The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Muslim Cham people of Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Cham people of Cambodia and Vietnam have had a long and difficult history. Cambodia thrived until 1969 when civil war broke out and plunged the populace into turmoil. Hundreds of thousands died under the communist Khmer Rouge. To this day, there are incessant coups and the people live in fear.

The remaining Cham people (about 315,000) survive by boat building, farming, fishing, and light commerce. Fighting and war, both between Cham communities and between Chams and the Vietnamese, have all but ended the agricultural economy. Today their villages are extremely poor and constructed in an impermanent way.

Their most ancient religious beliefs, going back to the second century AD, were in a mother goddess. During the third and fourth centuries, they slowly converted to Hinduism, specifically worshipping the gods Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. Beginning in the 15th century they gradually converted to Islam. Only a few dozen Chams have been reached with the gospel. There are no known churches and no Cham Bibles.

Pray for avenues to open up for the gospel to reach the Chams. Pray that a Cham church would come into being.-JR

Philippians 2:5-11

« (Jesus) made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...He humbled Himself and became obedient to death.... Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place. »

Because of the humble obedience of Jesus, the Father exalted Him. Jesus did not humble Himself that He might be exalted, but in order that man might be redeemed through His death. How human it is for us to seek ways to become great, even at personal sacrifice and pain. Yet the ones God exalts are those who have given up personal ambition and pride because they have understood His heart and will. If our Master had to humble Himself and learn obedience in order to redeem men, so His disciples also must humble themselves in obedience in order to reveal His glory and goodness.

Pray for Christ-like humility on your part, and the part of your church.

Read more!

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader wants better prison toilet

Detained Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea wants different food and a new toilet in his cell at a UN-backed genocide court where he is awaiting trial on war crimes, his lawyer says.

The most senior surviving leader of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime was arrested early on Wednesday (local time) in his home in north-west Cambodia and brought to the capital Phnom Penh where he was put in the tribunal's custody.

Lawyer Son Arun says Nuon Chea has complained about the high-calorie meals provided by the tribunal.

"Nuon Chea said the food is delicious, but he worried about hyper-tension after eating it. So he has asked for his meals to be made of fish and vegetable so that he can live longer to stand the trials," Son Arun said.

Age and failing health are major concerns for the tribunal given that the crimes committed under the regime occurred three decades ago.

Official documents say Nuon Chea is 81, although his lawyer earlier said he was 82.

Nuon Chea has denied the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, saying he was never in a position to order any of the deaths that occurred under the Khmer Rouge.

His cell is equipped with a squat toilet, which Son Arun said was too hard for him to use.

"He cannot sit on the squat toilet because of an ailment in his knees. When he squats over it, he has difficulty trying to get back up. He needs a sitting toilet," Son Arun told AFP.

"I have already requested the tribunal to replace the squat toilet with a sitting toilet for him."

The tribunal's spokesman Reach Sambath said the squat toilet was installed for security reasons.

"The squat toilets have fewer moving parts that could cause injuries and have fewer places to hide things," he said.

But he said the court would bow to that demand. "We will provide him the best services and facilities," he added, saying the court would also replace a woven mat with a mattress for the suspect.

Read more!

Vietnam, Cambodia sew up ties in garment industry

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam and Cambodia will further exchanges of information and experiences as well as increase cooperation in the textile-garment industry.
The decision was reached at a working session between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and a Cambodian delegation in Hanoi on September 21.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Bui Xuan Khu said textiles and garments are a major export staple for Vietnam and have an important role in the country’s economic restructuring process.

He said the industry now has to deal with problems relating to the lack of materials, the need for more prestigious brands, poor design and unprofessional management.

Ath Thorn, President of the Cambodian Textile-Garment Association, said he was impressed by the Vietnamese textile-garment industry’s growth rates during the past five years.

He stressed his country is eager to cooperate with Vietnam in the industry, particularly in the areas of cotton cultivation and supply.

Cambodia was also interested in Vietnam’s experiences in developing the industry, its policies on labour and its business structure, said the Cambodian official.

(Source: VNA)
Read more!

JSAC to hand over special monument to local government of Cambodia

The Japanese Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in Cambodia (JSAC) will hand over a Peace Monument made of de-commissioned weapons to the Kampong Thom government on Sept. 27, said a press release issued by JSAC on Friday.

The monument, 3.5 meters in height and named "World of Peace," was created by six Cambodian artists and will be permanently installed in the Children's Park in Kampong Thom, said the release.

The weapons used to create the monument were surrendered by the residents of the province, it added.

JSAC was established by the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS) in attempt to implement the Peace Building and Comprehensive Small Arms Management Program in Cambodia. Since beginning its operations in Cambodia, JSAC has amassed 28,602 weapons.

Due to years of war at the end of last century, weapons have been widely circulated among the Cambodian civilians. Consistent efforts have been made by the government in conjunction with international bodies to collect and destroy these weapons.

Source: Xinhua
Read more!

Blogs Open Communication in Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A Cambodian blogger asked recently whether former King Norodom Sihanouk should be considered the country's founding father of blogging.

