate vicinity.

At my trial on January 27, a representative from the government Border Committee denied my lawyer’s request that the court be given the geographic coordinates of "temporary border post #185" because, he said, this data is "confidential and secret."

But anybody now (journalists, diplomats, observers, ordinary citizens) can obtain this "confidential and secret" data by going on the spot with a GPS device. They will see by themselves where the truth stands. They will help uphold justice.

Sam Rainsy
Member of Parliament
President of the Sam Rainsy Party

The assassination of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s political career

Op-Ed by Khmerization
30th January, 2010

“when it comes to Cambodia’s national interests, in particular the issues of border encroachments and in the defence of Cambodian territorial integrity, Cambodian political leaders from all political persuasions cannot afford to fight each other along the line of political ideology. For the sake of Cambodia’s national interests and survival, they must put aside their differences and work together for the common good to save Cambodia from extinction.”

Mr. Sam Rainsy had landed himself in political hot waters when he led the villagers to uproot the border markers on 25th October 2009. Whether out of his patriotic instinct or a crave for a dramatic publicity stunt, in split seconds, he had uprooted six temporary wooden border markers in a spontaneous response to the villagers’ outcry when temporary border markers were planted in their rice fields without their knowledge and permission. This action, as a final straw, could seal his political fate and see the possible death of his political career, if a political solution is not found as he has been convicted and sentenced to two years jail for the political drama.

Opinions are divided on Mr. Sam Rainsy’s action. The opponents of the present government and the proponents of Mr. Sam Rainsy, in particular border critics, are adamant that border encroachments by Cambodia’s neighbours are real and happened on a grand scale and that Mr. Sam Rainsy’s action are appropriate under the circumstances. On the contrary, proponents of the government, who are convinced that border encroachments are just an invention of the opponents of the present government, think that Mr. Sam Rainsy had, in his short-sightedness and political immaturity, committed crime that endangers Cambodia’s national interests and damage good relations with Vietnam.

In Cambodia’s polarised and politically fractious and factional society, people tend not to view things independently and in a very rational way. They tend to tow the political line or policies taken by their political parties or political idols. The issues of Cambodia’s border problems with Vietnam is a perfect example of Cambodians towing political lines, as leaders and supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are vigorously trying to whitewash border encroachments by Vietnam and trying to smear Mr. Sam Rainsy for having exposed the encroachments. If this political trend continues into future generations, Cambodia will be at greater risks of losing its political, cultural and national identity and Cambodia’s borders with its neighbours, in particular, will even be at greater risks of being neglected and left undefended.

Many Cambodian patriots and opponents of the ruling CPP consider Mr. Rainsy’s action as the first step of stoking of national interests to instil the momentum in the border campaigns that will have far-reaching effect in the defence of Cambodian territorial integrity. And the evidences of border encroachments presented by Mr. Sam Rainsy, including maps and photographs, stoked national awareness and awakening amongst the general population, including some CPP leaders and, particularly, amongst overseas Khmers and Khmer academic circles in Cambodia and around the world.

Mr. Var Kimhong, chairman of Cambodian Border Committee, had accused Mr. Rainsy of fabrication and invention of documents. However, he admitted recently that Vietnam had indeed encroached on Cambodian borders on the spots where he refuted Mr. Sam Rainsy’s evidences of Vietnam’s encroachments.

Many political analysts and observers viewed Mr. Sam Rainsy’s conviction and sentencing by the notoriously corrupt and biased Cambodian court as nothing short of a travesty of justice and a farcical show trial designed to whitewash and legitimise the ruling party’s crackdowns on the oppositions and its critics in a campaign of political intimidation to silence dissenting voices. To put it point blank, the trial is a political assassination of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s political career in an attempt to weaken the Sam Rainsy Party and then engineer and orchestrate its break up, in the kind of wedge politics that has been employed effectively by the ruling CPP in the past.

But, when it comes to Cambodia’s national interests, in particular the issues of border encroachments and in the defence of Cambodian territorial integrity, Cambodian political leaders from all political persuasions cannot afford to fight each other along the line of political ideology. For the sake of Cambodia’s national interests and survival, they must put aside their differences and work together for the common good to save Cambodia from extinction.

