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Monday, August 27, 2007

Police nail tyre repairmen

Phnom Penh - A pair of enterprising Cambodian tyre repairmen were in jail on Monday on charges that they spiced up business by lacing roads around their roadside repair stalls with nails.

Chamcarmon district police in the capital of Phnom Penh said they detained Khy Pros, 21, and So Mom, 26, both of whom made a living from fixing flat tyres on the roadside, on August 17.

This was after a senior government officials' car was stopped in its tracks by a suspicious quantity of nails on the road..
Police allege that Pros was found to be carrying half a kilogram of nails and Mom 3,5 kilograms of nails.

Both men were remanded in custody to face charges of vandalism and disrupting public order by Phnom Penh Municipal Court and are now serving up to six months in Prey Sar jail awaiting trial, court officials said on Monday.

If convicted, the hapless entrepreneurs face up to five years each in prison. - Sapa-dpa.
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Mekong River exploration

Book>> Mad About The Mekong • by John Keay, Exploration and Empire in Southeast Asia • Harper Collins • London • 2005 arika Surti

The Americas, the African Continent, West and South Asia have been playgrounds of explorers. Explorations along the Amazon and the Nile have been well-documented. Southeast Asia is, however, much neglected. French colonists maintained their sway over the region for long. In the second half of the 19th century, these colonists were charged with the idea of exploring the Mekong. One of the largest rivers in the world, it originates in Tibetan Plateau, and traverses China’s Yunnan province, modern day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In 1867, a group of 25 odd sailors left the French colony of Saigon (in modern day Vietnam).

The expedition intended to investigate the back door into China by outflanking the British and American conduits of commerce at Hong Kong and Shanghai. Francois Garnier, probably the most articulate of the explorers, wrote, “The Mekong... came to possess me like a monomania…I was mad about the Mekong.” The French naval officer’s sentiment have found modern day echo in the title of John Keay’s immensely well-researched book. To understand, first hand, the obsession of the French explorers, Keay and wife Julia navigated the river for about 600 km upstream of Saigon, using modern boats.

Keay’s subjects, however, had a much more turbulent journey, lasting two years. But by the time they staggered to the Yangtze in China, they had completed a trip that even the rival Royal Geographical Society hailed as “the most remarkable..exploring expeditions” of the 19th century. Keay introduces us to a memorable cast: the exasperatingly stoic commandant Ernest Doudard de Lagree, the talented Delaporte, whose sketches adorned the walls of many a Hong Kong hotel in later days, and the volatile Garnier, who was to answer later day critics with the lament, “Had I been an Englishman”.

The lament is also a comment on the oblivion suffered by the Mekong expedition. Yet, as Keay shows, modern borders in Southeast Asia, the drug trade in the region and Thailand’s colonial neutrality, all bore imprints of the Mekong expedition. Keay also has a lot to say on the river’s ecology, gleaned largely from Garnier’s writings about the Khon falls.

The book is riveting reading, rounded of by Delaporte’s drawings, other colour photographs and several maps.
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Cambodia eyed as new source of water supply

Diversion scheme to feed industrial estates


Water diversion from the Stung Num watershed in Cambodia has been listed as a potential solution to water shortage problems faced by industrial estates in Thailand's eastern provinces, according to the Department of Water Resources. According to the project's feasibility study, recently revealed by the department, some 200 kilometres of pipeline will be constructed at a cost of 30 billion baht linking the proposed Stung Num dam in Cambodia to Prasae reservoir in the Thai eastern province of Rayong.

However, department chief Siripong Hungspreug said that because of its large scale and high investment cost, it would take a long time and more study before the project would materialise.

In the meantime, relevant agencies have come up with plans to supply water to the water-starved industrial estates, which would be safe from water crisis for at least four years, Mr Siripong said.

These include plans to divert water from the Bang Pakong and Pasak rivers to reservoirs in Rayong and Chon Buri provinces.

''Moreover, as far as I know, no new factories will be built in the area as the government is looking for another place to accommodate new factories, so water shortages may not pose a big problem [for the industrial estates in the eastern provinces],'' he said.

The Stung Num water diversion project was dusted off in 2005 when the eastern provinces, which are home to several petrochemical factories, faced a severe water crisis. Officials had to divert water from many rivers and reservoirs to feed the industry, causing serious conflict among water users in the area.

In 1992, Thailand and Cambodia agreed in principle to develop a hydropower plant at Stung Num, which will see around 546 million cubic metres of water diverted from the Stung Num watershed yearly to generate electricity at a power plant, to be set up in Thailand's Trat province.

The water divered to the power plant then will be piped to Prasae reservoir to feed industrial and farming activities.

According to the feasibility study report, water consumption by the industrial sector in the eastern region will increase from 295 million cubic metres this year to almost 600 million cubic metres in three decades.

Mr Siripong, however, said the proposed transboundary water diversion plan will be the last option to provide water to the industrial sector. It will be adopted only after the government is certain the project will be worth the investment cost, he added.

Praphant Asava-aree, managing director of Eastern Water Resources Development & Management, a major supplier for industrial operators in the eastern region, said diverting water from the neighbouring country must be carefully considered since the cost would be high.

''Moreover, we can say there are still sufficient water resources for both the agricultural and industrial sectors. We even have enough water for the third phase of petrochemical industry in Rayong, if approved, which requires an additional 40 million cubic metres of water per year,'' Mr Praphant said.
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Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam develop joint tourism

Tourism officials from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam met in Cambodia’s Sihanoukvile last week to engineer ways to boost the development of tourism in the three countries’ common coastal areas.
Cambodia’s Secretary of State for Tourism Thong Khon said after the meeting that participants have agreed upon measures to strengthen cooperation among the three countries in order to turn their common sea area into an attractive tourism destination.

