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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taiwan civil group wants to build library for Cambodian kids

Bangkok, Sept. 10 (CNA) The Taipei-based Care Without Border Association (CWBA) has been raising funds to build a library for children living in poverty in Cambodia, CWBA President Chen Hsiang-chun said Saturday.

Chen, who initiated the project, told CNA via phone that the association wishes to raise NT$2 million (US$68,000) for the planned library in Sihanoukville Province, located 185 kilometers southwest of Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

"We have collected NT$680,000, which were mostly from small donations," Chen said. Barring any glitches, he predicts CWBA volunteers will be able to set off for Cambodia in mid-November .

According to Chen, Cambodia has been suffering from a wide gap between the rich and poor since the Khmer Rouge era. Currently, 75 percent of its population is illiterate.

"There will be no hope without education. People do not know where their future is going if they do not receive education," Chen said.

He explained that his foundation wants to help poor Cambodian children get educated, and that the planned library will allow kids to learn English and acquire other knowledge. (By Namita Lin and Elizabeth
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PM heads to Brunei on her first trip

Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra will make her first trip overseas, beginning with Brunei, this weekend aimed at cementing ties with Asean countries, a government source said yesterday.

Yingluck will make a one-day visit to Brunei on September 10, to Indonesia on September 12 and to Cambodia on September 15.

Foreign Ministry officials had recommended that Prime Minister Yingluck and Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul visit Asean members in alphabet order but the schedules of counterparts in foreign countries did not make this possible.

The Asean members in alphabetical order are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Although visiting the countries in alphabetical order was not possible, Yingluck has made Brunei her first foreign destination as PM.

Brunei is the country which her brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra often visited while in exile. Thaksin openly met former prime minister Banharn Silpaarcha, who is de-facto leader of the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party, in Brunei recently to discuss a portfolio quota in the Yingluck cabinet.

Yingluck's next stop will be Indonesia, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship of Asean. Jakarta is also playing a crucial role in facilitating peace efforts between Thailand and Cambodia following a border dispute at the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.

Indonesia planned to dispatch an observer team to assess the situation and observe troop withdrawal from the disputed area adjacent to the temple in accordance with the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The court ordered Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their troops from the court-determined demilitarised zone near the temple pending interpretation of the 1962 judgement on the Preah Vihear case. The court wanted the two countries to welcome an Indonesian observer team for the troop-withdrawal process. Cambodia decided to fully comply with the ICJ injunction. The previous Thai government under Abhisit Vejjajiva did not take any clear position on the order and Yingluck also has not yet announced her stand.

She will visit Cambodia on September 15, to introduce herself to the government in Phnom Penh while also attempting to improve bilateral relations after the boundary conflict.

Foreign Minister Surapong said he would be accompanying the prime minister to Phnom Penh and seek the opportunity to meet his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to discuss various issues that have been at the core of the conflict between the two countries. The minister said he would seek ways to secure the release of the two Thai nationalist activists - Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon - who are serving jail sentences in Phnom Penh on espionage charges.

Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha plans to visit Cambodia on September 23-24 to discuss troop arrangement along the border and the possibility of activating a meeting of the General Border Committee.

Meanwhile, in a separate event, the Kanthalalak court yesterday sentenced to two years' imprisonment a Thai national Suchart Muhammad, a Cambodian Ung Kimtai and a Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Don.

They were arrested on June 7 in Si Sa Ket's Kanthalalak district while driving a pickup truck to see the military outpost in the area. The court convicted them of spying on the locations of the military bases and bunkers of civilians along the border.
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