A Change of Guard

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Friday 31 December 2010

Imprisoned World Food Progamme staffer refused to meet with the visiting SRP MPs

By Khmerization
Source: CEN

Three members of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) were allowed to visit Seng Kunnaka (pictured), the World Food Programme staffer who was arrested on 17th December and jailed on 19th December, this Friday morning as requested but Mr. Seng Kunnaka refused to meet with them.

The three MPs, Ho Vann, Yim Sovan and Kong Bora were allowed into the prison by prison authority, but Mr. Seng Kunnaka refused to meet with them.

After emerged from the prison gate, Mr. Ho Vann told reporters that he and his fellow MPs were allowed into the prison, but Mr. Seng Kunnaka refused to see them. "A group of SRP MPs were allowed to enter Preysor Prison, located on the outskirt of Phnom Penh this morning. But we don't know the reason why the World Food Programme staffer did not show up to meet us", he told reporters.

Seng Kunnaka, who work as a guard at a World Food Programme warehouse on the outskirt of Phnom Penh was arrested on 17th December and sentenced to 6 months jailed by the Phnom Penh Court after he printed out articles critical of Prime Minister Hun and other leaders from an anti-government website, Ki-Media, and shared them with his co-workers.

Thai troops detained many Cambodians near the spot where the 7 Thais were arrested by Cambidan troops

By Khmerization
Source: DAP News

Sources from the Cambodian-Thai border said many Cambodian migrant workers working to plant and harvest cassava and rice inside Thai territory, near the spot where the 7 Thai nationals were arrested on Wednesday 29th December by Cambodian troops, were arrested by Thai troops at 1 p.m today, Friday 31st December, at Phum Thmey village, Dong Mak Moun commune in Kork Tyoung district in Thailand's Sakeo province.

The same sources said that some Cambodian workers had escaped back into Cambodia, but many were arrested. The sources said that Cambodian authority continues to negotiate with the Thai authority to secure their release.

The Cambodian migrant workers came from the nearby Cambodian village of Chok Chey in O'Bei Choan commune, O'Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey province where 7 Thai nationals, including an MP from the ruling Democrat Party, were arrested on Wednesday and sent to Preysor Prison on Thursday.

Many Cambodians believe that the arrests of the Cambodian migrant workers by Thai troops seem to be in retaliation against the arrests and jailing of the 7 Thai nationals by the Cambodian authority.

[Thai] Protesters rally against Cambodia

Thais protested in front of Khmer embassy in Bangkok on 27th October 2009 during the height of diplomatic and border tensions between the two countries.

Published: 31/12/2010
Bangkok Post

Members of the Thailand Patriot Network on Friday rallied in front of Cambodia embassy in Bangkok calling for the Cambodian government to immediately release the detained seven Thais, reports said.

The protesters, led by core leader Somboon Thongburan, burned a coffin attached with photo of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. They vowed to continue rallying in front of Government House until all Thais are freed.

About 50 policemen were deployed at the embassy building compound to maintain law and order.

Phnom Penh - A City Revitalized

Visitors to Phnom Penh can discover its tragic past and experience creativity of a youthful population intent on building a more positive image

Published: 31/12/2010
Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh is a city revitalized. The skyline of Cambodia's once sleepy capital is being pierced by its first high-rise, and the red dirt roads, now sealed, swarm with SUVs and motorcycles. For a city that has endured more than its share of bloodshed and destruction, today's youthful exuberance and palpable energy are a welcomed by locals and visitors. Yet despite the positive change being witnessed today, any time spent in Phnom Penh must still include reflective visits to the sites of the country's horrific past. Two of the most visited places in Phnom Penh are still Camp Cheoung Ek, one of many infamous Killing Fields sites, and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school that became a torture centre known as S-21.

Camp Cheoung Ek lies 15 kilometres southwest of the city and was the burial site for those tortured and killed in S-21. In 1980, 129 mass graves were found here and 8,985 corpses unearthed. Today, a large stupa contains the bones and remnants of clothing as a memorial to the victims. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in a suburb of Phnom Penh. The building is thought to have witnessed over 20,000 citizens pass through its doors to be tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. On the ground floor, rooms with a single bed and leg irons where torture was carried out now envelop visitors in an eerie silence. One of the most haunting experiences, however, is looking at the thousands of black and white images of victims displayed on boards throughout the building. Like all regimes that committed genocide, the Khmer Rouge was meticulous in documenting those it killed.

Rediscovering Khmer arts

It's hard to comprehend but the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge wiped out so many artists and craftsmen that the country's traditional arts were almost lost. Today, following a concerted effort to retrain young people Cambodian crafts have emerged as some of the finest in the region.

Artisans d' Angkor was established in 1998 and has played a significant role in saving and promoting the country's rich cultural heritage. Originally under EU funding, the business is now totally self-financing and trains dozens of artisans each year, many of whom set up on their own. In Phnom Penh, Artisans d' Angkor have a boutique in front of the post office on Street 13, and at Phnom Penh International Airport. The shops sell lacquerware, stone carving, high quality hand woven silk, silverware and much more. Visithttp://www.artisansdangkor.com for further details about the inspirational projects.

The recent blossoming of Khmer arts and crafts has also seen many other boutiques open in Phnom Penh. There are several clustered on Street 240 and a host of art galleries close to the National Museum on Street 178, commonly referred to as Art Street.

One of the joys of travelling in Asia is visiting the vibrant markets. Phnom Penh is no exception and is home to the fabulous Psar Thmei, also known as the Central Market, a striking art deco building dating back to 1935. Here you can buy just about anything from shoes and clothing to souvenirs and jewellery. In Phnom Penh there are also many sprawling fresh markets to explore. Colourful, chaotic and not for the squeamish, they are the heart of the city. Check out the old market of Psar Chas on Street 9 and 11 which is open throughout the day and in the evening. For a colourful fresh market, head over Monivong Bridge in the early morning and you'll discover the wonderful Psar Chhbar Ampoeu.

