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Monday, September 28, 2009

Capreol woman collecting money to help Cambodia's poor

A Greater Sudbury woman will hold a pair of events in early October to help raise funds for a school for children, including many orphans, in a small Cambodian village.

Tammy Durand will first hold a licenced dance entitled Crank it Up in Cape-Town in the Capreol Arena upstairs hall on Saturday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

"I have 150 (tickets) sold so far," said the Capreol native. "It's going to be good. It can hold a maximum 275 people."

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Northern Credit Union Capreol branch, Joan's Variety and Ace Hardware.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Durand plans to bicycle to Toronto via North Bay, taking Highway 11 and many back roads, to both collect money for and raise awareness about her campaign.

"I'm going to take four nights to do it," she said. "My rationale is the promotion of this. It's a 509-kilometre trip. Children would walk that in 40 days if there was a food bank at the other end. Awareness is a big thing, too. I've had 31 years of living in a bubble."

The proceeds from the fundraisers will go to Durand's "ABCs and Rice Campaign" in aid of the Supporting the Orphans and Indigent People of Cambodia for Development (SOID).

Durand met the man behind SOID, a former monk named Sok Vana, while visiting Cambodia as part of a tourist group in June. She was taking a much-needed vacation after 10 years of working in the transportation field.

SOID runs an orphanage, as well as a free school for the impoverished children of Veal, a small village near Siem Reap, a city located northwest of the capital of Phnom Penh.

"If you have seen Foster Parents Plan or World Vision commercials, that's exactly what it is -- except it means so much more when you are there," she said.

Families of students at the school are given a ration of rice each month, while students get a nourishing meal each morning, five days a week.

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Vietnam and Cambodia open three more border gates

Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to open three more border gates in late this month and early next month to meet the increasing demand on transport of passengers and goods between the two sides.

The pairs of border gates are in Xa Mat of Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province and Trapeang Phlong of Cambodia’s Kompong Cham province, Tinh Bien of Vietnam’s An Giang province and Phnom Den of Cambodia’s Takeo province, and Ha Tien of Vietnam’s An Giang province and Lork Kam Pot of Cambodia’s Campot province.

With the three new border gates, the two countries will have five border gates for automobiles to enter and exit through under bilateral agreement on transport signed in 2005. (VNA) Read more!

Area Crop Walk Schedule

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Allentown CROP Walk, sponsored by the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, will be held Oct. 11.Registration begins at 1 p.m. at St. Timothy's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 140 S. Ott St., Allentown, and the walk begins at 1:30 p.m. For information, call Tom Smith at 610-433-6421.Bethlehem will hold its 25th CROP Walk on Oct. 11. Registration for the 5K walk begins at 1 p.m. under the Hill-to-Hill Bridge, Main and Spring streets.About 25 percent of the money raised in Bethlehem benefits local food pantries, soup kitchens, and agencies that serve the poor. A shorter alternate route is available for those walking with babies or children or for those who have mobility issues. For those who cannot walk but want to support the effort, go to http://www.cropwalkonline.org/.

For information, call Matt Piszel,

610-216-3567.

The walks raise money to end hunger and poverty in our community and around the world. Allentown and Bethlehem join Easton and about 2,000 communities across the country to address the causes of hunger, aid refugees, and help the victims of natural disasters.

CROP Walks are an interfaith effort of Church World Service working in 80 countries worldwide. The agency is helping Somali refugees, working to alleviate hunger in Cambodia, and addressing shelter, water, and sanitation needs for earthquake victims in Indonesia.

Church World Service relies on volunteerism to keep its administrative costs very low. For more information, visit http://www.churchworldservice.org/ .Boyertown will hold its walk Sunday starting at the Boyertown Area Multi Service, 301 W. Spring St. Registration 12:30 p.m., walk 1 p.m. For information, call the Rev. David M. Lewis, 610-323-2353.

Other walks Oct. 11 include:

Birdsboro: Registration 12:30 p.m., walk 2 p.m., Daniel Boone Homestead, 500 Daniel Boone Road Contact: Angie Kutz, 610-689-0425.

Blairstown, N.J.: Walk: 1 p.m., Blair Academy. Contact: Kaye Evans, evansk@blair.edu

Doylestown: Doylestown UMC, 320 E. Swamp Road. Contact: Mr. and Mrs. James Brennan, 215-230-9808.

Easton: Registration, 1 p.m., walk, 1:30 p.m., St. John's Lutheran Church, 330 Ferry St. Contact: Julie DeMotte, 610-923-8473.

Fleetwood: Starting at Fleetwood High School, 803 N. Richmond St. Registration 12:30 p.m., walk 1 p.m. Contact, Cheryl Weiser, 610-683-8010.

Lehighton: Walk begins at 2 p.m. at Lehigh Canal Park, Bridge Street,

Weissport. Contact: Shirley Radler, 610-377-4278.

North Penn/Lansdale: Trinity Lutheran Church, 1000 W. Main St., Lansdale. Registration 1 p.m., walk 1:30 p.m. Contact: Tom Allebach, 215-855-5454.

Palmerton: Starting location: St. John's Lutheran Church, 2915 Fireline Road, Lower Towamensing Township. Registration 1 p.m., walk 1:30 p.m. Contact: Debbie George, 610-826-5667.

Pennridge: Starting locations: St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Chestnut Street and Dill Avenue, Perkasie and The Golden Mile, Scout Cabin, Lenape Park, Sellersville. Registration for both are 12:30 p.m. and walks begin at 1 p.m. Contact: Rev. Dennis Hartman, 215-795-2923.

Quakertown: Starting location: Memorial Park at 600 Mill St. Registration noon, walk 1 p.m. Contact: Linda Cooper, 215-536-0395.

Royersford: Starting location: Royersford Baptist Church, 452 S. Lewis Road. Contact: Rev. Jim Roth, 610-489-0990.

CROP walks on Oct. 18 include:

Collegeville/Trappe: Registration, 12:30 p.m. and walk or run 1 p.m. at Trinity UCC, 532 E. Main Street, Collegeville. This walk offers two options: a two-mile walk or a 5K run, going in opposite directions. Contact: two-mile walk: Susan Bishop, 610-489-9626; 5K Run, Sunny Hallanan, 610-489-7564. Register with Sunny with a $15 minimum to receive a free t-shirt.

Indian Valley, Souderton: Registration 1:30 p.m., walk 2 p.m., Zion

Mennonite Church, 149 E. Cherry Lane, Souderton. Contact: Wayne Ledger, 610-316-4362.

Upper Perkiomen: Starting location: 400 Main St., Red Hill. Registration 12:30 p.m., walk 1 p.m. Contact: Linda Connell, 215-679-4112.

Other CROP walks:

Stroudsburg: Nov. 14, St. Matthew's Parish Center, 200 Brodhead Ave., East Stroudsburg. Contact, James Johnston, 570-242-8168.

Info: CROP Walk 888-297-2767 or http://www.cropwalk.org .
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Cambodia, Thailand sign MOU of exchange of traffic rights for border trade

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for exchange of traffic rights to boost the crossing border trade and transport facilitation between the two countries.

The MOU was signed at the end of the Second GMS Economic Corridors Forum in Phnom Penh under the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

"It is a bilateral agreement and also it has implemented the GMS cooperation in speeding up the trade and transport facilitation," Cham Prasidh, senior minister and minister of commerce told reporters at a press conference after the Forum.

"Both agreed to allow access of 40 trucks per day to and from both countries. The access is not only to the border area but to the whole country," he said, adding that it will promote the bilateral trade of the two neighboring countries.

Currently, Cambodia exports goods worth about 30 million U.S. dollars each year through Poi Pet border gate into Thailand and Thailand exports goods worth about 400 million U.S. dollars through that border gate into Cambodia, according to Cham Prasidh.

"We already signed such MOU with Vietnam aiming at boosting bilateral trade," he noted.

At the same time, Virachai Virameteekul, minister attached to the Thai Prime Minister's office said at the Second GMS Economic Corridors Forum that this agreement will inspire for more agreements of this kind among other GMS (Great Mekong Subregion Cooperation) member countries. "Transport facilitation is important and so is trade facilitation," he said.

In this connection, trade and custom facilitation, including harmonization of rules and regulations must be accelerated, and the involving governmental officials from both sides will work together for this trade and transport facilitation, he noted.

Source: Xinhua
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Top Turkish Newspaper Openly Writes of Armenian Genocide

In a very rare news article published by one of the top newspapers in Turkey Today's Zaman the author openly speaks about the Armenian Genocide and how they were orchestrated.

In the beginning it was total silence and denial. Then in the recent two years we started seeing phrases like "so called Armenian Genocide," "Armenian claims of genocide," and so on. In any case the word genocide was always written in quotation marks. Yet today, one of Turkey's premier newspapers Today's Zaman published a rare story about how the Armenian Genocide was organized and orchestrated by the ruling elite of the Turkish government in 1915.

Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights advocate writes that the "Massacres of Armenians were orchestrated and organized by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) -- which came to power through a military coup -- while the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. After these massacres and as a result of the lack of confrontation with our past, the CUP and its gangs changed their format and turned into the “deep state” in Turkey. These deep state elements continued their massacres and manipulations and drenched Turkey with blood during the Republican era. We have these deep state elements, but we also have many people fighting against them with or without knowing the history."

True the word genocide is not used in that paragraph. Instead Cengiz is using the phrase Massacres of Armenians. However, in the 5th paragraph he openly talks about the Armenan genocide in the following way. "I was in Toronto last year attending an extremely interesting course on genocide. For two weeks we went into all the details of different genocides that took place in various parts of the world. All lecturers gave exemplary presentations, and I felt I had really learned something. However, I also realized that there was a fundamental difference in the way in which the Armenian genocide is being handled. When we spoke about the Holocaust, we spoke of the Nazi regime; when we discussed the genocide in Cambodia, we talked about the Khmer regime; when it came to the Armenian genocide, though, we only heard the word "Turks."

While his sincerity is most appreciated he does have a point that when the world refers of the Jewish or Cambodia national tragedies we do refer to regimes. However, we speak of the Armenian Genocide Turks are indeed pointed. But why is this?

It is the 90 years of the denial of the truth and the fear to face its own history that has made things come to this place, where a Turk is pointed when speaking of the Armenian Genocide. Why is it taking Germany only 20 years to face the Jewish Holocaust, say thank you and compensate, but when it comes to the Armenian Genocide even the past 90 years are not enough?

It is believe that if Turkey had earlier recognized the genocide and condemned it the following generations would have blamed it to the ruling regime of the time not the nation. In fact, I have heard many stories that many Turkish families have risked their lives hiding the Armenian families, their neighbors from massacres and killings in and around 1915.

A historic moment is upon us. Today the president of Armenian, meeting with the leaders of various Armenian parties and discussing the pre-signing of the Turkey Armenia normalization protocols, despite much criticism, said that "we want to show that even the nation that has fallen a victim to a genocide can be the first to offer a hand of normalization of relationship." Arming themselves with sincerity, honesty and the sense of fairness and justice the Armenian, Turkish and Azerbaijani nations should look to a new South Caucasus, building a better future for their children and themselves.

Written by Armen Hareyan
Founder of HULIQ.com

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Thailand 'lying' over boy's death, says Cambodia

Cambodia yesterday accused Thailand of lying when it denied involvement in the death of a Cambodian teenager near the border of Thailand's northeastern Surin province.

The young Cambodian was reportedly shot and burned alive as he and other Cambodian loggers tried to escape from the Thai military into Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province.

The Second Army Region Commander Lt. General Wiboonsak Neeparn said he had checked records of all agencies under his command and found no evidence of any shooting.

"There was no such incident in the area. I wonder why Cambodia made such a report?" the commander said.

The Thai Foreign Ministry has maintained the same stance, saying the brutal incident never happened.

Ministry spokesperson Wimon Kidchob said earlier Thai soldiers fired bullets into the air after finding eight Cambodians sneaking into Thailand to cut down trees.

The denial has angered authorities in Cambodia, both in Oddar Meanchey and in Phnom Penh.

Oddar Meanchey Governor Pich Sokhin called the Thai assertion a lie. "How could our people have been injured and killed if their soldiers shot into the air?" the governor was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post.

"Their interpretation is a lie to avoid responsibility and to hide their cruelty from the public. Our people are injured and dead. How can they say they are not responsible?"

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry has sent a diplomatic note to Bangkok asking for an explanation and is still awaiting an official reply.

Phnom Penh has urged Thailand to conduct an investigation into the case and find and punish those responsible.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chinese VP meets Cambodian king

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (front, R) meets with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni (front, L) in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)


BEIJING, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinpingmet here Wednesday with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

Xi said China and Cambodia are good neighbors with long-term traditional friendship, and such a friendly neighborhood has been strengthened in recent years in an all-round way.

The two countries have expanded their friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation in political, economic, cultural and educational areas, Xi said.

"China-Cambodia relations are a good example of cooperation based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence," Xi said.

He praised the contribution of the Cambodian royal family to boosting the ties with China, expressing gratitude for the support on issues concerning China's sovereignty and core interests related to Taiwan and Tibet.

"China attaches importance to the relations with Cambodia, and will make joint efforts to push forward comprehensive and cooperative partnership in a long-term and healthy way," Xi said.

Sihamoni said Cambodia values the relationship with China and will continue to promote their cooperation. He reaffirmed Cambodia will adhere to the one-China policy.

Sihamoni was crowned King in 2004 from his father Norodom Sihanouk who had maintained close relations with China.
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Cambodian opposition leader Mu Sochua speaks of government repression at home

Social-welfare grad faces potential arrest following testimony to U.S. lawmakers, she says


By Cathy Cockrell, NewsCenter



BERKELEY — "We cannot accept democracy fed to us by the teaspoon; we want full democracy," a Cambodian parliamentary opposition leader, Mu Sochua, told an audience at Berkeley in a brief but impassioned talk Sept. 14.

Her campus appearance came just four days after she testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, telling members of Congress that "democracy in Cambodia is experiencing an alarming free fall."

According to the human-rights advocate, that act of defiance has been ill received by the ruling regime back home, and daily radio attacks against her by a government spokesman have taken a serious turn. "This morning … he used the word 'traitor,'" she said, noting that treason carries a prison sentence of 20 years to life in Cambodian law. "I am going home facing jail," Ms. Mu said with emotion.

"I have no fear of jail," she later added, "but I fear something else which I can't tell you — not the bullets, but the acid attack. That is very common."

A Cal alum who earned her master's degree at the School of Social Welfare in 1981 and Berkeley's prestigious Haas International Award in 2006, Mu has spent a quarter century battling sex trafficking, domestic violence against women, government corruption, and illegal appropriation of land in her country. In 2005, in recognition of her efforts, she was one of 1,000 women from 153 countries nominated jointly for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Mu has served in the Cambodian government as adviser on women's affairs to the prime minister and as the nation's minister of women's and veterans' affairs. More recently, as a member of the Sam Rainsy opposition party, her relationship with government authorities has deteriorated. Mu has been stripped of the immunity normally accorded members of Parliament, and on Aug. 4 was found guilty by the courts in Phnom Penh of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power since the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

In her talk before a standing-room-only audience of several hundred, Mu said her life's work had been informed by values she learned at the School of Social Welfare. But "what I learned on the ground," she added, "is that social work alone" — as a means to ameliorate her people's social and economic problems — "will continue to make the people feel as if they are victims.

"We cannot afford to let our people believe they are victims," Mu said. "We have to go one step beyond that…. If we really want a change, it has to be a political issue." Language and culture present barriers to political change, she said: the term "accountability," for example, has no equivalent in Cambodian, while the word for "opposition" implies someone who is confrontational and destructive. Working against such obstacles, Mu, as leader of her party's women's movement, spearheaded a campaign to identify and encourage grassroots women to run for office in their villages.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Cambodian government is increasingly using the judicial system to silence opposition leaders, journalists, and human-rights organizations. Mu noted that Cambodia receives $1 billion a year in foreign aid, $53 million of it from the United States, despite its flaunting of legal and human rights. She called on members of the campus community to demand that U.S. aid to Cambodia be tied to compliance with human-rights standards and to demand that those Cambodians who speak out publicly against the government not be persecuted for doing so.


"Send a signal to Hillary Clinton," Mu said. "I don't want to go to jail. With your silence, I will go to jail."


More information: "Fighting Cambodia’s Goliath: Mu Sochua (MSW ’81)," from the School of Social Welfare ENews..
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

RP Seals 10th ASA this year with Cambodia

THE Philippines and Cambodia sealed on Wednesday their first air pact, fielding a total of 35 weekly flights.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) deputy executive director Porvenir Porciuncula said the two-day discussion among the panels of both countries was concluded in Cambodia.

Both panels agreed on seven flights per week on the Manila-Cambodia route, 14-weekly flights on Clark-Cambodia, and another 14 flights per week on points in the Philippines except Manila and Clark.

The Philippine panel is composed of officials from the departments of Transportation and Communications, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, and Trade and Industry, CAB and representatives from airline companies.

The CAB expects to clinch agreements with six more countries for the rest of the year, said CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla.

“We have lined up a number of countries and we are just waiting for a confirmation of the schedule. These are the countries that we are coordinating with to discuss our air services agreement (ASA),” said Arcilla.

The CAB official said the panel is expected to hold bilateral negotiations with Turkey, China, Russia, Italy, Korea and Iceland to amend the Philippines’ existing ASAs with them.

The latest air pact, sealed with the United Kingdom in July, was the ninth agreement sealed by the Philippine air panel this year. In June a new deal with Singapore was finalized.

Other ASAs were sealed with Spain, Brunei, Australia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  

In the past, the panel clinched agreements with Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Canada, Finland, Iran and the Netherlands. L. Lectura

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Cambodia protests alleged Thai brutality at border

Cambodia sought an explanation from Thailand on Wednesday for an incident in which a Cambodian youth was allegedly shot, then burned alive by Thai paramilitary troops in a disputed border area.
Ouch Borith, a senior Cambodian Foreign Ministry official, said Thailand had yet to reply to a diplomatic letter sent Tuesday requesting an investigation into the incident.

