A Change of Guard

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Saturday 28 February 2009

Indonesia, Cambodia ink cultural deal

The Jakarta Post

Sat, 02/28/2009

INDONESIA: Indonesian Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on culture with Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem at the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Thursday.

The cooperation covers the research and development of culture, education and training, joint promotion of culture and arts, world heritage, dialogues on culture and arts, and cultural information exchanges

Both countries have arranged short- and middle-term programs, ranging from 2009-2011 and 2000-2014, respectively. Among the programs are a seminar on illicit trafficking of cultural properties, exchange of experts in cultural heritage management and training in the investment for the use of heritage, including filmmaking.

"Indonesia and Cambodia have had close relations for thousands of years. We hope the cooperation will boost the ties," Jero said.

Minister Him Chhem also expressed hope that Indonesia and Cambodia would boost cooperation in culture and tourism.

"Both countries have similar heritage. Cambodia has close ties with Indonesia and we hope to have beneficial cooperation," he said.

--JP/Ni Komang Erviani

NEC withdrew complaint against Sam Rainsy, Sam Rainsy asked parliament to re-instate his parliamentary immunity


- Following the payment by SRP President Sam Rainsy of the controversial 10-million riels election fine, National Election Committee (NEC) President Im Suosdey wrote on February 27 to the Phnom Penh Court Prosecutor stating that the NEC withdraws its legal complaint against Sam Rainsy.
See letter in Khmer at http://tinyurl.com/da79ps

- Following the above-mentioned letter from Im Suosdey, Sam Rainsy wrote the same day to National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking for the official reestablishment of his parliamentary immunity that was illegally lifted on February 26.
See letter in Khmer at http://tinyurl.com/djn5yv

SRP Cabinet

500 year-old tombs discovered in Koh Kong

Top: The coffins, believed to be 500 years old, found placed under large rocks.

Bottom: Human remains contained in the 500 year-old coffins.

27th February, 2009
Reported in English by Khmerization

Koh Kong: A task force from the Directorate of Heritage, Archaeology and Palaeontology of the Ministry of Fine Arts has visited a 500-year-old ancient tomb site in Chiphat village, Thmor Baing district of Koh Kong province.

The team said that the ancient tombs are not the new archaeological finds because the locals said that they knew of the tombs a long time ago, but they did not report their finds to the authority. They only reported the site to the authority after they learned that the site will become an eco-tourist area.

The Ministry of Fine Arts’ search team said these ancient tombs, which contained human skeletons, are located about 40 metres apart from each other.

The first tomb contained a few large jars which have been placed between crevices of mountain rocks about 8 metres tall, but the team said that it had not examined the contents of the jars yet due to inaccessible and inhospitable terrains in the areas. Due to the locals, there are 7 large jars which are in good conditions, and the rest of the jars are badly damaged by looters in search of ancient valuables.

The second tomb was located 40 metres south of the first tomb. The second tomb does not contain any jars like the first tomb, but there are several coffins which had been placed along side each other under the rocks. The tomb has not been examined yet because the site is too dangerous to access.

The two tombs contained 13 coffins which 12 of them are in very good conditions, but one coffin has been in a very fragile state. Those coffins were made from woods, about 80cm-120cm in lengths and 20cm wide which were covered with lids of a triangle shape. In each coffin contained human remains of limb bones, ribs, spinal bones and skulls. There are signs that those coffins have been looted for ancient valuables. Other than human remains, the coffins contained many small jars.

Experts cannot say how old are the tombs until the contents have been tested and analysed with carbon-14 method. But if they are compared to similar finds, with similar conditions in the same Cardamon Mountains which have been found in Pursat province and which have been tested and analysed to be 500 years old, they can assume that these new finds are about 500 years old also.

This is a second find this year, after a team of Japanese archaeologists has just completed their excavations of a 2500-year-old tomb at Snay village, Rohal commune in Preah Net Preah district of Bateay Meanchey province on 24th February, 2009.

Cambodia-Vietnam have completed the plantings of 100 border markers

Mr. Hun Sen (L) and Vietnamese PM (R) inaugurated border marker number 171 on 24th Feb, 2008.

Radio Free Asia
By Zakariya
27th February, 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

A Cambodian senior border official said on 26th February that Cambodia and Vietnam have so far planted 100 border markers along 9 provinces, among the more than 300 border markers due to be planted by 2012 along the 1270 kilometre-long borders.

Mr. Var Kim Hong, Senior Minister and Chairman of Cambodian Border Committee, said that Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed on a master plan to plant border markers since 2005 which is due to be completed in 2012.

He said that there are 9 provinces along the Khmer-Vietnam borders that need to be demarcated, ie. Kampot, Takeo, Kampong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and Kratie.

He said: “We have to plant 314 border markers. So it is not easy like we are putting up a fence around our small plots of lands. What can we do? First, we cannot even plant one border marker along the Khmer-Thai borders near the Preah Vihear temple. What can we do? It is not as easy as the Land Titles Office fencing a plot of lands.”

Mr. Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition of the eponymous Sam Rainsy Party, said that the plantings of the border markers have taken too long which caused a lot of sufferings to the people living along the borders because Vietnam has pushed into Cambodian territories everyday causing a lot of Khmer farmers to lose their farmlands.

He said that the demarcations and the plantings of border markers must be based on the internationally-recognised maps. He said: “we must use the maps drawn during Prince Sihanouk’s Sangkum Reastr Niyum that have been internationally-recognised and kept at the United Nations. I believe that these maps are the appropriate maps to be used in the plantings of the border markers. Our people on the western side have a Preah Vihear issue with Thailand. But on the eastern side, Vietnam has swallowed huge areas of our territories.”

