Peace at Preah Vihear: army

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces General Pol Saroeun and Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatra leave RCAF headquarters on Monday after agreeing to a peaceful resolution to the 13-month-long military standoff a the Preah Vihear temple complex.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Sam Rith

Army brass from both nations say temple hostilities are over for good.

SENIOR military leaders from the Thai and Cambodian armed forces declared an official end to hostilities on the border at Preah Vihear on Monday, stating the shared goal of "peace and solidarity".

In a pivotal meeting between the neighbouring countries, staged at the headquarters of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, commanders from both sides said they drew a definitive line under the territorial dispute that has been simmering for decades.

Addressing an assembled crowd of military dignitaries, representatives of the once-feuding forces - seven of whom have been killed in skirmishes since the conflict entered its most recent phase in July 2008 - heralded a new spirit of cooperation.

General Songkitti Jaggabatra, supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, said the historic border dispute at the site of the 11th-century temple would no longer be allowed to jeopardise diplomatic relations between the two nations.

"I would like to clarify again that there will be no more problems between Thailand and Cambodia," he said. "The border will not be the cause of any further disputes."

In response, RCAF Commander Pol Sareoun insisted that Thailand and Cambodia shared a vision for the future.

"We have the same view," he said. "Our goal is to achieve peace and solidarity with each other as siblings."

The meeting was held after Prime Minister Hun Sen's announcement on Saturday that he plans to slash the number of Cambodian troops stationed at the border. The move was a response to Thailand's decision to reduce the number of its soldiers in the area to just 30.

Speaking during a visit to Pursat province on Saturday, the prime minister said: "Having too many troops up there is not really good. We have a plan to change the deployment a little. If anything happened, it wouldn't take long to send our troops up again, but I hope there won't be any fighting there."

The opposition, however, was less optimistic. Speaking to the Post on Monday, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay insisted the meeting signified nothing new.

"I don't believe the border dispute can be solved through such a meeting," he said.

Son Chhay said such disputes were best resolved via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and international law. Solving border conflicts of this scale and intensity, he said, should be left to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

"As we already know, we cannot defend our territory by simply negotiating with Thailand," he said.

"Thailand depends on their military power and resources, and they're just delaying this issue as long as possible so that they can eventually demand more of our territory.

"We're waiting for the government to use diplomatic institutions, the legal system and international agreements, such as the 1991 Paris Peace accords, which promised to guarantee our territory." Continuing negotiations with Thailand could, he said, use up valuable financial resources and further jeopardise the stability of Cambodia's faltering economy.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
RCAF Commander Pol Saroeun and Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatra leave RCAF headquarters on Monday after agreeing to a peaceful resolution to the 13-month military standoff a the Preah Vihear temple complex.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, echoed Son Chhay's reservations. "We don't have any faith in Thailand's promise," he told the Post. "We have not seen any positive solutions yet."

Rong Chhun, whose organisation had earlier demanded that Thai troops withdraw from the area, said Bangkok was trying to buy time.

He said that despite previous promises made by Thailand to withdraw its troops, many of its soldiers remained stationed on Cambodian soil.

"We have had a lot of meetings, but we have no results," he said. "Our leaders should make the right decision: Don't believe Thailand's promises."

The temple and the territory around it have long been a source of tension between the two countries.

French colonial surveyors in 1907 drew a map showing Preah Vihear perched along the Dangrek mountain range inside Cambodia. Thailand does not regard that map as valid, arguing that an earlier agreement showed the temple alongside a Thai mountain.

Thai troops occupied Preah Vihear in the 1950s, but were forced to leave in 1962 after the World Court accepted Cambodia's ownership claim. Mass demonstrations in Thailand followed the ruling.

Cambodia began the process to have the temple granted heritage status years ago and on July 8, 2008, it was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The move again enraged Thai nationalists, who marched on the temple complex and also blamed their government for handing Thai territory over to Cambodia, adding to the political turmoil already engulfing Bangkok.

Shortly after its inscription as a World Heritage site, Thai troops were accused of invading Cambodian land near the temple, sparking the largest buildup of troops and military equipment along the border in years.

In April 2009, more than 319 families were left homeless when a market at the foot of the Preah Vihear temple was destroyed during fighting that razed 264 stalls. The government demanded US$2.1 million in compensation from Thailand, but has yet to receive an official response.

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Coastal dredging operation halted: company

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Vong Sokheng

PREAH Sihanouk province customs officials prevented the export of several thousand tonnes of sand to Singapore in a recent raid, officials from the company transporting the material said Monday, adding, however, that it had obtained permission from the government to operate.

Pen Pinith, a supervisor at the Cambodia-based company Dany Trading, said company ships entered waters off of Preah Sihanouk province on August 14 after obtaining permission to carry the sand to Singapore.

He said the ships were raided on Friday, noting that employees aboard the ships had failed to produce official approval documents.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in May announced a ban on sand-dredging for export. In subsequent announcements, he said that dredging could be permitted in areas where damage to the environment could be minimised.

Pen Simon, director of the Customs and Excise Department at the Ministry of Economy, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Sao Sokha, commander of the national Military Police, said he had not yet received a report from officers involved in the raid.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand from the Kingdom's rivers and coastal areas have been dredged and shipped to Singapore for use in land-reclamation projects.

Indonesia and the Philippines are among the countries that have banned the practice of dredging because of its destructive impact on riverbeds and shorelines.

Motor taxes spark violent protests

Photo by: Photo Supplied / Peter Olszewski
Motorists protest against motorbike tax enforcement as police struggle to maintain order in Poipet (left) and Siem Reap (right) on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
May Titthara

Drivers in three provinces express indignation over a directive to enforce the Land Traffic Law.

Police and demonstrators clashed in Siem Reap on Monday over efforts by authorities to collect motor taxes.

Vor Vorn, 31, a resident of Siem Reap who claimed to represent the protesters there, said about 3,000 people had intended to demonstrate along the city's central thoroughfare Pub Street, but that police had prevented many from participating.

"Police blocked the street so we could not get through on our motorbikes," he said. "Several of us tried to crash through the barricades, but the police came and fought with us."

Vor Vorn added that there were no injuries and no arrests made during the rioting in Siem Reap.

"We did not want to make trouble for the police. We just wanted to send a message to the government to reduce the cost of motor taxes," Vor Vorn said.

We just wanted to send a message ... to reduce the cost of motor taxes.

The demonstrations followed a directive issued earlier this month by Prime Minister Hun Sen ordering provincial police across the Kingdom to collect motor taxes in accordance with Cambodia's Land Traffic Law.

You Vala, who participated in the protests in Siem Reap, said many drivers own cheap, illegally imported motorbikes because they can't afford legal ones, and that they were uncertain about how much they would be required to pay to properly license their motorbikes.

"If we were rich, we would have purchased proper motorbikes," You Vala said, adding that authorities should blame themselves for not cracking down sooner on those who import motorbikes without paying the necessary taxes.

Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin was unavailable for comment on Monday, as were provincial customs officials.

Under Article 79 of the Land Traffic Law, driving a vehicle without a licence plate incurs a fine of between 25,000 riels and 200,000 riels ($6 and $48).

Demonstrations were also reported in Svay Rieng and Banteay Meanchey, where residents reported that two protesters were briefly detained.

"About a thousand people gathered [in Banteay Meanchey] with their motorbikes and burned tyres to protest the taxes," said local resident Thun Sophea.

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Sidewalk vendors face eviction

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Roadside stalls spill out across Street 271 on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chhay Channyda

Crackdown to reduce traffic congestion is slated to begin in two weeks.