The Cambodian letter said Thai rangers shot at a group of Cambodian villagers who were allegedly cutting down trees illegally in the border area of Oddar Meancheay Province last Friday.

It said two teenage boys from the group were badly wounded. One of them, identified as Mao Kheung, escaped, while the other, 16-year-old Yon Rith, was arrested and burned alive by Thai forces, it claimed.

"The boy was our compatriot and he has received very cruel and inhumane treatment from the Thai forces, such as should not occur in the 21st century," Ouch Borith said.

Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman Wimon Kidchob told reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday that the Cambodian villagers had crossed into Thai territory and were simply sent back.

"According to the military, there was no arrest. They were given a warning and pushed back without any incident," she said.

Ouch Borith said Cambodia officials had collected the boys remains _ a rope used to tie his hands and a pile of ashes _ from the scene of the incident.

He urged the Thai government to seriously investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

Tensions going back centuries between the neighboring countries flared in 2003, when a mob burned down the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh after a Thai actress allegedly made an insulting remark. Tensions soared again last year over the disputed border territory.
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War-weary Asian nations offer new treats for tourists

Tempting tourists back when the bombing stops is never easy, but war-weary Asian countries are planning new treats for travellers in a bid to cash in on a "peace dividend".

Governments are scrambling to replace images of conflict with offers of dream holidays, from whale-watching in Sri Lanka to leisurely treks in Nepal, meditation in Bali and golf in Cambodia.

Sri Lanka's golden beaches, along with tea plantations and ancient religious sites, had long attracted visitors -- but numbers dropped as decades of war tormented the teardrop-shaped tropical island.

When government forces claimed victory against Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in May, tourism chiefs set to work, launching a campaign entitled "Sri Lanka: Small Miracle", to polish its post-war image.

One of the new activities designed to sell the country as a diverse destination is whale watching, focused on the giant mammals frequenting the island's shores between December and April.

British marine biologist Charles Anderson says the numbers of blue and sperm whales and their proximity to shore make the island a natural lure for the growing numbers of eco-tourists.

"Sri Lanka has enormous potential to be a whale destination," said the Maldives-based Anderson, who has been studying Indian Ocean whales for 25 years.

Dileep Mudadeniya, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's managing director, estimates the promotional campaign will help raise tourist arrivals by at least 20 percent to 500,000 visitors in 2010.

"We have an image that has been challenged by war and travel advisories. Now the war is over. There is lot of interest in us and we will see an upswing by November," Mudadeniya told AFP.

Another country recently freed from the grip of conflict, Nepal, is also hoping that peace will bring back the tourists and is looking to tempt them with a new "Himalayan Trail" running the length of the country.

The number of tourists travelling to Nepal slumped during a 10-year civil war between the army and Maoist rebels which ended in 2006.

But last year a record 550,000 people visited the Himalayan state after foreign governments relaxed their travel warnings.

Tourism authorities say they hope to attract a million visitors by 2011 and are focusing on some of the less developed areas of the country, where few foreigners have ventured.

"We are banking on the peace dividend," said Aditya Baral, director of the Nepal Tourism Board.
"There are lots of unexplored areas in western and eastern Nepal and this time we are trying our best to encourage people to visit those areas where very few people have travelled."

One plan -- still in its early stages -- involves creating a "Himalayan Trail", taking trekkers to some of the remotest parts of the country.

The trail would link paths already used by local people to transport goods and livestock, and would take three months to complete -- with most visitors expected to walk it in stages.

Even intermittent violence can ruin a country's tourist trade, as the Indonesian resort island of Bali learnt to its cost after Islamic militant bomb attacks in 2002 and 2005 killed a total of some 220 people.

The first Bali bombings cut foreign tourist arrivals to the island by 70 percent -- and they took years to return.

Bali Tourism Board secretary general Anak Agung Suryawan Wiranatha said the island had marketed itself as a haven of peace to counter the negative consequences of the bombings.

"Now we promote Bali as a peaceful and spiritual destination. We promote yoga and meditation on the island," Wiranatha said.

"Now health tourism and spas are booming. They are the favorites of tourists from Japan and Korea."

But it is not easy to rebuild tourism in a country that has seen sustained violence, like Cambodia, where up to two million people died under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

Decades of civil strife ended in 1998, and tourism is now one of the few sources of foreign exchange for the impoverished southeast Asian nation.

Even though Cambodia now lures more than two million foreign visitors a year, most stay only briefly to see the ancient World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat temple complex.

"We need time to (change our image)," Ho Vandy, co-chair of Cambodia's tourism working group told AFP.

The government last year launched an international "Kingdom of Wonder" campaign promoting the country's beaches, eco-tourism and culture.

More than 20 islands have been designated for development, Vandy said, while a new airport in seaside Sihanoukville is expected to open later this year.

Other plans include a game park for well-heeled hunters in the remote jungle-covered northern Ratanakiri province and several luxury golf courses around the country.

Nothing illustrates the cost of violence and the value of peace in the Asian region quite as clearly as the contrasting situations in Pakistan's Swat valley and Indian Kashmir.

Tourists are returning to Kashmir, once described by a 17th-century visiting emperor as a "paradise on earth", as militant violence in the Muslim-majority region subsides to its lowest level since 1989.

In 1988 more than 700,000 tourists visited Kashmir, but the number declined sharply as the insurgency intensified. Now the tide appears to be turning again, with more than 380,000 visiting in the first seven months of 2009.

Not far away, Pakistan's Swat valley was the jewel of the country's tourism crown and known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan" -- until Taliban militants this year pushed into towns and villages in a bid to enforce sharia law.

It is not just Swat that has been hit by insurgents -- more than 2,000 people have been killed in Taliban-linked attacks across Pakistan in the last two years, scaring away all but the most intrepid foreign tourists.

Pakistan earned 16 billion rupees (200 million dollars) from 800,000 visitors in 2007. Fewer than 400,000 visitors came in 2008, bringing in just eight billion rupees, and the numbers are expected to be even lower this year.

"Terrorism has really affected us a great deal," Tourism Minister Ataur Rehman told AFP.

"We have started our endeavours to attract tourists from the world over as the situation in Swat and other areas is stable now and will enable us to again make them attractive tourist zones," he said.

But the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009 put Pakistan at 113 out of 130 countries, and officials say there is a long way to go until Swat is returned to its former glory.

Until then, tourists are likely to turn to the countries that have already put their conflicts behind them, to sample the new temptations on offer.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Thai FM visits area near Preah Vihear temple

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya Sunday visited the area near Preah Vihear Temple during which he was welcomed by Cambodia's military leaders and both sides agreed to avoid more clashes, an official said on Monday.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman of National Defense, said on Monday that Kasit Piromya was inspecting his Thai military that have been posted at the border front lines before entering into the area near Preah Vihear Temple.

According to Chhum Socheat, Kasit was welcomed by Gen. Chea Dara, deputy commander-in-chief of Cambodia's armed forces, and both held a brief talk on the situation and exchanged pledges from the two countries' leaders of not having more clashes and were committed to solve the border issue by peaceful means.

Socheat said Kasit had requested a prior permission from Cambodia before entering into the area, for a one-hour visit, to learn and understand the situation there.

Kasit's visit to the area was made more than two weeks after Cambodia had withdrawn half of its troops from the disputed area to ease the tension.

Skirmishes between Cambodia and Thai forces occurred four times since the border conflict began in July last year.

The border conflict began after Preah Vihear Temple was listed as the World Heritage Site on 7 July, 2008.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia PM lauds China's aid

Cambodia's premier lauded China for providing billions of dollars of aid without imposing conditions, a subtle jibe at Western donors who seek curbs on human rights abuses and corruption.

"They are quiet, but at the same time they build bridges and roads, and there are no complicated conditions," Prime Minister Hun Sen at a ceremony for the construction of a new bridge built with $US128 million of Chinese aid.

Hun Sen recently rejected World Bank aid intended for settling land disputes after the Washington-based institution and rights groups accused Cambodian authorities of forcibly evicting tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Speaking to about 1,000 villagers and China's ambassador in Prek Kdam, about 50 km north of the capital Phnom Phen, Hun Sen said Beijing's aid had helped Cambodia become more independent while fostering social and economic development.

"China respects the political decisions of Cambodia," he said. "We have a mutual understanding and respect each other."

Cambodia's government has come under fire recently, accused of corruption and undermining the judiciary, although analysts say the investment environment is stable after decades of poverty, brutalilty and instability.

China is Cambodia's biggest aid donor, providing $US600 million in 2007 and about $260 million in 2008.

It also leads the country's foreign direct investment, with about $US1 billion spent in the war-scarred Southeast Asian nation this year.

Hun Sen added he also supported China's multimillion dollar investments in hydroelectric power.
Western environmentalists have accused Cambodia of failing to provide adequate environmental safeguards for such projects.


