A Change of Guard

សូមស្តាប់វិទ្យុសង្គ្រោះជាតិ Please read more Khmer news and listen to CNRP Radio at National Rescue Party. សូមស្តាប់វីទ្យុខ្មែរប៉ុស្តិ៍/Khmer Post Radio.
Follow Khmerization on Facebook/តាមដានខ្មែរូបនីយកម្មតាម Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khmerization.khmerican

Thursday, 31 March 2011

SRP remembers 1997 victims

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A man pays his respects to the deceased at a ceremony yesterday to remember the victims of a 1997 grenade attack on members of the Sam Rainsy Party in Phnom Penh. The attack left 16 opposition activists dead and over 100 wounded. The perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice.

Thursday, 31 March 2011
By Kim Yuthana
Phnom Penh Post

During a commemorative ceremony yesterday the opposition Sam Rainsy Party urged the Government to seek justice for victims of a brutal grenade attack in 1997.
The attack left at least 16 people dead and more than 100 injured.

More than 50 monks said prayers for the dead, while SRP members said that justice would not be served unless the Government identified and arrested the perpetrators.

About 200 SRP members had gathered outside the old National Assembly building on March 30, 1997, to protest the impunity of Cambodia’s judiciary.

Four grenades were lobbed into the crowd in a well-orchestrated attack that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded later to have involved Government officials.

“I would like to call on the Government to open an investigation into this criminal case and find out who the real killers were and bring them to justice,” said Chan Virak, who lost his sister in the 1997 attack. He added that families of the dead have been waiting for 14 years to see justice.

During yesterday’s event, which was attended by an estimated 200 party representatives and members of victims’ families, SRP President Kong Kam said the “grenade attack had been planned”.

Sam Rainsy addressed participants of yesterday’s ceremony via video conference and said family members of the victims still suffer because they have not received justice.

“We still remember what happened unfairly to demonstrators at that time,” he said.

“We continue our commitment to push the Government and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate and arrest the killers.”

Teng Savong, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and once the head of the investigative team in charge of the case, said yesterday that police officials had not yet closed the file but that they were no closer to identifying any suspects.

“We have not yet apprehended any of the killers,” Teng Savong said.

Soy Sopheap begs for forgiveness

Media personality Soy Sopheap adjusts a poster at the re-opening of Deum Ampil Newspaper in December 2010. Soy Sopheap attended court yesterday to clarify defamation allegations. (Photo by: Heng Chivoan)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Buth Reaksmey Kongkea
The Phnom Penh Post

Prominent television personality Soy Sopheap was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to clarify defamation accusations alleged by Son Soubert, a political analyst and former member of the Constitutional Council.

Ek Chheng Huot, deputy prosecutor at the Municipal Court, said yesterday that Soy Sopheap, director of Deum Ampil News and a presenter for Bayon TV, faced a complaint by Son Soubert on February 4 over accusations of defamation stemming from comments suggesting that Son Sann – Son Soubert’s father and former prime minister – sold land located near Preah Vihear temple to Thailand in the 1980s.

“Soy Sopheap was accused with defamation of Samdech Son Sann who is the father of His Excellency Son Soubert. He has already appeared in court and clarified about his accusations yesterday and I have not decided whether he will be charged or not yet,” Ek Chheng Hout said yesterday.

Soy Sopheap said in court that he was confused and had made a mistake in his political commentary regarding Son Sann and had pleaded for a pardon from Son Soubert with regard to the comments. He said he had also made a correction publicly on Bayon TV shortly after the incident.

“I am responsible about what I had said related to Samdech Son Sann, and I have also recognised that I had been confused about this. I hope that the court will not take any legal action against me because I have begged for a pardon from Son Soubert already,” he said, adding that he plans to publicly beg for a pardon and reiterate his corrections on Bayon Television tonight.

“There is a culture of responsibility for journalists when they have made mistakes [in publications] and it is also in the press law,” he said.

Son Soubert claimed in court yesterday that Soy Sopheap had not yet pleaded with him for a pardon regarding his political commentary against his father, except for praising his father’s courage.

“I think that Soy Sopheap’s accusation was very bad for my father’s reputation ... so I could not accept his words that just praised my father’s heroism but did not withdraw his wrongful commentary against him.”

He added that he will consider withdrawing his complaint against Soy Sopheap if he accepts that he had made a mistake, makes a correction and condemns his previous characterisations of Son Sann.

Vattanac [Bank] starts to tower

Photo by: PHA LINA

Thursday, 31 March 2011
By Soeun Say
Phnom Penh Post

Vattanac Properties yesterday signed a contract with CB Richard Ellis in order to make it the sole leasing agent for Vattanac Tower, a mixed-use development in Phnom Penh. Construction on the 38-storey tower, started in 2009, is expected to be completed in September 2012. A 129,000-square-metre mixture of offices, shops and serviced apartments will be housed at a site on Monivong Boulevard. It will also serve as the head office of Vattanac Bank and Vattanac Capital. Sam Ang Vattanac, executive director for Vattanac Properties, said he was pleased to have CBRE on board.

3-year-old to get life-saving repair at Miller Children's in Long Beach

By Greg Mellen,
Press-Telegram Staff Writer
Posted: 30th March, 2011

LONG BEACH - When Peter Chhun returned from Cambodia to the U.S. in early March, he knew only that he wanted to save a boy's life. The devil was in the details. As it turned out, Chhun had an angel on his shoulders.

While Chhun was talking to doctors abroad to find someone to perform life-saving heart surgery on a young impoverished Cambodian boy, Dr. David Michalik was quietly helping forge a deal much closer to home.

Barring unforeseen complications, it appears 3-year-old Bunlak Song, who suffers from a substantial ventricular septal defect, or hole in his heart, will be operated on at Miller Children's Hospital/Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Thoracic surgeon Daniel Bethencourt of the Bethencourt Group has agreed to perform the surgery.

On Friday, the boy will meet with a cardiology team at the hospital for tests and to ensure he is a good candidate for the surgery.

Michalik, who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at Miller, had met young Bunlak and his family in Cambodia, and after seeing the desperate conditions under which the boy and his adoptive family lived, decided he would see if he could arrange to have the boy treated in Long Beach.

"Over the next couple weeks, I'd catch people in the hallway," Michalik said. "All the physicians without hesitation said, `Yes."'

Once Michalik had the team formed, which also includes pediatric cardiologist Dominic Blurton, he went to the administration and got the go-ahead.

Although the date is still to be determined, Bunlak is expected to have the surgery within a month.

Initially there had been talk of operating on the boy as early as Wednesday. But after further discussions, it was decided to take extra time to examine the boy, have him meet doctors and do tests.

"It seemed the stars just aligned," Michalik says of how swiftly and seamlessly the plan to operate on Bunlak has come together. "I can't explain why it happened so quickly."

Chhun has been overwhelmed by the response and the positive feedback locally.

"I never expected it to come together like this," said Chhun, whose Hearts Without Boundaries nonprofit has been able to help three children receive the heart surgeries not readily available in their home country.

Three weeks ago, Chhun brought Bunlak to the U.S. with little more than faith and hope.

Chhun had learned that the child's heart condition was worse than originally thought and he needed surgery "yesterday" in the words of one cardiologist.

Chhun was able to get a doctor from the International Children's Heart Foundation to agree to operate on Bunlak in one of the group's overseas missions. The catch was the fledgling nonprofit would need to raise about $15,000 for hospital and travel costs.

Although Hearts Without Boundaries had successfully brokered the same deal last year, when Dr. Roderigo Soto repaired the heart of Socheat Nha, Chhun was hoping Michalik and Miller Children's Hospital would come through.

On Tuesday he got his answer and Bunlak will likely have his heart repaired right here.

"He'll be a whole new boy," Michalik said.

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

Resentment over NGO law spreads

Thursday, 31 March 2011
Thomas Miller and Vong Sokheng
Phnom Penh Post

Organisation representing hundreds of NGOs and associations yesterday came out strongly against the second draft of the government’s controversial NGO law, some threatening political fallout, while the government defended the law.

Three umbrella groups, which have represented hundreds of organisations in closed-door negotiations with the government in recent weeks, said they saw “no progress” in the second draft.

“The [majority] of the changes are minor and fail to address the fundamental concerns raised by [civil society organisations],” Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said in a statement released by the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.