He got no definitive answer. Cambodian blog watchers say the 84-year-old monarch may not have known he was blogging when he unveiled his Web site, updated daily by his staff since 2002 with his views on national affairs, correspondence with his admirers and news about his film-making hobby.

But it is clear that young, tech-savvy Cambodians are joining Sihanouk in embracing blogs. The trend is changing their lives and their communication with people abroad — even as electricity remains an unreachable dream for most households in this poverty-ridden nation of 14 million.

"This is a kind of cultural revolution now happening here in terms of self-expression," said Norbert Klein, a longtime resident from Germany who is considered the person who introduced e-mail to Cambodia, through a dial-up connection in 1994. "It is completely a new era in Cambodian life."

Cambodians with the skills and the means to blog are discovering a wider world and using the personal online journals to show off their personalities and views about the issues facing their country, from corruption to food safety.

"Blogging transforms the way we communicate and share information," said 25-year-old student blogger Ly Borin.

To his surprise, a recent blog post of his on poor food safety in Cambodia drew a comment from an international traveler. He said interaction with a stranger living perhaps half a world away was unimaginable in Cambodia just a few years ago.

Cambodia became one of the most isolated countries in the world during the late 1970s, when the communist Khmer Rouge were in power and cut off virtually all links with the outside world as they applied radical policies that led to the death of 1.7 million people. The Khmer Rouge were ousted in 1979, but the country is still struggling to rebuild. Fewer than one-third of 1 percent of Cambodians have regular Web access.

If the Internet opened a path for news from outside Cambodia, blogging is turning the path into a two-way street.

"Having a blog brings me up to date with technology," said Keo Kalyan, a 17-year-old student whose nom-de-blog is "DeeDee, School Girl Genius! Khmer-Cyberkid." "I can do social networking and contact other bloggers" around the world.

She and three peers organized the first-ever Cambodian Bloggers Summit — the "Cloggers Summit" to the cognoscenti. Foreign professional bloggers and 200 university students took part in the two-day meeting in Cambodia last month to trade ideas.

Her team also has conducted 14 workshops for 1,700 students to share their knowledge about digital technology.

Raymond Leos, an American professor of communications and media arts at a Phnom Penh university, said Sihanouk showed his countrymen blogging's broad potential.

After seeing TV images of same-sex weddings in San Francisco in 2004, Sihanouk posted a statement expressing his support for gay marriage. When a foreigner allegedly wrote him an e-mail criticizing his stance on the subject, Sihanouk shot back on his Web site, saying "I thank you for insulting me" but "I am not gay."

"We can learn from him that blogging can be fun, interesting and provocative," Leos said.

One politically conscious blogger rapped Prime Minister Hun Sen's government over its failure to curb chronic corruption.

"I feel so shameful of our Prime Minister Hun Sen. We are begging the world for money," Vanak Thom wrote on his "Blog By Khmer." "(His) government is too corrupt. Without corruption, I know our Cambodia can be free from the abyss of this poverty."

Human Rights Watch continues to criticize the Cambodian government's treatment of dissent, but bloggers are able to express at least some overt criticism. And there is no official censorship.

More to the point, said John Weeks, an American who runs the Web design firm in Phnom Penh, blogs are not yet relevant to most Cambodians.

"I don't see blogs where farmers talk about rainfall, or where (motorbike-taxi drivers) complain about gas prices," he said.

For starters, the blogs are generally in English, a language that's becoming more popular among the new generation than French, which is the legacy of colonial times. Yet, English is spoken and read by only a tiny fraction of the country's population, limiting usefulness of the blogs to the elite.

Although there are blogs in Khmer, the Cambodian language, their growth is also hampered by the lack of standardized native fonts, said Klein, the early Internet user.

Cambodia's Internet penetration also is among the lowest in the world, in part due to high electricity and network connection costs. An hour of access at an Internet cafe here costs about 2,000 riel, or 50 cents, while 35 percent of Cambodians make less than the poverty-level income of 45 cents a day.

While only a tiny proportion of Cambodians go online, the Pew Internet and American Life Project says more than 71 percent of American adults use the Internet. About 13 percent of residents of neighboring Thailand and 19 percent of people in Vietnam have regular access, said Preetam Rai, Southeast Asian editor of Global Voices.

Seeking to reduce poverty and encourage economic growth by narrowing the digital divide, Cambodia's government has made national computer literacy a priority. It is linking local governments and national agencies to a main government data center, using a $50 million loan from South Korea, said Soung Noy, deputy secretary-general of the official National Information Communications Technology Development Authority.

Blogger Ly Borin said modern technology such as computers are simply too advanced for many older Cambodians, who have mostly just been struggling to survive for the past 30 years. The new technology, he said, "is hard for them to follow."

Cambodia's violent past also has made many older people — though not Sihanouk — fearful of speaking their minds, Klein said.

Less elevated Cambodians than Sihanouk meanwhile said they hoped to use their blogs to show how far their country has come from its troubled past.

"Cambodia is not just about Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot," said Bun Tharum, 25, referring to the now-defunct radical communist group and its late leader. "Now we have a tool to inform the outside world about how we are thinking and progressing."

Read more!