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Cambodia accuses Thai soldiers of killing teenager

It have been years after years, the THAI soldiers have been shooting and killing Cambodian civilians. All victims were shot or burned alive in execution style. Those evil Thai soldiers are cold blood killer and never getting punishment. They had no rights to kill Cambodian Citizens. Those Evil must be taken to justice.

A Cambodian provincial official has accused Thai soldiers of shooting a Cambodian teenager engaged in illegal logging and then setting him on fire, the website of the Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported.

Thon Nol, governor of Samrong district in Oddar Meanchey province, claimed Thai soldiers accused Yon Rith, 16. of illegally felling trees and shot him.

The victim's family found his charred body and took it to their village for a funeral, he said.

He also accused the Thai soldiers of shooting and seriously wounding another teenage boy from the same village in Kon Kreal commune. Friends carried him to Cambodian territory and the teenager was being treated at a local hospital.

Cambodian officials denounced the violence as "cruel" acts.

"Why did they burn a person alive? [The armed forces] should have arrested them if they did anything wrong in Thailand," a Cambodian cabinet official Pich Ratana was quoted as saying.

The governor said Cambodian authorities were trying to help the victims.

Nanh Sovann, a Cambodian military officer who has worked with the Thai army, said he had heard of the incident but was waiting to see an official report.

The Thai army had not responded to the news report as of Monday evening.
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UN names Cambodian genocide museum leading archive

PHNOM PENH (AP) - Cambodia's Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formerly a prison and torture center operated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, has been declared by the U.N. to be an archive of worldwide significance for its historical documents.

The Cambodian government and U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO - opened a meeting Monday to establish a national committee to oversee the museum's operation as a newly designated "Memory of the World" site.

A UNESCO meeting at the end of July in Bridgetown, Barbados named the museum as one of 35 archives worldwide added to a list of almost 200 that are exceptional historical repositories.

The museum, formerly a high school in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, was turned into S-21 prison after the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. Of the estimated 16,000 men, women and children who passed through its gates, only a handful survived. An estimated 1.7 million people died as a result of the communist Khmer Rouge's radical policies from 1975 to 1979.

The museum's archive includes 4,186 confessions - often falsely given by prisoners under torture - 6,226 biographies of prisoners, 6,147 photographic prints and negatives of prisoners and other items.

The prison was headed by Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who is currently being tried by Cambodia's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

About 30 people attended the workshop, including officials from Tuol Sleng, the National Museum and the Culture Ministry, government advisers and UNESCO officials.

Helen Jarvis, a government adviser, told the workshop that the archive constitutes the most complete extant documentary picture of the Khmer Rouge regime and an essential part of Cambodia's recent history. It is also being used to provide pivotal evidence at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, she said.

Some aspects of the Memory of the World project deal with man's inhumanity to man, and the Tuol Sleng museum has "documentation of one of the most extreme examples of crimes against humanity in the 20th century with a major impact on world history," Jarvis said.

UNESCO established the Memory of the World Program in 1992 to respond to the growing awareness of the problems of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world.

Its guidelines state that the world's documentary heritage should be preserved, protected and made permanently accessible to the public.
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Cambodian-Chinese friendship benefits two peoples:Hun Sen

PHNOM PENH, The friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and China have brought continued benefits to the two peoples, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1958 under their then leaderships -- His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, he said in a recent written interview with Xinhua.

"Until now, the Cambodian people always consider the relations a valuable legacy of the two leaders," he said, adding that "such good relations have been constantly strengthened by their succeeding leaders and their peoples."

He said the Kingdom of Cambodia have always staunchly adhered to the one-China policy and regard Taiwan and Tibet as inalienable parts of China.

Hun Sen said that over the recent years, there have been frequent exchanges of high-level visits between both countries. "And as for myself, since 2004, I, as a Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, have paid eight visits to China," he said.

"Obviously, such visits have further strengthened the friendship" between the two countries and promoted their economic, trade, culture and tourism cooperation.

He noted that China has provided huge financial assistance in the forms of grants and loans for major infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and hydro power stations.

From 1992 to June 2009, China's financial aid to Cambodia has totaled some 923 million U.S. dollars, Hun Sen said.

He also extended his congratulations on the 60th anniversary of the birth of New China which falls on Oct. 1.

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China becomes Cambodia's biggest development partner: PM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that China became a biggest development partner that has assisted to build Cambodia's infrastructure.

"China is a big country but they always respected us the small one. China has always followed our decision for constructing the infrastructure in Cambodia. That is the greatest value for us," he said while attending the closing ceremony of the Prek Kdam Bridge which is under preferential buyer's credit loan from China.

"I have always told Chinese leadership that the assistance from China not only helps economic and social development in Cambodia but also helps Cambodia to strengthen the independence of Cambodian politics," he added.

He pointed out that "the good cooperation and relationship between the two countries also got the in-heritage from former king father Preah Norodom Sihanouk because former king exercised one china policy in years and I myself has been continuing to do it."

China has a special habit, he noted, which is that Chinese speak less but do a lot and it is good point, adding that "I could work with Chinese leaders. China always keeps quiet but they offered the assistance for us and do more for us, and their assistance is without conditions."

He also highlighted that he has worked with three Chinese prime ministers including Li Peng and Zhu Rongji and has been continuing to work with Prime Miniter Wen Jinbao. Moreover, he said "Chinese leaders' language are easy to understand because Chinese side has always said that assistance from them focus on the infrastructure projects on economic development effectively and helps poverty reduction in the country."

"I also thanked Chinese side that they considered me as their old friend. We have confidence each other in cooperation between the two countries," he said.

"We all thanked Chinese government and their people for their efforts which have contributed to develop Cambodia's infrastructure." He asked the Chinese ambassador who are in the presence to convey his words to the Chinese side.
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Child sex tourism study 'blames Aussies'

STEVE LILLEBUEN


With a middle-class background and an internet connection, the Australian man is keen to explore travel deals advertised across the web.

He is the co-worker, relative and mate who awaits cheap flights to Southeast Asia that the economic downturn has made all the more plentiful.

But he is drawn to such tropical places not for the beaches, cheap drinks and a brief escape from the rat race.

He is the customer in a growing global issue that sees over 1.8 million children as young as eight years old being sold for sex - sometimes up to ten times a day - until they're considered "worthless" before they reach their 30th birthday.

And new studies reveal this man has more mates than ever who think and act just like him.

Australians make up the largest portion of foreign sex offenders against children in Thailand, according to research at John Hopkins University in Baltimore that studied patterns of arrests and prosecutions between 1995 and 2006.

His money is fuelling a $US31.6 billion ($A36.5 billion) industry in trafficking in what a recent report by a global network of groups against child sex slavery concludes is a "massive human rights violation that is currently going largely unnoticed around the world".

Bernadette McMenamin, CEO of Child Wise Australia, says child sex trafficking remains a hidden problem that most Australians have become complacent about - even though a main root of the global crime is the Australian offender.

"People tell us, 'It happens overseas. Isn't that an issue we talked about years ago?' But what we've found is that ... the supply and demand factors fuelling child sex slavery have actually grown," she told AAP.

"The number of children entering the trade has grown. Efforts to combat this problem have not succeeded despite pouring money into overseas governments."

A new global campaign called "Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People," will be launched on Monday to help reverse the trend and bring the issue back into the homes of the average Australian.

Being run across 45 countries, the campaign aims to raise awareness, conduct a survey on people's attitudes and lobby national governments.

In February, Child Wise will step up the campaign by backing stalled amendments to child sex tourism laws in the federal parliament.

Rather than seeing authorities wait for child sex to occur before acting, the amendments seek out preparatory offences: stopping sex offenders from travelling overseas, buying flights and possessing child pornography.

"We've waited long enough," Ms McMenamin says of the proposed changes. "We're simply not keeping up with travelling sex offenders."

Only small changes are required to save Asian girls from being sold into a life of slavery, she says.

The Body Shop has already joined the Child Wise campaign by selling a hand cream that directs profits to Cambodian outreach programs.

Such programs can provide support for girls and keep them in school with books, pens and bicycles.

It may not seem like a lot but the average child sex slave is sold for only a few hundred dollars by a family or boyfriend in poverty desperate for cash, she says.

In Cambodia children are brought in from Vietnam or taken from village to village, then off to Thailand.

All these victims suffer lifelong mental and physical damage. Some contract HIV/AIDS while most find it hard to reintegrate into society after a decade of such slavery.

Ms McMenamin says most Australians view the price of petrol as a greater concern than the welfare of foreign children.

"We have increased awareness and there have been some arrests but overall we're not putting a dent in the problem," she says.

"We need people to try and think beyond what's going on in their lives."


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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Prosecutor wants 5 more Khmer Rouge investigated

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -A prosecutor at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal has formally recommended that five more suspects be investigated for crimes against humanity and other offenses, setting the legal body on a collision course with the country's powerful prime minister.

A statement from the tribunal Tuesday said the acting international co-prosecutor, William Smith of Australia, submitted his recommendation to the co-investigating judges, who would then decide whether to issue arrest warrants.