OVER the next two weeks, Phnom Penh municipal authorities say they will attempt to raise awareness of a ban on sidewalk vendors in the run-up to more stringent enforcement of this provision of the Land Traffic Law.

In a meeting of around 400 government officials at City Hall on Monday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said that businesses and vendors who operate on city sidewalks must be informed of the law, so that they have a chance to vacate in an orderly fashion.

Following through on an August 17 directive from Interior Minister Sar Kheng, municipal authorities are to begin enforcing the ban on sidewalk vendors in two weeks' time, beginning with main boulevards such as Monivong, Mao Tse-tung and Kampuchea Krom.

"We are targeting big businesses along the boulevards first. I do not want ordinary people to complain that we are targeting only them," Kep Chuktema said.

Businesses who do not comply with the order will be subject to "administrative measures or legal action", the governor said, though he did not mention specific penalties.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said Monday that authorities were still deciding how best to inform sidewalk vendors of the ban, which is aimed at reducing traffic congestion.

At the meeting, Kep Chuktema suggested that vehicles equipped with loudspeakers drive through neighborhoods playing the message: "Please do not run businesses on the sidewalk. Good people must respect the law."

Widespread enforcement
The focus on sidewalk vendors comes less than a month after officials ramped up enforcement of other aspects of the Land Traffic Law.

Authorities announced last week that they had temporarily impounded more than 60,000 vehicles, the vast majority of them motorbikes, the drivers of which had been found to be in violation of the law.

That enforcement effort, implemented with an eye towards improving traffic safety rather that reducing congestion, targeted vehicles that lacked licence plates and mirrors as well as motorbike drivers who were not wearing helmets.

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Investment approvals plunge, eclipsed by huge 2008 projects

Four major development projects approved in the first seven months of 2008, including a $1 billion plan to upgrade Bokor Mountain Hill Station, above, contributed to heavily inflated investment figures last year, officials said.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chun Sophal

Figures show $6.86bn drop in applications to invest in first seven months, but analyst says there is still growth in key industrial, agricultural sectors

AUS$6.86 billion drop in investments approved by the Cambodian government during the first seven months of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008, can be attributed to a small number of massive projects greenlighted last year, according to official figures.

Detailed figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's investment arm, show that the value of approved investments dropped 82 percent, from $8.34 billion to $1.48 billion.

The biggest hit came in the tourism and service sectors, figures show.

"This year, the value of approved projects related to the tourism and service sectors is less than last year," said Youn Heng, deputy director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Cambodian Investment Board, a body of the CDC.

A sector analysis shows nine tourism-related projects worth $487.1 million were approved between January 1 and July 30 this year.

This compares with nine projects worth $6.97 billion in the corresponding period last year.

These include Evergreen Success and Asia Resort Development's proposed $1.8 billion development in Ream National Park; Sokha Hotel Co's proposed $1 billion Bokor mountain development in Preah Monivong National Park; and a $3.8 billion proposal by Chinese company Union Development Group Co to build a coastal development in Koh Kong.

Removing these, the three biggest tourism-related projects from that period, worth a combined $6.6 billion, from the total actually shows an increase of around $117 million in tourism-sector approvals.

The services sector was also swelled last year by GS Cambodia Development Co's $967 million International Finance Centre complex.

However, there were just two approvals in the services sector this year - a $234.6 million telecommunications project and a $6.8 million water supply deal.

Silver lining
Stripping out last year's statistical outliers, worth $7.56 billion, however, actually results in a jump in approvals over the period from $780 million to this year's $1.48 billion, the figures show.

A project-by-project breakdown of approvals was unavailable Monday to determine whether any significant projects were approved this year.

But Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the apparent decline in investment in the service and tourism sectors was not as important for the developing economy as the increase in the agriculture and industrial sectors.

"We had some major investments in the service and tourism sectors last year, and this year we may or may not attract investment in these sectors," Kang Chandararot said.

"But we don't think that it is a bad sign for our economy," he added.

CDC figures show 15 agriculture projects worth $426 million were given the go-ahead in the first seven months of this year, compared with three projects worth $81 million a year earlier.

The garment sector saw a downturn in investments in line with a global drop in export orders, but 18 projects worth $68.8 million were still approved over the period.

Three shoe manufacturing applications worth $7.12 billion were also approved.

The industrial sector as a whole, which includes garments, saw 38 projects worth $323.6 million approved in the first seven months of this year, almost double the value of the 42 projects worth $173.9 million approved in the corresponding period last year.
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E-government guidelines released

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An addresses a forum on e-government this month in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
May Kunmakara

Directions instruct state departments in gathering and distributing information, maintaining security and expanding services throughout the country via a single $35m computer network

THE agency behind the nationwide e-government rollout released long awaited guidelines at the end of last week detailing what ministries and other government departments needed to do to take their services online.

The National Information Communications Technology Development Agency (NIDA) also released Thursday information security to ensure government information was kept secure and protected from system intruders.

NIDA Secretary General Phu Leewood said Monday that the e-Government Service Deployment Plan was important for building information communication technology (ICT) capacity in government and also for tracking progress and what remained to be done.

"This is a master map for us to walk together in the right direction for all [government and private] institutions to get up to speed with the global ICT sector," he said.

The e-government network will be key to building public confidence in the government, particularly rural areas, Phu Leewood added.

Thirty government ministries and institutions received the two sets of guidelines at a seminar at the Hotel InterContinental in Phnom Penh last week.

The guidelines were based on a needs analysis conducted at all relevant ministries in 2007 with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

They identify areas in which e-government can be used to build the public service competency of government institutions, provide guidelines for collecting data and help establish a blueprint for expanding government services.

Van Khema, a deputy director at NIDA in charge of networks, said the key obstacle in the path of the e-government rollout is the connection of all 24 provinces to the central government's information-sharing system via a fibre-optic backbone. He declined to give a timeline, saying only the infrastructure would be in place "soon".

"Now, the problem we are facing is the lack of infrastructure," he said.

Called the Provincial Administration Information System Project, the e-government project has a budget of US$15 million to connect offices within each province to one another, and another $20 million to connect each province to the government in Phnom Penh. Three data centres - in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville - will act as hubs for surrounding provinces. Additional reporting Ith Sothoeuth
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Leading a Korean invasion: K-Pop and all that Hallyu

Jeong Ji-hoon - better known as Rain. Photo Supplied

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Joel Quenby and Tha Piset

Khmer parents beware: It seems that Cambodian youths, like most of their Asian counterparts, have contracted the contagious Korean pop-culture craze

Like image-conscious students everywhere, 19-year-old Nguon Dalen spends time on his appearance. Mostly on his hair, it appears.

Nguon Dalen's lovingly sculpted coif, a multilayered mullet, looks distinctly high-maintenance.

"I like Korean hairstyles," he shrugs. "I'm young, so I need something new. I especially like Rain's style: His hair and clothes help him look handsome."

Nguon Dalen has been into Korean fashion since he was in high school. And he's not alone.
Many young Cambodians are likewise seeking to emulate "K-Stars", as they are colloquially known.

It seems that, having flooded Asia's airwaves and won the hearts of fans region-wide in the process, "the Korean Wave" - a pop culture phenomenon also dubbed "Hallyu" - has washed onto Cambodian shores.

In November 2008, Glen Felgate, general manager of Cambodian Television Network (CTN), told Television Asia Plus magazine that Korean dramas were particularly popular in Cambodia. One, How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor, even visited the Kingdom on a location shoot last year.

"The reason many youngsters adapt to new waves of foreign pop culture is that young, influential Cambodian singers and film stars have followed the examples set by their Korean counterparts," says Vong Emsaman, sociology professor of the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

"We cannot stop the behaviour of those young people," he says.