Sam Rainsy won't return to Cambodia if two jailed villagers are not released

Photographs showing border post #187 planted deeper inside Cambodian territory, far from the 1979 man-made canal dug by Vietnam to act as a borderline (seen here in the background).

By Khmerization
Source: Radio Free Asia

Mr. Sam Rainsy, the leader of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that he will return to face charge in Cambodia if two villagers are released from jail unconditionally, reports Radio Free Asia.

Mr. Sam Rainsy, who is living in exile in France, was convicted and sentenced on 27th January to two years jail for uprooting 6 temporary wooden border markers from the Khmer-Vietnamese borders on 25th October, 2009.

In a press conference via a video link from France on Thursday, Mr. Rainsy said he won't return to Cambodia if the two villagers are not released. "I will not return back to Cambodia yet. I wish to request for the release of the two who have been jailed, namely Mr. Prom Chea and Mrs. Meas Srey, from the prison first. If I return now I will be arrested (and jailed) as well, so what is the point if all of us are in jail. Who will help whom if all of us are in jail? Now I demand for the release of the two first. After that I will return to let them arrest me", he said.

In the press conference, Mr. Rainsy charged that border pillars #184, $185, #186 and #187 are all planted inside Cambodian territory. He said he had collected all evidences of border encroachments by Vietnam to lodge complaints to the international community and the UN.

Mr. Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodian Border Committee, said Mr. Rainsy had fabricated the evidences. "He used fake documents and then accused the Cambodian Border Committee of planting border markers incorrectly. This is true, whether it is done on purpose or unitentional when he pipointed the locations of the 4 border pillars on the map, which is the correct map. I can say that the borderlines are correct, but he had pinpointed the locations of the border pillars incorrectly. I don't know whether he incorrectly pinpointed them intentionally or unintentionally or through sheer ignorant. If he is ignorant he must learn from knowledgeable people and ask the Cambodian Border Committee, but don't ask the foreigners who don't know (the borderlines) clearly", he said.

Mr. Sam Rainsy had used fresh photographs, maps drawn by the French experts, Cambodian official maps deposited at the UN in 1964, Google Earth map and maps drawn by the U.S Army in 1954, with the help of French cartographical experts, to map the locations of the border posts. According to the maps, all the border posts are shown to be located within Cambodian territories.

Mr. Var Kimhong had recently admitted that Vietnam had violated and encroached on Cambodia's borders when it unilaterally made a decision to dig a canal in 1979 to act as a borderline. "One more complicated issue is Vietnam's decision to dig a canal along the borders in 1979 that did not respect the real borderlines drawn on the maps. (Now), the local people who live on both sides of the canal must consider the dike and the canal as the real borderline between the two countries", Mr. Var Kimhong said.

According to the photographs presented by Mr. Sam Rainsy, border pillars #184, #185, #186 and #187 are all located deeper inside Khmer territory far from the canal dug in 1979 that Mr. Var Kimhong was talking about.

Thai parliament approved budget to purchase more jet fighters

JAS-39 Gripen

By Khmerization

The Thai parliament has on Tuesday 26th approved 16,000 million Baht ($500 million), out of the 19,000 million Baht ($594 million) requested by the government, to purchase new jet fighters, JAS-39 Gripen, to replace the ailing fleet of the U.S-made F16 and F5E jet fighters which have been in service more than years already, reports Khmer Express News.

JAS-39 Gripen jet fighters are designed and manufactured by the Swiss (Swedish?) company SAAB to replace the old designs, the J35 Darken and the AJ37 Viggen.

The Thai Royal Air Force has the largest fleet of F16 and F5E jet fighters in South East Asia.

A biography of Ven. Kim Toc Chon , A Khmer hero

Shared by S K MONOHA of Cambodia, France

Dear all Khmer sister-brother beloved, here is a history of Hero of Cambodia who died for our country.

Revered Ven. Ghanda Dhammo Kim Toc Chon, died for the Khmer nation and Buddhism in 1985. He was born in Kampuchea Krom.

-President of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom United Buddhist Monks Association

- Arrested, imprisoned and executed by lethal injection by VN government in 1985 for his activism in the fields of human rights and religion.

