A Change of Guard

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Saturday 31 December 2011

Cambodia's mining exploration licenses cover 13 percent of land area: report

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia Herald) - Cambodia has approved mining exploration licenses for 128 concessions covering 13 percent of the country's land area, according to a report Friday by Development and Partnership in Action, a non-governmental organization.The report said that in addition to local interests, the government had approved concessions to companies from Australia, China, France, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The concessions were said to be located in 18 of the country's 24 provinces.

Mam Sambath, executive director of the organization, said he was aware of two extractive testing licenses, one of which may be the Chinese gold mining concession in Kratie where eight Cambodian miners died last week.

"The incident in the mineshaft in Kratie is a good lesson and experience for Cambodia before approvals are given," he said.

Mam Sambath also noted that few companies had conducted environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to avoid damage to natural resources, ecology and the environment or adverse socio-economic and cultural impacts.

Only 10 mining projects, all in the oil and gas sector, have submitted such assessments to the Ministry of Environment, said Danh Serei, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Environmental Assessment.

He said the ministry was drafting a law to force all development projects to do so, especially mining oil and gas projects which can have major environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Sin Sisamouth - maloup po bak kheng (The shade of a reclined Bodhi tree)

Another song: Sin Sisamouth- Samross Neang Kor Chaev Touk Dor (The beauty of a mute ferry boat driver]

Opposition Lawyer Choung Chou-Ngy too scared to talk about his arrest

SRP Lawyer Choung Chou-ngy at his press conference on Friday 30 December at the SRP headquarters where he talked about his disappearance (Leang Delux, RFI)

30 Dec 2011
By Leang Delux
Radio France Internationale
Translated from Khmer by Soy

Click the control below to listen to the audio program:

One day after news alert on the arrest of Lawyer Choung Chou-ngy, the lawyer himself appeared at a press conference on Friday 30 December 2011. During the press conference, Choung Chou-ngy said that there was indeed a pursuit made to arrest him, but that it was not successful.

In a surprised press conference held the SRP headquarters in the morning on 30 December, the SRP lawyer who disappeared all day on Thursday, re-appeared there. However, it was a press conference where this lawyer did not say much at all.

When asked by reporters whether he was arrested or not, Choung Chou-ngy replied by saying that he could not talk about this problem due to professional pressure. He said very little during the press conference and allowed only a few questions from journalists attending. He apologised throughout the press conference for not able to say anything much about his arrest as it seemed that he has been warned not to say anything about it.

It was an answer that nobody understood. However Choung Chou-ngy confirmed that there was a pursuit made to arrest him at 3 locations: in Prek Kdam, Sala Lekh Pram and Kampong Chhnang. He said that he did not want to provide any details on this issue. However, in a protesting response to the pursuit to arrest him, Choung Chou-ngy announced that he will shave his head, don the white [religious] robe, and he will hold prayers in front of the Kandal provincial court, the Appeal court, the ministry of Justice and the Cambodian Bar Association.

Chan Soveth, an investigation official for the Adhoc human rights group, talked about Choung Chou-ngy’s demeanor: Choung Chou-ngy looked troubled and he was careful when he talked to reporters. Chan Soveth said that human rights organizations will continue to follow up in this case. Son Chhay, a senior SRP MP, said that because Choung Chou-Ngy appeared to be too scared to say anything about his arrest means that he is under some sort of pressures from unknown groups.

The RFI report said that he was indeed arrested on the morning of 29th December, but was released at night time when human rights, opposition and UN officials went searching for him, causing a stir in the capital Phnom Penh. A UN official said that he saw Choung Chou-Ngy at the Interior Ministry, a place where opposition and human rights officials suspected that he was being held.

In a lawsuit case involving a SRP activist that Choung Chou-ngy is defending, the Kandal provincial court suspects him of providing means for the SRP activist to flee from jail. On Thursday, Adhoc claimed that Choung Chou-ngy was arrested, however, the national police commission rejected this arrest information.
ថ្ងៃ សុក្រ 30 ធ្នូ 2011

២៤​​ម៉ោង​​ក្រោយ​​ការ​​ផ្អើល​​ព័ត៌មាន​​ថា ​​មាន​​ការ​​ចាប់​ខ្លួន​​លោក​​មេធាវី​​ជូង​ ជូងី​ មេធាវី​​រូប​​នេះ​​ស្រាប់​​តែ​​ចេញ​​មុខ​​ធ្វើ​​សន្និសីទ​​កាសែត​​តែ​​ម្តង​​នៅ​ព្រឹក​​ថ្ងៃ​​សុក្រ​៣០ធ្នូ​​នេះ។ ​នៅ​ក្នុង​​សន្និសីទ​​កាសែត​​លោក​​មេធាវី​​ជូង​ ជូងី ​​បាននិយាយ​ថា ពិតជា​​មាន​​ការ​​តាម​​ចាប់​ខ្លួន​​មែន​ តែ​មិន​​បាន​​ជោគ​ជ័យ។​

សន្និសីទ​កាសែត​ដ៏​គួរ​អោយ​ភ្ញាក់ផ្អើល​មួយ​ត្រូវ​បាន​រៀបចំ​នៅ​ក្នុង​ទីស្នាក់ការ​កណ្តាល​របស់​គណបក្ស​សម រង្ស៊ី​នៅ​ព្រឹក​ថ្ងៃ​សុក្រ​ទី​៣០​ធ្នូ​នេះ។ មេធាវី​ការពារ​ក្តី​អោយ​គណបក្ស​សម រង្ស៊ី​ដែល​បាន​បាត់​ខ្លួន​ពេញ​មួយ​ថ្ងៃ​ព្រហស្បតិ៍​នោះ ​ស្រាប់​តែ​បាន​លេច​មុខ​នៅ​ក្នុង​សន្និសីទ​កាសែត​​នោះ។ ជា​សន្និសីទ​កាសែត​ដែល​មេធាវី​រូប​នេះ​មិន​បាន​និយាយ​អ្វី​ច្រើន​ឡើយ។

នៅ​ពេល​ដែល​អ្នក​កាសែត​សួរ​ថា តើ​មាន​ការ​ចាប់​ខ្លួន​ដែរ​ឬ​ទេ? មេធាវី​ជូង ជូងី​បែរ​ជា​ឆ្លើយ​ថា​លោក​មិន​អាច​និយាយ​រៀបរាប់​បញ្ហា​នេះ​បាន​ឡើយ ដោយសារ​គំនាប​វិជ្ជាជីវៈ។

ជា​ចម្លើយ​ដែល​គ្មាន​អ្នកណា​យល់​ឡើយ។ ប៉ុន្តែ​ថា លោក​មេធាវី​បាន​ប្រកាស​ថា មាន​ការ​តាម​ចាប់​ខ្លួន​លោក​នៅ​បី​កន្លែង​ គឺ​នៅ​ព្រែកក្តាម នៅ​សាលា​លេខ​៥ និង​នៅ​កំពង់ឆ្នាំង។ អ្នក​ច្បាប់​រូប​នេះ​មិន​ចង់​និយាយ​លំអិត​បញ្ហា​នេះ​ឡើយ។​ ប៉ុន្តែ នៅ​ក្នុង​ន័យ​តបត​ប្រឆាំង​ការ​តាម​ចាប់​ខ្លួន​លោក​ ដែល​លោក​បាន​អះអាង​នោះ លោក​ជូង ជូងី​បាន​ប្រកាស​អោយ​ដឹង​ថា​ លោក​នឹង​កោរ​សក់​​ស្លៀកពាក់​ស ​​សំណាក់​ធម៌​នៅមុខ​សាលាដំបូង​ខេត្ត​កណ្តាល នៅ​សាលា​ឧទ្ធរណ៍ ក្រសួង​យុត្តិធម៌ និង​មុខ​គណៈមេធាវី។

