A Change of Guard

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Monday, 31 May 2010

Flat out on Lazy Beach

Two Cambodian fishermen go night fishing in the seaside resort of Sihanoukville.

Two Cambodian fishermen go night fishing in the seaside resort of Sihanoukville. Photo: AFP

Sydney Morning Herald

May 29, 2010

From a hammock in the bar, Stephen Phelan watches the tide rise and fall on a deserted jungle island off Sihanoukville.

This is not Cambodia, in any way you'd imagine. The island of Koh Rong Saloem has no roads or infrastructure, no native inhabitants, no history to speak of and no electricity, save for a few hours of inconstant power in the evenings, provided by two shuddering diesel generators. If Lazy Beach had a local name before a small settlement of wooden bungalows and outhouses was built on it three years ago, nobody here seems to remember.

"I think it was just called Beach Number Two," says the co-owner and operator of the site, Chris Beadles. That sounds like the kind of impersonal number the Khmer Rouge might have assigned, as they did to all the streets in Phnom Penh when Pol Pot's forces seized the capital in 1975.

But even after his regime expelled the urban population to the provinces, where millions were then worked or starved to death, this lonely, empty island sat outside the range of the genocide.

"During that whole trouble, it was pretty uneventful here," says Beadles's old friend and business partner, Rich King, who discovered this place on a weekend camping trip almost six years ago, while working at a hostel in Sihanoukville, the nearest mainland port.

We have just come from there by motorboat, a two-hour ride that felt to me more like a week-long voyage. When the Gulf of Thailand is choppy, as it is today, the boat to Lazy Beach has to anchor offshore at Sihanoukville, and new guests are obliged to swim for it. Our bags follow us in floating, watertight crates. I boldly retch my way around the Koh Rong archipelago.

Eventually, we arrive at Koh Rong Saloem, and round the headland towards Lazy Beach. The wind has died to a light breeze, the waves turn calm and clear and my heaving gives way to a low, happy hooting.

We have reached the beach of my dreams - and probably yours, too: an archetype of earthly paradise, a natural enclave of white sand and iridescent green water, sheltered by high sea cliffs and protected by a thick, dark jungle.

On a rainy day inside an office building, you might cast your mind to a distant shore like this and find yourself diving through the window. Knowing this, and having made his own escape from that kind of job in Britain, King started drawing up plans as soon as he set foot here. Despite his name, which seems a good fit for a foreign conqueror, King wasn't thinking of fortune or glory so much as making a better life for himself and sharing it with fellow travellers.

Over a tall, cold, lime-juice cocktail, offered to new arrivals as they step off the dock, King tells me the story of how he leased this land from the government, commissioned Beadles to design a discreet row of 12 beach bungalows and enlisted his Cambodian girlfriend and her family to help build and run a modest resort.

Lina Muy, who is now King's fiancee, is head chef and a better cook than even King realised - the menu in their open-air octagonal bar and restaurant is as good as anywhere in Cambodia. This is fortunate, because there is not much to do here but eat and drink and there is nowhere else to go.

At first I thought Lazy Beach was a lazy name to give the place but after a few hours it seems entirely apt, as the sea rolls in and sun rolls over and nothing continues to happen. We spend the next three days swaying half awake in hammocks, floating belly-up in the water, or curling into cushioned bamboo chairs and sofas with books and snacks and fresh fruit shakes.

The bungalows are better appointed than the more basic equivalents on other Cambodian islands - and at $US30 ($36) a room, a lot pricier - although we are required to share our bathroom with a family of large, colourful and immovable geckos, whom we welcome as benign reminders of the jungle outside.

King has told us the island's rainforest is impenetrable, except for one short path that leads from this beach to an even quieter stretch of coastline on the opposite side of the island.

The other beach has a local title - Ao Yai - but is also known as Saracen Bay, for a British ship that once sailed into it. When we get there it is utterly deserted; the sand is so blindingly white it takes a while to discover the small naval station at the far end.

The entire island belongs to the Cambodian navy but during the past decade of relative peace and stability the cash-strapped government has sold or rented its land to every kind of developer. King calls them "speculators", in reference to various groups with their sights set on this archipelago, which some are already advertising as "the next Asian Riviera".

King doesn't think of himself in the same class and has no plans to expand his property beyond two or three more bungalows. "We could stick a skyscraper on it if we wanted," he says, "but then why would people come here? On this island, less is definitely more."

The economic development of Cambodia is at least a decade behind its wealthier neighbours, which makes it cheaper than Thailand or Vietnam and much more attractive to tourists on a budget, who in turn act as vanguards for wealthier travellers.

On Lazy Beach we have paid a little extra and travelled a little further to avoid the crowds, which only makes us a part of the process of development. And if this is heaven on Earth, it is also a sealed and soporific bubble of tropical atmosphere, with only Muy's local dishes to remind us which country we're in.

In order to relax about this, I find it helpful to think of the island as a safe and well-catered lost world. I am happiest on Koh Rong Saloem when I feel like some kind of time traveller.

A sudden thunderstorm breaks over my head while I'm wading at dawn and the rain is so heavy that the dock, the bungalows and then the beach seem to disappear.

A few hours earlier, when the sea was still black, we floated face-down amid blue phosphorescent algae, which looked like little galaxies being born. And every night of our stay, at about dinner time in the bar, the generator fails for at least a few seconds, cutting the music and lights, filling the silence with waves and jungle noises, sending us back to primordial darkness with cocktails in our hands.


Getting there Malaysia Airlines flies to Phnom Penh for about $980, nonstop to Kuala Lumpur (8hr), then to Phnom Penh (2hr). Fare is low-season return from Melbourne and Sydney, including tax. Australians require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, which can be obtained at the airport upon arrival for $US20 ($24) and two photos. From Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, is a six-hour bus ride, about $US10 one way.

Staying there Bungalows at Lazy Beach cost $US30 a night; see lazybeachcambodia.com. On arrival in Sihanoukville, Ang Muy at the bungalows' booking office will direct you to the boat for Lazy Beach, which costs $US10 a person each way.

OZ embassy responds to Securency

Monday, 31 May 2010
By David Boyle
Phnom Penh Post

IN RESPONSE to allegations that a Melbourne-based currency producer had engaged in graft in Cambodia, the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh said Sunday that the company’s executives had been warned of “Australia’s zero tolerance to bribery”, but that the embassy had not been in touch with the company’s local commissioning agent.

Last week, Australian Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens Party, said during a senate committee hearing that agents employed by Securency might have bribed local officials.

The company – a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia – manufactures polymer bank notes that are used in nearly 30 countries.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is already investigating whether the company’s commissioning agents offered huge bribes to officials in Malaysia, Vietnam, Nigeria and Indonesia.

“The embassy is aware that Securency was in discussions with the Royal Government,” the embassy said in a statement Sunday, adding that officials from the Australian trade commission and the department of foreign affairs and trade had “assisted” the company “in line with the department’s and Austrade’s guidelines for assisting Australian businesses”.

The statement said embassy officials did not know how long Securency had been negotiating with the government, or whether those negotiations had ended, but said it fell to the company to “conduct proper due diligence on potential business partners before entering a deal”.

The embassy said it had not been in contact with Daryl Dealehr, Securency’s commissioning agent in Cambodia who is also treasurer of the Cambodia Association of Mining and Exploration Companies and the owner of Cambodian Resources Ltd.

Dealehr declined to comment on Sunday.

Brown’s office was unable to elaborate further on Securency’s domestic operations when contacted last week, and pointed to documents already on the public record.

No bomb supplies to Thais, govt says

Photo by: AFP
Police in Narathiwat inspect the corpse of a suspected militant on Saturday. The Thai military says bomb supplies intercepted on the Cambodian-Thai border may have been bound for the Thai south.