But why would anyone want to?

The professor says he feels that the revealing ensembles favoured by Korean starlets impact negatively on the way well-mannered Cambodian girls clothe themselves.

His answer hints at a generational divide that has caused strife between parents and teenagers since Elvis first wiggled his hips on American network television.

Youth subcultures - from flower-power-spouting hippies in the '60s to the phlegm-gobbing punks of the late '70s - mutate over the years, but the nature of the conflict they bestride stays essentially the same.

After all, it's well-established that adolescents, if graced with the freedom and means, often instinctively rebel against their elders, seeking to distinguish themselves from the "squares", using fashion and pop culture tropes as their usual weapons of choice.

But the Korean Wave has been an especially pervasive love affair; this pan-Asian obsession has staying power.

Fans from Saigon to Shanghai await visiting K-Stars amid airport scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania.

This is curious, especially when one considers the language barriers necessitating subtitles for non-native fans of Korean media.

So how did it all begin?

The inception of Hallyu is tied in with the march of capitalist culture into Asia in the early '90s.

Tragic Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon. The Guardian


When Jang Ja-yeon killed herself in March, she not only deprived South Korea of a wildly popular soap star. In a damning letter naming the men responsible for the distress that may have caused her to take her life at age 26, Jang heaped shame on the country’s entertainment industry with allegations of sexual abuse. The villain of the piece, according to reports, was her agent, Kim Sung-hoon. Jang reportedly claimed Kim had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs. When police raided Kim’s office, they discovered a shower and bed in a “secret room”. The South Korean media has finally condemned the industry for the way it treats its most marketable – and usually female – talent. Film and TV viewers are now wondering how big a part abuse and the demands of “slave contracts” played in a spate of celebrity suicides originally put down to the pressures of fame. Jang’s suicide was one of several among South Korean entertainers over the past year. THE GUARDIAN

South Korea, as one of the era's economic tigers, with close ties to Western culture and rapidly emerging techno-wizardry, was well-placed to take advantage.

Newly minted transnational media corporations churned out slickly produced pop videos starring whiter-than-white (often cosmetically modified) stars.

Meanwhile, TV soap operas promoted ultramodern "middle-class" lifestyles, starring sensitive male protagonists who made teens and housewives alike swoon.

Perhaps just as importantly, South Korea wasn't as politically loaded as Japan or the US. Audiences thus felt freer to embrace comparatively neutral K-Star power - a "soft" force based firmly in the material realm, nonthreatening and easy to aspire to.
China and Taiwan became the first converts.

The message then spread like wildfire to Southeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific, even the Middle East (although the phenomenon is now well-established enough to have faced nationalistic backlashes in both China and Japan).

So much for the movement - who are the protagonists?

As any K-Pop devotee would attest, no one embodies Hallyu more emphatically than Jeong Ji-hoon - better known by his stage name Rain.

Riding the crest of the Korean Wave, Rain's meteoric rise saw him in 2004 become the first-ever winner of the MTV Asia Grand Slam, securing top honours in every country broadcasting MTV Asia.

By 2006 he was being listed in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World" and selling out gigs in Vegas and at Madison Square Garden.

Rain's march has been hindered by legal wrangles recently, but there's no doubting the impact he and his ilk have made across Asia.

A Thai concert promoter, for example, ran a competition in which the prize was a night's stay in Rain's Bangkok hotel suite after he'd checked out - but before the maid had cleaned up. (The winner presumably spent a rapturous night alternately sniffing and sobbing into Rain's rumpled towels.)

Jaruwan Supolrai, 26, of Bangkok's Thai Volunteer Service, says that, "many Thai teenagers are crazy for Koreanisation, especially those living in the city.

"They're big fans of Korean singers, stars and fashion. Of course, that makes them want to be like their idols."

His elder Vong Emsaman concurs.

"I lived in Japan for seven years," says the sociology professor. "And I saw that many women in that country may be dressed in sexy clothes, but they are still considered good in their society."

He adds that the solution is to set appropriate dress-code regulations at school.
Trust the powers that be to spoil kids' fun. Some things never change
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Too many curveballs for Moun Chanthorn

Cambodia's Moun Chanthorn pitches a curveball against Myanmar in the Asia Cup on May 27. CBAF

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009

CAMBODIAN National Baseball team captain Moun Chanthorn has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained elbow. The right-hand pitcher picked up the injury while playing Friday for the Royals team, who represent Eastern Cambodia, against their national opponents the Braves.

Moun Chanthorn had suffered elbow problems during Cambodia's game against Myanmar in the 8th Asian Baseball Cup May 27. The national team doctor has confirmed that the latest injury will keep the 22-year-old out of action for at least two weeks.

Hailing from Banteay Meanchey province, Moun Chanthorn has played baseball since 2004, emerging as the Kingdom's top pitcher, while also ranking fifth in hitting. Tom Dill, a baseball coach from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, warned the Cambodian Baseball Federation (CBAF) not to let its pitchers throw too many curveballs, as it can cause serious damage to the arm muscles.

Moun Chanthorn, whose best pitch is the curveball, was initially reluctant to take the mound Friday, but was determined to help the Royals draw level with their opponents, having lost to the Braves in their first two games and winning the third.

Head coach of the national team Savoeun Nhoeb was deeply concerned about the star hurler's condition, hoping that he will recover in time for the Asia Cup in Dubai, September 28, where they will face archrivals Myanmar. "Being without Chanthorn at the tournament will [make it difficult] for our team to beat Myanmar," said the head coach. "He's our best pitcher, and great leader."

Moun Chanthorn has shown his frustration at being kept off the field but will try to help the Royals in the meantime overcome their national counterparts through a coaching position.

Meanwhile, the Royals' new pitcher Teng Sakan, who was traded last Friday, helped inspire the team to a 11-2 spanking of the Braves on Saturday. The Braves were missing the skills of their expert shortstop Houey Sipho, who seemed to be suffering from heat exhaustion. The Royals then rallied Sunday to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 victory, to go up 4-2 in the series, having won the four straight games.

The Braves have looked like a caged tiger since the trade Friday and can't seem to figure out a winning strategy.

However, the introduction of right-hand fastballer Chea Theara Monday should produce a change in fortunes, with crowds amassing to watch the promising young talent.

The Royals also prepared for the debut of second baseman Sunn Vikea, nicknamed the Lightening Kid. He is reported to be the fastest of any player in the league today, with a batting average of .389 and 12 stolen bases.
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Cambodian Open set for thrilling week

Vietnamese No 2-ranked Noelle Hyunh Mai Hyunh will play her first Cambodian Open match Wednesday at 3pm. TFC

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009

THE weekend saw plenty of action in the Cambodian Open Tennis Tournament. Standout matches from the Men's draw saw Chhit Davin outclass Long Samnang 6-0, 6-1; Oun Sambath oust the player simply known as Kong 6-1, 6-0; Chris Forsinetti overwhelm Yi Puthea 6-0, 6-0; Ek Chamroeun push past Yi Keavirak 6-4, 6-3; and Sok Samath smash through Mattieu Babot 6-0, 6-1.

With the competition heating up towards the finals at the end of the week, the Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) welcomes all interested parties to watch and encourage the players every day free of charge at the Cambodian Country Club (CCC), between 9am and 6pm.

A highlight Wednesday will be the appearance of Vietnamese star Noelle Hyunh Mai Huynh. The 24-year-old has been ranked No 2 in Vietnam for the past eight years, and has won two major events on the Asian tennis circuit; the Thailand Masters in December 2008, and the Pro Circuit Thailand Championship earlier this month.

