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Monday, May 25, 2009

Discover your inner Indiana Jones with adventures in Angkor

The Naga causeway leading to the temple of Angkor Wat crosses a vast moat that looks more like a mighty river than a man-made defence. The temple was begun in 1112 by King Suryavarman II to honour the god Vishnu and serve as his crypt.
Photograph by: Elaine O'Connor , for Canwest News Service


After playing amateur archeologist, relax amid the restaurants, street stalls and night markets of Siem Reap.

I'm two hours into a backroads motorcycle ride through the Cambodian countryside -- wind cutting the baking 34-degree heat, dust flying up from the road -- and as I ride I'm treated to a parade of rural Khmer life.

Two women bicycle by in peaked straw hats, a farmer passes with a load of hay strapped to his scooter, another hauls a slaughtered hog, kids ride three to a bike, parents with toddlers sit four to a scooter.

We weave around each other, trying to avoid the worst of the road's ruts. With every teeth-rattling, spine-shattering swerve, I remember my airport taxi driver's ominous warning after I landed in Siem Reap. Three tourists die every month trying to see the wats (temples) from the back of a scooter, he'd said. I thought he was just trying to land a gig as my chauffeur.

Now, I'm not so sure.

It clearly takes a sense of adventure to get here, perhaps not on the Indiana Jones scale, but real enough. As I clutch my driver Reurm for dear life, we buzz past school girls in white blouses and blue pinafores bobbing through rice paddies spiked with lone palms and roadside shacks where naked babies play with slingshots and women dressed in traditional sampot skirts or krama scarf-turbans sell palm liquor in old Johnnie Walker bottles.

But the effort to uncover Angkor's Beng Malea -- a remote 12th-century forest shrine more than 60 kilometres from the heart of the ancient city of Angkor, which is a UNESCO world heritage site -- proves well worth my bruised tailbone.

Angkor, Cambodia's star attraction, is considered the seventh wonder of the world, and its archeological mysteries lure four million visitors a year.

The temples of Angkor ("holy city" in Khmer) were built between the 9th and 13th centuries when the kingdom was at its height, with a million people.

It was the seat of the Khmer empire, whose influence extended into Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and it was the region's most sophisticated city for over 500 years. Archeologists believe it was the largest pre-industrial city in the world.

In the 13th century, faced with incursions from the Thais, the kingdom fell under attack and by 1432 the king moved the capital to Phnom Penh. Over time, the region's stunning wats or temples (the best known being Angkor Wat) with their gorgeous lotus-shaped towers, vine-twisted monuments, moats and stone-carved murals, were abandoned to the jungle.

But they were not forgotten. They were rediscovered by French naturalist Henri Mouhot in the 1860s after he wrote breathlessly of his visit to the ancient temples.

It's that sense of new discovery that comes over me as I lurch off the scooter and stumble through the as-of-yet barely touristed jungle temple early one morning and step into another world.

Beng Malea is a massive, kilometre-square crumbling monument strewn with tumbled rocks the size of small cars, set quietly in the jungle. It was built by King Suryavarman II, who also built Angkor Wat, But in contrast to Angkor Wat's tourist throngs and iconic status, Beng Malea seems forsaken, lost and abandoned. Here, the trees have taken over, their roots digging between the crevices of the stones, cracking and distorting carvings in their journey to find water -- nature returning civilization to the earth.

I spend a meditative hour wandering around its colossal walls and along the ramps in the interior of the temple that lead up to its remaining stone ramparts. It's breathtaking, all the more because it's struggling not to fall apart.

Cambodia itself has profoundly struggled, and tourism to its ruins is just beginning to help it rebuild.

The nation of 14 million was bombed during the U.S. war in Vietnam to flush out Viet Cong, creating two million refugees. A famine followed in 1975 and that same year the rebel Khmer Rouge took power. Pol Pot's Communist Party renamed the country Kampuchea and tried to return it to its agrarian roots, forcing educated Cambodians to work on farms, killing doctors and teachers and outlawing anything Western.

One to three million people were tortured, slaughtered or died from lack of food or medicine. A Vietnamese invasion in the late 1970s ousted the regime, but the Khmer Rouge rebels continued to fight in pockets throughout the countryside: 1999 was the first full year of peace in 30 years.