CAMBODIA on Sunday rejected claims that migrant workers from the Kingdom had been smuggling “bombmaking materials” across the border into Thailand, as the government sought to distance itself from unrest in the neighbouring country.

Thailand’s The Nation newspaper reported on Saturday that Thai army officials at the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border crossing had confiscated pressurised gas cans and spikes hidden inside fertiliser bags from a group of 207 Cambodian workers bound for factory jobs in the southern Thai province of Songkhla.

Chan Wongwaimethee, commander of Thai Army Ranger Company 1206, told The Nation that the workers could have been collaborating with Muslim insurgents who have waged a bloody separatist campaign in southern Thailand over the last few years.

“They might have been taking the materials to rebel groups in the southern border provinces,” Chan said.

But Koy Kuong said an investigation of the incident had subsequently revealed that the cart in which the materials were discovered did not belong to any of the 207 workers. The workers were detained in Thailand’s Prachinburi province for several hours on Saturday before Cambodian consular officials secured their release, he added.

The Thai authorities’ “stupid assumption was made because they cannot control their internal situation, so they attempted to put blame on the Cambodian workers,” Koy Kuong said. “Actually, the bombmaking materials belonged to a man who owned the cart and joined the workers on the trip.”

Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean said Cambodian migrants passing through the popular border crossing at Poipet had never been discovered carrying weaponry or explosives into Thailand.

“They only carry agricultural equipment when they go into Thailand,” he said.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Sunday that officials in Bangkok had yet to receive a full report on the incident.

“We have to verify that ... with the agencies concerned,” he said.

Also on Sunday, Koy Kuong said Cambodian consular officials were in the process of identifying witnesses and helping to prepare the defence of 27-year-old San Mony Phet, a Cambodian man who was arrested in Bangkok earlier this month on suspicion of involvement in an arson attack committed by antigovernment Red Shirt protesters.

“We have already prepared the lawyer and identified key witnesses to defend [San Mony Phet] in case he appears in court, but so far we have not received any information from Thai authorities about whether he will face charges or whether the case will be solved informally,” Koy Kuong said.

San Mony Phet remained in police custody as of Sunday, Koy Kuong added.

The Battambang native, who had worked legally in Thailand for five years and is married to a Thai woman, was reportedly arrested outside the beverage shop in Bangkok at which he worked during the violent protests in the Thai capital that claimed at least 88 lives and injured around 1,900.

Fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has made several high-profile visits to Cambodia since being appointed a government economic adviser last year, is wanted on terrorism charges in connection with the protests after a warrant for his arrest was issued in Bangkok last week. Reuters and other news outlets have reported that the warrant accuses Thaksin of organising the smuggling of weaponry across the border from Cambodia into Thailand, though Thani said Sunday that such accounts were unsubstantiated.

“There were reports that a neighbouring country was involved, but as far as the Thai government is concerned, we have found no evidence of that, and the government does not think that was the case,” Thani said.

Koy Kuong said Sunday that if Thaksin expresses a desire to return to Cambodia, “the Cambodian government will consider about his plan”. The terrorism charges, he added, are an “internal affair of Thailand”.


A $30,000 job for sale in Cambodia

You're fired! Well, you didn't get job

May 31 2010

Phnom Penh (DPA)- A Cambodian official who said he paid $30,000 to secure a government post has sued after the job failed to materialise, national media reported on Monday.

Municipal court prosecutor Hing Bunchea said Tea Kimhong was charged with fraud for offering the position to Heng Heam, who works at the military court.

"Heng Heam was apparently offering money for any job as a civil official," Hing Bunchea told the Cambodia Daily newspaper.

The accused told the court he had received only $27 000, the prosecutor said.

Local media reported that the job sought was a deputy provincial governorship.

Although bribery is an offence, the prosecutor said Heng Heam would not be prosecuted since the court accepted he was innocent and believed the money would be used as a "contribution" to an unspecified ministry construction project.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said Tea Kimhong had worked as an assistant to the minister, adding that he was fired for misconduct before the alleged offence took place in 2008.

Cambodia is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

It recently passed legislation to tackle the scourge. The law, which was 15 years in the making, received mixed reviews when it went through parliament earlier this year. - Sapa-dpa

SRP Recommendations to the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum

30 May, 2010

PHNOM PENH – The Sam Rainsy Party praises and acknowledges the
efforts of CDCF mechanism for consulting with development partners and
civil society. SRP also praises the goals of the National Strategic
Development Plan (NSDP) 2009-2013, and acknowledges the progress made
in the areas of health, education, child protection and disability
since the last consultation in December of 2008.

Despite the hard work on the part of the CDCF partners, work remains
in many key sectors.
A crucial first step is to strengthen enforcement of existing
legislation and policies. In order to meet Cambodia’s international
human rights obligations and to implement the NSDP and the 2008 CDCF
Joint Monitoring Indicators(JMIs) in the areas of Health, Education,
Agriculture, Land Reform, Good Governance, and the Electoral Process,
the RGC should make these additional actions priorities in the next
Health: Access to health care for people living below the poverty line
can be achieved with the elimination of user fees. Quality of care can
be improved with higher investment in training and a living wage for
medical staff. The fundamental principles of access to quality health
care for the poor must be strictly upheld. Access must be addressed
for people with disabilities according to the Disability Law.
Education: The student survival rate in primary schools in the
academic year 2007-2008 was only 33.1%. At the secondary and tertiary
level, access continues to be unacceptably low, especially for girls,
poor children, and the indigenous peoples. As in the health sector,
training of teachers and supervisors and adequate living salaries and
elimination of all forms of corruption, including school fees must be
closely monitored. Human and natural resources must improve: the
deployment of teachers must be prioritized, as well as school
Agriculture: The RGC needs to focus on human resources development in
rural areas, funding for agricultural technology research,
small-scale, decentralized family farms, using mixed crops and
combined organic/chemical farming, as well as the development of
farmers’ cooperatives employing the youth.
Land Reform: At least 60% of rural families are landless or land-poor.
Slow titling of private and indigenous community land has lead to land
disputes with economic concessionaires claiming title. Economic Land
Concessions that exceed the size allowed under the law are being
issued, often before the land is classified and registered as State
private property. Lawful possessors are displaced and arrests of
villagers are common. Speed of registration of Indigenous Persons
communities as legal entities, and titling of land must be increased,
and a moratorium on evictions and arrests should be implemented until
all land is formally adjudicated according to the law. The RGC should
document all ELCs given to-date in a centralized and accessible space.
It should also strengthen the independence of the Cadastral Commission
and courts at all levels adjudicating land disputes.

Good Governance:
Public Finance Reform: The public remains uninformed and unheard
regarding financial matters, specifically in procurement. An
up-to-date debt monitoring system has yet to be implemented, thus
publication of debt information should be prioritized in 2010/11 and
publications of monitoring statements should be added. Commune
Development Funds must be made transparent to the people at the
commune level by holding monthly community meetings as defined in the
Commune Management Law.
Access to information: The RGC has drafted the Policy Framework on the
Rights Access to Information (August 2007). However, there is a need
for a clear mandate and timeframe for the development of this law. Any
form of threat and/or intimidation of the public, civil society and
opposition MPs against receiving information must be seen as an
obstruction to the right to information.
Anti-corruption: The adopted law does not meet international
standards, did not allow for adequate public participation in its
drafting, and there remains a lack of clear plans for implementation.
Also, no substantial actions have been yet taken towards strengthening
education on and dissemination of corruption-related regulations, the
cases of corruption of public officials have not been followed-up
publicly in a rigorous and systematic way by an independent judicial
system, public support and participation is still obstructed in the
name of "national security and order", and by anti-corruption
mechanisms put in place.
Legal and Judicial Reform: The RGC should focus on the development of
a sound legal framework and modernization of the law, as well as by
implementing measures to enhance competence, independence and
impartiality of the judiciary.
Extractive Industry Revenue Management: Measures must be taken to
increase transparency in the Extractive Industries, such as reviewing
current mining concessions and grants and require all companies to
publish licensing information.