Huynh has cancelled a tournament in her homeland to make the Cambodian Open, showing her support and commitment to Cambodian tennis. She will play in her first match at 3pm Wednesday at the CCC.

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AIDS patients struggle in isolated Cambodian town

Many Cambodian AIDS patients and their families have been relocated to this community outside Tuol Sambo.

By Miranda Leitsinger

TUOL SAMBO, Cambodia (CNN) -- Van Thy says the government evicted her from her home in the Cambodian capital and trucked her and others out to a town an hour away where she now lives in a hot green metal shed with no running water and dim prospects.

Before the move, she had a job as a dishwasher, but now the 36-year-old woman is unemployed, penniless and her health has taken a turn for the worse. She has AIDS like many of the others in the 40 AIDS-affected families that were resettled here.

"We were called for a meeting and when I got there, a lot of trucks were already prepared. There was no meeting. They told us to prepare our stuff for moving out," she said, her voice trembling as she detailed her departure from the Phnom Penh shantytown she called home for nine years. "Everybody cried the day we left."

As Cambodia emerges from the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide and decades of conflict, evictions for development purposes have become a hot issue, with rights groups and upset villagers living on desirable land launching protests in recent years. But what sets the families apart at Tuol Sambo is that they have AIDS.

"The problems that this community face are not unlike problems that people face throughout the country," said Kathleen O'Keefe, an independent consultant focusing on HIV/AIDS and land issues.

"What has made these problems extreme is that they have been isolated and treated as a community" and their relocation has added "additional problems, like real health risks of many immune compromised people living far too close together. This place would be a health risk to healthy people."

This is the second relocation for many of these families. They had been living in a shantytown in the Cambodian capital, an area called Borei Keila that was across the street from a hospital where they received medical care and where they could find jobs to earn $1.25 or $1.50 a day.

O'Keefe said they had lived dispersed throughout the community but were forced to move into one building there in 2007 when the area started to undergo development.

"They were segregated into a green building, which very quickly became known as the ... AIDS village," O'Keefe said. "This AIDS colony in Tuol Sambo is the second time they are being even further isolated ... it's been an extremely traumatic situation for them."

O'Keefe said most of the families that were moved to Tuol Sambo told her they have lost their jobs, their health is worsening due to a lack of clean water and food, and they face discrimination from their new neighbors because of their illness.

"We feel very ashamed to go outside, they look like they discriminating against us," Van Thy said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said those who were relocated got a plot of land, a house and $275. He also noted they were provided rice, electricity and said, "when the water supply can be connected to this area, then we can connect it for these people."

Mann Chhoeun said the people were illegally squatting in the Phnom Penh shantytown, but they were not forcefully evicted.

"They proposed to go ... because living in that area (their previous shantytown) they had floods and they have no proper business to do in there, so that's why they proposed to us to go there," he said. "They think that when they go there (to Tuol Sambo), they can own the land, they can own a house and they can make some business or something like that."

He also said he did not believe there was discrimination in the area, "but there is some feeling when they (people) learn that someone has been living with HIV/AIDS."

Van Thy said her new home has brought many challenges and a recent blood test showed that her CD4 count -- a marker of decreased immune function that is often used to demonstrate how well anti-HIV drugs are working, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- had gone down.

She said the doctor told her she needed to eat more, but she said having little money means eating less: "It means that my health is getting worse," she said.

The water in their new home is from a well and is undrinkable unless it is boiled or purified.

"We are patients, we need some clean water," she said. "They said the water cannot be drunk, just for using to wash clothes and things like that."

Another man, Chheang Toma, takes the temperature inside his green shed at noon every day. On average, it is 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) but one time spiked up to 50 Celsius (122).

"This area is very difficult," he said. "I am always sick and I always have a headache. The weather is so hot even my son has gone to the clinic two times already."

Home care specialist, Oum Vicheth, has been working with this community since 1998 and holds a clinic at Tuol Sambo once a week. He said the move "has strongly affected them."

"This is a long-term effect, not a short-term one, because medicine alone cannot help them. It combines with other factors like food, eating enough, sleeping enough, and a good environment, so all this can help make their health stable," he said.

"The problem is right now that what these people are facing is about their food, about their sleep and about the heat. It's very hot. Sometimes this affects the quality of the medicine they keep."

Chheang Toma said his son, who is in first grade, heard that parents of local children told them not to play with him because he has HIV.

"He just told me that he wanted to play with those children but when they saw him they just run away," he said. "I know right now some parents they just learning and understand about us, and they start to tolerate, but some others keep us in isolation -- like they still look at us, treating us very bad by not coming very close and not making friends with us."

Oum Vicheth said he was providing health care to the villagers as a way to bring them closer to the group and they have held meetings with them about how HIV is contracted.

"There was very little thought given to integrating the community into the larger resettlement area of Tuol Sambo," said Tony Lisle, the UNAIDS country coordinator for Cambodia. "By basically settling the community in one contiguous place it opens the community up to discrimination."

The UN team in Cambodia also "was disappointed that the relocation was carried out before the site was made habitable" and monitors would visit the site in late August, Lisle said.

Tang Kunthy, secretary-general of the Cambodian government's National AIDS Authority, said the Tuol Sambo group's worries were about the housing, not their health care, since he said they still had good access to treatment, including home-based care, medicine and the help of charities.

He said the housing situation could not be changed overnight, but it would improve "step by step," and he also noted Tuol Sambo was an area the municipality wants to develop.

"The municipality has a plan for the future," he said. "I asked the government to explain to them (the Toul Sambo residents), to provide more information to them."

He also noted there was "no serious discrimination" in Cambodia against people with HIV/AIDS, but that the AIDS authority would try to ensure any such problems did not arise in the future.

Back at Tuol Sambo, people think of the future and how they will make ends meet.

One man in the community who has AIDS lost one job in the move but still has part-time work. He said things have improved with their new neighbors.

"When we first arrived here, the villagers around the area just said look at AIDS people living here and so they did not allow their children or relatives to come and play in this area and they don't talk to us. But now after seeing the home care specialist," things seem to be getting better with them, he said.
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The Sesan Krom II Hydro-Electric Dam Affects Nine Villages – Monday, 24.8.2009

Posted on 25 August 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 627

Phnom Penh: The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam in Phluk village along the Sesan River in Stung Treng, to be constructed with a height of 75 meters from the bottom of the river, with resulting lake having a total length of more than 10 km, will flood more than 30,000 hectares of land and force about 5,000 citizens of nine villages above the Sesan Hydro-electric dam to move out.

“The environment projects officer of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, Mr. Tonn Kunthel, said, ‘The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam, to be built from early of 2010 to 2015, will affect nine villages in Sesan district lying along the Srae Pok River: Srae Kor 1, Srae Kor 2, Srae Sranok, Kbal Romeas, Kbal Spean Srae Pok, Krabei Chrum, Khsach Thmey, Svay Rieng, and Rumpot villages.’

“Mr. Tonn Kunthel added that ‘the 75-meter-heigh dam will submerge farm land of more than 30,000 hectares of the community and the National Road 13 from Stung Treng to Ratanakiri, worrying minority people who live along the Srae Pok River.’

“He went on to say that the environmental impacts will happen through the change in the flow of water: destructive floods which contaminate the water, landslides, loss of private land, loss of fish shelters and other water-borne life, and the sources of water-borne diseases affect the health of people in the community.

“All ethnic minority people living along the river will have to relocate to new villages far from their current villages, where the soil is not fertile enough for farming, and they will have to give up the crops that are providing good yields in their current villages.