Citing the confidentiality of the process, the tribunal announcement did not identify the five new suspects. It said the cases involved at least 32 instances of murder, torture, unlawful detention, forced labor, and persecution that constituted violations of Cambodian and international law.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly spoken out against expanding the list of defendants beyond the one now on trial — Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, — and four others in custody.

On Monday, Hun Sen said such action could lead to civil war, a claim doubted by his critics.
"I would like to tell you that if you prosecute (more leaders) without thinking beforehand about national reconciliation and peace, and if war breaks out again and kills 20,000 or 30,000 people, who will be responsible?" Hun Sen said.


The tribunal's Cambodian co-prosecutor opposed further indictments, but the tribunal last week ruled that his international counterpart could seek them. The tribunal, created last year under an agreement reached in 2003 between Cambodia and the United Nations, employs joint teams of Cambodian and international court personnel.

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal, said there was no timeframe for action by the co-investigating judges on Smith's submission, made Monday.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the communist regime's radical policies while in power between 1975-79.

The U.N. administrator for the tribunal issued a blunt reminder Tuesday to Hun Sen that the panel was independent.

"It is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval of advice on their work from the executive branch," Knut Rosandhaug said in a statement.

Critics accuse Hun Sen of trying to limit the tribunal's scope to prevent his political allies from being indicted. Hun Sen once served as a Khmer Rouge officer and many of his main allies are also former members of the group.

The tribunal's long-awaited first trial — of Kaing Guek Eav, the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer for war crimes and crimes against humanity — opened in March. A joint trial of the four other defendants is expected within the next two years.

The Khmer Rouge came to power after a bitter 1970-75 civil war, and after being ousted from power in 1979, carried out an insurgency from the jungles until 1999.
Hun Sen has dominated Cambodian politics for more than two decades. He ousted his former co-prime minister in a 1997 coup and has since ruled virtually unchallenged.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Mike Fowler | Journalist/prosecutor trained reporters around the world

BY ELINOR J. BRECHER


Mike Fowler, a veteran lawyer/journalist who left Miami jobs in both fields to train reporters in Asia and the Middle East, died Aug. 18 in New Hampshire. He was 67.

His wife, journalist Susan Postelwaite, said he suffered complications from routine laparoscopic surgery for gastro-intestinal reflux.

The couple and daughter Kim, 8, were summering at their home in North Sandwich, N.H., when Fowler took sick. They'd planned a return to Kim's native Cambodia, where both Fowler and Postelwaite wrote and taught.

During the 1970s and '80s, the Kansas City native worked in Miami for UPI and the Miami News and taught part time at Florida International University. After graduating from the University of Miami School of Law, he became a prosecutor in then-State Attorney Janet Reno's office.

The two-time Knight Fellow went on to train journalists, write and teach in Egypt, India, Bulgaria and Afghanistan, as well as Cambodia.

``He was really important because during the early to mid-1990s, Cambodia's journalism was very young and we strongly needed training to pass on the skills and knowledge to local journalists,'' Moeun Chhean Narridh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, told the English language Cambodia Daily.

Miami political consultant Keith Donner took classes from Fowler in the mid-1980s at FIU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

``Mike was this mixture of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene,'' Donner recalled. ``He was a tall, hulking guy -- about six-foot-five -- with a great wit and tremendous intellect,'' as well as a fondness for cigarettes and Scotch.

``He was the coolest guy in a very cool profession.''


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Taiwan court convicts Chen, imposes life sentence

Taiwan's former president Chen Shui-bian speaks to media at the Taipei District Court after being released on bail, early Saturday morning, Dec. 13, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP)


Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian got life behind bar for corruptions and causing great damages to the country. Inspired of that the Hun Xen regime officials have been destroying the country, selling the country and enormous corruptions are walking free. Cambodians wonder when are those criminals going to stay for life in prison?

CTV.ca News Staff
Former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has been sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of corruption on Friday, marking a defining moment in the island's troubled political history.

Chen's wife was also convicted of corruption and she too will be serving a life term, according to Taipei court official Huang Chun-ming.

Huang said the couple was also fined NT $500 million (about $16.3 million CAD)

"Chen Shui-bian and Wu Shu-chen were sentenced to life in prison because Chen has done grave damage to the country, and Wu, because she was involved in corruption deals as the first lady," Huang told The Associated Press.

Hundreds of people held a protest outside the courtroom to show their support for Chen, holding flags and banners that proclaimed his innocence and asking the court to "free him."

Chen, 58, was found guilty of multiple counts of corruption by three judges in the Taipei District Court. He chose not to attend the proceedings, opting instead to stay in a suburban Taipei jail where he has been held since late December.

He was charged with:

embezzling $3.15 million from a presidential fund
receiving bribes worth $9 million in connection with a government land deal
laundering money through Swiss bank accounts forging documents.

Many Taiwanese believed that Chen was guilty of some level of corruption though his supporters remain convinced that Chen's views against China played a role in his prosecution and his jail term.

At first, Chen was freed on his own recognizance following his indictment late 2008. The three judges who made that decision were taken off the case and replaced by a new panel. The new judges ordered Chen back in police custody, deeming him a flight risk and saying that he could use his freedom to collude with coconspirators.

But the Taiwanese justice officials have steadfastly rejected accusations of unfairness, saying that no man -- regardless of his position -- is above the law.

Chen first came into power in 2000 after he vowed to eradicate decades of corruption by the Nationalist Party. He also promised he would deepen Taiwan's independence.

However, he was swiftly criticized for his alleged tendency to bend accepted procedures and relax the management of a special presidential fund meant to promote Taiwan's interests overseas.

Chen faced numerous challenges, including China's hostility and tense relations with the U.S. -- Taiwan's major foreign partner.

Washington had pressured the former president to stand down from his insistence on Taiwanese independence, afraid it would spark a war with Beijing.

President Ma Ying-jeou has since taken over for Chen, who has managed to improve relations with Beijing.

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Lamoiyan Corp. to export Hapee products to China

MANILA - Filipino-owned Lamoiyan Corp., the manufacturer of the Hapee toothpaste brand, will be exporting its products to China, the company’s top official said.

Cecilio Kwok Pedro, the company’s president and chief executive, said they have decided to be more aggressive and enter the Chinese market.

Lamoiyan has been exporting its products to Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Pa-pua New Guinea and the Middle East.

“In every crisis, there is an opportunity,” Pedro said.

The company will compete with multinational companies in China using its cost-competitive advantage in the consumer market – the same formula it used to break into the foreign-dominated toothpaste segment in the Philippines.

Pedro said Lamoiyan is putting emphasis on participating in trade fairs as a strategy to expand its market. In 2008, the company participated in a trade fair in Dubai and bagged a distributorship deal.

This year, the company joins for the first time the China-ASEAN Expo 2009, the country’s trade platform for exporters hoping to explore the Chinese market.

Led by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, CAEXPO 2009 is a yearly celebration of more than a thousand years of trade and cultural exchanges between China and Southeast Asian nations.

CAEXPO began as an annual event in 2003. Over the past five years, it generated a total of 119,000 trade visitors, $6.52 billion in trade volume, and international investments cooperation projects worth $28.62 billion.

Together with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Philippines will promote its trade, tourism and investment opportunities to over 10,000 trade buyers from China and all over South East Asia attending CAEXPO.

Last year, the Philippines generated close to $1 million in sales.

The best-selling Philippine products were bottled sardines, bangus pate, virgin coconut oil, snack foods and fresh fruits. Other Filipino exhibitors joining Lamoiyan are Agrinurture Inc. (canned fruit juices, coco products); Art Workx Jewelry Inc. (jewelry designing); Beadaholic Inc. (fashion accessories); Beso Import Export Trading (ready-to-drink); Camelia (candies, chocolates); Cechosa Trading Enterprises (tin crafts); Egonco Enterprises (Philippine Banana snack); Jacildo’s Handicrafts (home d├ęcor); Knick Knacks Trading Corp. (arts, crafts and gifts); Manila Business College (Education); Mega Fishing Corp. (sardines); Nor-Ref Food Products (brewed coffee); Phymax International Corp. (Stationery and Desk Accessories); Team Asia Corp, (Refined Coconut oil); and Unique Novelties and Toys (toys).

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Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk prefers to be cremated

By Rasmei Kampuchea


Phnom Penh: The former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, told his people if he dies he prefers to having his body cremated.

During the meeting with Bun Rany Hun Sen, wife of Prime minister Hun Sen and president of Cambodian Red Cross, which took place on August 29, he said the stupa was built already for him in the royal palace.

The former King, who is 86 years old, explained that for Christine people, their body will be buried, but for him, his body shall be cremated through the Khmer tradition.

"My wife (former Queen Monineath) also agrees that her body should also be cremated when she dies," said Sihanouk.

He said his cancers have been treated by Chinese doctors, but he was recommended to have medical checkups and treatments every 7 months.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

JSM Indochina plans to move to LSE's main mkt

Sept 10 (Reuters) - AIM-listed property firm JSM Indochina Ltd on Thursday said it planned to apply for trading on the London Stock Exchange's main market.

JSM, which invests in Vietnamese and Cambodian real estate, said it expected the move to the main board of the LSE would be concluded before year end.