The meeting was held on August 24 under the sponsorship of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the initiation of Cambodian authorities.

High on the agenda of the meeting were discussions on the training of human resources for sea tourism, linkage tours between tourism destinations in the three countries as well as the exchange of experiences and tour operation management in the tourism sector.

The second meeting of its kind is scheduled to take place in Thailand in 2008.

Source: VNA
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Cambodian fans go on rampage

PHNOM PENH: About 200 Cambodian football fans rioted after their youth team failed to score in the second half of an Asean championship match, smashing cars and throwing bottles, officials said yesterday.

The riot broke out late Saturday at the stadium in Phnom Penh, but ended quickly after police fired a warning shot into the air, said Sao Sokha, president of the Football Federation of Cambodia.

While Cambodia beat Brunei 2-0, local fans got angry when their players were shut out in the second half, said Sao Sokha.

“Fans accused Cambodian players of not trying hard enough in the second half,” he said, adding no one was either arrested or injured.

Cambodia are hosting the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Under-17 championship featuring teams from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. – AFP
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Shawcross Speaks [Jamie]

Yesterday, Hilary cited that strange portion of Bush's speech where it's not really clear what analogy he's trying to make in regards to Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Yet' there was another portion of the speech that, while not good fodder for snarky commentary, does open up an important discussion about the consequences of our withdrawal from Iraq and the appropriateness of the Vietnam analogy.

In the speech, Bush said that, "two men who were on the opposite sides of the debate over the Vietnam War came together to write an article. One was a member of President Nixon's foreign policy team, and the other was a fierce critic of the Nixon administration's policies." The men in question are Peter Rodman, a former aide to Henry Kissinger, and William Shawcross, the veteran British foreign correspondent. Their June article, "Defeat's Killing Fields," is well worth a read.

Also worth reading is Shawcross' piece from yesterday's Sunday Times, in which he reacts to the Bush speech. Keep in mind that he has not changed his views about American involvement in Cambodia, which he believed paved the way for the Khmer Rouge. What Shawcross believed then, in spite of his opposition to the American bombing of Cambodia, and still believes now, is that American withdrawal from the region was disastrous and that the same mistake cannot be repeated. Key graphs:

Today, as in the 1970s, the press has a special responsibility. In Indochina the majority of American and European journalists (including myself) believed the war could not or should not be won. At the end one New York Times headline read: “Indochina without Americans: for most, a better life”.

Such naivety was horribly wrong, and I have always thought that those of us who opposed the American war in Indochina should be extremely humble in the face of the appalling aftermath. Similarly today I think that too many pundits’ hatred (and it really is that) of Bush (and till recently Blair) dominates perceptions...

Why do the horrors inflicted by Islamic extremists in Darfur seem to appal us, more than those in Iraq? Because, I suppose, in an orgy of self-deluding hypocrisy, we prefer to blame the United States. We should grow up.
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Kiwi's appeal judges 'wanted bribe'

Supporters of a former Wellington man jailed in Cambodia for raping five girls say their refusal to bribe the appeal judges with more than $16,000 may have cost him his chance at freedom.

The allegations of corruption stirred up by the case may have also instigated the downfall of Cambodia's Appeals Court president.

Graham Cleghorn, 60, was sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in prison for raping five of his employees, aged 14 to 19, in Siem Reap, 314 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh.

The former Angkor temple tour guide maintains he was framed by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre, which he says fabricated the charges to get foreign aid money.

The group and complainants vehemently deny his claims.

Last month the Cambodian Court of Appeal threw out Cleghorn's second appeal. His New Zealand lawyer, Greg King, said Cleghorn's daughter, Heidi Madeley, was shocked to be asked for US$12,000 (NZ$16,530) cash by Cambodian defence counsel Ry Ouk just days before the appeal date.

The request, which came after "informal discussions" with the judge, was ostensibly to cover the cost of a reinvestigation of the case.

"We had no way of knowing whether that was a legitimate request."

Despite being warned to keep the request secret, they contacted New Zealand Embassy staff in Bangkok, who were informed by the Cambodian Court of Appeal that the expense was legitimate.

However, Mr Ouk was furious that "client confidentiality" had been breached and threatened to resign just three days before the hearing.

Cleghorn's supporters managed to raise US$6000 and sent it to him on July 9.

But there was no "reinvestigation" - the next day the conviction was upheld without a single witness being called.

It was possible the other side had come up with a bigger bribe - or that inquiries by New Zealand officials had "stirred things up", Mr King said.

On August 13, Appeals Court president Ly Vuochleng - who was expected to approve the reinvestigation - was arrested over bribery and corruption allegations relating to other cases.

"It's quite possible the appeal failed because the whole corruption thing was exposed after inquiries by New Zealand officials."

Mr King said Cleghorn was adamant he would not buy his way out of prison. "He wants to get out by being proved innocent, not by paying bribes."

The legal team had filed an appeal with the supreme court - but Mr King said they were "fast running out of options".

"You risk throwing good money after bad to get the same result."

Ms Madeley said she was anxious not to say anything that could jeopardise her father's chances.
"It's fantastic that Cambodia is trying to tidy up its judicial system, but where do you start?"

The fight for her father's freedom had so far cost her tens of thousands of dollars in court costs, lawyers' fees, and travel for witnesses and herself. She also paid for her father's daily keep.

"Hope is the only thing he has ... but it's been four years and his witnesses still haven't been heard."

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said it could not intervene in the judicial processes of another country if it was in accordance with their law.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the minister was aware of the bribery allegations, though had not yet seen details.

"We will be having further discussions with the family about the matter, but it is too early at this point to speculate on what action, if any, might be taken."
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