“The Ratanakiri deputy governor, Mr. Mom Saroeun, said on 20 August 2009 in a celebration in Ratanakiri to mark the seventh anniversary of the three-river system – Sesan, Srae Pok, and Sekong rivers, ‘Development cannot avoid certain impacts that we try to steer clear of.’ He added, ‘First we need to assess the impacts on the society, the economy, and the environment, especially to organize plans with the participations from all relevant institutions and from the communities, before any projects are finally decided.’

“Mr. Mom Saroeun said, ‘We will work together to take responsible actions to solve for existing problems emerging from the impacts, where we had found that there are more negative impacts than positive ones, and more loss than gain; project developers have to decide whether projects should be implemented or not, but their decisions must be really correct.’

“He added that not all developments yield profits, but they can also affect the society, the economy, and the environment.

“The Phluk Village chief, Mr. Khean Bun Heng – a 43-year-old person from a Laotian ethnic minority, told Deum Ampil at his village, ‘More than 800 villagers of the 227 families in Phluk village that would be affected by the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam, do not want that some companies construct a hydro-electric dam up-stream from their village, because they fear that the dam might break, flooding their houses, damaging their property, and killing them.’

“Representing Phluk villagers, the Phluk village chief asks the Cambodian government to cancel the contract to construct the dam.

“Mr. Choeum Kea, chief of the Kbal Romeas village, which lies up-stream from where the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam is to be built, in Kbal Romeas commune, Sesan district, Stung Treng, told Deum Ampil that citizens of the 120 families in Kbal Romeas village will be forced to move away from the Srae Pok River, because the village will be flooded with a water level more than 30-meter above the village. This village chief added that the Phnoung ethnic people in the village do not want to relocate to new places.

“He explained that all people of the Phnoung community in the village are doing farming on fertile land and respect the spirits believed to be protecting them. At new places for settlement, the land is not fertile and has many stones. It is a low-lying area where it is difficult to establish a village, because the area is regularly flooded and under standing water.

“It should be noted that the Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam in Sesan district, Stung Treng, is planned to be constructed from early 2010 to 2015. The companies managing the plan are a company from Vietnam, Power Engineering Consulting Corporation 1 (PECC1), and a Cambodian company, Key Consultants Cambodia (KCC), investing approx. US$816 million. According to a Memorandum of Understanding achieved in 2007, between the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Energy of Cambodia and Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the EVN will study the implementation of the Sesan Krom II project by assessing also the environmental impacts.

“The Sesan Krom II hydro-electric dam will generate more than 400 megawatt for the provinces around Stung Treng, and the rest of the electricity will also be sold to Vietnam and Laos.â€?
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EDITORIAL Hitting crime at the borders

Bangkok Post

Published: 25/08/2009

Cooperation has steadily increased in recent years among the six nations that share the resources of the Mekong River. That is not to say that Thailand, China, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia see eye-to-eye on every common problem. But the constant meetings, especially at rural and riverside locations, have steadily brought the six nations closer. Trade, transportation and other fields have prospered.

Now Thailand is pushing its five neighbours to set up a network of border monitors to stem the flow of illicit drugs. The only question is, what took so long?

Chief architect of this excellent plan is Krissana Pol-anand, secretary of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). This is fitting. Over the past three decades, the major anti-drug targets by Thai police and officials has been in the area of the Mekong. Indeed, the Golden Triangle, arguably the world's most notorious centre of drug trafficking, lies where the mighty river separates Thailand from Burma and Laos.

From the time that the Thai government began to seriously tackle narcotics trafficking in the early 1970s, the Golden Triangle has figured in the effort.

During the worst years, the area - including Thai territory - was under the influence if not the actual control of drug warlords like Lo Hsing-han and his successor Khun Sa. Drug gangs controlled farmers, forcing them to grow opium for a pittance. The gangs bought protection in the three countries of the Triangle, sometimes high-ranking protection.

But even when the Thai army ran Khun Sa out of northern Thailand and back inside Burma, there was little cooperation among the six Mekong governments - if any. The generals who controlled Burma were believed at times to be in cahoots with the top drug lords of the heroin trade. China remained aloof, as did Vietnam. Cambodia considered it was not even involved in the problem.

Two major events occurred in the 1990s that changed all of that, hopefully forever. The first was the decision by the Burmese drug traffickers to begin producing and selling methamphetamines to neighbouring countries. This quickly became a bigger problem than the overall heroin trade. It involved China and Cambodia by enslaving their citizens, and by using their territories to smuggle and to sell both the old opiates and the new speed pills.

This occurred as the six Mekong riparian nations were finding that it was more productive to stress and seek common goals than to argue and bicker uselessly over disputes. The Mekong itself became recognised as a resource that must be shared. And while there are still many disagreements over the river, the common goals have brought the six nations into a formal union that embraces far wider goals.

One of these goals must be better cooperation against the international traffickers in drugs, people and illicit goods. Indeed, if anything, Mr Krissana's plan for a six-nation network of border posts deserves to be immediately expanded to cover all facets of international crime.

The plan envisions a literal network of border posts, constantly interacting with one another to share information on possible criminal activity. This is a hugely feasible project, given the state of advanced communications in all six countries. Computer, satellite and mobile phone networks already exist. These could be tapped and used in the proposal for a six-nation defence system. Cross-border crime of all kinds causes common security dangers. The Mekong Region countries should begin immediately to flesh out this excellent ONCB plan, and put it into operation as quickly as possible.

Cambodian Network Looking for New Investors

24th August 2009

Cambodia based CDMA operator, GT-Tell says that it is seeking an investor to fund its nationwide network expansion. Currently GT-Tell, operating under "Excell" brandname offers services both voice and data, including EVDO (3G) Mobile Broadband services in Phnom Penh and surrounding province.

Commercial operations of the company started last July and has signed up some 40,000 subscribers.

Japan's DoCoMo recently expressed an interest in buying a stake in a Cambodian mobile network without specifying any details. Millicom International recently existed the country by selling its 58.4% stake in CamGSM and associated companies for US$346 million.

Figures from the Mobile World notes that the country ended Q1 '09 with an estimated 4.4 million mobile phone users - representing a population penetration level of 30%. The country has eight mobile networks.

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The Phnom Penh Post in KHMER language

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Eradicate red tape — Angara

August 25, 2009

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo

SEN. Edgardo Angara is saddened by a recent study by the World Bank and International Finance Corp. that it is easier to open business in Cambodia than in the Philippines.

The WB and IFC report said it would take only four days to start a business in Singapore, while in the Philippines it takes 52 days. The study also put the Philippines at 140th out of 181 countries on the ease of doing business.

“Our country, one of the lowest-ranked in the region, was behind Cambodia at 135 and only ahead of Laos at 165 and East Timor at 170. The average ranking for East Asia is 83,” Angara said.

Angara said the country should improve its business environment by eliminating “red tape” amid the global economic crisis affecting job creation and investment generation efforts. “Starting a business in the country takes an average of 18 procedures, 11 of which are required nationally and seven by local governments,” he said.

He noted that the IFC report, entitled Doing Business 2009, took into account the laws, rules and regulations that enhance or impede business activities.

Aside from cutting the time it takes to set up a business, Angara said it is also important to provide necessary infrastructure and human capital development.

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Singapore demand and phony contracts sustain booming Mekong sand exports


VietNamNet Bridge – The volume of sand exported to Singapore from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta in the first half of 2009 was equivalent to the total exports of the last ten years. Ironically, most of it is shipped under falsely backdated contracts.

The many channels of the Mekong river are filled with sand dredging barges. Though the area has long supplied building sand to the Ho Chi Minh City region, its sand export business has not been considerable until now.