មន្ត្រី​អ្នកស៊ើបអង្កេត​របស់សមាគម​ការពារ​សិទ្ធិមនុស្ស​អាដហុក លោក​ចាន់ សូវេត​បាន​រៀបរាប់​អំពី​អាកប្បកិរិយា​របស់​មេធាវី​ថា មេធាវី​រូប​នេះ​ហាក់​មាន​ទឹកមុខ​ទុក្ខព្រួយ និង​មាន​ការ​ប្រុងប្រយ័ត្ន​ច្រើន​ក្នុងពេល​និយាយ​ជាមួយ​អ្នកកាសែត។ លោក​បន្ត​ថា ក្រុម​អង្គការ​សិទ្ធិមនុស្ស​នឹង​បន្ត​តាមដាន​ករណី​នេះ។

នៅ​ក្នុង​សំណុំរឿង​ក្តីក្តាំ​មួយ​របស់​សកម្មជន​គណបក្ស​សម រង្ស៊ី​ដែល​លោក​ជូង ជូងី​គឺ​ជា​អ្នក​ការពារ​ក្តី​នោះ តុលាការ​ខេត្តកណ្តាល​ក៏​បាន​សង្ស័យ​ថា​លោក​មេធាវី​រូប​នេះ​ បាន​ផ្តល់​មធ្យោបាយ​​អោយ​ជន​ជាប់ចោទ​រត់​គេច​ពី​ការ​ឃុំ​ខ្លួន។ កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ព្រហស្បតិ៍​មន្ត្រី​សមាគម​សិទ្ធិ​មនុស្ស​អាដហុក​អះអាង​ថា មេធាវី​ជូង ជូងី​ត្រូវ​បាន​ចាប់​ខ្លួន ខណៈ​ស្នងការដ្ឋាន​នគរបាល​ជាតិ​បដិសេធ​ព័ត៌មាន​នេះ៕

[Thailand's] Dam deal agreed with Cambodia

Thai FM Surapong Tovichakchaikul (R) met for talks with Cambodian PM Hun Sen.

Hun Sen discusses development options

Published: 31/12/2011
Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol
Bangkok Post

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to construct the Stung Num hydropower dam in Koh Kong, Cambodia after Thailand agreed to buy the electricity.

The countries will establish a joint working group to build the dam in Koh Kong, adjacent to Thailand's Trat province, Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan said yesterday, after his return to Thailand from a trip to Cambodia.

Mr Pichai said Cambodia wanted to move ahead with the project immediately.

The project was initiated in 2008 by Cambodia but had been put on hold for years because of political conflicts between the two countries.

Mr Pichai and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul left Bangkok for Phnom Penh on Thursday to discuss preparations for the Joint Commission (JC) meeting which will be held in Chiang Mai province on Feb 29 and March 1.

Energy issues, including the planned construction of Stung Num dam and a natural gas survey in the overlapping maritime zone in the Gulf of Thailand, were high on the agenda.

The upcoming JC meeting will cover various issues between the countries including security, energy, education, culture, trade, the economy and border development.

After the talks on the JC preparations, the ministers paid a 45-minute official visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Mr Surapong said Hun Sen also raised the prospect of joint development of the 26,000 sq km overlapping maritime zone between the two nations.

The atmosphere of the talks was friendly, Mr Surapong said.

Mr Surapong said the two countries have also agreed to open a new border checkpoint at Ban Nong Eian of Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo, opposite Banteay Meancheay's Stung Bot in Cambodia.

The new border checkpoint would stimulate trade flow between the countries which is currently worth up to US$2 billion a year.

Meanwhile, Wilaiwan Somkhwamkid, the mother of jailed Thai activist Veera Somkhwamkid, yesterday visited Veera at Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh to inform him of a proposed prisoner swap deal which could result in his early release.

Cambodia says its king, His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, may pardon Veera and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, jailed on spying charges, if Thailand agrees to exchange them for a group of Cambodian prisoners jailed in Thailand.

After returning from her visit, Mrs Wilaiwan said her son wanted to go home and was ready to continue serving the rest of his jail term in Thailand because he was concerned about his health and his mother's travelling to meet him every Friday.

"Everyone felt disappointed with Cambodia's proposal and questioned why we have gone back to square one," she said.

"I felt hopeless and don't know how the Thai government will be able to help him next."

Mr Surapong did not bring up the issue of Veera and Ratree at his talks with Hun Sen.

"I want the Thai government to help him soon," said Mrs Wilaiwan.

"We have lived in hope and gone through this ordeal for a year."

Veera, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, and Ratree are serving eight and six years, respectively, in Prey Sar for illegal entry and espionage. Veera is said to be unwell.

They were arrested on Dec 29, 2010 in Banteay Meancheay.

Myanmar, Cambodia emerge as high-growth investment destinations

Money changers exchanging Myanmar kyat bank notes into US dollars

By Avelyn Ng
Channel News Asia
Posted: 30 December 2011

SINGAPORE: By some measure, Myanmar had a spectacular 2011. Endorsed as chair of Asean for 2014, and a high profile visit from the US secretary of state - reward for recent political reforms that have elevated confidence in an economy barely emerging from years in the dark.

Andrew Rickards, CEO of Yoma Strategic, said: "The country that is perhaps being held back in development, that is perhaps being held back for the last 40 or 50 years, suddenly tries to reintegrate with the world economy.

"There's an awful lot of catching up to do, challenges from basic infrastructure mobile telephones internet access to hotel rooms and getting flights... You could imagine that the whole place is creaking a little bit at the seams as it is suddenly being put on people's radar for the first time."

Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic is deeply entrenched in Myanmar, with 95 per cent of its revenue derived from property and other investments in the country in the latest half-year. It is well positioned to benefit from further reforms, even though the country still carries the weight of trade sanctions by the US and Europe.

With Singapore being Myanmar's 4th biggest trading partner in 2010, historic business ties count for a lot.

Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation, said: "In the case of Myanmar, it will be more difficult, a little bit more unknown... The key really is the extent of the reform that is happening, whether this will be followed through, and whether it will then lead to an improvement in the business environment there.

"Then again, its a lot more opportunities so for some companies who do have links, have the intelligence there (and) have the partnership there, those risks can be managed."

Neighbouring Cambodia is also reforming its ways, although it is more established as an investment centre than Myanmar. It will chair Asean in 2012.

Danish manufacturer Jebsen & Jessen said the ease of doing business is propelling a potential US$650,000 investment in the country.

Fritz Graf Von Der Schulenburg, Eexcutive Vice Chairman of Jebsen & Jessen, said: "Small for its population, but very much open in its policy to attract new investors and it is easy to settle down there, it is very easy to build up business relationships."

Mr Ho said: "Cambodia has been reformed, has been in the market for a long time, has been a member of WTO since 2004. So of course from the risk point of view, I think Cambodia represents far lesser risk and because our companies have been operating there more recently."

Dr Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said these frontier markets are now in their "take-off stage", where self-sustaining development is taking place, thanks to high consumer spending at home.


Yingluck's administration brings close ties for Cambodia, Thailand: Cambodia PM

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) and Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra walk before a gala dinner to mark the Fourth GMS Summit at Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) in Naypyitaw December 19, 2011. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: POLITICS)

PHNOM PENH, Dec 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hailed the Thai government led by Yingluck Shinawatra for her efforts to restore good relations with Cambodia.

Speaking at a meeting with visiting Thai foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and energy minister Pichai Naripthaphan at the Phnom Penh's Peace Palace, Hun Sen said that the bilateral relations between Cambodia and Thailand have "turned good" since the Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra won the general election in July this year.

He added that it was the open of the new chapter of Cambodian and Thai relations and cooperation.

The premier said that since July this year, the bilateral trade and tourism have been significant increased.

Meanwhile, Surapong pledged to continue boosting the bilateral ties on trade, investment, tourism and cultures for the mutual interests of the two countries' peoples.

Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008 and witnessed fierce border fighting in February and April this year during the previous Thai's administration led by the Democrat Party. (Xinhua)

Thailand to revive revoked MoU with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Dec 30 (MCOT)- The Thai government is considering reviving the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the kingdom’s maritime border signed with Cambodia in 2001 but which was revoked by the previous government, according to Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul (pictured).