Electoral Process: Reforms are still necessary to address problems
with the right to vote which begins at the registration stage. The
UNDP coordination and efforts to address the shortfalls of past
elections should receive wide support.

Gender-Based Violence: Rape cases are increasing at an alarming rate
throughout the country. Victims of sexual assaults have limited access
to justice. Actions must be taken to help victims break the silence by
taking measures to monitor the practice of compensation which is often
negotiated and facilitated by local authorities. Gender justice is
further hindered by corruption in the judiciary.


The SRP is an opposition party dedicated to establishing a just and
fair society by amplifying the voice of the people. SRP’s position is
guided by principles of sustainable and inclusive development that
provides a fair share of growth for all Cambodians as of right, not
out of charity. To read the full statement, please go to:


Cambodian gold mine attracts Vietnamese enterprises

Monday, 31/05/2010

VietNamNet Bridge – Some Vietnamese companies plan to extract a recently discovered gold mine with ore reserves of 8.1 million tons in Cambodia, one of the biggest mines in Southeast Asia.

Gold prices will make history in 2010

Many say gold prices can only weaken

Gold prices sparkle

Mondulkiri is located near the Vietnamese border, some 100 kilometers from Buon Me Thuot

Australian OZ Minerals Limited found a gold mine with huge reserves in Mondulkiri in northeastern Cambodia, capturing the interest of Vietnamese gold traders.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted OZ Minerals as calculating the gold content to be as much as 2.3 grams per ton, or 605,000 ounces (17.1 tons). With the current market price (one ounce sells for $1200), the Mondulkiri refined gold is valued at over $720 million.

Mondulkiri is located near the Vietnamese border, some 100 kilometers from Buon Me Thuot.

Agribank Jewellery Company General Director AJC Nguyen Thanh Truc, who has extensive experience in extracting, producing and trading gold and precious stones, remarked that a content of 2.3 grams per ton is low, and that developers expect above three grams.

Truc added that this gold mine may have the largest reserves in Southeast Asia. He revealed that AJC may join the gold rush in Cambodia. In fact, many Vietnamese enterprises have had plans to extract and develop gold mines in Cambodia for a long while.

Nguyen The Hung, General Director of the Vietnam Gold Investment and Trade Corporation, mentioned that the Mondulkiri is the first big mine that Cambodia has ever located.

“It would be a good opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to extract gold in Cambodia, though the capacity and technology of Vietnamese contractors is not high,” Hung mused.

According to Hung, Cambodia does not have a good mining industry and must rely on foreign technology.

To date, Vietnamese enterprises have focused on making investments in Laos, where there are many mines and the gold extraction technology has developed. Laos does not have any mines with such big reserves like Mondulkiri, but still 100-200 kilograms of gold are being extracted every month.

According to VnExpress newspaper, Vietnam’s investment capital in Cambodia has reached one billion dollars. A lot of mining enterprises have been licensed to invest in Cambodia, but no gold mining project has been submitted to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

“Mining is a good business and the investment procedures in Cambodia are simple. However, it is still necessary to consider the extraction costs and the characteristics of the mine, as well as corporate management capability and transportation costs,” observed Deputy General Director of Phu Nhuan Jewellery Company, Nguyen Tuan Quynh.

In Vietnam, Bong Mieu is the biggest gold mine, managed by Quang Nam Mineral Company and a Cambodian partner. In 2006, the joint-venture began extracting Ho Gan mine, one of three in Bong Mieu area. The ore reserves are estimated at 521,600 tons, while the average gold content is 3.85 grams per ton. The mine produces 600 kilograms a year.

Some experts believe that the 8.1 million ton Cambodian mine will not have a big impact on regional supply and demand, nor on gold prices. The ore may be carried abroad for refining and the output will not be big enough to affect the market. Currently, Cambodian gold reserves are at a low level, therefore, it is likely that Cambodia will use the gold for reserve or domestic consumption.

Source: VnExpress

"The Kingdom of"/ Part Five: Kiev

Dear Friends,
Thank you very much for the interest in my book and for the number of letters I had received from you.
Also, please be advised that the full version of my book "The Kingdom of" will be exclusively posted on the site of Cambodia Business Network at: http://www.cambodiabusinessnetwork.com/
Blog of Gregory Shukhman