The Customs Office of Can Tho City reported that the volume of sand exported in the January-June period of 2009 rose dramatically to nearly 7 million tones, as much as was exported during the previous ten years.

The surge in exports was stimulated by Cambodia’s decision to ban further exports of its own river sand in order to reserve it for domestic use and limit further erosion of river banks.

Prior to May, while Cambodia still allowed sand exports, sand from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta was not favoured because it is of lower quality than Cambodian river sand.

Now, with the demand for sand by Singapore and some other countries in the region still on the rise, Vietnamese companies have lept at the opportunity to export this natural resource to Singapore, reports Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Nguyen The Hung, manager of a sand exploitation enterprise in Can Tho city, said that before Cambodia closed down sand exports, the prices for sand in the Mekong Delta were quite stable, from 15,000 to 17,000 per a cubic meter. Now, the prices are 25,000 to 30,000 per a cubic meter.

Cambodia exported its high grade sand to Singapore at the price of 90,000 dong per cubic meter. Currently, Vietnamese firms ship sand to Singapore for 40,000 dong per cubic meter. However, the profit from sand is still big because exporters can purchase sand at only 15,000-17,000 dong per cubic meter.

Vu Duc Hung of the River Police Bureau in Can Tho City said that since Cambodia banned sand exports, hundreds of sand barges travel on local rivers while sand ships of 10,000 tons or more anchor at Tra Noc and Cai Cui every day to take aboard sand from the barges. Each day around ten ships leave Vietnam, each carrying hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sand.

Ironically, the booming sand export business is in patent violation of the intent of Vietnamese law. Prime Ministerial Instruction No. 29, issued in October 2008, established a temporary ban on Vietnam’s own exports of sand and gravel exploited from rivers and seas.

There was a huge loophole, however, exports could continue indefinitely under contracts signed before November 30, 2008. Based on this clause, sand is still exported to Singapore.

The deputy head of the Can Tho Customs Office, Nguyen Minh Thong, said that the the total volume of sand for export committed in contracts signed before November 30 2008reaches tens of millions of cubic meters.

“Lured by virtually unlimited profits,” Thong said, “sand exporters change the date of signing contracts to before November 30 2008 to continue exporting sand.” The customs official added that hisoffice is not responsible for controlling these contracts.”

Thong said that because sand is a limited natural resource, the government should study the matter and establish a sand exploitation plan. He said the Can Tho authorities have proposed the Prime Minister to reconsider the instruction on sand export.

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Dancing Away From Tragedy

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro (right) teaching Khmer Arts Ensemble dancer Pum Molyta at the Khmer Arts Theater in Takhmao, Cambodia. Photo by James Wasserman.

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro '97 was among the first students to re-learn the classical dances of war-ravaged Cambodia. Now, she teaches the almost-lost art form and produces original choreography, which has been staged around the world.

By Angilee Shah
Contributing Writer

UCLA Magazine

Khmer Arts Ensemble dancers Mot Pharan (left) and Sao Phirom in Sophiline Cheam Shapiro's Shir Ha-Shirim. Photo by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro

After the terrible violence of Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, the joy of dance returned to war-ravaged Cambodia. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro '97 was among the first students to re-learn the country's classical dances. Now, this National Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts is teaching the almost-lost art form in the Long Beach studio of her Khmer Arts Academy.

Cheam Shapiro's students are often the children of refugees; she hopes her students find inspiration in the arts the same way she did as a young girl who survived a terrible tragedy. "You can either run [from the past] or come back and help," she says. "I chose dance."

Cheam Shapiro is from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and at 8 years old, in 1975, she was forced to leave the city and work in the fields. It was the time of the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields of Cambodia. In four years, more than 1 million people — as many as 2.2 million by some estimates — were killed by the genocidal Communist regime. Among them were Cheam Shapiro's father and two brothers.

The Khmer Rouge saw Cambodian classical dance as a symbol of royal power, a backwards spectacle that went against the principles of a cultural revolution. But Cheam Shapiro saw it as resurrection of Cambodian cultural pride. When she returned to Phnom Penh with her mother in 1979, their house had been burnt to the ground. But her uncle, a well-known artist, had survived and begun the work of reviving classical art by creating an artists colony. He told Cheam Shapiro, then a teenager, that she could have a long career if she studied theater arts.

But she loved the slow and intricate movements, the representations of nature and life that infuse Cambodian dance. In 1988, she graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh (now the Royal University), part of the first class to master the now-rare art form after the Khmer Rouge was removed from power. She joined the university's faculty and performed her unique pieces around the world, including uniquely Cambodian adaptations of such English-language classics as Othello, and choreography that both built upon and challenged traditional forms.

In 1991, Cheam Shapiro moved to California with her husband. But she felt that she had lost her "sense of Cambodian-ness" and started practicing dance at home. She made her own practice costumes, and when she put them on she felt like she was maintaining her identity.

At UCLA, she graduated with a degree in dance ethnology. Since then, her choreography has been seen around the world. In 2002, she opened the Khmer Arts Academy with her husband, and more recently created the Khmer Arts Ensemble in Takhmao, outside of Phnom Penh. The 29-member troupe of dancers and musicians has performed Cheam Shapiro's original choreography in festivals and shows around the world.

"I came from Cambodia and I had nothing with me but dance," Cheam Shapiro explains. Thanks to her, people around the world have it, too.

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Starting Over in Cambodia

The Washington Post

By Katherine Marshall

Everyone in Cambodia has an extraordinary story of personal or family survival. Almost the entire population was displaced, often fleeing again and again, during the genocidal era of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, from 1975 to 1979. Most people lost everything they had. About two million people died. Schools were closed and destroyed, and anyone with an education was targeted. It is only in the past 10 to 15 years that it has been possible to talk of hope.

Most Cambodians are under 20 so they remember only more recent traumas - one young colleague described how in 1997 her house and her grandparents' house were set afire. She remembers vividly seeing dead and dying soldiers along the road as she walked to school. Cambodia's leaders all hold, not far below the surface of warm smiles and constant cell phone conversations, their vivid memories. With only a little encouragement they tell stories of a modern reality few of us can even imagine. At last, 30 year later, some of the perpetrators of the very worst atrocities are on trial at an international tribunal. The papers report on it every day and in the market every stall with a television is tuned to the trial.

But most Cambodians have their eyes on the future and the formidable task of rebuilding. They want to benefit from globalization, but also recapture some of the magic they see in their society, though it has known so much evil.

I've spent the last two weeks here trying to understand the current situation and where things are headed, with the basic question: what's religion got to do with it?

In a sense religion is so much a part of Cambodia's past and present that it is hard to separate out its distinctive roles. Few people mention religion when they talk of development but there are countless links. Cambodia is almost 95 percent Buddhist, and monks in bright orange are everywhere. Though many were killed during the genocide, today there are some 60,000 monks and over 4,300 temples. Cambodia has a fascinating Muslim community, the Cham, with their own ethos; the Cham were also targeted by the Khmer Rouge but the community seems to be reviving. And though the Christian community is very small, Christian organizations are extraordinarily active here in just about every field, from HIV/AIDS to helping abused children to campaigning against smoking.

Venerable Sareth Brak, a young monk from a small village about an hour from Phnom Penh, is determined to build a modern school for his community of about 12 villages. His story is one example of the complex ways that religion comes into the picture.