Speaking to the media at Suvarnabhumi Airport upon returning from his official two-day visit to Cambodia, Mr Surapong said the government is considering revoking the cabinet resolution which terminated the MoU on overlapping maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Thailand signed with Cambodia in 2001.

When the MoU is revived, the government could go ahead on negotiations under the framework of MoU, he said.

Cambodian FM Proposes Prisoner Swap with Thailand

Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul (left) shakes hands with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong during a meeting in Phnom Penh on Dec 29, 2011. (Photo REUTERS)

Posted Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Voice of America

Cambodia says it would consider repatriating two Thai nationalists jailed on espionage charges, if the Thai government requests and agrees to a prisoner swap.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong made the offer public Thursday at a joint news conference in Phnom Penh with his Thai counterpart Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

“I told Mr. Surapong that if (the) Thailand side makes the request for the exchange of prisoners between Cambodia and Thailand as a package then the royal government of Cambodia would consider the release of two Thai prisoners.”

Thai nationalist politician Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary were jailed on espionage charges earlier this year after their convictions for crossing illegally into Cambodia.

Veera was a lawmaker in the former royalist government, which was ousted in July elections. He led a delegation to the Cambodian border in January as tensions flared between the two Southeast Asian neighbors over longstanding border disputes.

Within weeks of the arrests, troops from both sides exchanged gun and artillery fire along a remote border area near a revered 900-year-old Hindu-Khmer temple. Prisoners were taken by both sides.

Some 30 people were killed in the exchanges, and thousands of others were displaced before tensions subsided.

Orphanage tourism and Cambodia's fight to end it

by Jessica Marati
(RSS feed)
on Dec 30th 2011

In Cambodia, it's not uncommon for tourists to be offered tours of local orphanages in the same way they're offered tours of Angkor Wat.

It might be tempting to accept the opportunity to experience "the real Cambodia," especially when you're confronted by extreme poverty at every turn. But before you do, a new campaign backed by international NGO Friends-International and UNICEF asks you to think again.

"Travelers care for Cambodia and are often disturbed by the perceived situation of children," said Sebastien Marot, Executive Director of Friends-International, whose headquarters are in Cambodia. "It is essential for them to understand the real situation and what positive actions they can take to effectively protect and support these children."

A recent study of Cambodia's residential institutions showed that the rapidly growing practice of "orphanage tourism" actually does more harm than good, violating the rights of children and contributing to the separation of families. The study revealed that 72 percent of children living in institutions labeled "orphanages" have at least one living parent, and that the number of these types of institutions has grown in recent years, despite the fact that the number of orphaned and vulnerable children has shrunk. The study also showed that a number of these orphanage tourism schemes are run by unscrupulous business operators, and many aren't regulated.

Orphanages in themselves aren't bad, but visitors must be aware of the effects of their actions. The Friends/UNICEF campaign encourages tourists to ask themselves a number of questions before they decide to visit an orphanage, including:

Are visitors allowed to just drop in and have direct access to children without supervision? Orphanages that allow strangers off the street to interact with children unsupervised, without conducting sufficient background checks, are not protecting the interests of the children.
Are children required to work or participate in securing funds for the orphanage? The songs and dances may be cute, but they can also be viewed as child labor and groom children for begging and street work that leaves them open to exploitation.

Does the orphanage have an active family reunification program? The extended family plays an important role in Cambodian culture, and efforts should be made to reunite orphaned children with family members that can care for them.

One of the most important questions, though, is one visitors should ask themselves.

"You aren't allowed to go anywhere and hug a child in your own country," said Marot. "Why should you be able to do it here?"

“I just came out to my 80-something father” [The confession of a Cambodian gay man]

The author speaks at the 2011 TED Conference about his choreography, framing his political dance works within the tradition of devotional art (Credit: James Duncan Davidson)

After my sister called me a homophobic slur, I felt overwhelmed by hatred. And I dialed our dad in angry tears

Inspired by the recently released film "Pariah," Salon teamed up with New America Media to run a series of coming-out stories by minority and immigrant LGBT youth. This is the final installment. This installment is written by Cambodian artist Prumsodun Ok].

I don’t even remember how it began.

My eldest sister is in my apartment, screaming and yelling at me with a nonsensical fury. There is something about my not going to work. There is something about my going out late at night. Is this woman crazy? I shut down her every attack with calm but assertive responses, revealing the faults in her strange accusations. The exchange is escalating wildly, but she is unable to faze me. Finally, in an angry, spiteful resignation, she says, “You’re just a faggot.”

The shit was about to hit the fan. And, seeing this, everyone who intruded into the apartment with her — her husband, my brother — tries to pull her out of my path.

Growing up, I’ve always been the black sheep of my family. I was ripped away from my refugee parents when I began kindergarten, English gaining importance over the Khmer I spoke at home. My mother once threatened to disown me if I pursued the predominantly female art form of Cambodian classical dance. And, in line with the combination of my youthful independence and my family’s inability to guide me through American society, I defied my parents and left to study experimental filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute.

And now here I am, crying my eyes out in angry confusion, back with the family that my path has torn me from — back in my sleepy hometown of Long Beach — that has been nothing but cycles of poverty, ignorance and violence.

What the hell was I doing here? And how in the world did so much hatred come from my own family?

I grab my phone. I dial the number to my father’s house, and he picks up with his voice of aged calm. It is a calm that comes from having lived for 82 years, from living at the mercy of the land, sun and water in rural Cambodia. It is a voice that has lived through French colonialism, the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge genocide, and now, displacement and alienation in America. I begin in tears, speaking in Khmer, “Pa, guess what your daughter did? Who the fuck does she think she is?!”

“What’s going on?”

“Pa, I’m gay! I don’t care if you don’t approve. I don’t need your love if you don’t respect me! I don’t need it!” I am crying uncontrollably, and there is no response on the other line.

“Prum… Prum,” my father says after what feels like an eternity of drowning in my emotions. “Calm down. You are my son. And you’ll always be.”

My heart lifted. Surprise began to mix with the chaotic flowing of emotions. I think I just came out to my 80-something father, and he was OK with it. And it wasn’t the last time.

Things seemed to happen quickly after that. I was creating a visible place for myself as an artist in California through shows, fellowships and public talks.

Looking back at the incident, I’m perplexed at how it happened that way. First off, in the context of Cambodian classical dance — the epitome of Cambodian culture — there is a space for those who don’t conform to hetero-normative molds of man and woman. During the height of Cambodian dance ritual, a lone Brahmin who is half male and half female appears to act as a messenger between heaven and earth. This sacred, divine sanction of queer is echoed in contemporary Cambodia, where men can have wives and boyfriends, and female pop stars enact homosexual romances.

My sister’s attack came off as an erasure of cultural memory, perhaps at the hands of colonialism and the fear-driven puritanism of American society. As a result, my original dance works became increasingly political, and I was preparing to present one of them at REDCAT, the premier venue for experimental performance in Los Angeles.

At this time, a reporter from the LA Times was interviewing me (for a story that never ran). She wanted to speak with my father. We met at the dance studio where I was teaching. After questions about my father’s life, she asks me, “So what does your father think about your being gay?”

“Pa, she wants to know how you feel about my being gay.”

“You’re gay?”

Oh dear. “Yes, Pa, I’m gay! Don’t you remember? I was crying on the phone and I was telling you.” The reporter is obviously wondering what is going on, as both my father and I seem confused. “I’m sorry. He’s old. And he’s forgotten that I told him that I was gay,” I say to her in English.

I ask in Khmer, “Well, Pa?”

“What is there to say? You are my son. I love you no matter what. As long as you are a good person, nothing else matters.”

My father, Sem Ok, passed away two years later, on Jan. 20, 2011. It was my 24th birthday. May he be remembered for his love.