So far, six AIM-listed firms have transferred to LSE's main market. In 2008, 11 companies had moved to the main market.

JSM's move to graduate to the main market comes at a time when a growing band of small companies are planning to delist from the junior market as many see the cost of staying listed outweighs any potential benefit.

JSM, whose investment portfolio comprises five projects in Cambodia and two in Vietnam, was listed on AIM in July 2007.

For the six months ended June 30, the company's net loss was $9 million, compared with net profit of $18 million in the year-ago period.
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Vietnamese producers urged to cement position in Cambodia

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam-made products have become the second-most favoured products in the neighbouring market of Cambodia, just after Thai goods, a survey has found. However, Vietnam could be dislodged from the second position if it does not come up with suitable business strategies for the market.

The survey of Cambodian retailers and Vietnam-, Thailand- and China-made goods in the Cambodian market, conducted by BSA and Truong Doan Market Survey Company in August 2009 in Phnom Penh and Battambong, showed that Vietnam-made goods are popular in the country.

There are two main factors that are responsible for this: they are cheaper than Thai products and have acceptable quality.

The programme on introducing high-quality Vietnamese products in Cambodia, which has been in existence for eight years, has also made a considerable contribution to the popularising of Vietnamese goods in the market. A lot of Vietnamese brand names like Kinh Do or Vina Acecook have become familiar to Cambodian consumers.

However, the said survey has also pointed out problems with Vietnam-made goods. Goods are often inconsistent as far as quality.

Many Vietnam-made products are unfriendly to Cambodian consumers, since no Khmer words are on the packages or instruction books. This is particularly critical in sales of fertiliser or pharmaceutical products.

Some Cambodian retailers have complained that they cannot contact Vietnamese producers when necessary, since no addresses are provided on product packages. Meanwhile, Cambodian retailers say that they can get support from Thai producers when selling Thai products.

As for food products, Vietnamese producers still have not made deep studies of the tastes of consumers; they are simply selling the products they have. Instant noodles are an example. Vietnamese noodles are selling well on the market, but just because they are much cheaper than the same products from Thailand.

The current position may be lost

Cambodia, with 14.7 million people and income per capita at $600 per annum, as well as an open import policy (no limitation is set on the imports of the country), is a market with great potentials for Vietnam.

In 2008, two-way trade between Vietnam and Cambodia was $1.7 billion, of which Vietnam exported $1.45 billion.

However, Truong Cung Nghia, Market Survey Director of Truong Doan, has warned that Vietnam will be dislodged from the position if it does not come up with suitable business strategies.

China still does not consider Cambodia a potential market, so it has no plan to develop the market. But the situation may be different in the future.

Meanwhile, goods from Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia have begun landing in the market. The Chinese community in Cambodia has close relations with the Chinese communities in the said countries.

Additionally, Thailand continues conquering the market with methodical measures and with support from the Government. Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises do not get any support from their Government.

VietNamNet/TBKTVN

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Cambodia PM accuses other countries of stirring unrest

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s prime minister accused foreign judges and prosecutors at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal of seeking to arrest new suspects as part of a plot by foreign governments to incite unrest.

Hun Sen’s accusation was the latest in a series he has launched against the tribunal and its ruling last week to allow foreign prosecutors to pursue more suspects.

On Monday, Hun Sen said such action could lead to civil war. He has repeatedly spoken out against expanding the list of defendants beyond the one currently on trial — Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, — and four others in custody.

He elaborated Wednesday, saying foreign governments want war in Cambodia, a former French colony that was later wracked by decades of civil war.

“I know that some foreign judges and prosecutors have received orders from their governments to create problems here,” Hun Sen said while inaugurating a Buddhist pagoda south of the capital. “There is no doubt that they have received advice from their government to do so.”

Hun Sen did not name specific countries. The tribunal includes 12 foreign judges and two foreign prosecutors from countries including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Zambia.

“What Cambodia needs is peace,” Hun Sen added. “If Cambodia has peace, they (foreign governments) are not quite happy with us — but if Cambodia has war, they are happy because then we’ll be easy to occupy.”

A tribunal spokesman, Lars Olsen, said Hun Sen’s comments were being verified before a comment could be issued.

Critics accuse Hun Sen of trying to limit the tribunal’s scope to prevent his political allies from being indicted. Hun Sen once served as a Khmer Rouge officer and many of his main allies are also former members of the group.

On Tuesday, the tribunal’s acting international co-prosecutor, William Smith of Australia, formally recommended that five more suspects be investigated for possible crimes against humanity and other offences.

The tribunal’s Cambodian co-prosecutor opposed further indictments, but the tribunal ruled last week that his international counterpart could seek them. The tribunal, created last year under an agreement reached in 2003 between Cambodia and the United Nations, employs joint teams of Cambodian and international court personnel.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the ultra-communist group’s radical policies while in power in 1975-79.

The Khmer Rouge took control after a bitter 1970-75 civil war, and after being ousted from power in 1979, fought an insurgency from the jungles until 1999.

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UN says Khmer Rouge tribunal must be independent

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures at a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Sep. 7, 2009. Hun Sen renewed his criticism of the country's U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal Monday, warning that arresting more suspects could spark civil war. (AP Photo/Khem Sovannara) (Khem Sovannara - AP)


By SOPHENG CHEANG
The Associated Press


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The U.N. administrator for the Khmer Rouge tribunal issued a blunt reminder to Prime Minister Hun Sen that the panel is independent, after the Cambodian leader suggested that arresting more suspects for trial could spark a civil war.

The U.N.-backed tribunal ruled last week that prosecutors could pursue further arrests beyond the five Khmer Rouge leaders already indicted, in a decision opposed by the panel's Cambodian co-prosecutor but supported by his international counterparts.

Hun Sen said Monday that he had devoted several years to persuading Khmer Rouge leaders and their soldiers to stop fighting, so he could not allow anyone to drag the country back into a new civil war by putting additional suspects them on trial.

Knut Rosandhaug, Coordinator of the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials, subsequently issued a statement that he expects the tribunal to continue to work independently.
"It is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval of advice on their work from the executive branch," he said.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the communist regime's radical policies while in power between 1975-79.

Critics accuse Hun Sen of seeking to limit the tribunal's scope because other potential defendants are his current political allies. Hun Sen served as a Khmer Rouge officer, before changing sides, and many of his major political allies are also former members of the group.

Brad Adams, Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said he believes Hun Sen was seeking to protect members of his own Cambodian People's Party, who could be targets for prosecution. But he said it was unlikely more arrests would be made.

Adams pointed out that the Khmer Rouge have been defunct for a decade, and that its former leaders are now more interested in business than war.

The tribunal's long-awaited first trial - of the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer for war crimes and crimes against humanity - opened in March. A joint trial of the four other senior officials - the only others currently in detention - is expected within the next two years.

The Khmer Rouge came to power after a bitter 1970-75 Civil War, and after being ousted from power in 1979, carried out an insurgency from the jungles until 1999.

Hun Sen has dominated Cambodian politics for more than two decades. He ousted his former co-prime minister in a 1997 coup and has since ruled virtually unchallenged.
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Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post goes daily in Khmer

PHNOM PENH — The Phnom Penh Post, one of Cambodia's leading newspapers, launched its first-ever Khmer language edition Wednesday, stepping up competition in the country's burgeoning media market.

Australian publisher Ross Dunkley said the paper, which will have a daily print run of 15,000 copies, would focus its reporting on Cambodia's changing economy and business climate as it leaves behind decades of conflict.

"Ultimately a newspaper is a reflection of the society we live in so you can expect the paper to be much more in tune with the new realities of this country," Dunkley said.

The majority of publications in the country's large and lively Cambodian-language press are accused of being aligned with political parties, however Dunkley promised independent reporting.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith welcomed the paper, the first full-colour Khmer tabloid in the kingdom's media market, as a "good thing" that would help "widen our free press".

The English version of the Post launched its first daily edition in August last year, after Australian businessmen with stakes in Yangon's The Myanmar Times weekly took a controlling interest in the paper.

The Post, founded by American journalist Michael Hayes 18 years ago, had published every two weeks but Post Media Ltd, the company now behind the paper, has invested heavily in expanded editions.

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U.S. Citizen Arraigned on Charges of International Sex Tourism

WASHINGTON, Richard David Mitchell was arraigned yesterday on sex tourism charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, after being deported from Cambodia, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney
for the District of Hawaii Edward H. Kubo, Jr.

Mitchell, 61, a U.S. citizen and resident of Hawaii, was charged in a criminal
complaint filed on Aug. 26, 2009, in U.S. District Court for the District of
Hawaii with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. According
to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, witnesses reported seeing
Mitchell engaging in sex acts with a female child on the curbside of a street
in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in August 2008. Mitchell was initially arrested in
August 2008 by the Cambodian National Police on local charges related to the
same incident.

Mitchell returned to Hawaii on Sept. 5, 2009, following his removal from
Cambodia. Upon his arrival at Honolulu International Airport, he was taken
into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. At
yesterday's hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ordered Mitchell held
without bond pending a detention hearing.