His temple (called the pagoda, or wat) has almost 50 monks today. That includes some young boys who are among the 27 orphans the pagoda cares for. The pagoda used to serve as the community's school, teaching many subjects, and welcoming, he said, girls and boys, young and old. But the system collapsed during the time of troubles and what was left was a desultory system where a few volunteers taught bits of knowledge to children, sitting under the palm trees or in the ruined pagoda. Fifteen years ago, when Ven. Sareth finished secondary school, he restarted the school, at the pagoda at first. Then he gradually cobbled together funds to build a set of serviceable if mismatched buildings (UNICEF built one, the community itself most of the others). Today, the complex has more than 300 children, four government paid teachers, and nine volunteers.

Computer classes (only keyboarding, no internet within miles) and tailoring are taught in the pagoda. Ven. Sareth and and other monks try to teach the adults and they work to resolve conflicts within the community. Domestic violence, they say, is widespread, one legacy of the period of turmoil. And it is increasing, as people come back from the city with many vices, angry at the limited opportunities to make a living.

Ven. Sareth stands out among monks I met because he shows a passion and determination to overcome formidable obstacles and he can show results. He talks the language of human rights. Where did he learn that? From his mother, he says, who was a teacher before the Pol Pot era. He argues that all Cambodians should learn about all religions and all cultures. Only knowledge, he says, can overcome the violence and pain he sees in the society. He sees Buddhist values as contributing to modern life as well as linking Cambodia to its happier past. And the pagoda itself, with some rebuilt structures and crumbling ancient remnants of the past, can help bridge past and present. It is the community center and development starts from there.

Ven. Sareth's is one of many stories that help answer that difficult question for a traumatized country: where to start. Cambodia is a classic example of what is termed a post-conflict society, where the needs are so enormous and the pain of conflict still so fresh. He started with what he had, engaged his community, took what he could find as resources, and forged ahead. It's an inspiration.

Katherine Marshall is a senior fellow at Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, a Visiting Professor, and a senior advisor for the World Bank

VimpelCom to Release Second Quarter 2009 Financial and Operating Results on Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monday, 24 August 2009

MOSCOW and NEW YORK, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Open Joint Stock Company "Vimpel-Communications" ("VimpelCom" or the "Company") (NYSE: VIP), the leading provider of telecommunications services in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) today announced that it will webcast its conference call on its second quarter 2009 financial and operating results on Thursday, August 27, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. Moscow time (10:30 a.m. US ET).

The conference call will be hosted by Boris Nemsic, Chief Executive Officer, and Alexander Torbakhov, General Director. They will be joined by Elena Shmatova, Chief Financial Officer, Kent McNeley, Chief Marketing Officer, Andrey Patoka, Head of B2B Business Unit and Dmitry Pleskonos, Head of CIS Business Development.

The press release announcing the Company's second quarter 2009 financial and operating results will be available on the Company's web site, located at, prior to the conference call.

The call and slide presentation may be accessed via webcast at

US call-in number: + 1 800-334-8065 International call-in number: + 1 913-312-0711

The conference call replay and the slide presentation webcast will be available through September 03, 2009 and September 27, 2009, respectively. The slide presentation will also be available for download on the Company's website.

US Replay Number: +1 888-203-1112 Confirmation Code: 1341755 International Replay Number: +1 719-457-0820 Confirmation Code: 1341755

The VimpelCom Group consists of telecommunications operators providing voice and data services through a range of mobile, fixed and broadband technologies. The Group includes companies operating in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Armenia, as well as in Vietnam and Cambodia. The VimpelCom Group has licenses to operate in territories with a total population of about 340 million. The Group companies provide services under the "Beeline" brand. VimpelCom was the first Russian company to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"). VimpelCom's ADRs are listed on the NYSE under the symbol "VIP".
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Top Commanders Meet Over Border Dispute

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 August 2009

Top military commanders for Cambodia and Thailand met Monday to ease mounting military pressure over a prolonged border standoff and recent maritime grievances.

Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, met his Thai counterpart, Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatra, following protests from Thailand of recent offshore oil exploration initiated by Cambodia.

The two also discussed potential removal of troops from the border near Preah Vihear temple, where they have been entrenched since July 2008, said Chhum Socheath, spokesman for the Cambodian Defense Ministry.

“The two sides spoke in the name of the two states,” he said. “We unite and cooperate in keeping peace along the border of the two nations for not having the standoff and to let the border committees of the two countries solve [the dispute]. Besides that, we are prepared to meet military officials of the two countries in all levels more often.”

The Thai commander said the border issue was not a problem, “because the two nations are neighbors and have since ancient times shared the same culture and tradition,” he said. The Cambodian commander said he requested Prime Minister Hun Sen withdraw a number of troops from the border.

The two sides also agreed to develop the border area to improve people’s livelihoods there. They agreed to hold a joint Buddhist ceremony to raise money for pagodas.

The Thai delegation was scheduled to visit the temples of Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces Tuesday.

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Project Seeks Resolution Outside the Courts

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
24 August 2009

In an effort to avoid expensive cases in court that could waste time on trivial matters, the government has been undertaking a project called Access to Justice, which helps solve conflicts at the grassroots level.

Under the UNDP-sponsored project, local groups advocate conflict resolution for a number of problems that plague much of rural Cambodia, including domestic violence, divorce, land fights, conflicts of heritage, cursing, breach of wedding contracts, destruction of property, debt, and ownership of trees on property boundaries.

The project, which began at the end of 2006, was piloted in two districts each in Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang provinces, and was expanded to four more provinces, Siem Reap, Battambang, Mondolkiri and Ratanakkiri, reaching in total 56 communes in 20 districts.

It includes justice centers at the district and commune levels, as well as for communities of ethnic minorities.

The method for conflict resolution includes the selection by the people of respected elders or other prominent members of the community, who will solve problems without cost. Cases that cannot be solved are brought to the commune body and then the district.

Community hearings allow people to bring their concerns to local officials, and the project provides training for local authorities on land law, contracts, vital records and the role of citizens. Special training is provided in minority areas.

Nuth Sa An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, told VOA Khmer by phone that he now saw less domestic violence in court cases.

“Our direction is to have a mechanism that can reduce complaints at the top level or the courts, where small issues can be solved at the local level,” he said.

Bora Sok, one of the managers of the project at the Ministry of Justice, said the project was running successfully with the support of authorities and citizens.

“When they have a conflict and file complaints to us, we solve them, mediate it through win-win policies for both sides, which is different from the courts, where there is a winner and a loser,” he said.

The justice centers have seen more than 830 cases at the district level since the project ramped up in January, solving 120 of them. At the commune level, the centers saw 1,320 complaints in the first six months of this year, solving more than 600 of them.

Yim Ban is a mediator and legal assistant for the project in Kampong Speu province. His Phnom Sruoch center has solved 60 of 100 cases since 2007. When he receives a complaint from someone, he said, he calls both sides to meet face to face, seeking not legal redress but mutual understanding.

“For example, in a case of defamation, for 1 million riel or 500,000 riel in compensation, we minimized it to 50,000 riel and ended the case,” he said. “But in some cases, they disagree, and then we show them further procedures and explain the details.”

People often find this method desirable to a court system they don’t trust. “They hate the court,” he said.

Suon Chanthy, from Phnom Sruoch district, had a conflict with her sister over a market stall left to them by their deceased mother. She thought the stall should be hers, as she had taken care of her mother for many years. The case is moving through the justice centers.

“If my sister wants to bring the issue to court, I won’t go, as I don’t have money,” she said.

She has not been able to find a solution in five months, but her sister may have changed her address so the authorities can’t find her, she said.

Another case in the district saw Chub Samnang against a joint petition from fellow villagers, saying he closed down a public road. He says he closed a private path.

“I am willing to compromise as much as possible at the district level, rather than go to the upper level,” or court, he said. “Going to the court is a waste of a lot of time and money.”