“The most significant problem remains at the heart of the law: Registration is still mandatory,” the groups said.

Several networks representing dozens of community groups and associations also denounced the law yesterday, saying at a press conference in Phnom Penh that they had been deceived by the government.

“The latest draft is more restrictive for civil society organisations, which is contrary to the response that the Ministry of Interior gave to us by telephone, that they had accepted the majority of our proposed points,” the groups said in a statement.

“The latest draft law is a law to control civil society rather than to promote the rights of citizens in creating and forming organisations and associations.”

Several of the networks said there would be political fallout if the law was not changed significantly.

“We will not vote for the government if the ruling party does not respect our will. We have more than 1,000 local associations.... Therefore, the effective judgment over the Government’s policy is through the upcoming elections,” Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, said yesterday.

Um Mech, a representative of ethnic minority groups in Kampong Thom province, said lawmakers would be held accountable for their votes on the law.

“We are the voters. If the law is adopted without protecting our benefits and our rights, we will not vote for the government,” he said. “We voted for our representatives in the National Assembly because we need them to protect us, and now if they will approve the law without thinking about our interests ... This is the way of democracy.”

Um Mech said high rates of illiteracy among indigenous people would make the law’s registration and reporting requirements “a huge obstacle” to his organisation’s work. He also expressed concern about his ability to take on politically sensitive issues.

“Before this law, at least 30 people have been imprisoned for claiming their own land. If the law is adopted, there will be more people imprisoned,” he said.

The draft legislation has been roundly criticised for setting out vague and arbitrary government authority, mandatory registration and reporting requirements deemed burdensome for small organisations.
The second draft also contains no explicit right to appeal government decisions, either to the courts or ministries.

The newest draft created a registration exception for “mass organisations”, also translated as “community-based organisations”, but did not define the term.

Nouth Sa An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, defended the law.

“The allegation that we have not changed the draft is unacceptable. We have adopted about 90 percent of the changes requested by civil society,” he said yesterday.

Nouth Sa An said he did not know when the law would be submitted to the Council of Ministers, though he reportedly told NGO representatives in a meeting on Tuesday the deadline was the end of the week.
“We are waiting to see an approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the requests to change the draft law,” he said

Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday, and spokesman Koy Kuong said he did not know about the matter.

In an analysis of the law released yesterday, local rights group Licadho said the new draft contained the same flaws as the first and would “further disempower Cambodian communities”.

“It must be remembered that the freedoms of association, expression and assembly in Cambodia are already heavily restricted, particularly at the community level,” the report said.

“Anyone who is perceived to be challenging local or government officials is open to persecution, including arrest, detention, threats and violence. The draft law must be assessed within this context,” Licadho said.

Jaw-eating tumour removed after mercy dash

Cambodian girl Sovanna Kak, who is estimated to be 15, has undergone surgery in Brisbane to remove a tumour on her jaw bone (seen in her x-ray inset).

By Courtney Trenwith
Brisbane Times, Australia
March 31, 2011

A Cambodian teenager flown to Brisbane to save her jaw that was being eaten away by a tumour is recovering well, her doctor said.

Sovanna Kak had suffered the painful growth for several years before complaining to a doctor in her rural town a few months ago.

Surgery to remove the tumour, which was destroying the right side of her face, was too complicated to be performed in the developing country.

A local dentist sought help from the Australian and New Zealand Association of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons who, with Rotary Oceanic Medical Aid for Children and Wesley Hospital, brought Sovanna to Australia.

The tumour was removed during surgery on Tuesday and a metal plate was inserted to replace the missing bone.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon John Arvier said Sovanna was recovering well and could be discharged from hospital at the end of the week.

‘‘Sovanna has made a rapid initial recovery,’’ he said. ‘‘She is able to drink reasonably freely and was shown her post-operative x-rays.’’

Hours before the surgery, Dr Arvier told brisbanetimes.com.au the tumour had caused so much damage Sovanna risked breaking her jaw if she so much as bumped into someone.
Advertisement: Story continues below

"It's made an awful mess of the jaw from the corner of the jaw to just below the joint in front of the ear," he said.

"It's quite sore, she can talk all right and still eat fairly well but ... it's steadily chomping away at her.

"It's eaten away the inside of the jaw, pushing the jaw out, almost to the point where it's eaten the whole jaw bone."

He said while the three-hour surgery was relatively straight forward, it would have a large impact on Sovanna's life and health.

Sovanna’s mother and the Cambodian doctor are also in Brisbane, as well as a Cambodian student doctor who will learn the procedure with the hope of performing it in the developing country.

Dr Arvier said the tumour was not uncommon, including in Australia, but rarely progressed to such a debilitating point as Sovanna's condition had.

Tourist numbers to Preah Vihear increased despite Cambodian-Thai conflict

By Khmerization
Source: Kampuchea Thmey

Cambodian tourism officials said tourist numbers to Preah Vihear temple has increased despite an ongoing armed conflict between Cambodian and Thai troops in the area.

Mr. Kong Vibol, director of Preah Vihear Tourism Department, said that in the first three months of 2011 from January to March, there are 31,957 tourists have visited Preah Vihear temple and the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng. These figures include 27,954 Cambodian tourists and 4,003 international tourists.

He said since the temple was inscribed as a world heritage site in 2008, tourist numbers have steadily increased every year, despite the threats of violence and armed clashes between the two opposing armies.

Vietnam's army chiefs visit Cambodian border troops

Vietnam's military delegates posed for photos with Cambodian military officers at Cambodia's Military Region Five's headquarter at Rattanak Mondul.

By Khmerization
Source: Koh Santepheap

A delegation of 10 Vietnamese army commanders led by Maj-Gen. Tran Phi Ho, commander of Vietnam's Military Region Nine based in Hau Giang-Kien Giang province has paid a visit to the headquarter of Cambodian Military Region Five at Rattanak Mondul in Battambang on Tuesday, 29th March.

The Vietnamese military delegation was escorted by Lt-Gen. Prak Sovan, Deputy Commander of Royal Cambodian Army, and was cordially received by Maj-Gen. Bun Seng, Commander of Cambodia's Military Region Five, at the military regional headquarter in Battambang.

During the visit of the Vietnamese army chiefs, Gen. Bun Seng had briefed them of the Cambodian-Thai military conflict, the Thai aggression as well as Thailand's insincerity in resolving the conflict at Preah Vihear temple peacefully. Gen. Bun Seng also briefed the Vietnamese army chiefs about the Cambodian-Thai conflict at O'Bei Choan, O'Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey province where seven Thai trespassers were arrested on 29th December, 2010.

Gen. Bun Seng thanked Vietnam People's Army for its continuous supports of the Cambodian army. He said Vietnam's Military Region Nine has helped Cambodia's Military Region Five since 2007 in constructing its headquarter, building hospital, providing military and technical training as well as training on how to repair and maintain weapons and military hardware. On top of this, Cambodia's Military Region Five has helped to find 279 remains of Vietnamese soldiers killed in the 1980s in Pursat, Battambang, Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

In response to Gen. Bun Seng's speech, Gen. Tran Phi Ho said Vietnamese People's Army is implementing the memorandum of understanding which was signed by the ministries of defence of both countries in 2010. Gen. Tran Phi Ho said Vietnam has acknowledged and noted the recent Cambodian-Thai conflict. He said the recent Thai-American naval exercise in the Gulf of Thailand was a show of American weapons and military hardware. He said Vietnam's Military Region Nine Five accepted request from Cambodia's Military Region Five to continue its military assistance. He said Vietnam's military will continue to strengthen the quality and capability of the Cambodian army.

Vietnam's military delegation's visit to Cambodia came after a visit of the delegation of the North Korean military to the kingdom.

The smartest man in the world

Christopher Michael Langan (born c. 1952) is an American autodidact whose IQ was reported by 20/20 and other media sources to have been measured at between 195 and 210.[1] Billed by some media sources as "the smartest man in America",[2] he rose to prominence in 1999 while working as a bouncer on Long Island. Langan has developed his own "theory of the relationship between mind and reality" which he calls the "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)".