Mitchell is the fourth American arrested by ICE in the past two weeks for
sexually exploiting minors in Cambodia. On Aug. 31, 2009, three Americans
were taken into custody by ICE at Los Angeles International Airport following
their removal from Cambodia on sex tourism charges. The four cases are the
result of unprecedented cooperation among U.S. authorities, the Cambodian
government and non-governmental organizations to target American sex tourists
in Cambodia.

Mitchell faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if
convicted of the charges.

Charges in a criminal complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is
presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Olson of the U.S.
Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii and Trial Attorney Anitha Ibrahim
of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. The case
was investigated by ICE.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, +1-202-514-2007, TDD
+1-202-514-1888
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A ticket to somewhere

Deborah Groves with local Cambodian villagers, outside the temple district of Angkor Wat where Ms Groves has established an aid organisation. Picture supplied.


Four years ago, Australian photographer Deborah Groves walked into a small village in the Cambodian countryside and met a man who would change her life.

Just 25 minutes away was the town of Siem Reap, the stopping-off point to the world famous Angkor Wat temple, a formerly modest town now flourishing with Western-style pubs, designer shops and luxury hotels driven by the influx of tourist money.

But lying in a primitive hut in the outlying village was 52-year-old man Mr Som - skeleton-thin, his ribcage clearly visible and emaciated legs resembling long strands of licorice.

Despite being gravely ill with tuberculosis for more than 18 months, he had not received any medical care mainly due to his family’s poverty Ms Groves was horrified.

"Morally I thought, ‘I have an obligation, this man is going to die, I need to stand up and offer some help’," she said.

Enlisting the help of family and friends, Ms Groves raised the money needed for Mr Som to be carried out on a stretcher to medical care.

But it was too late; Mr Som died 10 days later.

For Ms Groves, a wedding photographer from Queensland, Mr Som’s death was an enormous “wake-up call” that not everything could be fixed easily.

Shaken by the village’s desperate poverty, she vowed to stay on and help.

The result has been Helping Hands Cambodia, an aid organisation formed Ms Groves to support Mr Som’s village and three others near Angkor Wat.

The idea behind Helping Hands is to give the local villagers a 'hand up,' rather than straight charity. For instance, recently when it gave away 1000 bicycles, each recipient agreed to work at least three days to fix local roads.

The organisation, which now has 10 Cambodian staff and up to two volunteers at a time, has also helped build bridges, a school, provided agricultural training and hundreds of free breakfasts.

The latest project will see drop toilets installed in the four villages. Fifty neighbours a day queued up to use the first one when it was installed in March, and another 15 have since been built.

To help fund Helping Hands, Groves sells photographs, magnets and bookmarks at hotels, airports and the night market in Siem Reap.

It is a long way from snapping excited brides on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

In 2004 Ms Groves fell love with the country following an Intrepid Travel tour, and feeling unfulfilled and burnt out, decided to quit her business and move to Cambodia.

But making the leap to live in one of the world’s least developed countries wasn’t easy, with many friends advising caution about leaving her business and safe life behind. "(But) I thought ‘surely I’m more than just a business’," Ms Groves said.

In the ensuing years, Ms Groves says she has developed a thick skin after four years of dealing with sometimes terrible situations.

One of her worst experiences was a man who received terrible eye injuries after a landmine exploded in his face near the Thai border.

"He was sent back to the village he was originally from without seeing a single eye doctor... I thought it was so unfair that no one cares," she said.

Helping Hands paid for his treatment, although the man’s eyes couldn’t be saved. They were later removed to stop his pain. To Western ears this may sound horrific, but Ms Groves said the man was "unbelievably grateful".

As well as the lows, there have also been incredible highs, such as a man in his 60s, blind since he was 15, regaining his sight in one eye following surgery sponsored by Ms Groves' organisation.

Another woman with cataracts regained her vision after 20 years. Ms Groves says the woman told her the thing she was most excited about was now being able to find the best food at communal dinners.

"I get a big kick out of stories like that, when you’ve had a radical impact," Ms Groves said.

However, the economic crisis has made life harder for everyone this year. Figures from the Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism say although Vietnamese tourists increased by 40 per cent in the six months to June because of new visa exemptions, Australian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and South Korean visitors fell sharply.

Cambodia’s two main industries, garment manufacturing and construction, have been crippled as US clothes orders fell and tourists stayed at home.

According to the United Nations Development Program, the garment sector lost 60,000 jobs by April and the construction sector 25,000.

UN resident co-ordinator Douglas Broderick warned: "it’s not just people’s livelihoods at risk – it’s people’s lives".

The effect on Ms Groves’ photography business has also been dramatic.

"Last year was a boom year, then the Australian dollar crashed. It made a big impact because a lot of our customers are Australian,” she said.

In June this year, her photo sales had fallen 50 per cent from the same period in 2008.

Donations to Helping Hands have also dropped, although fundraising efforts such as a US$23,000 (about $27,500) donation raised by a young Irishwoman who rowed 250 kilometres down the Shannon River- Ireland's longest river - have helped.

Ms Groves radical life-change has meant many personal sacrifices, including sleepless nights, long work hours, lack of a social life and being unable to regularly see her family and friends.

She is working towards spending more time in Australia, but continues to manage Helping Hands and run her photo business full-time from wherever she is at any given moment.

Back home, Ms Groves says her standards of living will probably be different to last time she lived there. She believes that might be a good thing.

“Most of my staff have never had a hot shower, most of the people in the village don’t even have a shower, they use a bucket. Hot water now I consider a luxury,” she says.

“Even the poorest in Australia are still better off than the people here.”
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Prosecutor wants 5 more Khmer Rouge investigated

Phnom Penh: A prosecutor at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal has formally recommended that five more suspects be investigated for crimes against humanity and other offenses, setting the legal body on a collision course with the country's powerful Prime Minister.

A statement from the tribunal Tuesday said the acting international co-prosecutor, William Smith of Australia, submitted his recommendation to the co-investigating judges, who would then decide whether to issue arrest warrants.

Citing the confidentiality of the process, the tribunal announcement did not identify the five new suspects. It said the cases involved at least 32 instances of murder, torture, unlawful detention, forced labour, and persecution that constituted violations of Cambodian and international law.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly spoken out against expanding the list of defendants beyond the one now on trial — Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch — and four others in custody.

On Monday, Hun Sen said such action could lead to civil war, a claim doubted by his critics.

"I would like to tell you that if you prosecute (more leaders) without thinking beforehand about national reconciliation and peace, and if war breaks out again and kills 20,000 or 30,000 people, who will be responsible?" Hun Sen said.

The tribunal's Cambodian co-prosecutor opposed further indictments, but the tribunal last week ruled that his international counterpart could seek them. The tribunal, created last year under an agreement reached in 2003 between Cambodia and the United Nations, employs joint teams of Cambodian and international court personnel.

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal, said there was no timeframe for action by the co-investigating judges on Smith's submission, made Monday.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the communist regime's radical policies while in power from 1975-79.

The UN administrator for the tribunal issued a blunt reminder Tuesday to Hun Sen that the panel was independent.

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Khmer Rouge tribunal must be independent: UN "It is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval of advice on their work from the executive branch," Knut Rosandhaug said in a statement.

Critics accuse Hun Sen of trying to limit the tribunal's scope to prevent his political allies from being indicted. Hun Sen once served as a Khmer Rouge officer and many of his main allies are also former members of the group.

The tribunal's long-awaited first trial — of Kaing Guek Eav, the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer for war crimes and crimes against humanity — opened in March. A joint trial of the four other defendants is expected within the next two years.

The Khmer Rouge came to power after a bitter 1970-75 civil war, and after being ousted from power in 1979, carried out an insurgency from the jungles until 1999.

Hun Sen has dominated Cambodian politics for more than two decades. He ousted his former co-prime minister in a 1997 coup and has since ruled virtually unchallenged.
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Hundreds of homes swamped, bridge washed away in northwest

ANKARA, Turkey - Flash floods triggered by torrential rains killed six people and left swaths of lands in northwestern Turkey awash Tuesday. At least three people were reported missing.

Nazmi Coban, the mayor of the town of Saray, said rescue workers there recovered the bodies of four people, including a 6-year-old girl, and were searching for another member of the family who was swept away by floods.

Rescuers also found the bodies of an elderly couple whose house collapsed in the floods, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. Saray is in Tekirdag province, close to the border with Greece.

Heavy rains that began late Monday washed away one bridge and inundated hundreds of homes in the Saray region. Dozens of farm animals were swept away by gushing waters.

Heavy rains caused floods in the Silivri and Catalca suburbs of Istanbul, as well, immersing homes and roads, officials said. Two people were reported missing. One was a girl, whose mother and sister managed to get out of a car safely before the girl was dragged away by the floods, Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said.

In Silivri, police and military helicopters were sent to rescue people confined to their homes, according to television footage. Dozens of cars were swept away. A fire truck could be seen lying on its side.

Two international highways linking Istanbul to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria were closed temporarily, Anatolia reported.

On Monday, a Cambodia-flagged freighter broke into two and sank in heavy storms off the coast of Istanbul. All 12 crew members were rescued.