There are reminders of war everywhere. On the streets, it's rare to see a man over 40. At one wat-side stall, a young girl with a stack of plastic-wrapped books offered a slim volume, reading off its title: Children of Cambodian Killing Fields. That a child would have to know about her country's brutal history, let alone sell the tragic story to make a living, was a sobering thought.

But the development and dollars that accompany tourists to Angkor Wat -- arguably the country's top renewable resource -- seem to be having a positive impact.

Angkor Wat itself, the world's largest religious building, makes a profound impact.

The temple is surrounded by a huge moat that has more in common with a river than a man-made defence. Visitors approach from a causeway that spans the water and is guarded with statues of mythical serpents -- seven headed nagas -- warding off invaders.

The temple was begun in 1112 by King Suryavarman II to honour the god Vishnu and serve as his crypt. Today most tourists see it by sunrise or sunset, watching the light pick out details in the 65-metre high stone prasats (towers) and staying to examine the intricate bas-reliefs of devas and asuras (gods and demons) and 2,000 apsaras (divine nymphs) that decorate the palace.

Nearby, lie more remarkable ruins. The gates of Angkor Thom, a three square-kilometre city built by King Jayavarman VII starting in 1181, are flanked with giant, Buddha-like statues -- passing through can feel like entering another world. The otherworldly Bayon temple lies on the other side.

The Bayon, with its 37 towers chiselled with dozens of enigmatic, all-seeing Buddha faces (some say they resemble the king himself) offers an eerie introduction to Angkor's wonders. Eyes seem to follow you as you explore the temple, climbing over ruins, ducking under lintels, running fingers over the ancient bas-reliefs, and clambering up stone steps. The mysterious Bayon is one of Angkor's most affecting temples.

For those put off by the two-hour trek to Beng Malea, the temple of Ta Prohm is a fine substitute.

Ta Prohm is perhaps one of the most atmospheric of the inner temples, overgrown with thick vines with slabs of rock smothered in snaking tree roots. No wonder it was used in scenes from Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie. The 12th-century temple has been left as it was found -- and has become beautifully meshed with the jungle.

It can be exhausting playing amateur archeologist all day in the 30- degree heat but, thankfully, Siem Reap has lots to offer in the way of rejuvenation. The city comes to life after sunset and though Siem Reap is a small town, restaurants, night markets and street stalls in the tourist-centric core remain lively well after midnight.

Start the evening with a leisurely dinner in the air-conditioned Angkor Palm restaurant near the Psar Chaa (Old Market) and admire the delicate silk wall hangings before tucking in to a Khmer feast featuring the Cambodian national dish, fish amoc. The creamy coconut-milk fish curry is served with jasmine rice, and the restaurant offers a host of other Asian bites, from pumpkin soup to a spicy papaya salad called bok l'hong and a peppery beef dish called lok lak.

For a communal dining experience share a Khmer-style hot pot (yao hon) with a friend, dipping beef, shrimp, cabbage, rice noodles and mushrooms to cook in bubbling broth. Or try a meal at Cambodian BBQ, where guests sizzle exotic meats -- crocodile, snake and ostrich are available -- on their personal phnom pleung or grill.

French colonial roots run deep in Cambodia, so good bread here is almost as common as rice, and vendors balance baguettes on their heads on their morning rounds.

For a taste of colonial cuisine try Le Malraux (named for French adventurer Andre Malraux, arrested for stealing temple bas-reliefs in the 1920s), for salade Parisienne, salmon rillettes and cream puffs amid Art Nouveau interior.

Stop for dessert at the Blue Pumpkin café, which offers exotic ice cream flavours like banana galangal, green lemon and kaffir lime, and ginger and black sesame.

After dinner, take care of wat-wandering tensions with streetside foot massages. They're a dime a dozen (actually, about $3 US for half an hour). Or enjoy an affordable body massage ($10) or pedicure ($7). Several shops also offer massages by the blind; at Seeing Hands Massage on Sivatha Road, part of the proceeds go back into training Cambodia's vision-impaired citizens in the trade.

But for a more refined experience step into Bodia Spa, a cool, inviting retreat across from the Old Market. A chilled ginger tea and cold herb-infused facecloth greet clients as they enter the white, high-design minimalist space en route to their oil body massages and herbal compresses.