Langan was born in San Francisco and spent most of his early life in Montana. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family; his father died or disappeared before he was born.[5] He began talking at six months, taught himself to read before he was four, and was repeatedly skipped ahead in school. But he grew up in poverty and says he was beaten by his stepfather from when he was almost six to when he was about fourteen.[6] By then Langan had begun weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse, throwing his stepfather out of the house and telling him never to return.[7]

Langan says he spent the last years of high school mostly in independent study, teaching himself "advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek, all that".[8] After earning a perfect score on the SAT[6] Langan attended Reed College and later Montana State University, but faced with financial and transportation problems, and believing that he "could literally teach his professors more than they could teach him", dropped out.[8]

He took a string of labor-intensive jobs, and by his mid-40s had been a construction worker, cowboy, forest service firefighter, farmhand, and for over twenty years, a bouncer on Long Island. He says he developed a "double-life strategy": on one side a regular guy, doing his job and exchanging pleasantries, and on the other side coming home to perform equations in his head, working in isolation on his Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe.[8]

Wider attention came in 1999, when Esquire magazine published a profile of Langan and other members of the high-IQ community.[8] Billing Langan as "the smartest man in America", Mike Sager's account of the weight-lifting bouncer and his CTMU "Theory of Everything" sparked a flurry of media interest. Board-certified neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Novelly tested Langan's IQ for 20/20, which reported that Langan broke the ceiling of the test. Novelly was said to be astounded, saying: "Chris is the highest individual that I have ever measured in 25 years of doing this."[6]

Articles and interviews highlighting Langan appeared in Popular Science,[9] The Times,[7] Newsday,[10] Muscle & Fitness (which reported that he could bench press 500 pounds),[11] and elsewhere. Langan was featured on 20/20,[6] interviewed on BBC Radio[12] and on Errol Morris's First Person,[13] and participated in an online chat at ABCNEWS.com.[14] He has written question-and-answer columns for New York Newsday,[15] The Improper Hamptonian,[16] and Men's Fitness.[17]

In 2004, Langan moved with his wife Gina (née LoSasso), a clinical neuropsychologist, to northern Missouri, where he owns and operates a horse ranch.[18]

On January 25, 2008, Langan was a contestant on NBC's 1 vs. 100, where he won $250,000.
[edit] Ideas, affiliations, and publications

In 1999 Langan and his wife, Gina LoSasso, formed a non-profit corporation called the "Mega Foundation" to "create and implement programs that aid in the development of extremely gifted individuals and their ideas."[19] In addition to his writings at the Foundation, Langan's media exposure at the end of the 1990s invariably included some discussion of his "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe" (often referred to by Langan as "CTMU"), and he was reported by Popular Science in 2001 to be writing a book about his work called Design for a Universe.[9] He has been quoted as saying that "you cannot describe the universe completely with any accuracy unless you're willing to admit that it's both physical and mental in nature"[11] and that his CTMU "explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase".[14] He calls his proposal "a true 'Theory of Everything', a cross between John Archibald Wheeler's 'Participatory Universe' and Stephen Hawking's 'Imaginary Time' theory of cosmology."[8] In conjunction with his ideas, Langan has claimed that "you can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics."[6]

Langan is a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID),[20] a professional society which promotes intelligent design,[21] and has published a paper on his CTMU in the society's online journal Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design in 2002.[22] Later that year, he presented a lecture on his CTMU at ISCID's Research and Progress in Intelligent Design (RAPID) conference.[23] In 2004, Langan contributed a chapter to Uncommon Dissent, a collection of essays that question unguided evolution and promote intelligent design, edited by ISCID cofounder and leading intelligent design proponent William Dembski.[24]

Asked about creationism, Langan has said:

I believe in the theory of evolution, but I believe as well in the allegorical truth of creation theory. In other words, I believe that evolution, including the principle of natural selection, is one of the tools used by God to create mankind. Mankind is then a participant in the creation of the universe itself, so that we have a closed loop. I believe that there is a level on which science and religious metaphor are mutually compatible.[14]

Langan explains on his website that he believes "since Biblical accounts of the genesis of our world and species are true but metaphorical, our task is to correctly decipher the metaphor in light of scientific evidence also given to us by God". He explains

In explaining this relationship, the CTMU shows that reality possesses a complex property akin to self-awareness. That is, just as the mind is real, reality is in some respects like a mind. But when we attempt to answer the obvious question "whose mind?", the answer turns out to be a mathematical and scientific definition of God. This implies that we all exist in what can be called "the Mind of God", and that our individual minds are parts of God's Mind. They are not as powerful as God's Mind, for they are only parts thereof; yet, they are directly connected to the greatest source of knowledge and power that exists. This connection of our minds to the Mind of God, which is like the connection of parts to a whole, is what we sometimes call the soul or spirit, and it is the most crucial and essential part of being human.[25]

Langan has argued elsewhere that he does not belong to any religious denomination, explaining that he "can't afford to let [his] logical approach to theology be prejudiced by religious dogma."[14] He calls himself "a respecter of all faiths, among peoples everywhere."[14]

He has recently been profiled in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success,[26] where Gladwell looks at the reasons behind why Langan was unable to flourish in a university environment. Gladwell writes that although Langan "read deeply in philosophy, mathematics, and physics" as he worked on the CTMU, "without academic credentials, he despairs of ever getting published in a scholarly journal".[27] Gladwell's profile on Langan mainly portrayed him as an example of an individual who failed to realize his potential in part because of poor social skills resulting from, in Gladwell's speculation, being raised in poverty.[28]

Observers See Role for Former King on Border Issue

Photo: AP
Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk are greeted by students along a Phnom Penh road during during the marking of the country's 50th Independence Day in 2003.

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer | Washington
Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Former king Norodom Sihanouk could be a valuable asset in the Thai-Cambodian border dispute, a Cambodian historian says.

Related Links

As monarch, Norodom Sihanouk led Cambodia’s bid to regain Preah Vihear temple from Thai occupation in 1962 through the International Court of Justice.

The court determined the temple belonged to Cambodia, but Thailand continues to dispute the ownership of land nearby, an issue that has led to a prolonged, deadly military standoff.

Michel Tranet, a history professor in Cambodia, told VOA Khmer in an interview that Norodom Sihanouk is a living witness to those events and could shed light on the court’s decision and the border standoff.

“Before he is gone, we should make a request to him asking his opinion,” Tranet said.

Both sides remain at odds over the disputed area, with the most violent clashes, in February, followed by a peace effort led by Asean and its president, Indonesia.

Officials are scheduled to meet in Indonesia next week to hammer out the details of a potential Indonesian monitoring mission to the border to help ensure a ceasefire.

Tranet said it was regretful the former king’s knowledge has not yet been tapped in dealing with the standoff, even as Cambodia prepares a legal request from the international court on the 1962 decision.

“The most regretful thing is that his great merit was not thought of,” Tranet said of th former monarch, who relinquished the throne in 2004. “I remember that His Majesty fairly said that even a hand-span of land we would not lose. And he achieved this effective goal.”

Son Soubert, an advisor to the former king whose father helped prepare the legal case for Preah Vihear in the 1960s, said Norodom Sihanouk, now 88, could advise on the current dispute.

“He has a lot of experience in diplomatic affairs, legal affairs, and all of this,” Son Soubert said. “Because indeed it’s a national issue. It is not the issue of any political party or individual. There must be unity, all together, to solve our land problem.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the former king does at times advise the government, including letters of support in the Preah Vihear issue. However, he said, the current dispute is not the same as the historical case.

Dispute Over Sentence of Khmer Rouge Prison Chief

The New York Times
Published: March 30, 2011
Read original article here.

BANGKOK — Prosecutors and defense attorneys both asked for drastic changes this week in the sentence given to the former commandant of the Khmer Rouge’s main prison and torture center.

In a three-day appeal hearing outside Phnom Penh prosecutors asked for a maximum sentence of life in prison. The defense asked for an acquittal that could allow the immediate release of the defendant, Kaing Guek Eav (pictured), better known as Duch.

He is the first Khmer Rouge official to stand trial for atrocities committed when the radical Communist regime held power in Cambodia, causing the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979. Four senior Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody in what is known as Case Two, which court officers say is expected to start this summer.

Last July Duch was sentenced to 35 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity after an emotional and sometimes lurid trial describing the torture and killing of inmates at the Tuol Sleng prison.

The sentence was reduced to 19 years for time served and because of technicalities, arousing an outcry from survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime. It meant that Duch, now 68, could possibly walk free one day, particularly if the sentence is reduced for good behavior.