During the 8th meeting between Cambodian and Vietnam on border issues between Mr. Long Visalo, Cambodia’s Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Nguyen Hong Thao, Vice-President of Border Committee of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both sides have agreed to amend the original master plan for the plantings of border markers from 2009-2012.

Mr. Sam Rainsy said that the lifting of his parliamentary immunity is illegal

27th Feb, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Mr. Sam Rainsy (pictured), president of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), has said that the Parliamentary Permanent Committee's decision to lift his parliamentary immunity is undemocratic, unconstitutional and contravenes judicial process.

He added that the lifting of his parliamentary immunity is politically-motivated because the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) wants to supress the MP's freedom of expression.

Mr. Sam Rainsy said that he has written a letter to King Sihamoni requesting for a royal pardon by proposing to divert the 10 million riels fines ($2,500) to charity. He added that the fines will be paid to Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital to help the poor families who cannot afford to get treatments for their children at the hospital.

Yim Sovann criticised the lifting of Mr. Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity

Yim Sovann (L) shakes hand with members of the EU delegation.

27th Feb, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Mr. Yim Sovann, MP and spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), called the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of the SRP president, Mr. Sam Rainsy, a political threat.

The Parliamentary Permanent Committee has decided to lift Mr. Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity during the parliament recess on 26th Feb, 2009 on charges of failing to pay the fines imposed by the National Election Committee for insulting the leaders of the Cambodian People's Party during the election campaigns in July, 2008.

Mr. Yim Sovann told the media that the lifting of Mr. Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity is a diversion and a distraction from other important issues and a waste of time. He said that the parliament should use this time to address other important issues, such as the global economic crisis, unemployment, poverty, inflation and the loss of incomes by Cambodian farmers due the price drops in agricultural commodities.

Mr. Yim Sovann added that Mr. Sam Rainsy did not refuse to pay the fine, but rather he wants to exhaust all legal avenues first by appealing to the High Court. He said that if the High Court upholds the original lower court decision he will request the king for a royal pardon.

Mr. Sam Rainsy said the past that, after all avenues have been exhausted, he will pay the fines.

Cambodian opposition leader loses immunity


REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A Cambodian parliamentary committee has suspended the immunity of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, a move he condemned on Friday as unconstitutional and intended to silence criticism of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The French-educated former finance minister, who leads a party named after himself, was stripped of his immunity for refusing to pay a $2,500 fine for defaming Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party during last year's election.

Rather than paying the fine to what he says is a systemically corrupt government, he had offered to give the same amount to a hospital.

Under Cambodia's constitution, only the full National Assembly, not its Permanent Committee, can strip a sitting Member of Parliament of immunity from prosecution.

"They are definitely taking a short-cut. They definitely violated the constitution, which means that they want to silence me," Sam Rainsy told Reuters.

When stripped of his immunity in the past, he has often fled Cambodia shortly afterwards, normally to France.

A former Khmer Rouge soldier who has been in charge for the last 23 years, Hun Sen won a landslide in July's election but remains vulnerable in Phnom Penh to Sam Rainsy, who commands support from the capital's increasingly educated youth.

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

Thai, Cambodian PMs meet as border tension eases

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (R) talks with ...
Fri Feb 27, 6:06 AM ET
35 of 175

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (R) talks with Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister, during their bilateral meeting at the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Cha-am, Thailand February 27, 2009.

REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool (THAILAND)

HUA HIN, Thailand, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva met his Cambodian counterpart on Friday as tension along their disputed border has eased, vowing to start energy cooperation in the overlapping Gulf of Thailand.

Abhisit said both countries had agreed to set up panels of technical experts to work on demarcation of the gas-rich area.

"Our understanding has been improved a lot recently and we are looking into possibilities to start our energy cooperation," Abhisit told reporters.

Cambodia's exploration area covers 37,000 square km (14,300 sq miles), while another 27,000 square km are disputed with Thailand.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said this month his government was preparing a framework to manage its energy revenues when offshore oil fields start producing from 2010.

In November last year, U.S. major Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and operator of Block A in the Gulf of Thailand, said Cambodia's first oil was unlikely to be onstream before 2010 at the earliest.

Chevron operates the block with a 55 percent interest, while Mitsui Oil Exploration, a unit of Mitsui & Co (8031.T), holds a 30 percent stake and South Korea's GS Caltex a 15 percent stake. Abhisit said he would expand cooperation with Cambodia to trade and tourism, aiming for a one-visa-two-country project for tourists who want to visit both countries at once.

Phnom Penh and Bangkok agreed earlier this month to withdraw the remaining troops on their disputed border to avoid a repeat of last year's armed clashes near a 900-year-old Hindu temple.

Hun Sen told reporters this month both countries would jointly demarcate the jungle-clad area where four soldiers died in a firefight last October.

The Preah Vihear temple, or Khao Phra Viharn as it is known in Thailand, sits on an escarpment that forms the natural border between the two countries and has been a source of tension for generations.

The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, but the ruling did not determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of adjoining scrubland, leaving considerable scope for disagreement.

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Valerie Lee)

Vietnam, Cambodia agree to accelerate border marker planting

Inauguration of ones of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers.

The eighth session of the Vietnam-Cambodia joint technical subcommittee for land border demarcation and marker planting was held in Phnom Penh from Feb. 23-25.

The Vietnamese delegation was headed by Nguyen Hong Thao, Deputy Head of the Foreign Ministry’s National Border Committee and member of the Vietnam-Cambodia joint border committee, whilst the Cambodian delegation was led by Long Visalo, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Head of the Joint Technical Committee for Land Border Demarcation and Marker Planting.