- Human Rights is an arch enemy of the ruling Vietnamese communist regime.

- Served the Khmer national interest bravely.

Photo of Ven. Kim Toc Chon provided by professor Thach Visal. He was imprisoned by the VN government. Possession of pictures such as heroes, heroic Buddhist monks or other important figures in Kampuchea Krom is a serious crime. This picture of Ven. Kim Toc Chon is priceless.

His name is pronounced Kim Tok Joeurng.

In Memories of the Khmer heroes, heroines, Buddhist monks, nuns, priests, millions of educated professionals, soldiers, teachers, professors, doctors, mid-wives, scholars, students, craftsmen, farmers, and ordinary citizens of Kingdom of Cambodia and Kampuchea Krom for their sacred defense of our motherland, Khmer race, Buddhism, freedom, human rights, justice, environments, national language, culture, custom, and tradition since the pre-era of Governor Son Kuy to the presence.
We shall never forget you. You are in our hearts, always. Your noble Khmer Krom cause and unmatched courage inspire past, present and future Khmer generations to [continue] carry your nationalist mission.
There are millions of unknown heroes and Buddhist monks, who sacrificed their lives for Kampuchea Krom.
It is not our intention to exclude them. No available profiles and pictures. We invite you to visit us frequently as you could as pictorial profiles of heroes, heroines and Buddhist monks become available, they would be posted for your views.

Remember Khmer Heroes, Buddhist Monks, and Patriotic Compatriots for their brave acts in defending, protecting and guarding their Nation, Theravada Buddhism, and Liberty.

Event in Fresno & Sacremento of CA for Sam Meas

Dear Associates,
On Saturday 6th February, 2010 the Cambodians Action Committee for Justice & Equity (CACJE) host an event for Sam Meas (pictured), the first Cambodian-American who run for US Congress in 2010 for 5th district of MA.
The event in Sacremento is in the morning time and in Fresno is at Evening time.
In Sacremento please contact our representative Mr. Pong Kit, Tel: 916 529 3887 and in Fresno please contact our representative Mr. Setha Nouv, Tel: 599 430 6658.

P.L: I will be in Long Beach on Sunday 31st, January and will be in Sacremento 4th February and you can reach me by 401 405 6611.

Chief Mission of CACJE
Website: www.cacje.net Weblog: http://cacje-news.blogspot.com

Southeast Asia: Human Rights Watch Charges Torture, Rape, Illegal Detentions at Cambodian Drug "Rehab" Centers, Demands Shutdown

In a scathing 93-page report released today, the international human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Cambodian drug detention centers of torturing and raping detainees, imprisoning children and the mentally ill, and illegally detaining and imprisoning drug users. The centers are beyond reform and should be closed, the group said.
"Individuals in these centers are not being treated or rehabilitated, they are being illegally detained and often tortured," said Joseph Amon, director of the Health and Human Rights division at HRW. "These centers do not need to be revamped or modified; they need to be shut down."

The report cited detailed testimonies from detainees who were raped by center staff, beaten with electric cables, shocked with cattle prods, and forced to give blood. It also found that drug users were "cured" of their conditions by being forced to undergo rigorous military-style drills to sweat the drugs out of their systems.

"[After arrest] the police search my body, they take my money, they also keep my drugs... They say, 'If you don't have money, why don't you go for a walk with me?... [The police] drove me to a guest house.... How can you refuse to give him sex? You must do it. There were two officers. [I had sex with] each one time. After that they let me go home," said Minea, a woman in her mid-20's who uses drugs, explaining how she was raped by two police officers.

"[A staff member] would use the cable to beat people... On each whip the person's skin would come off and stick on the cable," said M'noh, age 16, describing whippings he witnessed in the Social Affairs "Youth Rehabilitation Center" in Choam Chao. The title of the HRW report is "Skin on the Cable."

More than 2,300 people were detained in Cambodia's 11 drug detention centers in 2008. That is 40% more than in 2007.

"The government of Cambodia must stop the torture occurring in these centers," said Amon. "Drug dependency can be addressed through expanded voluntary, community-based, outpatient treatment that respects human rights and is consistent with international standards."