But while the Access to Justice program can help many, there are problems when it comes to deciding who will enforce decisions, such as paybacks or the return of property, and the intervention or interfering from third parties remains a concern.

Yang Kim Eng is the president of the People’s Center for Development and Peace. He welcomed the justice project, but warned that it must work for the people and be free of corruption; otherwise, people end up paying twice, at the grassroots level and at the courts.

“If small issues can be solved, that can save time, help development, reduce conflict and promote more unity in the community,” he said.

Directors of the centers in communes and districts receive $150 per month, while two assistants receive $50 each. An additional $30 is provided for administration.

Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Education Center, which helps minorities in the northeast, said the Access to Justice project was fruitful, but it could be improved.

The system would get better as mediators gained more experience, he said, and work must be done to implement solutions for the party that agrees, while providing advocacy and ensuring authorities involved recognize the solutions.

Yin Sopheap, a UNDP specialist in minority issues, said the traditional methods were being used to solve problems.

“But when people go out, then there’s a problem, as they do not listen to customary authorities or elders,” he said. “So we train them to understand the law. For example, if there is a divorce case, the elder in the village compromises and gives a reason and explanation, but now many don’t listen to the elder.”

His job is to train the elders in a community to understand the laws and rules from outside, to help them solve issues among their groups, especially in cases involving someone foreign to the group.

So far, the project is set to end in March 2010. Government officials and rights workers said they regretted the lack of funding required for the continuation of the project. Meanwhile, the project quietly goes on, part of the reform of the country’s judiciary and part of poverty reduction.
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Official Blames Wife in 1999 Acid Attack

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
24 August 2009

Svay Sitha, a senior official in the powerful Council of Ministers, put the blame of a 1999 acid attack on his now ex-wife, saying the disfiguring attack on Tat Marina, who is profiled in a new US documentary, should never have happened.

Svay Sitha said through a spokesman that he was a “victim” of his former wife, Khuon Sophal, “and he did not have any intention to create such an incident.”

“It was his wife who victimized him,” the spokesman, Phay Siphan, said.

Tat Marina, who is featured in the film, “Finding Face,” was paralyzed and nearly killed in the acid attack. She now lives in the US with members of her family.

The admission comes as “Finding Face” is set to screen in Portland, Or., on Sunday.

Tat Marina was doused with nitric acid while eating porridge at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Market on Dec. 5, 1999. After the attack, Svay Sitha was seen trying to get her treatment. He stayed briefly with her while she was sent for treatment in the US. They have then severed contact, according to Tat Marina’s brother, Tat Sequondo.

“He came to the US once, and for his trip here I don’t think he meant to continue his sweet love,” Tat Sequondo told VOA Khmer. “He was here to make sure that we didn’t file a complaint against his wife.”

Khuon Sophal could not be reached for comment; Phay Siphan said she received a five-year suspended sentence for the attack. He did not elaborate on the details of the court proceedings, and Phnom Penh police officials said they were unaware of it.

“This happened long time ago,” said Touch Naroth, chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Police. “It was before I became the police commissioner. I don’t know what the court’s decision is now. I have not much knowledge of the case.”

Court officials said to have handled the case could not be reached for comment Friday, no independent sources were able to confirm Svay Sitha’s divorce.

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No Forgiveness for Duch: Civil Party Witness

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 August 2009

Chhum Nov, now 62, a former cadre member who lost her son and husband to the Khmer Rouge, told a UN-backed tribunal Monday she would not forgive Duch, a prisoner administrator for the regime now on trial for atrocity crimes.

Chhum Nov is the latest in a line of civil party witnesses to take the stand against Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, as he faces trial. She was also a Khmer Rouge cadre and was arrested in 1977 and detained in Prey Sar prison, also administered by Duch.

“My aunt is very angry at me, and she curses me, saying that because of me, many people died,” Chhum Nov told the court. “I kneeled down to apologize to my aunt, but should wouldn’t forgive me. So I don’t want to forgive the accused.”

Many former Khmer Rouge are now living among their victims, and genocide experts have sought to bring their stories into the open. The tribunal is one of the ways this is happening, as Duch’s trial continues.

Now 66, Duch faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder for his role at two Khmer Rouge prisons and a mass execution site on the outskirts of the capital.

Duch said he understand Chhum Nov’s suffering, adding that he had accepted responsibility for all the crimes that took place at his prisons.

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Top army leaders of Cambodia, Thailand meet in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The top army leaders of Cambodia and Thailand met in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh on Monday to reiterate their good cooperation and to strengthen their relationship.

Cambodia's military sources said during the meeting Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of Cambodian Royal Armed Forces, and Songkitti Jaggabatara, supreme commander of the Thai army, reiterated their statements of making good cooperation and relations, especially, between the armies of the two nations.

Both Pol Saroeun and Songkitti affirmed that good cooperation and relations are of common interest for both nations, the sourcessaid.

The two sides, however, did not talk on redeployment of troops stationed near khmer Preak Vihear temple, saying the issue shall be left for decision by the two countries' regional commanders there.

It is the first time for Gen. Songkitti Jaggabatara to make a visit to Cambodia and it is also the first time to hold such top army leaders' meeting.

But since the border dispute between the two countries occurred last year that resulted in the deaths of a number of soldiers, and several others injured, many round of talks at different levels were held including prime ministers, defense and foreign ministerial level down to regional commanders.

Songkitti Jaggabatara who arrived in Cambodia late Monday will return to Thailand on Tuesday after a planned brief sightseeing visit to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province.

Editor: Yan

Monday, August 24, 2009

Siam Cement may revive Vietnam petrochemical plans

BANGKOK, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Siam Cement PCL SCC.BK, Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, said on Monday it could move ahead with a plan to build a petrochemical complex in Vietnam that has been delayed by the global economic crisis.

The project required an investment of about $3-4 billion and sentiment in financial markets hads now improved, which could make it easier for the company to get financing, President Kan Trakulhoon told reporters.

"The situation has improved and we decided to hire an adviser. In the past, we had to postpone it because the financial market was closed. If we get some financing, we will move ahead," Kan said.

In March, Siam Cement said the project would be delayed for at least two years because the global financial crisis had made it difficult for the company and its partner, Petrovietnam, to finance the project.

Apart from the petrochemical complex in Vietnam, Siam Cement also delayed two cement projects in Indonesia and Cambodia.

Vietnamese state oil group Petrovietnam and Siam Cement began construction of the joint-venture complex last year in the southern province of Ba Rai Vung Tao.

The first part of the project had been expected to be completed in 2011 and the second in 2013.

At 0457 GMT, Siam Cement shares were up 1.82 percent at 195.50 baht, in line with the overall Thai stock market. ($1=34.00 Baht) (Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)
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Khim sokheang born in 1981 at kompong cham province. my father is name Put khim and my mother is name Naem Lang. i have 7 brothers and 1 brother and 1 sisters. I am the thrift in my family brother 3 and 1 sister -To 1991-1996 when i have 10 year old i am study at Wat Syabong Veng primary school Baray commune Sreysonthor District Kompong Cham province -1996 I was became a novice study Buddhist Wat phouthiyeakhungkearam prekdombok sreysonthor kompong cham province -1997 study at wat kpob primary kpob commune saeng District kondal province primary school -1999-2001 study at Wat Trea sor High school (Kompong cham province) -2002-2004 study at Wat mohatheat thanpreahchan preahnakkorn Bongkok Mohachulalongkorn High school(Thailand) -2005-2008 study at Bachelor Degree of Economice at Mohachulalongkorn Univerty in (Thailand) -Present: Master candidate of management at Royal University of law and Economics (RULE) (Phnom penh) in Cambodia


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