Based on the results of the border demarcation and marker planting activities undertaken by Vietnam and Cambodia as well as the current situation in each country, the two sides agreed to propose adjustments to the master plan governing the matter for the 2009-2012 period.

They also discussed preparations for the third session of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee for Border Demarcation and Marker Planting.

KRouge leader's appeal delayed by lawyer no-show

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court delayed the Khmer Rouge head of state's appeal for release from jail after his famed lawyer Jacques Verges failed to appear at proceedings.

Khieu Samphan stood in court on Friday and said Verges had not travelled from Paris to attend his appeal ahead of the trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"In order to make sure that the pre-trial chamber hears my comments fully according to the law, I would like to request that the pre-trial chamber adjourn this meeting to a later date," Khieu Samphan said.

Frenchman Verges, who has acted for some of the world's most infamous figures including Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Venezuelan terrorist "Carlos the Jackal," is known for attempting to sew confusion in the courtroom.

After a short recess, Judge Prak Kimsan said the appeal would be adjourned until April 3, noting that it was in Khieu Samphan's interest to deal with the matter as soon as possible.

During proceedings, co-defence lawyer Sa Sovan called the situation "unexpected" and said a relative of Verges had an emergency operation. But after the hearing he told reporters it was an important colleague in hospital.

"I actually think that Jacques Verges wanted to take part in proceedings," Sa Sovan said.

A fierce anti-colonialist, Verges, who was born in Thailand, reportedly befriended Khieu Samphan and other future Khmer Rouge leaders while at university in Paris in the 1950s.

Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation and overwork as the communist regime emptied Cambodia's cities, exiling the population to vast collective farms in its bid for a communist utopia.

The long-awaited first Khmer Rouge trial started last week when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

The appeal for release from detention for former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary was also delayed this week until early April after his lawyers said he was to ill to attend proceedings.

Paying for Three Tribunals: The Hague, Lebanon, and Cambodia

The aftermath of the Hariri bombing.
The aftermath of the Hariri bombing.

The three international tribunals making headlines around the world remind us that internationalism is an expensive and not terribly efficient project.

Lebanon: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon commences this coming Sunday. The court was created in 2007 by the United Nations to investigate the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Consider the following from The Washington Times:

The tribunal is expected to cost about $51 million in its first year and as much as $45 million in subsequent years. When fully operational, the tribunal will have 11 judges, including four Lebanese ones.

The Hague: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)has issued its first rulings on alleged Serbian war crimes in Kosovo in the late 1990s. Voice of America summarizes the verdicts:

The court sentenced former Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, General Nebojsa Pavkovic, and Serbian police General Sreten Lukic to 22-year terms for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war. It gave former Yugoslav Army Chief-of-Staff Dragoljub Ojdanic, and General Vladimir Lazarevic terms of 15 years each for the deportation and forcible transfer of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

And how much has all this cost?


If you add it all up, the total comes to just under $1.6 billion — and this counts only the regular budget. Granted, the ICTY covers more than just Kosovo; it has sentenced 57 people.

Cambodia: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia began its first trial last Tuesday. The tribunal was created in 2003 by the United Nations and Cambodia to bring to trial former leaders of the Khmer Rouge for crimes against humanity.

From Voice of America earlier this week:

According to a revised budget forecast, the courts established to try surviving leaders for the deaths of 1.7 million people will need an additional $44.1 million, on top of the original $56.3 million, if it is to last until the end of 2009…The United States, Japan, the European Union and Australia have all contributed to the tribunal, which is expected to last at least two years. But diplomatic sources say they will be careful in handing out money for the trial after witnessing cost overruns at other war crime tribunals - especially in Rwanda.

The tribunal came under media scrutiny a year ago:

Donor skepticism surged last year after reports revealed severe problems in hiring and management on the Cambodian side of the court. Allegations that Cambodian staff had to give money in exchange for their jobs have yet to be put to rest.

For the record, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda cost over $1 billion. It has only convicted 29 people and the first trial began in 1997.

So what?

The costs of international criminal justice largely escape under the radar, but these are not tiny sums. Surely there are ways to improve the efficiency of this process.

Oregon Coast Winery Owner Expands Humanitarian Efforts in Cambodia

The orphanage in Cambodia: one of the first buildings built (photo Shackelford).

(Nehalem, Oregon) - Ray Shackelford, owner of Nehalem Bay Winery and Depoe Bay Winery, is expanding his humanitarian efforts in a downtrodden region of Cambodia.

In recent years, his money and actual manpower helped build two schools and a sewing industry that helps create an economy for two towns. Now, in the Cambodian village of Trung Treung - about 90 miles southwest of Phenom Pen, the orphanage that began last year has expanded from one building to three, allowing for more babies to be rescued.

Through Shackelford’s Anyway Foundation, he has raised about $3000 to help these impoverished people and others in the region not just survive but to help themselves. But the vast majority of the money spent - in the tens of thousands - has come from his own pocket.

Shackelford personally helps out in Cambodia

Originally, Shackelford started helping out the tiny village of Chheneng, in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, an impoverished place populated by the Pnong, an ethnic minority that suffered much under regimes of the last century in both Cambodia and Vietnam. The village had no running water or electricity, and they have little to eat on a regular basis, mostly foraging in the jungle for food.

Shackelford has been helping out with donations and strategies that have given them a means to help themselves – much more than just a handout. Shackelford, along with a pair of other local men and villagers, have built two schools, another well for the people, and a sewing shop that is helping them on their way to self-sufficiency.

People in the village of Chheneng, Cambodia.

Then, in late 2007, he began an orphanage a few hundred miles away from Chheneng. The first building at the orphanage was remodeled at that time, and a second and third building have now been added. There are currently 13 children at the orphanage, but the capacity has now been expanded to 20 – which Shackelford believes will be reached sometime this year.