"The Kingdom of"- part four

By Gregory Shukhman

Part Five: Kiev

By that time, Bon-Bon World was involved in international trading: we specialized in heavy machinery sales, dealing with the post-Soviet countries of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Moldova, where we had good contacts.
When Mikhail called me, he offered to bring me into a joint venture in Cambodia, within the agricultural products sector, dealing with items such as rubber, timber, rice and fish. He hinted at the possibility of prices that were discounted approximately 40% from the global market prices, given sufficiently large volume. He was concerned about his company’s ability to locate money without delay in order to carry out what sounded to me like a great deal. My banking and customer service relations were great, so I didn’t think I would have any trouble getting the kind of money he needed in order to do this business.
I gladly accepted Mikhail’s invitation, and not for reasons of financial opportunity only. I knew about Cambodia from my days of living in the Soviet Union, and I was excited by the idea of going there. The Soviets had close political and economic ties with Cambodia. Back in the mid-80’s, some of my college friends were assigned to work there. I was thrilled to hear their dramatic and colorful stories about life in that exotic place. Besides that, I had to deal with countless aerial photos for surveying minerals in Cambodia when I worked as a student at the Research Institute of Geodesy and Cartography in Kiev, Ukraine. It seems that our institute was directly involved in secret research connected with promising prospects for mineral development in Cambodia.
For me, the word Cambodia, has randomly, directly or indirectly, but repeatedly, crossed my path, so when I got that phone call from Mikhail, my feeling was this was nothing less than an inevitable event in my life, something that had the force and feeling of my spiritual destiny. I agreed to meet with Mikhail and his partners on May 23, 2006 in Kiev to discuss in detail the future of our joint venture.
I should have perhaps been more cautious about getting involved in a complex business deal with a country famous for governmental corruption, high rates of diseases, narco-trafficking and other crimes, but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm. I brushed aside questions and warnings from my friends and family members.
On May 23, I arrived as planned in Kiev to meet with Mikhail and Igor, who explained the details of their plans in Cambodia. In addition to mining precious metals, they intended to work with the Cambodian government on projects to discharge land mines and to establish a political infrastructure between Cambodia and Ukraine. They told that they wanted to get my U.S. company to support their efforts to overcome political opposition and to achieve their goals.
I felt their plans were reasonable and acceptable. They then arranged for me to visit with Vadim Rabinovich when he returned with his family from a visit to Israel. We agreed to travel together to Cambodia on May 30.
Kiev was especially beautiful at that time of the year, full of welcoming smiles, majestic ancient architecture, flowering chestnut trees and an endless stream of beautiful women. I was grateful to recognize all these familiar and irreplaceable attributes of my native city, but I admit to being taken aback by all the new construction and the rapid rhythm of life in the Kiev of today. There were moments where I could barely recognize the place where I was born and raised.
My stay at the Premier Palace Hotel was very pleasant and comfortable. Even the Lenin monument I saw through the window every morning failed to scare me anymore, and just brought back good memories from my childhood.
My week in Kiev sped by. I never have enough time when I’m there to do everything I want to do. There were business meetings, visits with friends, and a visit to the cemetery to pay my respects to my grandparents.
On the morning of the 30th, Mikhail came to meet me downstairs to bring me to the airport. While I checked out, we flirted with a beautiful girl at the concierge desk. She asked me how I enjoyed my stay, and told me I was always welcome. "When are you coming back?" she asked. I told her that my next visit will be "for you only." We all smiled. As I saw her blush, I thought for a moment about how time flies. Oh, to be young again!
When we got to the car, I got in the front seat, and Mikhail sat with his friend Alex in the back. Alex, whom I had met before, lives in Boston and owns one of the most prestigious restaurants there.
As we crossed the Dnieper river on the way to the Borispol airport, I turned back to my friends. Through the back window, the shining golden domes of Kiev’s Pechersk Lavra and Saint Sophia Cathedral, smiled at me.
Mikhail’s Mercedes was rolling fast, taking me further and further away from the city where my parents were born and where as children they survived the grueling ordeal of World War II, a war that took the lives of their fathers and relatives, a disaster that took away their childhoods. This was the city where I was born, where I passed my childhood and adolescent years; where I finished school, passed through the army, studied at the Institute; where I married, where my daughter was born. This was my city, my Kiev.
All these memories were now buried deep in the past. With the passage of time, the city that was my mother had eventually become a stranger.
When our car went arrived at the airport, Mikhail reminded the chauffeur to go to Terminal "C", which is the VIP’S sector. Terminal "C" was nice and roomy, with just a few departing passengers. The waiting lounge staff took charge of our passports, tickets and luggage, and we were invited to come to the bar, where we saw Wladimir Klitchko. Mikhail knew him, so they started to talk. Mikhail congratulated him on a beautiful recent victory: on April 22, Klitchko had defeated Chris Byrd by technical knockout in the 7th round. It was great fun to talk and drink with the famous boxer before out flight. Klitchko’s flight to New York departed at almost the same time as our flight to Bangkok. As we all left the bar, we wished each other good luck and success in sports and business.
We took our seats in business class. After a brief presentation on safety rules, the plane started down the runway and we were soon in the sky on the way to Bangkok.
We had great time sharing funny stories on the flight. Alex had plenty of anecdotes about his restaurant business. He was in an expansive mood and spoke in a loud, cheerful voice. With one story, he had the whole plane laughing hysterically. Once, on New Year’s eve, he had hosted a traditional Russian party, with a variety of shows, at his restaurant. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates a 2:00 a.m. closing time for restaurants, but New Year’s is very serious business for the Russian community in Boston, so nobody wanted to go home. Somebody in the neighborhood must have complained about the noise. Suddenly, about 4:00 a.m., a whole squadron of police in riot gear entered the restaurant and turned the lights on. By then, the guests were in "perfect Russian condition," i.e., totally inebriated and cheerful. No one wanted to believe this was the real police. Everyone thought this was part of the show, and the police were met with raucous cheers and great applause. The police realized what was happened, and of course they smiled, but they could not hold back because the law is the law. Even as everyone was being ushered out and the police wrote up the violation notice, the guests refused to believe this raid was really happening. On New Year’s, I guess, everyone expects miracles. Anyway, Alex had the whole plane in stitches with this story.
The stories continued for a while, but my fatigue prevented me from hearing any more. I woke up to the sound of a familiar voice: "Good morning, passengers. This is your captain speaking. First, I'd like to welcome everyone on Aerosvit Airlines Flight 171. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 33, 000 feet, at an air speed of 400 miles per hour. The time is 1:25 a.m.. The weather looks good, and with the tailwind on our side, we are expecting to land at the Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi International Airport approximately fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The weather in Bangkok is clear, with a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, which is a little warm for this time of night. If the weather cooperates, we should get a great view of the night city as we descend. The cabin crew will be coming around in about twenty minutes to offer you a light snack and beverage, and the in-flight movie will begin shortly after that. I'll talk to you again before we reach our destination. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the flight."

At the Bangkok International Airport we didn’t feel at night with the number of domestic and international carriers and their passengers. We had check status on our connected flight and the luggage situation to Phnom Penh with Tai Airline, Mikhail was a little bit concern with the two cases of Hetman vodka, hope not to be broken, and we realized that a little less than four hours time to wait, so we were agreed to seat and rest in some restaurant near to the assigned gate instead of going anywhere, to secure our on time departure.
On the way to a restaurant Alex had met some of his new friends from the previous plane, two Ukranian beauties, who also happened have a connection flight to Kuala Lumpur and they were agreeing to join us at one of the airport restaurants.
Our interlocutors were nice and funny girls in their mid twentieth, so the conversation, at the restaurant, was pleasant and lively, we have a lot of joking, some light arguing over some specific issues like life and love, laughing and as well an opportunity to use my laptop and having the Internet connection, gripped out our four hours waiting time, which flew in a flash.
Gallina and Natalia, our new friends, supposed to wait one more hour for their flight to Malaysia and we had to regrettably leave them, as we heard a final boarding announcement to proceed to the gate immediately, we wished each other all the best and move fast to our gate.
Looks like we were the last passengers as the plane was waiting, and we heard that the main door was closed instantly after we were lead to our seats
Promptly, in a moment, our plane was airborne for our final destination, to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
It was quick flight just about of 1:15 min., we were landing at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
When the plane’s door had opened for a passenger exit, at the ramp, you would see, an unforgettable picture which caught my eyes, and commemorate me to the best of Hollywood tradition’s movie, where one short, middle-aged plump man of Asian appearance Mafioso who was just missed on The Estouro Nevada cowboy hat and the Cuban W. Churchill Cigar, and behind him stood two tall and young, wearing a sunglasses’ athletic’s builds bodyguards, and one of them had a short blond hair, and the second one had a long dark-brown hair, reminding the KGB agents at their communist era, while that chubby man, was wide smiling and waiving with his hand, his two companions were standing straight, right behind him, with no emotions, keeping their hands behind the back. This picture made me smile as I saw that small bun rolled into arms of Mikhail saying "Hello our dear friend" and Mikhail had introduced to us, it was a Minister Bunnaroeun An.

Part six: Brothers
To be continued:

Cambodian-flagged vessel detained for illegal fishing in Russia's Far East

Cambodian-flagged vessel detained for illegal fishing in Russia's Far East

An investigation has been launched after Sakhalin border guards have detained a vessel carrying over seven metric tons of illegally caught live crab in Russia's Far Eastern economic zone, a spokesman for the local customs service said.

Yury Gurshal said Cambodian-flagged the Koska-8 fishing vessel with Russian crew and over seven tons of live crab was detained on May 29.

He said the captain did not have any documents permitting fishing and the vessel was escorted to the port of Nevelsk for investigation.

Russia banned exports of live crab in May 2007, but large volumes are still smuggled out of the country, primarily to Japan and South Korea.

Riel continues to depreciate

Strong dollar and eurozone worries hobble NBC efforts to stabilise currency

Photo by: Sovan Philong
NBC last week sold US$4 million to shore up value of the riel.
THE riel continued to depreciate against the US dollar last week despite a US$4 million National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) intervention aimed at increasing its value, experts say.

The NBC dipped into its dollar reserves to purchase riel on May 21 in an attempt to shore up the Cambodian currency’s value.

Ly Hour Exchange owner Sieng Lim said the $4 million intervention had been too small to stop the depreciation of the riel, and that its decline is partly the result of a strengthening US dollar.

The riel traded at 4,260 per dollar on Sunday, down 0.52 percent for the week from 4,238 on May 23. The riel has lost 1.67 percent of its value over the last 45 days, down from 4,190 riel per US dollar in mid-April, according to statistics from Ly Hour Exchange.

However, Sieng Lim said the central bank deliberately intervenes gradually in the Kingdom’s currency, a policy she said she supports.

“When the value of the riel fluctuates, normally the NBC spends US dollars to stabilise the riel, or increase or decrease the prices slightly,” she said on Sunday.