More rain was forecast for the area Wednesday.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Cambodian PM: KRouge trials may ignite war

Cambodian premier Hun Sen on Monday renewed strong warnings his country could be plunged back into civil war if the UN-backed Khmer Rouge court tried more suspects from the late 1970s movement.

Hun Sen, himself a former low level commander in the communist regime, made his speech less than a week after the court said it could open investigations against more members of the government which killed up to two million people.

"If you tried (more suspects) without taking national unification and peace into consideration and if war re-occurred, killing between 200 000 and 300 000 people more, who would be responsible for it?" the premier told a ceremony.

"I have achieved this work (peace), I will not allow anybody to destroy it.... The value of peace here is very big," Hun Sen said, lamenting that Cambodia had already been drenched "by blood and tears".

"So anybody, please don't cause more trouble," he added.

The prime minister in a speech in March made similar assertions that further prosecutions at the Khmer Rouge court could destabilise Cambodia, saying that he would prefer the court failed than indict more suspects.

But critics have said there is no risk of renewed fighting since the country's civil war ended in 1998, and have accused the administration of trying to protect former regime members now in government.

A lead administrator at the Khmer Rouge court said Monday that he expected tribunal investigators would not be influenced by Hun Sen's statements.

"It is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval or advice on their work from the executive branch," UN coordinator of the court Knut Rosandhaug told AFP.

"I expect that the (court) will comply with this internationally recognised standard and make its decisions independently," he added.

The tribunal was created in 2006 to try leading members of the 1975-1979 regime and five former leaders are currently being held on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court's long-awaited first trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, is under way and he has accepted responsibility for overseeing the execution of more than 15,000 people at the regime's main prison.

After Duch's trial, the court plans to prosecute former Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia, resulting in the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, overwork and torture. - AFP
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Cambodian PM asks U.S. to cancel Cambodian debts

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked the United States to remit Cambodia's debts which the country has owed since 1970s by Lon Nol's regime.

"The U.S. should cancel the debts for Cambodia because the U.S. dropped large amount of bombs on Cambodia and many people suffered from it," he said at a ceremony of releasing final result of 2008 Population census at Chuktumok Theater Hall in Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen put forwards the requirement directly to Carol A. Rodley, U.S. ambassador to Cambodia who also attended the ceremony.

"The U.S. should pay compensation for Cambodians but the U.S. side has always asked us to pay debt back," he said.

Cheam Yeap, a lawmaker and chairman of the committee of finance, banking, economy and audition of Cambodian National Assembly, said that "we have been urging U.S. side to cancel debts for several times but they said they need decision from top level."

He added that Cambodia has owed the United State in a total of over 300 million U.S. dollars by Lon Nol regime.
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New Season, Further Sales for A World of Wonders

By Kristin Brzoznowski


OTTAWA: A third season is slated for Genuine Pictures' children's series A World of Wonders, which has notched up a slew of new international sales.

The show has now been sold to National Geographic in Turkey, Kuwait TV, TVB in Hong Kong and on Al Jazeera in Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. A third season launches today on TVO Kids.

The live-action series takes young viewers on a trip across the globe. The new season will feature locations such as the Galapagos Islands, Cambodia, Jordan, Japan and Vietnam. “We took the series to a whole new level this year with the use of smaller format HD cameras,” said executive producer Donna Leon. “That gave us more flexibility, and season three is packed with lots of wonderful content.”

“A World of Wonders continues to perform well for the factual channels overseas and while educational it doesn’t fall short on entertainment," said Diane Tripp, the VP of international sales for The Fremantle Corporation. "The episodes are self-contained and accommodate a multi-media platform strategy quite well—a task most broadcasters aim to achieve." Read more!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

‘Ring of Fire’ shows off Asian Pottery Works

Sixteen Filipino potters and 10 other Southeast Asian ceramic artists will exhibit their wares in an international show entitled Ring of Fire at the Ayala Museum from September 21 to October 4, 2009.

The convergence of ASEAN potters in Makati is the first of its kind in the Philippines.

The participants of the ASEAN show will also interact in a two-day workshop where they will exchange information, and discuss individual techniques and the creative process underlying their works. The workshop will be held at the Luna and Amorsolo rooms of the Ayala Museum from September 22 to 23.

A display of 64works by the master potters in the region will attest to the intensity, passion, and peculiar identity of ASEAN ceramic artists. They have been influenced by ceramic artists from other parts of Asia, but now, they are drawing fire from each other.

Renowned ASEAN potters participating in the event include Ahadiat Joedawinata of Indonesia; Peter Low, James Seet, Lileng Wong, and Yeow Seng Cheah of Malaysia; Teck Heng Tan and Thomas Cheong of Singapore; Bathma Kaew-Ngok of Thailand; and Bao Toan Nguyen of Vietnam.

Filipino potters in the exhibit include Jon and wife Tessie Pettyjohn of Pansol; Hadrian and wife Camille Mendoza of Makiling; Jaime de Guzman of Candelaria, Quezon; Colorado-based Nelfa Querubin of Iloilo; Manila-based sculptress Julie Lluch of Iligan; Pete Cortes of Bulacan; Pablo Capati of Batangas; Joe Geraldo of Bacolod; Mark Valenzuela of Dumaguete; Winnie Go and Joey de Castro of Makati; Siegrid Bangyay and Lope Bosaing of Sagada.

“The primary goal of this project is to foster a community among Southeast Asian peoples that celebrates both the diversity and unity of the region through the art and craft of pottery,” says Mr. Mendoza, recipient of a Toyota Foundation networking grant in November 2007.

“A network of individuals and the organization of potters, scholars, and cultural workers in Southeast Asia will revive traditional knowledge and skills in pottery as well as teach new techniques and best practices done by contemporary ASEAN ceramic artists,” he adds.

Mendoza has touched base with contemporary potters in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. He is searching for more modern practitioners of the ancient art of pottery in Brunei and Myanmar. He has also connected with various communities of potters in the Philippines.

A website for the project: http://www.seapots.com has been created, aimed at increasing active exchanges among the region’s potters.

Also on display in the website are the works of various potters in the region including Serge Rega of Cambodia; Kurniawaty Guatama of Indonesia; Sisuk a refugee from Laos, now Thailand-based; Cindy Koh of Malaysia; folk potters from various pottery centers in Myanmar; Krisaya Luenganantakul, Takood Nui, and Vipoo Srivilasa, Atiporn Thongborisut, and Somthavin Urasyanadana of Thailand; and Van Che Nguyen of Vietnam.
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Aviation administration wants new, faster flights

HCM CITY — The Civil Aviation Administration of Viet Nam is in negotiations with Laos, Cambodia and China to launch new air routes in a move to help airlines cut operating costs and boost profit, according to senior officials from the administration.

Lai Xuan Thanh, deputy head of the administration, said it was not easy to set up air routes which brought both economic interest and the general benefits for the concerned countries.

But the hard work is worth it to the countries and the airlines. National carrier Vietnam Airlines, for one, estimated it would save about US$400 per minute when flying times are reduced.

The air routes that would help shorten the distance among three Indochinese countries are Nam Dinh to Vilao and Pakse in Laos; Noi Bai in Ha Noi, Na San and Moc Chau in Son La Province to ASSA (in Laos); Tan Son Nhat in HCM City to Enrep (in Singapore); and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Province of Can Tho to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The new routes will shorten by at least three minutes flying times from Ha Noi and Da Nang to Siem Riep and Phnom Penh in Cambodia; from Ha Noi to France, Germany or the US; from Malaysia and Singapore to Tan Son Nhat and Can Tho airports; from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos to Can Tho.

New links

To bring economic interest to airlines, CAAV proposed to set up new international air links to reduce flying times.

They are Cam Ranh to Mesox (in Thailand), which would shorten by four to five minutes flights from Tan Son Nhat to Northeast Asia; Phu Cat or Chu Lai to Bunta (in Indonesia) which would shave eight to 10 minutes off flights from HCM City to Hong Kong or Northeast Asia; and Noi Bai or Cat Bi to Sikou (in China), which would cut by 11 to 15 minutes flights from Noi Bai or Cat Bi airports to Hong Kong, Macau and Northeast Asia.

In order to provide alternatives to north-south routes in case of a storm in central Viet Nam, the administration is also trying to open new direct international flights, like Vientiane (in Laos)–Siem Riep (in Cambodia)–Tan Son Nhat, and Pakse/Vibun (in Laos)–Popet (in Cambodia).

These proposals will be discussed at the Asia Pacific Aviation Summit in mid-September, according to Bui Van Vo, head of the CAAV’s Air Traffic Management Bureau.

Economic interest

New routes would reduce flying times and cut operating costs for the airlines. In addition, the concerned countries would have the chance to apply world-standard methods of air traffic management, Thanh said.

"The new routes would attract more flights in transit via Viet Nam," Thanh said.

In June, CAAV opened four new domestic air routes, which lessened flying times on north-south routes by three to five minutes. Vietnam Airlines estimates the move would result in annual savings of hundreds of billions of dong. — VNS
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