The first building went from a dirt floor to a solid floor last year, and a western-style bathroom was added for increased hygiene. There are better living quarters for the nannies, a groundskeeper, and the facility has a clean water system – the only one in this area.

“That’s one reason the babies are so healthy,” said Shackelford.

Nehalem Bay Winery, on the north coast.

The babies range in age from three months to just under one year. One three-month-old came to the facility so undernourished she looked like only a few weeks old. Now, she too is quite healthy.

Other successes of the orphanage include five of the original 11 babies have been adopted in the last year. There is now one nanny for two babies as well – a total of 13 babies altogether at the moment. Heartbreaking stories still loom, but they soon turn to successes. Such as the sickly infant found abandoned under a rubber tree in recent months, apparently without food for maybe days. Or the other little one who had lived on only water after the grandmother became too sick to move and take care of her.

“She probably would’ve been dead soon,” Shackelford said. “For eight days, she’d had nothing but a rag to suck on and water. The father had died of AIDS, and the mother left the child with the grandmother, who could not care for her.”

The grandmother died shortly after. But both babies were nursed back to health and later adopted out, making a happy ending.

The water system comes from a tower, which pumps water from a nearby pond. The water is then run through several filters to clean it up, and then boiled before use in the formula. There is now even some electricity in the facility via generator, which among other important aspects, allows the nannies to watch TV on their off hours.

Although they will be able to host up to 20 kids for the first year, more space may become available later on.

Shackelford said that when one of these children gets adopted to a western country it’s like hitting the lottery for them. “Just the new life, being a kid from Cambodia and then going to be being raised in a western country like Spain or France or whatever,” he said. “That’s phenomenal.”

Shackelford is hoping to coax more donations from the outside world through his Anyway Foundation. Each child costs approximately $158 per month. The new additions of the two buildings cost $7000 – which are staggeringly cheap by western standards, but the bills do stack up.

Nehalem Bay Winery is located on the north Oregon coast, between Wheeler and Nehalem. Contact Shackelford at 503-368-9463.

US: drug problems in Cambodia, Philippines

© AP
28th Feb, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States on Friday praised Beijing for its efforts to fight drug smugglers but said China remains a major transit point for international drug markets.
The State Department, in its annual survey of global counter-narcotics efforts, also described substantial drug problems facing Asia, including in Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar; progress was seen in Laos and Vietnam.
While Beijing recognizes drugs as a major threat to its security and economy, «corruption in far-flung drug-producing and drug transit regions of China limits what dedicated enforcement officials can accomplish,» the report said.
North Korean drug activity, the report said, «appears to be down sharply. There have been no instances of drug trafficking suggestive of state-directed trafficking for six years.
But, the State Department said, not enough evidence exists to determine if state-sponsored trafficking has stopped. The State Department has previously raised suspicions that Pyongyang derived money from drug production and trafficking.
In the report, the United States also said that drug runners have increasingly looked to move their products through Cambodia because of Thai and Chinese crackdowns.
The report noted «a significant and growing illegal drug problem» in Cambodia. It praised the country for destroying seized drugs and stiffening penalties for drug use and trafficking but said corruption hampers government efforts.
The State Department called the scope of the drug problem in the Philippines «immense,» despite law enforcement efforts to disrupt major drug organizations. Still, the report said, the government had some success enforcing counter-narcotics laws.
Laos has made «tremendous progress» in reducing opium cultivation, but, the report said, the country's momentum is «stalling, and gains remain precarious.

Vietnam was said to have continued making progress in fighting drugs, improving its pursuit of drug runners and its cooperation among state agencies and with the United Nations.
The report said that, in 2007, rising opium values pushed poppy cultivation into new regions of military-run Myanmar. The State Department did not receive 2008 U.N. statistics on Myanmar in time for the annual report.

Associated Press writer William C. Mann contributed to this story.

Friday 27 February 2009

Latest developments following the lifting of Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity


Please read the following documents to be informed of the latest developments

1- National Assembly's Permanent Committee's official decision on February 26 to lift (not suspend) Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity by clicking at http://tinyurl.com/bctefb

2- Sam Rainsy's letter dated February 26 to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni asking for a royal pardon by clicking at http://tinyurl.com/dkv3l4

3- Receipt from the National Election Committee's Legal and Conflict Department dated February 26 showing that Sam Rainsy has finally paid the controversial 10-million riels fine by clicking at http://tinyurl.com/b72vzn

SRP Members of Parliament

The way of The Strongman

Oknha Kith Meng on the cover of Forbes magazine.

February 26, 2009

The article below is taken from DetailsAreSketchy.wordpress.


Without warning, Prime Minister Hun Sen demanded Tuesday that authorities shut down Cambo Six. On Wednesday police moved in and by Thursday morning the nation’s largest bookmaker, with offices in every major city, was effectively shuttered.

Say what you want about the evils of gambling, but the Prime Minister should not be able to shut private businesses at his whimsy. By creating uncertainty, such moves do immeasurable damage to the country’s business environment and reinforce beliefs that Cambodia is an outlaw nation.

And rather obviously, there is no rule of law. If the PM wants you closed, you will be closed. That you are a legally licensed business with rights for which your company paid millions, no matter.

That said, the unwritten story line so far in all this is that the local partner of Cambo Six is Okhna Kith Meng, whose offices at Mobitel were inexplicably surrounded by police two weeks ago. There are little doubts the two events are unrelated. Somebody, it seems, may no longer be on the ascendancy.