Prumsodun Ok is an artist, teacher, curator, writer and organizer. His interdisciplinary performance works explore the tradition of Cambodian classical dance to address contemporary LGBT and social issues. He is a 2011 TED Fellow. He lives in Long Beach, Calif., where he is executive editor of VoiceWaves, a youth-led journalism project of New America Media. More Prumsodun Ok.

Thailand, Cambodia to establish power plant working group

PHNOM PENH, Dec 30 (MCOT)- Thailand and Cambodia are to establish a working group to facilitate cooperation for the Stung Num hydropower plant and a coal-fired power plant on Koh Kong after both countries agreed on electricity sharing.

Thailand’s Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Surapong Tovichakchaikul were officially visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday when the Cambodian leader raised the issue.

Mr Pichai said the matter had been on hold due to political problems between the two nations.

According to Mr Pichai, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) was assigned to discuss with Cambodia in detail, as it is to purchase power as stated in the existing agreement.

EGAT subsidiary EGAT International was tasked to further study both power plant projects.

He said that both countries agreed that it would be beneficial for the Stung Num power plant to be in Thailand while the dam and reservoir should be on the Cambodian side.

Cambodia's Koh Kong Seaboard Company presented its study for 94 and 101 megawatt power capacities with a construction budget of Bt5.5 billion.

Water stored in the dam will be managed for Cambodian communities as well as for agricultural and industrial sectors in the Koh Kong area, and it will be sufficient for sharing some 200-500 million cubic metres with Thailand's Map Ta Phut industrial estate in the eastern seaboard province of Rayong, as well as with Chantaburi and Trat provinces.

Regarding the coal-fired power plant at Koh Kong, Mr Pichai said the project now awaits a response from Cambodian investors, which is needed for further progress.

In April 2008, the Cambodian government allowed three private companies to compete for the project development. The condition is any firm succeeding in electricity sales to Thailand will be granted the right to develop such a project.

The three firms are Koh Kong Power Light (KKPL), Cambodia's international joint venture, and Gulf JP Company. All have a power capacity installation of 1,800 megawatts.

Koh Kong Power Light (KKPL) is a joint venture involving Italian Thai Development Plc, Egco Group Plc and Ratchaburi Power Generating Holding Plc. It supplies coal from Indonesia.

The second group comprises a 72-per cent share from Charoen Energy and Water Asia Company (CEWA) and a 28-per cent stake from Cambodia's joint venture with coal supply from Indonesia and Australia.

Gulf JP's shareholders are GJP Holding Company (GHC) and Japan's J-Power, with coal supplied from Indonesia and Australia. (MCOT online news)

Friday 30 December 2011

Man, 99, dumps wife over 70-year-old affair


A 99-YEAR-old man is set to unofficially enter the record books after filing for divorce from his wife of 77 years in Rome this week.

The man, known in court papers only as Antonio C, is divorcing his wife Rosa C, 96, over an affair she had in the 1940s.

The affair went undiscovered for more than 50 years until Antonio was browsing through a chest of drawers at the couple’s home just days before Christmas, the Daily Mail reported.

According to lawyers he uncovered a trove of Rosa's love letters dating back to the affair which occurred about ten years after they were married.

Antonio immediately demanded a divorce after a regretful Rosa came clean about the affair.

Although more than half a century has passed since the infidelity, and they had five children and a dozen grandchildren together, Antonio was determined to call it quits.

According to divorce papers, the marriage had already had its share of difficulty with a split ten years ago when Antonio briefly left the house to stay with his son.

The Italian press have attributed the separation to the couple's southern blood – he is originally from Olbia in Sardinia, while his wife was born in Naples.

They met when Antonio was posted to Naples as a young carabinieri officer in the 1930s.

Previously the previous oldest couple to divorce were UK couple Bertie and Jessie Wood, both aged 98, who cut short their 36-year marriage in 2009 when they were both two years away from their 100th birthdays.
Antonio C, 99 years of age, Italian, divorcing his wife of 77 years over infidelity

Antonio C met his wife back in the 1930’s when he was a young Carabineer Officer assigned to Naples and Mussolini. Antonio would later ask Rosa to be his bride. Rosa accepted and they have been married for 77 years.

While cleaning out a chest of drawers just before Christmas, Antonio stumbled upon what would be old love letters, dating back to 1940′s from Rosa’s forbidden lover. Angry and upset, Antonio confronted Rosa about the details of the love letters between her and her alleged lover. Rosa confessed and begged for Antonio’s forgiveness.

Heartbroken and feeling betrayed Antonio has filed for divorce after five children, a dozen grandchildren and one great grandchild.

If Antonio decides to go through with the divorce, they will be the oldest couple in history to divorce at ages, 99 and 96, respectively.

Should the courts deny the petition for divorce on the grounds that Rosa C. has proven to be a good wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother for 70 years?

Antonio, Antonio, can you truly walk away from the only life you’ve known for 70+ years? While I don’t condone infidelity, surely Rosita has proven herself to be worthy of your love.

Antonio! Give Rosita another chance and don’t break up your marriage over something that happened a lifetime ago.

Cambodia to Attract 1 Million Chinese Tourists By 2020

AKP Phnom Penh, December 30, 2011 –Cambodian Minister of Tourism H.E. Thong Khon (pictured) wishes to attract one million Chinese tourists to visit Cambodia by 2020.

According to the prediction of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) the number of Chinese tourists visiting the world wide, will reach 100 million by 2020.

In his meeting recently with businessmen at Preah Sihanouk province, H.E. Thong Khon appealed to the tourism businessmen to attract more Chinese tourists to the country.

According to the Tourism Ministry’s statistics, in the first 11 months of 2011, Cambodia received some 190,000 Chinese tourists.


Cambodian Trade Leaps to US$10.47 Billion in 11 Months

AKP Phnom Penh, December 29, 2011 –Cambodia’s trade volume reached in value US$10.47 billion in the first 11 months of 2011, roughly 41 percent rise from US$7.42 billion in the same period last year, according to a statistics of the Ministry of Commerce.

Even though the country’s trade balance has improved, the size of import is still higher than that of export.

The figure showed that among the total trade of US$10.47 billion from January to November 2011, the value of import was approximately US$5.97 billion, increasing from US$4.27 billion in the same period last year, while that of export to foreign countries was US$4.5 billion, up 42.8 percent respectively.

The country’s export included garments with US$3.94 billion, rubber with US$182 million and rice with US$87 million.

The trading partners with Cambodia are the United States, the European Community, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Canada.

The major import commodities were garment-supporting raw materials valued at US$2.36 billion, petroleum at US$1.26 billion, construction materials at US$526 million, motorcycles at US$329 million, refreshments at US$144 million.

Most import commodities were from Vietnam, Thailand, China and ASEAN countries.

By THOU Poeu

SRP lawyer feared arrested [opposition lawyer Choung Chou-Ngy arrested and released after intervention by UN official]

Meas Sokchea
Friday, 30 December 2011
Photo by: Pha Lina
SRP politician Mu Sochua speaks outside the Kandal provincial court yesterday.
Phnom Penh Post

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party legislators expressed concern yesterday about their lawyer, Choung Choungy, who appears to be missing, amid claims that he was arrested by police while travelling to Kampong Chhnang province to defend a client.

SRP legislator Mu Sochua said the party had heard Choung Choungy had been arrested, but his whereabouts were unknown.

“A [United Nations] official based in Cambodia told me 40 minutes ago that Choung Choungy had been seen at the Ministry of Interior,” she told reporters outside the Kandal provincial court.

Mu Sochua told the Post the party was concerned for Choung Choungy’s safety and had contacted the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Phnom Penh to try to ascertain his whereabouts.

The UN confirmed to us they had reports that [Choung Choungy] had been seen at the Ministry of Interior at 1pm,” Mu Sochua said.

“Since 1pm, no one has been able to contact him, and no one knows where he is.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he did not know where Choung Choungy was. He added that police never arrested people without a warrant.

Kandal provincial court judge Sin Virak told the Post that he had not issued a warrant for Choung Choungy’s arrest.