More than 14,000 prisoners were held and interrogated at Tuol Sleng; only a handful survived to see the Khmer Rouge driven from power by a Vietnamese invasion. The trial included vivid testimony, mostly from Duch, about prisoners’ torture and execution.

During the trial Duch acknowledged and apologized for his crimes in what many analysts saw as a tactic to obtain a lighter sentence, though some observers also saw genuine remorse. Then, on the final day of the trial, he fired the French lawyer who had constructed this defense. His Cambodian co-counsel said Duch was not guilty and demanded his immediate release.

During the appeal hearings this week his lawyers repeated that demand using a familiar defense — that Duch had obeyed his superiors for fear of execution. They called the tribunal, which is supported by the United Nations, “nothing but a venue for vengeance.”

“He had no other choice than to implement the orders, otherwise he would have been killed,” said one of his lawyers, Kang Ritheary, addressing the judges. “If you were in his shoes in 1979, what would you have done?”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, had their own criticisms of the court’s sentence last year. They said too much weight had been given to mitigating factors like Duch’s cooperation and his qualified expressions of remorse.

“We call for the imposition of a life term, reduced to 45 years,” said a prosecutor, Andrew Cayley. That figure takes into account 11 years Duch spent in illegal detention in a military jail. “For the purposes of history, a life term must be imposed,” Mr. Cayley said.

Duch’s unexpected declaration of innocence at the end of the trial undercut his claim of remorse, Mr. Cayley said.

A ruling is expected this summer.

Also this summer the second trial is due to begin, focusing on the four surviving senior members of the Khmer Rouge, all in their 70s and 80s and in poor health. The top Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. The defendants in Case Two are Nuon Chea, known as the movement’s chief ideologist; Khieu Samphan, the former head of state; Ieng Sary, who was foreign minister; and his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was minister for social affairs.

Although much of the world’s attention has moved far away from the decades-old crimes of the Khmer Rouge, the atrocities still arouse intense feelings in this traumatized country.

Norng Chan Phal, who was rescued as a child from Tuol Sleng when it fell to the Vietnamese in 1979, burst into tears on the first day of testimony Monday when he heard defense lawyers arguing for acquittal, according to Reach Sambath, chief spokesman for the tribunal.

“This is crazy,” he shouted, flinging a plastic bottle of water to the ground.

“He lost control,” Mr. Sambath said. “He said: ‘There is no justice! This is not justice for my father and mother who died in Tuol Sleng.’ ”

Mr. Sambath said he had comforted him saying that he, too, had lost his parents and that it was time to move forward and to let the law take its course.

Thai Govt caught in Cambodia-Thai JBC tangle

Govt caught in JBC tangle

ANALYSIS: There's no light at the end of the tunnel.

Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros
Published: 31/03/2011
Bangkok Post

It will be a long bumpy road for the government in dealing with issues surrounding the minutes of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission.

A major hurdle came yesterday when the Constitution Court threw out a petition seeking the court's ruling as to the status of the JBC minutes.

The court reasoned the petition submission was not in line with the regulations of petitioning the court to give a final ruling on a particular dispute under Sections 190 and 154 of the constitution.

The court also said more steps would have to be completed in parliament before a request for the court to give a final ruling on whether the JBC minutes could be lodged properly.

Led by Democrat MP for Songkhla Sirichoke Sopha, a group of about 80 MPs jointly submitted the petition to the court through Parliament Speaker Chai Chidchob.

Mr Sirichoke, who is also a close aide to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, believes that since the minutes were signed by both Thai and Cambodian officers, the documents should be regarded as an international treaty under Section 190 of the constitution.

Before the court made its decision not to consider the documents yesterday, Mr Sirichoke still hoped the court would consider the petition and rule on the case to end arguments over the status of the JBC minutes.

The court decision to not consider the petition for the time being came as a major blow to the Foreign Ministry as well. The ministry wants the minutes of the three JBC meetings to be approved by parliament as soon as possible, to prove to Cambodia that Thailand was not dragging its feet over the JBC documents issue.

If the documents are still left without parliamentary approval, Cambodia will likely press ahead with its intention to use a multilateral mechanism to settle the border conflict.

The effort to seek parliamentary approval on the JBC minutes began in August last year. But the same problem of lacking a quorum happened over and over.

In deputy government chief whip Wirat Kalayasiri's view, the JBC issue itself was complicated and those MPs who might have failed to catch up with the development of the issue could not truly understand it.

And since it is also a political problem between the two nations, many members of parliament could easily be deterred by the assertion from the yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy that to acknowledge the JBC minutes would be tantamount to giving the Thai territory to Cambodia.

As a result, many MPs do not dare raise their hands to approve of the JBC documents, especially during a time when a new general election is expected soon.

Under the circumstances, the parliament's decision on the JBC minutes is likely to be delayed until the end of April because most MPs still do not understand the issue.

Neither do they realise what could be the possible advantages and disadvantages of approving the JBC minutes.

Website carrying ancient Cambodian manuscripts launched

By Monica Kotwani
Channel News Asia
Posted: 30 March 2011

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Embassy in Cambodia, together with UNESCO, has launched a website, carrying contents of ancient Cambodian manuscripts.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Embassy has been supporting UNESCO, through a fund, for the last two years in its work to digitise the manuscripts.

The manuscripts, written on latania leaves, faced extinction in the 1990s.

They are Cambodia's only written heritage available, apart from stone inscriptions, and an information source for researchers on the country's religious and cultural practices and customs.

The website was launched on Wednesday evening at the French Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh.


Tea Banh: Prawit will attend GBC

Tea Banh: ‘Thailand cannot be stubborn’

Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Published: 31/03/2011
Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh: Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh is optimistic that his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwon will attend the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee meeting on April 7-8 in Bogor, Indonesia.

Gen Tea Banh yesterday quoted Gen Prawit as saying he had agreed to attend the meeting in Indonesia after they spoke over the phone recently.

Gen Tea Banh said he would leave Cambodia for Indonesia on April 6 to attend the meeting.

"The Thai side can no longer be stubborn because it is the resolution by the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and Asean that Indonesia should play a role as mediator," he said in Thai.

"[Thailand] cannot simply change its mind and it has to follow what it has promised to do.

"I still believe that Gen Prawit will surely go to the meeting in Indonesia on April 7-8. I'll wait [for him] there," said Gen Tea Banh.

Meanwhile, a Cambodian military source said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had decided not to withdraw the country's troops from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple as it was their duty to protect territory that Cambodia claims as its own.

Even so, Cambodia also wanted Thailand to let Indonesian observers join a new joint border survey to be conducted by Thailand and Cambodia, the source said.

The source also said Hun Sen would be unhappy if he found out that any Cambodian soldiers spoke Thai with Thai soldiers.

"He doesn't prohibit [them from speaking Thai to Thai soldiers] but he dislikes it as Cambodian soldiers should speak Khmer and if [the Thai soldiers] don't understand, then they must have a translator," said the source.

Deputy Chief of the General Staff receives Cambodian delegation

(VOV) - Lieutenant General Nguyen Song Phi, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, has received a delegation of Cambodian citizens, headed by Khun Chin, former Minister of Public Works and Transport of the Cambodian Government.

The Cambodian delegation is visiting Vietnam at the invitation of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations.

General Phi said on March 30 that the Vietnamese army and people always attach great importance to developing ties of unity and friendship with Cambodia’s army and people.

Bilateral military cooperation has been especially accelerated since 2005 under the annual protocol signed by the two ministries of defence.

Khun Chin thanked General Phi for the reception and extended his deep gratitude to the Vietnam People’s Army for helping Cambodia escape from the Pol Pot genocide.

He also expressed his belief that the past achievements of the Cambodian people and armed forces resulted from the solidarity between the two nations and effective assistance from the Vietnamese people and army.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Archival collection in Cambodian history made available

A unique archival collection in modern Cambodian history was donated to the Asian Studies Research Collection at the Sir Louis Matheson Library in the late 1990s by Professor David Chandler, Emeritus Professor of History at Monash University and former Director of Monash’s Centre of Southeast Asian Studies. Now an inventory of the collection has been completed and can be readily accessed from the Library website by researchers into this period of modern Cambodian history and by Cambodians seeking information about their families and their country’s dark past.