Once refreshed, practise your bargaining skills at the Night Market off Sivatha Road -- where endless rows of silk scarves beckon -- or shop for social good at several local stores that support non-profit ventures. Rehab Craft near the Old Market sells handmade carvings, wallets and silks made by disabled employees and Artisan's D'Angkor trains poor youth in carving.

Top off the evening with a drink or two on the terrasse of the Red Piano, a restored French Colonial home with a sweeping corner balcony. Raise a glass of Angkor or Chang brand beers or sip a "Tomb Raider" cocktail (the restaurant was known as the place Jolie and crew hung out during filming) and toast to the spirit of Cambodia, to the beauty of Angkor, and to the adventurer in you.

If you go

- Passes to Angkor are sold at the gate of the archeological park for $20 US for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for a week. Two-day passes aren't offered. A three-day pass will give you time to see the central temples and to explore the countryside to see more remote treasures. There are as many ways to get to the ruins as there are ruins. You can hire a motorcycle, motorcycle-pulled trailer, car, mini-bus or bicycle. Feeling adventurous? Try an elephant, hot-air balloon or helicopter.

- Prepare for extreme heat -- high SPF sunblock, wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves, sun glasses and litres of bottled water are crucial. It's easy to get sunburned and dehydrated staring with awe at yet another astonishing apsara. After 10 a.m. the heat is unbearable. Hydrate early and often. Huge young coconuts, cracked open and strawed, offer refreshingly cold, sweet coconut water.

- Don't bother stocking up on Cambodian currency (the Riel; about 3,300 Riels to $1 CAD) before your trip. Most prices are stated in U.S. dollars and ATMs dispense cash in U.S. dollars. Locals prefer hard currency, though they will accept riels.

- Like Cambodian cuisine? Learn to cook it at local restaurant-led cooking schools. Le Tigre de Papier offers a morning or afternoon two-hour, two dish course for about $12. You can eat your mistakes and they'll offer dessert. The Angkor Palm restaurant also offers lessons.

- Luxury hotels have moved into Siem Reap with a vengeance. Tourists can stay at five-star resorts for three-star prices. Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Hotel de la Paix, and the Amansara are popular choices. There are plenty of reasonable guest-house options for the budget traveller that still offer air-conditioned rooms. Shadow of Angkor, Popular Guesthouse and Sala Bai Hotel are reliable options.

If you do splash out, make sure your hotel has a pool -- it can help ease the effects of the 44-degree summer heat.

- Learn more at Tourism Cambodia: http://www.tourismcambodia.com/.
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Cambodian dengue fever patients rise sharply

PHNOM PENH, The number of dengue fever patients of Cambodia rose to about 1,500 until May, 960 more than the same period of last year, or an increase of about 50 percent, national media said on Monday.

The 1,500 victims were mainly spotted in Phnom Penh with 343 cases, Kampong Cham province 259 cases and Kandal province 161 cases, Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News quoted officials of the Ministry of Health (MoH) as saying.

Moreover, three people died of the disease all over the kingdom, two of them died in the early of the year and the third in May, according to MoH.

The MoH has already received the assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), and plans to buy some mosquitocide and propaganda material to enhance the public understanding, according to MoH.

The rainy season from May to November is the period of the outbreak of the dengue fever nationwide. Usually, children under the 15 years old were the most fragile group to be attacked by the illness, and some 71 percent of the contaminated cases used to be children.

The government has called on the people to clean their water-saving tanks frequently, kill mosquito eggs in their tanks with pesticide, and sleep in anti-mosquito nets.

According to official figures, in 2007, a rampant year for the disease in the kingdom, 407 children died of it, out of a total of 39,851 infected cases of minors. And in last year there were 9542 people infected with the disease in the kingdom, out of them 65 were killed.