Cambodian officials from the National Authority for Combating Drugs, the Interior Ministry, the National Police, and the Social Welfare Ministry all declined to comment when queried by the Associated Press. But Cambodian Brig. Gen. Roth Srieng, commander of the military police in Banteay Meanchy province, denied torture at his center, while adding that some detainees were forced to stand in the sun or "walk like monkeys" as punishment for trying to escape.

Children as young as 10, prostitutes, beggars, the homeless, and the mentally ill are frequently detained and taken to the drug detention centers, the report found. About one-quarter of those detained were minors. Most were not told why they were being detained. The report also said police sometimes demanded sexual favors or money for release and told some detainees they would not be beaten or could leave early if they donated blood.

The report relied on testimony from 74 people, most of them drug users, who had been detained between February and July 2009.

Cambodia's Grand Lion Group Enters Hotel Business

Hotels, 1/29/2010

Cambodia-based Grand Lion Group, has entered into a management agreement and related agreements with Marriott International to operate the 218-room Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap. The agreement is the first of its kind for the Grand Lion Group whose primary business is real estate and agriculture.

The Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will be located on a 1.2-hectar site, approximately 15 minutes away from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Archaeological Park, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Stretching over some 400 sq km, including forested area, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of Khmer Empire, from the ninth to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat at Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple with countless sculptural decorations. Angkor became listed as a World Heritage site in 1992 when UNESCO set up programs to safeguard the site and its surroundings. Towards the end of the 1990s, political stability in Cambodia was much more apparent and the popularity of Angkor started attracting more mainstream tourism to Siem Reap.

Scheduled for completion in 2011, the Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap will feature 218 stylishly-designed guestrooms with four-fixture bathrooms. In-room amenities will include Marriott's famous plush bed and bath linen and amenities, high-definition flat-screen television, high-speed internet access, mini-bar and safe. For dining and entertainment, there will be a casual, all-day dining restaurant, a Pool Bar & Grill, and a lobby lounge. Recreational facilities will include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a full-service spa including a relaxation lounge and a foot reflexology area. The property will also feature approximately 600 sq m of function space.

Plans are also underway to open a resort hotel in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville and a business hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Expecting to breaking ground in the third quarter of 2010, the Grand Palm Resort will comprise three branded International Hotels, a marina, 18- hole championship golf course and luxury villas and condominiums situated on a 200 hectare beachfront in the premier coastal holiday town of Sihanoukville. The Grand Palms Beach Resort is nestled between a tropical rain forest and the Gulf of Thailand providing an idyllic retreat for those seeking seclusion. Sited four hours by road from Phnom Penh, the Resort is on target to be ready by 2013.

The planned 200-room hotel in the capital city of Phnom Penh is expected to appeal to business and leisure travellers when it opens in 2013. A city of more than 2 million people, Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and the country's commercial, economic and political hub.

President and CEO of the Grand Lion Group, Mr Lundy Nath explains, "After careful research and a thorough review of well-known hotel brands for two years, we selected Marriott International to be our key hotel partner in our hospitality division. The brand is world famous and internationally recognised fitting in with our marketing strategy, while meeting expectations for customers who are used to the level of comfort and standards associated with Marriott hotels around the world. It will appeal to our guests exploring the Indo-China region where Marriott International has already established a presence. With a large global distribution network, we expect to attract more visitors from Asia, Europe and USA."

The Grand Lion Group will invest a total of US$300 million in its ongoing hotel ventures around Cambodia. The Grand Lion Group hospitality division is expected to create over 500 job opportunities in the country, and the group expects future development plans in Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam.

U-M Flint nursing students pledge to help Cambodian orphans receive essential health care

By Beata Mostafavi | Flint Journal

January 29, 2010,

FLI0129MakeDifDonaldWarner_MG_1024.jpgUM-Flint nursing student Doni Warner will lead 10 students on a trip to Cambodia in mid-May to administer basic medical care.

KevinFitzpatrick01.jpgFellow nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick will help with the relief effort.

FLINT — Doni Warner knew the name of the surgeon leading the open heart surgery on his five-month-old son — but he really got to know the nurses.

They were the ones who offered him and wife Jody blankets on nights they slept in waiting rooms, brought them water and were “translators” when doctor lingo was a little too much.