David Chandler, at left, with Julio Jeldres, who worked on the inventory, and Librarian Dennis Kishere

David Chandler, at left, with Julio Jeldres, who worked on the inventory, and Librarian Dennis Kishere

David Chandler is one of the foremost historians of Cambodia and amongst his many acclaimed books and other publications are The Tragedy of Cambodian History: Politics, War and Revolution since 1945 and Brother Number One: a political biography of Pol Pot. The David Chandler Cambodia collection comprises the research materials collected for these projects plus other diverse published and unpublished materials relating to Cambodian history, such as news clippings, U.S. State Department despatches and cables, an unpublished manuscript by Cambodian nationalist Son Ngoc Thanh, and materials from the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Perhaps most significantly, it includes over 250 transcripts of forced “confessions” of victims from the Khmer Rouge regime’s notorious S-21 (Tuol Sleng) Prison. Most are in Khmer, but 21 of them include English translations.

The inventory project was commenced in 2007 and completed last year, coinciding (coincidentally) with the ending of the first trial of Khmer Rouge leaders by the UN-backed tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia). A new project is currently underway to digitise select items from the David Chandler Cambodia collection as well as other Cambodian collections held by the Library, including the Norodom Sihanouk Archival Collection. The digitised items will be available in Monash Library’s e-repository, ARROW, later this year.

[Thai] Constitution Court refuses to rule on JBC minutes

The Nation

The Constitution Court Wednesday rejected a request by lawmakers to rule whether the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC)'s minutes of meeting saying it was not the stage for the court to have any injunctions on this matter.
By the consequence of the court's decision, the parliament needed to resume its consideration of the JBC's documents, according to the Parliament President Chai Chidchob. The parliament was scheduled to discuss the issue on April 5.

Thai investors 'welcome in Cambodia'

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, centre, Khunying Phankrua Yongchaiyudh (the wife of former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh) and Gen Wichit Yathip (Gen Chavalit’s close aide) attend the opening ceremony for the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel yesterday. The hotel is run by Thai businessman Supachai Veeraphuchong. WASSANA NANUAM

Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Published: 30/03/2011
Bangkok Post

Despite the long-standing border conflict between the two countries, the Phnom Penh government insists Thai investors are welcome in Cambodia.

Thai investors, too, are confident the tense border conflict will not affect their investment plans.

Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thai investors are eligible for tax privileges and Thai products imported by them are exempted from taxation for a period of three to eight years.

Mr Thong Khon was full of praise for such Thai businessman as Supachai Verapuchong, managing director of the Sofitel Phnom Penh Pookeerhra Hotel, for his continued investment in Cambodia even though the hotel, formerly known as the Royal Phnom Penh, was severely damaged in an anti-Thai rioting in Phnom Penh in December 2006.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's policy is to encourage more foreign investment in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Koh Kong.

Countries in this region which have invested in Cambodia are China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Those from elsewhere include Australia, Portugal, England, the United States and France.

Mr Supachai, who invested more than two billion baht in the five-star Sofitel Phnom Penh Pookeethra Hotel, said even though the relations between Thailand and Cambodia are plagued with uncertainty he has confidence in the Cambodian government's policy toward investors, including those from Thailand.

In 2006, Mr Supachai invested US$40 million in the Sofitel Ankor Hotel and a golf course in Siem Reap.

"Despite turbulence, Thailand and Cambodia are neighbours. We have to walk together as friends," he said.

"In four years from now, there will not be a tariff wall in Asean. The question is whether Thai investors and the Thai government are eady for the days ahead, when business competition will be tougher.

"So we should establish business ties, which will subsequently lead to improvement of relations in other fields," Mr Supachai said.

Australian IT in box seat for Cambodia

By Beverley Head
Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Australian systems integrator Tripoint Corporation is in the box seat to act as the prime contractor on a $25 million three year project to install a new financial management information system for the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Chief executive officer Vaughan Stibbard said the World Bank funded project was just waiting on final sign off, but that the company was expecting to be appointed as prime contractor for the whole of government project. The Australian company has been pitted against Spanish firm Indra Sistemas, and a decision was originally expected in February, but Mr Stibbard indicated to iTWire this week that all that was missing was a final sign off of the paperwork from the World Bank.

The company currently has a team of three people operating out of its Singapore office to support clients in Asia, but is likely to grow that if the Cambodian project gets the green light.

It also has significant growth ambitions in Australia, and tomorrow completes the acquisition of Melbourne based financial systems specialist Platinum Insight which will contribute additional revenues of $3.2million to the Tripoint coffers. That should take Tripoint back over the $30 million revenue mark, which it has been nudging since the GFC forced it to trim its sails from a 150 strong operation back to 100 people.

From tomorrow the company will have a headcount of 115 according to Mr Stibbard. The newly merged business unit will be renamed as Tripoint Financial Services.

With a heritage in providing ERP systems, the acquisition takes the company into the financial services vertical. Platinum has supported NAB with the rollout of its online UBank computing systems, and also worked with the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ.

Although Tripoint itself had some experience in the merchant or trading end of banking, this acquisition extends its capabilities and experience said Mr Stibbard.

Finance is one of three vertical industry sectors that the company is interested in pursuing – the others being campus solutions for education providers and mining.

Exactly how fast the company hopes to grow is a little unclear. Although a media release issued by the firm says it expects to achieve revenue growth of 20 per cent, in an interview with iTWire Mr Stibbard would only commit to 10-15 per cent growth.

He said that pre GFC the company had installed some more costly operational systems to manage the maturing business. Although it shed a third of its workforce, those operational systems had been retained, impacting the company’s finances somewhat although he predicted that pre-tax earnings would still be in the 8-9 per cent range.

Mr Stibbard, who founded the business in 1998, only returned to a hands-on chief executive role in mid 2010. He had previously been “working on, rather than in” the business.

Mark Jobbins had been managing director of the company for 18 months, but has since left the organisation and has joined EMC.

The privately owned company (Mr Stibbard holds the majority of equity and has four partners) has no ambitions to list at present, and has been funding expansion from cash reserves. It has however itself been courted, most seriously by UXC said Mr Stibbard, who acknowledged the companies had “gone a long way down the track” before deciding against a merger.

'Education is the key'

Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011
by Tom and Susan Nelson
The Herald Journal

Editor's Note: This article is one of a series of readers' first-hand accounts as senior missionaries for the LDS Church, orginally appearing as part of The Herald Journal's LDS Living special section.

We served for 23 months in the Cambodian Phnom Penh Mission as welfare missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were country directors of the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF), as well as the Employment Resources Services (ERS). We also served as advisors to the Church Educational System (CES) and were support missionaries to the humanitarian missionary couple who directed the LDS humanitarian efforts in Cambodia. Due to the lack of available missionary couples, our mission assignment was somewhat larger than most.

We would like to share one experience we had while working with the humanitarian missionary couple. The LDS church designates a good portion of Humanitarian donations to be used in providing clean, safe drinking water for under-developed countries throughout the world. This is a critical need in Cambodia. One day we accompanied the humanitarian missionary couple out to a “floating village” off the shores of a large lake in Northern Cambodia. This village had a population of approximately 11,000 people, very poor, and they all lived on boats. Their schools, shops, markets etc. all were floating structures. It was about a two hour boat ride to get out to the village and our purpose in going was to evaluate the need for safe drinking water. We met with the village leaders and quickly determined a critical need. They reported regular deaths due to water-borne diseases. Even while we were meeting with these leaders in the floating “community center” we observed some children in a boat house adjacent the center dipping murky water out of the lake and drinking it. We also observed that the bathroom facilities in the community center consisted of a hole in the floor where we could look down into the very water those little children were drinking.

This project received church approval and we are grateful to report that the humanitarian donations given by church members here in the U.S. provided the funding needed to construct a state-of-the-art floating water purification plant with sufficient capacity to provide pure drinking water to this entire village. Now, for about 2 cents per liter, little children daily row their boats up to the floating purification facility and fill their crocks with clean, clear drinking water of sufficient amounts to last their family for the day.

We would like to share some insights dealing with our Perpetual Education Fund missionary work. Without assistance of some kind the young, college age church members in Cambodia would never be able to afford post-High School education and without education they cannot escape out of the vicious cycle of poverty. Thus, our responsibility was to provide funding for potential university students. We not only provided zero-interest educational loans but also educational counseling and a list of quality universities from which they could choose a school tailored to their field of study.