And below is my comments I left in Details Are Sketchy:

In Cambodia, there is no rule of law. Due legal process is absent when it comes to the way of the business. It is Mr. Hun Sen’s way or the highway. Mr. Hun Sen’s order to close CamboSix is unconstitutional. Anyway, can’t talk about constitution or law with this PM. But, above all his order, without due process involved, will damage the confidence in foreign investments. CamboSix might be partly owned by Kith Meng, but his Kong Kong-based partner is a very important foreign partner. Mr. Hun Sen’s action will certainly erode public and investment confidence among potential investors. This is a country that is ruled by an autocratic PM. And last but not least, is this the end of Kith Meng’s cosy relationship with Mr. Hun Sen? I think this is the beginning of the end of Kith Meng in Cambodia. He will be sent packing to Australia very soon. Khmerization

Rumours that Hun Sen received $80 million in bribe to sack Gen. Ke Kimyan

Gen. Ke Kimyan (R) being briefed by his officers.

Khmer Nation News
24th February, 2009
Reported in English by Khmerization

Gen. Ke Kimyan was sacked because of an $80 million bribe to Prime Minister Hun Sen, reports the Khmer Nation News.

According to the 24th February 2009 edition of Khmer Nation News, which had quoted unofficial sources, a group of powerful Cambodian People’s Party officials and businessmen were not happy with Gen. Ke Kimyan because he had used his position as Commander-in-Chief of the army to protect many plots of high-priced lands linked to those officials and businessmen who are very close to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The paper then said that, those angry officials and businessmen had gathered and compiled all the documents related to Gen. Ke Kimyan’s business dealings and presented them to Mr. Hun Sen. They are angry that Gen. Ke Kimyan had gotten in the way of their businesses.

The paper added that, after all the relevant documents were gathered and compiled, they then raised $80 million and then bribed Mr. Hun Sen to sack Gen. Ke Kimyan.

Khmerization has not been able to confirm The Khmer Nation’s claims nor has Khmerization any evidence to prove that Prime Minister Hun Sen had indeed been bribed with $80 million.

Gen. Ke Kimyan was sacked as Commander-in-Chief of the army on 22nd January, 2009. According to the leaked minute of the meeting of the Council of Ministers dated 23rd January, 2009, Gen. Ke Kimyan was sacked because of a military reform and because of his impropriety linked to illegal land deals. The minute of the meeting also recommended that Gen. Ke Kimyan be investigated by the authority and the court.

75,000 Cambodian workers employed overseas

The seminar that was presided over by Labour Minister Vong Sotr. Photo by Uy Song.

Koh Santepheap newspaper
26th February, 2009
Reported in English by Khmerization

Almost 75,000 Cambodian workers have been employed in foreign countries, according to a seminar in Phnom Penh on 24th February.

In a seminar organised by the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Vong Sotr, Minister of Labour, said that from 2004-2008, 74,400 Cambodians had found employment in Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. The seminar also heard that, for the same period, the government had created 150,000 jobs locally.

On top of these, there are approximately 51,135 Cambodians who worked illegally in neighbouring Thailand, which the government said it is trying very hard to negotiate with Thailand to convert these illegal workers into legal workers.

The Minister said that these overseas workers send home to Cambodia more than $15 million dollars in foreign currencies annually.

The seminar also heard that in the period of 2004-2008, in Phnom Penh alone there were 1300 enterprises that have set up shops and have employed over 306,000 workers. These enterprises includes 432 textile and shoes manufacturing factories which employed 280,000 workers. There are also 841 other non-textile factories which employed a further 26,000 workers.

The seminar also heard that about 207 textile and shoes manufacturing factories went bankrupt with 75,000 employees losing their jobs. But in the same period, there were 236 factories have been set up, employing about 62,000 workers. This has incurred a net loss of 13,000 jobs.

Korea plans to build an automobile assembly plant in Cambodia

See full size image
26th Feb, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Hyundai Motor Company, the biggest Korean car-maker, plans to build an automobile assembly plant in Cambodia, according to Mr. Korm Kosal, chief of cabinet of Mr. Heng Samrin, president of the Cambodian National Assembly.

Mr. Korm Kosal told reporters that the vice-president of Hyundai company had proposed to build an assembly plant in Cambodia after he met Mr. Heng Samrin on Wednesday 25th February. Mr. Korm Kosal said that Mr. Heng Samrin expressed his support for the proposal.

Mr. Korm Kosal added that Mr. Heng Samrin was very pleased with the proposal because it happened when Cambodia had achieved total peace and political stability which have created favourable conditions for businesspeople and tourists to explore Cambodia's potential.

Cambodia to build first automobile assembly plant

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- One Cambodian company is putting the pedal to the metal after having received the approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen to begin construction on the country's first automobile assembly plant, national media reported Friday.

The 60 million U.S. dollars factory will assemble cars for the South Korean automobile maker Hyundai, which will supply vehicle parts, Lim Visal, assembly plant coordinator for Camco Motor Company was quoted by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as saying.

"The assembly factory will be constructed on 16.5 hectares of land in the Special Economic Zone in Koh Kong province and a car showroom will be opened in Phnom Penh," Lim Visal said, adding that the target date for the start of production is the middle of 2010.

Lim Visal said 500 workers will be hired for the construction of the plant, 1,000 after the construction is complete and possibly a total of 3,000 in the next 10 years.

"The company plans to hire locally to man the plant and some of those hired will be sent to South Korea to train," he said.

Khmer Krom: Commemoration While Looking Ahead

The Khmer Krom mourn a fellow activist while looking ahead towards renewed UN involvement.

Below is an article published by: Asia Daily News

This article is courtesy of: http://www.unpo.org

Khmer Krom monks in Phnom Penh prepare to mourn slain brethren, while Vietnam is called to defend treatment of ethnic Khmers amid fresh stream of criticism by rights groups.