Former glories

Despite wanton destructive within Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge years, much of the capital's former glories survived. The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda within its compound are well worth a visit. The complex dates from 1866 and is filled with Buddha statues, and religious and royal artefacts including an emerald Buddha encrusted with jewels. Entry is $3, plus $2 if you wish to use a camera. It is open every day from 8 a.m. - 11.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Nearby, the beautiful red building of the National Museum houses a wonderful collection of over 5,000 Khmer art and sculpture.

Getting around Phnom Penh

The moto-romuak, Cambodia's answer to the tuk-tuk, are an excellent way to get around, and preferable to the confines of a car. You can hire a moto-romuak and driver for between $10- 15 a day for running around town. For longer trips to places outside the city expect the fee to rise. Drivers usually wait around near hotels and the concierge should be able to assist with negotiations.

Where to stay

The InterContinental Phnom Penh was the city's first international five-star hotel. The 346-room hotel is located in the heart of the city and 20 minute's drive from the airport. Guests can enjoy luxurious rooms and suites, and excellent service. Dining includes the Regency Cafe and the Deli Cafe. There's also a spa, fitness centre, and outdoor swimming pool. 296 Boulevard Mao Tse Tung, Phnom Penh. Visit the website at http://www.intercontinental.com

The latest addition to booming Phnom Penh is the Sofitel Penh Phkeethra. The brand new hotel occupies a riverside location in the city's old quarter and is close to many of the main attractions. Inspired by colonial era architecture, the hotel offers 201 rooms and suites with views across the Mekong and Bassac rivers.

Facilities include elegant restaurants and bars, two pools and a stylish spa. 26 Old August Site, Sothearos Boulevard, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh. Visit the website at http://www.sofitel.com

Getting there

Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways fly daily to Phnom Penh.

A visa on arrival is available at the airport for a fee of $20. One passport photograph is required. A departure tax of $25 is also charged.

More images of Phnom Penh can be seen at http://www.mickshippen.com

He brings home a suitcase full of pepper [from Cambodia]

Traditionally, pepper is grown on wooden stakes. Starling Farm built these brick towers which last longer than the wood and support more vines.
Kampot pepper ripned on the vine. COURTESY HIM ANNA, STARLING FARM

Kampot pepper is organically grown and the farmers use many of the same techniques as their ancestors.
Dec. 30, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Gordon, an editor at The Register, is starting a nonprofit that will sell Cambodian pepper in the United States. The money raised will help a group that works to help retrain former sex workers in Cambodia This is the last of a three-part story.

Pol Pot killed one, maybe two million people back in the 1970s. Pol Pot liked killing people.

But evidently he didn't like pepper. Pol Pot ordered acres of pepper vines in the Kampot province of western Cambodia ripped out and rice planted in its place.

History has not been kind to Pol Pot.

On the other hand, Chef Oge Dalken, who is creating the menu for the soon-to-open Chapter One: the modern local restaurant in downtown Santa Ana, is a big fan of Kampot pepper.

"The pepper is damn good – and you can say damn good because that's the way I feel about. I am using it as the basic seasoning in all my dishes," says Chef Dalken. He has plans to use Cambodian pepper on duck, New York steaks and possibly in a martini.

Haley Nguyen, who owns the Xanh Bistro at Brookhurst and Edinger in Fountain Valley, tasted Kampot pepper and pronounced it "spicy." Chef Nguyen knows pepper. She teaches cooking at Saddleback and Cypress colleges and hosts culinary tours of Vietnam and Cambodia every year.

"The Kampot pepper has an intense peppery flavor that others lack. I prefer using it whole or cracked in my shrimp paste wrap sugar cane, the sweetness of shrimp with a sudden crunch of the whole pepper corn adds texture and more life to this traditional Vietnamese dish," she says.

In the coming months there will receptions at Xanh and Chapter One to introduce Kampot pepper to Orange County.

For centuries, Kampot pepper has been grown in the hills of western Cambodia. Much of it was exported to the finest restaurants in France. To this day, the French are the biggest foreign users of Kampot pepper.

A few years ago, my wife Cris and I visited a pepper farm. They call them plantations but they are really just small patches of cleared jungle with a few dozen vines and a wooden shack where the family lives. The roots of Kampot pepper farming go back for centuries and little has changed over the years.

It's not an easy life.

There's the heat, the lack of infrastructure in Cambodia, and the isolation. Most of the farms lack even basic conveniences. Much of their cooking is done by creating gas from a mixture of cow dung and water. The lighting comes from small solar lanterns. Bed is a hammock in the corner.

Only 118 families grow Kampot pepper today.


Like Champagne, which is only produced in a designated region of France, Kampot pepper can only come from a small area. The Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, a small group of farmers and marketers, makes sure the crop is organic and only from the Kampot/Kep region. This geographic designation took years to establish. The farmers are very proud of their product.

What makes Kampot pepper different from the pepper at your local supermarket?

Cheh Luu Meng of the upscale Malis restaurant in the Cambodia capital of Phnom Penh, is downright poetic: "The aroma releases fresh, minty, elements... reminiscent of heavy wood and wet forest... (it) lingers on the palate and remains in the minds of my guests."

To me it's just really tasty and very peppery. It's different.

Kampot pepper had quite a history. It was first noted by Chinese explorers in the 13th Century. By 1900, Kampot pepper was exported by the ton to France, where it was used in the finest restaurants.

Then along came Pol Pot.

The industry is just starting to make a comeback.

In November, with Cris recuperating from an auto accident, I traveled to Phnom Penh, and on to Cambodia's west coast to buy some Kampot pepper.

It was our goal to start selling the pepper in the U.S, secure a steady future supply and help former workers in Cambodia's sex trade.

I had help.

Hin Pidour, of the Kampot Pepper Association, arranged a meeting with local officials and farmers in the organizations bare-bones office. I got a tour of Ngon Proeung's farm and bought 30 pounds of Kampot pepper from him to carry home in my suitcase. That would get things started.

Pidour knows some English but most of the others only spoke Khmer. My Khmer consists of about eight words (and I often refer to my cheat sheet to recall those).

Enter Phary. His business cards list him as "Phary the Tuk Tuk driver."