During our mission we were able to provide loans to over 150 students. Upon graduation it is anticipated that these students will be able to make three to five times the amount they were making before they began school. As an example, one young man, Kong Phean, upon returning from his LDS mission acquired a job paying $30 a month. He recently graduated with a degree in banking and finance and was offered a job paying $350 a month. By U.S. standards $350 is not a large amount but by Cambodian standards it is a very good salary. While studying, the students are required to pay $5 a month on their loan. Upon graduation that monthly amount increases so the entire loan can be paid back within eight years. We witnessed the truth of the statement, “education is the key to opportunity”. PEF is funded by the donations of church members, mainly from the U.S. and Canada.

Distressed maid set to return [from Malaysia after alerted by Khmerization's article]

Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Mom Kunthear and David Boyle
Phnom Penh Post

A woman who reportedly said she was being tortured and forcibly detained by her employer in Kuala Lumpur during a phone call has been located and will be sent back to Cambodia next week, officials from the Malaysian embassy said yesterday.

Kampuchea Thmey newspaper reported [circulated by Khmerization] on March 18 that the woman had made a random call to a university student in Phnom Penh pleading her to ask the Cambodian government to help her escape from her employer.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Malaysian embassy said they had taken swift action to locate the woman and had sent officials in Malaysia to her residence to provide essential assistance.

“The embassy contacted the woman through the phone number posted in the paper and talked to a woman who expressed that [she was] abused and suffered,” the statement said.

The statement also promised the Malaysian embassy would work closely with the Cambodian government and the other relevant partners to protect the Cambodian workers both in Cambodia and Malaysia.

I try to talk to her, but I cannot because her boss does not allow her to leave home.

Raja Saiful Ridzuwan, deputy chief of mission at the Malaysian embassy, yesterday declined to identify the woman or the company allegedly detaining her, but said these details would be available when she returned next week.

Yet another complaint alleging a Cambodian domestic worker in Malaysia was being tortured and illegally detained was filed with the rights group Adhoc yesterday.

Men Thorn, 36, said yesterday she filed a complaint against the AP Sentosa Training Centre with local rights group Adhoc after receiving a distressing phone call from her sister Men Syna’s neighbour in Malaysia, who said her sibling was being abused.

“I got the call from my sister’s neighbour, who my sister needed help from to reach me so that I could help intervene from Cambodia to release her from Malaysia because the employer tortures and detains her and doesn’t allow her to talk with anyone nearby,” she said.

The neighbour, an 18-year-old Cambodian woman who also works at a factory in Malaysia and asked only to be identified as Vy said she was afraid that if Men Syna’s boss caught her seeking help from outsiders that he would further punish her.

“I try to talk to her, but I cannot because her boss does not allow her to leave home or talk to anyone,” she said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the government would not be careless with this case.

“We will take measures immediately in cases [where] we get information or a letter from the family member, but until now I haven’t got any information about this case yet,” he said. additional reporting by Khuon Leakhana

Tea Banh: Prawit agrees to Indonesia GBC meeting

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon (left) and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Published: 30/03/2011
Bangkok Post

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has agreed to attend the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting in Indonesia, according to Cambodia's Defence Minister Tea Banh.

Gen Tea Banh announced the agreement in an interview with the Bangkok Post in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Gen Prawit has repeatedly said he would not go to the GBC meeting, scheduled to be held in Bogor, Indonesia, on April 7-8. He has said the GBC should be purely bilateral and the meeting held in either Cambodia or Thailand, not in Indonesia or any other third country.

Gen Tea Banh claimed he had talked over this matter with Gen Prawit and that the Thai minister had agreed to go to the meeting in Indonesia.

He said he would himself leave for Indonesia on April 6.

"The Thai side can't insist not going because it has agreed with the United Nations Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to let Indonesia mediate talks with Cambodia," Gen Tea Banh said.

"I still believe Gen Prawit will definitely go to Indonesia for the April 7-8 meeting. I'll be waiting for him over there," he added.

An informed source said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has made it a policy for the Cambodian army that in talks with their Thai counterparts they must insist on not withdrawing Cambodian troops from the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area.

Hun Sen has said Cambodian soldiers were duty-bound to remain in the area, regardless of for how long.

His objective is for Thailand to accept observers from Indonesia into the disputed area for inspections, the source said.

The source also said Hun Sen would not be happy if he happened to see a Cambodian soldier talk to a Thai soldier in the Thai language.

"The prime minister said Cambodian soldiers must speak Cambodian, and use an interpreter if necessary," the source said.

Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh government insists Thai investors are welcome in Cambodia despite the long-standing border conflict between the two countries.

Thai investors, too, are confident the tense border conflict will not affect their investment plans.

Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thai investors are eligible for tax privileges and Thai products imported by them are exempted from taxation for a period of three to eight years.

Mr Thong Khon was full of praise for such Thai businessman as Supachai Verapuchong, managing director of the Sofitel Phnom Penh Pookeerhra Hotel, for his continued investment in Cambodia even though the hotel, formerly known as the Royal Phnom Penh, was severely damaged in an anti-Thai rioting in Phnom Penh in December 2006.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's policy is to encourage more foreign investment in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Koh Kong.

Countries in this region which have invested in Cambodia are China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Those from elsewhere include Australia, Portugal, England, the United States and France.

Mr Supachai, who invested more than two billion baht in the five-star Sofitel Phnom Penh Pookeethra Hotel, said even though the relations between Thailand and Cambodia are plagued with uncertainty he has confidence in the Cambodian government's policy toward investors, including those from Thailand.

In 2006, Mr Supachai invested US$40 million in the Sofitel Ankor Hotel and a golf course in Siem Reap.

"Despite turbulence, Thailand and Cambodia are neighbours. We have to walk together as friends," he said.

"In four years from now, there will not be a tariff wall in Asean. The question is whether Thai investors and the Thai government are ready for the days ahead, when business competition will be tougher.

"So we should establish business ties, which will subsequently lead to improvement of relations in other fields," Mr Supachai said.

Vietnam-Cambodia friendship to develop strongly


State Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan has expressed her belief that with efforts by states and people, the friendship between Vietnam and Cambodia will continue to grow and flourish.

The Vice State President was speaking at a reception for visiting delegation of Cambodian citizens headed by Khun Chhy, former Cambodian Transport Minister, in Hanoi on March 29.

She applauded the traditional friendship and mutual assistance and fostered by generations of Vietnamese and Cambodians during the past struggle for national liberation and the current process of national construction and emphasized the need to uphold these precious traditions.

Khun Chhy appreciated assistance from the Vietnamese people to help the Cambodian people escape from genocide and said Cambodia will never forget the help and devotion of the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers in the past.

He informed the host that during the visit the delegation met Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts, who had helped the Cambodian people overcome their past difficulties.

The same day, the Cambodian delegation was received by Vu Xuan Hong, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, who expressed his hope that the visit would contribute to boosting the traditional friendship between the two people.

The Cambodian delegation also paid a tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum.

Cambodia's riel survives alongside the dollar

Riels changing hands Familiar fudge: Share prices will be quoted in riels, trades may be settled in dollars

By Guy De Launey
BBC News,
Phnom Penh

In Cambodia, money talks as loudly as it does anywhere else in the world - but at least it never burns a hole in your pocket.

That's because there aren't any coins. You can't talk about coppers or nickels in Cambodian riel. The national bank gave up striking anything metallic more than a decade ago.

Instead there's a lot of paper. Right down to the seldom-seen fifty riel note. That's worth all of a cent and a quarter - and it's regarded with about as much affection as the pitifully lightweight one yen coin in Japan.

So wallets, billfolds and purses bulge with dozens of notes - ranging from the crisply-minted to the well-used and filthy. But to many people, the riel is simply small change.

Almost all significant transactions are priced - and paid for - in US dollars. For the visitor it starts with the visa fee on arrival at the airport. But it continues everywhere else in the country.

ATMs pay out in dollars - and all but a tiny percentage of bank deposits are in the US currency.

As for lending, most financial institutions won't even consider doling out anything other than Benjamin Franklin and his presidential friends.
Bombing the bank

International travellers are used to hotels and airlines setting their prices in dollars to get round local currency fluctuations.

But here the shops, tradespeople and even the motorbike taxi drivers accept the folding green. And young people entering the increasing white-collar workforce expect their salary to be quoted in dollars.