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A Helping Chinese Hand: Trade and Aid with Southeast Asia

Brian McCartan

Introduction

Long applying a carrot and stick approach to winning diplomatic allies in a sometimes ludicrous contest with Taiwan over diplomatic recognition, today China strives to establish itself as a “status quo” player in the international arena. “Softpower” replaces ideological approaches to the world, as in the sponsorship of scores of Confucius Institutes throughout the world, in hosting the Olympic Games, and even through the advent of mass Chinese tourism. “Resource diplomacy,” that is the quest to secure natural resources, is emblematic of the scale of China's economic reach. At the same time, China is increasing participation in international peacekeeping missions, notably the dispatch of civilian police to such locations as East Timor, Haiti, and Lebanon. In 2000, China established a peacekeeping training center in Hebei province. China can also be proactive on international issues, as with its leading role in the 6-Party Talks on North Korea nuclear weapons, and its 3 May 2009 call for the establishment of a peacekeeping role in Somalia. While China's “string of pearls” approach to the construction of ports and naval bases across the Bay of Bengal to the Indian Ocean may alarm, the projection of its naval assets to the coast of Africa should not surprise given the international character of the “war” against piracy. In short, with China's accession to WTO and other international fora, alongside its sustained economic growth and its position as the largest owner of foreign reserves in the world, including U.S. debt in the form of treasuries, the nation of over a billion people is carving out a central position in world affairs.

But, by taking on the world, and most notably Southeast Asia as an aid donor, as Brian McCartan outlines, China has ratcheted up. Applying a global view, we observe that, through the China Development Bank, Beijing has extended loans worth over $50 billion to the national oil companies of Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil, alongside cooperation with Venezuela and Cuba. As a “resource investor,” China is careful to lock in long-term supply contracts. Australia also looms large in recent Chinese resource acquisitions. Such an approach differs from China's more controversial policy of investing in oil projects in unstable African states. While Nigeria, Angola, and the Middle East (Iran and Saudi Arabia) supply most of China's oil needs, China's national oil companies have also acquired interests in exploration and production.

So it should not surprise that Chinese economic integration with ASEAN is already a reality. Just as China's aid to the region now surpasses that of the U.S., we are reminded that, even prior to the current recession, Japan has slipped back in the ranks of aid donors. [Though refuted by Tokyo, Japan ranks last among developing countries according to the Washington-based Center for Global Development]. With Japan hobbled by domestic politics in its ability to sign meaningful free trade agreements with the ASEAN countries, trade pacts with China appear more attractive to many nations.

Although China cannot match Japanese investment levels in Southeast Asia reaching back to the 1960s, Japan will nevertheless be obliged to work harder to maintain its niche as the economic shadow of China looms larger. Japan is also feeling pressure from China's push to use its own currency for trade settlements in Asia and beyond. In response, on 3 May 2009, at a forum in Indonesia, Japan offered to provide 6 trillion yen in loans to financially stricken Asian countries. According to Yuzuru Takano, writing in the Asahi Shimbun (5 May 2009), the measure is “essentially a bid to entrench the yen as the region's benchmark currency at the expense of the Chinese yuan.” However, there is reason to be skeptical concerning the political reception of such a move on the part of the ASEAN countries, not to mention the U.S. Geoffrey Gunn

CHIANG MAI - A new investment fund and loan package to help alleviate the impact of the global financial crisis for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) represents the latest overture of China's "soft power" campaign towards the region. Many believe the aid package unveiled in Beijing this month was strategically announced to steal a commercial and diplomatic march over the economically ailing United States.

The aid package includes a US$10 billion investment fund, geared for cooperation in infrastructure construction, energy and natural resources development, and improvements in information and communications. China also announced it would extend a $15 billion line of credit over the next three to five years to needy ASEAN countries. Although the terms were not made public, the loans include preferential terms for $1.7 billion in cooperation projects.

An additional $39.7 million was earmarked for "special aid" to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the 10-member groupings poorest members and closest China allies, to meet "urgent needs". China also announced it would donate $5 million to the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund and an additional $900,000 to the ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea cooperation fund.

Beijing also announced increases in other forms of cooperative aid, including an offer of 2,000 government scholarships and 200 Master's scholarships for public administration students over the next five years from developing ASEAN countries. One thousand agricultural technicians will also have the chance to receive training in China over the next three years. Beijing also donated 300,000 tons of rice to an emergency East Asia reserve intended to boost food security and proposed a China-ASEAN scheme to create high-quality, high-yield crop demonstration farms in ASEAN countries.