A lawyer and friend of Choung Choungy who declined to be named quoted Choung Choungy’s niece as saying that police were foll-owing the lawyer to Kampong Chhnang province in order to arrest him.

When contacted yesterday, Choung Choungy’s niece, who identified herself as Theary, said her uncle had been arrested on the way to Kampong Chhnang province.

“He called me to say that they were following to arrest him on the way to Kampong Chhnang,” she said.

“I don’t know whether he was arrested at any spot . . . because he did not have the opportunity to say.”

Choung Choungy was charged with aiding and abetting the escape of his client Meas Peng, deputy chief of Kien Svay district’s Banteay Dek commune, from prison on September 23 and was summonsed to Kandal provincial court this week for questioning.

Choung Choungy has claimed that Meas Peng was arrested without a warrant.

The Cambodian Bar Association has not yet appointed Choung Choungy a lawyer, and could not be reached by the Post for comment yesterday.

128 firms get licenses for mineral exploration in Cambodia

30th December, 2011
The Philippine Star

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- The government of Cambodia has so far granted mining concessional licenses to approximately 128 local and foreign entities to conduct mineral exploration in the country, according to an industry's report published on Friday.

Those firms have been licensed for mineral exploration, dredging and quarrying throughout Cambodia, said the report entitled "Current Trends for Mining-Related Social and Environmental Impact in Cambodia".

The report was compiled by the Extractive Industry Social and Environment Impact (EISEI) Network, which consists of a number of non-governmental organizations.

It said the 128 concessions are located in 18 provinces out of the country's 24 cities and provinces, covering more than 24,000 square kilometers, or approximately 13 percent of Cambodia's total land area of 181,035 square kilometers.

The investors in those projects come from Australia, the United States, South Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, France besides Cambodia.

Mam Sambath, chairman of the EISEI said that EISEI has begun its work to compile research on existing mining licenses, concessions and mining-related activities throughout Cambodia since November, 2009.

"The report is to update the current status of Cambodia's mining sector and to provide interested stakeholders such as affected communities, government ministries, and private sector entities with comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of social and environmental conditions in areas potentially affected by mining activity," he said.

He said that the increasing demand of mineral resources from China, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand have been driving up mining exploration in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

"Cambodia's mining industry is not the only industry in the country. Currently, it has been transforming itself from a small scale local operation to a large scale internationalized one," he said.

Cambodia is believed to be rich in metallic mineral, gold ore, bauxites, titanium, copper, and offshore oil and gas.

Cambodia ready for first Sea Festival

By: Ratanak

PHNOM PENH, December 30, 2011 (Cambodia Herald) –, Sihanoukville is preparing for Cambodia's first Sea Festival at Ochheuteal Beach this weekend following the coastal zone being admitted as a member of Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World in July.

Tith Chantha, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, told The Cambodia Herald Friday that everything was almost ready. “We're having final discussions," he said. "After that, we'll be ready to go."

Speaking from Ochheuteal Beach, Tith Chantha said the New Year celebration would include a live concert, fireworks, beach and water sports activities as well as a food festival and an exhibition on tourism development.

The festival starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and will last until late Sunday afternoon. “At least 10,000 local tourists will join the event," the official said. "We expect many foreign tourists will come since this is the New Year holiday.”

With hotels and guest houses already booked, “tourists can sleep in tents provided by some companies,” he added.

[Cambodia-Thai] Oil claims talks in focus again

Deputy Prime minister Sok An (3rd left) meets with, Pichai Naripthaphan (2nd right), Energy Minister of Thailand to discuss joint oil exploration and development.

Vong Sokheng, Cheang Sokha and Bridget DiCerto with additional reporting by Reuters
Friday, 30 December 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian and Thai officials said yesterday an agreement on the Overlapping Claims Area in the Gulf of Thailand was still far from completion – and oil production could be as far as 10 years off.

Thai Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan yesterday arrived in Phnom Penh to discuss the 27,000-square-kilometre block, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with Deputy Prime Minister and Cambodian National Petroleum Authority chairman Sok An.

However, officials emphasised the long road ahead as both sides slowly re-initiated talks on a number of contentious issues following years of tensions, which have begun to wane since Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s elect-ion victory in July.

“There was no detailed discussion about the oil and gas claims. This was the first meeting to find out the intentions of the two countries,” Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Cambodian government, said after the closed-door session.

The positive result of the discussions indicated that there shouldn’t be any obstacles to coming to an agreement on the OCA, he said, with the maritime border to be discussed first followed by plans for the economic development of the area.

Cambodia and Thailand have for decades failed to reach such an agreement.

In 2001, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provided the framework for development of the OCA. But Thailand cancelled the MoU in 2009 after ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed an economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

The Thai officials in Phnom Penh yesterday said that MoU would need to be approved again by the Thai government before negotiations with Cambodia went further.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who met with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong yesterday, noted that his ministry was bound by legal requirements on how to proceed in negotiations.

“The present [Pheu Thai Party] government must decide whether to proceed with that MoU, and we would still have to present it to parliament and negotiate with parliament, which we would then use with our negotiations with Cambodia,” he said, stressing also that there was “no timeframe for completing negotiations”.

Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan echoed those sentiments, saying also that it would be about a decade before either side produced any oil.

“There are a lot of processes, and it could be eight to 10 years before a single drop of oil and gas comes out,” Pichai said.

Still, both Thai officials expressed optimism that a deal could be reached.

Insiders yesterday emphasised the need for both continued diplomacy and transparency in order to reach an equitable solution in the OCA.

“I personally believe if this is to be handled through diplomatic means, then there is a chance of success,” Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian studies in Singapore, said.

Mam Sambath, chairman of rights group Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency, said he thought a permanent agreement was likely now that both sides were willing to sit down together.

He also said that the history of OCA negotiations had been “one of secrecy”, and he hoped the two countries would include civil society in the process.

“Civil society has comments to share for these negotiations, and the negotiations would benefit from what civil society has learned from democratic countries that are experienced in oil and gas,” he said.

Mam Sambath pointed to a rule in Cambodia’s constitution that required the country’s citizens to benefit equitably from natural resources.

“So it is important the public have an opportunity to be involved in the negotiation process,” he said.

All quiet on western front [all the pomps and ceremony for Thai visit, but no resolution]

Bridget Di Certo and Cheang Sokha
Friday, 30 December 2011
Photo by: REUTERS
Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul (right) shakes hands with Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The Phnom Penh Post

Yesterday's highly anticipated visit by Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul delivered plenty of niceties, but no apparent decisions on a range of issues confronting Cambodia and its western neighbour.

After a period of explosive relations between the two countries this year, triggered in February by the deadly clashes at Preah Vihear temple, the change of Thai government in August was widely welcomed in the Kingdom.

But issues including the resolution of the Preah Vihear dispute, a spate of shootings on the border and the unresolved demarcation of the oil-rich Overlapping Claims Area in the Gulf of Thailand all appear to remain in a holding pattern after Surapong’s meeting with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

“These are issues we will discuss within the Thai parliament first, before we can negotiate with the Cambodian government,” Surapong told the Post last night at the capital’s Sofitel hotel.

In regard to the border dispute at Preah Vihear, Surapong said Thailand “will obey the [International Court of Justice] order [to demilitarise the area] as soon as possible,” without offering any time frame.

The shootings of Cambodian loggers who have crossed the Thai border, meanwhile, will be an issue discussed “with parliament when we go back, and there will be a meeting to discuss border demarcation in February”, the Thai minister said.

As for a decision regarding the fate of the Overlapping Claims Area, it will require “much legal procedure with the Thai parliament first before we can negotiate”.

Despite the non-committals and ambiguities, one thing was certain: the warming relations between Cambodia and Thailand seem likely to continue as long as the Pheu Thai Party, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, is in power.

Yingluck’s older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, led the Thai government from 2001 to 2006 and developed a close bond with Prime Minister Hun Sen during that time.