“If the NBC injected more US dollars [to purchase riels], the riel’s value would appreciate quickly, affecting people and the price of goods.”

Most international currencies have been dropping against the US dollar, she added, pointing out €1 was worth $1.23 on Sunday, a 12 percent decline from $1.40 for the same date last month.

Cambodia Institute for Development Study president Kang Chandararot said the intervention had been limited by its small size, having only a slight impact on the riel’s exchange rate.

“NBC should release further US dollar reserves to stabilise the riel – each intervention should be around $10 million,” he said. He added that further interventions should be gradually conducted to avoid sharply appreciating the riel and impacting trade.

He estimated that some $500 million worth of riel is in circulation, said that slowing inflows of trade and investment denominated in US dollars have contributed to the recent strength of the greenback against the Kingdom’s currency.

The riel’s exchange rates closely parallel that of the European Union’s currency, he added. “Recent depreciation of the euro also influenced the riel’s depreciation. When the euro has stabilised, so has the riel.”

NBC Director General Tal Nay Im declined to comment on Sunday, but said in a previous interview that the NBC scrutinises exchange rates every day. Analysts have attributed the recent strength of the US dollar to investors reverting to safe assets because of European financial concerns.

The middle of the year is also a traditional soft spot for the riel’s value, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) data. The currency generally peaks in December and January, as increased tourism brings in additional dollars, and the harvest leads to more transactions denominated in riel.

Generally, the NBC intervenes when the riel drops below 4,200 to the dollar by dipping into its foreign reserves to buy Cambodia’s currency.
It held $2.8 billion in foreign reserves at the end of the first quarter of 2010, according to NBC data.

Farmers banned from entering their rice-fields after border post number 270 planted in their rice-fields

Video of villagers' complaint about border encroachments by Vietnam in Rumdenh village, Chantrea district in Svay Rieng province where 2 villagers and Sam Rainsy were sentenced to jail for uprooting border post number 185.

By Khmerization
Source: RFA

Farmers in Anh Chanh village in Chey Chok commune of Borei Cholasa district in Takeo province on the border with Vietnam have on 29th May complained that they have been prevented from entering their rice-fields to tender their crops after border number 270 was planted on their rice-fields, reports Radio Free Asia.

A farmer who owned a one hectare of rice-fields where border post number 270 was planted said that he is concerned that he might lose his lands after authority prevented him from entering his rice-fields. "Who can I protest to? If I protest, the authority will detain me. They told me to remain silent and that the government will not let me starve (to death). The lands with crops already planted won't be touched and that I will still can plant the rice again. But, what if they don't allow me to plant rice next year? I don't have any rice to harvest, so I have to harvest the Vietnamese rice?", he said.

On 25th May, 9 families in Anh Chanh village in Chey Chok comme of Borei Cholasa district in Takeo province protested against the planting of border post number 270, saying that the post had encroached about 200 metres into their lands which they said they had farmed since 1983.

However, Mr. Srey Ben, governor of Takeo province, said that no border posts were planted inside villagers' lands. "We work very hard to protect our territories. In the past, that lands were vacant bushlands. They just settled the people in the area recently. It was a grassland full of reeds. The border post opposed by the villagers was a just temporary border stake to identify the location of the border post. The authority has taken full responsibility and the Cambodian Border Commission was very clear (about the location of the border post)", he said.

The opposition Sam rainsy Party (SRP) has just written a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to order the suspension of border demarcation of the area and re-conduct the border survey in the area to ensure that Cambodian territory is not lost to Vietnam.

Mr. Yim Sovan, spokesman for the SRP, said the encroachments on villagers' lands in Borei Cholasa district due to border planting is a gross violation of human rights. "It is a serious violation of human rights. They intimidated the villagers until they are very scared to talk about the violation. But, I said the land is their rice-pots and they cannot survive without their lands. Whenever there are any encroachments on their lands, the authority tried to threaten them not to talk about the issue, but they still talk", he said.

Claims of Vietnam encroachments in Borei Cholasa came after 2 villagers and opposition leader Sam Rainsy were convicted and sentenced to jail term for uprooting border posts in Chantrea district in Svay Rieng province in later 2009 they claimed have encroached on their farmlands and the territorial integrity of Cambodia.

Mr. Rainsy, who lived in self-imposed exile in Paris, is currently touring the United States with Mr. Sean Pengse, chairman of the Paris-based Cambodian Border Committee, to explain to the Cambodian Diaspora about border issues.

207 Khmer-Muslims detained by Thai border police at Poipet

Poipet International Checkpoint.

By Khmerization
Source: RFA

207 Khmer-Muslims have been detained by Thai border police at Poipet International Checkpoint after materials that can be used to assemble home-made explosives were found among their possessions, reports Radio Free Asia.

Among the materials found in their push-carts were cut-nails and three small containers with 200 grams of gases packed in 73 cans.

However, Mr. Sim Sareth, chief of Poipet International Checkpoint, said the materials did not belong to the group and the detention was due to a confusion. "The materials did not belong to the group and that the (employment) company has just secured their release because they used proper passports, so the company intervened (to secure their release)", he said.

Mr. Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also said on 29th May that the group has been released because the materials did not belong to them. "They all have been released because the push-carts that have been loaded with those explosive materials did not belong to them", he said.

Mr. Sim Soveth said, after their release, those 207 Khmer-Muslims have been transported by a Thai company to work in Thailand.

The crackdown on land protesters in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen's House

(Photo: Free Press Magazine Online)

By Khmerization
Source: Free Press Magazine

Approximately 300 farmers from three communes in Kandal Stung district in Kandal province who had a land dispute with Heng Development company, owned by Mrs. Sieng Chan Heng, have come to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen's house in Phnom Penh on 28th May to ask for his intervention.

The villagers accused Mrs. Sieng Chan Heng of grabbing their lands and they want Mr. Hun Sen to help them resolve the dispute. However, at around 12 noon, police started to disperse them by using violence, beating and kicking and arresting three protesters.

Mr. Chan Soveth, investigator for human rights NGO Adhoc, appeals to the government to help resolve the dispute satisfatorily.

Far Horizons offers up-close view of Cambodia

Tourists riding tuk-tuks touring Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

By staff and wire reports
Pittsburgh Live
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Get an insider's view of Cambodia's Angkor Wat and the remote reaches of Laos in Southeast Asia.

Far Horizons Archaeological & Cultural Trips is offering a 17-day tour Jan. 7-23. Located in what now is Cambodia, Angkor Thom, capital of the flourishing Khmer empire in the 11th century, was one of the world's most densely populated cities. An incredible mass of dazzling pagodas grew up around Angkor Thom, culminating in the glory of the magnificent temple complex at Angkor Wat. With the fall of the Khmers, the temples were slowly recaptured by the lush forest and remained a hidden legend until 1861 when they were re-discovered and introduced to the western world.

Leading the tour is Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney Robert Christie Research Centre in Siem Reap, Cambodia and deputy director of the Greater Angkor Project. Cost is $9,995 per person, double occupancy and includes international air from Los Angeles in coach; five internal flights; all hotels; meals as noted in brochure; entry fees and land transportation. Cost does not include donation of 150 per person to Heritage Watch, air fare from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, passport or visa fees, airport taxes, beverages or food not included on regular menus, laundry, excess baggage charges, gratuities to guides and drivers, alcoholic drinks or other items of a personal nature. Single supplement is $1,395.

Details: 800-552-4575 or www.farhorizons.com.

Explore Mekong Discovery Trail: The northeastern River Life in Cambodia

Irrawady dolphin in the Mekong River in Kratie province.

It would not be at the end of traveling in Cambodia if you miss to explore Mekong Discovery Trial and experience the northeastern life of Cambodia where diverse natural beauty and warm-hearting greetings of the people create a remembrance experience.