In Cambodia, a tuk tuk is a small motorbike with a covered trailer attached to haul people on short trips. Cris and I knew Phary from a previous visit and consider him a friend. He's a hustling businessman with plans for his family and the future. Besides getting me where I needed to go, Phary acted as my interpreter.

The Pepper Association put me in contact with Him Anna back in Phnom Penh who operates Starling Farm on the border of Kep and Kampot provinces. Just the week before, Anna had received her official Kampot pepper designation. I was her first customer.

After 12 days of meetings, several five-hour bus rides between Phnom Penh and Kampot, many hot, dusty tuk tuk rides, visits with farmers, and securing some Cambodian-made packaging, I was ready to return home – my suitcase filled with Kampot pepper. All I had to look forward to was 17-hour flight and a date with U.S. Customs.



Ross Meador, an international trade lawyer from Chino Hills who has lived all over Asia, volunteered his time to try and help clear the way for me.

He contacted U.S. Customs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state officials. "Declare it" was his advice, as long as it's dried there should be no problem. "It's all part of the adventure," were his parting words.

If I didn't declare it, he warned, I faced a $300-$1,000 fine and they would likely confiscate the pepper. "Not good,' he warned.

So much for sneaking 30 pounds of Kampot pepper through Customs.

On the declaration form I checked "yes" to carrying food and plants, to being on a farm recently and having goods destined for business purposes. I was a marked man.

It actually went pretty smooth. I did get singled out and my bags were directed to a huge X-ray machine. The Customs agent thought it odd that someone would be carrying 30 pounds of pepper but waved me through.

I was now the proud owner of 30 pounds of red, white and black Kampot pepper and had a partner who could send me more when I needed it.

Suthep advised, talk to Hun Sen

Suthep Thaugsuban(L) and Hun Sen during an inauguration to the open road from Anlong Veng to Siem Reap 0n 4th July 2009.

Published: 31/12/2010
Bangkok Post

Banharn Silpa-archa, chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, said Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban should travel to Cambodia to directly discuss the release of the seven captured Thais with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The veteran politician was responding to the arrest of seven Thais, including a Democrat MP and a core leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, by Cambodian soldiers and charged with illegally entering the country.

They were visiting a disputed border area in Sa Kaeo province at the time.

“Mr Suthep should go to discuss the matter with Hun Sen before the Cambodian court gives its ruling on the case,” Mr Banharn said on Friday.

The former prime minister this morning opened his Charan Sanitwong residence in Bangkok to well-wishers, led by Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, who came to offer him a New Year blessing.

Speech of former Prime Minister Pen Sovan attacking the Cambodian People's Party and Vietnam

Former Prime Minister Pen Sovan (pictured) from 1979-1981 made a very chilling speech attacking the ruling Cambodian People's Party and Vietnam. He attacked the Cambodian government's policy of granting land concessions to Vietnamese companies and Vietnamese war veterans by confiscating lands from poor Cambodians.

He also made reference to his arrest and jailing from 1981-1991, saying that he was jailed in a dark cell for the whole 10 years. Pen Sovan's speech is undated, but could be as recently as 2009 0r 2010. Please listen to Pen Sovan's speech.

Watch Miss Landmine documentary online!

Dear friends Khmer and far,

from all of us to all of you,

the Miss Landmine documentary is now out on YouTube:


should you need to search for any of the 8 parts,

type "Miss Landmine" or "krementX" in the search field.

Enjoy, forward, spread the word and the stories of 20 brave and beautiful women!

With all good hopes and wishes for the new year,

Morten and the Miss Landmine team

57 Journalists Murdered in 2010

See the complete report in Reporters Without Borders.

In 2010 there was a reduction of 25 percent in homicide to journalists in the world, according to the annual report of Reporters Without Borders. 51 journalists were kidnapped, 535 were arrested, 1,374 suffered physical attacks or were threatened, 504 media were censored, 127 journalists had to flee their own country, 152 bloggers and netizens were arrested, 52 were physically attacked and 62 countries were affected by the Internet censorship. These are the numbers of global persecution against freedom of press and threatens to the labor of reporters in the planet. As for murder of journalists, Asia was the most dangerous region with for the media with 20, followed by the Americas with 13, in Africa 10, in the Middle East 10 and Europe 4.

The RWB report concludes that there was a meaningful reduction in the number of homicides this year in comparison with 2009 when 76 journalists lost their lives under the action of violent groups or individuals due to their job. Although there is a reduction in the murder of journalists in war zones, there is an increase in the number of reporters murdered by violent gangs, armed groups, religious organizations or state agents, according to RWB.

The RWB secretary general Jean-François Julliard said to this regard on their website:

'Fewer journalists were killed in war zones than in preceding years. Media workers are above all being murdered by criminals and traffickers of various kinds. Organized crime groups and militias are their leading killers worldwide. The challenge now is to rein in this phenomenon. The authorities of the countries concerned have a direct duty to combat the impunity surrounding these murders. If governments do not make every effort to punish the murderers of journalists, they become their accomplices.

Kidnapping journalists is increasing as well. In 2008 there were 29 cases, says RWB, in 2009 there were 33 kidnapped journalists and, this year, the number reached 51.

Although journalists are hold in conflicts like outside observers and their point of view is considered neutral as reporters for the public opinion, violent groups are taking direct actions against journalists in many countries with the purpose to control the development of information in their favor.

'Kidnappers take hostages in order to finance their criminal activities, make governments comply with their demands, and send a message to the public. Abduction provides them with a form of publicity. Here again, governments must do more to identify them and bring them to justice. Otherwise reporters – national or foreign – will no longer venture into certain regions and will abandon the local population to their sad fate', said Julliard.

Journalists' homicides

RWB reported that 25 countries registered murders of journalists due to their profession. It states also that it is the first year that this crime has affected too many nations.

The most dangerous continent for journalists this year was Asia with 20 murders, 11 of them in Pakistan.

Seven of the countries were journalists were reported killed were in Africa: Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. It makes the 30 percent of total countries.

Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, and Somalia were once more in the list of countries where journalists have been killed in the past decade. RWB concludes that these countries have not evolved; a culture of violence against the press has become deeply rooted there. From these, Pakistan, Iraq and Mexico became the most deadly countries for journalists in the past ten years.

In Pakistan, journalists are often threaten by Islamic groups or become collateral victims of suicide bombers. In Iraq 7 journalists were killed this year.

In Mexico journalists are trapped in the War on Drugs after the government of Felipe Calderon declared the war against the drug lords in the country. In Honduras three journalists were murdered in a political motivated violence. In Thailand two foreign reporters, Italian Fabio Polenghi and Japanese Hiroyuki Muramoto, were killed during the clashes between government forces and the Red Shirts supporters of ex-Primer Minister T. Shinawatra.

Four journalists were reported killed in Europe, two of them in countries of the European Union: Greece and Latvia. The political instability in Greece caused that the manager of Radio Thema 98.9 was murdered outside his home in Athens on July 19, probably by a far-left group known as Revolutionary Sect. The editor of the Million Newspaper and owner of a local television in Latvia, Grigorijs Nemcovs, was killed in the city of Daugavpils on April 16.

Internet Censoring

The Internet was not out of threats to the freedom of press during 2010, according to RWB. Harassment of bloggers and netizens (a person actively involved in online communities), has become a common place in many countries. Cyber-attacks, for example, became a way to silence certain online media from expressing their opinions or reporting information. Even democratic countries are looking the way to adapt new laws to threat the freedom of press on the Internet, points out RWB.

See the complete report in Reporters Without Borders.

By Albeiro Rodas -- ColombiaPassport.com

The Three Cultural Crushes

By Albeiro Rodas -- cambodia1.wordpress.com 'I See Cambodia'

I call the three cultural crushes to the process of adaptation of Westerns in Cambodia. The first one is the enchantment, the second is the disenchantment and the third is the true adaptation.

The enchantment is the honey moon and this one is lived by the short time Western tourists. They come to Cambodia and feel admiration and love for the country and its people. They find Cambodians beautiful, humble, easygoing and always smiling. They feel pity of their recent pass of wars and the Khmer Rouge regime when they know the museum of the genocide. They get in love with the wonders of the Angkorean temples. They leave the country and always let behind a good friend, normally the motorbike or tuk-tuk driver who brought them through the places. Then… they promise to come.

This first step of enchantment is very important for the development of Cambodia as international tourist destination. In this phase, it is important that Cambodia keeps those values of friendship, welcoming attitude, simplicity and smile. These values can be threaten by a general intention of certain tourist agencies, hotels and others to imitate Western customs. Those who do so, think that preparing Western environments to tourists will make Cambodia more attractive to international visitors. Far from that. Westerns who come to Cambodia are not often looking for more Western environments. Maybe they would be grateful with certain comfort, but they want to see an exotic and oriental culture. They want to enjoy the traditional markets, the Cambodian customs, the language and the originality of the Cambodian people. It is why they travel from their far Western countries.

The disenchantment is a second step and it is passed by those Westerns who intend to settle in the country for a long. It is the height of the cultural crush. They start to see the limits and obstacles of communication with the Cambodians. To overcome this step, you need to be mature and tolerant. It is different to live in a hotel designed for Westerns than living in a Khmer village where people behave as they are. You have to remember that Cambodia is not a Western culture. It is an Asian culture and something more, it is a millenarian culture.

In the disenchantment phase, the Western discovers for example that the everlasting smiling is really everlasting and that even in a big discussion Cambodians smile. Then the Western starts to suspect that smiling has a deeper meaning than simple a kind attitude for tourism. It has to see with the culture of harmony and to keep the face of the other.

The Western discovers that he is very often misunderstood and that he misunderstand the Cambodians most of the time. That ‘yes’ does not mean necessary a positive answer. That Cambodians say ‘yes’ to most of the things. That they say yes to a negative question, as in Khmer: - Don’t you like coffee? – Yes (meaning that yes, I don´t like coffee). This particular fact of the affirmation of a negation brings alone several daily misunderstandings in Cambodia between locals and Westerns.

The Westerns discover for example that Cambodians follow a strict protocol that takes time. If a Cambodia has to tell you something, he will take time waiting for the right occasion to speak out. Cambodians do not shout. They do not show anger easily. They can keep their feelings until the right time. If you ask them an opinion, he will measure his words in order to keep your face, rather than speaking frankly.

The adaptation is the third stage and it takes time and several crushes. It is the time when the Western accepts Cambodians like they are. After all, it is you who are living in their country. It is you who are expected to follow the Cambodian customs. It is you who have to speak Khmer language, to eat Khmer food, to listen Khmer music. In that moment, the communication with them will be easy and happier. In that moment you start to be a little Cambodian.

By Albeiro Rodas -- cambodia1.wordpress.com 'I See Cambodia'

Are you a Western living in Cambodia? Tell us your cultural crushes in the country.

Thailand builds up troops along Cambodian-Thai border after 7 Thais were arrested by Cambodian authority

The 7 Thai nationals, including Thai MP, Panich Vikitsreth seen here, were sent to Preysor Prison after 7 hours of questioning by Phnom Penh Court.

By Khmerization
Source: RFA

Thailand has deployed thousands of troops, including armoured personnel carriers, along its border with Cambodia in Sakeo province where 7 Thai nationals, including an MP from the ruling Democrat Party, were arrested on Wednesday by Cambodian authority for trespassing into Cambodian territory.

A Cambodian spokesman for the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Town Hall, Mr. Ouk Keo Ratanak, told RFA on Thursday morning that the Thai troop build up was for the purpose of preventing the Thai Yellow Shirts ultra-nationalists from crossing into Cambodia en masse planned for today after their leaders were arrested by Cambodian authority. "Because we have arrested the 7 Thai nationals, Thailand had mobilised their troops. The aim of the troop mobilisation along the border, including tanks, was because they are concerned that the Yellow Shirts will come en masse which will affect the cordial relations between the two countries. So, the troop mobilisation is for the purpose of preventing the Yellow Shirts (from entering Cambodia)", he said.