The aid package underscores accelerating economic integration. China's trade with 10-member ASEAN has nearly doubled from $105.9 billion in 2004 to $202.5 billion in 2007. Even with the mounting global economic crisis, trade rose 14% last year to US$231.12 billion, making ASEAN China's fourth-largest trading partner. Gao Husheng, China's vice commerce minister, said at a preparatory meeting for the 6th China-ASEAN Expo on April 9 that ASEAN would likely replace Japan as China's third largest trade partner in the near future.

A proposed China-ASEAN free-trade zone would pave the way for faster trade flows. The last step in those negotiations, the signing of an investment agreement, was expected to be completed on the sidelines of the botched ASEAN summit at Pattaya, Thailand, earlier this month. Once the agreement is signed and implemented as early as 2010, annual bilateral trade volumes are expected to reach $1.2 trillion, according to figures projected in China's state-controlled media.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi unveiled the economic aid package for the region on April 12 during a meeting with ASEAN envoys. On announcing the package, Yang said, "As always, China firmly backs ASEAN integration and community building, and firmly supports ASEAN to play a leading role in regional cooperation."

The proposal was supposed to have been announced by Premier Wen Jiabao at the postponed ASEAN summit, which was disrupted by anti-government protesters who stormed the meeting's venue. Yang went on to call for joint efforts to reach an investment agreement conducive to the establishment of the China-ASEAN free-trade zone.

Friend in need

Economists say China's proposal would potentially give ASEAN nations hard hit by the global economic and financial crisis other emergency funding options beyond the International Monetary Fund or Asian Development Bank. The IMF's rescue packages in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis were strongly criticized for measures perceived to favor foreign over local interests. Beijing's recent aid offers are similar and notably more generous than the $4 billion it offered to financially distressed ASEAN states, including Thailand and Indonesia, in the wake of that crisis.

Many remember how China held its fixed rate currency steady while ASEAN countries depreciated their units, allowing several countries to export themselves back to financial health. That marked a difference from Western approaches at the time, which demanded economic and financial reforms that would pave the way for greater foreign participation and ownership in distressed Southeast Asian economies.

Those economic and financial gestures underscored an important policy shift from Beijing's past destabilizing approach towards the region, marked in particular by its past support for communist insurgencies, including the radical Maoist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and communist guerillas in Thailand. That often confrontational policy was also seen in the 1979 invasion of Vietnam and the conflict with ASEAN states over the ownership of islands in the South China Sea.

While the new measures will go some way towards facilitating a quicker regional recovery from the global economic and financial crisis, some analysts see a more opportunistic side to China's aid announcement. China's soft power campaign has taken the form of increased foreign aid, economic networking, including the establishment of free-trade areas, and cultural transmission to encourage pro-China sentiment in the region.

China's aid to the region, by some reports including a November 2008 estimate from Taiwan's Center for Asia-Pacific Studies, has now surpassed that of the US. For China the benefits of greater integration are as much political as economic. For instance, a rising tide of pro-Chinese sentiment in the region has made it easier for Chinese companies to secure deals for natural gas exploration in Myanmar, land large scale agriculture projects in the Philippines, and build transportation infrastructure in Thailand and Laos.

It all meshes with China's so-called "going out" policy, which aims to secure natural resources and economic opportunities that serve local development goals. That said, China's foreign aid activities often lack transparency; despite the rising outflows, Beijing still lacks a centralized foreign aid body or a regularized funding schedule. Nor does China publicly disclose data related to foreign aid expenditures. Some aid disbursements more closely resemble foreign direct investment (FDI), while other projects undertaken by companies with strong government ties more closely resemble aid.

Surging assistance

What is clear, however, is that China's foreign aid and government-supported economic projects have grown dramatically in recent years. Research done by the New York University Robert F Wagner Graduate School of Public Service indicates that Chinese assistance to Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia grew from less than $1 billion in 2002 to $27.5 billion in 2006. The same research shows that sum fell modestly to $25 billion in 2007.

Although the researchers caution that some figures may be inflated, certain pledges and loans may not have been fulfilled and some multi-year projects could have been double-counted, the dramatic increase in aid flows is unmistakable. According to a February 25 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, many of China's aid operations don't correspond to the usual definition of development assistance and that many of China's economic activities in developing countries are supported by the government.