PR Log (Press Release) – May 29, 2010 – It would not be at the end of traveling in Cambodia if you miss to explore Mekong Discovery Trial and experience the northeastern life of Cambodia where diverse natural beauty and warm-hearting greetings of the people create a remembrance experience. Mekong discovery trial will bring to explore the river life adventure along an extensive Mekong in Kratie and Stung Treng Province of Kingdom of Wonder.

Mekong discovery trail aims to mitigate and promote dolphin conservation through sustainable tourism and to diversify tourism product in response to an increasing demand for ecotourism. A wide range of touristic activities can be enjoyed along the trail such as Mekong River Dolphin Viewing, horse cart, mountain biking, house boating, local product, fishing, camping, and forest trekking which are the foremost interested activities for the ecotourism visitors, nature lovers and nature-based visitors.

Along the Mekong trial local people can provide you diversified experiences with their local product and their hospitality mood. Also, you have chance to see a critical endangered Mekong River Dolphin whist optimize impact on the environment they depend on. By using this trail and allow yourself to economically contribute to the local people will help the river communities with the positive change of local livelihood.

Cambodia tours=> http://www.tourismindochina.com/cambodia/tours/
Vietnam tours=> http://www.tourismindochina.com/vietnam/tours/
Laos tours=> http://www.tourismindochina.com/laos/tours/

Cambodian FM to Visit Iran in August

TEHRAN (FNA)- Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong (pictured) is scheduled to visit Iran in August, Iranian Ambassador to Phnom Penh Seyed Javad Qavam Shahidi said on Sunday.

"During the trip, the Cambodian foreign minister will meet and talk with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki as well as other high-ranking Iranian officials," Qavam Shahidi told FNA.

He reiterated that Namhong's visit to Tehran is aimed at further activation of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Meantime, an Iranian parliamentary delegation left Tehran for Phnom Penh on Saturday to discuss bilateral ties and other issues of mutual interest with Cambodian officials.

"During the three-day trip, the two sides will hold discussions on inter-parliamentary relations and discuss paving the ground for developing ties and other related issues based on the Islamic Republic of Iran's view on the East Asian countries," Head of the delegation Mohsen Kouhkan told FNA.

The delegation, comprising five Iranian legislators, is also due to meet with the Cambodian prime minister, foreign ministry officials, their Cambodian counterparts and members of some of the country's parliament commissions.

Qavam Shahidi said expansion of parliamentary cooperation between the two countries, closer cooperation in the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) and the two sides' cooperation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are the main goals of the Iranian delegation's trip to Phnom Penh.

Mekong river dolphin 'nearly extinct'

File photo of a dolphin in the Mekong river, northeast of Phnom Penh. Pollution in southeast Asia's Mekong has pushed freshwater dolphins in Cambodia and Laos to the brink of extinction, a conservation report said Thursday, sparking a furious government denial.
Photograph by: Tang Chhin Sothy, AFP

By Patrick Falby,
FacOff, Canada
June 18, 2009

PHNOM PENH AFP– Pollution in southeast Asia's Mekong River has pushed freshwater dolphins in Cambodia and Laos to the brink of extinction, a conservation report said Thursday, sparking a furious government denial.

The WWF said only 64 to 76 Irrawaddy dolphins remain in the Mekong after toxic levels of pesticides, mercury and other pollutants were found in more than 50 calves who have died since 2003.

"These pollutants are widely distributed in the environment and so the source of this pollution may involve several countries through which the Mekong River flows," said WWF veterinary surgeon Verne Dove in a press statement.

The organisation said it was investigating how environmental contaminants got into the Mekong, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.

However, the Cambodian government official tasked with caring for the country's Irrawaddy dolphins said there remained "about 150 to 160" of them in the Mekong, and alleged the WWF's report used flawed research methodology.

"It's big trouble -- they (the WWF) should resign. They should leave Cambodia," Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission to Conserve Mekong River Dolphins and Develop Eco-tourism, told AFP.

"They published this without consulting me, and I'm the authority here," he said, adding he did not believe the river contained the pollutants listed in the WWF's report.

The WWF said it suspected that high levels of mercury found in some dead dolphins came from gold mining activities.

It added that Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia and Laos urgently needed a health programme to counter the effects of pollution on their immune systems.

Inbreeding among the small population could have also contributed to weakened immune systems in the dead young dolphins, all of whom were under two weeks old.

"The Mekong River dolphins are isolated from other members of their species and they need our help," said WWF Cambodia country director Seng Teak, adding the mammals "can show remarkable resilience" if their habitat is protected.

The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin, which inhabits a 190-kilometre (118-mile) stretch in Cambodia and Laos, has been listed as critically endangered since 2004, the WWF said.

Thousands of Irrawaddy dolphins once swam in the Mekong. Although regarded as sacred in Cambodia and Laos, their numbers were cut by the use of illegal fishing nets and Cambodia's drawn-out civil conflict, in which dolphin blubber was used to lubricate machine parts and fuel lamps.

The Cambodian government, however, has been promoting dolphin-watching to attract eco-tourism and cracked down on the use of illegal nets which entangled them.

It hopes such measures and establishing protected areas will raise their numbers over the next few years.

The Mekong is one of only five freshwater habitats in the world for the Irrawaddy dolphin, and Cambodia is thought to support its largest remaining population.

With their pale grey skin and blunt beaks, Irrawaddy dolphins resemble porpoises more than their sea-going cousins, and congregate in a handful of the Mekong's natural deep-water pools.

The river is the world's largest inland fishery, producing some 2.5 million tonnes of fish per year valued at more than 2 billion dollars.

The Mekong also provides 80 percent of the animal protein for 60 million people who live along its lower basin.

Chandula invited to serve in Cambodian Microfinance Institution

Daily Mirror
Sri Lanka
Monday, 31 May 2010

DEVELOPING WORLD MARKETS (DWM), a US based equity investor in Microfinance, which is the largest investor in Thaneakea Phum (Cambodia) Ltd (TPC), one of the largest Microfinance Institutions in Cambodia with a market share of over 10%, has invited Chandula to serve as an Independent Non-Executive Director. Both DWM and TPC having recognised the significant contribution he has made to the Microfinance industry in Asia, have shown their keenness to use Chandula's expertise and knowledge in the vibrant Microfinance industry in Cambodia. Chandula, in his new capacity as a member of the Board of Directors of TPC would bring greater value as the company has embarked on a three year strategic plan to take on the leadership position in the industry.

Chandula is currently the Deputy General Manager - Marketing & Retail Banking who spearheads HNB's most acclaimed microfinance programme "Gami Pubuduwa". He was also recently invited to serve in the Expert Advisory Board of the YouthSave based in Washington, which is a joint collaboration between Save the Children Centre for Social Development USA, the New America Foundation - Washington and CGAP & MasterCard Foundation, USA & the University of Washington in St. Louise.

Chandula is the Chairman of the Banking With The Poor Network, the largest Asia based Microfinance network. He serves on a number of Boards of International organisations and is also the Chairman of Lanka Financial Services for Underserved Settlements, which is a joint venture between UNHABITAT & the Government of Sri Lanka. Further, he also serves as the Chairman of Splendor Media, which is one of the leading advertising and media buying houses in Sri Lanka.

CWCI statement about Vietnamese encroachments in Takeo province

Click on the statement in Khmer to zoom in

Unofficial translation from Khmer

Kristiansen, 30 May 2010


The government of Cambodia always denied and hid information on the loss of Cambodia territories stemming from the encroachments by neighboring countries, in particular by Vietnam which is considered the super friend and the benefactor of the current leaders of Cambodia, in spite of the fact that local people living in the areas involved have clearly indicated that their rice fields are lost due to the new border posts which are planted several hundred meters into Cambodia.

