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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

An Giang vegetable exports to Cambodia thrive

Hun Sen had never opened market for local produce of farmers, but allowing Yuon produces to invade Cambodia market, all kinds of cambodian produces were not be able sell in markets.

An Giang, Mar 31, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) -- About 70 tonnes of vegetables are exported from An Giang province to Cambodia everyday, double the volume in previous years, according to local officials.

Nguyen Van Thao, head of An Phu districts Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said the growth follows an agreement between the two countries to exempt tariffs for 40 agricultural products.

The vegetables are grown to high hygiene and safety standards, Thao said.

The Mekong Delta province has become the first locality to export safe vegetable to the neighbouring country through the Khanh Binh border crossing.

An Phu district alone has around 1,000 ha for vegetables, yielding 20,000 tonnes per year. The productivity is yet to meet vegetable demand in the Cambodian market.

However, according to Thao, the export volume has recently dipped and prices of some kinds of vegetables dropped by 50 percent, due to the harvest of vegetables in Thailand .

Farming area in Thailand is not as large as in the Mekong Delta, and brisk exports is expected to resume after the harvest season in Thailand ends, Thao said.

Despite the current lull, merchants at the Khanh Binh wholesale market said they receive orders from Cambodia worth billions of VND a day.

An Phu district authorities said they are now expanding the area for cultivating vegetables by 1,300 ha to meet export demand.
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Local Vacationers Take Roads Less Traveled In Cambodia, Vietnam

Jim and Toni standing at a temple entryway with massive tree roots exposed. 80% of the jungle growth has been removed revealing evidence of the lost civilization.

By Steve McLaughlin

Jim and Toni Kull of Hillsboro have logged nearly 100,000 miles traveling to twelve countries across four continents since they retired nine years ago.

The couple recently returned from a fourteen day trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.

“We generally prefer to avoid major tourist areas,” said Jim.

“Instead, we focus on more quaint, pristine places where the pace is a little slower and the people are more approachable, more interactive,” said Toni.

Other trips the couple have enjoyed include New Zealand, Newfoundland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Turkey, Costa Rica and China.

“We would recommend the Cambodia - Vietnam destination to anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a country of open, honest, hardworking people who are exceptionally gracious and engaging,” said Toni.

“Although they have few, if any, luxuries, the residents seem genuinely satisfied with their life dedicated to the basic struggle to provide for daily needs.”

Interacting with people, walking with few restrictions through the ruins of 1,000 year old temples, and an overnight cruise in the Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin stand out as the most memorable aspects of their vacation.

In addition, a favorable exchange rate made the trip more affordable when compared to other destinations.

Although Coca-Cola was available at most places they visited, they did not see signs of other American iconic institutions such as McDonalds, WalMart, Starbucks or Walgreens. However, they did spot a rack of Barack O'Bama T-shirts for sale by one street vendor.

Neither Jim nor Toni saw action in the Vietnam War but evidence of that conflict was inescapable as they journeyed through Cambodia and Vietnam.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, they toured the Genocide Museum which is a living reminder of the Pol Pot regime responsible for the deaths of over 1 million Cambodians. Hundreds of human skulls are on display at the prison where only seven inmates survived. Over 30,000 other inmates were not so fortunate.

Meanwhile, across town, they saw evidence of a lavish lifestyle at the presidential palace where the floor was composed of pure silver tiles each weighing one kilogram.

They traveled over 1,000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south to Hanoi in north Vietnam. They saw frequent reminders of the Vietnam War including bomb craters and tunnels and listened to a number of “official tour guides” who gave visitors a rather slanted view of everyday life in Vietnam.

They toured the Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton, where Senator John McCain was held for much of his 5-1/2 year captivity.

Another impressive sight was viewing the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh which is on display at a mausoleum named in his honor. “Uncle Ho” is regarded by the Communist government with almost god-like status.

During their 14-day vacation, Jim and Toni were booked on 12 different flights; fortunately, they did not experience any significant delays nor lost luggage.

Hillsboro is Home

“Toni and I came to Hillsboro in 1967 thinking we would be here for a couple of years,” said Jim. He is originally from Strasburg; Toni is from Lawrenceville.

He retired after 33 years with the Hillsboro school system where he taught industrial arts and building trades. Toni worked as a medical transcriptionist at the Hillsboro Hospital.

Their three children, David, Kim and Susan, grew up in Hillsboro. While they no longer live here, Hillsboro remains a favorite destination for them and their seven children collectively.

As their grandchildren get older, Jim and Toni plan to take each of them on vacation.

They've already taken one grandson with them to China in 2006. Later this summer, two more grandchildren will accompany them when they return to China.

“The people at the Pegasus Travel Agency in Hillsboro have been really helpful in arranging our next trip,” said Jim.

“The kids have already had their required shots and passports and visas have been received for them, so much of the preliminary work has already been done.”

Jim and Toni take pride in the collection of photos they have accumulated over the years and eagerly share stories about each one. Together, they provide a wealth of unique experiences and knowledge that can only be obtained by walking down those roads less traveled.
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Teamwork helps Cambodian girl walk

By Jay Tokasz

Less than a month ago, Makara Tuan used crutches to navigate her Cambodian village and risked losing her right leg to a rare bone disease.