It’s part of what inspired the former construction business owner to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Michigan-Flint — and why he is joining a trip to Cambodia that will involve medical care for orphans.

“There are numerous diseases that you can get treated for in the United States,” said Warner, 41, who is raising money to pay for the $3,000-plus venture in May. “Kids are dying from things over there that we can get everyday care for here.”

Warner is among a group of about 10 UM-Flint students who are leaving for the 14-day trip. Some students such as Warner also plan to stay longer on their own to continue work in orphanages.

Overseas, they will give children physicals and follow up with those who need medical attention. They will help with IVs and monitor vital signs for malaria patients.

They will help village children who have puncture wounds on their feet from collecting reusable items from a nearby dump barefoot.

Some will also spent time teaching children English and help teach them basic care for themselves — such as washing their face and brushing their teeth.

“It just goes back to wanting to help somebody in the world ... and the people in Cambodia have a desperate need for health care,” said Warner, a father of four.

“It seems a little better calling than building houses,” he added of future plans to work in the health care field, possibly on a global level.

For UM-Flint nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick, the Cambodia trip adds to a list of service work — including volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, boarding up abandoned homes and traveling to Iowa with his church to help with relief efforts after the massive floods in 2008.

“Just the little bit we can do in the short time we’re there I hope helps brighten their day,” said the Swartz Creek father of two, 35. “We aren’t there to save the world but to make a difference.

We take so much for granted here. Hopefully we will impact them as much as they will impact us.”

The trip is coordinated through UM-Flint’s international nursing program, which earns students three credits.

Students will spend long hours working with people in need but will also get some free time and a chance to visit well known spots such as 7th World Wonder Angkor Wat.

But university officials say this kind of trip draws a special group of students.

“These are for students who don’t mind sleeping on a wooden plank or riding in a rickety bus. It’s not Europe,” said Maureen Tippen, clinical assistant professor who has organized similar trips for nearly 14 years.

“For most of the students, it’s a life-changing experience.”


By Bethan Hill,

Community Newswire

SCIENCE Award, 29 Jan 2010

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A British conservationist has today been honoured with a prestigious award from the government of Cambodia for her wildlife conservation activities in the country.

Doctor Jenny Daltry, originally from Buckinghamshire, was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Sahametrei at a formal ceremony at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

The title is given to people from other countries for distinguished services to the king and to the nation.

Dr Daltry said: "I am overwhelmed and grateful. For a conservationist to receive this rare honour does, I think, signify the importance that Cambodia places on its wildlife, forests, and protected areas.

"Cambodia is changing fast, but economic development does not have to mean the loss of its wildlife or priceless environmental services.

The award was presented by His Excellency Ty Sokhun, head of the Forestry Administration in Cambodia. The ceremony was also attended by the Head of the EU Delegation and the British Ambassador to Cambodia.

Dr Daltry, 40, has spent much of the past 15 years doing conservation work in Cambodia, as part of her role as senior conservation biologist for UK-based organisation Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

In that time, she has led a number of field expeditions to the Cardamom Mountains, in the south-west of the country, helping to increase protection of the forests.

In 2000, she rediscovered a Siamese crocodile that was previously thought to be extinct and started a programme to conserve the species.

She has also established a Masters of Science programme at the University of Phnom Penh, to create a new generation of scientists who will be able to manage the country's wildlife and habitats in the future. To date, 147 Cambodians have enrolled on the course.

Dr Daltry said: "The achievement I feel most proud of is helping talented Cambodians, from government ministries to villages, to become leaders in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use."

Dr Daltry has also founded Cambodia's first peer-reviewed scientific journal, the Cambodian Journal of Natural History, to encourage the sharing of knowledge about wildlife and natural resources.

Fauna and Flora International, based in the UK, protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. For more information, visit www.fauna-flora.org.

Khmer cuisine in the Cambodian countryside

29th January 2010
The gazebo
Further enhancing its burgeoning reputation for championing authentic Khmer cuisine, local ingredients and traditional flavours, Hôtel de la Paix has created a unique and beautiful gazebo in the spectacular countryside outside Siem Reap, where guests can enjoy a romantic, torch-lit modern take on the traditional Khmer barbecue.

