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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam cement their relationships with one another with new declaration

In a continuing effort to join tourism forces Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam issued an official joint declaration on trilateral cooperation at their meeting in Ho Chi Minh City last Friday. The declaration will see all three countries working with their national tourism agencies in order to increase the flow of information between themselves and knowledge of tourism development and promotion. They have all agreed to hold and attend tourism events and tours and to conduct personnel training.

Each country will also participate in promoting visitation to and raising awareness of their sister destinations and will also encourage public-private partnerships with regard to tourism development.

The meeting was the first of its kind for all three countries and was regarded by the Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hoang Anh Tuan, as a milestone in boosting trilateral cooperation. He also stated that their meeting will help to build the three countries into a single tourist destination.

Cambodia Tourism Minister, Thong Khon, and Lao Minister and Chairman of the Lao National Tourism Administration, Somphong Mongkhonvilay, also shared Tuan’s sentiments and said that the declaration will help to fortify sustainable tourism development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the ASEAN.

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Khmer Krom: Nonviolent Demonstrations OK?

Cambodia's constitutional commitment to allow freedom of expression, assembly and peaceful demonstrations is finally being put into implementation by law, signifying a positive prospect for human rights activists and especially the Khmer Krom community.

Below is an article published by UNPO:

Cambodia’s Council of Ministers issued a communiqué indicating that the plenary session of the Council of Ministers, held on 05 October 2007 had agreed and approved the nonviolent demonstration right draft law which was prepared by the Ministry of Interior.

The draft law includes 6 Sections divided into 30 Articles. The communiqué stated that the draft law on the nonviolent demonstration right was prepared on the basis of Articles 37 and 41 of the 1993 Cambodian Constitution which provide the right of citizens to strike or to stage nonviolent demonstrations, and guarantee the freedom of expression and assembly. Pursuant to these articles, the aforementioned rights are to be implemented in the framework of a law. Such a law has so far never been passed. The fact that it has been drafted and could soon be passed is an encouraging sign after so many peaceful demonstrations were disrupted by the police in the past years.

A Member of UNPO, the Khmer Krom (from Kampuchea Krom, South Vietnam) constitute a large community in Cambodia. Their natural refuge when fleeing suppression in Vietnam, Cambodia has not always been a safe haven for them. Despite their nonviolent approach, the Khmer Krom have repeatedly been prevented from staging peaceful demonstrations in Cambodia by the police (some of their demonstrations have even been violently repressed). The passing of the nonviolent demonstration right law will be a major step towards the democratisation of Cambodia and might, by ricochet, have impact on the politics of the region, allowing oppressed minorities from Vietnam and Laos to voice their concerns in Phnom Penh.

Note: Articles 37 and 41 from the Cambodian Constitution:

Article 37 - The right to strike and to non-violent demonstration shall be implemented in the framework of a law.

Article 41 - Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security. The regime of the media shall be determined by law.
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Cambodian cow in police custody for killing motorists

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A Cambodian cow was taken into police custody for causing traffic accidents that resulted in the deaths of at least six people this year, a police official said Tuesday.

The cow's owner could also face a six-month prison term under a new traffic law that holds people responsible for accidents caused by their animals, said Pin Doman, a police chief on the outskirts of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.

The white, 1.5-meter (5-foot) tall cow was standing in the middle of a main road Monday night when a 66-year-old motorcyclist crashed into the animal and died. Most Cambodian roads are dark at night.

Earlier this year, the same cow was responsible for another traffic accident that resulted in the death of five people and several injuries, when a truck veered off the road and crashed as its driver tried to avoid the animal.

Pin Doman said he was holding the cow at his police station.

He said the cow's owner had been warned four times in the past to keep his cattle leashed and could face prison time if relatives of those who died initiate legal proceedings.
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SOCCER: In Chelsea or Cambodia, putting some kick back into the game

To some people, competitive soccer is all about kicking backsides. What wouldn't Cambodia's players give to beat Turkmenistan on World Cup qualifying duty in Phnom Penh on Thursday? And what greater pleasure might Chelsea's paymaster, Roman Abramovich, derive than hiring Henk Ten Cate, the coach who reputedly once booted José Mourinho in the bum long before Abramovich got rid of him?

The ball is round, the rules are the same. But the world is a very different place to a soldier or a traffic policeman or a laborer who pays for his own boots to play for Cambodia - compared with the pampered Chelsea players who earn more in boot money than a Cambodian expects in a lifetime.