In February 2007, a young politically active monk was found dead at the Tronum Chhroeung pagoda in Kandal province: His throat had been slit.

The body of the monk, an ethnic Khmer born in Vietnam named Eang Sok Thoeun, was discovered the morning after he had taken part in a demonstration at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh protesting the treatment of ethnic Khmers in southern Vietnam - a group known in Cambodia as Khmer Krom, or Southern Khmer.

Police declared his death to be suicide and disposed of his body without further investigation. Rights groups and Khmer Krom activists suspected his murder was politically motivated.

This Friday [27 Feb 2009], Khmer Krom clergy will gather at Wat Samaki Reangsay, their spiritual base in Phnom Penh, to commemorate the second anniversary of Eang Sok Thoeurn’s death.

The commemoration comes on the eve of a much larger forum to address what rights groups and Khmer Krom activists describe as a persistent and often violent campaign by the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments to stifle the rights and distinct identity of the ethnic group.

Pledge of action

Two centuries ago, what is now the southern delta of Vietnam was part of the Khmer Kingdom. Vietnam says one million ethnic Khmers still live there. Khmer Krom leaders put the number 10 times higher and claim a further 1.5 million Khmer Krom have migrated to Cambodia.

Abuses against Khmer Krom by the Vietnamese state will be raised at the United Nations Human Rights Council in May [2009], according to local rights officials.
In meetings with the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and the UN refugee office in Bangkok last month, Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Phnom Penh-based Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organisation, was told the international body would call on Vietnamese officials to defend charges against its treatment of Khmer Krom and Montagnard hill tribes, as well as other indigenous groups.

“She said she would take action on the situation and that our case would be presented,” he said, adding that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok had also agreed to revisit past reports of official violent suppression received from Khmer Krom seeking asylum in Thailand. He said the UNHCR had previously not been receptive to these reports.

The news has renewed hope for Khmer Krom activists. For Young Sin, president of the Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks Association and a former teacher of the slain monk, the United Nations may be able to exert leverage over Vietnam in a way that regionalgroups cannot.

The government should be trying to engage in peaceful dialogue with the Khmer Krom, rather than throwing them in jail.

“If the UN intervenes and puts pressure on the Vietnamese government, it wouldn’t dare continue carrying out the kinds of repression it has inflicted on the Khmer Krom people,” said Young Sin, who is also abbot of Wat Samaki Reangsay.

A history of violence

Just how politically sensitive the topic is can be judged from the responses from Cambodia and Vietnam to a comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the subject. Released last month [Jan 2009], the report stated that Khmer Krom monks in Vietnam seeking greater religious and personal freedoms had been unfairly threatened, defrocked and imprisoned. In Cambodia, the rights group said, activist Khmer Krom monks have been deported to Vietnam.

The report - “On the Margins: Rights Abuses of Ethnic Khmer in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta” - tracked escalating tensions between Khmer Krom and the authorities on both sides of the border.

Hanoi’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dzung rejected the report as a “total fabrication”, and said freedom of speech and religion in Vietnam were constitutionally protected, the state-controlled Viet Nam News agency quoted him as saying. A spokesman for the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh also rejected the report, saying that his government did not discriminate against any of its 54 official ethnic groups.
HRW also accused the Cambodian government of abetting Vietnam, “a close ally”, to suppress the voices of Khmer Krom who flee across the border to Cambodia and advocate for greater freedoms for their communities.

Citing eyewitness accounts and confidential internal documents prepared by Vietnamese security officials, HRW said Vietnamese agents have long operated inside Cambodia with help from the government to identify “cells of reactionary” Khmer Krom and devise “effective measures of interdiction and management”.

Rights advocate Ang Chanrith corroborated the charge, saying the Cambodian government allows Vietnamese agents to operate locally: “We often see Vietnamese agents at our gatherings. They wear plainclothes and videotape us in order to identify the monks who attend demonstrations. They speak Vietnamese to each other, and our demonstrators see them often and can now recognise them.”

Reaction from the Cambodian government to HRW’s report was unsympathetic. Religious Affairs Minister Min Khin declined to comment, while Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith rejected the report’s findings, saying “criticism by civil society groups of the [Cambodian and Vietnamese] governments does not help protect the Khmer Krom”.

“They don’t know anything. They work only for money,” he added. “But the Cambodian government works peacefully with Vietnamese authorities for the prosperity of the Khmer Krom.”

Reporting in the Cambodian press was mixed. The major newspapers affiliated with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, such as Rasmey Kampuchea and Kampuchea Thmey - did not mention the HRW report, saying they did not receive it. Opposition-affiliated papers did.

Um Sarin, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, said fears of government disapproval drove some newspapers to ignore the scathing report.
International image

Activists say the consequences of official suppression are thoroughly debilitating.
“Khmer Krom live in poverty, and their identity and religious practices have been destroyed,” said Thach Setha, head of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community. “The Vietnamese government doesn’t allow Khmer Krom to use the internet, to listen to Voice of America or Radio Free Asia on the radio, and has blocked our access to education.”

But Ang Chanrith is confident international attention to the issue will force Vietnamese authorities to relax their treatment, if not agree to real concessions.

“We have to use international groups to put pressure on the Vietnamese government to allow Khmer Krom to exercise their rights,” he said.

He recently returned from a trip to Stockholm, where he presented reports of abuses against Khmer Krom, including allegations of collusion between Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities to keep a tight grip on activists. He is banking on the UN, however, to bring results.

The human rights record of each UN member state is subjected to public scrutiny, or a Universal Periodic Review, every four years. This May [2009], Vietnam’s number is up, amid a fresh stream of criticism against its government’s treatment of ethnic groups living within its borders.