Surrounded by rolling rice fields, cocooned by the scents of lemongrass and frangipani, a private chef serves a fresh menu of mouth-watering barbecued dishes, from prawn with crushed fresh kampot peppercorn to quail with star anis and wild honey.

Bursting with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and traditional Khmer influences, this gourmet menu was created by Hôtel de la Paix’s executive chef Joannes Riviere - founder of the Siem Reap Chef Association and author of the first French language Khmer cookbook ever published. French-born Riviere is fluent in the Khmer language and has made their cuisine his specialism. Having first relocated to Cambodia for voluntary work in 2003, his intimate knowledge of, and passion for the Cambodian people and their culture infuses his innovative menu designs.

This absorbing new culinary experience begins in authentic style with a short 15 minute journey from the hotel by traditional Tuk Tuk, passing through the buzzing streets of Siem Reap and out into the quietude of the real, rural Cambodia - a picturesque countryside punctuated by rice paddies, clusters of stilted houses, pagodas and water buffalo. On arrival at the beautifully decorated gazebo, guests are greeted by their own personal team of chefs and waiters, before settling down to embark on a remarkable journey through Khmer cuisine.

The romantic gazebo packages start from US$300 for two, including:

- Tuk Tuk transfer to the gazebo (return by private car)
- Private Khmer barbecue dinner
- Champagne on arrival
- A bottle of wine from Hôtel de la Paix’s world class wine list

For further information visit hoteldelapaixangkor.com.

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, close to the cultural and historic heart of Cambodia, Hôtel de la Paix is a luxury boutique hotel within easy reach of colourful markets and vibrant nightlife; and just a few kilometres from the breathtaking temple complexes of Angkor Wat, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Khmer culture is celebrated in every aspect of style and service at Hôtel de la Paix, from the Meric Restaurant, with its seasonally inspired local cuisine to the Arts Lounge, which pays tribute to Cambodian artists; and Spa Indochine, which offers signature traditional treatments. Each of Hôtel de la Paix’s 107 spacious, beautifully appointed en suite rooms features chic interiors and contemporary furnishings complimented by intricate wall mountings and handcrafted lamps, creating a balance between modern design and traditional detailing.

Hôtel de la Paix is operated by Ativa Hospitality, an experienced, Asian-based management company specialising in the development and management of independent deluxe boutique hotels. Ativa Hospitality currently manages properties in Thailand and Cambodia with project developments in Vietnam, Laos and India.


January 29, 2010

In a statement broadcast yesterday on Radio Free Asia, government representative and Border Committee chief Var Kim Hong admitted that the maps used by opposition leader Sam Rainsy in his presentation to expose border encroachment by Vietnam are the “correct maps.” [Sam Rainsy’s full presentation is available at http://tinyurl.com/yeaoxyf].

However, Var Kim Hong claimed that the geographic coordinates stated by Sam Rainsy for the temporary border post #185 which Sam Rainsy pullet out last October, were “incorrect.”

But most surprisingly, Var Kim Hong refused to reveal the “correct” coordinates according to the government.

Since any given spot on Earth has specific, precise and unique geographic coordinates, and since the SRP is 100 percent certain of the geographic coordinates of border post #185 -- which anybody can obtain by going on the spot with a GPS device -- we can very logically infer that the government now recognizes that the so-called border post #185 uprooted by Sam Rainsy was planted at a wrong location and therefore was not a “correct” and legal border post.

Therefore, the accusation against Sam Rainsy and two farmers now in jail, is groundless and the charges against them must be dropped.

SRP Members of Parliament

Friday, 29 January 2010

Statement of Cambodian Border Committee on Sam Rainsy's conviction

By Khmerization

The Paris-based Cambodian Border Committee (CBC) has released a statement condemning the conviction and sentencing of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two villagers as "a show of the nature of ignorant power-hunger and oppression".

The statement, which was signed by CBC president, Mr. Sean Pengse (pictured), said the present government has applied the same method as the Khmer Rouge by talking about the rule of laws, but in reality it has never implemented the laws in accordance with the nation's constitution. "In reality, in Cambodia today, the Pol Pot mentality has not died yet", the statement said.

