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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cambodia to receive $3.45m to diversify

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced Wednesday that Cambodia will receive a US$3.45 million technical assistance grant aimed at boosting the skills and incomes of people living in and around the Tonle Sap basin.

The money is to be used to help low-income groups in the area to diversify their vocational skills with the help of training programmes, demonstrations on modern farming techniques and Internet-based communication facilities, ADB said.

"The technical assistance will helpdiversify and improve the incomes of small land holders, marginal farmers and poor households in the Tonle Sap basin by increasing their access to good agricultural practices, technologies and information," Giap Minh Bui, rural development economist in ADB's Southeast Asia Department, said in a statement released Wednesday.

The Finnish government is providing the lion's share of the money - $2.7 million - with the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund offering $500,000. The ADB, which will manage the funds, will give a $250,000 grant and the government will make up the remaining $200,000, ADB said.

The money will be used in four provinces around the lake - Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap.

ADB said that the project will include a pilot communication project using Internet linked e-kiosks to provide up-to-date information on agricultural practices to be passed on to locals.
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Cambodia's finest secure chance to study at European universities in new program

Cambodian students from a variety of backgrounds are to leave to study at universities in eight European countries in August this year.

The 34 students are the first to be offered the chance to study abroad through the European Union's Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia programme (EMMA).

According to Phal Des, EMMA coordinator in Asia and IT dean at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), the programme aims to strengthen and bridge the knowledge gap between Europe and Asia.

"Europe is full of old wise people; Cambodia full of young but inexperienced people, so they need to go and learn from them," Phal Des said.

"This is part of globalisation - we want to learn from the developed countries a lot.
"These students will come back and become human resources for our country."

Phal Des added that in Europe, students who qualified for the EMMA program were admired and sought after by many employers.

Looking to the future
Chanthy Somela, 22, is a junior of agriculture at the Royal University of Agriculture and in his third year of Information Technology at RUPP. He finished his bachelor's degree in forestry in 2008.

He said he found out about the program through friends, Internet and brochures, and felt proud to be one of the Cambodians selected for the program.

"I'm very happy and feel very proud of myself,"Chanthy Somela said.
"I will try more to get my master's degree in forestry in Europe in a year.

"I am sure I will encounter new experience, thinking, new concepts, and a new environment.
"When I come back, I will help develop my country in the sector of forestry."

Chan Boramey, 20, will go abroad to study journalism and communication in Romania for one year.
She said she was leaving with a big hope in her heart.

"This is a great chance for Cambodian students to get exposed to a civilised culture, and it will open again for any student who is interested," she said.

"I am going to make the best out of every moment I have being there."
Addressing disadvantage

The other international EU scholarship programme was highly prestigious, said Phal Des, and was aimed specifically at Asian students from a disadvantaged but academic background.

The first phase of the program was finished early this year when 112 students from Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Philippines were accepted.

The number of students from Cambodia made up almost one-third of the students from the five countries in the programme.

The students will study in Romania, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Turkey and the Netherlands.

"I am very proud that a lot of Cambodian students have been selected, and this precious opportunity will keep their lives well-equipped," said Phal Des.

EMMA offers scholarships on undergraduate studies, graduate studies of master's and doctorate degrees, post-doctorate and research, Phal Des added.

The second phase will happen again in October this year in five different countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia and Myanmar.

EMMA's contact in Cambodia is Phal Des at RUPP.
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Retired king returns to Cambodia for two-month visit

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's retired king Norodom Sihanouk returned to his homeland for a two-month visit Thursday after spending almost a year in Beijing receiving treatment for cancer. The 86-year-old king-father and Queen-Mother Monique landed at Siem Reap International Airport about 3 pm and immediately traveled to a royal residence in the northern town.

Sihanouk last month announced he would return to Cambodia for two months after being successfully treated in Beijing for B-cell lymphoma, which attacks blood cells crucial to the body's immune system.

It was his third bout of cancer since 1993.

But Sihanouk said at the time he would have to return to Beijing after two months to continue his medical treatment.

Sihanouk abdicated and was replaced by his son Norodom Sihamoni in 2004, but he remains an influential figure in Cambodian politics.

He was appointed king by Cambodia's French rulers in 1941, but in 1955 Sihanouk abandoned the throne to become prime minister.

After being overthrown in a military coup in 1970, Sihanouk sided with the Maoist Khmer Rouge, who came to power in 1975 and oversaw the deaths of up to 2 million people until Vietnam invaded in 1979.

He was forced out of office again and remained virtually imprisoned in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh during most of the Khmer Rouge's rule.

Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993, but frequently traveled to Beijing for treatment for a range of illnesses.
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KRouge victim says brother forced to kill father

by Patrick Falby Patrick Falby

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – A woman who said she survived the Khmer Rouge's main torture centre told Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court Thursday that one of her brothers was forced to kill their father at the prison.

Nam Mon, 48, was testifying at the trial of prison chief Duch, who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of around 15,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng prison during the regime's terrifying 1975-1979 rule.

Nam Mon told the court her two elder brothers were guards at the notorious jail, while she initially lived and worked there as a medic before being interrogated herself.

"My first brother, Nuon, killed my father and later on he was executed," Nam Mon said. "They accused him of hesitating to kill my father."

Recognised as a civil claimant in the case against Duch, Nam Mon was revealing her story in public for the first time, said her lawyer Silke Studzinsky.

However, judges have cast doubt on the authenticity of several civil claimants who have this week testified that they were at Tuol Sleng, castigating their lawyers for not being sufficiently prepared.

Nam Mon described to the court how her father was brought into the prison blindfolded, before being stripped, tortured and killed, and said the rest of her family was later rounded up and executed.

"My mother also died at Tuol Sleng with my younger brother but they died at different times," she said, adding she was then interrogated there for three months in 1978.

"During my interrogations I was not beaten with a stick, but they tightened the shackles on my ankles," Nam Mon told the court.

She then described being transferred to the nearby S-24 "re-education centre" where she was forced to dig graves for the corpses of children, adding she was freed by invading Vietnamese troops after being sent to another jail.

She told the court that she had not been able to find her prison mugshot, but had discovered all the photos of her family members who were executed at Tuol Sleng.

The 66-year-old Duch, real name Kaing Guek Eav, begged for forgiveness from victims near the start of his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity after accepting responsibility for his role overseeing the jail.

But he has consistently rejected claims by prosecutors that he held a central leadership role in the Khmer Rouge, and says he never personally executed anyone.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge a communist utopia. Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation, overwork or torture.

Four other former Khmer Rouge leaders are currently in detention and are expected to face trial next year.
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