But on Tuesday, thanks to a remarkable set of circumstances that brought the beaming 14-year-old girl to Western New York, Makara walked into an Amherst physical therapy office, without crutches, and performed a series of exercises with an easy smile.

“It is a miracle, the whole thing, from start to end,” said Deborah Franco, a Lockport resident who helped lead the effort to get Makara’s ailing leg healed.

The start was more than a year ago, nearly 12,000 miles away in a small village in Svay Rolom, where Makara limped into a medical mission run by Operation Renewed Hope, a Christian humanitarian group based in Fayetteville, N. C.

Makara complained of a broken leg, and when doctors asked her how she broke it, she simply replied, “I got out of bed.”

X-rays from a hospital two hours away in Phnom Penh ultimately confirmed that Makara had an aneurysmal bone cyst, a disorder that ravaged her femur to the point that merely walking would cause it to snap.

Unless she had complicated surgery by a skilled orthopedist, the leg probably would have to be amputated.

Franco entered the story about a year ago, when she met a doctor affiliated with Operation Renewed Hope at a convention in Louisville, Ky. The doctor later e-mailed Franco regarding Makara’s case and the organization’s efforts to find a U. S. hospital and surgeon.

Franco, in turn, contacted her close friend Dr. Helen Cappuccino, a general surgeon who is married to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, the man credited with helping save the life of former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett.

Andrew Cappuccino agreed to do the surgery and volunteered to fly to Cambodia.

But hospitals there don’t have the equipment necessary for the kind of delicate surgery necessary in Makara’s case.

When approached by Operation Renewed Hope, a few American hospitals declined to host Makara. So Kenmore Mercy, where the Cappuccinos practice, signed on.

Franco’s employer, Raptim International Travel in Lewiston, which specializes in travel arrangements for humanitarian efforts, paid for the airfare. An immigration attorney provided pro bono legal work for Makara’s visa. And Cappuccino and Kenmore Mercy provided their services free of charge.

In all, the gratis services probably totaled more than $50,000, said Jan Milton, founder of Operation Renewed Hope.

On March 14, Makara flew into Chicago, where Franco met her for a flight into Buffalo. On March 19 Cappuccino placed rods in Makara’s leg to allow the bone to heal.

Makara has been living with Franco, who has temporary legal guardianship while the girl is in the United States. She’s also spent time with the Cappuccinos, who have a daughter around the same age as Makara.

Milton credited Franco with making Makara’s unlikely journey and recovery a reality.

Franco, though, ascribed everything coming together as the work of God.

“There’s absolutely no man who could have done all that,” she said.
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Author, activist talks about Cambodia with students, faculty

Editor's note: Typical inveverted pyramid structure will not do for this piece. That was my first thought walking out of the main theatre of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts this evening as the elevator carried me up to my office. There is no way that the inverted pyramid of facts in descending order could ever convey the real meaning and impact of this evening's events.

"Peace is not automatic. It is something we must commit to and work for on a daily basis," author and activist Loung Ung said during the question and answer session following her lecture on her experiences as a child, surviving the genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s.

Loung Ung met for dinner with a small group of students, faculty, and university staff members in the provost's conference room. She had just arrived from Cleveland where her husband is from, after spending the past three months in Cambodia. On Feb. 20, 30 years after the war and 10 years after Cambodia and the United Nations began negotiations, a tribunal was finally meeting to try many of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime for crimes against humanity. It took 10 years of negotiations to decide who would go on trial, as well as other issues such as funding and witness protection. The actual trial begins March 30.

"I wasn't sure how I was going to feel," Ung said.

At the age of five, she was forced to flee her home along with her family. The communist Khmer Rouge brought war on the Cambodian people, killing nearly two million people in the space of three years, eight months, and 21 days.

"Three years, eight months, 21 days," Ung's clear gentle voice sounded eerie repeating the numbers to drive her point home.

There were only 40 seats allowed for the press, but Ung chose to go in as a civilian. She related what it was like to sit and interact with the people, a group of monks in orange robes, villagers, and students.

"So many of the young people there do not believe it happened. They know people died in the war, but they do not know what that means," Ung said.

She told a story about one of the student s she spoke to who lived near one of the country's 20,000 mass graves. Every year during the rainy season the impression in the ground would fill up with water and water lilies would grow there, the girl told her. One of the students Ung spoke to that day had decided that not all these people could be telling the same lie, and so it had to be believed. Children in Cambodia are not taught about the genocide until the 12th grade, but only about 25 percent of students make it that far in school. She said it is often difficult for the younger people to connect what they see now in their country with the stories they hear of the war.

"The same rules no longer apply to this game," Ung said about the differences in International and Cambodian ideas about law and justice in this case. One of the men on trial signed the death warrants of 14,000 people. Ung plans to go back to Cambodia in June or July when the verdict comes out.

At dinner, Shawnee State student Bethany Heidenreich asked what Ms. Ung would like to see come out of the trial.

"Accurate information," Ung said. "At the very least that's what we need. Healing for us comes out of new generations. How do you teach a kid about the law when those who have broken the greatest law of all are not held accountable?"