But there are no quarters, dimes or any other American coins in use here. So people use the Cambodian currency for anything less than a dollar.

Everyone knows the exchange rate - 4,000 to the dollar - give or take the odd hundred riel.

It's been that way since at least the start of the century - so people are actually fairly relaxed about taking payments in either currency. A $5 bill or a 20,000 riel note - it's all the same to most Cambodians.

Although the money exchanges at the markets do a brisk trade with people hoping to turn a profit from minor fluctuations in the rates.

It's a system that seems to keep everyone happy. And when you look at the history, it's easy to understand why.

Cambodia didn't have a currency of any kind in the late 1970s - when the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge banned money, and blew up the national bank. When the riel was reintroduced in the 1980s, the new, Vietnamese-backed government initially had to give it away - such was the lack of public confidence.

The revived currency plunged when United Nations forces ran Cambodia in the early 90s - bringing oodles of dollars with them. Eventually the riel settled into its peg of 4,000 to the dollar - and a clear role as second fiddle.


But recently there have been agitations for that to change. And they've been taking the long-delayed launch of the Cambodian Stock Exchange as a cue.

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial last month, making the case for Cambodia to use the Exchange as an opportunity to embrace full dollarisation. It would, said the paper, attract more foreign investors - who wouldn't need to worry about currency fluctuations hitting their profits, the way they have in neighbouring Vietnam.

But there's a powerful pro-riel lobby in the government and the National Bank. And they see the Exchange as, perhaps, the final opportunity for the riel to make it as an independent currency.

The solution is a fudge with a familiar ring to it. When the Exchange opens, possibly in a few months' time, share prices will be quoted in riel. But trades may also be settled in dollars - at least for the first three years of the Exchange's operation.

It could all be enormously confusing - or as simple as paying in one currency and getting your change in another. And it's not as if Cambodia is short of practice in that.

Khmer Rouge jailer pleads for freedom

Radio Australia

Updated March 30, 2011

In Cambodia this week, the Khmer Rouge tribunal has been hearing an appeal by Duch, the head of a detention centre that oversaw the deaths of around 15,000 people in the late 1970s.

During his trial last year, Duch repeatedly apologised and asked for forgiveness for the deaths he oversaw... but then at the last minute, to the shock of many including his own international lawyer, he asked to be acquited of the charges. The 68-year-old , whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav was found guilty and sentenced to 35 years jail for crimes against humanity. Today, his legal team will wrap up their apeal.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Clair Duffy, Open Society Justice Initiative

COCHRANE: Now what was Duch's legal teams main appeal argument?

DUFFY: Well, his main argument was really that he should never have been prosecuted by the Khmer Rouge court at all. The court's equivalent of a Constitution gives the court power to try senior leaders from the Khmer Rouge era and those who are said to be most responsible. But Duch says he wasn't a senior leader or somebody who was most responsible and so he should never have been tried in the first place. I suppose it's what in legal terms we would call it jurisdictional argument.

COCHRANE: And is that consistent with the arguments that were made in the main body of the trial?

DUFFY: It's not consistent with the arguments that were made during the trial. In fact this argument was really raised very late on in Duch's trial, mostly during the closing arguments. Essentially Duch pleaded guilty, that's at least what we would understand in places like Australia where we have a common law system, but there was no real provision for him to do that in the Khmer Rouge court. But as you just said, Liam, he did admit responsibility for the detention, torture and execution of thousands of people. He apologised on a number of occasions during his trial for what he had done, but then at the eleventh hour in his closing arguments, he said he should be set free.

COCHRANE: He wasn't set free. He was sentenced to 35 years jail and given the time already served, it's expected that he could possibly walk free in 19 years if the sentence is upheld. Are there calls now with this appeal under way to increase his sentence?

DUFFY: There definitely are. As you probably know, there was also a prosecution appeal and that was heard yesterday and the prosecution's seeking to have Duch's sentence increased for the maximum term which is life imprisonment, but with the possibility of a five year reduction, that relates to the time that Duch was illegally detained by Cambodian military authorities and the trial chamber found that that had breached his right to be tried in a timely manner.

COCHRANE: Now as you said, Duch did admit some responsibility and many people thought this would be the most straightforward of the cases. There's another four senior Khmer Rouge leaders who are waiting to be tried. Where's that case at?

DUFFY: Since January of this year, the trial chamber, that's the bench who ultimately hear the case. They have been official seized of the case. It's expected to start in July or August this year, but between now and then, there will be a couple of short hearings may be of a day or two each and those are mainly to do with trial management type issues, talking about, for example, how are they actually going to run a case of this size, how are they going to manage it, particularly because all four of the accused are in their late 70s or 80s and they're definitely going to be issues related to that.

COCHRANE: And how is their health, are they still healthy at this point?

DUFFY: Well, the information from the court side is that all four of them have regular health checkups and that the health issues they face are mainly age-related. But from my understanding, this is one of the issues that's going to be dealt with further before the trial begins. There's talk about some plans to conduct medical checks and if necessary to bring in medical experts to conduct those checks. But this is really about how they're going to manage these ongoing health issues in the court room, because the trials going to last likely two to three years. Clearly the trial chambers thinking about these kind of issues, because some amendments were made to the court rules just recently to allow for the participation of the accused in the trial via video link. So it's clearly in the minds, these concerns are clearly in the minds of the judges.

COCHRANE: Clair Duffy, I think we've discussed Duch and four other senior KR leaders. There has been talk of a further five Khmer Rouge leaders that could be brought to trial. The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has said this case will never happen. Is there any new information on this front?

DUFFY: This dispute actually started between the Cambodian and international co-prosecutors. The five were only first referred for investigation by the international co-prosecutor. Those cases are now in the hands of the co-investigating judges, but it's been there for over 18 months now.

In February, the judges issued a statement saying they weren't conducting field investigations, so it's largely been a paper investigation to date. I think this is a real concern for the court, because of the history of opposition to these cases by the Cambodian government and in fact just a couple of weeks ago, another really concerning thing happened. The national deputy co-prosecutor told a room full of civil party representatives that there would be no cases three and four, that is those five suspects.

Prosecution Demands Life for Duch

Cambodians attend Duch's trial at the ECCC in Phnom Penh, March 29, 2011.

Radio Free Asia
29th March, 2011

Appellants at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal say the former jailer ‘showed no remorse.’

Prosecutors at Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal have demanded a life sentence for convicted former Khmer Rouge prison warden Duch, saying he showed no remorse for his role in the slaughter of thousands of his compatriots.

Duch, 68, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, was sentenced by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to 30 years in prison last July for crimes against humanity, torture, and premeditated murder as overseer of the notorious Tuol Sleng torture prison in the late 1970s.

On the second day of a three-day appeal process, the prosecution on Tuesday requested the ECCC’s Supreme Court judges to order that Duch be locked up for life.

Duch’s defense attorneys had appealed to overturn or reduce the sentence on Monday.

Co-prosecutor Andrew T. Cayley told the Supreme Court that the 30-year sentence was inadequate because Duch would likely see his sentence shortened due to a lengthy detention before his arrest.

“The prosecution requested the court to sentence [Duch] to life imprisonment. But, because he had been illegally detained in the military prison, we have no objection if the court rules in favor of leniency,” Cayley said.

“However, whatever sentence the court decides, it should be according to a timeframe proposed by the prosecutor that is … a 45-year sentence or longer.”

Duch was detained in 1999 after he was found to be working as a Christian aid worker in the jungle but was not formally arrested until 2007 and, because of time already served, could be set free in less than 19 years.

The former jailer apologized for his part in the murders at Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21, at his trial, but asked to be acquitted during his closing statement in November 2009.

Cayley said Duch’s refusal to accept responsibility for the mass-killings demonstrated that he “to this day lacks a real, sincere remorse for what happened.”

The prosecution has also asked the court to add enslavement, imprisonment, torture, extermination, rape and other inhumane acts to Duch's list of convictions.

Defense appeal

Meanwhile, defense lawyer Kong Ritheary said Tuesday that the ECCC should reduce Duch’s sentence because of his illegal detention.

“Based on … the Cambodian Criminal Law, the minimum penalty is 15 years and that should be sufficient because of the mitigating circumstances recognized by the court,” he said.

Ritheary added that Duch had confessed to committing his crimes and that he had been cooperative with the court during the investigation and court proceedings.