“It is hard to deny that former prime minister Thaksin has a lead role in these relations,” Surapong told the Post. Thaksin, who was ousted in 2006, is in exile in Dubai.

“What is happening now is from the good relations in the past between the former prime minister and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Hun Sen and Thaksin are best friends, very true friends, eternal friends,” Surapong said.

“Hun Sen says he is like the younger brother, the bigger brother is the Sultan of Brunei and the middle brother is Thaksin.”

With Yingluck at the helm in Thailand, there has already been a significant easing of the tensions around Preah Vihear as well as a resuscitation of discussions to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries for the Overlapping Claims Area.

The OCA contains enough oil and gas to provide electricity to Thailand and Cambodia for the next 40 or 50 years, according to Thai Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan, who also visited Phnom Penh yesterday.

Singapore-based Thai politics expert Pavin Chachavalpongpun told the Post it was not surprising there had been a warming of relations under Yingluck’s government.

“This shows that much of the problems in this relationship were instigated by Thailand’s domestic politics,” Chachavalpongpun said yesterday.

“I believe the positive relations between the two countries depends on the longevity of the current government in Thailand. Things can change very rapidly in Thailand.”

Cambodia’s relations with her neighbour are also at the mercy of the relationship between the Thai government and its own military, a powerful player domestically and a potential deciding factor in any hoped for resolution of the Preah Vihear border dispute.

“The current army chief, Prayuth Chanocha, is an anti-Thaksin figure,” he said. “There is also an assumption of the government trying to reduce the role of the army in foreign affairs.”

Political difficulties within Thailand aside, the visiting ministers made it clear that fostering good relations with Cambodia will be a top priority for their government.

“Thailand will also send boats to the Cambodia Water Festival next year,” Pichai said. “I understand that is a very big deal here in Cambodia.”

Families buy freedom for 15 loggers in Laos, six remain detained

Phak Seangly
Friday, 30 December 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Fifteen Cambodians caught and detained for illegally logging luxury timber in Laos were released on Wednesday after their families each paid more than $450 for their freedom, but six men who could not pay the fine remained in custody, a Cambodian official said yesterday.

Si Nuon, Siem Pang district governor in Stung Treng province, said Cambodian officials had negotiated the release of the 15 men, but had not contributed to paying their fines.

“The fine is the responsibility of the families, not the authority,” Si Nuon said.

“We tried hard to discuss this with the Lao authorities until they agreed to fine and release the 15.”

Laos border soldiers arrested 19 of the men on December 15 and two more on Monday of this week for illegal logging in Champasak province.

Si Nuon dismissed suggestions that the two men arrested this week had not been trying to log, but had been foraging for food that grows in the forest.

The other six men remained in custody because their families could not be contacted and the men could not afford to pay the fine alone, he said.

“We have not identified their families yet, so we haven’t been able to help them.”

Villagers who went into the forest to log were often desperate for money and were easy targets for luxury-timber middlemen, Si Nuon said.

“It is very hard for the authority to prevent our villagers going into the forest [to log], because the Siem Pang border with Laos is about 200km long.”

Cambodian border police arrested 11 Laotian men logging about two kilomet-res inside Cambodian territory, in Siem Pang district’s Prek Meas commune, last Wednesday.

Siem Pang district police chief Var Sophan said Laos authorities and the arrested men’s families had contacted them about their release.

“We are considering how to deal with the problem and whether to fine them as they fine our people or by other means,” Var Sophan said.

Ho Sam Ol, provincial monitor for the human-rights group Adhoc, said that in the past, Laos had released Cambodians who had been caught logging illegally, but had not detained them.

Cambodian rice exporter wins approval for shipments to China

Rann Reuy
Friday, 30 December 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian rice exporter TTY Corporation had received permission from China to ship 200,000 tonnes of milled rice a year to that country, a company official said yesterday.

TTY in August signed a deal with the Guangzhou branch of China Grain Reserves Corp (Sinograin) for 200,000 tonnes of milled rice a year, according to TTY deputy general director Heng Sarath.

The company had been awaiting approval from the China Certification & Inspection Group, which performs quality checks on goods entering China, he said yesterday. TTY has since passed inspection, and Heng Sarath said he now expects shipments to commence after Chinese New Year in late January.

“We will export 1,500 tonnes in the first phase of deliver,” he said, adding that shipments of fragrant Malis rice should continue on a monthly basis.

Heng Sarath said he was unable to offer financial details of the agreement because the price per tonne would depend on the market rate for rice when the shipment left for China in late January. Cambodia shipped about 149,000 tonnes of milled rice through November, totalling US$87.5 million, according to the Ministry of Commerce. That dollar figure represented a 196 per cent increase over the same period in 2010.

Phou Puy, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Millers Associations, and who also serves as chairman of rice exporter Baitang Kampuchea Co, praised the deal as important for Cambodia.

“China is big market, and it would be very good for us if we had access to it,” he said.

The wait for inspection approval by Chinese authorities has been an impediment for the Kingdom’s rice exporters, according to Phou Puy. Baitang Kampuchea had signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese company for 10,000 tonnes of rice, but Baitang Kampuchea is still waiting for that approval, he said.

“We’ve encountered hurdles stemming from negotiations between the relevant institutions about quality inspection.”

Prisoner exchange a possibility for spies

By Cheang Sokha
Friday, 30 December 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia reiterated on Thursday that it cannot pardon convicted Thai spies Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, but simultaneously left the door open for a potential exchange of prisoners.

Speaking at a joint press conference after meeting with his Thai counterpart, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that Surapong has raised the issue of Veera and Ratree, asking if there was the potential for a reduction of their jail terms or a pardon.

“On the issue of pardon, Cambodia has a problem. It is the law that prisoners must serve at least two-thirds of their jail term before the King can give amnesty,” Hor Namhong told reporters. “But I told Surapong that if Thailand requests an exchange of prisoners in a package, then the government will consider.”

Veera, a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, also known as the “Yellow Shirts”, and his secretary Ratree were arrested on December 29, 2010, along with five others after crossing the border into Banteay Meanchey province.

The pair are serving sentences of eight and six years , respectively, after being convicted of illegal entry, entering a restricted military base and espionage.

The subject of a potential exchange of prisoners was first broached on September 23 during a visit to Cambodia by Thai Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha. At the time, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that, in addition to Veera and Ratree, there were 37 other Thai prisoners in Cambodian jails.

In June 2009, during a visit by then-Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai nationals Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading – who were serving life sentences on terrorism charges – were exchanged to serve their jail terms in Thailand.

Pov Bunthoeun, director of the Criminal Affairs Department at the Ministry of Justice, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Justice Ministry spokesman Sam Prachea Manith pointed out yesterday that Thai prisoners have previously been granted amnesty from the King, among them Sivarak Chutipong, engineer at Cambodia Air Traffic Services, who was arrested and sentenced to seven years in jail for leaking information regarding the flight schedule of former Thai Premier’s Thaksin Sinawatra visit to Cambodia.

“I have no details, but previously there were some Thai prisoners that have been granted royal pardons,” he said.

“Some were also exchanged, but I don’t know the process.”

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, visiting research fellow at the Institute of SE Asian studies in Singapore, said via email that, while most Thais have already forgotten about Veera and Ratree, securing their release could score political points for the ruling Pheu Thai party.

“At the end of the day, helping rescue the two Yellow Shirts is like slapping the face of the Yellow Shirt opposition. The Pheu Thai can also claim that it no longer wants to take a revenge against its enemies (which I do not believe).”

Choung Chou-Ngy held press conference, confirmed there was an attempt to arrest him

Choung Chou-Ngy at the press conference at the SRP headquarter this morning.

By Khmerization
Sources: CEN and Koh Santepheap

Opposition lawyer Choung Chou-Ngy has, via a press conference at the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) headquarter at 10 a.m this morning, confirmed that there was an attempt to arrest him yesterday morning, but due to good luck resulting from his good deeds he was able to evade the arrest.