Sara Colm, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that given the lack of independent oversight within the tightly controlled communist state, international organisations, including her own, submitted reports to the UN Human Rights Council detailing rights abuses in Vietnam, including the situation of the Khmer Krom. Vietnam is thought to have filed its own report to the UN over statements accusing it of rights abuses, although a spokesman for the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh said he was unaware of any such response.

Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said that although Vietnam has a bitter past with much of the West and remains a communist state, its integration into global markets means it needs to take international opinion into account.

“It’s clear Vietnam cares about its international image, including its track record on human rights,” he said. “In recent years, it has taken pride in its enhanced global standing through its admission into the World Trade Organization and its election to a two-year seat on the UN Security Council.”

“The challenge now is to get the Vietnamese government to replace its rhetoric about human rights with actual progress on the ground. The government should be trying to engage in peaceful dialogue with the Khmer Krom, rather than throwing them in jail,” Adams said.

Meanwhile, as the UN prepares for its review, the monks at Wat Samaki Reangsay rehearse the prayers they will chant for the soul of their slain brethren. Abbot Young Sin said threats will not deter his monks from practising their religion and fighting for others to do so. And he rejected accusations that monks are overstepping their role as clergy.

“Buddhism is absolutely compatible with calling for peace,” he said. “Advocating for the freedoms for lay people is our responsibility.”

U.S. challenges several Asian countries on human rights

Countries such as Myanmar, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia were sharply criticized, while Indonesia and Thailand received generally high marks.

The survey (www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/index.htm), a worldwide roundup required by Congress, is compiled from reports by U.S. diplomats in each country.

CAMBODIA: The State Department said the government's record "remained poor" during 2008, and it criticized extrajudicial killings by security forces, arbitrary arrests, prolonged pretrial detentions, a weak judiciary and denials of the right to a fair trial.

Seizures of private land for government and commercial projects has caused extensive unrest in Cambodia, especially in the capital Phnom Penh, and the U.S. report cited land issues as "a continuing problem."

"Corruption was endemic," the report said.

The commercial sex trade continued to ensnare women and children, the report found. Cambodia has long been a regional destination for child-sex tourists, and the report cited "increasing reports that Asian men traveled to the country to have sex with underage virgin girls."

HONG KONG: The U.S. report found that the Hong Kong government "generally respected" the rights of its citizens in 2008 and passed new measures to protect women against violence, including marital rape.

One of the persistent "core issues" of concern for the State Department, however, is the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's Basic Law, which the report said "limits the ability of citizens to participate in and change their government."

"The legislature was limited in its power to introduce or amend legislation," the survey said, "and could not approve executive appointments."

INDONESIA: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton detoured through Indonesia last week during a trip to Asia - her first overseas mission for President Barack Obama - and she said the country had undergone "a great transformation" since the Asian financial crisis 10 years ago.

The State Department report, on balance, also was complimentary of Indonesia, referring to "significant measures to advance human rights and consolidate democracy."

"Indonesia deserves credit - really remarkable," said Zachary Abuza, a professor of political science at Simmons College in Boston and a widely recognized expert on Southeast Asia. "The story of this year's election is that there is no story: parties are out doing things parties do, candidates are campaigning, and there is little political violence. Democracy, albeit imperfect, is taking root."

But Abuza added that "the usual suspects deserve their comeuppance" in the report - the judiciary, well-connected business interests and the military.

"In practice," the State Department said, "the judiciary remained susceptible to influence from outside parties, including business interests, politicians, and the military."

MACAO: Incidents of official corruption, human trafficking and some limits on political activities were the principal blots - and largely minor ones, according to the U.S. report - on the record of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which the report said "generally respected the human rights of its citizens."

But the survey cited a number of cases of Hong Kong lawmakers, politicians and activists being denied entry to Macao, presumably for their opposition to the proposed Article 23, a broadly worded amendment to Hong Kong's Basic Law that prohibits subversion against the Beijing government. Macao's largely pro-Beijing Legislature passed a version of the measure on Wednesday.

MALAYSIA: The country's national elections in March were held in "a generally transparent manner," the U.S. report said, and the central government "generally respected the human rights of its citizens."

But the report also found worrisome and chronic problems, including "credible allegations of immigration officials' involvement in the trafficking of Burmese refugees" as well as governmental preferences given to ethnic Malays. Malaysia also continued to restrict some basic freedoms, including press, speech and religion, the State Department said.

In practice, the report found, "the country does not permit Muslims, born into Islam, to convert to another religion," and civil courts have not intervened in these apostasy cases that have come before courts enforcing Shariah, or Islamic law.

"The report completely skipped over the huge number of contentious cases regarding apostasy," Abuza said. "It mentioned the one case of Lina Joy, but none of the others. Communal tensions are as high as they've been in years."

MYANMAR: The report on Myanmar, which the State Department survey refers to as Burma, called the ruling junta "highly authoritarian" and said military officers "wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government."

The U.S. criticisms were harsh and wide-ranging: extrajudicial killings; official rape, torture and disappearances; the abuse, harassment and detention of political activists; the delay of international aid to cyclone victims; use of children as soldiers and forced laborers for the military; the trafficking of women and girls; and restrictions on speech, assembly and worship.

"Clearly, the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn't influenced the Burmese junta," Clinton said last week. "Reaching out and trying to engage them hasn't worked either."

Two senior opposition leaders - the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, a longtime political activist - remained under house arrest. Severe restrictions on aid workers and NGOs remained in place, despite a crippling cyclone in May that left some 130,000 dead and missing. The State Department assailed the junta for delaying the distribution of international humanitarian aid to citizens and areas affected by the storm.