At the same time, a Cambodian border military commander said that on Thursday 30th that the Thai side had closed all border crossings in Sakeo province which bordered with Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Mr. Chhouk Ang, Cambodian commander of Border Protection Brigade 911, said among the border crossings the Thai side closed are Sala Khmer border crossing, Tumnoup Dach, O'Bei Choan, Nong Chan, Rithisen and Thnoll Bombek border crossings, stretching from O'Chrov district to Dambon Pram (Zone Five) in Svay Chek district. "They closed from Sala Khmer stretching to Dambon Pram because we have arrested the leaders of the Thai Yellow Shirt Movement, but on the other hand we can say that it is because their top leaders had come down to visit the areas. But that is their pretext. They closed (the border crossings) temporarily to allow the border situations to calm down and because their top leaders came down to visit the area", he said.

However, many Cambodian political observers think that the Thai troop build up is intended to intimidate Cambodia into releasing the 7 Thai nationals who were charged and sent to Preysor Prison on Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Chhouk Ang added that his Border Protection Brigade 911 and the Land Border Protection Unit No. 503 have also been deployed in all important spots along the border in Banteay Meanchey province.

Thais held in Cambodian jail

Foreign Ministers, Hor Namhong (foreground, right) of Cambodia, and Kasit Piromya of Thailand, enter a meeting room of Cambodian Foreign Ministry in Phnom Penh. -- PHOTO: AP

Hun Sen turns deaf ear to Abhisit's demands

Published: 31/12/2010
Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh is refusing to release seven Thais being held for trespassing on Cambodian territory despite Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva demanding they be granted their freedom.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday afternoon made an urgent visit to Phnom Penh for talks with his counterpart, Hor Namhong, on securing the release of the seven who include a government MP.

But Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided yesterday to press ahead with charges against the Thais.

The defendants, including Democrat Party MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, appeared at a closed-door hearing at the court, a day after being detained near the border dividing Thailand and Cambodia.

"The court has charged them with illegally crossing the border ... and entering a military area with ill will," deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said.

If convicted on the two counts, the seven could face up to 18 months in jail. It was unclear when the next hearing in the case would be held.

A sombre Panich and the rest of his entourage were taken from the court by police officers.

Interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said they were taken to Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of the capital.

The incident has rekindled diplomatic tensions between the neighbouring countries which centre on a long-standing border dispute.

Mr Abhisit said yesterday morning he had demanded the immediate release of the seven Thais and said they must not be taken to court in Cambodia as this could hurt the ties between the two countries after they were beginning to show signs of improvement.

"No matter where they were arrested, we think the seven persons should be released immediately," Mr Abhisit said.

"The two governments had held talks and agreed that if such incidents did occur, no arrests would be made and nobody would be taken to court," the prime minister said.

"Otherwise, this would only further complicate the border problems."

Hor Namhong told reporters after his meeting with Mr Kasit that he had said there would be "no release" of the Thais just yet.

"Let the court continue with the legal procedure as normal ... the government cannot do anything," he said.

The seven Thais were arrested about 10am on Wednesday near Ban Nong Jarn in Sa Kaeo's Khok Sung district while inspecting a disputed border area.

Arrested with Mr Panich were People's Alliance for Democracy co-leader Veera Somkwamkid, PAD activist Samdin Lertbutr, Tainae Mungmajon and three others identified only as Muay, Uan and Sab.

The PAD is a pressure group which led protests against Cambodia over the ownership of the Preah Vihear temple on the disputed border.

Assistant to the foreign minister Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday Thailand asked Cambodia to consider the case prudently as the seven Thais had no intention of encroaching on Cambodian territory.

Mr Chavanond said the two foreign ministers had examined evidence as well as the area where the Thais were arrested.

It was found the seven Thais had strayed about 1,200 metres into Cambodian territory. It was clearly marked as a Cambodian area, he said

"Foreign Minister Kasit made a visit to the seven Thais in prison," said Mr Chavanond, who accompanied Mr Kasit on the visit to Phnom Penh.

More than 100 Thais gathered yesterday at Thao Suranari Monument in Nakhon Ratchasima to protest against Cambodia's detention of the seven Thais.

They burned an effigy of Hun Sen and demanded Cambodia release the Thais immediately.

Mr Abhisit said he had instructed Mr Panich to inspect the disputed area in Ban Nong Jarn after local people had complained of Cambodian troops encroaching on their farmland.

An army source said some among the military top brass were unhappy with the incident.

Senior officers questioned whether the seven had intentionally strayed into Cambodian territory.

They also said the seven should have asked border police or soldiers to accompany them while inspecting the disputed area.

No release of seven Thais illegally entering Cambodian territory: Cambodia

Confiscated photos show the 7 Thais entered deep into Cambodian territory where the Thai MP and his accomplices are seen walking through a Cambodian village: More photos here.

People's Daily Online
30th September, 2010

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Thursday that there is no any release of the seven Thai nationals arrested on Wednesday in Banteay Meanchey and they were already sent into prison.

"There is no any release of them. Let the judicial procedure to proceed the case, now the case is in hand of the court, the government cannot do anything," said Hor Namhong after meeting with his visiting Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya on Thursday afternoon. "They have intention to enter Cambodian territory and Mr. Kasit has agreed with Cambodia that they entered deeply into Cambodian territory," said Hor Namhong.

"I traveled to Cambodia in order to listen to the fact on the arrest of the seven Thai nationals," Kasit said after meeting with Hor Namhong. "Thai government respects the justice procedure of Cambodia."

He said that he was unaware that the Thais entered too deeply into Cambodian territory.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, arrived Cambodia Thursday afternoon, sought to the release of the seven Thai nationals through negotiation.

Meanwhile, Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipal Court told Xinhua on Thursday that after 7-hour inquest on the arrested Thais, the court decided to charge them two cases: one is the illegal entry into Cambodian territory according to the article 29 of the Cambodia's immigration law and the other is on the bandit deed to enter military base based on the article 473 of the penal code.

He said that for the first case, they could face between 3 and 6 months in prison, and the second case from 6 to 12 months in prison and fine from 1 million to 2 million Cambodian riels (about 250 U.S. dollars to 500 U.S. dollars).