On Monday, the defense team argued that Duch’s sentence should be overturned because he was only following the orders of superiors and therefore not subject to trial by a war crimes tribunal.

The same line of defense was used by Nazi war criminals during the Nuremburg trials in the aftermath of World War II, but an International Tribunal ruled that following orders did not absolve perpetrators of their actions.

The ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber is expected to rule on the appeals in late June.

The Khmer Rouge operated its security apparatus in Phnom Penh out of S-21 and thousands of inmates were taken from the prison for execution in a nearby orchard.

The tribunal will try an additional four more members of the Khmer Rouge regime later this year, and Duch will be called to appear as a witness in the cases.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Sum Sok Ry. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

SRP’s Self-Destruction

Op-Ed by Khmerization
30th March, 2011

The turn of event in the Sam Rainsy Party’s (SRP) internal wrangling surrounding the dramatic resignation and spectacular expulsion of MP Mao Monivan has moved in phenomenal pace that even the most keen and over-zealous observers had trouble keeping up with the chain of event. His expulsion has sent shiver down the spines of other would-be vocal and outspoken critics of the party leadership. It has sent shockwave across the political spectrum in Cambodia. His only crime was to make open criticism of the party’s kingmakers: party’s spokesman Yim Sovan and the party strongman Eng Chhay Eang.

The SRP’s expulsion of Mr. Mao Monivan for publicly speaking out against the party’s kingmakers and against the politics of patronage, nepotism and cronyism goes against the principle of democracy, the spirit of openness and pluralism. It shows the SRP’s hypocrisy and its intolerance of divergent views. After attacking Hun Sen’s dictatorship and autocratic style of rule for the last 15 years, the SRP should look at itself in the mirror and ask: are we any different from Mr. Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party?

The SRP has preached and campaigned for democracy and free speech for the last 15 years, since its inception and foundation. To show its principles and democratic values and that it is a genuine democratic party, the SRP must practice what it had preached for the last 15 years. To expel someone from the party for their outspokenness against the party’s nepotism, cronyism and autocratic style of rule has shown the true colours of the SRP that it is dictatorial, intolerant and has never practiced what it had preached all along. Mao Monivan’s expulsion has also shown that the SRP is suppressing internal and self-criticism. Mao Monivan’s outspokenness and his criticism of the party’s nepotism, cronyism and autocratic style of rule is part of his democratic rights under the SRP’s statute which aimed at bringing and holding the party leadership to account for their actions and shortcomings. The SRP’s action in expelling Mao Monivan will undoubtedly be seen as dictatorial in nature and puts its credibility and status as a democratic party and champion of democracy on the line. The SRP’s ongoing squabbling and internal wrangling shows that the party is not working to advance democracy in Cambodia, not working for the interests of the Khmer nation or its people, but indulging in personal interests over national interests and the interests of democracy in Cambodia.

It is basic rights to be vocal in a democratic and open society, and Mao Monivan has used his basic rights to right the wrongs of the party leadership. If politicians, who are public figures, and to a certain extent, public property, can’t handle the truth and that basic rights, then they do not deserve to be politicians and public figures.

In a true democratic party, Mao Monivan’s action in speaking out against the two kingmakers, Yim Sovan and Eng Chhay Eang, do not warrant his sacking and expulsion. The first actions would be to try to address his concerns and the first measures against him are warnings followed by disciplinary actions if he continues with his outspokenness. A swift expulsion that has been seen taken against him can only be described as draconian in nature and dictatorial in style.

The Chain of Event

Mao Monivan’s dramatic resignation as an MP and his spectacular expulsion stemmed from a disagreement over his reshuffling as the SRP president of the populous Kampong Cham provincial branch to a smaller province of Kampot. But it is largely from the disagreement over the MP mid-term rotation and the replacement of current MPs with candidates next on the 2008 candidate list that trigger a war of attrition. This formula of MP mid-term rotation has been agreed and approved by the party’s Steering Committee before the 2008 election. According to Mao Monivan, he resigned as an MP on his own volition because he wanted to keep his promise and to honour the agreement as well as to set an example in order to make way for the MPs in waiting to be sworn in. According to him, other MPs had broken their promises and dishonoured the agreements and refused to vacate the seats for the MPs in waiting. This disagreement had led him to launch a scathing public attack on the two kingmakers, who in turn took a swift action by expelling him in dramatic fashion.

Reshuffling is democratic and a good idea provided that it is done fairly and democratically. According to leaked reports, it was not done democratically and fairly at all. Not all MPs will be replaced with new candidates, only some MPs will. Party spokesman Yim Sovan, his wife Ke Sovannaroth who is the party secretary general, Eng Chhay Eang and his brother-in-law Kuoy Bunroeun, do not have to vacate their seats for the new candidates. To add insults to injury, Mao Monivan was kicked out as president of the party's Kampong Cham branch to make way for Eng Chhay Eang’s brother-in-law, Kuoy Bunroeun, to take over. This is clear nepotism and cronyism.

However, MP rotation is a bad idea from the start. It is a recipe for internal division and internal power struggle. Mao Monivan’s expulsion from the SRP and his subsequent defection to the Human Rights Party (HRP) will not be the last. The MPs in waiting, who had petitioned the party and its president Sam Rainsy in 2010 to ask them to honour the agreement and who had been snubbed by the current MPs’ backflip, will surely rise up in revolt to show their discontent of the postponement of the MP rotation agreement. More internal wrangling and bickering are forthcoming and more defections to other parties, either to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) or the HRP, are highly anticipated.

Mao Monivan: A traitor or a man of principle?

There have been smear campaigns to demonise him as the SRP traitor and a spy for the ruling CPP during and after his expulsion from the SRP. In one of his so-called attacks on the SRP leadership, Mao Monivan had called for a stoppage and cessation of a culture of labelling, smearing and vilification of the party members who dare to speak out as being traitors and spies.

I personally have some suspicions and reservations about Mao Monivan’s democratic principles when he bitterly complained about the SRP’s dictatorial style of rule right after the 2008 election. I have anticipated that he is on the brink of defecting to the ruling CPP, but true to his principles he has maintained his loyalty to the SRP and vowed not to defect to any parties unless he is expelled from the SRP. And true to his words of not betraying his democratic principles, he did not defect to the ruling CPP where he would be given a plum job, but chose to defect to a poor HRP where he would only give but not get any personal interests whatsoever.

The Conduct of the HRP

The conduct of the HRP in effecting Mao Monivan’s defection and on the process of orchestrating other defections from the SRP have not and will not help the ongoing SRP-HRP merger and the unification talks. It will, to a lager or lesser extent, cause further mistrusts to the already mistrustful and too factionalised dealings during the unification talks. Under no circumstances should the HRP effect or orchestrate the defections from the SRP to the HRP or vice versa as both parties are working with the same goals to dislodge Mr. Hun Sen and his CPP from power. To orchestrate defections from each other is a political suicide because they are killing each other off before they do it to their nemesis, the CPP. If they are to have any chances of defeating the CPP in the elections at all, they must work as one and cannot afford to fight among themselves. The HRP’s conduct in effecting and orchestrating defections from the SRP will cause a chain reaction from the SRP who would seek to retaliate by effecting and orchestrating defections from the HRP. A tit for tat will follow and this will lead to a tuck of war between these two so-called democratic parties that can only lead to the complete destruction and annihilation of both. If this scenario is to have occurred and fathomed, and if the defection of Mao Moinvan is a premonition of that scenario, it will cause irreparable electoral damages in the eyes of the Cambodian voters and, to a certain extent, also in the eyes of their financial backers.

In conclusion, the resignation of Mao Monivan as an MP and his spectacular expulsion from the SRP is a premonition of the forthcoming self-destruction of the SRP. More internal discontent and wrangling are anticipated as the MPs in waiting will show their anger and dissatisfaction over the indefinite postponement of the MP mid-term rotation. And with the absence of the party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy, the wranglers cannot look to someone for mediation and conciliation. A protracted internal wrangling and bickering will cause the SRP to weakness or even to self-destruction. And if the SRP is to earn the trust and the respect of the Cambodian voters, it must be seen as democratic in nature and more tolerant of divergent views and dissenting voices. It must also practises what it had preached: democracy and openness. The SRP must bear in mind the words of the UN Envoy on Human Rights in Cambodia, Prof. Surya Subedi, that “criticism is not a crime”.