Mr. Choung Chou-Ngy refused to elaborate on an attempt to arrest him by the authority due to pressures on his professional career. He said the police had set up three road blocks at Sala Lek Pram, at Kampong Chhnang and at Prek Kdam to arrest him while he was travelling to help victims of land grabbing in Kampong Chhnang province yesterday morning, but due to good luck he was able to evade the arrest.

He also said that he will shave his head off and enter the monkhood for one week to cleanse out all the bad luck and as a symbolic gesture to pray that the judges, prosecutors and the Justice Ministry will open their eyes to see the injustices that have been perpetrated against the people throughout the country. "From 4th to 10th January (2012) I will shave my head off and dress in white and meditate according to the Dharma in order to make the court, the judges and the prosecutors to provide justice to the people throughout the country", he said.

He added that he will sit and meditate in front of the Kandal Provincial Court, the Appeal Court, the High Court, the Justice Ministry and in front of the Bar Association.

Yesterday there were rumours milling around that Chou-Ngy was arrested and detained at the Kandal Provincial Court or at the Interior Ministry, but it turned out that he had evaded the arrest and took refuge at the SRP Headquarter.

According to the Free Press Magazine Online, which quoted senior SRP MP Mu Sochua, Mr. Choung Chou-Ngy had actually been arrested at 8:30 a.m yesterday morning, but was later released. She refused to elaborate further about his arrest and release, saying she wants Choung Chou-Ngy himself to elaborate on his arrest and eventual release at the press conference this morning, but Choung Chou-Ngy said very little about his arrest and release as he seem to be very scared.

Thailand hails 'new era' in ties with Cambodia

Surapong Tovichakchaikul (L) met with Cambodian FM Hor Namhong (R) in Phnom Penh.

Asia News Network
By The News Desk in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh (Rasmei Kampuchea Daily/ANN) - Foreign ministers from Cambodia and Thailand said Thursday that the relationship between the two neighboring countries was improving after three years of border conflict.

"The meeting today kicks off a new era for the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand," Thai foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told a joint news conference after a meeting with Cambodian counterpart Hor Nam Hong.

His remarks were echoed by the Cambodian foreign minister, who said the bilateral relationship was getting better day by day.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed exchanges of prisoners, trade cooperation, illegal logging, joint energy exploration and development in the Gulf of Thailand.

The latest round in the dispute began in June 2008 when, according to the government in Phnom Penh, about 50 Thai soldiers moved into the vicinity of Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, located in Cambodian territory about 300 meters from the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple.

Bangkok argued that border demarcation was not yet complete and that the area belonged to Thailand even though the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to Cambodia.

By August 2008, the dispute had expanded to the 13th century Ta Moan temple complex west of Preah Vihear, where Cambodia has accused Thai troops of occupying a temple complex on its territory.

Situated in the Dangrek Mountains between the Choam Khsant district in northern Preah Vihear province and Kantharalak district and Sisaket province of northeastern Thailand, the Preah Vihear Temple has been disputed by the two countries for more than a century.

Cambodia attracts 2.58 mln foreign visitors in 11 months

Foreign tourists riding elephants during their visit to Angkor Wat.

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The international tourist arrivals in Cambodia had increased 14 percent year-on-year in the first eleven months this year, showed the statistics of the Tourism Ministry on Friday.

From January to November this year, the country had welcomed 2. 58 million foreign visitors, up 14 percent from the same period last year, said the report.

Vietnam topped the chart among the top ten arrivals with 564, 532 tourists, up 20 percent, followed by South Korea with 304,922, up 17 percent, and Chinese tourists at third up 37 percent with 220,476.

During the period, Thai tourists to Cambodia declined by 26 percent to 101,118 due to the two countries' border clashes earlier this year.

The report said that 51 percent of the visitors travelled to the country by air, 46 percent by land and the rest by waterway.

The Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Cambodia saw China as a big potential market for Cambodia's tourism and the country expected to attract at least 1 million Chinese tourists by 2020.

Tourism industry is one of the major four pillars supporting Cambodian economy. In 2010, the sector received a total of 2.5 million foreign tourists, generating a revenue of 1.75 billion U.S. dollars.
Editor: Yamei Wang

Vietnam treasures ties with Cambodia

Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, Photo: Tuoi Tre

Updated : Fri, December 30, 2011
Tuoi Tre News

The Government, people and army of Vietnam always attach importance to developing the solidarity with the Government, people and army of Cambodia and will do their utmost to preserve and further strengthen the relations.

The statement was made by Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Thanh Cung at a meeting with a delegation of the Cambodian National Assembly led by Pal Sam Oeurn, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Interior, National Defence, Investigation, Anti-Corruption and Public Function, in Hanoi on Dec. 29.

Cung informed his guests of Vietnam ’s socio-economic development and highlighted the time-honoured traditional friendship between the two neighbouring countries.

Vietnam and Cambodia have enjoyed major achievements in all areas under the motto “Good neighbours, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation and long-term sustainability” reached by the two countries’ leaders, Cung said.

Over the past years, the Vietnam People’s Army and the Cambodia Royal Army have fostered the friendship and defence cooperation for the interest of each people, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region, he noted.

On this occasion, Cung expressed his thanks to the Cambodian Government and people for their support for Vietnam in searching and repatriating remains of Vietnamese’s martyrs who fell down during the war time in Cambodia .

For his part, Pal Sam Oeurn thanked the Government, State, people and army of Vietnam for helping Cambodia escape from the genocide, restore peace and develop the country in all fields.

The Cambodian Government and people will continue their assistance to Vietnam in bringing home Vietnamese martyrs and experts’ remains, he affirmed.

[Korean] JYJ’s Junsu builds a school in Cambodia

Through the generous help of JYJ‘s Junsu, a small village in Cambodia was able to construct a school for its students.

On December 28th, ‘Adra Korea‘ announced the establishment of a ‘Kim Junsu School’ that took five months to build. The school includes six classrooms, a bathroom, and a clean water supply system.

The remote outback town is a part of the Pusat province and has a population of 1,500. It takes approximately three hours by car to travel to the capital. In a country that carries a suffering economy and health system, the town is considered one of the most impoverished within the country.

Junsu’s mother, Yoon Young Mi, visited the area through the aid of a volunteer organization and asked locals what they needed the most. Without hesitation, they had said that they needed a school for their children. After hearing about their needs, Junsu set out to construct a school to aid in the education of impoverished children and to help them find a future and a goal. Touched, the locals shared and donated everything they had to make it a possibility.

The opening ceremony was attended by 500 students and their parents, along with the town officials. The new elementary students put on an adorable show to express their gratitude. Junsu’s mother returned the favor by expressing, “I hope to name this school the ‘Xiah Junsu Evergreen School’ so that the students can preserve dreams as fresh and green as the trees and grow their own futures. I hope that everyone will grow up to become an important leader of our future.”

Junsu wasn’t able to attend due to his musical, ‘Elizabeth‘, but made sure to leave a message stating, “I’d love to visit everyone the next time I get an opportunity and sing and dance with you all.”

The town also set up a gate with the message ‘Kim Junsu Support Town’ to express their gratitude for all he’s done.

Thailand, Cambodia affirm strong ties, speeding up talks on overlapping claims area

Thai FM Surapong Tovichakchaikul (L) held talks with Cambodian PM Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

PHNOM PENH, Dec 30 -- Thailand and Cambodia have reaffirmed their strong and close ties and agreed to speed up talks on plans for joint development of the two countries overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand for their mutual benefit.

Thailand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for 45 minutes that the atmosphere was very good with friendly talks.

Mr Surapong said that Mr Hun Sen stressed the good relations between the two countries, particularly the special personal friendship with former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Hun Sen expressed his desire to end the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia and resume talks on the joint development area (JDA) in the maritime overlapping claims area (OCA) of approximately 26,000 square kilometres, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Joint development of the areas could benefit the two nations, particularly in reference to petroleum exploitation.

However, Mr Surapong said, there was no mention of the two Thai activists, Veera Somkwamkid, a leader of the People's Network against Corruption and a high-profile activist in the Thai Patriots Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, who are jailed in Cambodian prison for espionage charges.