Many economic investments could be considered aid since "they are secured through bilateral agreements, do not impose real financial risks upon PRC [People's Republic of China] companies involved, or do not result in Chinese ownership of foreign assets", the research said. In Southeast Asia, some analysts suggest that China has become one of the largest sources of economic assistance, even though it is not considered a major regional provider of traditional overseas direct assistance.

Wagner School researchers compiled a list of Chinese aid and related investment projects or offers to ASEAN from 2002-2007 and arrived at a combined total value of $14 billion. They estimated that 43% of that figure went to infrastructure and public works projects, 32% for natural resource extraction or development, 3% to military, humanitarian and technical assistance and the remaining 22% to unspecified activities.

China's assistance and economic interaction with ASEAN has come largely without the political, legal and environmental strings attached to Western country aid. It is also provided comparably faster and without the bureaucratic procedures that major aid donors, multilateral financial institutions and multinational corporations usually require.

The lack of interference in domestic affairs is especially appreciated by ASEAN's more authoritarian regimes, including Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and has earned a measure of public appreciation since it appears to be more respectful of national sovereignty than Western donors. China has enhanced its local reputations through various goodwill investments, including outlays for national stadiums, cultural centers and friendship roads and bridges.

These projects are often very publicly announced at regional summit meetings - such as the package planned for the Pattaya summit - and used to project an image of Chinese fraternity with its developing world brethren.

Some analysts perceive China's soft power foray with ASEAN as a struggle for dominance with the US, which for many years has been strategically linked to ASEAN. They suggest that the balance of power is starting to tilt in China's favor, as it increasingly leverages soft power initiatives into hard power gains. Certain ASEAN nations are known to view China as a useful hedge against US and Japanese influences.

China's improved relations with ASEAN are broadly geared towards providing a security hedge in the event of a conflict with the US. The majority of China's oil and gas imports still pass through the narrow Malacca Straits, a potential strategic chokepoint. With China's ascension in 2003 to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2003, and the US still not a signatory, its not clear what stance ASEAN would take should the US and China ever become engaged in a regional conflict.

To be sure, Southeast Asian opinion is still very much divided over China and its rising influence. The maritime nations of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam are known to be uneasy over Chinese intentions, particularly with the recent advances in its naval capabilities and the unresolved claims to the disputed and potentially fuel-rich Spratly Islands.

China has made firmer inroads with the mainland countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, although even these countries try to balance Chinese influence with other big countries, including the US and India. At the same time, there is deep suspicion and angst over China's opaque plans for building a series of hydroelectric dams on the upper reaches of the Mekong River, which flows through and sustains the livelihoods of large populations in many mainland ASEAN states.

While some ASEAN countries may still be wary of China's rising regional clout, its recent aid proposal will no doubt be warmly welcomed across the region. And as the gathering economic and financial crisis hits the US's and Europe's ability to provide aid and assistance, ASEAN nations will have little choice but to rely more on its increasingly magnanimous northern neighbor.



Brian McCartan is a Chiang Mai-based freelance journalist. He may be reached at brianpm@comcast.net.
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Cambodian dengue fever patients rise sharply

PHNOM PENH, The number of dengue fever patients of Cambodia rose to about 1,500 until May, 960 more than the same period of last year, or an increase of about 50 percent, national media said on Monday.

The 1,500 victims were mainly spotted in Phnom Penh with 343 cases, Kampong Cham province 259 cases and Kandal province 161 cases, Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News quoted officials of the Ministry of Health (MoH) as saying.

Moreover, three people died of the disease all over the kingdom, two of them died in the early of the year and the third in May, according to MoH.

The MoH has already received the assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), and plans to buy some mosquitocide and propaganda material to enhance the public understanding, according to MoH.

The rainy season from May to November is the period of the outbreak of the dengue fever nationwide. Usually, children under the 15 years old were the most fragile group to be attacked by the illness, and some 71 percent of the contaminated cases used to be children.

The government has called on the people to clean their water-saving tanks frequently, kill mosquito eggs in their tanks with pesticide, and sleep in anti-mosquito nets.

According to official figures, in 2007, a rampant year for the disease in the kingdom, 407 children died of it, out of a total of 39,851 infected cases of minors. And in last year there were 9542 people infected with the disease in the kingdom, out of them 65 were killed.
Read more!