The case of border planting in Anh-chanh village, Borey Chulsa district, Takeo province, clearly reflects a new truth in which Cambodian territories are lost. The new border post is planted on rice fields that are located more than 100 meters away from the new canal dug in 1979 [note: Vietnam usually dig canals along the border to demarcate its territories.]

The 1979 canal became the new borderline unilaterally proclaimed by Vietnam, and Vietnam forced the then-Republic of Kampuchea to recognize the 1985 land border treaty with the aim of redrawing the historical border of Cambodia.

It should be noted that the border delineation in Takeo encroached into Cambodia by more than 1 kilometer (in certain zones) from the old border that was delimited by the French colonial regime in 1940, that border was the Vinh Te canal, known as Prek Krobao in Khmer. Chey Chauk commune in Takeo province borders with Motr Chrouk province (Chau Doc in Vietnamese) and the Vinh Te canal set the limit between the two countries. The Vinh Te Canal extends from the south of Borey Chulsa district, to Koh Andet and Kirivong districts in Takeo province all the way to Kampot province.

Furthermore, in the border delineation between Cambodia and Vietnam, we observed that the Cambodian side merely accepts the delineation decided by Vietnam because this delineation was set through the 1985 land border treaty when Vietnam occupied Cambodia, and also through the 2005 Supplemental border treaty. In addition, the border posts and the current border posts planting operation is under the financial charge of Vietnam, therefore, Cambodia is not delineating its border by itself, but it is merely told by Vietnam to accept such and such area as the border between the two countries.

The Cambodian people are puzzled as to what nationality the current leaders of Cambodia and their accomplices belong to? Because all that they do is to stand up, look and accept such encroachments of Cambodia’s territorial integrity by a foreign country. Even though the Cambodian government always claimed that this border delineation could affect the territorial integrity of both countries, we observed that only the Cambodian people are crying out about the loss of their lands to Vietnam. We have never heard Vietnamese people crying out about the loss of their rice fields to Cambodia at all.

We wonder if the border post planting – which Cambodian people and experts are not allowed to visit and learn about at all – can be claimed that it was done with government transparency or not? Does the government think about our national interest or not?

CWCI believes that Cambodia will not lose its territories only if the government respects the Constitution and only when it make uses of the 64 maps deposited at the UN to verify the border location right on the spot using GPS surverying.


Men Nath

Sunday, 30 May 2010

A Brief History of Khmer Krom People

Flag of the Khmer Krom people.

The Khmer Krom (Vietnamese: Khơ Me Crộm) - Khmer people living in the Delta and the Lower Mekong area known as Kampuchea Krom. Because of the violence by the Khmer Rouge government, the large population of Khmers were reduced to a mere 12 million. Today, they are regarded as the indigenous ethnic Khmer minority living in southern Vietnam. In Vietnamese, they are known as Khơ-me Crộm or Khơ-me dưới, which literally means “Khmer from below” (“below” referring to the lower areas of the Mekong Delta).

The Khmer Krom are ethnic Khmer who inhabited that area long before the arrival of the Vietnamese.

According to Vietnamese government figures (1999 census), there are 1,055,174 Khmer Krom in Vietnam. However, Khmer and Khmer Krom sources put the number of Khmer Krom people living in Vietnam as high as 12 million.

Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmer of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta.

Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers. The city’s name was changed by Vietnam to Sài Gòn and then Hồ Chí Minh City. The loss of the city prevented the Cambodians access to the South China Sea. Subsequently, the Khmers' access to the sea was now limited to the Gulf of Thailand. It began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese.

In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor, and to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom, weakened because of war with Thailand, could not impede, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon.

In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. Since 1698, the area has been firmly under Vietnamese administration. The Vietnamese became the majority population in most places[citation needed].

In 1802 Nguyen Anh crowned himself emperor Gia Long and had unified all territories which are now modern Vietnam, including the Khmer Krom territory. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer those areas of the delta still predominantly inhabited by Khmer Krom people, but this military adventure was a total disaster and precipitated the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese army and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge, with Vietnam occupying Cambodia.

Son Ngoc Thanh, the nationalist Cambodian, was a Khmer krom, born in Trà Vinh, Vietnam. Cambodia got independence in Geneva, 1954, through the Vietnamese struggle in the First Indochina War.

In 1757, the Vietnamese colonized the provinces of Psar Dèk (renamed Sa Đéc in Vietnamese) and Moat Chrouk (vietnamized to Châu Đốc).

Human Rights

Many independent NGOs report the human rights of the Khmer Krom are still being violated by the Vietnamese government. Khmer Krom are reportedly forced to adopt Vietnamese family names and speak the Vietnamese language. {2} The education of the Khmer Krom is neglected and they face many hardships in everyday life, such as difficult access to Vietnamese health services (recent epidemics of blindness affecting children have been reported in the predominantly Khmer Krom areas of the Mekong delta, difficulty in practicing their religion (Khmer Krom are Theravada Buddhists, like Cambodian and Thai people, but unlike Vietnamese who are mostly Mahayana Buddhists or few Roman Catholics), difficulty in finding jobs outside of the fields, and social racism. The Khmer Krom are among the poorest segments of the population in southern Vietnam.[citation needed]

Unlike other minority people groups of Vietnam, the Khmer Krom are largely unknown in the Western world, despite efforts by associations of exiled Khmer Krom such as the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation to publicize their issues with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation. No Western government has raised the matter of the Khmer Krom’s human rights with the Vietnamese government.

The Khmer Krom culture could become better known through its tourist sites in the Mekong Delta. Khmer Buddhist temples located in places such as Long An, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Bac Lieu, and Soc Trang are now very popular as tourist destinations.

Iranian Parliamentary Delegation Leaves Tehran for Cambodia

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iran-Cambodia parliamentary friendship group left Tehran for Phnom Penh on Saturday night to discuss bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest with Cambodian officials.

"During the three-day trip, the two sides will hold discussions on inter-parliamentary relations and discuss paving the ground for developing ties and other related issues based on the Islamic Republic of Iran's view on the East Asian countries," Head of the delegation Mohsen Kouhkan told FNA.

The delegation, consisting of five Iranian legislators, is also due to meet with the Cambodian prime minister, foreign ministry officials, their Cambodian counterparts and members of some of the country's parliament commissions.

Iran and Cambodia have recently expanded their parliamentary relations. Earlier this month, Cambodia's Parliament Speaker Heng Samrin called for the development of all-out ties between Tehran and Phnom Penh.

Speaking in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Cambodia Seyed Javad Qavam Shahidi, the Cambodian speaker lauded the achievements made by the Islamic Republic of Iran in political, economic and high-tech fields, and underlined the necessity for the promotion of his country's ties with Iran and maximum utilization of cooperation capacities and opportunities by the two countries.

The speaker also welcomed a visit to Cambodia by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani during his upcoming trip to the Southeast Asia.

Also during the meeting, the two sides agreed on exchange of visits by the two countries' parliament speakers as well as parliamentary friendship groups.

Cambodian Cultural Celebration scheduled

Apsara Dance is a Cambodian traditional dance.

Published: 30th May 2010

The third annual Cambodian Cultural Celebration will be held Saturday at Millersylvania State Park in Thurston County.

The celebration will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Millersylvania State Park Environmental Learning Center, 12245 Tilley Road S., off Interstate 5 at exits 95 or 99. The festival features a selection of traditional and contemporary Cambodian music and art forms performed by South Puget Sound region’s Cambodian community.

Among the artists and performances on the schedule:

• Cambodian Classical and Folks Dance of Tacoma performing classical and traditional dances.

• The Watanakpeap Dontrey band of Olympia performing live contemporary Cambodian music.