NORTH KOREA: "A dictatorship under the absolute rule of Kim Jong Il" is how the State Department described the North Korean regime.

The report on 2008 reiterates the regime's many known abuses, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture of prisoners through the use of electric shocks, public nakedness and extreme stress positions. "Pregnant female prisoners underwent forced abortions in some cases," the survey said, "and in other cases babies were killed upon birth in prisons."

The regime's nearly absolute control of information meant Internet access was limited to high-ranking officials and select university students, the report stated, noting that Web access was routed by phone lines through China and a local connection linked to a German server.

SINGAPORE: The U.S. report assailed the government's use of its "broad powers to limit citizens' rights and to handicap political opposition," and also criticized the practice of preventive detention, executive influence over the judiciary and abridgements on freedom of speech and the press.

"Government intimidation and pressure to conform resulted in self-censorship among journalists," the report found. "However, there was a moderate level of debate in newspapers and on the Internet on some public issues such as rising income inequality and whether to repeal a statute that bans homosexual activity."

THAILAND: It was a fractious year for Thailand, with anti-government protests and court rulings leading to substantial political changes. Mass protests at one point shut down both the airports in Bangkok for eight days, causing a serious blow to the economy. The political street theater calmed in December, with the selection of a new prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The U.S. report found that Thailand "avoided unconstitutional disruptions in governance, and the government's respect for human rights remained unchanged."

"In all, the State Department seems so pleased that Abhisit is in power and that there is the potential for political stability that it's willing to gloss over much of the undemocratic means that got him there," Abuza said.

"The report also glosses over the back-room machinations of the monarchy and the total politicization of the judiciary," he added. "It also generally ignores the fact that under the 2007 Constitution, half the senators are appointed, mainly by the crown."

The report tied numerous human rights abuses to a separatist insurgency in southern Thailand.

"The human rights community has documented more than 34 extrajudicial killings in the south, far above the State Department's reporting," Abuza said.

VIETNAM: The summary of the State Department report on Vietnam was sharp and to the point: "The government's human rights record remained unsatisfactory."

"Political opposition movements were prohibited," the report stated. "The government continued to crack down on dissent, arresting political activists and causing several dissidents to flee the country. Police sometimes abused suspects during arrest, detention, and interrogation. Corruption was a significant problem in the police force."

State controls were found to have been tightened on the press and freedom of speech; foreign human rights groups were barred from the country; and human trafficking, violence against women and Internet firewalls (particularly against sites affiliated with the Catholic Church) remained areas of concern to the United States.

"The country was a significant source for trafficking in persons," the report stated, and there were reports of women being sent not just to other countries in the region but also to Britain, Eastern Europe, and the United States. "Children were trafficked for the purpose of prostitution, both within the country and to foreign destinations."

British pair killed by heroin overdose


Updated: Thu Feb 26 2009

Two British men have been found dead in a Cambodian hotel room after apparently snorting heroin which they mistook for cocaine.

Mark Ganley, 34, and David Hunt, 36, both originally from Southampton, Hants, were found in a hotel room in the capital city Phnom Penh earlier this week while on holiday, sources said.

According to Cambodian police, Mr Ganley, general manager of clothing company Thumb Vietnam, was living in the country at the time of his death with his partner Susan.

He and Mr Hunt, a journalist for the Portsmouth-based news agency M&Y, had returned to their shared hotel room on the evening of February 15 and were found by a maid two days later.

A bag of white powder and 2,000 riel, the Cambodian currency, worth around 34p, were reportedly found in the room.

Mr Hunt's sister Kate Sanderson said: "This was a tragic accident and we are devastated by our loss."

Ms Sanderson said the men were "talented individuals" and were "hugely loved and respected" by their family and friends.

The Foreign Office said consular assistance is being given to the men's families.

© Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Khmer Rouge foreign minister too ill to attend genocide tribunal

In this June 30, 2008, file photo, shown is Ieng Sary, a former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, looks on during a hearing at the UN-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Judges at Cambodia's genocide tribunal on Thursday February 26, 2009, have delayed a hearing into the continued detention of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, citing his failing health. The tribunal's head judge Prak Kimsan has announced the postponement until April 2, following appeals from Ieng Sary's attorneys.

(AP Photo/Pring Samrang, Pool, file)

Asia-Pacific News

Feb 26, 2009,

Phnom Penh - Judges at Cambodia's UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday postponed a hearing for the fallen regime's ailing former foreign minister after doctors declared him too ill to attend court.

Ieng Sary, 83, was due in court to appeal an order to extend his pre-trial detention but an early-morning health check found him unfit to attend the session.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers argued over whether to hold the hearing in his absence, but judges decided to adjourn the hearing to April 1.

The former schoolteacher suffers from heart disease and high blood pressure and was rushed to hospital on Monday night after blood was found in his urine.

It was his ninth hospitalization since he was arrested in November 2007.

He returned to the tribunal's detention facility on Wednesday afternoon.

Ieng Sary's lawyers argued for his release, saying his provisional detention was jeopardizing his physical and mental health.

'Provisional detention should not be used as punishment for alleged crimes, but there is indication it might be used in this way in this case,' international co-defence lawyer Michael Karnavas said at a press conference after the hearing.

Ieng Sary is one of five former Khmer Rouge leaders facing trial for their roles in the deaths of up to 2 million people through execution, starvation or overwork during the radical group's 1975-79 reign of terror in Cambodia.

His wife, Ieng Thirith, is among the detainees.

The first stage of the trial of former Tuol Sleng torture facility chairman Kaing Guek Eav, known by his revolutionary name Duch, was held last week.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal announced on Monday that Duch's trial would resume on March 30.

He is the first detainee to be indicted for crimes against humanity.