The seven Thai nationals had been sent to the Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison after the inquest.

They had been arrested on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. by Cambodian border protection army at the border pole No. 46 in Chhokchey village, Obiychhorn commune, Ochrov district, Banteay Meanchey province. The location is opposite to Norngchan village of Thailand's eastern Sa Kaeo Province.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated. And the two sides have had border conflict just one week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple was registered as World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Since the conflict started, military standoff has been on and off along the two countries' border and several military clashes have already happened with recorded small causalities from both sides.

However, the border issue has been eased as the top leaders of Cambodia and Thailand have held four meetings since September.

Source: Xinhua

Thailand urges Cambodia to free detainees

Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth (L) is escorted by a Cambodian policeman at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
"Panich and his entourage passed the border police checkpoint and border police followed them by car to ask them to return, but they were already on Cambodian soil," said Deputy Thai premier Suthep Thaugsuban.

BANGKOK (Channel News Asia)- Thailand's premier on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries' disputed border.

"Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters. "Cambodia should not take this case to court as it will further complicate the issue."

The seven, including Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, appeared in a court in Phnom Penh on Thursday for questioning, a day after being detained by Cambodian authorities, who said they had entered its territory illegally.

They were taken to the Phnom Penh municipal court under tight security in the morning for a hearing that was closed to the media, according to an AFP reporter. By mid-afternoon there was still no announcement by the court.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the seven, who also include members of the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement, would be charged and put in jail to await trial.

In an attempt to secure their release, the Thai foreign minister was due to travel to Cambodia to meet his counterpart later Thursday.

"Cambodia must take into consideration that if they want cordial ties they should rely on negotiations. If not, then there is a problem for both sides," Abhisit said.

He warned that it would be unacceptable to Thailand if Cambodian soldiers had intruded into its territory to make the arrests. Abhisit said he had tasked Panich with seeking information about the border issue.

The two countries have a long-standing dispute over their border, which is not fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since a series of deadly border clashes in July 2008 over land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.

Deputy Thai premier Suthep Thaugsuban, however, acknowledged that the seven Thais were on Cambodian territory when arrested.

"Panich and his entourage passed the border police checkpoint and border police followed them by car to ask them to return, but they were already on Cambodian soil," he said.

Thai Yellow Shirts plan to trespass en masse into Cambodian territory on the spot where their leaders were arrested on Wednesday

Veera Somkwamkid led to court by Cambodian police.

By Khmerization
Source: DAP News

A Thai newspaper reported that Thai Yellow Shirt ultra-nationalists plan to trespass en masse into Cambodian territory at border post No. 46 at Chey Chok village in O'Bei Choan commune, O'Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey province where their leaders, including Veera Somkwamkid, have been arrested by Cambodian soldiers on Wednesday for trespass.

The newspaper said that if the Cambodian authority does not release their leaders immediately, they will travel to the area at 12 midday tomorrow, Friday 31st December to let the Cambodian authority arrest them en masse. However, as at 3:30 p.m today, their leaders have been sent to Preysor Prison awaiting a diplomatic solution.

Cambodian authority cannot be reached for comment at the time of this article going to press. However, it is expected that the Thai Yellow Shirts ultra-nationalists would be arrested if they trespassed into Cambodian territory.

Thursday 30 December 2010

TheThai MP and his co-accused sent to Preysor Prison

Left: Thai MP Panich Vikitsreth appeared in court and (bottom) Kasit and Hor Hamhong emerged after nearly one hour of unsuccessful talks to secure the release of the 7 Thai nationals.
See pictures of the 7 Thais walking in a Cambodian village.
2. See the pictures and names of the 7 Thai trespassers.

By Khmerization
Source: DAP News

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, dispatched to Cambodia by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, failed to secure the release of an MP and his co-accused trespassers after the Cambodian government refused to intervene to the court to release them, saying that it cannot interfere in the legal process.

Thai MP Panich Vikitsreth, a former assistant to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, a prominent Thai ultra-nationalist Veera Somkwamkid and 5 others were arrested near O'Chrov town on Wednesday 29th December after they had trespassed into Cambodian territory illegally.

Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva immediately dispatched Mr. Kasit to Phnom Penh to secure their release, but after nearly an hour of meeting, Mr. Kasit emerged to tell reporters that both sides had agreed to leave the matter to the Cambodian legal system to decide first before any diplomatic solution can be negotiated. "We have travelled here to listen to the truth about the 7 Thai nationals. For us, we came here to tell the truth that the Thai side respects the Cambodian legal process. We asked that the Cambodian government to move this process forward as fast as can be done", he said.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that this is not the first time, the Thai ultra-nationalists had entered Cambodian territory illegally, pointing out that Veera Somkwamkid had been briefly detained before for illegally entering Cambodian territory. "I want to say that this kind of trespassing into Cambodian territory is not the first time, but the third time. The first time took place in July and the second time happened in September, but they didn't enter too deep into Cambodian territory and we detained them briefly but sent them back to Thailand. But now they have entered too deep into Chok Chey village, about 400 to 500 metres from the border. The 7 Thai nationals did not walk a straight way directly 400 to 500 metres to the village, but they walked 1200 metres along border post No. 46 to reach the village", he said.

Mr. Hor Namhong added that Mr. Kasit had acknowledged that the 7 Thai nationals had trespassed too deep into Cambodian territory.

The two sides started their meeting at 4 p.m, half an hour after the Phnom Penh Court sent the 7 Thai nationals to Preysor Prison after its session ended at 3:30 p.m. They were charged under Article 473 of Criminal Code and Article 29 of Immigration Laws. If convicted under Article 29 0f Immigration Laws they could face between 3-6 months jail before being deported. However, if convicted under Criminal Code they could face up to 6 months to one year jail and fined from 1,000,000 ($250) to 2,000,000 riels ($500).

The 7 Thai nationals, including one MP from the ruling Democrat Party, were arrested at 10 a.m on Wednesday 29th December at Chok Chey village near border post No. 46 in O'Bei Choan commune, O'Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey province.