• Traditional Cambodian instrumental music by the Cambodian Classical Musical of Tacoma.

• The United Southeast Asia Cultural Association demonstrating the martial arts of pradal serey, kun khmer, muay thai, kick boxing and taekwondo.

For seven years, monks have had no peace


What: Prompted by a string of vandalism at the Cambodian Buddhist temple in Rochester, monks, neighbors, city leaders, youth groups and members of police neighborhood watch program will gather to discuss the issue. When: 4 p.m., Thursday Where: Buddhist Support Society Address: 4462 29th St. SE, Rochester

By Jim Gehrz,

Star Tribune

Monks living at the Buddhist Support Society in Rochester had to replace their mailbox after vandals damaged it. They own a 10.5-acre site they bought for tranquil reflection.

Vandalism has plagued a Buddhist temple near Rochester for seven years. Neighbors and police are outraged and baffled.

Last update: May 29, 2010


A chorus of chirping crickets and the smashed shell of a mailbox greet Chhan Aun when he steps out the door of his monk's residence at the hilltop Buddhist temple southeast of Rochester.

"We are quiet and peaceful; we try to pray for good things, not bad," he said, wrapped in his orange robe, as a former monk translates his Cambodian words. "We don't understand why people are doing things like this."

This month's busted mailbox is the latest in a seven-year string of vandalism that has jarred the four monks who live on the grassy, rolling, 10.5-acre site they chose for tranquil reflection.

Someone sprayed-painted "Jesus Saves" and a cross on their driveway last May. Dozens of lights have been broken and stolen. Flowers and trees have been yanked from the earth. Instead of studying the teachings of Buddha, the monks have been installing motion-detecting lights and asking the Postal Service to approve moving their mailbox down from 29th Street and closer to their house.

"One night at 2 a.m., a group of four or five people were outside and I shined my flashlight in their face," said Aun, 63. "They never confront us face to face; they just run away."

Neighbors and police are outraged and baffled at what would motivate the vandals to harass such gentle men, some of whom, including Aun, lived through the Cambodian genocide of the late-1970s Khmer Rouge killing fields.

"They believe in peace and tranquility, and they sure don't deserve this," said Glenda Bale, who moved into the quiet residential area in 2003, just as the temple construction was completed and the monks moved in next door from their former downtown location.

Back then, her place was an overgrown "jungle," and as she worked to clear the lot, the monks would bring with food offerings. They invite Bale to all their celebrations.

Her friend's unlocked car was broken into once and papers were scattered. The monks say they've been struck three or four times a year since they arrived.

"For this stuff to only happen to them is totally uncalled for," said Bale, 47. "You couldn't ask for better neighbors, honestly."

Police cite six documented cases of criminal damage to property since last May, but the monks say the harassment dates to a group of aggressive opponents speaking out against the temple at city zoning meetings before the two temple structures were built. Opponents' concerns about increased traffic congestion have proven to be completely unfounded, Bale said.

"We have absolutely no idea as to why these people are doing this," said Sgt. Scott Behrns of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department. "We're confident we'll catch the people doing it; it's just a matter of how long it takes."

Deputies have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood, and if arrests are made, Behrns said prosecutors will be asked to use state laws that target bias-motivated crimes. That could mean elevating misdemeanor charges into gross misdemeanors or felonies.

"Based on the way the crimes are occurring, one would think it's the same" person or people behind the vandalism, said Behrns, who thinks a baseball bat was used to destroy the mailbox earlier this month.

Community meeting slated

Rochester's Buddhist Support Society serves roughly 500 people, mostly Cambodian refugees who fled during the Vietnam War era and emigrated to Minnesota. The group owns the temple and recruits monks from Cambodia who make minimum five-year commitments to study, pray and teach at the hilltop temple.

Aun said that the destroyed mailbox, in itself, is not a big deal.

"But if they try to set fire to our buildings or hurt the monks, that would make us upset," he said.

He's speaking out despite some concerns that the vandals will relish the publicity.

"We want to show the community that we are doing something," he said. "It is 98 percent positive to get the word out and maybe two percent negative."

About 20 concerned citizens, mostly members of Rochester Meditation Center, met at the temple last Sunday, and a larger meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 4 p.m. Members of Rochester's Diversity Council, teenage youth groups, local church members and representatives of the police-sponsored Neighborhood Watch program will look for ways to enhance understanding about Buddhism and curb the vandalism.

Until then, Aun and his fellow monks will do what they came to Rochester to do. They will sit on pillows on the floor, surrounded by colorful paintings of Buddhist scenes, and recite prayers of loving kindness to the perpetrators of the vandalism.

"They know what they are doing is not right," Aun said. "We will pray for them to do good things instead of bad."

Curt Brown • 612-673-4767

NCDD media-release 31May2010

Dear all media members,

Please find the attached of media release of NCDD for 31 May 2010 dissemination seminar on Local Governance Support Research and Survey Findings.

If you have any further information, please contact Mr. Phen Raksmey, Information and Public Relation Officer by raksmey.phen@ncdd.gov.kh or mobile phone: 017 796 523.

Note: all media are allowed to publish the press release until 31 May 2010

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Man suspected of killing mother returned to Idaho

Credit: Idaho Falls Police

By Associated Press
Posted on May 29, 2010

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- An eastern Idaho man who authorities say killed his mother and then fled to Cambodia before being captured and extradited back to Idaho has been granted a public defender.

Nathan N. Helburn, 33, appeared via video on Friday in 7th District Court. He is charged with first-degree murder and a deadly weapons enhancement.

Police say Helburn used a knife to kill 61-year-old Mary Helburn. Police found her body March 9 during a welfare check.

Nathan Helburn was captured in Cambodia on March 18, returned to the United States on March 23, and held in the Los Angeles County Jail until returning to Idaho Falls on Thursday.

Magistrate Judge Penny Stanford kept Helburn's bond at $1 million.

The Post Register reports that his next court appearance is scheduled for June 9.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Vietnamese firms set on mining gold reserves in Cambodia

Thanh Nien News
Last updated: 5/28/2010
Many Vietnamese companies want to enter the gold mining sector in Cambodia

The recent discovery of around 8.1 million tons of gold in Cambodia has caught the interest of many Vietnamese companies who now want to enter the gold mining sector in the neighboring country.

Nguyen Thanh Truc, director of Agribank’s subsidiary in charge of trading gold, said the Cambodian mine has the largest gold reserves in Southeast Asia and its discovery has encouraged Vietnamese companies to hatch plans to mine there.

When the time is right, his company will make such a move, Truc said in a report published by local news website VnExpress Friday. However, he noted that as the ore contains only 2.3 grams per ton, lower than the usual grade of 3 gram per ton, the project may not be highly lucrative.

Cambodia said Monday that Australian firm OZ Minerals had discovered around 8.1 million tons of gold on its territory. The gold mine is located in an area in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, which is close to the Vietnam-Cambodia border, and only 100 kilometers from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Some 60 local and foreign firms including companies from Australia, China, South Korea and Vietnam have been conducting mineral research and exploration across Cambodia, AFP reported, citing an official.

“It will be a great opportunity if Vietnamese companies can invest in the mine, although local technologies are not to a high standard,” said Nguyen The Hung, general director of Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Company.

Cambodia still depends on foreign mining companies and many Vietnamese firms have recently expanded their business to the neighboring country, Hung said.

Vietnam’s companies have invested a combined US$1 billion into Cambodia, with many projects in the mining sector. However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has not yet licensed any gold mining projects.

Nguyen Tuan Quynh, deputy director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company, one of Vietnam’s largest gold traders, said mining is a profitable business and it’s quite easy to apply for licenses to invest in Cambodia.

However, mining costs, conditions and transport are some issues that Vietnamese companies have to consider before making their move, Quynh said.