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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Help for Seattle family who lost everything in fire


SEATTLE - The leader of the Sahak Khemararam Buddhist Temple chants, the monks eat, and the members collect money, as Sean Phoung weeps for his only son Prackserth.

"I think about him all the time every minute, every second," he said.

It's Buddhist tradition, the food is eaten so that Prackserth (also known as Patrick) may be full on his journey to the next life. The clothing will give him warmth and the money will be burned, so that Prackserth may prosper.

So many sacrifices for their beloved son, as they Phoung family is left here with almost nothing.

"When I heard that they found my son in there I was so shocked. I lost my life," said his mother Sody.

Eight members of the Phoung family now sleep on the floor of the temple, relying on their friends for food and donated clothing. Their house was destroyed in a fire on Monday, Prackserth's body was discovered inside.

But Sean assures his family that they will endure. Thirty years ago he survived the killing fields of Cambodia and he says they will surely survive this. Tonight they're starting over and looking forward to seeing Prackserth again, in the next life.

Fire officials say they don't expect to know the cause of the fire until next week.

Contact the Cambodia Women's Health Organization for more information on how to help the family. Contact Klaudia Snguon at 206-372-0752

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Peace prevails during Hun Sen visit

Asia News Network

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's tour yesterday morning of Preah Vihear Temple - the subject of conflicting territorial claims with Thailand - went off without any incidents, but doubts remained as to his intentions in making the visit.

Arriving at 10am in fatigues, Hen Sen was met by Second Army Area chief Lt-General Veerawit Kajornrith and Si Sa Ket Governor Rapee Pongbupakit. Thai Ambassador to Cambodia Prasart Prasartvinichai was also present.

Earlier at 9am, there were some tense moments at Kaewsikhakirisawaria Temple in the disputed area, but no gunfire was exchanged.

A group of Thais led by rural activist Veeraphon Sopha said they would defend the sovereignity of the four border provinces of Buri Ram, Si Sa Ket, Surin and Sa Kaew.

They vowed to start up villages along the border to prevent Cambodians from occupying Thai soil.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said if the Cambodian premier enters Thai territory, then there will be people ready to receive him.

The situation remained normal, but Hun Sen has been making comments about Thai politics as former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra makes political moves, he said.

Noppadon Pattama, a former foreign minister and Thaksin's legal aide, criticised the Democrat Party and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) for spreading a "lie" about Thaksin obtaining Cambodian citizenship.

Thaksin travels on Montenegro and Nicaraguan passports but is not a citizen of the two countries, he said.

Cambodia's Rasmi Kampuchia reported on Friday that Thailand is entering a state of anarchy with the red shirts - Thaksin sympathisers - ready to overthrow the government. The paper blamed the PAD for distracting public attention with the border dispute.

Recruitment for Thaksin's People's Army ended in Bangkok but more enlistment opportunities will be held upcountry, said Army specialist Maj-General Khattiya "Seh Daeng" Sawasdipol.

The formation of the controversial armed offshoot of the red shirt movement was aimed at ensuring protection for demonstrators during the upcoming bid to topple the government, he said.

The reports of General Panlop Pinmanee resigning from the red-shirt movement were unfounded, he said.

"It was a misunderstanding on the part of red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan. But I have discussed the matter with [red-shirt leaders] Veera Musigapong and Natthawut Saikua and the misunderstanding will be cleared."

Jatuporn said he would call both Khattiya and Panlop tomorrow to arrange a meeting to sort out the differences.

He said he alone couldn't approve the idea of a people's army as the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) is an organisation with a committee making decisions.

"We must discuss the matter because we do not want to lose before engaging in a battle," he said.

Panlop should have discussed the matter with DAAD before leaking it to the media, he said.

Abhisit said he has no problem with Panlop leaving the red-shirt movement or the setting up of a people's army as long as it's not illegal.

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LEAD: Hun Sen visits temple near disputed Thai-Cambodia border+

The Associated Press


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, ignoring Thailand's protests, on Saturday made a brief visit to the Preah Vihear Temple near the disputed Thai-Cambodian border, his first trip to the area since the ancient temple was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told Kyodo News by telephone that Hun Sen stayed at the temple for about one hour.

On Friday, Thai leaders said the Cambodian government should hold talks with Thailand prior to Hun Sen's visit to the area and Thailand would send a high-level official to welcome him. His trip to the Preah Vihear crosses a swath of land 4.6 square kilometers in size that the Thai government claims is Thai territory.

