The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cambodia to host China-ASEAN car race in October

By PNA / Xinhua and U.S. News Agency / Asian

Cambodia will host China-ASEAN car race in October this year, the first car race ever involved by Cambodia, a senior official of National Olympic Committee said Saturday.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (COCC), said the car race is initiated by China in order to mark the 20th anniversary of China-ASEAN bilateral cooperation.

He said, as planned, the “2011 China-ASEAN International Touring Assembly and China-ASEAN Journalists Rally” will begin on September 9 through October 9 this year.

The rally will begin in China and go across five countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and to end up in Cambodia.

According to the schedule, Cambodia will host the end-up rally racing on October 7-8, beginning from Siem Reap province, hometown of Angkor Wat Temple to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

Chamroeun said Cambodia is prepared to send two drivers for the race, the first ever that Cambodians directly involved in the race and as well as the host for the event.

He added the procedure for the rally-racing is free with any kinds of cars, but speed is the subject for scoring.
Read more!

Cambodia’s ‘orphan tourism’ sparks concern

Childcare experts say that volunteer teachers in impoverished country may be doing more harm than good

A foreign volunteer teacher instructs Cambodian students at an orphanage in Siem Reap province, some 300km northwest of Phnom Penh

By Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Pictures of hundreds of former volunteers line the walls of a muddy courtyard in Cambodia’s tourist hub of Siem Reap, their faces once familiar to the orphans playing there but now long gone.

The colorful gallery at the Acodo orphanage illustrates a growing trend of holidaymakers donating their time and skills to children in the impoverished country — but experts fear they could be doing more harm than good.

Marissa Soroudi, a student in her 20s from New York, is one of the many volunteers teaching English at Acodo, near the famed temples of Angkor and home to more than 60 orphans between the ages of three and 18.

The young American, who pays US$50 a week to work at the orphanage, plans to stay for a few days before traveling on but she knows it is tough on the children to watch volunteers like her come and go.

“There are so many people volunteering that it’s kind of like, one leaves and another swoops in,” she said.

“They say better not to talk about it with them. Don’t say ‘I’m leaving in a week,’ don’t do any of that because then they get upset. Better to just not come.”

Short-term volunteers may have good intentions, but childcare experts say they are putting some of the most vulnerable children at risk.

“Constant change of caregivers gives emotional loss to children, constant emotional loss to already traumatized children,” Jolanda van Westering, a child protection specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said. “And the constant exposure to strangers poses risks of harm, of violence and abuse, because we know that oftentimes volunteers come to an orphanage without having their backgrounds checked.”

As the gateway to the ancient temples of Angkor — which attract more than a million visitors a year — a steady stream of tourists passes through the sleepy riverside town.

And many want to do more than just sightsee in one of the region’s poorest nations.

On notice boards in hotels, cafes and souvenir shops, wide-eyed children stare from posters for schools and orphanages, encouraging travelers to donate time and money for their particular cause.

“Visitors see some poverty and they feel bad about it,” said Ashlee Chapman, a project manager with Globalteer, an organization that matches volunteers with local organizations.

“They want to do something,” she adds, saying they might visit a children’s project for a few hours, donate money and toys, “take a holiday snap and feel that they’ve contributed.”

As the so-called volunteer tourism sector flourishes, so too does the number of institutions housing children.

In the past six years, the number of orphanages in Cambodia has almost doubled to 269, housing some 12,000 children, according to UNICEF.

Friends International, a local organization that works with marginalized urban children and youths, says tourism has contributed to the increase.

Visiting orphanages has become a tourist “attraction” in big cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, said Marie Courcel, alternative care project manager at Friends International.

That in turn encourages the institutionalization of youngsters, many of whom are very poor but actually have at least one living parent, she said.

Only one in 10 of the orphanages are funded by the state, the rest rely on charitable contributions to survive.

At Siem Reap’s Acodo, huddled with the children in the shade of the only tree, Soroudi organizes the afternoon activity.
Read more!

Cambodia Cleans Out The Pretenders

July 30, 2011: The Cambodian Army has been conducting a vigorous recruiting drive recently. The goal is 3,000 fit and intelligent young men. The new recruits are to replace several thousand older soldiers who were recently retired. Like many nations, Cambodia has long used the army as a jobs program. The emphasis was on keeping the 124,000 military personnel employed, not ready for war.

Cambodia found that there were serious shortcomings with this approach when, three years ago, a border dispute with Thailand turned into a military conflict. Nothing major. The action has been mostly assault rifles, machine-guns, artillery and mortars. There have been hundreds of casualties. What shocked Cambodian commanders and political leaders was how unprepared their army was for even a minor conflict like this. This led to a revitalization plan for the army, which the current recruiting drive is part of.

The border war was unexpected, even though Cambodia and Thailand have long argued over who owns how much of an ancient temple site. In 1962, an international court declared the temple Cambodian, but Thailand continued to claim adjacent areas that the Cambodians insist are part of the temple complex.

Currently, each side has about 3,000 troops near the temple site, and there have been a few shooting incidents since 2008, but nothing serious. The two countries have been negotiating the withdrawal of troops. Fighting earlier this year damaged portions of the temple (which Cambodians occupy) and caused over 20,000 local civilians to flee.

This dispute is but one of many similar ones. The basic problem is that the current 730 kilometer long border was defined in 1907 by the placement of only 73 border markers. This has left the exact location of the border open to interpretation. Occasionally these interpretations clash, as is happening now. Neither side wants a full scale war, even though Thailand has a larger and better equipped military. In the last few years, Cambodia doubled its annual military budget to $500 million. Thailand spends more than six times that, and has done so for decades. Thailand has 300,000 troops, Cambodia only 124,000.

Cambodia is very poor, and has been helped by China. which recently donated 50,000 field uniforms (including hats and boots). Last year, China donated 257 military trucks, and also supplied weapons. The infantry weapons tend to be older models. That's because China is introducing a new and improved model of their QBZ-95 assault rifle (also called the Type 95) to their own troops. The QBZ-95 is a distinctive bullpup design (the magazine is behind the trigger) that China has been issuing to its troops for over a decade now. That means China has plenty of surplus Type 81 (improved AK-47) rifles (which the QBZ-95 replaced) to either put into storage, or distribute to allies. Cambodia has bought some Type 95s, for elite units. But most everyone else has the second hand Type 81. AK-47s have been widely used in Burma nearly half a century.

Cambodia has never really recovered from its disastrous experiment in communist government (the Khmer Rouge) in the 1970s. That killed off 15 percent of the population (including nearly all the ethnic Chinese community) and trashed the economy. China supported the Khmer Rouge (as fellow communists), but Khmer Rouge aggression against Vietnam resulted in Vietnam invading in 1979 and deposing the Khmer Rouge. But as the decades went by, former Khmer Rouge officials got back in power, and China made nice.
Read more!