A sensitive, humane article by Ek Madra, the Reuters man in Phnom Penn, this week set the scene for the Cambodia versus Turkmenistan home and away contests. He describes Thol Sothearith, a Cambodian defender, traveling to the optimistically named Olympic Stadium on an aged Honda motorbike - crossing potholed roads and wearing old boots that cost him a third of his $25 a month army pay.

"They're cheap, but they work well," Sothearith, 22, tells the reporter. "We lack support, morally and materially. We don't have enough nutrition, our pay is low. But win or lose, its great to be in the World Cup."

Turkmenistan will not lightly surrender rank to the Cambodians. The visiting team rates 174th among FIFA's 208 nations, lording it, by four places, over Cambodia.

In this first-round knockout phase, 43 Asian countries will start the elimination process down to just four teams for the 2010 final tournament.

"Teams like us reaching the World Cup, its not going to happen," says Scott O'Donell, the one time Australian A-league player who augments his Cambodia coaching work with television soccer punditry. "My players know this is the biggest game of their lives. All we can ask for is their best."

From Palestine to Afghanistan to Macao, we wish them good sport in this win-or-bust week that will also kick off qualifiers for gods like Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi down in South America. Those are names to conjure with, and their style is in part the reason why Abramovich is having a staff makeover at Chelsea.

Mourinho was a match winner for the Russian, but Abramovich tired of the coach's making himself the star while the team gave pragmatic performances.

Pragmatic, that is, compared with Barcelona. Recently, Abramovich tried to tempt Ronaldinho from Barça to his club in London. He failed, for now, but with the signing of Ten Cate comes a little bit of what made Barcelona hum.

Ten Cate was the No. 2 to Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona. With Rijkaard in charge and Ten Cate a kind of sergeant major on the training field, Barça was supreme in Spain, in the Champions League, and in most people's ideal of how soccer should be played.

Ten Cate, like Rijkaard of Dutch-Suriname origin, eventually went his own way as the head coach of Ajax Amsterdam. Why would he now accept a role as assistant to the new coach of Chelsea, the Israeli Avram Grant?

A £2 million, or $4 million, salary, double what Ajax paid Ten Cate, helps. A mutual understanding between Grant and Ten Cate, forged when the Israeli studied the way things worked in Barcelona, suggests the Dutchman will get a fair amount of command on the training pitch, while Grant decides selection and tactics.

There might be - and we might never hear - verbal agreements of an eventual hand-over of responsibilities. Some even speculate that, after this current season is over, Rijkaard will depart Camp Nou and renew his double act with Ten Cate, while Grant reverts to the overview post of director of football.

Such multiple managerial and coaching roles are familiar staffing arrangements at Europe's big clubs.O'Donell might, at best, have an interpreter at his elbow, but Mourinho, who came into soccer as a translator, surrounded himself with enough Portuguese aides to attend to every player's needs bar visits to the toilet.

When Mourinho's £5 million-a-year contract was paid off, the assistants also went. Grant, well aware of the Abramovich requirement to entertain - and sharing the ethos - had first to win over the players' support. Slowly, that is happening. The Israeli's sincerity is winning over some of the dissident players who had joined Chelsea for Mourinho.

They are in for more surprises, as Grant shapes his backroom staff. After Ten Cate will come, if Grant gets his way, Colonel Avi Moyal. He was the fitness trainer to the Israeli national squad when Grant was in charge and is currently the head of Israel's combat fitness training development.

So maybe there is a link between the Cambodians, some of whom are soldiers by day and soccer players by night or weekend, and the Chelsea Set?

The curious thing about soccer millionaires is that they might pout about team tactics, especially those that leave some of them like Andriy Shevchenko on the bench, but rarely do they complain about the toughest of commando-like fitness routines.

It was Rui Faria who tuned up the players' bodies under Mourinho's tenure, and often Faria who acted as their confidant while reporting back to the coach on what was being said in the camp.

The Israeli colonel will know all about the body and mind games. Even Israelis say his regimen is tough, but he allowed wives and families to run on the beach with his men at weekends.

The new order is marching in on Chelsea, and no doubt Ten Cate will think twice before chasing men like Avi Moyal down the tunnel and applying his boot to the backside.

Chelsea always denied that Ten Cate actually did boot Mourinho during a fracas in the tunnel on that infamous night in 2005 when Mourinho accused Rijkaard of visiting the referee's room at halftime during a Champions League match between Barcelona and Chelsea.

It was agreed that Ten Cate had a go at somebody, but the contact hit either the fitness man Faria, or the tactician Baltemar Brito.

Whatever, there is no mistaking where Abramovich made his mark.
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