Phay Siphan said Hun Sen met a 22-member group from Thailand who visited the temple, including the military general and governor of the bordering Sisaket Province, and told them the temple is in Cambodia's territory and it was he who welcomed the Thais to the temple, not the other way around.

During his meeting with the Thai group, Hun Sen reassured them that the border issue will be settled peacefully, Phay Siphan said.

The premier also said he would consider opening the gate accessible from the Thai side to the Preah Vihear Temple once the border situation returns to that before the first clash between Cambodian and Thai forces in July 2008, a week after the temple was registered as a World Heritage Site.

Phay Siphan said the purpose of the visit is to meet with villagers and Cambodian armed forces based along the Cambodia-Thai border.

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Hun Sen told to visit as tourist

Cambodian security escorts 'must disarm'

All eyes are on how the already tense situation at the Thai-Cambodian border develops as Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen today begins a three-day visit which will conclude at the Ta Muan Thom temple in Surin.

The government says that while the Cambodian leader is free to go anywhere while on Cambodian soil, he is not advised to enter the disputed territory covering 4.6 square kilometres near the Preah Vihear temple without informing Bangkok.

The 2nd Army Region and provincial authorities have been instructed to make security preparations and oversee the situation during Hun Sen's visit.

The army says Hun Sen is scheduled to visit three or four locations.

Today, the Cambodian prime minister will chair the opening of Siharat Decho village and an army battalion on Cambodian soil.

On Monday, he plans a visit to Ta Muan Thom temple in Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district, which is under the supervision of Thai armed forces.

Ta Muan Thom and the neighbouring Ta Kwai temple in Surin were embroiled in the border dispute when the conflict escalated two years ago.

Phnom Penh claimed both were located in disputed territory and tried to deploy troops there.

Army sources said the army has told Cambodia that Hun Sen cannot bring troops when visiting the Ta Muan Thom temple, which is in Thai territory.

Second Army Region commander Weewalit Chornsamrit yesterday met senior Cambodian military leaders in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district to discuss security measures for the Cambodian leader.

Maj Gen Weewalit said he had been assigned to welcome Hun Sen if he wishes to enter the disputed area where both Thai and Cambodian troops are now deployed.

Maj Gen Weewalit said Thailand had informed Cambodia that if Hun Sen visits any disputed area surrounding Preah Vihear, Thailand will send representatives - Maj Gen Weewalit, the ambassador to Cambodia, and the Si Sa Ket governor - to join his visit.

The military source said the government had responded to the Cambodia prime minister's request to visit Ta Muan Thom, saying he was welcome there, but his security guards and followers must be disarmed and visit the temple just like normal tourists.

However, Cambodia has not responded to this demand.

He said Thai troop levels will not be beefed up as there are enough of them in the overlapping zone.

He dismissed speculation that Hun Sen's visit was intended to demonstrate ownership of the disputed territory. Concerns were also raised that Hun Sen might deliver a nationalistic speech to pep up his troops.

"I think he is paying a visit to the troops as the government leader and the commander of his armed forces.

"The army is accustomed to Hun Sen's style of talking and Cambodia's media reporting, which is not quite accurate and causes trouble," he said.

Maj Gen Weewalit insisted that Cambodian troops will be pushed back if they cross the border during the visit.

"That cannot be allowed. They must be disarmed before they are allowed to step onto Thai soil," he said.

Gen Piroon Paewpolsong, army chief of staff and secretary-general to the Internal Security Operations Command, said Hun Sen can visit the disputed area, but he is required to inform Thai authorities if he does.

"It is not a no-go zone, but there is a protocol to follow. If we are to enter the disputed area, we have to inform Cambodia too," he said.

"The visit is a Cambodian affair. We just follow the protocol regarding a border visit.

"We can talk to each other. We have no problems if they want to visit. There are procedures for it," he said.

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said yesterday Hun Sen has no hidden agenda in the timing of his visit which has put security forces on edge, especially following rumours that fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would join the trip.

Gen Tea Banh said the Cambodian leader's trip is simply a morale-boosting visit for his soldiers. Hun Sen was tied up during New Year and could not pay the troops a visit. "There is no agenda. Why can't Hun Sen go to the border? It is Cambodian territory and he wants to visit his troops," said Gen Tea Banh.

He also rejected the rumour that Thaksin would accompany Hun Sen.

Former prime minister Thaksin posted messages on his Twitter page,, saying he had no plan to visit the disputed area near the temple. He was in Dubai, he said.

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