It continued that the present government has effectively used court as a political tool to legitimise its crack down on critics and opposition the same as the Khmer Rouge using the word "enemy" to eliminate its critics and opponents. "The state is the machine that has never admitted its own mistakes and the state only serve the ruling party and all laws were created by Comrades Hun Sen, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin for the consolidation of their powers", it ssaid.

Please read the full statement in PDF format here.

Sam Rainsy unveils border ‘proof’

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Sam Rainsy, who is currently in France, addresses his party at its headquarters on Sothearos Boulevard on Thursday via videoconference.

OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy has revealed additional evidence that he says substantiates his allegations of Vietnamese border incursions, a day after Svay Rieng provincial court handed him a two-year jail term for his involvement in the uprooting of border markers.

Speaking by live video feed from France, the Sam Rainsy Party president accused the court of convicting him at the request of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

“We have enough evidence of the planting of border markers,” he said during the video press conference. “These posts are not border posts because they are 200 or 300 metres from the border. Such posts are counterfeit posts, illegal posts, invasion posts planted in Khmer farmers’ ricefields.”

The new evidence released by Sam Rainsy consisted of a detailed methodology for the creation of the maps released by the SRP on Sunday, which showed Vietnamese border markers 184, 185, 186 and 187 sitting well inside Cambodia’s legal territory as defined by French and American maps.

“If they planted the posts on our land without telling us, we have the right to pull them out,” Sam Rainsy added.

In October, Sam Rainsy joined villagers in uprooting six temporary demarcation posts near the border with Vietnam, an act Hanoi described as “perverse”. The villagers claimed the posts had been placed on their land by the Vietnamese authorities.

Sam Rainsy said that after he uprooted the markers in October, Vietnamese authorities hurried to remove other markers nearby, proving they were “worried” that word of the incursions would spread.

He also reiterated his offer to return to Cambodia to face arrest if the authorities release two local villagers imprisoned in connection with the uprooting of the border markers.

In Wednesday’s court hearing, Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, were sentenced to one year each in prison on charges of uprooting the posts. All three accused were also ordered to pay 55 million riels (around US$13,253) in compensation.

“This story is an international political issue,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that he would take the case to international bodies in Europe. “It will not be resolved by the court because two countries have problems. It must be resolved by the international community.”

Tith Sothea, a government adviser and member of the Council of Ministers’ Press Quick Reaction Unit, dismissed the lawmaker’s comments, saying Cambodia was not under the control of any outside power. He added that the court had tried his case in line with standard procedure.

“Sam Rainsy’s announcement that he will file a complaint to international courts is not surprising,” he said.
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Chhoeung Sarin, wife of defendant Prum Chea, weeps after being denied entry to his trial Wednesday in Svay Rieng. Heng Chivoan

But he said the opposition leader’s appeals had come too late, adding that he should have made formal complaints while he was in the country.

“If he has evidence, he should have used his rights as a people’s representative to inform National Assembly President [Heng Samrin] of his complaints,” Tith Sothea said.

But some observers said Sam Rainsy’s role in the border stunt had been consistent with the duties of an elected representative of the people.

“An MP in his case is doing his job as an MP. He went to see the people and went to solve their problems,” said Son Soubert, a member of the Constitutional Council.

“The National Assembly should support him instead of lifting his immunity, because he is just doing his job.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) said the outcome of Wednesday’s trial was an example of the “rotten” state of Cambodia’s democracy.

A familiar pattern
The current situation recalls Sam Rainsy’s yearlong period of exile during 2005 and 2006, when he left the country to avoid prosecution on defamation charges. At that time, a Royal pardon paved the way for his return in February 2006 .

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said that, as in 2006, the two sides would likely reach a political settlement allowing Sam Rainsy to return from Europe and avoid prison.

“This is not the first time.... There will be a resolution of the conflict later on,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on January 5 that he would not request a pardon for the SRP leader, but Thun Saray said that such “deals” usually come prior to elections, when democratic legitimacy is more of an issue for the government.

“When the election happens without an opposition party, it doesn’t have much credibility,” he said. “I think both sides need each other.”

The next major poll – the commune council election – is set to take place in 2012.