Mr Pichai said that Cambodia wanted to see more bilateral cooperation on economic, trade and tourism.

Cambodia also wanted to cooperate with Thailand on the Stung Num power plant and a coal power plant at Koh Kong, he said.

Mr Pichai added that the pending talks on the overlapping claims areas have taken long time with 11 Thai governments, starting with the Chatichai Chunhawan government. He said the talks have made “certain progress” and that Mr Hun Sen wanted the negotiation to end.

Mr Surapong said that after the new government took office in Thailand, relations between Thailand and Cambodia have gradually improved.

China’s Xinhua news agency on Thursday quoted Mr Hun Sen as saying that the bilateral relations between Cambodia and Thailand have "turned good" since the Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra won the general election in July this year.

He added that it was the opening of the new chapter of Cambodian and Thai relations and cooperation. (MCOT online news)

Sin Sisamouth- Samross Neang Kor Chaev Touk Dor (The beauty of a mute ferry boat driver]

Another song: Sin Sisamouth- Thoub Bei Sorsai (Three sticks of incense)

Opposition lawyer Choung Chou-Ngy not arrested, but in hiding

Sources: Kapuchea Thmey and CEN

Phnom Penh – At 9PM on 29 Dec 2011, a high-ranking Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) official claimed that Lawyer Choung Chou-ngy (pictured) is currently staying at a safe place, however, this official did not say anything about whether Choung Chou-ngy was released by the authority or not.

Chan Soveth, a high-ranking official from the Adhoc human rights organization, told CEN at 9PM on 29 Dec 2011 that he contacted Choung Chou-ngy and the latter told him that he was not arrested, but Choung Chou-ngy did not say where he was hiding.

Earlier in the day, there were confusions as to the whereabouts of Choung Ngy, with rumours milling around that he was arrested and being detained at either the Kandal Provincial Court or the Interior Ministry. However, later in the night Choung Chou-ngy came out to provide an explanation to the public by indicating that he is hiding in a safe place. However, he did not say whether he is hiding inside or outside of Cambodia. His hiding created havoc among the opposition party which was trying to find him at the Kandal provincial court and at the Ministry of Interior.

In another report, Kampuchea Thmey said that at 09:15PM on 29 Dec 2011 its reporter had spoken directly with Chuong Chou-ngy and he told the reporter that he is hiding at a safe place and that he was not arrested or detained by the cops. The explanation put an end to suspicions raised by the opposition party when it claimed that Choung Chou-ngy was arrested by the cops and that he was taken in for questioning in the morning of 29 Dec 2011. This situation has led to confusion.
មន្រ្តីជាន់ខ្ពស់គណបក្សសមរង្ស៊ី បានអះអាងថា លោកមេធាវី ជូង ជូងី កំពុងនៅកន្លែងមានសុវត្ថិភាព
ដោយ : មុន្នីរ័ត្ន (ថ្ងៃទី 29 ធ្នូ 2011)

ភ្នំពេញ: គិតត្រឹមម៉ោង ៩យប់ ថ្ងៃទី២៩ ខែធ្នូ ឆ្នាំ២០១១នេះ មន្ត្រីជាន់ខ្ពស់គណបក្សសមរង្ស៊ី បានអះអាងថា លោកមេធាវី ជូង ជូងី កំពុងស្ថិតនៅទីកន្លែងដែលមានសុវត្ថិភាពមួយ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែមន្ត្រីរូបនោះមិនបាននិយាយថា លោក ជូង ជូងី ស្ថិតនៅទីសុវត្ថិភាពនោះ មានការដោះលែងឲ្យមានសេរីភាពវិញ ពីសំណាក់អាជ្ញាធរ យ៉ាងណានោះទេ ។

លោក ចាន់ សុវ៉េត មន្ត្រីជាន់ខ្ពស់ផ្នែកស៊ើបអង្កេតសមាគមន៍អាដហុក បានឲ្យគេហទំព័រ CEN នៅវេលាម៉ោង ៩យប់ ថ្ងៃទី២៩ ខែធ្នូ ឆ្នាំ២០១១នេះថា លោកបានធ្វើការទំនាក់ទំនងទៅ លោក ជូង ជូងី ហើយលោកមេធាវី បានប្រាប់លោកថា មិនមានការចាប់ឃាត់ខ្លួនរូបគាត់នោះទេ ។ ប៉ុន្តែលោក ជូង ជូងី មិនបានប្រាប់ថា លោកកំពុងស្នាក់នៅកន្លែងណានោះទេ ៕
មេធាវីជូង ជូងី លាក់ខ្លួនក្នុងកន្លែងសុវត្ថិភាព ធ្វើឲ្យបក្សប្រឆាំងផ្អើលឆោឡោ

ថ្ងៃព្រហស្បតិ៍ ទី29 ធ្នូ ឆ្នាំ2011

ភ្នំពេញ ៖ លោកជូង ជូងី មេធាវីការពារក្ដីឲ្យគណបក្សប្រឆាំងសម រង្ស៊ី បានចេញមុខ មកបកស្រាយ ជូនសាធារណៈមតិឲ្យបានដឹងថា លោកបានលាក់ខ្លួននៅទីសុវត្ថិភាពមួយ។ ប៉ុន្តែលោកមិនបានប្រាប់ថាលាក់ខ្លួននៅក្នុងប្រទេសឬនៅក្រៅប្រទេសនោះទេ។ ការលាក់ខ្លួននោះធ្វើឲ្យគណបក្សប្រឆាំងមានការជ្រួលច្របល់លើកគ្នាទៅរង់ចាំជួបមុខលោកជូង ជូងី នៅតុលាការខេត្តកណ្ដាល ក៏មាន នៅក្រសួងមហាផ្ទៃក៏មាន។

លោកជូង ជូងី បានប្រាប់កម្ពុជាថ្មីតាមទូរស័ព្ទកាលពីវេលាម៉ោង៩និង១៥នាទីយប់ថ្ងៃទី២៩ ខែធ្នូនេះថា រូបលោកកំពុងលាក់ខ្លួននៅកន្លែងសុវត្ថិភាពមួយ ដោយមិនមានការចាប់ឬឃាត់ខ្លួនពី សំណាក់សមត្ថកិច្ចនោះទេ។

ការបកស្រាយនេះជាការបញ្ចប់នូវមន្ទិលសង្ស័យដែលគណបក្សប្រឆាំងបានលើកឡើងថា សមត្ថកិច្ចបានចាប់ខ្លួនលោកជូង ជូងី យកទៅសាកសួរ កាលពីព្រឹកថ្ងៃទី២៩ ខែធ្នូ ឆ្នាំ២០១១ ធ្វើឲ្យមានការភាន់ច្រឡំនិងជ្រួលច្របល់៕ កោះកែវ-សុភក្ដិ

[Thailand's] Surapong says Joint Border Committee talks to start in February

Thai FM Surapong Tovichakchaikul (R) met for talks with Cambodian PM Hun Sen.

By: Serath

PHNOM PENH, December 29, 2011 (Cambodia Herald) - Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Thursday that Thailand would host a Joint Border Committee meeting in February after considerable delays under the previous government which lost power in July.

Asked by reporters why it was taking so long to demarcate the border between the two countries, Surapong said: "It's not late. Since the meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck and Prime Minister Hun Sen, we agreed to hold the JBC meeting in Thailand in February."

The Thai foreign minister hailed the recent improvement in relations between Cambodia and Thailand following its change in government, acknowledging the role played by Yingluck's older brother Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister overthrown in a coup in 2006.

"When Thaksin was in power, the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand was very good. So I can't deny accusations that Thaksin is behind this."

In addition to meeting with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong Thursday, Surapong paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen.

During the courtesy call, Hun Sen expressed the view that he considered Thaksin as his "second oldest brother" after Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah as his eldest brother with himself as the youngest, Surapong said. The sultan is the longest-serving leader in Southeast Asia.