Tycoon’s wife faces attempted murder charge

Phnom Penh Post

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Seng Chenda, the wife of tycoon Khaou Chuly, is lead into Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a hearing yesterday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday held a preliminary hearing in the case of a prominent businessman’s wife, who stands accused of attempting to murder her stepdaughter in June.

Seng Chenda appeared in court yesterday to face accusations that she masterminded a plot to murder Suv Chantha, who is the daughter of her husband, tycoon Khaou Chuly, from a previous marriage.

Suv Chantha is married to Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.

Seng Chenda, 38, and four accomplices have been charged with attempted murder under Article 3 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During pretrial hearings yesterday, presiding Judge Sin Visal rejected a fourth request by Seng Chenda’s lawyers to release her on bail and delay hearings in the case, allowing trial hearings to commence.

Suv Chantha’s lawyer Pal Chandara and deputy prosecutor Ed Chheng Huot asked the judge not to release Seng Chenda out of fear she would fail to appear for her trial.

The court rejected an initial request for bail in July, a decision that was upheld by the Appeal Court on August 10 and the Supreme Court on December 15.

In addition to Seng Chenda, 48, the other defendants are Chan Sokha, 38, a maid at Khaou Chuly’s house; Neang Sinath, 25, a maid at Suv Chanthol’s house; Khorn Lak, 30, and Yin Sophearith, 25, both of whom were security guards at one of Khaou Chuly’s companies. All pleaded not guilty to the charge.

“Please free me from the charges because I didn’t mastermind the murder and rape plot, a story police invented,” Seng Chenda told the court.

One defendant requested that the court dismiss statements made to the police during interrogations.

“I would like to throw out all my testimonies to police officials at the Ministry of Interior, which I made under duress and threats from police,” said Chan Sokha, whose arrest is believed to have led police to Seng Chenda.

Chan Sokha told the court that police forced her to confess to purchasing sleeping pills and handing them to Neang Sinath.

Neang Sinath was then to feed them to two guard dogs at Sun Chanthol’s house on the night of June 13, after which she and the three other accomplices were to carry out the murder on the orders of Seng Chenda. Sun Chanthol was overseas at the time.

Chan Sokha said she had denied the charges twice during interrogations, but that during a third session, was “forced to confess”.

“Police brought me to meet directly with Excellency Sun Chanthol who told me to follow the police’s wishes or else my children would be killed,” she said.

Chan Sokha also alleged that the police interrogators took her to a pharmacy to purchase sleeping pills, which they then held as evidence.

Hearings in the case will reconvene January 5.

US trade fair: Local silk products showcased [in California]

Phnom Penh Post

US trade fair

DOMESTICALLY-produced silk products will be exhibited at a fair in California, United States, during the new year, according to Nhean Chanveasna, executive director of Women for Women Foundation, based in Kandal province’s Takhmao district.

The organisation - which employs 40 disabled women and has orders of about US$5000 per month - aims to seek export partners for its handicrafts through the fair’s exposure, she said.

“Many visitors were interested in previous years, but this year, we hope to gain large partners.”

Ngouy Suely, executive director of California-based Khmer Girls in Action, said the organisation would assist in showcasing the silk products.

[Long Beach] Speaker series includes survivor

By Greg Mellen,
Press-Telegram Staff Writer
Posted: 12/29/2010

Want to go? WHAT: Calvin College January Series WHEN: 9:30 a.m. weekdays from Jan. 5 to Jan. 25 WHERE: Bethany Christian Reformed Church hospitality room, 17054 Bixby Ave., Bellflower ADMISSION: Free INFO: www.calvin.edu/january/2011/

LONG BEACH - Theary Seng survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia and emigrated to the United States, where she was in the Long Beach area while attending Valley Christian High School.

She has since earned international acclaim for her autobiography, "Daughter of the Killing Fields" and her advocacy work for human rights as founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation in Phnom Penh.

When not working on her many issues, she speaks at conferences all over the world telling her story and touching on issues of justice and reconciliation, democracy, faith and human rights.

Long Beach and surrounding area residents will have the opportunity to listen in on Seng and other speakers who are part of the award-winning January Series, presented by Calvin College and simulcast locally.

A Christian school in Michigan, Calvin College has earned critical acclaim for its annual series of speakers. Since 2008, the presentations have been simulcast and are now heard in 30 locations in the U.S. and abroad.

The Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower is one of the participants and the only one in the Southland.
This year, the 24th of the series, will feature a diverse group of speakers talking about a variety of faith, ethical and social issues.

"I think (the January Series) gives exposure for some of the most prominent thinkers in many fields," said Stan Cole of Bethany Church.

The speakers include Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., the Rev. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, and Seng, who speaks Jan. 7. A total of 15 presentations will be delivered during the three-week stretch.

The January Series has received recognition for its quality and diversity of perspectives on issues of national and global importance.

The series began simulcasting to other locations in 2008 and is now shown in Canada and Europe.

Cole said the series explores often controversial issues as one of the school's goals "to challenge some long-held truisms."

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

Cambodian court questions Thai lawmaker on trespass case

Veera Somkwamkid

Monsters and critics

Phnom Penh (DPA) - A Thai parliamentarian and six other Thai nationals were questioned by a Cambodian court Thursday after being arrested along the border for alleged trespassing.
Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party was arrested along with the six other Thais Wednesday in a disputed border area between Thailand's Sa Keow province and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thursday that the seven men should be released immediately and dispatched Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to Phnom Penh to seek their freedom.
Abhisit noted that both countries had previously agreed there should be no soldiers in the disputed area where the Thais had been arrested.
The men visited the border area Wednesday to check on reports that Cambodian soldiers had moved in to villages claimed by Thailand, according to Thai government sources.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said late Wednesday that the case would proceed quickly, adding that he had rebuffed requests from Thai officials to intervene.
'I think Prime Minister Abhisit will understand Cambodian legal procedure, which no one can abuse,' Hun Sen said, adding that the group 'will face legal punishment because Thai lawmakers cannot use their parliamentary immunity in Cambodia.'
A senior Cambodian official said the group was being held for 'trespassing under immigration law.'
'They intruded into Cambodia,' the official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
The court hearing Thursday was closed to reporters although it was attended by the Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh, Prasas Prasavinitchai.
One of the Thais on trial, Veera Somkwamkit, was previously arrested for illegally entering Cambodia to protest Cambodian soldiers' occupation of Preah Vihear temple, the source of another border dispute between the two countries.
Kasit was scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, in the Cambodian capital later Thursday.
Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory surrounding Preah Vihear, 200 kilometres east of Banteay Meanchey.
The 11th-century Hindu temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand, belongs to Cambodia under a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice, but jurisdiction of 4.6 square kilometres of adjacent land is still in dispute.
The two countries are currently demarcating their border although talks have been stalled pending a repeatedly delayed vote in the Thai parliament to approve the latest round of negotiations.