Ung also spoke about her writing. She kept a journal for many years, and her book "First They Killed My Father" was written from her journal. She said that the goal of her writing is to tie the horror with the heart and make it a human story.

"Human spirits can be broken. We're just trying to do the best we can, so we need to give each other a helping hand," Ung said about her realization that it was part of her purpose to raise awareness.

She chose to go the authentic route, to write what felt real. Her first book is told in the first person present tense, in the voice of her five-year-old self.

"I was angry, I was hurt; I wanted people to know what it was like to survive a war," Ung said. "What do you do when on day 366, on day 1000, people stop talking about it, stop writing about it?"

Ung said that as of about a year and a half ago she has been able to devote more time to writing and has found that she greatly enjoys it. Her new book is about her mother's childhood migration from China to Cambodia.

"So many places I walked in Cambodia I had memories, it was like they rose up out of the pavement," Ung said about her return visits and memories from her childhood.

She said that she chose to write her book in a child's voice as a way of speaking for all those children out there who don't have the words to tell their stories.

Then Ung asked Dave Todt, vice president for academic affairs, what he would want the audience members at her lecture to take away with them from her visit.

"A desire to know more…about Cambodia, the impact that violence has on families, on countries; that there's some spark of interest," Todt said.

Loung Ung's lecture about her book "First They Killed My Father, A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers" began at 7 p.m. SSU professors Rita Haider and Shannon Lawson introduced Ung to the audience with a thought-provoking recollection of how the promise of never again after the mass killings of the Holocaust and World War II turned into again and again with the numerous tragic instances of genocide around the world since then.

"I want to share with you my journey from a child of war to an activist for peace," Ung said. "Never again turned into again, and again, and again. And I am one of the lucky ones."

Loung Ung's book "First They Killed My Father" is available in the SSU bookstore or online.

Editor's note: Bring a few tissues when you read it, and be prepared to find the heart in the horror story-a human story that made me remember why I chose journalism in the first place.
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Rio Tinto Sells Assets In Thailand-Cambodia Overlapping Area

BANGKOK -(Dow Jones)- Rio Tinto Ltd. (RTP), one of the world's leading mining companies, said Wednesday it completed the sale of its oil and gas assets in the Thailand-Cambodia overlapping area.

The company has decided to sell its 16.67% stake in Block B7, B8, B9 in the overlapping area and a royalty interest in Block 9A located in the Gulf of Thailand, an official at Rio Tinto told Dow Jones Newswires, declining to give further details.

"The sale has been completed this morning (Australian time)," the official added.

The divestment is aimed to streamline its business portfolio, which focuses on mining and processing mineral resources, said an industry's source.

Another person familiar with the deal said the assets will be sold to BG Group (BG.LN).
BG Group, through BG Asia Inc owns owns 50% stake in the Block B7, B8 and B9. Chevron Overseas Petroleum (Thailand) Ltd. owns 33.33%.

BG Group and Chevron representatives in Thailand weren't immediately available for comment.
Macquarie Group, which is the financial adviser to Rio Tinto, declined to comment.

The concession, covering a total area of 10.4 million square kilometers, was awarded to the group in 1972 but has been inactive since 1975 due to overlapping disputes between Cambodia and Thailand, according to Thailand's Department of Mineral Fuels.

Chevron is the operator of the Block B9A, holding a 51.66% stake.

-By Alex Wilson and Supunnabul Suwannakij, Dow Jones Newswires; 66 2266 0744; .

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Cambodian PM bans cockfighting nationwide

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has outlawed cockfighting across the country, in his latest efforts to prohibit various gambling activities, national media said on Wednesday.

"I am announcing today the closure of all cockfighting arenas, including the cockfighting arena of (Deputy Prime Minister) Sok Anin Bati district of Takeo (province)," Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News quoted him as telling a road inauguration ceremony in Sihanouk province on Tuesday.

Sok An, a well-known cockfighting aficionado, used to keep the arena in Takeo for fun and gambling.

"It is said that Sok An opened a cockfighting arena. (If) the deputy prime minister can indulge in cockfighting, they why can't others? Now, I am ordering Sok An, do you hear? I tell (you) to close the Tonle Bati (arena), or I will bring in armed forces to surround it," he added.

The crackdown on cockfighting followed Hun Sen's earlier ban on slot machines, sports betting and all other forms of gambling in a reputed bid to reverse a decline in social morality.

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Cambodian New Year falls on early morning of April 14

PHNOM PENH, New Year on the Cambodian calendar will fall at 01:36 local time of April 14 (1836 GMT of April 13), Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News said on Wednesday.

An Apsara, or fairy lady in Cambodian folklore, in black costumes and on a horse, will descend from heaven to the land of the kingdom at that time, to safeguard Cambodia during the New Year season, astrologers told the paper.

Prior to the New Year time, people can set up a table in front of their houses with 11 kinds of fruits and candles on sacrifice to welcome the fairy lady's arrival, they added.

The government has set April 14 to 16 as national holiday to celebrate the New Year.

During the holiday, people usually visit pagodas and pray for peace and prosperity in the coming year.
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