Thailand urges Cambodia to free detainees

Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth is escorted by Cambodian police at Phnom Penh Municipal Court. -- PHOTO: AFP

The Straits Times

BANGKOK - THAILAND'S premier on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries' disputed border.

'Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately,' Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters. 'Cambodia should not take this case to court as it will further complicate the issue.' The seven, including Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, appeared in a court in Phnom Penh on Thursday for questioning, a day after being detained by Cambodian authorities, who said they had entered its territory illegally.

They were taken to the Phnom Penh municipal court under tight security in the morning for a hearing that was closed to the media, according to an AFP reporter. By mid-afternoon there was still no announcement by the court.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday the seven, who also include members of the royalist 'Yellow Shirt' movement, would be charged and put in jail to await trial.

In an attempt to secure their release, the Thai foreign minister was due to travel to Cambodia to meet his counterpart later on Thursday.

'Cambodia must take into consideration that if they want cordial ties they should rely on negotiations. If not then there is a problem for both sides,' Mr Abhisit said. -- AFP

Thai MP, Six Others, Appear in Cambodian Court

Veera Somkwamkid brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tursday 30th December.

Thursday, 30 December 2010
The Turkish weekly

A Thai lawmaker and six other people appeared in a Cambodian courtroom Thursday on charges of illegally entering the country despite efforts in Bangkok to head off the action.

Panich Vikitsreth, a member of parliament for Thailand's ruling Democrat party, was arrested Wednesday with his associates while visiting a disputed border area where Thai farmers have complained of intrusions by Cambodian soldiers.

The seven were hustled into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Thursday morning despite Thai government efforts to arrange a diplomatic solution. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters in Bangkok Thursday that taking the case to court would “complicate the issue.”

Bangkok newspapers reported that Mr. Abhisit met during the morning with top government and military officials, including the defense minister and armed forces supreme commander, to discuss the matter. They say he also dispatched Foreign Minister Hor Namhong [Kasit Piromya?] to Phnom Penh.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that after the court appearance, the seven Thais would be taken to Prey Sar prison to await trial.

Panich was arrested on the border of southeastern Thailand's Sa Kaeo province and northwestern Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province. The six people with him included a former leader of Thailand's pro-government and pro-military Yellow Shirt movement, the People's Alliance for Democracy, or PAD. Veera Somkwamkid now leads a PAD splinter group called the Thailand Patriot Network.

Cambodian and Thai troops clashed in 2008 during a long-running dispute over ownership of an 11th century Hindu temple located on another part of the Cambodia-Thailand border.

U.N. cultural agency UNESCO declared the Preah Vihear temple to be a World Heritage site that year and recognized it as being under Cambodian control.

The countries also feuded when the Cambodian government appointed former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser last year. The Thai military ousted Thaksin in a 2006 coup for alleged corruption. He now lives in exile to avoid prosecution at home.

Cambodia’s first aquatic centre to make a splash

Phnom Penh Post

CAMBODIA’S first fully-fledged aquatics centre officially opened in Kampot town on Monday, signaling a new phase of rapid water sports development which will also serve the ever growing demand for water-related tourist recreation.

The Olympic Council of Asia backed the US$100,000 centre, which was built by a private construction company for the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and has been mainly funded by the Olympasia programme of the International Olympic Committee.

The centre will provide facilities for training, recreation and competition involving a range of Olympic disciplines like canoeing, rowing and sailing besides acting as a major hub for indigenous and traditional events like dragon boat racing.

Tourism Minister Dr Thong Khon, who is also the president of the NOCC, described the centre as a significant sports and tourism initiative that would enhance the Kingdom’s international profile. He said the country’s long-felt need for an organised platform for water sports had now been answered.

He added that there could not have been a better and more suitable venue for a centre like this than Kampot town, which ranks among the prime tourist attractions with historic links to water sports.

“We hope to get better results in the SEA Games and other international events now that we have this excellent infrastructure in place,” the minister said after a colourful opening ceremony attended by the Governor of Kampot province and high ranking officials from the Ministry of Education.

Vath Chamroeun, the Secretary General of the NOCC, said the setting up of this centre marked the beginning of a new era of infrastructure development in the country that would eventually pave the way for hosting the biennial SEA Games in the near future.

He said the centre would be a canoeist’s delight and would soon offer adventure sports like surfing to foreign tourists.

After the inauguration the dignitaries were treated to a round of canoeing, rowing and boating performances.

Water sports play a big role at SEA Games and Asian Games and it is hoped that with this new centre Cambodian athletes will finally get a chance to win some medals.

Cambodian drug haul nets 7 million flu pills

Dec 28, 2010

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN police on Tuesday said they had seized nearly 7 million flu tablets that could be used to make illegal drugs and arrested seven people in a large raid in the capital.

The pills, which had been imported into the kingdom without a licence, contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, a decongestant and stimulant in wide use around the world.

National police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told AFP unlicensed importation of the pills was illegal and the pseudoephedrine could be chemically altered to produce methamphetamine.

The amounts seized were enough to produce around 400kg of the drug, he said.

Six men and one woman were arrested after a police raid on two houses in Phnom Penh on Monday night.

The operation comes after police netted nearly 13 million flu tablets containing the same ingredient at a warehouse near the north-eastern border with Thailand in August, in the country's largest-ever bust of smuggled medicine. -- AFP